Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Felicity Marian: A Birth Story Part II

So there we were Thursday morning and the pitocin had just been started somewhere around 8 or 8:30 am. The two nurses on shift would come in and check on us, and kept talking about how the baby would be here by noon, and later by 2pm. I got so mad when she said that because I knew it would be MUCH longer, and didn't want unrealistic ideas in my head of this taking less time than it actually would. My doula was on her way (she's an hour away), realized she didn't have her wallet, and went back to look for it. I had a few contractions here and there that I would just breathe through, and I kind of thought I was awesome. Until about 10am when they came every 2-2.5 minutes. I wanted out of bed, so the day nurse, Kelly, came and got me on the exercise ball. She was beyond amazing because she would come in every time the baby fell off the monitor, which was almost constantly, and readjust the monitor straps. She spent about 30 minutes jerry-rigging extra straps to keep the monitor in place. Apparently the doctor has an app on his phone that he can watch the monitor with from his office, so she said she had to come in often enough to fix it to avoid a questioning phone call from him, ha! The contractions were quickly bad enough that I would close my eyes and deep breathe/breathe out through them. Steven was behind me and would either rub my back or not touch me depending on what I directed him to do. Later he remarked both stunned and happy how I didn't cuss at him or call him names ;). So the doula walked in a little after 10am when I was mid contraction and the nurse was yet again trying to fix the monitor. She could tell I was in a contraction and was immediately at my side, helping me through it. Her presence is so calming and gentle, which is a huge reason of why I was drawn to her when we interviewed her, and was very helpful in that moment when I was, frankly, getting a little scared about how long this would all take and how I would handle it. For the next few contractions my doula watched me, helped Steven to help me, and opened up her bag of tricks.

She put lavender oil on my temples, got me on the TENS unit, brought out a rebozo wrap, and a massager. She would use the massager on my legs to help distract me and put the focus elsewhere during contractions. It really helped! I'm not sure how much the TENS unit helped, and at one point it annoyed me so I had Steven take it off, but I guess that means it was at least a distraction ;). I tried a few positions like in the rocking chair but that was great when I wasn't contracting and awful when I was, so it wasn't worth it. I did some standing and swaying and leaning over the raised up bed. Brittany was great about reminding me when to switch positions to help the baby continue to move down. Steven was wonderful about anticipating when I needed my lower back rubbed, as it really offset some of the pain I was having.

I started having really intense pressure in my pubic bone so she tried using the rebozo wrap to help the baby get underneath the bone. But any position I needed to be in to use the wrap was really uncomfortable for me, so we abandoned it after a while. She asked the nurse for any suggestions as to what would help (later explaining that she wants everyone to feel like a team, not like she is directing the birth without the nurses... smart lady) and Kelly suggested getting on my hands knees with the head of the bed raised up a bit. So I did that, with no shame as to the gaping back of my hospital gown. Brittany kept trying to cover my butt and I couldn't have cared less! The hands and knees was the single best position of my entire labor. It took the pressure off my pubic bone and I had Steven rubbing one hip and my doula rubbing the other. Oh wait, what was that 3rd set of hands? That was Kelly, the day nurse, who stayed in there for almost an hour straight holding the monitor against my stomach so that I could remain in that position. Brittany was blown away by how much the nurses interacted with me and stayed in there to help, with another nurse who wasn't assigned to me even coming in to do some imagery with me to help me through labor. I have said it a million times and will say again here, that the little country hospital I was so skeptical of completely amazed me and I will never birth anywhere else if I don't have to. It was small, intimate, and the staff was all around amazing. So back to my hands and knees. Eventually I got noodle armed. I wanted to stay in that position SO badly because I literally had moments of feeling completely painless, but I just couldn't hold myself up anymore. I think after that I tried some sitting in bed, with my legs 'froggied' out.

I eventually got up and was leaning on the side of the bed again. I was hot, nauseous, and thirsty. The nurses checked me at 11:30 am and I was 5 cm. So progress, but slow progress. The doctor came and said he'd break my water; I asked for him to wait and he said that was fine. I just didn't see much of a reason for him to do it and I didn't want to be on a 'clock'.  I asked the nurse what was typical as far as dilation goes and she had said a centimeter an hour. So I figured I had about 5 hours ahead of me (hey, maybe last night's nurse was right about baby being here by the time her 7pm shift would start!). A little before 12:30, I had eaten all my crushed ice and needed more. The nurses had stepped out so there was a few minutes of just Steven and I in the room. I was standing on the side of the bed, leaning onto the bed which was raised. I didn't have much time to process this thought, but something felt really weird all of a sudden. As much as I'd had uncomfortable pressure, there was suddenly a different type of pressure and a 'pop' feeling. Annnnnnnd water! Water all over my feet. I knew right away what had happened; the look on Steven's face as he figured it out was priceless. He ran to the door and yelled "her water broke!". Brittany came back in with my ice and I think was surprised at what she missed in only being out of the room for a few seconds. The nurses cleaned up the floor underneath me and said they needed to check me. But oh, the pressure! Seriously, I think I could take the pain of labor, even induced labor, any day, but that pressure still gives me nightmares! I was having trouble moving at all because it hurt so badly and eventually got on the bed. I lost it at that point from the pressure. Brittany was there talking me through and I'm sure I was traumatizing my poor husband who is used to seeing me in control of most everything.

The nurse checked me and..........5. 5 cm. STILL. Talk about losing it. I lost it some more. I felt like I had no control over anything (hello, I didn't!) and all I could think of was 5 more hours of this horrible, awful pressure. I told Steven I wanted an epidural. He asked for my code word, established in advance so he would know I really meant it. Brittany asked if I could do a few more contractions before deciding and I blurted out "mushrooms!" to Steven... yep, the code word. He told her that I really meant it. And then I was like "stadol, I want stadol!". Not my proudest moment, especially since stadol wouldn't have done a thing for the pressure, and the pain was not a problem at all. They asked me if I understood that it could take an hour to get the epidural and I said yes. So there I was laying there, eyes closed the entire time because I just could not be in that room. I turned back over on my hands and knees, because I knew that had worked before. Yeah, it wasn't touching it now. I was seriously afraid, as much as I know it happens all the time, that I would use the bathroom on the bed. My body was pushing and I freaked out because I knew it was too soon. From things I've read online, pushing too early can swell your cervix and make everything last longer, but this was involuntary. I couldn't help it! I said as much to Brittany, followed by "my body is breaking in half!". She apparently mouthed to Steven that there would be no epidural and then ran out of the room. I was aware at some point that she ran out, and I remember wondering if this would happen faster than the 5 hours I was thinking. I basically collapsed onto the bed on my stomach and just did not know what to do or how to handle it. It's funny how I could have some rational thoughts in the middle of all of this because I remember thinking "I probably shouldn't be laying on my stomach....".

Lady, whatever you're sellin, I ain't buyin! 

Kelly came back in and told me I needed to lay on my back. I freaked out because the thoughts of moving seemed impossible. Brittany and Steven eventually got me turned over. It was never declared that I was 10 cm, out loud where we could hear at least, but suddenly the room was bustling with nurses who were setting up the room for delivery. I didn't know most of this because my eyes were still closed, so I don't think I knew delivery was imminent. I also don't know at what point my doctor came in, but apparently they called him twice (at his office across the street) and he didn't answer because he was on the phone with another physician. At the same time as he was calling back, the unit manager was apparently running down the stairs of the hospital trying to catch him as he made his way to lunch (someone at his office must have told them he was getting ready to go to lunch). By the time he came in, I think I'd had maybe 4 or 5 of those involuntary pushes. Which, by the way, the body fascinates me. I seriously had no control over that!  Once the doctor was there and directing me to push, I think I only pushed 3 times. When he directed me to push at first, I was kind of like "whaaa?" and was probably fighting against the pressure a bit. But I got the hang of it quick. I felt what is referred to as the "ring of fire" and remember thinking that people are crazy to make a big deal out of that; I'd take the ring of fire any day over the pressure (a constant theme, I much prefer pain to pressure, but probably only because she came so fast!). So with the 3rd push, Felicity Marian was born into the world at 1:01pm. Yes, I was 5 cm at 12:30 pm, and my daughter was earthside at 1:01! It was as intense as it sounds.

Steven delivering his baby girl! I'm not brave enough to put it on facebook but I'll put it here :). Sorry, I know it's a bit Nat Geo, but thank God it's fuzzy because I love it! 

My eyes opened for the first time in possibly an hour or so the second I felt her be born. Sweet relief! It wasn't until then that I noticed the room had been transformed, there were more nurses, and oh... Steven was gowned and down near my feet!? Apparently, much to the shock of the nurses who know my doctor well and did not expect this, the doctor decided Steven would get gowned and help deliver his baby! I had no clue any of this was happening until he told me after, but he gowned up and delivered her head before the doctor delivered her body. How cool and special for him!? I was so, so proud of my husband who gets nauseous and light headed at the littlest medical thing, for watching and helping to deliver his daughter, and later exclaiming what an awesome experience it was! And no worries, I had my doula right there beside me, not that my eyes were open enough for me to know who was there or not ;).

 Right after she was born, I asked Steven "what is it!?" and after a brief pause he said "it's a girl!". Since everyone was predicting a boy, we were in shock! Even after our Friday appointment where the ultrasound tech said "she"... yeah, that happened... and we were convinced she had just said a random pronoun. The next few minutes were terrifying. My doctor had said she would come straight to my chest and could initiate breastfeeding if everything was ok. So when she was handed to the warmer, I knew it wasn't good. For probably 3-4 minutes they worked on her, the pediatrician ran in, they suctioned her, and gave her oxygen. Her apgar was 1! Finally she began breathing and crying, which was about the sweetest noise in the world. And then she didn't stop for about 45 minutes, but that was ok with me! Her 2nd apgar was 9. They could not explain what happened but there were theories like her being born so fast, her not realizing she had been born, and fluids not being able to be squeezed out of her during delivery. Once they got her going, they brought her over to me and put her on my chest. It was really interesting trying to hold my newborn while the doctor delivered the placenta and stitched me up! She was certainly a good distraction. She pooped so they took her away to clean her up quickly and she pooped again. That's my girl! Then they gave her back for more cuddles and Steven called both our parents as she screamed in the background. Steven says my placenta fit in the palm of the doctor's hand, which the doctor told him was due to my blood pressure throughout the pregnancy. Anyway, I was dying to know Felicity's weight, so I asked if they weighed her. The nurse, God love her, responded, "your birth plan says no weight or anything for the first hour so we haven't done it. Do you want it done?", and I said "yes!". Not sure why I was dying to know so much! She was 6 lbs 9.1 oz and 19.75 inches. Little peanut! After everything was done, they brought me pizza, salad, and chocolate cake, which I wolfed down while Steven held Felicity. Then I took the most glorious shower ever and the pediatrician came back on to check Felicity. Afterward, I walked her to the nursery (thanks to my friend lidocaine!) for her vitamin K shot and then down to our postpartum room where we waited for my parents to arrive. And that, my friends, is the story of our precious little girl entering the world! 

So back to the epidural thing. I am so, so glad that everything worked out the way it did because it was really important to me to birth without an epidural or other pain medications. I don't know that I would have regretted the epidural with the way I felt, though it's hard to say since I don't know that it would have helped with pressure. I do know I would have really, really regretted the stadol. I credit my husband and doula with getting me as far as they did before I caved, and I am beyond thrilled that my baby came fast enough that it ended up being moot. I don't know enough about 'normal' labor to know this for sure, but I think if the baby had come on a more normal timetable... ie not 5 cm and delivering in 31 minutes... the pressure would have been more bearable or built up more slowly or something. I would hope that future deliveries of mine will either a) go as fast so it's moot or b) go more slowly and be more manageable. I will say that our doula was worth her weight in gold and one of the best decisions we ever made. I think both my husband and I would have been completely lost without her, even with how amazing our nurses were. I would highly recommend a doula to anyone wanting to birth without pain meds, and especially to someone being induced not wanting to use pain meds. The nurses were really impressed with me and said I was about the 3rd person this year to birth without an epidural and the only one who was induced. I can't tell you how much the experience and that knowledge empowered me. I seriously still look at Felicity, think about that crazy intense day, and get overwhelmed by what my body is capable of. With all the failures I feel like I deal with in my body- hypothyroidism, PCOS, low progesterone, high blood pressure- it was the best feeling of my body finally getting something right

One thing that I cannot express enough that I loved about the hospital is their commitment to our birth plan/preferences. My doctor was very honest with me that my pregnancy was not low risk and that a healthy baby and mother mattered the most. I agreed with him, and was glad they were willing to work with what they could. We were never questioned about our choice to not vaccinate in the hospital, about our refusal of erythromycin, One thing I had taken out of the plan was my desire to push for 6 seconds instead of 10 (based on actual research, not just a random number!). My doctor had said in the office that he does 10 because the mother generally only gives a good 5 or 6 seconds, so I took that out, trusting him in that. Well when I was getting ready to push, he made a comment about how he needed me to give a good 6 second push. I was so touched that he remembered that! The nurses who came in during delivery were at some point all informed of my wishes because they followed them exactly, unless I requested otherwise (like the weight). I know that's the way it should be, but often times it's not, and I was so impressed and pleased with my birth experience. But most of all, I'm pleased with my little family of 3 :). Thank God for a healthy mommy and healthy (CUTE!) baby! Hard to believe our baby will be 13 days old tomorrow and it will be her due date! 


  1. You are AMAZING! Beautiful story. I am so super impressed. Way to go! And she is beautiful.

  2. YOU DID IT! So proud!! Giving birth is probably the single most empowering thing I have EVER done! And while I don't have the same struggles, after the GD it felt good to be able to have my body work correctly!

  3. YOU DID IT! So proud! I think that giving birth is the single most empowering thing I have ever done!

  4. With my last labor I was 7 cm and they didn’t believe I was ready to push but you don’t argue with a woman on her 5th labor. 7cm or not, Brigid was born. When my husband asked how it was possible for her to be born at only 7cm, the doc said, when the uterus knows what it is doing, it can happen instantly. There are no “rules” for labor. It is like statistics…. the odds are fine for the 99, but for the 1, they don’t mean squat. Glad all went well. I almost went with an epidural last time too… had even signed the paperwork, but Brigid arrived before the anesthesiologist ever had a chance. :)

  5. Great story; well done, mama!
    The part about your water breaking and feeling sooo much pressure reminded me so much of my first birth. Of course, I had a few hours of dilating and 2 hours of pushing still to come, but at that point, I seriously thought I was going to give birth right then, before the midwife arrived!

  6. Oh the pressure is the pain!! I am so impressed with you being induced and still having a natural childbirth. My first one was induced and I was begging for the epidural (and got it). Then I got it again twice more before FINALLY having my 4th baby drug-free. You are a superhero!!!

  7. My first comment seems to have disappeared, but I wanted to add to it that, with my first labor, I arrived at the hospital at 8am at 4cm. At 10 they broke my water. By 3:30 I was still only 5cm. 7 1/2 hours moving 1cm. Simply, my labor stalled, and breaking my water made it more painful but didn’t help it progress. In fact they have broken my water twice and neither time did it do anything but increase the pain. Never again.

  8. Congratulations! :) She is beautiful and I am so glad that things went so well!