Friday, October 14, 2011

Our Birth Story

It's taken a while to process exactly what happened surrounding Annaliese's birth. Everything happened so fast, I'm not sure exactly where to begin. If you ask my husband when labor began he would probably joke that I had been in labor for the entire last half of the month of September.

But the exciting stuff started to happen Saturday, October 8th. I woke up around 9 to find I had lost my mucus plug, I texted my doula and waited for Nick to wake up so I could share the news with him. I went to doctor google asking questions like, "how long after you lose the mucus plug do you go into labor?" I got excited with answers like "half an hour" and disappointed with the other answers like "2 weeks." We took Saturday to visit with family and attend another couple's baby shower - trying to keep ourselves preoccupied with something other than kick starting labor. I went to bed Saturday content and mentally prepared to be pregnant for another 2 weeks. 

I woke up at 10:15 on Sunday morning, disappointed I had slept so late since I was going to have to get up early for work the next day. I had been having contractions all weekend so the ones I felt all day were nothing that hinted to the start of labor. I spent the day in bed, watching 30 Rock on Netflix and at about 6 o'clock Nick and I made a trip to the Urgent Care Center because Nick had a pretty bad cough and was running a fever. He had some x-rays done and was prescribed medicine for Bronchitis and we went on our way. Nick went to bed at 9 but baby girl was so active I couldn't sleep. She kept me up until almost 1am with non-stop powerful kicks and rolls. Dr Google told me that movement slows down as labor approaches, so labor was the last thing on my mind. I fell asleep thinking about what I was going to wear to work.

2:34am Monday October 10, 2011
 I woke up suddenly with extremely strong contractions. I made my way to the bathroom where Nick was up as well. When I wiped there was a considerable amount of blood. A contraction started and I told Nick to go to bed. When the contraction hadn't ended yet 5 minutes later I hollered to him that maybe we needed to start timing them. I hopped in the shower to help myself cope and we timed a few contractions at 2 minutes and 45 seconds apart. Everything I had read about first time moms said that at the start of real labor contractions would be more like 15 minutes apart. I was in denial that I was in real labor and Nick made the command decision that it was time to call the midwife.

We loaded up the car and left for the birth center. I labored through contractions that were 2 minutes apart in the back seat on my knees. We ended up getting pulled over for running a red light but once Nick told the officer that I was in labor and he saw me in the back seat he told us to be safe and let us go.

We arrived at the birth center and as I got to the room and put the bags down my water broke. Still in denial that I was in real labor I asked the midwife, “So, this is labor, right?” She smiled and reassured me I would get to meet my little one soon. I was checked and determined to be 4cm dilated. I got in the jacuzzi and the contractions started one on top of the other. At this point I began vocalizing to get through them. I got no break in between and they lasted for a good minute at a time. For me, vocalizing really helped me focus on where I was in the contraction. The noises I made symbolized if it was just starting, peaking, or coming down. I remember looking up at my doula and saying, "I envy the women who get 15 minutes in between contractions! Why am I not getting a break?" She reassured me that my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to and that everything I was experiencing was normal. That was exactly what I needed to hear. 

The birth center does not require continual fetal monitoring - it is only done twice every other hour (for example: they'd listen at 315 and 345 but not again until 515). Even though it was done so sparse, it felt like they were asking me to stand out of the water every 5 minutes. I started having immense rectal pressure during my contractions. It felt so good to stand and lean on the edge of the tub to sway my hips. I truly felt like I was riding my contractions. Still not getting any breaks between contractions I remember remarking, "If this is what first stage is like I cannot imagine what transition is going to be like." Little did I know that's exactly what I was experiencing at that point.

I decided I had had enough of the jacuzzi and walked back to the suite. I remember I was so overcome with the feeling of having to poop. I wanted to sit down so bad because but the rectal pressure was so intense. I found a middle ground of kneeling / sitting back on one knee on the floor at the foot of the bed. There was a bar that ran across the foot board so I grabbed that during contractions and rocked my pelvis back and forth. The encouragement from those in the room was amazing. “Great positioning” “Wonderful noises” “Work your baby down”

I gave in to my desire to poop. I asked for some privacy and shut myself in the bathroom. I took the biggest dump in the history of dumps. I don’t think there was anything left inside of my colon or intestines by the time I was done. I opened the door and proudly proclaimed my victory over the porcelain throne repeatedly to everyone in the room. I made sure everyone heard at least 4 times that I had just had the "greatest bowel movement of my entire life." I remarked at how the contractions had become much less painful with the desire to use the restroom and the midwife asked to check me.

I was informed I was fully dilated and ready to push whenever I felt the desire. The exact wording the midwife used was “complete” I thought she meant I was completely effaced, not complete as in 10cm dilated. I wasn’t sure what to do. I looked at my doula and asked her to translate what had just happened. The midwife asked if I wanted to start pushing and I told her that I needed a minute to process exactly what I had just been told. I began to get very scared. This was the part – the pushing – that I had the most anxiety about.

My body decided it didn’t care what my emotions needed and I found myself pushing without even trying. The people who say, “push when you feel the next contraction starting” have either never given birth before or didn’t do it without medication. I no longer felt contractions. All I knew was that there was a starting and stopping point to feeling this immense urge to bear down – but it wasn’t in my uterus. 

I cursed for the first time. When they describe crowning as the ring of fire I would have to say that's a pretty accurate description. I remember there were so many thoughts running through my mind. I felt like I was having a complete out of body experience but completely in tune and present to everything at the same time. I remember wondering if I was going to tear or not (my biggest fear) and convinced myself they were going to give me an episiotomy at any second. I remember wanting to hold my breath and willing it all to be over but calm, reassuring voices from my birth team gently reminded me, "short breaths, Kaitlin"

"Reach down and grab your baby" 
She was here. 

The cord had been wrapped around her neck one time, but other than that everything was perfect. I made sure to tell her Happy Birthday and looked at my husband, astounded we had done it. She received an APGAR score of 9 at one minute and 10 at 5 minutes. I pushed once to deliver the placenta and was checked for tears. I had a first degree tear that required no repair and got in the shower. It felt so good to stand under the warm running water. Annaliese weighed 6 lbs 9.5 oz and measured 19 3/4 inches. 

I honestly could not have hoped for a better birth experience. Everything happened the exact way I wanted. My birth team was amazing. I had the greatest coach I could ask for - my husband. 

It was the hardest and most fulfilling thing I have ever done. 
We couldn't be more in love.

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