Sunday, July 31, 2011
the birth story of ava britain
in the week leading up to giving birth, i couldn't stop reading. stacks of child birthing books are still by my bedside and many many birth stories were found on friends' blog archives and re-read. because of preparing myself mentally for a natural birth, i really didn't want to try to bring labor on before i was supposed to. still, by tuesday i found myself googling "natural ways to induce labor" and requested a friend's recipe for a labor inducing concoction that had brought her little girl out exactly on her due date.
as it turns out, i had no need to go out and buy weird ingredients. on wednesday the 27th (my due date) i began feeling strong, regular contractions at around 4pm. eager to keep them going, i stayed on my feet preparing dinner and tidying up the house. after dinner my mom and i took samuel for a good long walk and, though i never had to stop walking and breathe through them, i could feel them getting stronger and stronger and by the time we got home, they were close to 3 minutes apart. i then took a breather and sat up in my bed, timing them while my mom got the boys bathed and into bed. i was excited, but also a little skeptical. being sent home from the hospital once while pregnant with samuel had left its mark on me and i definitely did not want to be admitted to the hospital in the evening, only to spend the night there and find that my labor had stalled. so even though my mom and josh both were ready to get to the hospital, i kept wavering until around 10.00pm when i finally just said "let's stay home." the contractions were beginning to become a little sporadic and some weren't as strong as they had been. that night i did sleep, though i remember having dreams about elephants stomping around my room causing me to contract every now and then.
on thursday morning, i awoke and felt a contraction here and there every 20 minutes or so. josh was determined to get things going, so he called into work to take the day off and he and i went out for a good brisk walk at 6:30am. we came home to a delicious homemade pancake breakfast thanks to my mom. i had no idea that was the last meal i would enjoy all day! i was so set on having my baby on the 28th that i set to work grocery shopping, watering the garden and vacuuming the entire upstairs. by the time i was done all that, i took a quick shower and declared to josh, "let's go!" my contractions were again 3 minutes apart and strong and i thought that it wouldn't be the end of the world if the hospital turned us away since it wasn't like we'd be missing out on a good night's sleep or anything. the hospital is about a 45 minute drive from our house and during that drive, as dreaded, my contractions slowed way down so that once we had parked and were on our way to the admissions desk, they were 10 minutes apart. still, we were shown to a room and when the nurse saw in my records that i had been 4 cm dilated 2 days earlier, she went ahead and admitted me before i was even checked.
the team of midwives that i had were wonderful! one was a bit of a spazz and kept things light and fun, and the other one was quieter and more down-to-business, but super sweet. they came in to check me and were happy to exclaim that i was 6 cm! i was, quite honestly, shocked because even though my contractions were strong, they were super manageable and i didn't feel like i was truly in active labor. and so we set to work walking the halls of the birth center. i was allowed 30 minutes at a time of walking followed by 30 minutes of being hooked up to the monitors so they could keep tabs on the baby's heart rate. i asked not to be hooked up to the IV though, since i had plans of using the shower once things started getting tough. well, the toughest that things got at that point was keeping myself from salivating while watching josh and my mom devour their lunch in the corner of the room. it was torture! i was starving, but of course all i could "eat" was ice chips. (and they were pretty good ice chips if i do say so myself.)
so josh and my mom took turns walking the halls while i waddled and i'd smile at the other pregnant women who were waddling around in their hospital gowns as well, all the while wondering how in the world i could be 6 cm dilated and smiling! the midwives were eager to check me after awhile, since there were a ton of laboring women around, but i was the most progressed. even after all that walking, i was still 6 cm (which didn't surprise me a whole lot due to lack of intense pain), so i gave the go ahead to break my water. once she had broken my water, the midwife had a puzzled expression saying, "why is there no fluid?" she was positive that she had felt the "pop", but there was no fluid either gushing or trickling, even when i stood up to walk some more. so we just went along and resumed walking/waddling and growing quite bored with the same scenery and lack of proper contractions. after about another hour, the 2nd, more calm midwife checked me, found me to still be 6 cm and also found that the bag of water was still intact! aha! so this time she broke it and oh my word, it was like a fire hose! neither midwife could believe how much water kept gushing out and one even commented about the baby being smaller than they originally thought since i had so much water in there.
once my water had for sure broken, the contractions gradually picked up, which was nice because i was a little worried about being slammed immediately into transition. i got out of the bed and started swaying with each contraction, finding it most comfortable to sling my arms around josh's shoulders and lean my head against his chest. we slow-danced like this to songs playing softly on my ipod that i had picked especially for giving birth. i focused on breathing and on keeping my body relaxed instead of tensing up each time i felt a contraction come. i also remembered some great advice that my friend michelle had told me, which was to work through each contraction separately, not worrying about all the ones to follow, but just focusing on getting through that one single contraction.
soon my breathing out was replaced by low moans that i didn't feel capable of stopping and i began feeling the urge to go to the bathroom, so i got my mom to page the nurses station. my midwives came bustling in and when they saw me swaying and moaning against josh's chest, one of them rubbed her hands together and said, "its christmas morning!!" i had to get back into the bed to get checked again and was found to be 8 cm, so no pushing allowed. i was still pretty focused at this point and loved feeling josh massage my shoulders through each contraction while my mom's cool hand rubbed my left arm. then things got fierce.
only minutes after i had been 8 cm, i felt myself spinning out of control, unable to get on top of the pain. instead of holding josh's hand with loose fingers, i was gripping it as hard as i could and my breathing had gone out the window. i had that panicky feeling of "i can't do this!!" as the most painful of all contractions gripped my body, one on top of the other leaving me no room to recover in between. and then the urge to push happened. i've never felt the urge to push before. both times before i've been too drugged up with the epidural to feel any sensation, so i've always pictured it as feeling like you're going to the bathroom. i had absolutely no idea how forceful that urge would be. i would describe it more like the involuntary urge to vomit, your body just heaves and does it without your consent. the midwives remained calm, but told me to hold on a moment while they checked me one last time and sure enough, i was fully dilated and ready to bear down. i've read that pushing feels like a "welcome relief", yet in my experience it did not! it was the most crazy part of all and i'm pretty sure that the array of noises i made would have terrified those poor pregnant women waddling the halls into asking for epidurals immediately upon returning to their rooms.
i bellowed, i roared, i snarled and just pushed with all of my might. and then pushed some more. for some reason the thought of holding onto my own legs and curling over my belly to push just seemed impossible, and that's when i let out the "i CAN'T!" but i did and it was the craziest sensation to feel my baby being propelled down out of my stomach. and then The Crowning happened. i'm not trying to scare anyone out there, i'm just telling it like it is, but that crowning was something else. the midwife looked into my eyes and told me that i was going to want to pull back, but that i needed to push through it, and so i did. it hurt. a lot. and then her head was through and i was wondering why it was still burning so much to push the rest of her out. well, that was because she takes after her daddy in the shoulder department.
finally she was on my chest and was looking at me with her dark eyes and i felt my hand all wet and realized that my mom had been bawling and had cried all over it. and josh was there talking to our sweet ava and i was in shock and in awe and in love all at the same time.
it took a long while to get stitched up (something i won't go into details on, but let's just say the pain rivaled parts of my labor) and then finally i could really hold her and nurse her and just look at her. all the nurses and the midwives were speculating on how big she was, but nobody was more shocked than me when she was weighed and found to be 10 pounds, 3 ounces! i felt like superwoman right after it was all over and i knew that i had done it, but finding out her actual size made me feel even more like some sort of super-human.
honestly though, it was so crazy and intense and i am thrilled that i had the chance to experience all of it. and if you ask me if i'd go natural again, i'll just smile at you and tell you that i don't have to answer that question because i don't have to go through it again. we are done, our family is complete and i am so thankful to God for the miracles that all 3 of my babies are.