Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Labor and Delivery

So right away, I want to share with you about how my beautiful baby boy was born. He is absolutely amazing and I wouldn't trade him for the world--but we had a rocky start, I'm not going to lie.

It should first be noted that in order to prepare for childbirth, I made my husband attend 12 weeks of Bradley classes with me. I'm not going to go too into detail about the Bradley Method (they aren't paying me to advertise for them), but here is a link to their information I am a huge fan of Bradley and I totally wanted a completely natural childbirth for my Bug, for many reasons. First, the epidural can have a lot of effects on the fetus, i.e. slowing the heart rate, prolonging labor, etc. Secondly, I am completely and utterly scared of needles. So the thought of having a needle in my back? Not appealing.

Anyway, my precious baby boy was due on March 9, but I was insistent that he would be born earlier than that. Nobody believed me. My mother, my husband, and all of my friends kept trying to remind me that first babies are normally late, rather than early, but I was totally convinced that he would be born well before his due date. I held my breath as I made it to 37 weeks, and once he was full term, I stopped worrying about it.

So, on Sunday, February 21, my husband Jon and I were in Wegman's and I commented to him that the upcoming week was going to be a busy one. "So, on Monday I'll finish cleaning the house, Tuesday we'll get our taxes done, and then on Wednesday we can have the baby," I said to my husband as we got on the elevator.

A woman in the elevator looked at us and said, "Wednesday?" and gaped at my gargantuan stomach.

I grinned. "Quite possibly. He's due any time."

Perhaps that's why my labor was so long--he was trying to make it to Wednesday!

So, that night was my baby shower that the church ladies were doing for me, and I came home around 10 pm and got into bed. Then I slept for an unprecedented 4 or so hours--until 2 am when I woke up feeling like I was leaking. "Oh no, am I peeing myself?" I wondered aloud as I yanked myself out of bed and frantically tried to contract my Kegel muscles that I had been toning in preparation for birth for many months. That was when I realized that it was NOT urine leaking, but rather amniotic fluid. Which I leaked all over our lovely carpet and then all over the bathroom floor and then FINALLY into the toilet. I then peered into the toilet and to my relief it was clear (no meconium staining, which is a sign of fetal distress), and so I tried to pull myself together.

I was clearly going to have the baby soon. Crap. I wasn't ready. I mean, I was thrilled about my little boy coming but I had thought I had more time. Ever the pragmatist, however, I decided that I was wide awake and I was going to make Jon be wide awake with me so we could figure this out together.

So I woke him up with, "Hey, sooooo my water broke."

He was incredibly groggy, but quickly realized the gravity of the situation. "Wow. So what do you want to do?"

"I'm going to call Dr M," I said with determination. I had already called her once that weekend due to some vision and swelling problems (I think I was starting to develop pre-eclampsia), so I figured that if both Jon and I were awake at this ungodly hour of 2 am, she should be too.

So I called her. "Hey! It's Amanda, I seem to have broken my water and it's clear, and I'm not really having any me know what you think."

She thought I should go to the hospital, so off we went.

So I was kind of giddy at this point, figuring that contractions would start sooner or later and I would have my baby by the end of the day and all would be hunky dory.

Boy, was I deluded.

So, when we got to the hospital the nurses determined that yes indeed, my water HAD broken, but my uterus didn't really feel the need to push the baby out. This wasn't surprising, given the fact that I was only 37 weeks. Your body really isn't designed to give birth at 37 weeks; that's a practice reserved for weeks 38-40. My doctor wanted to start me on pitocin and I really didn't want to do that, so I was given 12 hours to try and get things going before the drugs were administered. So Jon and I spent a great deal of time walking around, doing all sorts of things to try and get me to contract. For those unfamiliar with pitocin, it's a synthetic hormone that makes your body contract--but it's also extremely painful, especially if your water has broken, and they are unsure of the long term effects of pitocin on babies. Another reason why I had wanted a completely natural birth. So, I tried really, really hard to get that labor going.

And that just wasn't happening. I went through periods where I would contract and contract and they would get harder--and then they would just stop.

So around 2 pm they started me on pitocin and after that I was stuck in bed, which sort of sucked. I cried a little bit about this, but I knew that the fact of the matter was, the baby did need to come out and that was kind of that. So I got more and more pitocin...and I wasn't really contracting according to their printout. I mean, I was feeling the contractions, but the monitor wasn't picking up on them. So THEN they stuck this awful catheter thingie into my uterus to measure my contractions which made it difficult to go to the bathroom--but at least they determined I was contracting and they eventually took it out.

And then, the back labor started.

Back labor is generally caused by your baby facing the wrong way. And I had actually suspected that he was posterior because of the way he moved around. So basically, back labor amounts to your child's head grinding against your spine. And it was by far the worst thing I had ever experienced. But, stubborn little girl that I was, I didn't want an epidural. I didn't want my baby exposed to any more drugs than I had to. Besides, like I mentioned, I have this pretty intense fear of needles and the thought of one in my spine was enough to make me grit my teeth and bear the back labor.

But then the contractions got closer together.

And then they were one on top of the other. So I started vomiting. "This is good!" The nurse proclaimed. "That means he's getting closer to coming." I was not impressed.

And I couldn't stand it any longer. I was only 5 centimeters dilated and it was about 2 in the morning the next day when I told the nurse I wanted to see the anesthesiologist.

So he came in and said, "I understand you have some serious concerns about epidurals."

I looked him square in the eye and said, "At this point I just don't want you to paralyze me."

I think he thought I was insane. I mean, I am, but still. So I got the epidural and I waited for it to start helping my back labor. WHICH IT DIDN'T. So then I shot accusatory glares at my husband and the nurses. "YOU SAID IT WOULD HELP! NOW I COULD POSSIBLY BE PARALYZED AND I DON"T EVEN GET ANY PAIN RELIEF!"

None of them could believe it wasn't doing a thing for me, but such is life. I swore a lot, needless to say. At least at that point things started to move very quickly--I went from five to seven to ten centimeters dilated in the next couple hours and then it was time to push. Pushing was actually a godsend; I found that it made the pain from my back labor easier to bear and so I was pushing five times for each contraction. When Bug was crowning I heard comments like, "Look at all that hair!" and one of the nurses asked me if I wanted to touch his head.

"NO!" I screamed. "I want to get him out!!"

So I pushed and pushed some more and then the next thing I knew my little boy was screaming and I could hardly believe it. I had a baby, and he was absolutely the cutest thing I'd ever seen. When they put him on my stomach, however, my first reaction was, "How heavy is this kid?"

"7 pounds, 13 ounces!" The nurse proclaimed.

I looked at Jon. "Thank God he didn't go to 40 weeks," I said. "Now. Breakfast?"


  1. Aw, what a great story! I'm grinning like a loon here.

  2. This is absolutely, positively, awesome. I look forward to going thru & reading all of these. I can say however, this is the best account of child birth I have ever heard!
    And WOW on the drugs. You're a good woman.