Catherine's Birth Story (Long!)
(I wrote this about 3 weeks ago, when Catherine was a week old. I am finally posting it today:lostit:)
Due to gestational diabetes, my OB recommended that we induce at 39 weeks. We arrived for my scheduled induction at 7am on March 5th. I barely slept the night before because I was excited and nervous. Induction scared me, and as a VBAC hopeful, I was really worried that I was increasing my chances at another c section. I had a lot of faith in my OB, though. He was confident that I just needed a little push, since my cervix was 2cm and ripe. He suggested either breaking my water first or starting a bit of pitocin and then breaking my water after labor was well established. We decided on option B since breaking my water might not work fast enough, and we didn't want the clock ticking. I was on the monitors by then and having gentle contractions every 5 minutes, so my body was definitely gearing up for labor even before the meds started! I ordered a simple breakfast (cream of wheat, fruit cup, and scrambled eggs) to help my energy while we waited for the meds. My wonderful nurse got me all hooked up on my saline/pitocin IV at about 8am and DH and I took to the hallways. My contractions slowly started to get more intense, but I was walking through them still. My pitocin dose was slowly increased every half hour. We had a heck of a time keeping baby on the monitor with all of my moving around, plus she was all over, too. My doc and nurse were comfortable with the limited monitoring--they were glad to see me moving! After a couple hours of walking and rocking on a birthing ball, DH and I decided to take a rest. At this point, contractions were tolerable in bed and my lack of sleep (barely 3 hours the night before) was catching up to me. Better to rest now while I still could! We watched Andy Griffith, and then Pawn Stars on TV. DH ordered some lunch for me, but I wasn't hungry so he ate it.
Somewhere around 1pm my doc came in, pleased with my labor, and broke my water. It came out in gushes. Holy cow, there was so much! It was clear, so that was good. The crummy news was that I wasn't much more dilated yet. I got back on the ball and the contractions quickly got more intense. I could feel her head being pushed on my cervix now, which hurt! I knew it was helping move things along, so this was a welcome sign.
I was starting to have a hard time staying comfortable on the ball through contractions--it took just a little too much concentration to stay upright on it and I couldn't adequately relax during the intensifying contractions. I decided to try the tub. My worry here was that in both of my prior labors, the tub was not the magical pain relief that I hoped for, and I would cave in and get an epidural. I really wanted to go natural this time! Sure enough, the tub was NOT giving me relief. The contractions got MUCH more intense almost immediately. By now I was moaning my way through contractions. My OB popped in and commented on how it definitely sounded like labor in there. In between my moans, I laughed. Yes, it hurt like hell, but I was still ready for laughs. He also told me that while I was probably first or second in line for delivery as of 8am, I was definitely first now. This was exciting, but again, kinda freaked me out. Wait, so I'm having a baby? I still hadn't totally come to terms with that notion for some reason. There was so much going on that I could only focus short term.
The contractions were unbelievable now. I was able to relax my lower half really well in the tub, but the pain was intense and they were coming one on top of the other. DH later told me that they were about a minute apart. I asked to be checked, and the nurse said I was 5cm. Wait, what?!? All of this and I've only dilated 2 more centimeters? I couldn't bear the thought of many more hours of this intense pain and caved on the whole epidural thing. My nurse left to go call for the anesthesiologist. She came back to say he was with another patient, so it would be a few more minutes. I was starting to feel pushy now, though...I didn't want to admit it at first. It seemed impossible--I was 5cm only 10 minutes ago. I mentioned it to the nurse and she checked me again--sure enough, I was fully dilated and baby was moving down. Okay, then, never mind on that epi!
Contractions were insane now, and I had the extra insanity of needing to push. Minutes earlier I was anticipating hours of labor to go, but now it was a mad dash to get to the bed. DH was awesome and held me upright while he and the nurse dried me off as best as we could. Gravity was working now and this baby wanted OUT. I dove onto the bed and laid on my right side--it just felt like curling up would give me some relief, especially after the time on my back in the tub. Now it was shift change and my new nurse introduced herself. I said, "It's nice to meet you. I'm Lauren. I'm not normally like this." Yeah, still trying to crack jokes.
I got really nauseous at this point, and DH grabbed me one of the vomit bags. I dry heaved a couple times while my body pushed and nurses came rushing in to the room. I was panicking a bit here. My body felt out of control; there was so much commotion. The pain was frightening and I was afraid to push more, even though my body was doing it already. I started hyperventilating into my vomit bag, too. It was weird: my brain was calmly telling me to move the bag and breathe and just push, but every other nerve ending was firing like crazy. I was both panicked and calm, but unable to physically handle everything. I could hear DH telling me how good a job I was doing, and i remember calmly asking him to support my left leg a little better (it was kinda dangling and it was uncomfortable and making pushing difficult). They threw an oxygen mask on me at some point after baby's head was out. My nurse looked me in the eyes and told me that I needed to push this baby out NOW. I don't think there was an emergency or anything, but I think she knew how overwhelmed I was. One big push, and out she came at 3:17pm! I think I was on the bed for no more than 10 minutes, but that was the most intense 10 minutes of my life for sure.
They put the baby on my chest immediately. I remember asking if she was, in fact, a girl and DH laughed and said she was. I remember hearing DH cut the cord, which I never noticed with the first two deliveries. I held my little Catherine through all of this and tried to soak it all in and process what just happened to me. It was so fast! My doctor did not even make it in the room in time to deliver. Apparently another OB from another practice heard me and ran in. I never had a chance to meet her, either! So weird! My doc delivered the placenta and then sewed me up since my old tear from DD2's delivery opened up.
One of the nurses asked for the baby when I was ready so she could weigh her and clean her up. DH stayed with the baby and let her suck on his finger--it was obvious that she was ready to nurse! Once she came back to me, she nursed like a champ for a half hour. I was up and walking around right after, too. We moved over to the maternity ward and made our phone calls to announce Catherine's arrival, and by 6pm my older daughters arrived with my parents and got to meet their new little sister!
In the end, I got my pain med free birth just as I had always wanted. The pitocin made for a crazy fast labor, but it was still amazing and incredible. No, it was not the calm, low-key birth that I had envisioned, but it was crazy and exciting and fun despite the intensity. I'm so glad that I never got that epi, although I felt disappointed in myself for awhile for not holding out a little longer because then I never would have even asked. In hindsight, I was basically in transition when I asked...aren't we supposed to be a little crazy in transition? :) I also felt super embarrassed about my moaning, and the few screams during pushing. I apologized out loud to everyone in between contractions. It took me a few days (and reassuring chats with my husband) to get over my embarrassment over the noise. So silly, really.
Catherine is a wonderful little baby so far. She is breastfeeding so well, and is well over her birth weight already. She sleeps all the time, so I get lots of snuggles! Her big sisters are great helpers and are adjusting really well. I feel even closer to and more in love with my husband, too...if nothing else, that's one of the best parts of going through labor and delivery together :)
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