Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ava's Birth Story

I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

On Friday, October 26, I had been feeling some pressure and surges throughout the day, but I thought they were practice labor and ignored them. Truthfully I had been experiencing them all week, and didn’t want to get too excited, only to be disappointed later on that I had not REALLY been in labor. By the evening, though, I felt more like relaxing on the couch than doing anything, so I asked Tom to take care of Liesl while I lay down. He took Liesl out on several errands and didn’t return until close to 7:00 p.m. , then he fed her dinner and put her to bed. We then sat down to eat by ourselves, I decided to have a light meal of scrambled eggs and toast in case this really was labor. I took a shower and went to bed. At 8:30 p.m. , I felt my membranes release, so we called our midwife. My favorite midwife, Jess, was on call all weekend, and Tom swears that this is why I didn’t give birth before the weekend—I just LOVE Jess to pieces, so I was thrilled that it would happen on her watch. She suggested that I stay in bed and try to sleep, and after hearing that I was concerned things might move quickly, also suggested we call my parents and ask them to come over to be ready to take care of Liesl should we have to go to the birth center quickly. We called my parents and told them they may want to be ready, but not to come out quite yet. At about 11:00 , I started to shake and tremble. My membranes had released several times, and I couldn’t quite get warm enough. We called Jess again, and she suggested we make our way into the birthing center just to be on the safe side. We called my parents and they quickly left to come here (they live 45 minutes away.) I found out later that my mom didn’t really believe I was in labor and was just humoring me by coming out in the middle of the night. I find that amusing! I also called my doula, Kristen, and told her it was time to go. While waiting for everyone to arrive, Tom got up and got a few last-minute things ready and I stayed in bed and worked on relaxing and doing my slow breathing during surges. I could never really answer how far apart my surges were, as we didn’t focus on the clock, but we were able to tell Jess how many surges we had within about an hour. When my parents arrived, I got up, got dressed, and went in to kiss Liesl goodbye and tell her she’d be a big sister the next time she saw Mommy (she slept through this whole conversation.)

Kristen showed up just as we were leaving the house, so I got in the van and I listened to my HypnoBirthing programs on my iPod. Since the birth center is connected to the hospital and it was the middle of the night, we all arrived at the hospital’s emergency entrance and I asked Tom to park and let me walk into the hospital. We did just that and the security guards were horrified that he had “made” me walk, and tried to get me in a wheelchair. 3 different guards said, “I’ll take you to Labor and Delivery, here’s a wheelchair,” and to each I said, politely but firmly, “I’m going to the Alternative Birth Center , and I don’t want a wheelchair.” The first guy said, “I’m sorry, this is hospital policy,” two which I replied, politely but firmly, “Ok, then, throw me out, because I’m not getting in that chair.” They finally gave up and sent me to the birth center with an escort.

We got into a room, and soon the nurse checked me and found me only at 2 cm. I was disappointed, had hoped to be further than that. It was about 1:00 a.m. at check-in, after that I lost all sense of time, so I am relying on Tom and Kristen’s account of what happened past this point. I asked that the lights stay dim in the room so I could concentrate on relaxing, and except for a few times when the nurse needed light to check things, I got my wish (when she had the lights on, I just covered my eyes with my hand.) Kristen filled the Jacuzzi tub and I kept working on my sleep breathing and slow breathing. The tub took a LONG time to fill so there was a lot of waiting.

I went into the bathroom a few times with Tom’s help, but there came a time where I wasn’t comfortable walking on my own anymore, because when a surge came I felt an uncontrollable urge to just sit down and curl around my belly and my baby. I felt most comfortable lying on my side on the bed, and when surges came, I kept my eyes closed and focused very intently on my breathing. I did get into the tub, and it felt wonderful at first, but when the surges came, I did not feel “safe,” I felt like I needed to curl around my baby to embrace the surge, not breathe through it, and I didn’t feel that “safe” feeling that I had when I was laying in bed. Somewhere in that time, with my eyes shut, I asked Kristen and Tom to remove my best friend and my mother from the room because the conversations were too distracting.

At this point I was starting to feel like I was hitting that “wall” that people talk about. Not long after that, I tried to give up. I told Kristen and Tom that I couldn’t do this anymore, I needed the drugs, I needed to get out of here, that they needed to transport me to labor and delivery. Both of them told me, “Oh, no, you're doing so well, you’re doing GREAT, you can’t stop now!” I felt like crying when they said this, so I asked to get out of the tub and lay back down on the bed. That was when I truly “checked out” of my body as much as I could.

Jess, the midwife, showed up around 3:00 a.m. , and from that point on, she left the room once for only a few minutes; other than that, she never left my side. When she first arrived, she checked my cervix at my request. I had gone from 2 to 8 in less than 2 hours.

When surges happened, I kept reaching out for a hand…and there was always, always a hand for me to hold and squeeze during surges—usually Kristen’s, but sometimes Jess’s or Tom’s as well. To have them all understand that need was so unbelievably helpful, and I didn’t even have to ask. There were several surges that I actually did cry out, and I felt like they were uncontrollable, but when Kristen and Jess reminded me to make “low, guttural” noises instead of breathing fast and crying out in pain, it really did make the surges easier to deal with. (Easier, but not easy!) I kept feeling the urge to push or breathe down, but I wasn’t quite dilated yet. Jess checked me a few times…but only after asking me if I wanted to be checked (I initiated the request every time.) For a period of time I stayed at 9.5 cm, but the urge to push and breathe down was so great, Jess suggested that she keep her hand on my cervix and sort of ease it back during the surges. I agreed, and that’s when things really stated moving.

I did a combination of breathing down and pushing for probably about an hour (again, I lost all track of time.) Kristen let me breathe out the first few surges, but then she told me it would be best if I concentrated on breathing down, and just to be reminded was very helpful. With each surge thereafter, she told me to make sure to “make it count.” I was so very tired and at one point, I actually stopped surging for 15 minutes and everybody said I started snoring—I apparently took a 15 minute nap right in the middle of pushing. A surge woke me up (boy, did it wake me up) and after a few more surges, finally, the baby crowned. Tom gasped and said, “Oh my gosh, there’s the head!” I had to wait a few more minutes (seemed like a lifetime) before another surge came and finally, my baby was born.

My baby was placed immediately on my chest and then covered with a blanket, I just laid there, not believing it was over. I just laid there with my baby on my chest and hugged and cuddled, and then I had the wherewithal to ask, “What is it…what is it????” My midwife had remembered my wishes to have Tom tell me the sex of the baby, and I suspect she knew the sex at that point, but she said, “I don’t know, Tom will have to take a look!” Tom peeked under the blanket and said, slightly incredulously, “ANOTHER girl?!??!” Everyone in the birthing room laughed at that (he was the only male in the room!)

Every good and perfect gift comes from above.
James 1:17

The best part of Ava’s and my birth story is what happened afterwards. Mom and my best friend, Amy, came right back in, having been granted access once again to the room. My father and Liesl came for about half an hour to meet Ava, and then everybody but my husband left. I had some difficulty using the bathroom, so when I got up—assisted—to use it, I actually passed out. Jess came running back in and ran some smelling salts under my nose. That part was kind of funny…I kept telling her, “Ok, enough, I’m awake now, no more of that…seriously, you can stop now,” and she said, with a very patient and kind expression on her face, “Uh-huh, ok, sure, absolutely, I hear you” and kept running the salts under my nose (because regardless of what I was saying, I was going to pass out again.) But after that fun little episode, our new nurse, Jen, was awesome about making sure our needs were met…and then leaving us alone. She told me she would only check my vitals if I wasn’t sleeping, because she had read ahead of time in my birth preferences sheet that I have horrible insomnia. So I was to buzz her when I was awake so she could take my vitals. I was so impressed that not only do they seriously read those birth preferences sheets, but the also think of ways to make your stay better and more comfortable. She made sure we had the room service menu and told us what time we could order meals through room service, took my vitals, arranged for us to have TV, and left us alone. Once I felt strong enough, I took a shower and ordered some lunch. The windows were open, it was a very nice, springy kind of day, and we just sat and relaxed and watched football (well, Tom did), and admired our new little baby girl.

Did HypnoBirthing work for me? At first, I thought no, because I didn’t have that “quiet” birth that is shown on the videos in the classes. But Jess talked to my husband afterwards and said her birth was a lot like mine, where the breathing techniques and visualization came into play a lot, but a lot of women have births like mine. I do think I could have practiced the visualization a lot more, and I could have focused more on the scripts with Tom, but I also feel that the breathing techniques saved me. I felt a lot more in control of my birthing with that kind of breathing than I did while birthing my first baby in a hospital. I also felt a lot less tired during pushing/breathing down than I did with my medicated birth with Liesl. The breathing techniques alone were a fantastic part of my experience, and without my HypnoBirthing classes, I don’t think I’d have had the guts to say, “No, I will NOT ride in that wheelchair, hospital policy or not,” and I don’t think I would ever have believed myself capable of taking a nap—however short—during the last and most difficult phases of labor. Lastly, I don’t think I would ever have made it drug-free without my HypnoBirthing experiences, because I think I would have tried to give up a lot sooner than I actually did…and at that point, they might have had to let me, because I can be pretty persistent.

If we decide to have any more children, I wouldn’t even hesitate to go this same route again. Even with the hard parts, I look back and almost want to cry that the birthing part is over, as Ava gets a little older each day, I feel a little bit sad that the birthing experience is taking a further backseat to the wonderful experience of raising this beautiful new little baby. I would ask Kristen to assist in this birth as soon as the pregnancy test came back positive…and I’d ask Jess to keep me posted of when she would be on call when the time got nearer. Between Kristen, Jess, and of course my wonderful husband, and going to the birth center, I had so much support and encouragement that I had absolutely no choice but to succeed at a natural birth—even when I myself didn’t think it was possible. I would try a few things differently—I would take a pillow of some sort or a large towel bunched up into a ball and curl around it in the Jacuzzi tub during surges. I would definitely listen to my HypnoBirthing Cd's on my iPod instead of on the birth center’s CD player so I could hear it better. I would ask for more relaxation help by way of physical contact: massage, foot rubs, or the light touch massage technique that is taught in HypnoBirthing.

I am so very happy to have my beautiful Ava!


Three Tired People!

Grammie holding Ava for the first time
Meeting my best friend Amy

Papa C. and Amy introducing Liesl to AvaJess, our midwife...absolutely awesome lady

But Papa C. had to give her a hard time about her choice of sweatshirt
(We're Michigan State fans)

Jess was amazing for our whole family


Papa C., Ava, and Liesl waiting for Mommy to check out of the Birth Center

Grammie, Liesl, and Ava waiting for Mommy to check out

Kristen, our wonderful doula, who took most of the birth pictures.
Kristen's support and friendship has made me think seriously about what I want to do
with my life once my children are older and in school.

1 comment:

Trina said...

What a wonderful birth story! You don't know me, but I read the Midwife and Homebirth message board often and post occassionally. Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl. The birth sounded wonderful. You did a GREAT job! I'm expecting in July and am planning another homebirth/waterbirth. My last two were born at home, and I'm looking foward to having the same experience with this one. This is baby #9 for me. The others were born in a hospital :)

Trina
mommy8times@aol.com