N is almost 4 months now, but I suppose a birth story is as good a beginning to a blog as anything, right?
*WARNING* It is a touch graphic, so if you don’t want the details, you may want to skip this post. =)
On Thursday, February 2nd, we went in for our 5 am induction appt because N was 8 days late. Ry and I met our INCREDIBLE nurse, A, who helped me get gowned up and iv’d to start pitocin and antibiotics, because I tested positive for Group B strep. I had already been having moderate contractions since 1:30 am – nothing too painful, just extremely tight.
While the pitocin and antibiotics got into my system, Ry and I watched a few movies. We also met the student nurse, K, who asked to observe my birth since I was planning to go natural and she had never seen a natural birth before. A, K, and Ry became my incredible support team.
Around 10 am, my OB came in and checked me. I was still 4 cm, 60% effaced (which is what I was at my last appt, 10 days earlier). So she broke my water. It took her two tries to make it happen. Apparently my water was very stubborn and we’re pretty sure that’s why N had a few shallow scratches on her head from the crochet-hook thing.
After they broke my water and upped the pitocin a little bit, the contractions became stronger. I walked around and changed positions, eventually ending up on my knees on the floor, draped over a birthing ball. They wanted me to labor until noon before getting checked again, and it was during this two hour period that I had THE most painful contraction of the entire process. It was the only moment where I thought “If they get any worse than that, I will HAVE to ask for an epidural”. My contractions were on top of one another, and A asked if I wanted more time in between them to breathe. Yes!! So she ended up turning the pitocin all the way off, which helped immensely. My body pretty much took over from there.
At noon I was checked, and I was 7 cm, 80% effaced. Hurray! I labored in the jacuzzi tub for a while, and as I headed towards transition, my ritualistic coping mechanisms changed. Up to this point, I had been relatively silent through contractions, moaning a bit at the peaks, but staying pretty much inside myself. As the contractions became stronger and closer together, I began vocalizing on Ohs or Ahs, holding out one long, loud note, and then with the next breath at the peak of the contraction, jumping a third and then eventually another third so that at the end of a contraction I had sung the first, third and fifth of a major chord (If you’re a musician, you’ll get that). I grew up in a very musical family, but had NO clue I would labor that way! I didn’t even realize I had vocalized chords until after delivery. It was completely instinctual. My whole family is tickled by it and my nurses were floored. Apparently they’d never seen anyone cope that way and they said it made labor sound beautiful. *blush*
After about 30 min in the jacuzzi tub, I started feeling N moving down as well as the beginnings of urges to push. So they got me out of the tub and checked me again – still 7 cm, but now 100% effaced. I labored on the toilet for about 20 min and here the urge to push was almost more than I could bear. They kept telling me to resist pushing because my body was not ready yet, but boy is it hard!
I could still feel N moving down, so they tilted the head of my bed up, stuck a huge beanbag on it and I labored on my knees with my body draped across the beanbag. My body began involuntarily pushing at least twice at the peak of each contraction. I kept apologizing for pushing, but my nurses told me that if the pushing was involuntary, then that was what my body needed to do. I just couldn’t voluntarily push with it. I needed to let it just happen.
These were probably the hardest moments of the whole process, when I was draped across the beanbag and the 5ish contractions after that. When my body would push at the peak of each contraction, I could feel N’s body pressing against my tailbone and rectum, and it felt like I was being torn apart. I could do nothing but scream bloody murder with the involuntary pushes.
Around 1:30 pm, they checked me again and I was 9 cm with just an anterior lip left of my cervix. In order to get the lip to melt away, they had me lay on my left side for two contractions, and on my right side for three. These contractions were hellish because I couldn’t sway or apply any kind of ritualistic movement to them to make them more bearable. However, they did the trick and when they checked me again at 2:10, I was ready to push!
HALLELUJAH for being able to push! Yes, it was a whole different level of intensity and pain, but I could finally DO something! I pushed on my hands and knees a few times and squatted while pushing a few times. N was having a little bit of trouble getting under my pubic bone and her heart rate was decel-ing during pushing. I ended up needed to push on my back while holding my knees up to get her out. Not what I had originally intended, but it worked out the best in the end. They tilted the right side of my pelvis with a few pillows to correct N’s heart rate and it worked like a charm.
N’s head kept going in and out at the cervix as she tried to make it past my pubic bone. A told me that once her head remained visible without going back in, they would call my OB. A few contractions later, they put the call in. My OB arrived at 2:50. I was doing sets of 4 pushes with each contraction, and after a few contractions, I vividly remember my OB saying “Either this set or the next set of pushes, and she’ll be out!” and I remember thinking “Like HELL the next set! It will be THIS set!!”.
I have never pushed so hard or felt anything so intense in my whole life. N’s head came out on the 4th push and I felt the ring of fire for about two horrendously painful seconds. With a 5th push, the rest of her came out at 2:58 pm and they immediately placed her on my chest. She came out crying and pooping. =)
My placenta was being grumpy about detaching, so the nurses manhandled my uterus to get it to detach (OUCH!), then my OB swept me to get the last straggling membranes (DOUBLE OUCH!), and then I was numbed and stitched up for a 2nd degree tear (OUCH again!).
After about an hour of skin-to-skin cuddling and breastfeeding, N was weighed and measured. She was 7 lbs, 13 oz, 20 1/4 inches long, and her head circumference was 14.5 inches. She scored 9’s on her Apgars.
I just need to brag on Ry for a moment – he was the most incredible and steadfast rock of encouragement and support throughout the entire process, even when I was shrieking in his face. The nurses said over and over that they had rarely seen a better team during labor than me and Ry. I truly could not have done it without him. =)
The morning after she was born, the hospital did a little photo shoot:
And now little N is almost 4 months old and gorgeous. Seriously, sometimes I can’t believe she’s mine. =)