Sunday, November 3, 2013

Jude's Birth Story: Part 5

I was starting to get very discouraged.  Why can't I be ready to push?  I wanted it to be over so bad. 

"Have you tried any counter pressure?" my midwife asked.

"No," I answered.  Would that take the pain away?? I was willing to try anything.

She showed Adam how to use his fists to apply counter pressure to my lower back.  It was instantly relieving. 

"Now I am going to do circles on your belly," my midwife said.  "Your uterus is very sensitive during labor, and it picks up on any little activity.  So when I rub circles on your belly, your muscles are going to pay attention to that, and pay less attention to the pain.  Does that make sense?" she explained.

I couldn't tell if she was making this up, trying to make me believe it was working, or if it was actually working.  Either way, I went with believing her, and it did help.  I tried my best to focus on the circles, and less on the contraction. 

Adam and my midwife worked as a team over the next few minutes.  Eventually, the counter pressure stopped working. 

"This means that the baby has moved very far down, Amanda.  He is not situated toward the back anymore.  He is in the front now.  We are very close."  I hoped she was right.

I paced around the room.  I was starting to get very hot.  I really wanted to strip off my hospital gown, but I tried to resist.  I'm not into being naked in a room full of strangers.  I asked for a cold rag, and my nurse brought it to me. 

I walked over to the tray table that was by the big window in my room.  I leaned on it and focused out the window with the rag to my forehead.  It looked so pretty outside.  My view was mostly of the parking lot, but the sky was so pretty.  I thought about how this was just a normal day to other people.  It's so strange to be in one of the biggest moments of your life, and to look out and see people driving by, like it's just any other day.  I wish I had a picture of this moment.  It felt like such a private and desperate moment for me.  I thought about the curse that God put on women in childbirth because of  Eve's sin.  I wondered what it would have felt like if there had been no sin.

I gripped the sides of the tray table, trying to control the contractions.  I remember thinking that it didn't satisfy, and that I needed to grip something else.  I felt out of control with the pain. 

"I can't do this anymore," I whimpered to Adam.  I really didn't feel like crying, but I felt like I needed to, to let him know how serious I was.  I never asked for an epidural, but I thought about it, just to let him know how much I was hurting.  Everyone had been telling me how great I was doing with the pain and how calm and collected I was.  I felt like they didn't understand how much I was hurting, because I wasn't showing it.  But at the same time, I didn't feel like I needed to show it.  It wouldn't change anything.  I would have to deal with it either way, so I just kept quiet.

In my head, I started getting upset.  I wanted to start pushing, but I did not have the urge.  I searched my body and found nothing.  No need for bearing down.  No desire to push.  I spread my legs apart and started lightly bouncing and gently bearing down.  I felt like he was low, but I still didn't need to push.  I wondered if I would ever have the urge, or if I should just start pushing.  I continued to hesitantly bear down.

"I want to start pushing.  I want her to tell me it's time to push," I whimpered again.

Adam said something to my midwife to get her to come over.  I don't remember details from here.  She tried to check me while I was standing, but she couldn't see much. 

"What side does she like to lay on?" my midwife asked Adam.

"Her right side, " he replied.  I remember being surprised that Adam knew the answer to that question.  I smiled inside.  I thought it was so sweet that he knew the answer.  I didn't think he paid attention to things like that.  When the boy sleeps, he sleeps!

"Come lay down, Amanda.  Lay on your right side.   I'm going to check you," she said as she guided me to the bed.

As soon as I started to lay down, I jumped up.

"I can't do it.  I can't lay down.  It hurts.  I can't lay down!" I yelled as I tried to pull up on the bed rails.

"I have to check you.  You need to lay down," my midwife said as she gently pushed me back into the bed.  I was surprised that she was making me lay down.  I wondered why she wouldn't let me up.

I don't remember what I said at this point, but she managed to check me and said that I was about 9.5 to 10 centimeters dilated. 

"Let's just see what happens when you push.  Give me a very little push, Amanda."

I gave the slightest push that I could.

There are no words to explain what happened at this point. 

My body began baring down on its own.  I had no control whatsoever.  I had no control over how hard I was bearing down, how long I was bearing down, or anything.  I heard myself scream.  It was a terrifying scream, to me.  I did not recognize my own voice.  It was a mixture of a scream and a groan.  My throat hurt.

"Ok, let's go ahead and get ready," my midwife tried to say as calmly as she could.  Everyone in the room started running around.  "I need someone to grab her legs.  I can't see well enough.  She needs to be on her back."

I have no idea who was holding my legs, and who was where.  My eyes were closed.  My body continued to randomly bear down. 

I bit my wash cloth and kept my head turned to the side.  I continued to scream each time I bore down.  I had no control at all.

"Would it be possible for me to catch the baby?" I heard Adam ask.

"Yes!  Let's get you suited up!  Can we get him some scrubs? Hurry!  He's coming!" my midwife called to my nurse.

"Oh, wow!  Already?" Adam asked surprised.

"Oh yes, he's coming!" My midwife exclaimed.

I was so surprised.  I didn't think he would want to catch the baby, and things were happening so fast that I was surprised he even stopped them to ask. 

I remember hearing the "ding" on the warmer.  At some point, the baby nurse had come in, and the warmer was ready.  There were so many things going on, but I felt so out of it.  So out of my mind.

I felt myself bear down.  Hard.

"There's the head! Look at the hair!" someone announced.

I felt someone start playing with the baby's hair.  How strange, I thought.

"Ok, Amanda, I need you to give me a really good push," my midwife coached.

As soon as I began my first real push (on purpose), my body took over again.  I felt my body curl into a "C" as I bore down.  The pressure was so unreal.  My body must be exploding.  I was positive that I was tearing.  How could I not be? 

"The head is out!  Great push, now we are going to wait for him to rotate," I heard my midwife say.

Adam later told me that this part scared him.  Jude's head was out, but he was completely lifeless and blue.  No breathing, no facial movements, seemingly no life in him. 

"Would you like to reach down and touch his head?" I heard a nurse ask.

"No," I answered very bluntly, eyes still closed.  I was ready to get him out.  I did not want to sit in this moment.

"Ok, he has rotated Amanda," I heard my midwife say.

I knew nothing of babies rotating.  I guess I had never really read or researched about this point in childbirth.  I sat there, waiting for a contraction.  I didn't feel the urge to push.  I laid there peacefully. 

"One more push, Amanda!  You've got to get those shoulders out!" a nurse at my left shoulder yelled.

I remember feeling very irritated at her.  Didn't she know I needed to wait until I had a contraction to push?  I was mad that she was rushing me.

I went ahead and pushed, and I felt my body step in and take over.  The pressure intensified, and just when I thought he wasn't coming out, the shoulders delivered, and I felt his whole body slide out.  I remember thinking about how I thought I felt August deliver with the epidural, but this was nothing like that.

"Look at your baby!"  I heard someone say.

I looked down as he was being placed on my chest.  (Adam did catch him, but I missed that part.  Adam said he was much more slippery than he was anticipating.)  Jude was a mixture of blue and purple.  He had a towel around him, and several nurses was rubbing him vigorously as he laid on my chest.  There was no "white stuff" on him, and he didn't have a lot of blood on him either.  I was surprised.  I realized they were trying to get him to pink up, so I began rubbing his back and talking to him.  Adam later told me that as the head came out, they saw that the cord was wrapped once around his head, and that my midwife had to slip it off of him. 

"It's mommy.  It's mommy, honey.  I love you.  It's ok," I whispered to him. 

He began to open his eyes and look at me.  His color started to improve. 

"He knows his momma!"  One of the nurses said.

I am not sure how long I held him.  I remember feeling his cord rubbing up against my arm.  It was a very uncomfortable feeling.  The cord was so thick and big.  My midwife said it was very healthy.  I didn't like the way it felt on my arm, all rubbery.  But what I really didn't like was the way I felt it tugging inside of me.  I could feel it tugging on the placenta.  I remembered it still had to come out, and I wondered if it would hurt. 

"Ok, Amanda.  It's been a couple minutes, so we are going to go ahead and cut the cord.  Adam, would you like to cut it?" my midwife asked.

Adam said yes, and they handed him the scissors.  I could tell the cord was very tough. 

After a couple minutes, my midwife suggested that I give Jude to the baby nurse to have his vitals checked and his weights and measurements done.  I'm not sure if there was any kind of emergency, but I remember my midwife looking very attentively to things going on down below. 

A nurse came over to my bedside and hooked something up to my IV.  I'm still not sure if it was fluids or Pitocin, but I am betting Pitocin since my placenta still hadn't come out yet.  As soon as the IV was hooked up into the port, my midwife began pressing on my belly.  After a minute or so, I felt the placenta slide out. 

"Was that the placenta?  Can I see it?"  I asked.  Placentas always fascinate me.

My midwife held it up.  It was huge and bright red!  She showed me the hole where she had broken my water.  I couldn't believe how big the hole was!  It was about the size of a baseball.  She said the placenta was very healthy.

My midwife told me she was going to start looking for tears.

"I have found a tear that is about this big." According to her finger span, it was a pretty decent size.  "I would say it's a 2nd degree tear.  I am going to clean you up and look for more tears, ok?" 

I was very disappointed that I had torn again.  My legs were shaking so badly that they were convulsing.  It worried me, but I hoped it was just adrenaline.  My teeth were also chattering pretty badly. 

As my midwife cleaned me, she began to find more tears.  She gave me a numbing shot next to each of the tears before she began stitching.  The shot was very painful.  After the shot, I could feel the tugging of the sewing.  I tried not to cry.  The last 2 stitches she found at the last minute, and had to sew them up without a shot.  That was the hardest part.

During this time, the baby nurse tried to keep me distracted.  She announced Jude's weight: 8 pounds 8 ounces!  20 inches long!  I couldn't believe he was so big. He was the same length as August, but heavier.  And it showed!  He was so chunky. 

When my midwife had finally finished the stitches, I somehow managed to lift up so they could change the sheets underneath me.  They covered me with a blanket and handed Jude back to me.  I began to calm down, and my body started to relax.  I nursed him for the first time, just 20 minutes or so after birth.  He latched right away.  Not a great latch, but we would work on that.  I was just glad we were able to.  I can't even remember if he took both sides or not.  But I remember that we looked into each other's eyes as he nursed, and it was a beautiful moment.  I felt so at peace. 

We stayed at the hospital two nights after that and left without any complications for either Jude or for me.  It was a wonderful experience.  My recovery was so much easier this time around.  I was up walking around very soon after his birth.  I told Adam right after I had him that I would never have a natural birth again.  However, not even a week later, my tune had changed.  I now can't wait to do it again.  It's so funny how that works.  Adam laughs every time I say I would do it again.  But you really can't beat the simplicity and the experience of a natural child birth.  The pain and the work are so worth it.  I am so thankful that I was able to have this experience.  It is forever engraved into my heart.  Every time I look at Jude and he looks back at me, I feel like we have this bond between us that no one else can understand.  I can't think about his birth without getting teary-eyed.  It's such a part of me.  I am so grateful to God for His hand in Jude's birth and to my husband and midwife for their amazing support.  It was such a beautiful experience.  We love Jude so much, and I am looking forward to our life together as a family of 4.....well, 4 for now.  ;)


Hearing Test....passed 100%
Not happy about his first time in his car seat
Took a pic of my recovery room as we were leaving
I wanted to remember what my belly looked like the day we went home.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Jude's Birth Story: Part 4

We walked back into our room, and I was already feeling defeated. 

"What do you want to do?" Adam asked me.

"I don't know.  This isn't going to work.  It's already been over an hour since she broke my water, and nothing is happening.  They are going to put me on Pitocin," I answered.

"Well why don't you try the exercise ball?"

"I guess I can," I sighed.

The nurse walked back in to check on us, and we asked her for a ball.  I had brought my own to the hospital, but we left it in the van.  That morning the nurse had told us that they had exercise balls that we could use if we wanted to.  We decided to use theirs so we wouldn't have to clean ours up. 

I went to the bathroom to change mesh underwear and get a new pad since I still had water leaking pretty heavily.  Adam surfed through the channels on the t.v., and after finding nothing good on to watch, settled for a world news channel.  The nurse came back in with a green exercise ball and ice chips.  She checked on my wireless monitor, told us to let her know if we needed anything else, and headed out.  I appreciated that she didn't hover.  She gave us plenty of privacy.

I sat down on the ball and began bouncing.  Adam and I made small talk about the news and occasionally answered texts from family to keep them updated.  They were all planning to come to the hospital when things were getting close.  I felt silly that we really had nothing to update on.  After a few minutes of bouncing, I realized that I wasn't really bouncing that much.  I wondered how high/hard you were supposed to bounce to actually get things going.  I have heard that bouncing on the exercise ball works for a lot of people, especially once your water is broken.  I began bouncing much more vigorously than before.

Out of nowhere, I had very strong contraction.  Much stronger than any of the ones I had felt up until that point.  There was a very sharp sensation with it.  It felt like a really intense period cramp mixed with a gas pain. 

"Whoa, that hurts," I told Adam. 

After a few minutes, I had another one.

"Maybe we should start timing these," I said. 

Adam pulled up my contraction timer ("Full Term") on my phone.  I had downloaded it early in my pregnancy.

The contractions were coming every 5-7 minutes.  I tried to continue to bounce through them, hoping it would increase the intensity and make them come more frequently.  However, after just a few contractions, I had to stop bouncing during the contraction and just focus on breathing.  I would take a deep breath and a long exhale. I would picture myself blowing the pain away.  It seemed to make me feel like I was doing something to control or cope with the pain.  I already could no longer talk through the contractions.

Somewhere around this time, I noticed the monitor wasn't picking up my contractions.  It was showing a flat line, so something wasn't working right.  I wanted my midwife to be able to see that things were progressing, so we called the nurse in to see if she could fix the monitors.  I remember I couldn't look up at her or talk to her when she came in.  Another nurse came in to help her with the monitors, and she told me that I had a pretty color on my toenails.  I remember I had trouble thanking her, and I felt rude for not being able to smile or make conversation. (Fun fact: My toenails were painted "mint candy apple" by Essie.  The same color I wore on my toes when I had August. It looks baby blue, so I thought it was appropriate!)  

At this point it was around 10:45 a.m., two hours after my midwife had broken my water.

After about 30 minutes of this, the contractions were still about every 5-7 minutes.  I knew they needed to get closer together.  The clock was ticking.  My midwife would be there around lunch time, and I didn't want her to put me on Pitocin.  I tried to think of what else we could do.  I remembered that my midwife had talked to me about nipple stimulation.  I know, I said nipple.  Calm down, it's not that crazy.  I debated leaving this part out, but I really can't.  I have no idea why or how this works, but my midwife suggested as a natural induction technique to stimulate my nipples to bring on contractions.  For some people, it can take hours using a breast pump for this to do anything.  I decided to just use my fingers to mimic a baby sucking.  Yes, it was awkward.  Yes, I kind of felt like a perv.  But I did this for a few minutes while bouncing on the ball.

A few minutes was all it took.  My contractions started coming hard and fast.  They were every 2 to 3 minutes at this point.  I couldn't believe how quickly the stimulation had worked.  I couldn't believe it worked, period.

I had to get up.  I couldn't sit through the contractions anymore.  As I stood up, my water gushed everywhere.  All over my flip flops (the ones I like to wear all the time, not sure what I was thinking), and all over the floor.  The water was so deep that it was even with the top of my flip flops, which have some height to them.

At this time, it was somewhere around 11:30.  I knew my midwife would be here to check me around lunch time.  We put my flip flops in the shower, and Adam wiped up the fluid with some towels.  I started pacing around the room, half trying to walk through the pain, and half trying to make sure things continued to progress.  When I would feel a contraction, I would put my head into Adam's chest, and we would sway back and forth.  I tried to continue trips to the bathroom to keep my bladder empty.  The contractions were at least a minute long at this point, and some were about a minute and a half long.

For the next hour and 15 minutes, I labored.  Contractions stayed 2-3 minutes apart, mostly closer to 2 minutes.  I only felt the need to blow out.  I didn't moan, hum, or make any noise.  I didn't feel like it would help me.  I felt like I was saving energy by not making any sounds.  I paced around the room, only stopping for the contractions.  I pictured a wave rising high, and then falling.  I tried not to think about the future, just to focus on one contraction at a time.

Around 12:45, my midwife arrived.  She looked at my monitor and told me that I had an excellent labor pattern.  I was so glad to hear that she thought things were going well.  I knew they were going as they should, but I was just afraid they would try to rush me.

My midwife had me lay down in bed so she could check me in between contractions.  I laid down quickly because I knew I did not want to feel a contraction while laying down.  It didn't hurt at all when she checked me, and she didn't have to go very far up at all. 

"You're at a 6!  You are doing great!" she said.

I was happy and disappointed at the news.  Happy because these contractions were doing something, and sad because I was hoping to at least be at a 7.  In my mind, I thought I was at a 7 for some reason.

"I'm going to go check on a few other patients, but I will stay at the hospital.  I don't think it's going to be long, Amanda.  You are about to enter transition.  Things are going to get more intense.  Have you had anything to drink?" my midwife asked.

"No, just ice chips," I replied.  The nurses said I couldn't have any liquids.

"Well, I'm going to go get you a Sprite.  Adam, would you like anything?  Coke?"

Adam nodded.  I love my midwife.  I'm not sure how anyone is supposed to labor without fluids or a little sugar.  She was great.

After she brought us the drinks, she headed out of the room and told me that she would be back in a little while to check on me.  I drank the Sprite.  Sprite has never tasted so good.  I savored it as it went down.  It seemed like such a luxury.

I continued to pace and sway, pace and sway.  At this point, it was just after 1 p.m.  I wanted to lay down and rest so badly, but I just couldn't.  I had to keep moving to deal with the pain.  But I was so tired.  So, so tired.  I remembered that a couple of my friends who have had natural labors told me that they labored in the rocking chair.  I really didn't want to sit down, but I needed to take the weight off of my feet for a few minutes.  I sat in the rocking chair.  I asked Adam to get my pink fuzzy socks out of our bag since my feet were cold on the tile floor.  It ended up being quite the fashion statement with my hospital gown.  We now laugh and refer to those socks as my "amniotic socks" since they got soaked with fluid and stayed on for the duration of the day.  (Don't worry, they've since been washed!) I was only in the chair for 5-10 minutes, but I was glad I was able to take a load off.  Adam took this clip with his phone. 

Between 1:00 and 2:00, my midwife came in a couple times to check on me.  Every time she would come in the room, my contractions would stall.  I guess I was getting a little bit of stage fright or something.  I wanted so badly for her to tell me that I was ready to push.  She knew that I was progressing because she was watching my monitor out at the nurse's station.  I didn't really realize that at the time though.  I was kind of out of it. 

By 2:00, my contractions were every 1-2 minutes.  I told Adam that I wanted my midwife in the room.  I wanted her in there because I wanted her to help me or tell me I was ready to push.  I felt like things had to be close, and I felt like I needed her support.  She told me to lay down on the bed so she could check me.  It was so hard to lay on the bed.  It was so painful to be in that position.  She checked me and said that I was a "stretchy 8", and that she could easily stretch me to a 9.

"Do it!" I said.  "Stretch me!"

She laughed and said that she was going to let my body progress as it needed to. 

"This is where you asked for your epidural last time, Amanda.  Do you remember?  And you have always told me that you regretted that.  This is where you are now.  It is very intense.  But you can do it, and you want to do it.  You are doing a great job."  She was so encouraging.

At this point, I told Adam to leave the contraction timer alone because I needed his full attention.  I knew we didn't need it anymore.  Things were getting close.  I remember at this point going into the bathroom to empty my bladder.  My midwife was in the bathroom with me.  I looked into the mirror as I washed my hands.  My face was so pale.  I looked like I had been hit by a truck.  I was so, so tired. 

"Why am I so pale?" I asked.

"Well, I know you have been breathing well.  Make sure you are still breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth though," she said.

I made sure to follow her instructions.  I wanted the baby to have enough oxygen. 

We went back out into the room and I leaned on Adam.  We swayed through a contraction.

"Wait right there!  What a beautiful moment.  May I take a picture?" my midwife asked.

I nodded and had to give a little laugh.  I'm sure I looked great.  But I knew I would want to look back on the moment later. 

I started to wonder how much more I could take.  Things had to happen soon, right?  I was running out of steam.  I searched my body for the urge to push, but found nothing.  I couldn't do it anymore.

Images by Freepik