Our 1st Birth Story
There are two main things I’ve learned over the past 40 hours. The first is that I married THE most amazing man in the entire world. I’ve heard many, many times from the staff at the hospital how lucky I am to be married to him, and how well he supported me during our labor and delivery and first day as parents, and I couldn’t agree with them more. The second is that births rarely go the way they’re planned, and that’s okay.
We checked in to the hospital at 6:09am on Tuesday, May 19, 2009. Julie, our doula, was waiting for us when we walked in the doors with all of our luggage. You’d think we were moving in for a week if you’d judged by the amount of stuff we brought with us. What can I say? I like to be prepared. By 6:30am we were registered and I was in L&D room #5 and hooked up to the monitors. I should say that when I walked into the L&D room (by myself – they made Mark and Julie wait in the waiting room) the nurse told me to change into the gown and that they’d be inducing me shortly. At that point my heart pretty much stopped and I told her they weren’t inducing me, they were breaking my water. She said no, our orders from your doctor are to start you on pitocin. I said that they should be to break my water because I really don’t want pitocin and she looked at me like I was talking a foreign language and said well that’s what our orders are. I was starting to panic at this point and was about 5 seconds away from bursting into tears and I was REALLY wishing my husband was in the room with me, but I managed to just ask if we could check with Dr. Branaman before we did anything and the nurse agreed to that. Whew.
They let Mark and Julie into the room with me after they’d asked me “personal” questions (that they’d already asked me during our trip to triage) and Mark and Julie got all our junk situated on one side of the room, out of the way. At 7:45am, one of our nurses, Kim, tried to start an IV port. Notice I said “tried”. Both our nurses, Kim and Nikki, checked out both my arms for a good 15 mins before Kim tried to start it in the side of my left wrist. It didn’t work. After a little more inspecting, Nikki decided to try to put the IV port into the back of my left hand, but once again, that one didn’t work either. Yay. So then they brought in a 3rd nurse to get her opinion and she decided to try on the back of my right hand. She got it under the skin, but apparently it was beside the vein, instead of in the vein, so she messed around with it for a little bit, and then Nikki took over again and messed around with it some more (none of this was tickling by the way), and finally at 8:45am they got the stupid IV port in. What a pain in the butt, but I survived.
At 9:15am, Dr. Branaman came in and examined me, and said I was still 6cm dilated. She broke my water at 9:19am. I was expecting a huge gush of fluid, but it was only a little trickle. I guess I was a little disappointed by that, but I got over it quickly. Two minutes before 10am I told Kim that I had to go #2 and she said that I couldn’t until she examined me again because I guess she had a patient before that thought she had to poop, but it was actually the baby coming out. Ha! I could only dream of that happening. Anyway, she checked me and the baby was at a -1 position, and I was 7cm dilated. We were all excited I was making progress.
I started feeling contractions pretty much right after she broke my water, and they got progressively worse throughout the day. I had to spend 20 mins per hour being monitored in bed. When I wasn’t being monitored, I got in the shower a few times, and walked around the L&D unit a few times and used the balls Julie had brought, but oddly enough, I felt more comfortable sitting on the side of the bed and leaning back on Mark and rocking from side to side during the contractions. By 3:30pm, I’d had about enough of the drug-free delivery idea. My contractions were pretty painful, coming about every 2-4 min and would last between a minute and a minute and a half. Kim checked me again, and I was still only 7cm and I got really discouraged. Mark and Julie talked me through it and I managed to last until about 6pm before I’d literally had enough of the drug-free thing. I was still only 7cm and they were going to start me on pitocin and I decided that I wanted an epidural before they induced me because I was already hurting pretty bad (for almost 9 hours).
The anesthesiologist came in and explained the risks of having an epi, and honestly I don’t even really think I listened to him because at that point I didn’t care what the risks were, as long as the pain stopped. It took him two tries to get the epidural in, and probably took 20 minutes before he managed to get it positioned right. Luckily Mark was able to stay in the room with me, but they made Julie leave. They made Mark sit down in front of me and one of the nurses stood infront of me also. They kept telling me to tuck my chin and relax my shoulders and round out my back, and I was trying to do that but it was hard. About 5 mins into the ordeal, the back of my neck and top shoulder muscles started to hurt a LOT. I was having pretty bad contractions and it was hard to deal with those and stay relaxed without moving at all. I thought my back was relaxed but the next day the anesthesiologist came in and told me that my back was stiffer than a board. Oops. As soon as the epi was in (around 6:45pm), my pain level went from about an 8 to a 2. However it was short lived. The nurses put an internal monitor in me to monitor my contractions and also a catheter, and I could feel both of those, which was my first indication that the epi wasn’t working. After going through a few more contractions with the pain getting more intense each time from when it dropped, the nurses decided to call the anesthesiologist back. He came back and determined that the epi had come out of the epidural space in my back, so instead of pumping the drugs through my system, it was just pumping it under my skin and that’s why it wasn’t working. It took him about 10 mins to get the 2nd epi out and the 3rd epi in, and by 7:25pm the epi finally seemed to be working. Thank God. Although I did think that once it was in correctly I wouldn’t really feel anything, but that’s not how it worked. Apparently epidurals are gravity sensitive, and since I wasn’t allowed to lay flat on my back, whichever side was higher would eventually start feeling the contraction pain. So I kept having to switch which side I was laying on more to evenly distribute the epidural. I could also move my legs the whole time and I could feel the contractions, but they didn’t hurt. It just felt like my stomach was a little tight.
At 8:20pm, they started me on pitocin. By 10pm, I was 9cm dilated and she was at a +1 station. We were thrilled about that, however, my neck and shoulders hurt so bad and were so stiff (from "relaxing" during the epi) I couldn’t even move my head. I was pretty much ready to ask if they could give me an epidural from the ears down, my neck and shoulders hurt so much. At 11:30pm I asked Julie to get me some ice for my neck, and she filled up a hospital glove with ice for me, and thankfully, that seemed to relieve quite a bit of my neck pain. I was really concerned about how I was going to push and put my chin down when I couldn’t even hold my head up off the pillows or move it side to side without excruciating pain. They also checked me at 11:30pm and I was a little more than 9cm dilated. At 12:55am on May 20th, our night nurse, Lorraine, had me push a little to see if I could get the baby’s head to move past the little cervix rim that was left. We made a little bit of progress and by 1:05am I began pushing every contraction. I was trying to remember all of the advice I’d heard given to people on TLC’s Baby Story, and I was trying to put it to use. I knew that I would take away from my pushing if I made noise while trying to push, so I didn’t make any noise, and I never really felt the urge to anyway. I usually pushed about 4 counts to 10 with a breath in between the counts with every contraction. Sometimes I could do 5, but usually just 4. They put me on oxygen for maybe the last half hour of my pushing and we also did a few rounds of “tug of war” pushing, where instead of me holding on to my legs and pulling back from that, I held on to a sheet with a knot in it and the nurse held on to the other side and I would pull as hard as I could during my counting. I didn’t mind pushing that way, but my forearms got tired after doing that about 4 times, so we switched back to the “normal” way.
During most of my pushing, Mark was holding my right leg and Julie was holding my left leg. When they say you lose all modesty during labor, they are 100% true. At first I was nervous about Julie seeing everything (even though she’s done this lots of times), but long before the pushing stage, I was comfortable with her there. At the very end of my pushing, a nurse took over for Julie and Julie took LOTS of pictures for us, which was great. We had a hard time getting the baby past my pelvic bone. I pushed for probably 45 mins and we still couldn’t get her head past my pelvic bone. I kept asking Mark if he could see her head and it was encouraging when he kept saying he could. Mark was INCREDIBLY supportive throughout the entire labor. He was constantly telling me that I was doing a good job and that he was proud of me. I had one time during the labor before I got the epidural where I completely broke down, and he was right there for me and reassured me and made me feel 100% better. I asked him to count for me while I was pushing to give me some sort of reference as to how long I was pushing, and he did a great job with that, along with Julie. Mark got pretty excited when he could see her head and got a big smile on his face, which gave me more energy to continue.
Eventually Dr. Branaman said that we should probably give the vacuum a try, since I still couldn’t get her past my pelvic bone and I was pushing as hard as I could. I really didn’t want to use the vacuum or forceps, but her heartrate was at 200 (120-160 is normal), and it had been high for a while, and Dr. Branaman said she thought it was more risky to prolong the pushing verses using the vacuum, so we agreed. She put it on the baby’s little head, and with my next push, she pulled as I pushed. She said that I would be doing the majority of the pushing and she would just help the baby a little while I was pushing. When I was pushing and she was pulling, the vacuum lost suction and popped off the baby’s head, which we later saw caused a laceration on her head. After she was born, you could distinctly see exactly where the vacuum was, but Mark said Dr. Branaman was pulling downward on the vacuum handle trying to get her head past my pelvic bone and it worked. She only used the vacuum through two contractions and then her head was thru. It scared the CRAP out of me when I felt the vacuum pop off her head. For a split second I seriously thought she’d pulled the baby’s head off, but Mark wasn’t passed out on the ground so that reassured me. The next scariest part was when I was trying to push her shoulders thru. Her shoulders were bigger than her head, and Dr. Branaman, as I was pushing, got this worried look on her face, and her voice sounded panic-y and she started saying a bunch of medical stuff and all the nurses started coming towards me. (Julie told us later she was saying "super pubic", which means the shoulders wouldn't fit through my pelvis.) Mark said this was the point that he got pretty worried too, because we really didn’t know what was going on. But just as the rest of the nurses were getting to me as I was pushing, I felt her come out and Dr. Branaman said “She’s okay, She’s okay.”, and the next thing I know Abbigale Rose was in my arms. I just laid there and cried and I couldn’t even really see my newborn through my tears. I remember asking if she was okay a few times and looking at Mark and seeing him smiling, so that made me feel better. They rubbed her down while she was on me, and cleaned her off as much as they could, but she was pretty darn slimy. I held her for a few minutes and then the delivery nurse asked if they could check her out and clean her off and look at her head some, and I said it was okay. So they took her over to the other side of the room, and Mark went with her and they spent about 15 mins checking her out and cleaning her up. They even said she was extra "cheesy" and it took them a little longer to clean her. Because she had a temp of about 104 when she was born, they called a neonatologist in to check her out. (I apparently had a small fever too when she was born, so I think that’s probably why she had a fever.) The doctor ordered a blood culture for her to rule out any infection. They also had to put ointment on her head where it was raw from the vacuum. But overall, she was doing pretty well. Her APGAR score was 9 at one minute and 8 at five minutes.
Abbigale Rose was born at 2:14am on Wednesday, May 20th. She was 22 inches long and weighed 9 lbs 9.2 oz. Her head was 14 inches and her chest was 14.5 inches. She’s a pretty big baby. Dr. Branaman said that she’s very glad I came in when I did because if Abbie had gotten any bigger, I would have had to have a c-section to get her out. Surprisingly I only had two minor tears.
She is absolutely beautiful. I was pretty worried about having an ugly baby, but she was cute even when she was all squished up. I’d always said I wanted a chunky baby, and I definitely got one. She had the biggest chubby cheeks and she has quite a few of the baby rolls already. Many of the hospital staff has asked if I delivered her by c-section and when I say no, their eyes always get pretty big. At 48 hours old, she’d dropped down to 8 lbs 12 oz, which is still okay. She doesn’t fit into the newborn sized diapers – we’ve been using size 1 on her.
After the delivery, Dr. Branaman stitched me up and Mark left with Abbie to the nursery while she was getting checked out. I was absolutely exhausted, to the point where I could barely keep my eyes open. Our night nurse wasn’t the best though, and she kept coming in to check on me, and she’d uncover my legs and turn on the lights, and then not cover my legs back up or turn the lights back off, so I had a hard time sleeping. Then she made me eat a bowl of cereal. By the time I was done, Mark and Abbie were back and he sat in the chair next to me and held her for the first time. I slept for what felt like 30 seconds, although I’m sure it was longer than that, and then the nurse said I either had to get up and pee or she was going to put a catheter in again. I REALLY didn’t want the catheter so I agreed to try to get up to go to the bathroom. My epidural hadn’t completely worn off, but I was able to stand up on my own, so Mark and Lorraine, the night nurse, helped me to the bathroom. As soon as I sat down, I knew I was going to pass out and I told them. The nurse was telling me to keep my eyes open and take deep breaths, and I was trying really hard to, but it didn’t work. Every time I managed to open my eyes and look at Mark he had this terrified look on his face. I felt terrible and I was trying really hard to stay with it, but it wasn’t working. They gave me those smelling salts and that worked for a second or two, but then I’d start fading. They got another nurse and a wheel chair in the bathroom and I remember them telling me to stand up and pivot myself into the wheelchair, and last I remember I was doing that, but when I woke up I was back on the toilet again. Oops. And Mark looked even more worried. Eventually I got into the wheelchair and they took me out to the bed again and I got into the bed with Mark’s help and slept for a little while. After I rested for about 15 mins they wanted to move me to the recovery room. I was still so tired I could barely hold my head up, but I managed to get into the wheelchair again and got all situated, and then they gave Abbie to me. Lorraine pushed us in the wheelchair to the recovery unit and Mark and 2 nurses followed with all our junk.
So overall, the birth didn’t go anywhere near the way I was hoping. Before the birth, I was worried that I would have my heart set on it going drug-free and if I didn’t do it without drugs, I’d be disappointed in myself. But I was much more okay with things going the way they did then I thought I’d be. I really wasn’t too upset about it at all, and I’m not sure what I’ll want to do with our next birth. At this point, I’m not sure I’d hesitate as much with getting an epidural, even though it took them three times to get one in me.
Mark was absolutely amazing throughout the whole process. He was there for me every step of the way, supporting me physically, emotionally and mentally and he’s stepped into the dad role like he’s been doing it for half his life. He’s had to help me do things that I never in a million years thought my husband would be helping me with, but he never even blinks an eye about any of it. The moment she was born, I think I fell in love with him ten times more than I was before, and I didn’t even think that was possible. I am truly blessed to have him as my husband, partner and best friend.