Friday, September 5, 2008
*What you are about to read is my incomplete account of the labour and delivery of my 2nd son. It is as fresh and just the bare facts are down on the page. At times, I've included too much detail simply because *I* want to remember every little bit. I hope to add to this and generally make it more readable, but that will have to wait.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I worked as hard as I could to insure a good outcome for this pregnancy - healthy baby, healthy mom, vaginal birth were my bottom line goals.
Early Tuesday morning, Sept 2, 2008, I was awakened by our dog who needed to be let out. I had been asleep for only 2 hrs at that point. In late pregnancy, I often can't fall back to sleep once awake and that's exactly what happened. I spent some time surfing the internet then decided to crawl back into bed and read. I was reading Growing Without Schooling by John Holt when I had a very bizarre sensation. It felt like someone had taken a large glass marble and clacked it on my pubic bone. I figured it was just some movement the baby had made and didn't think more about it. I began to feel damp between my legs and realized that there was a good amount of clear liquid with small white flecks. I decided to go to the bathroom to investigate further.
As I stood up, my underwear and the inside of my pajama pant legs got soaked. I still wasn't sure that the liquid wasn't either pee or normal discharge. I had been feeling a lot of pressure on my urethra the past two days, so I reasoned that perhaps I had wet myself. I used the toilet and when I stood up, liquid gushed out onto the floor. Having just emptied my bladder, I was reasonably sure the liquid wasn't pee. The puddle was tinged lightly pink against the beige bathroom floor tiles. It was then I knew my water had broken.
I was hit with a burst of energy. I decided not to wake my husband because I was feeling no contractions and knew he'd need whatever sleep he could get. I cleaned the kitchen and organized the living room. The night before we had inflated the birth pool to do a trial run. When we began to fill the pool, we realized the pilot light had gone out on the hot water heater - no trial run that night as it would be too late by the time the tank reheated.
Finally, at 6am I crawled into bed with my husband and told him my water had broken. "Mazal tov," he told me. :) He was excited and wondered why I hadn't woken him earlier. We decided to just go about our day as normally as possible and wait for things to start. I called my midwife and doula around 8 am just to let them know. We decided I should try to get in to see my acupuncturist to gently induce labour. I knew I couldn't wait forever with my water broken - infection would be a threat at some point.
The rest of the day passed normally. I began to have contractions on and off. Stronger than Braxton Hicks, but nothing that really stopped me in my tracks yet - more like pressure waves than anything else. They appeared and disappeared at random. I began to get seriously discouraged when contractions stopped altogether after my visit to the acupuncturist. I put my son in the stroller and decided to go for a 4 mile walk. The walk lifted my spirits and the pressure waves resumed.
I checked in with my doula, E, who mentioned a concoction of almond butter, castor oil, apricot juice, and verbena that purportedly "worked like a hot damn". I spoke with M, my midwife who said she'd like to give my cervix a full 24 hours to ripen before we tried anything like castor oil. I had been having pink-tinged discharge and bits of mucous, so I knew my cervix was doing its work. I agreed we should wait until morning.
By Wednesday morning, I was again having regular pressure waves about 5 min apart. I got into the shower and they completely stopped. I was very depressed at this point. I had an appt already scheduled with both my midwife and my acupuncturist that morning, so I decided to keep both as normal.
M wanted to check my cervix to see if we were ready for the castor oil cocktail. She couldn't even reach it and baby was still sitting above my pubic bone. We discussed all the "what ifs" and agreed that we were both comfortable letting things proceed another 72 hours or longer as long as my fluid stayed clear, baby's heartrate stayed normal, and I didn't get a fever. I would see the acupuncturist that afternoon and then take the first dose of the cocktail.
At the acupuncturist, my points were much more tender than they had been the day before. She said this was a good sign I was getting close as she had noticed this in lots of the pregnant women she saw. Back at home, I blended the cocktail and drank it at 2 pm. It wasn't too bad.
My husband took our son to the library and by the time they got back I was starting to have painful contractions that started in my back and wrapped around to concentrate in my pubic bone and flow down my legs. I scared my poor son when I had to yell through a few of them. I called my doula, midwife, and my husband called my mother-in-law to come get the boy.
M thought I was just having intestinal cramping since I hadn't had a bowel movement after taking the castor oil. I was pretty sure it wasn't intestinal, but I agreed to get in the tub to see if things settled down. I was kneeling in the bathtub when E showed up. She was awesome and helped me find something to focus on during the contractions. I laboured for a few contractions standing at the window at the end of the hallway. I swayed back and forth and tried to make my cries more moan-like. I closed my eyes and thought of my husband and how much I love him. At some point my MIL came to take Akiva to the park. He was scared of me at this point and wouldn't come near me. Poor baby. We had planned for him to go before I got to this point, but things were progressing so fast that there just wasn't time.
I wondered how I would be able to do this for another 12+ hours. Had I been in the hospital, I would've screamed for an epidural or a c-section. I knew I wouldn't be able to handle the ride in the car to the hospital, so I didn't say anything.
I went into the living room and sat on the couch. Contractions were much easier in this position and I laboured on the couch for a while. E was convinced I wasn't yet in active labour, so my husband decided to stimulate some points on my hands to help things along. I immediately had the most painful contraction yet and as it ebbed I made him take the seeds off the points. It never fully went away and peaked several times over the next twelve minutes. At this point E made me get off the couch and I thought "This is it." We're going to transport to the hospital and I'll have a c-section. It's over. On the way to the bedroom, I stopped to grab the mantle. My son had dragged his plastic potty into the living room earlier in the day. It was placed well and caught about half of what I violently vomited standing there.
E wanted me to lay down on the bed to rest. I knew this was a bad idea. Rhythm had become important to me during contractions and I couldn't move as well as I needed to lying down. E called M and she agreed to come over. They also agreed I could get in the pool at this point.
My MIL returned from the park with my son at this point and my husband scurried around packing him an overnight bag. M showed up and checked me. I was 4-5 cm and fully effaced. She could feel baby's head down low. At this point I hated changing positions because any large movement on my part started a new contraction. I was skeptical that getting in the pool would help, but I was willing to try anything. The pain wasn't really going away between contractions.
The pool was bliss. It slowed things down enough that I could rest between contractions. I found a rhythm by saying "whoa-whoa-whoa" and buzzing my lips as I moved my head from side to side. I continued to need counterpressure on my back.
For a while I laboured on my back and found a bit of relief there. I did need someone's hand on me during the contractions, though. "Touch me" I would call out as a contraction started and my husband or E would place a hand on my shoulder or knee.
It became clear that things were going along rapidly and M said she had to go back to her office to get her infant scales. My chiropractor was coming around 6:30 to see if we couldn't get baby to rotate that last bit. She adjusted my right side and I felt baby move. She pressed on my left round ligaments and it felt like torture. "Stop!" I yelled and turned on my side to have another contraction. Either during this contraction or the next I began to have the urge to push. I was afraid E would call 911 so I said nothing and did what I had to do. M still wasn't back. I had a few more contractions where I felt the need to push and did before M got back. When M came in she asked if I was feeling pushy. I said yes. She turned me on my back and checked me - I was fully dilated (I knew this already)! She phoned the back up midwife and started to set up for the birth.
I began pushing only on instinct and was ineffective at first. I remember M telling me that bracing my feet against the pool was actually sucking the baby back in. I needed help with holding my legs, but soon was pushing effectively. I could feel lots of pressure and kept waiting for the "ring of fire". I had been pushing for 4 or so contractions and was ready to be done. I didn't care at that point if I tore - the contractions had to stop. I mentally told myself that babe would be out next contraction. It hit and I pushed. His head was out and I pushed the rest of him out. He was immediately put to my chest already crying. I knew he was a boy but checked just in case.
It seemed seconds before the midwife was telling me the cord had stopped pulsing and she had my husband cut it. I got out of the pool and knelt in front of the sofa to deliver the placenta. I ended up with a small perineal tear and a larger labial tear - she stitched both. I was bleeding heavily and ended up w/ two shots of oxytocin.
It's now 74 hours later and I'm having mixed emotions. I'm overjoyed with the arrival of our son and with the experience itself. The memory of the pain is gone and I would do it again tomorrow if not for the soreness and stitches. I'm struggling with it being over, though. I worked so hard and achieved my dream - now I have to find a new focus. I'm also struggling with my feelings about bonding with the baby and my feelings toward my toddler. On one hand, I'm fiercely protective of the baby, but I feel horrible that my toddler's world has been tilted upside down. I know these feelings will pass.
Posted by Sarah at 2:59 PM