because i haven't put them out there except on my local forums. it's time.
Aug. 13, 2003, C and I signed the lease to a new apartment, sans bats in the belfry. I’d been put on bed rest the previous Friday at 34 weeks. I’d been having bloody show and some mild ctx, and was dilated to a 2-3. That night, I could’ve sworn my water broke, I felt like I was leaking. We went to the ER, they put me on a monitor and did the amniotic fluid test, which was negative. The nurse left it up to me to decide whether I wanted to stay or go home, and I decided to go home after the ctx essentially stopped. The next morning, Aug. 14, 35 weeks to the day, I woke with some mild ctx that weren’t easing up, and picked up a pattern fairly quickly. I was only mildly uncomfortable, so figured I’d wait around and see how I felt in a couple hours. At 12 pm, I was still contracting, 5 min. apart, so I called the ob’s office, and they got me an appt. at 3 that afternoon. We went in, and the ob pronounced that I was dilated to 4, in active labor, and to head over to the hospital and get checked in. She said she would come over after she finished some paper work in the office, around 6 pm.
So, off we went. Got checked in, got into our room. I told the nurses I would be taking a shower and they could do their questionnaire when I was done. As they asked me all their little questions, I walked around, rocked back and forth, did my thing to keep labor moving along nicely. Then things got complicated and messy. The nurses changed shifts, and the new ones wanted to put me on the monitors and start an IV immediately. I argued with them over the IV, telling them repeatedly that my ob had said I could do a hep lock. They threw “hospital policy” in my face, and I gave in. I almost threw up during the procedure. She couldn’t find the vein, and kept digging. This was the start of my stress. The ob came in around 6 pm, checked me and said I was dilated to a 6, and how about we break the water? Sure, why not….within minutes, the ctx picked up, coming on harder than I was prepared for (since it was an intervention and my body and brain hadn’t had a chance to adjust yet). I started getting anxious, and asked for a shot of Stadol. This made me sleepy, and I dozed for a while, not sure how long, though.
The nurses woke me up some time later, saying they were going to start the pitocin now, since my ctx were becoming irregular and I obviously needed some help. I flat-out refused. They said “If you’re concerned about the ctx becoming more painful, we can give you more drugs for the pain. You’ll do fine…” again, I flat-out refused. “Well, something needs to be done about these ctx or you’re going to end up needing a section…” I glared at her. “Unhook me from the monitors and let me get up and walk. That’s all I need to get labor going steady again…” They argued some more, and eventually agreed to let me walk the floor for half an hour. They checked me again before I left, and I was dilated to 7. C, Mom, Dad, my friend H, and I all walked the L&D floor, me stopping every few minutes to work through another ctx since the Stadol had worn off. After an hour or so, I decided the ctx were getting to be a little too much, and wanted to go back to the room.
When we got back, they hooked me up again and checked me….a very stretchy 9 cm, and gave me the go-ahead to push whenever the urge took hold. I froze for a second….my mind started racing… ”Seriously? This is it? No, it couldn’t be…see, I knew I could get things going if I just walked….wait, I’m having a baby now? Oh, shit….can I have another shot of Stadol?” The last must’ve been spoken out loud, because one of the nurses said “No, sweetie, I’m sorry, but you’re ready to push. It’s too late for more drugs. You’ll do just fine……ready?” Soon after, the freight train urge to push hit, and they instructed me on purple pushing, which I largely ignored, and yelled at me for yelling. “Stop that noise! It’s not going to do you or anyone else any good…” I still growled. The monitor lost CSJ’s heart rate (predictable; this 'complication' happens quite often), so they inserted an internal monitor into his scalp; he still has the scar.
During this time, I noticed one of the nurses using the phone to call my ob, twice. My ob hadn’t arrived yet, and I could tell they were nervous about this. I continued to push, not worrying about the fact that my doctor wasn’t there, because I honestly didn’t care at that point…the baby was coming with or without her help, and if she missed it, her loss. So, as CSJ crowned, the nurses panicked. One of them told me to stop pushing, just breathe…I was stunned. “Excuse me? I can’t stop this process…” I said. “Oh yes, you can.” She came up next to me and got in my face. “You just need to breathe through it, hold it, don’t push at all, you just can’t….” I told her it was impossible, that *I* wasn’t pushing, my body was. She yelled at me at this point… “No, YOU’RE doing the pushing, and you need to stop that, RIGHT NOW!” I glanced at the other nurse in the room, who had a deer-in-the-headlights look…she suddenly realized that birth was imminent, and rushed over to the cart to get things ready… Meanwhile, as I was attempting to instruct the other nurse on the physiologic process of labor, and how I really, honestly did not have any control over what my body was doing at that point, CSJ’s head popped out…I felt him spin, and his shoulders slipped through, followed easily by the rest of him, and a huge gush of fluid splashed over him as he landed on the bed….the nurse and I both stopped arguing and looked down as he let out one little squawk, and went quiet.
The two nurses grabbed their things and rushed over….towel on my belly, baby on the towel…rub, rub, rub, suction, gurgle, more suction….a clamp was placed on the cord, and I started in again…. “Um, we wanted to wait until the cord…” She cut me off. “It’s stopped pulsing. It’s fine,” and cut anyway. They rushed him over to the warmer and suctioned him for another 5 minutes or so. After a couple minutes, I heard him gurgling, trying to squawk and cry, and suddenly, he let out a screech that surprised everyone in the room! The nurses continued to work on him, getting him breathing comfortably, when in walked the ob. She looked at me, looked at the nurses and CSJ over at the warmer, and as she turned to get gloves said “Dammit, I missed it! I was looking forward to this one…” The ob came over and helped with the placenta, which came out on its own. I had a second-degree tear that she stitched up, but was otherwise fine. CSJ ended up receiving deep suctioning about half an hour later before they moved us to the floor.
CSJ was born on August 14, 2003, at 11:03 pm, weighing in at 6 lbs 11 oz, 19.5 inches long, and a 14.5 inch head, 5 weeks early…. I call it my unassisted hospital birth.
When I conceived Izzy, I knew I wanted to do things differently. I was already determined to have an unassisted birth, but was still up in the air about care during the pregnancy. I made an 8-week appt. with a family practitioner. One week before, I called and cancelled. My gut was screaming at me not to go. I reasoned it out in my head by saying “well, there’s not much they can do before 12 weeks anyway, so maybe I’ll just reschedule…” I never did. Every time I thought about it, it felt wrong. So instead I had my friend check my blood pressure every so often and listen to the heart rate when it became possible. She helped me locate the placenta to rule out a previa. We measured fundal height just for fun. I learned how to tell fetal positioning, and became quite good at it. I had a wonderfully stress-free unassisted pregnancy.
By my dates, I was due on May 15, 2006, Mother's Day. Since I had had CSJ 5 weeks early, I honestly thought I might go early again this time, too, possibly as early as 6 weeks, and so prepared for that possibility. I spent the pregnancy preparing for birth, knowing that I could get through labor just fine. I gathered some rudimentary supplies, scissors and shoelaces for the cord, towels, sheets, and chux pads, a birth ball, herbal teas. I settled in and waited for April, sure I would birth sometime during that month. April passed, turned into May. I know I should’ve just tossed the calendar in the trash, but I couldn’t believe my luck! I had passed 35, 37, 39 weeks! I was amazed at what my body could accomplish when it wasn’t being told it would fail.
Mother’s day came and went. Monday passed with no signs of labor. Tuesday morning, I was miserable. Hugely uncomfortable, wondering if I was going to be pregnant forever. I decided to take CSJ to the park that day and go for a long walk. We went up and down the path, and I walked in circles while he played on the playground. I never got anything more than some Braxton-Hicks, and after a couple hours, was too tired to continue. Afternoon turned into evening, and into night. C got ready for work and left around 10:30 pm. CSJ and I decided to head to bed around 11. We laid down and read a story. I turned off the light, said goodnight and rolled over.
POP! It felt like Izzy had landed a helluva punch, but I didn’t think anything more of it. I’d had the same sensation the night before, and nothing had come of it. I rolled over again because CSJ was being restless, and fluid gushed out. My waters had broken.
If you can, imagine a woman, roughly the size of a beached whale, squeezing her legs together as tightly as she can and tip-toeing to the bathroom, so as not to sploosh all over the carpet of the apartment.
I climbed into the tub and let go. Fluid went everywhere. It was clear, flecked with vernix, so all looked well. However, I kept leaking. Izzy’s head wasn’t acting like a cork for some reason, so I quick checked to make sure there was no cord prolapse. I didn’t feel anything, but suddenly got the urge to potty. No ctx yet, though. I made my way out to the living room and found the phone. C had just gotten to work and was starting his night when I called. I then called my mom and my friend, S. Mom arrived first, then S, then C. By that time, ctx had started, so I knew we would have a baby by morning.
CSJ was tired and cranky, although excited, so C took him to bed. They both fell asleep. S, Mom and I stayed out in the living room. Coffee was brewed. Some food was made. They chatted. I walked up and down the hall, stopping every few minutes to sit on the toilet. The whole time I kept leaking fluid. I had the feeling something was up, but didn’t feel that it was any sort of complication, so just pushed it to the back of my mind.
Labor progressed easily and fairly quickly. We never watched the clock, timed ctx, or did any cervical checks. I showered, walked around, sat on the birth ball, had a bath, walked some more. Before labor, I had been looking forward to being able to eat and drink as I pleased, but when the time came, I had no appetite. I was tired from a long day of trying to get labor started! I don’t know what time I entered transition, but I do remember the ctx getting stronger, and laying down on the couch, wanting nothing more than to doze off for a while. I started feeling spacy and restless. I wasn’t comfortable, no matter what position I tried. I ended up on my knees, leaning over the birth ball, rocking back and forth. I heard myself start moaning and growling and for a split-second thought “here it comes”… The freight train hit and I leaned back onto my legs.
You know the statue of Britney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug? Everyone thought it was a silly pose, even I made fun of it at the time. Karma bit me in the ass on that one. Every time I pushed, I leaned back and looked exactly like that stupid statue.
Meanwhile, my mother, who had up to this point been fairly calm, was suddenly quite alarmed and for whatever reason thought that she should hug me every time I started pushing. I somehow managed not to throw her across the room and ignored the fact that I was being smothered. S managed to put chux pads and sheets under me using some sleight of hand. I could feel the baby moving down, then back up. Again, the thought hit me that something must be off, and that this was going to hurt, and I was just going to have to summon up every bit of strength I had left to get her down and out.
So I growled, and I pushed. By this time, C had woken up and was sitting in the corner. I was fine with that. I wanted my mom to join him, but it was moot by this point. I felt Izzy come down and start crowning. S was behind me, encouraging me, telling me she was almost here….and then I felt it. I hadn’t felt it with CSJ, so hadn’t been prepared for the ring of fire. Behind the burning white hot pain, the thought ran through my mind, just once, that maybe this had been a bad idea….and then I had to push again. My hand flew down to slow the crowning and let the tissue stretch. But it felt like I was going to split up the front, not through the perineum. I needed to do something…it took a moment before my head cleared long enough to communicate to the rest of me “change position”. At the exact same moment, I heard S behind me “Do you need to move? What do you want us to do?” I told her to grab the couch cushions and pile them up off to the side. I told Mom to get behind them. In one movement, I flipped over into a semi-sitting/squatting position, leaned back, and pushed with everything I had. Izzy’s head popped through, and she was pissed! She started crying right then. I felt her corkscrew, and the shoulders and legs came tumbling out, into S’s hands. Izzy was letting the world know as loud as she possibly could that she had arrived. S handed her up to me, and I cradled her as best as I could. The cord was extremely short, and I couldn’t even get her to the breast without it being pulled. So I held her on my stomach and talked to her, put a towel around her and tried to calm her down.
She started to settle down a bit, and S asked “So, what do we have, mama?” I realized I hadn’t looked to see yet… I announced “It’s a girl!” and the room cheered. We cut the cord soon after, since it seemed to be making Izzy uncomfortable, and once that was done, she settled right down and took in her surroundings. We checked the clock… 4:40 am. Izzy didn’t want to nurse right away, so Mom and C made their introductions while I birthed the placenta. We placed it in a plastic container, and I went and took a quick bath to clean up; I was covered in blood. While bathing, we got some clots out; there was a fair amount of blood loss, but nothing too severe. I got out and dried off while they weighed and measured Izzy. Afterwards, Izzy and I settled in on the couch for our first nursing, while everyone else cleaned up. I was bruised, and had some skid marks, but no tears. That’s when S told me…that nagging feeling I’d had that something was off….Izzy had presented with a nuchal hand. Her little fist had been balled up on the side of her face, next to her temple.
Izzy was born on May 17, 2006, at roughly 4:40 am, weighing in at 9 lbs 11 oz, 22 inches long, with a 14 inch head and a nuchal hand.