Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My first daughter's birth story, part II

I was born on a Tuesday in December. My husband was born on a Tuesday in January. Our daughter was born on a Tuesday in February. Perfect, huh?

Although her birthday is not until tomorrow, today is technically 52 weeks after her birth. Thus, I am sharing the second part of her birth story. Check out part one, if you missed it.

After my husband, doula, and I got to the 4th floor, we found the admitting desk & they directed me to a triage room. I was certain we were not going to be there long at all. In fact, I even whined to my husband, "why are we going to triaaaaggeeee?" My husband, doula, and I thought we were an hour from meeting our baby. If this were a movie, there would be ominous tones playing to indicate we were all obviously wrong.
right after birth
I didn't think I deserved to be crammed into a little triage room, so our experience there was pretty miserable from the get-go. I instantly didn't like the nurse. I was in a lot of pain and just wanted to be empathized with, but she was cold and methodical. When she said that my water hadn't broken, I pretty much hated her. I knew this was my first baby, but I also knew my water had broken and so did my mother-of-two doula. Apparently the test strip said no...ugh, whatever! The nurse also dropped another bomb; I was only TWO centimeters dilated. Everyone in the room (aside from mean nurse) was shocked. I thought I was nearing transition and my body seemed to be much further along than 2 measly centimeters. We had to stay in triage to see if I progressed. Because we look 14 weeks of Bradley Birth Method classes, I felt prepared to handle any curve ball labor threw at us. I guess many labors stall when they get to the hospital, due to nerves, stress, or fear. Luckily, I was "in the zone," and just kept dealing with the contractions. Continuous fetal monitoring was not part of our birth plan, but mean nurse did need to get a good monitor reading on our little bear, as hospital policy required it. Little bear kept moving around, and stubbornly, so did I. I hated being hooked up to a machine and definitely didn't feel comfortable with those dumb belts around my already tight belly.
My most vivid memories from the triage room are my husband helping me waddle to the bathroom outside the door. I "had" to use the bathroom about 4 times in an hour, just to get me out of the bed. Contractions make anything more difficult, and when you add the bulk of unplugged monitor cords & the awkwardness of a hospital bathroom, I'm surprised my husband still finds me attractive.
soon after birth
Although we never got a good "strip" on the baby, I did progress a centimeter in an hour. That was good enough to get us into a delivery room. Before we could move, the mean nurse had to put in a saline-lock (another hospital policy). I'm not normally a needle person, but the pain of labor was so intense that I just lay there like a stone cold fox as she did it. My husband was really impressed that I didn't even flinch.
Because our birth plan was to have a natural labor and delivery, we were given a big room with jetted tub at the end of the hall. On the long walk to our room, I joked that they were putting me so far away from everything to keep the screams of natural labor contained. I didn't actually scream, though, just loud moans and such.
about 40 minutes old
I loved our new, real nurse. She was very amiable and compassionate. I was bummed when she said we still had to try to get a good strip. Little Bear's heartbeat was jumping up and down, but wasn't related to contractions. She wasn't sure what was going on. I believed it was just the monitors fault, but they don't like to mess around with stuff like that. Our plans for an active labor were pretty much over, because she and the midwife from my practice who was on call decided I needed continuous fetal monitoring. I was really bummed. I think my doula and husband were too, because it meant their means of supporting me were limited. The pain in my back was absolutely miserable and I don't think I could have survived without them constantly massaging my back. I laid on my side while they took turns rubbing my back and giving me water. I think I asked them to talk to me, but I don't remember any of it. After a few hours of an "irregular" heartbeat, they wanted to put me on plain fluids. They thought maybe I was a bit dehydrated, and the baby could benefit from additional fluids. I wasn't excited about being attached to another thing, but at least it was only fluids. All it really did was make me have to pee a lot, at inopportune times.
Eventually laying in bed without being able to move got really REALLY old. We opted for the midwife's suggestion of internal monitoring so that I could at least move around more. I didn't want that at all (have you seen the end of the device? They SCREW it into the baby's head), but I figured this "give" was better than possibly ending up with an epidural &/or C-Section. The good news is that despite the bump in our plans, I kept progressing. I felt like it took forever, but looking back, it really was an average labor.
one hour old
Around 6 am, the nurse checked my dilation, but we still weren't very close (I think it was like an 8.5). She told me I couldn't push yet because it might cause my cervix to swell and that could lead to stalled labor or a "failure to progress." Since I couldn't push, but I felt like I needed to, labor in a hospital bed became something I would never wish on my worst enemy. I hated it. I didn't cry or scream, though, I used low guttural tones and looked internally for motivation to endure the process. I'm not trying to be egotistical, but I don't think a lesser woman could have done it without pain medications.
At 7 am, there was a shift change and the new nurse we got was also awesome. She had great suggestions and worked well with my midwife who came on shift at the same time. She verified that my water had, in fact, broke, because there was definitely nothing 'up there.' My midwife is the kind of woman who tells you how it is, with no sugar-coating. Sometimes that means she doesn't come off very warm or motherly, as you might expect a midwife too. Luckily, that ended up being exactly what I needed in late labor. She told me I needed to get Little Bear flipped around so we could push better. She got me out of the bed & on to a birth ball. It hurt so bad to finally be on my feet (as I moved into position), but it worked like a charm. The baby turned anterior and I dilated the last little bit (had been at a 9.5).
My husband was looking beat, and our poor doula (who was 20-something-weeks pregnant) was hanging on by a thread. The night had taken a lot out of us all. Although the clock on the wall seemed to stand still, it was bright outside and the sunlight brought some serious momma-bear-will-power out of me. It was time to push and everyone in the room got ready. We started pushing a little after eight am.
the end of her birth day
I wanted to push in various gravity-assisted positions, but that was before I used 99% of my energy to get to the actual pushing stage. I knew I shouldn't push lying on my back, though, because that actually closes the cervix by 10%+ (which makes it harder to get the baby out). I decided to start pushing on all fours, with my arms kind of laying against the elevated head of the bed. The position felt the most natural, and therefore was the most comfortable. However, I was not very efficient at pushing in that position.
The nurse had me lay on my side to see how that went. I felt like a beached whale. I would curl up into a little ball when I had a "break" between pushing contractions and then flop over to my side to push.
I'm really glad that we decided on an unmedicated birth, because I was able to participate in the whole thing. No one needed to count for me, or tell me when to push. I just instinctively knew. After about 30 minutes, my husband got scrubs on and shoe protectors. I joked that's how I knew we were close, he had the protective gear on.
I kept looking at my stomach, waiting for it to go down. I used that as my motivation to keep pushing. For some reason, I thought that the more I pushed, the farther away my baby bump would look. I know that's weird, but I just fixated on my stomach moving while I pushed. I suppose that was my way of visualizing our little bear coming out.
My pushing got stronger; everyone cheered me on. They could see the baby's head! There was hair!! Little Bear started crowning, and I totally felt what you may refer to as 'the ring of fire.' All I can say is that it's like nothing I've ever felt before and there are no words to describe it. I was dying with a 14 inch circumference head pushing it's way out of my body and my spunky baby decided to hang out right there for a few minutes, while the contractions took a 'breather.' When the next pushing contraction came, I mustered up all the energy possible--and with the help of God, brought our beautiful little baby into this world.
1 day old
I wish I could remember my husband's face, but relief is really all I recall about the moment our baby was born. I felt so proud of myself for giving birth naturally, and I was so excited to see our baby. My husband announced Little Bear was a girl and I sighed relief, "We were right!" A lot of people thought the baby was a boy, but I had thought it was a girl for about 2 months. My husband cut the cord after it finished pulsating; we named her, snuggled her, and I let her nuzzle at the breast right away. Then baby G got her first measurements and bath. We all admired her little chubby cheeks and adorable nose. She was perfect then and she still is today.

2/22/11: G.C.B. 8 pounds, 11.7 ounces, 21.25" long
2/22/12: TBD soon :-)


  1. Thanks for sharing. I love reading birth stories. :-)

  2. Oh, beautiful story! Happy almost 1 year!!


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