Monday, August 16, 2010

Exciting birth story!

Hi friends! Happy Monday! I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I pretty much spent the entire weekend watching Season One of ArmyWives and now am going crazy because I can't get ahold of seasons two and three! Does anyone have them and feel like sending them to me? I promise I will send them right back ... probably within 24 hours.

Anyway, I have a very special guest post today! My dear friend Jenn gave birth to a beautiful baby girl just over three weeks ago. She had quite the birth experience, and the whole story is just so incredible that I begged her to write it up for the blog. I know so many of you bloggers out there are pregnant, just had a baby, or are thinking about trying for a baby soon. Trust me ... you will enjoy this story! Thankfully, Jenn agreed to write it up, so ... without further ado, read on for an exciting birth story!

Hello to Shaina’s blog friends! I’m Jenn, one of Shaina’s fabulous friends from outside of the blog world. You may recall my previous role as Matron of Honor at Shaina’s wedding (Shaina's note: I was also Jenn's MOH. Here are some fun photos!).

For years, I’ve been Auntie Jenn to Oscar. Now Shaina is Auntie Shaina to my baby of the non-furry variety. My husband and I welcomed our sweet girl, Cora Claire, on July 25. The story of how she got here is slightly ridiculous, so Shaina thought it would make for good reading on her blog.

Things You Should Know Before We Go Any Further:

-I am EXTREMELY long-winded. This could take a while. Shaina should probably edit heavily or post in many parts (Shaina's note: I didn't).

-I had strong personal opinions and desires for MY pregnancy/birth experience. With my knowledge that this pregnancy was low-risk and the education I exposed myself to, my main desire was to do everything possible to avoid a C-section. I felt like major surgery required more pain and recovery time than an uncomplicated labor and vaginal birth. So, my main goals were to avoid IV/saline, epidural, and induction/pitocin – all things that increase the odds of ending up in the OR.


My pregnancy was generally uncomplicated and uneventful with a due date of July 9. This due date was probably several days off; I’m not one of those women who marks the arrival and departure of my monthly gift in my daily planner. I guessed the date of my LMP, and I guessed a little early to make it seem like I was further along. Don’t ever play mind games like this with yourself and your midwife/OB. It will come back to haunt you.

I knew early on that I was interested in working with a doula. I hoped for an unmedicated birth and low intervention birth and knew I’d need the extra support. My husband wanted the extra support, too, because he was freaked out about birth. If he had it his way, he would have been sitting in a waiting room smoking cigars while I got knocked into a coma and someone besides us handled every aspect of getting this baby into the world. They would then present us with a nicely wrapped, clean, pink baby and my husband would spread the word to our families via telegram. And I’d be wearing my lovely strand of pearls the whole time.

I was assigned to a midwife at the clinic where I received my prenatal care. Being interested in a natural approach to pregnancy/childbirth, I initially thought this would be great! Midwives are friendly to people like me, right? Wrong. The most basic definition of a midwife is: someone trained to assist with low-risk pregnancies/deliveries. They don’t have to be all granola about it. The second I brought up my birth plan, my midwife started telling me how unlikely it was that the hospital would allow my labor/delivery to progress according to any of my wishes. And then she tried to scare me, saying that if I denied all of the hospital’s standard interventions I would end up bleeding to death (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the basic idea).

The day my midwife put the kibosh on my birth plan (I was over 6 months pregnant at the time), I freaked out a little. I called my doula and asked her opinion on other birthing options. My husband is in the Army and we have the basic health care plan that costs us almost nothing. That plan had me receiving my prenatal care at the OB/GYN clinic at the Army hospital at Ft. Campbell; I would deliver there also. I looked into changing insurance plans and paying tons of co-pays to deliver at a different (preferred) hospital, one that might be friendlier to my plan. I considered paying fully out of pocket to deliver at a birthing center that was a two hour drive from our home. I considered paying several thousand dollars to have a granola midwife assist at a home birth. My husband never gave that last option a second of consideration. We ended up sticking with our non-granola midwife at the Army hospital and hoped we’d be able to be assertive enough to stick to our birth plan. We decided to take a series of childbirth classes (beyond the typical hospital 2 hour hospital class) in order to be as educated and empowered as possible. This turned out to be a wonderful idea – my husband gained a greater appreciation for the childbirth experience I hoped for, and we both had increased acceptance of the physical process of labor and delivery (read: we came to terms with the ick factor).

It’s My Due Date – Friday, July 9

And no baby yet. I started having Braxton-Hicks contractions around 30 weeks, and they got increasingly frequent as my due date approached. But, they were never stronger, longer & closer together (the magical trifecta that signifies early labor). At my 40 week prenatal appointment, my midwife warned about “old placentas” that wear out and cease to support the baby, ending in stillbirth. She was so exact with dates and with the baby’s gestational age that it drove me crazy. As if the arbitrary date I guessed as my LMP made my due date set in stone. Keep in mind that a woman isn’t “overdue” or “post date” until after 42 weeks.

My midwife made me “pencil in” an induction date of July 23, exactly two weeks after my due date. She let me know she was being “generous” to go “so late”, because they “never” let women go past 41 weeks, 3 days. My husband actually said, “Well, you can schedule an induction, but that doesn’t mean we’ll show up for it.” You should have seen the midwife’s face – she immediately left the room to consult with someone. When she came back, she informed us that she was transferring my care to an OB because she “doesn’t deal with high-risk pregnancies,” which she now considered mine to be. Since I was past my due date and obstinate about it, she had no desires to deal with me anymore. And she must have made quite the note in my medical chart, because in future interactions we had with hospital staff, they almost always started by saying, “Now, WE KNOW you don’t want an induction…”

I tried almost everything to get my baby out. I joined the 65+ crowd and walked at the mall to avoid the searing July heat. I went up and down the stairs in our house 71 times a day (or so it seemed). I did so much nipple stimulation that I thought they would fall off before I got a chance to breastfeed the baby that was never coming. And my husband and I tried sex until the mere thought of doing it one more time made me cry. But, even in all my desperation, I refused to try castor oil: “The indecency of it!” I thought.

Oh, please. By the end of this whole thing, every last scrap of my dignity was gone.

It’s My Induction Date – Friday, July 23

During weeks 40 and 41, I had several non-stress tests and amniotic fluid checks that came back showing a perfectly healthy baby and perfectly healthy placenta. But, everyone at the hospital was still super anxious to get my baby out while I grew super anxious about the interventions involved in an induction. The night before my scheduled induction, I had more Braxton-Hicks contractions than usual. I called my doula with cautious excitement, thinking this could be early labor. My doula, husband and I decided that we would call the hospital and tell them that I was in early labor and would like to sleep as much as possible, meaning we would NOT be calling at 6am to check in for my induction. We went to sleep, and I didn’t not wake up again until my phone rang at 9 the next morning – clearly I was NOT in any kind of labor if I got 10+ hours of uninterrupted sleep. The phone call was the OB at the hospital calling to check on my progress, as they were greatly concerned about my “past due” pregnancy. Knowing that my labor had not progressed to stronger, longer and closer together contractions, I tearfully decided to throw in the towel. I was tired of being hounded by hospital staff and tired of waiting, waiting and waiting with nothing to show for it.

So, we meandered on up to the hospital for the induction. And then they told us that I didn’t have to have an induction because they knew we didn’t want it. What???? They did another NST and AFI and again found the baby to be perfectly healthy. The OB warned me about the risks of carrying a pregnancy past 42 weeks by saying, “I really don’t want to deliver a dead baby.” Followed by, “But I do want to follow your decisions for your medical care.” I elected to have the OB strip my membranes and to go home. But they wouldn’t let me leave until I scheduled another date for an induction, 48 hours later on Sunday, July 25.

It’s My Induction Date, Take 2. No, Wait. It’s My Delivery Date!

After having my membranes stripped, I had good, strong contractions that were at pain level 3 (you know how they ask, “On a scale of 0-10 , with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain imaginable, what is your pain level?”). But those good, strong contractions disappeared after just a few hours.

I watched the clock constantly, dreading every passing minute as one minute closer to an induction. On Saturday, my husband and I went mall walking AGAIN, had sex AGAIN, went through the natural induction list AGAIN, and I still refused to drink the castor oil. Even though my husband knew what the castor oil would do, he still encouraged me to give it a try. And I refused AGAIN. If you don’t know what castor oil does to the human body, Google it. Shaina’s blog doesn’t want those details written on it.

I called my doula on Saturday night and we discussed how things would go with the induction. My husband and I gave the house a once over, rechecked hospital bags, charged phones, and each had a glass of red wine. We were watching an episode of that new spy show with the girl from Coyote Ugly, and towards the end of the episode, I had the first Very Serious Contraction. Out of nowhere. It was 9:30.

I fumbled around for the next 30 minutes, finding it impossible to get much relief from the contractions. I’d give those early ones a 4.5 on the pain scale. My husband did not seem impressed and paid more attention to the Coyote Ugly girl. When the show was over, he decided to mess around on the computer for a bit. I followed him around the house like a puppy dog with my giant exercise ball, having to stop for contractions regularly. Around 10:00, I convinced him that we needed to start timing things. I pulled up and we soon realized they were 2-3 minutes apart and 45 seconds to a minute long.

So, you’re probably thinking, “Isn’t that when they say it’s time to go to the hospital?” Well, the contractions had only been around for about 30 minutes. Since I had so many starts and stops with contractions, I just wasn’t convinced that I would ever go into labor. So we kept timing things at home. I got in the tub around 10:15 and got a little relief, but the contractions still got more intense. At this point, my mind was doubtful of the seriousness of the contractions, but in my gut I just knew things were progressing quickly. My husband was responding to my requests for help and support, but still seemed oblivious to the fact that this was really it. While I sat in the tub, he was reading an article in The Economist in between timing contractions. Remember, it’s still not even been an hour since the first Very Serious Contraction. And every childbirth book/class will tell you that it just usually doesn’t go so fast.

In the category of “Things They Say You’ll Do But You Don’t Believe Them,” I started vocalizing through the contractions (read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth). My husband (his name is Ryan, BTW) finally clued in and called our doula. She heard the all moaning I had going on in the tub and said, “Yup, sounds like labor! Call me when you need me!” We called her back 15 minutes later.

Our doula lives in the north Nashville area, and we were about 45 miles away from her in Clarksville, TN. So, we knew it would take a while for her to join us. I spent less than 30 minutes in the tub because Ryan thought I was getting light headed from the hot water – I’m going to say the light headedness was from PAIN! Once I was out of the water, things got super serious. Contractions were still 2-3 minutes apart and a minute long, but I’d up the pain scale number to an 8. At this point, I remember saying to Ryan, “How am I going to stand up, walk down the stairs, sit in the car for the 25 minute drive to the hospital, walk into L&D, and actually survive?” I just couldn’t imagine how, but I knew that our doula would get here any minute and save me.

I’m now having Very Very Very Serious Contractions, and I’m going to give them a 10 on the pain scale. In between contractions, I begged for an epidural. As if Ryan could go pick one up from the store or the guy next store is an anesthesiologist. It’s probably around 11:30 by now, and our doula wasn’t here yet. Ryan and I talked about trying to get to the hospital, but I could barely make it through contractions that were almost incessant while sitting on our comfy bed. I felt like we needed our doula’s help to get there. I think Ryan and I still believed we’d somehow get to the hospital; we just didn’t have any idea how that would happen.

At midnight, my water broke. Actually, I’m going to say it was more of a pop – lots of pressure behind it, I guess! I was really paranoid that there would be meconium (more likely to be present the longer a pregnancy goes), but Ryan said the fluid was clear. I felt a lot of relief from the contractions, but I gained an urge to push that was unstoppable. I decided to try to labor on the toilet (I’ll take “Things They Say You’ll Do But You Don’t Believe Them” for $400, Alex), and when I stood up to walk, I realized that the baby was RIGHT THERE. You know what I mean.

Being on the toilet was horrible, so I hobbled back to bed (water still leaking). Ryan threw down a towel over my popped water puddle, and once I was settled on the bed, the uncontrollable pushing started again. I tried to feel for the baby’s head (I was convinced that I wasn’t fully dilated for some reason and that there wasn’t enough room for the baby to come out), but it just felt like a crazy mess. Ryan let me know that he could actually see the head and that the baby really was coming, like, RIGHT NOW. He delivered her, untangled the umbilical cord from around her body, and plopped her down on my stomach. We estimate she was born at 12:15, 15 minutes after my water broke. He called our doula, who was to arrive within minutes, and then 911.

Ryan grabbed stuff out of the linen closet to cover up the baby and keep her warm. I just held on for dear life (SO slippery) in a complete haze. When our doula arrived, she grabbed more stuff from the linen closet for me and the baby – I was majorly shivering all over (a hormone thing, apparently). She tried to coach me through delivering the placenta, but I was having a really hard time. Turns out the thing was massive. Part of it didn’t detach, which can be a concern for possible hemorrhaging.

The paramedics arrived, along with firemen to carry me down the stairs in a stretcher. They were all awesome, assuring us that we did a good job and that we were all okay. They clamped off the umbilical cord and had Ryan cut it with a scalpel, though the spot they chose for the cut left about a foot of cord dangling from poor Cora. My doula was massaging my uterus in attempts to get the placenta to let go. It would have really helped to have the baby breastfeed (to induce more contractions), but for some reason the paramedics asked me not to. They wrapped me and my still attached placenta up in more sheets and towels from my linen closet and got me down to the ambulance. We all decided to go to the local hospital instead of the Army hospital, due to proximity.

Ryan drove behind the ambulance and made a few brief phone calls to our family. The ride was bumpy and seemed so long. I really felt light headed and found out later that my blood pressure was slowly dropping (darn placenta). I was also in a lot of pain from a horrible saline IV in my arm. And I was sad because Cora was sucking on anything she could get in her mouth, looking for an opportunity to breastfeed, which I was still not allowed to do.

When we arrived at the hospital, we were not kindly greeted. Since I got all my prenatal care from another provider through a different hospital, they knew nothing about me. I was also an ‘unexpected emergency’ added into an already busy night for the staff. And, they all thought that I delivered at home on purpose, with insufficient support, and now they had to clean up my mess. As the OB & nurses untangled all the blankets and sheets, I got some pitocin to stimulate more contractions. The OB had to end up applying traction to the placenta to get it all out – so unpleasant! And then the OB started in on a few stitches accompanied by the comment, “Next time you deliver your baby alone, do yourself a favor and support your perineum.” Dislike!

While the OB worked on me, an evil baby nurse worked on Cora. She kept the baby away from me for ages, despite Ryan’s and my constant requests for the baby to breastfeed. She also administered the vitamin K shot and eye ointment without consent, two procedures we were likely going to decline. When I inquired about those procedures, she just said, “Oops! Too late!” I dislike you, too, evil baby nurse.

The Aftermath

I guess that’s the end of the most interesting parts. But I’m going to keep going just a little longer so I can answer the question every single person wants to ask – what about the mess? Because you know there was a mess. Here’s the scoop… Ryan and I were concerned about the possibility of my water breaking while I was sleeping (even though this is statistically a small occurrence in labor). A few weeks before my due date, we put a waterproof mattress cover on the bed. And it did its job. Our mattress remained completely mess-free. Ryan was also very concerned about the path of carpet between my side of the bed and the bathroom, so he bought a cheap shower curtain. The shower curtain was to be transferred to the car to protect the seats during the trip to the hospital . I had to walk on that stupid shower curtain for over a month, and I hated it SO much, but it saved our carpet.

You might have noticed that in the above story, I noted several times that various people raided my linen closet. And, apparently, the most convenient pile of linens was the stack of carefully folded, much loved, wonderfully nice sheets that were given to us from our wedding registry. A stack of beach towels also got ransacked, and one lovely hand towel (also a wedding gift) made it into the massive bundle of material that wrapped up me, the baby, and my placenta.

On Monday morning, while Cora and I tried to get a bit of sleep at the hospital, Ryan left to run home and survey the damage. The sheets on our bed, the waterproof mattress cover, and the shower curtain went straight in the trash. Ryan cleaned up the bathroom and put the furniture back into place (paramedics moved several pieces in order to maneuver the stretcher through the house).

When I got unwrapped at the hospital, the staff kindly set aside the whole mess of linens in two plastic “Patient Belongings” bags. And I was stupid enough to think that I was going to take them home and somehow magically save them. I did take them home, where I opened one up and reached in for the hand towel. Stupid, stupid, stupid. At some point, my doula mentioned to me that there were “some solids” wrapped up in there. She didn’t get more specific, and I didn’t ask her to. But I’m pretty sure this is one more thing that falls into the “Things They Say You’ll Do But You Don’t Believe Them” category. After a bit of gagging, I took both bags straight down to the garbage. Ryan later wondered if the trash guys suspected homicide when they got to our bin.

When I write it all out like this, it really seems nuts. It’s hard to convey (and probably for you to believe) how calm everything felt (except the pain of course; that part was NOT calm). I’m going to give a ton of credit to my wonderful husband. Despite being a little slow to jump on board (seriously, remember the part where he was reading The Economist?), his affect was steadfastly composed and confident that we could handle this. Later on, he admitted to being quite jarred by the whole thing, but I never would have known. As much as I was in pain, I truly never felt panicked or helpless about the situation. I actually remember thinking, “Why am I so okay about all this?” Maybe it’s because there just wasn’t time to get myself worked up. From the time of the first Very Serious Contraction until Cora’s birth, it was less than three hours. Geez, it probably took you longer than that to read all this.

As I sign off, here are three pregnancy/childbirth lessons to be learned from all this:

-Waterproof your couch/bed/carpet/car. Just in case.

-Be careful what you wish for. I wanted an intervention-free birth. I sure as hell got one.

-In all seriousness, educate yourself about your body and your baby. There’s so much to be gained both physically and mentally as you prepare for your sweet one’s arrival, however they decide to get here!


Ashley said...

WOW! What a crazy story! I couldn't even imagine going through that.

Lucy Marie said...

Crazy crazy crazy story. It is just as crazy the third time I read it! Congrats to Jenn and Ryan on such a beautiful baby girl.

Lisa said...

Congrats, Jenn! I couldn't believe it when Shaina told me your birth story. It's crazier written out. The name Cora is so cute...and it must be getting popular! One week to the day after you had your Cora my good friend here in Chicago had her own Cora. Small naming world!

Congrats to you and Ryan!

Susannah said...

HOLY SHIT! Is that real? That is so freaking crazy-I cannot believe that she went so fast!

AEOT said...

WOW! Coming from another brand new mom, that is one crazy bit of business!!! I thought it was bad that my water broke when we were out to dinner- that's nothing compared to Jenn's story. I'm SO glad her husband was so awesome, and I'm so glad that the baby is healthy (and sooo cute, to boot!)

Jenn, I'm incredibly impressed!!! I hope you are getting some sleep and that nursing is going well! It's a frickin amazing journey!!!

Sarah said...

That is one of the craziest birth stories I have ever heard! What a crazy way to bring life into the world! I am sure that is a story that she will want to hear over and over! Congrats!

Lucky in Love said...

Even though I've already heard this did not cease to freak me out again :) But what a beautiful baby :)

Becky said...

WOW! What a story! Congratulations - your daughter is beautiful, and thanks for sharing!

Brittany Ann said...

Whoa. Just whoa. I interviewed a woman with something similar when I worked as a journalist. And just like when I read this, I got so mad at the medical world for their (mis)treatment of a perfectly healthy woman a child.

This is why I want a non-intervention birth. Doctors and I don't see eye to eye, from stories like this.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

holy cow. I didn't even know stuff like that could happen anymore! So glad everyone is okay. I can't believe the way people treated you... But congrats Jenn and family! You have a beautiful little girl!!

Erin said...

My blood is BOILING reading about that jerk of an OB and the evil baby nurse! BOILING!!! Glad it all turned out, but SHEESH what a crazy ride!

Such a pretty little lady, that Cora :-)