Friday, October 12, 2012

Rio's {Natural} Birth Story

There are many reasons why I want to share Rio's birth story.  When I was going through my pregnancy, I read birth stories left and right and found them to be inspiring, reality-checks and reminders that I could do this, however it happened.  I also want to preserve the story for Rio in the future, not to mention for myself.  I know the further away I get from it, the more I'll forget and there's much that I'd like to remember.  Finally, I'm proud of the way it all turned out and I want to perhaps help inspire someone else.

When I found out I was pregnant, I really wanted to deliver naturally but wasn't sure it was something I could do.  I was scared of the pain I had heard of for years and really had no idea how I would deal with it.  I also really wanted to deliver at home but most of those around me were nervous about that, which I understood, so we made the decision early on to see my regular doctor and deliver in the hospital.  I was concerned that nurses and doctors wouldn't be as supportive to a natural birth which wasn't the case BUT they weren't as accustomed to them.  All in all though, I didn't want to be a c-section, induction or intervention statistic.  I wanted to do it how nature intended.

Having said all of that, I was also fine with whatever happened, even though I had a preference.  I have known too many people that plan their labor and delivery out to a T and are disappointed when things didn't go according to that plan.  I tried to have an open mind that regardless what happened, the ultimate goal was to deliver a healthy baby safely, naturally or not.  To prepare myself I read.  Lots.  I read about what our bodies go through during labor and delivery, the emotional stages, how to prepare and more.  I read every night for months.  I watched documentaries and some birthing shows as well (although those shows were often more anxiety inducing for me).  I felt that educating myself was one of the smartest things I could do.  Did all of that help?  I don't know but I'm glad that I empowered myself on the topic. 

Fast forward to two weeks ago.  I was sure that Rio was going to come before her due date (September 25th) but that was not the case.  I was upset.  At my next appointment (September 27th), my doctor scheduled an induction for a week and a half past my due date (October 4th).  I was terrified of it coming to that but would do it if it came to it.  Once that notice came through, we started trying everything possible to naturally induce labor, short of drinking castor oil.  Nothing worked.  I REALLY wanted her to come on September 30th for a few reasons - it was my grandma's 85th birthday, it was a full moon and it was the last day my sister was going to be in town.  By the time I went to bed that night, she hadn't arrived.

While sleeping that night, I woke up more times than normal to use the bathroom and was having more notable cramps than before.  I had been having menstrual-type cramps for the last month of my pregnancy but they never seemed to signify anything.  Something was different about them that night though.  The next morning, I told Brent (the mister) to keep his phone close at work.  I spent the day in bed watching recorded shows and catching up on some internet time, all the while wondering if this was the beginning stages of labor.  I was definitely having cramping all day long but there was no consistency to them and they were nothing like what I had heard contractions would be like.  They never affected my back but just felt like crappy cramps.  I tried timing them which showed them lasting for different durations and happening randomly.  There was no rhyme or reason to them.  I talked to my best friend Rachel several times that day trying to decide if things were happening or not.  She has had two babies naturally and works in the medical field so she was a great resource for me (throughout the whole pregnancy).  She decided to come over after work to observe me for a bit so we could figure out what to do.

For the most part, I was fine.  It was hard for me to talk through them and I did some light breathing but really, they were manageable.  Brent got home from work around 3:30, quickly jumped in the shower in case we were going to be heading out the door and then we waited for Rachel who arrived around 4:15.  Within a short amount of time, we decided to go to the hospital based on how these cramps were affecting me and how my stomach would harden (even though they weren't affecting my whole stomach) during these cramps.  By 5, we were in the car on our way to the hospital, calling parental units to let them know what was going on.  We still weren't 100% sure what was going on but we knew it was something.

When we got to the hospital, I fought through a few contractions on our way to check in.  Wheelchairs kept being offered to me but I wanted to walk at that point.  I remember having one contraction just outside the hospital entrance and some guy was asking Brent if I was ok while I leaned over a parking bollard.  Yup, just getting ready to push out a kid!  We were in our room by 5:30 where they checked me to find that I was dilated to a three.  Just a three.  I thought for sure it would be more.  They didn't want to fully admit me so they observed me for two hours where they would check me again to see how I was progressing.  I couldn't imagine being sent home at that point.  They put two belts on my belly to monitor Rio's heart rate and one to monitor my contractions.  I HATED having these on.  For one, they were tight and felt constricting on my stomach and for two, I didn't like listening to the heart beats - for some reason, hearing them made it harder for me to focus through the contractions.  It was also strange for everyone to see what I was feeling on a monitor.  They agreed to take it off every 30 minutes or so where I took advantage to labor sitting on the toilet a few times.  I had no desire to walk at that point even though everyone wanted me to so they just had to be satisfied with me walking to the bathroom and sitting upright in there.  For some reason, I could take the contractions easier sitting in the bathroom, not hearing or seeing monitors. 

Finally, two hours had passed and they checked me again.  I was at a four.  They admitted me and I immediately asked for some pain relief so they started an IV drip of Stayitol.  It was a lifesaver.  I only had it for an hour and a half but it allowed me to relax and prepare for what was to come.  It also allowed my body to open up more and progress for labor.  I could still feel every contraction but I didn't feel the need to react to all of them until they got much more intense.  During this time, Rachel left to go take the beast to my parents' house and informed friends and family that it probably wouldn't be until the early morning that she would arrive.  Little did she know that while she was gone for that short while, my body progressed from a four to an eight.  I was almost there!  I was still loopy on the Stayitol so I heard them but didn't really react.  When Rachel returned, the mister failed to mention this dramatic change because none of the nurses let him know that this was a big deal!  He went down the hall to eat while she sat with me and told me that if I was going to get an epidural, that this was probably a good time to do so.  I figured if this old natural childbirth pro was saying that it was just going to get more intense for quite some time, that I should probably just go ahead and do it so I agreed and the nurses started to put that order for an epidural in when I asked if I could have more Stayitol in the meantime.  The nurse was telling me that I was too close at that point to get anymore and that it could affect the baby.  Rachel was confused and told them that they must have had me confused with someone else, that I was only at a four.  The nurse responded that I was now at a 9 or 10 and I groggily confirmed that.  Rachel freaked.  She ran down the hall to get Brent, fumbled with calling my parents to tell them to fly up to the hospital and gave me the encouragement that I didn't need that epidural after all to which I agreed and told the nurses to forget it.  I was there.  I was ready.

During this time, they kept asking if the resident could break my water.  I kept delaying that because I really didn't want anyone to do it except for Rio and me!  I guess I held them off long enough because during a contraction when I was at about an eight or nine, it broke on its own.  

Shortly after that, I had completely come out of my drugged fog and was fully immersed in these last contractions.  They were intense but in a different way than earlier.  It felt like my stomach was heaving and I kept feeling like I was going to puke with each of them but never did.  I kept that barf bag nearby though as a sort of security blanket.  I felt like I was making some crazy noises but Brent and Rachel didn't think they were that notable.  My throat hurt the next day from making them though.  I imagine that most of the sounds I was making were more internal.  The following contractions left me feeling the need to push which I so eloquently described to the nurses that I felt like I needed to shit.  They told me to not worry if that happened to which I told them that I didn't care if that happened but that I had that URGE to push.  Communication wasn't my strong point that evening.  After conveying that, they pulled out the stirrups and got me into the position to push.  It was at that time that one of the nurses asked if I minded if a medical student came in to observe the birth.  I was confused by this request to which she responded that they don't get to see many natural births in the hospital.  I was happy to have her there.  I remember welcoming her to the room.  I hope she sees many more natural births in the hospital during her career. 

Then I began to push.  The worst part about pushing was just getting into the position and not pushing when I was having a contraction.  But pushing was satisfying; it had a definite purpose and it reminded me that I was almost done.  I only pushed for fifty minutes until she was born.  Those fifty minutes felt like ten minutes.  I didn't feel like I was making any progress with my pushes so imagine my surprise when they told me her head was halfway out!  I had a hard time catching my breath between each push but I did my best to give it my all.  I was given some oxygen to huff on now and then which seemed to help rejuvenate me.  I never had the 'ring of fire' sensation and really didn't have any pain pushing her out.  Sure, I'm sore now but not then.  Brent's reactions to this part were really what helped me finish the job.  It was an exciting and surreal time.  I was shocked at how quickly it went and how much easier it all was than I had imagined it to be.  Five and a half hours after checking into the hospital and she was there at 10:59 p.m. on Monday, October 1st.  The first thing I said when she was out?  "I fucking did it!" in complete disbelief.  Classy, I am.  Brent replied to that with "Like a boss!"  I love that guy.
Right after delivery!  Not the most flattering picture ever but a PROUD picture.
Once she was out, Brent got to cut the umbilical cord (which is coming off today - gross!!) and they laid her on my chest while they cleaned her up.  They moved her to a warming bed to do all their business, waiting for her to belt out a big scream but she just kept grunting so soon after, they took her to another room to clean fluid out of her lungs.  No worries though, those lungs work WAY too well now ;)  I was floored to hear that I didn't really tear, just had a first degree 'abrasion'.  I attribute that to sitting criss cross applesauce for the past nine months (the most comfortable way for me to sit!) and being able to feel when to NOT push during delivery.
Just minutes old. 
Within an hour, we were in our room with Rio, our folks and two of my closest friends.  The whole thing seems like a dream.  Advice I have?  Educate yourself and be open to any of the possibilities.  Also, labor and delivery is a small chunk of time in comparison to the whole picture.  During my pregnancy, I likened labor and delivery to my dislike of flying but love of traveling.  When I have to fly, I always tell myself that the flight is just a small, shitty thing that I have to get through to reach a lifetime of memories and life-changing events.  To me, labor and delivery was that plane flight I had to get through.  It wasn't going to last forever and what it was taking me to would be priceless.

All in all, I was really lucky.  I was able to labor at home for quite some time, had no back pain with my contractions and had a ridiculously short labor.  Had I not had those cards in my favor, I probably would have gotten that epidural but I'm ridiculously happy that I didn't.  I'm proud of myself and amazed that it all happened like it did.  Grateful that it did.  Thanks for allowing me to share our story.   

6 comments:

  1. beautiful story! Thanks for sharing it. I'm so happy that you got to have the birth you wanted to have! you are blessed. and you're getting me excited to deliver my new baby girl. i am an epidural girl, but i loved giving birth. i'm actually looking forward to it. what a ride! Rio is beautiful, and so are you.

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  2. I love hearing your story. Thank you for sharing it.

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  3. You did it! Welcome to the mama club! You made it to the other side :) birth is such a surreal experience. It's something to be proud of getting through, no matter how you do it. I too watched a lot of baby shows and read a ton-- then afterwards was like "I am never watching another 'A Baby Story' for the rest of my LIFE!!"
    So happy for you (even though my 16 hr labor is totally jealous of your 5!) and glad she's here and healthy. Also have some hats for this little miss, handknit while watching Downton Abbey ;) Congrats!!

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  4. I love your story. Natural birth was one of the most empowering experiences on my life. It made me feel like i could conquer the world. Welcome to life Rio!!!!

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  5. Congratulations :) Birth stories are always a great read!

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  6. I had to read your first words after she was born several times so that I could keep laughing. Love it. You really do rock.

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