This is my birth story continued. See part 1 here. The same goes with this one as part 1. I’ve only read through it once so I likely missed some editing errors. Please let me know and I’ll fix them!
The version you are reading here is the condensed, man-safe, squeamish-safe version. The unabridged version is here, and the password is my husband’s name, all lower case. (If you have trouble accessing it, just let me know)
Wednesday, February 20, 2013. Inanna Birth & Women’s Care.
We finally arrived at Inanna. On the way in we had to stop once or twice for a contraction to pass. At this point, I was VERY vocal during my contractions. I consider myself to have a relatively high tolerance for pain. I know, especially now, that nothing compares to child birth. However, I figured I would be more of a grunter and teeth clencher than a screamer. Not. So. We finally got inside and went directly back to the main birthing room to be checked. As I walked in I remember seeing a girl leaving her appointment and another just coming in for hers. I heard the office manager say something to the effect of, “THERE she is. I thought that was what heard outside!” haha
When I got to the birthing room, Betty checked me and said I was almost dilated to an 8! I’m not sure if I said it, but my first thought was, “THANK GOD!!!!” Up to that point, I had thought I was still in the first or second stage of labor. This meant BIG things! Hard, fast, close contractions, plus being dilated to an 8 meant TRANSITION!!! (stage 3) I remember feeling incredibly relieved that the pain I was feeling now was the worst of it. Mind you, that didn’t make it hurt LESS, but I took some comfort knowing that this is as bad as it gets. (Although, at the time, I still questioned what people said about this being the worst part of labor. I mean, seriously. Pushing a baby out doesn’t hurt worse than this? Riiiight…) The second thing I thought was, I was relieved I was in the large birthing room. I had lots of room to move around and the bathroom with the shower was very close by.
Side note: After the birth, Betty told me that when I had called earlier, she called the birthing team to let them know we would probably have a baby tonight but that I was a first time mom so there wouldn’t be any rush and I would probably be in labor for a while. She told them she would call me when I was closer. With this new bit of information (Wowza! Way further along than she or I, for that matter, expected!), Betty left the room to call the birth team and update them to let them know I was very close and to come immediately!
A couple of weeks prior, I had tested positive for Group B Strep, which meant that I needed to get at least two doses of antibiotic, four hours apart before I gave birth. I have a horrible fear of needles so this is the part of the birth I looked forward to the least. Amidst all the pain of childbirth, I was still terrified of this needle that Betty was about to stick in me! She wanted to get the port (or whatever it was) in me ASAP since I was much further along already than anticipated. It was unlikely I would still be in labor 8 hours from now! Well, Betty started to try to start the IV, but she couldn’t get my veins. She didn’t want to poke and prod me 100 times so she said we would wait for Jean to get there because she was much better and could probably get it in one try. This was probably my fault as I had not drank much water that day so I’m sure my veins were hiding and hard to get at!
No idea what times were at this point so, I’ll just name the time periods… Also, this comes the point where my memory started to get fuzzy. I may have events slightly out of order but in the end, it’s all the same!
After the attempt at the IV, someone asked if I wanted to get in the shower. Or maybe I wanted to get in the shower and asked. I can’t remember. Either way, someone started the shower for me and I couldn’t wait to get in! I remembered how much better I felt in my own shower during contractions so I was looking forward to getting in the shower. After they told me it was ready, I made my way to the shower, got in and stood with my back to the warm water. I immediately felt waves of relief. I felt SO much better.
Also, random…but there was a smell that I would get a whiff of once in a while. It smelled so good! I actually looked forward to smelling it! Later, I learned it was one of those automatic air fresheners. Ha!
The second midwife, Jean, had finally arrived while I was in the shower. Since she was there, I had to get out of the shower so Jean could put the port (IV? whatever it was…I’m calling it a port) in for the antibiotics. I put on my gown and laid down to get poked (my ONLY poke during labor! Thank goodness!). Jean was amazing, and I don’t remember much from the stick. She got the antibiotics ready and injected them into the port. I didn’t feel any of that but Leighton had told me that he remembers thinking that it was A LOT of fluid they injected!
The Shower Part Deux.
After the poke, I wanted to get back in the shower so I headed back into the bathroom to get into the shower. I think by this time, my doula had arrived. If I remember correctly, my mom arrived around the same time. Leighton left and went to talk to her and then asked me if she could come in and see me. I said yes. I don’t remember what she said, or I said or even if we talked! But I know she went back into the parlor after being in there for a minute. I still didn’t want her to be right by me at the time, but I was glad she was there and did want her at the birthing center just in case I needed her.
See, the birthing center is in an old, old house that has been converted into a birthing center. The walls are thin…the doors are thin. You can hear pretty much everything from one room to the next. It’s not like a hospital where you wait down the hall in a nice cushy waiting room with cable and coffee. It’s a parlor with a dining table and chairs and an old chaise lounge. So, mom, sitting in the very next room, had the pleasure of enduring and listening to me labor from, I’m assuming was around 5 or 5:30 (since she came after work) until I gave birth. A few days later she told me it’s one of the hardest things she’s ever had to sit through. I can imagine, though! Your kid (or anyone, really!) is in the worst pain of her life and the only thing you can do is sit and listen! I don’t know how she did it. I really don’t!
The Peanut Labor.
Anyways, after I was in the shower for a few minutes (I think??), I started to feel like I had to force myself to hold back and not push. It’s a very strange feeling when your body takes over and just does something on its own like that. So weird! Since I was feeling the urge to push, they told me it was time to get out of the shower. I dried off and went back to the bed. Once I was on the bed, Betty checked me to see if my cervix was ready for me to push. I still had a little bit of dilation to do so they put me on my side with my legs on either side of the peanut (a peanut shaped yoga ball). Also, while checking her heartbeat, they saw that she had rotated a little off-center so we needed to get her to turn the right way. Laboring in this position was going to help her turn back to where she should be. Of course she’s in the exact right position for birth my entire pregnancy up until it’s time to give birth! Thanks, Miss May Bee!! hehe!
I was on my side for a while and the whole time, I was very vocal during the contractions. However, the position I was in was really helping me through them. I didn’t want to open my eyes or speak to anyone. I heard what everyone was saying, but I didn’t respond, or really even acknowledge anyone was talking to me. I was listening and I absolutely appreciated the encouraging words and everything they were saying, I just had no desire to respond. At one point, Betty came up to me and got right in my face. She said, “Jennilee, look at me. Open your eyes and look at me.” I think she said that 3 or 4 times before I finally did it. I looked at Betty, and she told me that when I had a contraction, I needed to deepen my voice. Make low grunting and moaning sounds and it would help me through the contraction better. Up to that point, my “moans,” or whatever you want to call them, were very high-pitched. My first thought was, “This lady is crazy.” But, I tried it anyway. Amazingly it really did help get me through the contractions. I continued this technique throughout the rest of my labor and I could definitely tell when I wasn’t moaning “low” enough.
Breaking of the Waters.
Every few minutes (I’m assuming every 15-20 minutes?), Betty or the birth assistant was checking baby girl’s heart rate with the doppler. They would check my cervix when I showed signs of having progressed and dilated. I remember her checking maybe 3 times before I was fully dilated. One of the things I LOVED about my birth experience is that they asked me before they did ANY type of intervention. Also, before the birth, they asked me which ones I was okay with and which ones I wasn’t. Breaking of the waters was one that I told them I wanted to decide then if I wanted it done or not. I wanted to keep things as natural as possible.
At this point, I was pretty much dilated and ready to push but Miss May Bee had still not dropped into the birth canal. There were two possible reasons why she still hadn’t dropped. Either she was too big for the birth canal or she was possibly sitting on a pouch of fluids from the bag of waters. Jean asked me if I wanted her to break my water. I thought about it for a second or two. I wanted as few interventions as possible but after I quickly thought about it, I decided that it was probably best that she break my water. Especially if that was what was keeping my girl from dropping into the birth canal. The labor would not progress until she dropped. So, I told Jean to go ahead and break my water.
When she broke my water, she saw that there was a small amount of meconium (baby poop) in the amniotic fluid. It wasn’t very much, so they weren’t concerned. However, Betty did come tell me that once her head was out, but before I pushed her shoulders out, they would need to suction her mouth and nose with a machine to make sure she did not breathe in the meconium. She turned the machine on for me so I could hear it and it would be a familiar sound when we got to that point and they had to use it.
The Labor and Progress.
After she broke my water, I rocked back to my side and labored there for a little longer. The first contraction I got after she broke my water was the worst contraction I had of my entire labor.
I can’t even describe it.
I really thought I wouldn’t make it through that one. Sixty seconds never lasted so long! After a while on my side, they moved me to my knees to where I was leaning on peanut with my chest and arms.
What’s Everyone Else Doing??
Leighton: While in this position I remembering wanting a sip of water after every contraction. I don’t know if I wanted this while I was on my side, but I definitely remember wanting it in this position. I’m pretty sure the only words I said my entire labor were “water” and then I told my husband, “water after every time.” Or something like that…which he and Brittany deducted that I meant after every contraction.
Brittany: Speaking encouraging words to me. Most of my birth I heard no one but her. She has a very soft, soothing voice and it was very calming and reassuring to me. I’m sure there were other things, but that is what stands out.
Betty, Jean, the birth assistant & the student midwife: I have no idea! hahaha….
It was at this point, Betty told me to go ahead and start pushing with the contractions. I really thought it was going to hurt worse, but it actually made the contractions much, much less painful. Now, the kind of pushing I was doing was not, what I’ll call, active pushing…like, get a baby out pushing…I was just pushing with the contraction. Betty gave me more coaching on productive vocalization during contractions. Hold your breath, lower your voice, etc. Betty hadn’t checked me in a while so she told me I needed to get to my back so she could see if I was fully dilated now. In order to check me, I had to move to my back. I was not looking forward to the move. I was comfortable where I was and didn’t want to get into any other position. I reluctantly moved to my back, finally. When she checked me, I was pretty much dilated (or darn close to done) and I ended up staying in that position because the thought of moving again was terrible. Plus, with Miss May Bee’s positioning, Betty thought it would be a good position to birth anyway.
I went through a few more really painful contractions and then suddenly they became less and less painful and it became easier to push. In fact, while I was pushing, I felt very little pain at all. Now they were instructing me on how to push more effectively and moving my legs into different positions to get her to come out easier. I realized that this was it! This was the real thing and I was about to meet my precious baby girl!
What’s Everyone Else Doing??
Leighton: He was at my side. Most of the time his hand was on me. On my head, on my shoulder, on my chest (not my boobs! LOL…my chest!) or my arm. He didn’t say much but I really didn’t need him to. He kissed me on the head a few times and would give my shoulders a little rub here and there. Everything he did was perfect.
Brittany: Continued to speak encouragement and reassurance. Held my left leg for most of the time I was pushing.
Student Midwife: Held my left leg after Brittany took a bathroom break (she was VERY pregnant!!).
Jean: Sitting next to me on the bed holding my right leg during contractions.
Betty & the Birth Assistant: I have no idea! They were “down there” somewhere doing “something.” hahahaha
I started to push for real now. It took me a little while to get the right push down. You kind of have to teach yourself what is right. It’s one of those things that you don’t exactly know what it’s supposed to feel like but once you get it right, you know you got it right and you try to do it the same way every time after that!
After pushing for what seemed like a relatively short time, she began to crown. From what I’m told, she had one sprig of hair poking out straight up! I heard everyone start giggling (keep in mind, my eyes were closed pretty much the ENTIRE time). I remember thinking, “What in the HECK could be so dang funny? What are they laughing at?!?” They eventually told me that she had a full head of hair and she had one alfalfa-like hair sticking straight up! This point of pushing was two steps forward, one step back. I would push and she would crown some and then retreat back in. Over and over.
Anyway, we stayed at this point for a while and the real pain of pushing her out had not yet started but the pain of transition had subsided. Even though she had started crowning, it wasn’t her entire head yet. Mind you, this was not painless, it was just this in between time where it wasn’t as painful as before and the pain of the actual birth hadn’t begun.
The Ring of Fire.
After some big pushes, from what I’m told, this is the point where she came out about to her hairline or the tops of her ears. That’s when the pain of actual child birth started. I had heard about the “ring of fire” and that’s exactly what it felt like! The only way I can describe it to someone that hasn’t had a baby is, it feels like an Indian rug burn. Really. It felt just like that!
I felt like we were in this position forever! I didn’t feel like we were making any progress. In reality, I think it was only a few minutes…if even that. Towards the end I really started to get tired. They got me a juice box to give me a burst of energy because I was really running out. they handed me the juice box and I remember seeing the juice box and thinking, “Ugh. Wal-mart brand.” I didn’t want to drink it! Hahaha… anyway….
The Final Pushes.
When her head was about halfway out, I skipped pushing for a set of contractions. I genuinely did not think I could finish this job. I opened my eyes, looked over and told Jean (crying) that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t finish it. I didn’t have anything left in me. She looked at me and gave me some encouraging words. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but she basically told me that I, in fact, could. I remembered at that point all the stories of previous births they had told us. They had told us that just when you think you can’t do it anymore and you don’t have anything else left in you, that’s when you’re almost done. When you’re at the very end and about to meet your little one.
Well, I drank the rest of the juice down and the next contraction I pushed as hard as I could!
The next contraction I gave absolutely every last thing I had in me…
Stay tuned for the final installment…Part 3!!