Sunday, September 2, 2012
Squeamish birth details below. You have been warned!
I want to write out Amy's birth story before the details get fuzzy so I'd better stop procrastinating. Or whatever else it is I do all day. Oh wait, like feeding children, nursing a baby, unpacking, organizing, reorganizing, cleaning, dropping off kids, dropping off hubby, picking up hubby, picking up kids? Hmmm...maybe that's not really procrastinating. But I do feel a little anxious to get it down in writing sooner rather than later.
Amy's due (guess!) date was Sunday, July 1st. Saturday, June 23rd, I lost my mucous plug sometime in the afternoon. I figured it was likely she'd arrive the next day if things followed the pattern they had with Becca. We were already starting out the same. I had lots of Braxton Hicks contractions after that but they never required me to stop what I was doing. We had dinner plans to go to a German restaurant with our wonderful friends Stasi and Aaron. I decided we should keep our date. It was just Braxton Hicks after all. :) And it was our last chance to go out with them, and first and last at that restaurant, before the move. About 30 minutes before we were supposed to leave, the contractions changed to where I could keep doing what I was doing but I would stop talking and take a couple of breaths. Nothing noticeable to anyone else though. So we went to dinner. I must be crazy. Dinner was delicious. When we were almost done with dinner, Stasi and I went to the bathroom. Finally, because I was excited and because it hadn't really been relevant (?! really Abby? hahaha, I crack myself up), I told Stasi that I was maybe in labor. After dinner we all went back to our house and visited for a bit, though everyone else kept joking that maybe they needed to leave so we could have this baby. But things were still just as they'd been at dinner. Finally we said bye and laughed together that if Eric and I didn't show up at church the next day, they'd know why.
I went to bed around midnight. I was able to sleep for a couple of hours. All of this pretty much followed the patterns of labor I'd had with Esther & Becca. Especially the whole, "go to bed and sleep or try to sleep only to find that you can't because you're in labor". With Esther I went into labor around midnight, just as I was laying down to sleep. I made the mistake of trying to sleep anyway. They weren't really intense contractions, just such that sleep was out of the question. But I was so tired that I was willing to try for sleep first. With Becca I had learned a little. Also I did get a couple of hours of sleep with Becca and then woke in the middle of the night with contractions. So this time around, I did as I'd done with Becca. I got up, walked around, cleaned, just generally kept busy. Again, I could tell it was early labor because I could do things and wasn't feeling the need to focus ONLY on contractions.
This time though, I kept thinking that I needed to wait longer before waking Eric. I had this idea in my head that I couldn't be far enough along to need him. After all, with Esther and Becca, I had gotten to the hospital and 7am and 9am, respectively, and been only 4 1/2's. This time I wasn't really considering all the Braxton Hicks I'd had through the day Saturday and that the evening ones required a little more concentration.
Well, by about 3am I knew I needed Eric's help but I still didn't think I needed to go in yet. I discovered that I liked rocking my hips through contractions, but I still felt very present and aware. I didn't feel like I was drawing into myself as I have with active labor. I woke Eric and he tells me know that at the time he knew it was time to go in. He was hoping it wasn't too late! We woke Maddie enough to tell her we were going to the hospital, to not worry about trying to find a ride to church for the girls, and that we'd call her as soon as we had more info. Even in her half-awake state she still managed a few super excited exclamations. Having her there sure simplified that side of things!
A little background here. After seeing midwives with all my babies, I knew that's what I wanted again. But our insurance only covered ONE group of midwives. I still find that ridiculous, especially considering we were in Los Angeles County. They were in downtown LA too. So throughout the pregnancy Eric told me (and the baby) that we needed to wait until a weekend or in the middle of the night. Looks like Amy, and my body, listened. We made it there in 20 minutes, no different than past drives while in labor. On the way I threw up and found myself wondering if I could possibly already be in transition. This was the first labor where contractions did not slow or die out on the drive (although they always picked back up with all the others, after we arrived...). Eric was super fast and reached behind his seat while driving, dumped out a bag of baby stuff and handed me the bag just in time to become a barf bag. Talk about skills.
By the time we were leaving our house, I knew I was definitely in labor I just wasn't sure where I'd be at when we arrived. Things did get intense enough in the car though that I told Eric that I wanted an epidural when we got there. However, once we got there and were walking through the hospital to the labor and delivery floor, I felt like I'd be able to make it without. Especially since Eric was helping, we were finally there, and this baby was on its way! Sometimes a mental shift like that is just what you need, I guess. All thoughts of an epidural left my mind at that point. And huge props to Eric for not asking me about it anymore. Because I never even told him I'd changed my mind back to the original plan!
We stopped in the hall as needed to work through contractions. It was funny and annoying to us both that a nurse stopped and asked if I needed help -- mid-contraction. A little busy? We had to assure her three times, that 'No, we were okay. And no, I don't want a wheelchair.' Do you know any woman who labors better while holding still? I don't...anyway...we made it Labor and Delivery. Got checked in. Had to endure the stupidest hospital policy, which we already knew of and already disliked. I was monitored for 15 minutes to see where I was at. That's normal. No biggie. But Eric couldn't be in the room. Not normal. Big biggie. But on a good note, the nurse checked my cervix and I had to ask how far along I was - would she have told me anyway? Don't know... - I was a 7!!! I think I said, "Yes!", or something like that. She said, "You're happy about that?" It didn't occur to me until after Amy's arrival that the nurse probably thought I'd be upset because things were too far for an epidural. (Good thing I'd changed my mind anyway, right?)
They got ready to move me, in the bed, to Labor and Delivery but I told them I wanted to walk. I think we had a good back and forth about that where they kept giving me reasons why I couldn't. Finally the nurse said, "Your bag of waters is bulging. You can't walk." Maybe she was worried I'd deliver en route? I still would've preferred to walk, but ride I did. This is one of the many reasons I dislike hospitals when it comes to birthing. It's also one of those things no nurse would think to tell you when having a hospital tour. And something I didn't think to ask. BUT, Amy arrived and she was healthy. Some of the elements of this birth have required that reminder!
Oh, they also wanted to give me an IV at first but agreed to do a Hep Lock.
We met the midwife in the delivery room. It wasn't one I'd met before. From there things got really annoying. I was well into labor and needing to concentrate. I had things to do! :D But I had to be monitored again...as if watching me couldn't tell them what was relevant for the moment? So, 15 minutes of sitting again. Finally when that was done, they agreed to take off the monitor and do intermittent monitoring. I labored standing, pushing my head into Eric's chest and probably almost knocking him over a few times. He says his back almost went out a couple of times. What a blessing that it didn't! Forgot to say, my water broke while I was laboring standing. The midwife pointed out that the bag of waters was hanging there between my legs. I think it's pretty awesome the way that sometimes happens! I think it broke shortly after that. They must've had a towel ready on the floor because I don't remember stepping in water after that.
The frustrations at this point became that the midwife kept telling us there was a risk the baby's shoulder could come out first, since she was obviously going to be a big baby (no gestational diabetes though). She kept talking about how if that happened they would do what they had to do and "did I understand". The nurses around me were all casual and loud with their duties as if this was just another day (which it was for them, but for the love of pete! It shouldn't be that way...). Then a doctor had to come in and explain, same as the midwife, that if the baby didn't come they'd need to take matters into their own hands, or something like that. And did I understand? And guess what, like the nurse downstairs, he asked me MID-CONTRACTION. Really??? And then asked again and again when I didn't immediately answer. In the midst of all this stupidness, in fact, shortly after entering the delivery room - I closed my eyes. I labored with them closed. There was just too much going on in there. And I did not like the vibes I was getting. Closing my eyes served as the best barrier I had, for the moment. Eric was stellar through all of this. Talking through the birth details with him after, I've discovered that there were a few other conversations I didn't even hear. I was probably mid-contraction.
Through all this they checked Amy's heart-rate regularly and it was fine. Just fine. And obviously I was in labor. And obviously I wasn't even a 10 yet, so it wasn't even time to push. Why all the freak out? Ridiculous.
Once I was complete and given the okay to push, I was told I had to deliver on the bed because she was a big baby. That was the same as Becca, born in a birthing center separate from a hospital, so I wasn't surprised. I climbed on the bed on all fours (what is it with me and primitive positions?), but the way I rocked my hips during contractions had me going upward rather than having the gravity help. So I turned around. I feel so much frustration remembering the way the midwife sounded. She didn't like how I was pushing. She obviously felt serious urgency for this baby to be born right then.
I still don't understand how me, a mama of four other babies all born without any complications, could be treated like this. Did they not read my chart? Did they not see that not only had I had four non-complicated births - but that I also had, as the medical world puts it, "a tried pelvis" and had already had my most recent baby at 9 lbs even? Shouldn't all that be taken into consideration?
So she wasn't very encouraging about my pushing. Finally she gave one encouraging and specific tip and within a few pushes, Amy was born. All 9 lbs 2 oz of her.
It's amazing how, moments after birth, all the frustrations can be wiped away. She had arrived, she was in my arms, and she was healthy.
In contrast, my team of nurses and doctors on the recovery floor were phenomenal. I hate to write all the negative aspects of this birth. I am happier to remember that I was able to avoid interventions. That Eric was a magnificent birth partner. That labor was quick. And that family was taking care of my other girls. ALSO -- this was a HA! IN YOUR FACE moment I forgot to mention. Mid-labor the Hep-Lock came out. So there.
I haven't given any kind of a timeline here...this is where it gets fun. We got to the hospital at 4am and found I was a 7 at 4:15am. Amy was born at 5:52am. Think maybe the delivery crew was a little freaked out at how fast things were going? Amy wins the awards for fastest delivery, biggest baby, and blondest hair at birth (everyone else was born with dark hair that later fell out making way for blond hair).
In hindsight, I feel to say - hospital policy is equally, if not MORE important to know than doctor/midwife policy. You can bet that if there are any more babies to grace the Hanson household, I will have a new set of questions to consider for hospitals and midwives. After my five babies, this is what I've decided is most important to me:
1. A small practice where each midwife/doctor knows ME and my track record and I've had multiple visits with each doctor/midwife ensuring I've had plenty of time to share my wishes.
2. I'd prefer never to birth in a hospital again. I'm not fully on the homebirth wagon yet since I'm not keen on my other kids being around, but I'd birth in a birthing center again in a heartbeat. If, for some reason, I had to birth in a hospital, I'd look for one that allowed for no hep-locks/IV's when things are normal in labor and spouses allowed to stay at all times. I'd also be looking for a general feeling that made it clear they were super supportive of few interventions and MOTHER-led births. Is that a real phrase? It really embodies how I feel about all this.
And now, that beautiful 9 lb 2 oz babe is now 12 lbs and just opened her eyes after a FOUR AND A HALF hour nap (NOT the norm) and is staring at me, waiting for FOOD. So...someday soon - and hopefully sooner than the 3-month gap this blog just had, I'll write about life. Life with five beautiful girls. (A bevy of beautiful babes.) Life moving with a 5-week old. Life in El Paso. Life with three girls in public school. Life in general...till then, I love you guys! Especially if you're still reading! Does anyone do blogs anymore these days?
I also forgot to say that I brought up my "grievances" (or whatever you want to call them) at my postpartum visit. I discovered that the hospital has a new policy regarding big babies. They have to make sure that the doctors, midwives, nurses, and patient are all on the same page regarding possible shoulder dystocia. They are required to make sure the patient knows the risks and the possible interventions. I think that because the labor was happening so fast, they were all worried they wouldn't have the time to say the things they were required to say because of this new policy. I asked the postpartum midwife if this was something the hospital would have shared with me or other prospective moms before birth, like at the tour, if I had asked about big babies or something like that. She was of the opinion that they wouldn't have even thought to mention it or known that I'd prefer to know all that IN ADVANCE. This country has issues with birthing...