Thursday, May 7, 2009
My Birth Story: Our First Son
Bianca, Mark, & John
My birth stories are varied and unique as are each of my children. I am a mother of three beautiful children and this is my story about our first birth.
Upon hearing about our first pregnancy, my husband and I were excited. Having just been married in October, I was in disbelief that I could be pregnant so soon in December. Nonetheless, we were quite pleased with ourselves and happily anticipated our first baby. I knew with my dislike for hospitals, and my need to “control” things I would not be an easy patient, let alone patient during child birth. I researched everything I could about birth. I was addicted to shows such as A Baby Story; Special Delivery; Bringing Baby Home, etc. I wanted to know all of the answers to all of my questions when it came to birth. I found a mid-wifery program based at UCLA, which I thought was a really good option for my husband and I. My husband, Mark, definitely wanted a hospital birth. I on the other hand wanted a birth center birth, but after hearing my husband’s concerns and not ever having a child before, decided a hospital birth with mid-wives seemed like a great compromise.
At about half way through my pregnancy I found Bradley Natural Childbirth, which spoke of being able to birth a child naturally. I was fascinated by this prospect and encouraged from all of the testimonials. When I voiced my desire to have a “natural child birth” I received very little support and some of my co-workers even laughed at me. Everyone I talked to said “it couldn’t be done,” or “just wait until the pain sets in, then you’ll be begging for an epidural” or my favorite from my mother who said, “Honey there are no gold medals in child birth, so take the drugs if you need them.” Yup, I heard it all and I thought I was doubting whether or not I could do a natural child birth. I convinced my husband to take a Bradley class and he went with hesitation. When we first went to the class, we were skeptical. I was skeptical as to if I would really have a natural childbirth and my husband was skeptical as to how to help me deal with the pain. Our Bradley class ended two weeks before my due date and I was quite comforted with all of the knowledge that I had learned. I was grateful to our instructor for her care, and concern and wealth of information about things that I hadn’t even thought of after the birth. I was just focused on the birth. I made a Birth Plan and gave it to my mid-wife who in turn was hesitant.
At 30 weeks pregnant I knew I had gestational diabetes (diet induced) and would have to go on a strict diet. Every time I went in for my appointment I was measured and was measuring larger than normal. Please keep in mind, I am above average height and so is my husband. So I wasn’t concerned about measuring large. Further, my mother had told me she measured large with me due to retaining too much liquid. So my ignorance in not having a child before paid off. I chalked it up to “genes” and I convinced myself everything was going to be fine and that I would have an average size baby around 8 lbs.
As I neared my due date, my mid-wife started to plant the seeds of doubt and wanted to talk about scheduling a C-section. My sister had a scheduled C-section and it was quite traumatic for her. I was definitely against having any kind of surgery and wanted to let my body do what it was supposed to do naturally. I did not allow for them to schedule a C-section and on the day after my due date I was scheduled to go in for a consultation about a C-section since the baby had not quite arrived. Now from doing Natural Family Planning, I knew the day we conceived our first son. According to the day of conception his due date was the 15th of August. But the mid-wife went by my last period and the ultrasound, which said the 10th of August. So on the 11th of August they wanted to do a C-section since I was “post-term” and he was already slated to be a big baby.
At 3:04 a.m. on August 11th, I woke up feeling crampy. For the past week I was feeling HUGE and found that I couldn’t move as well as I once did. I was a lot more sore than usual and irritable. I had a lot of Braxton Hicks and was excited many times to think, “is today the day?” to only have them go away and not come to any fruition. On this day however, I woke up not even thinking about today being the day. I was just sore, hadn’t slept well and felt like I needed to walk off my soreness. I walked around the house for about an hour and noticed I was having those Braxton Hicks again. This time however, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up. This time I was going to be okay with them fading away as they had for the past few weeks to my dismay. But to my surprise, they continued even when I wasn’t exerting myself. After awhile the contractions became stronger and more regular. I hesitated to tell my husband because it was his third day at his new job and I didn’t want to get his hopes up like I had in the past. At 6:45 a.m. I told him he “may” need a substitute for today and that I would let him know if anything more happened. He asked, “How far apart our your contractions,” and I told him they were between 7-8 minutes apart and lasting for a good 30-45 seconds. He shot up out of bed and rushed into work to prepare for a substitute. Still disbelieving today could be the day, I told him not to leave work until I confirmed that something “real” was happening. I got up and went to Church and prayed. I prayed that I would have the strength to labor naturally. I prayed that I would be a good mother for this precious baby boy given to me. I prayed that all would go as I had planned for so long. When I returned back to the house, my mom was up (we were living with her at the time) and she was frantic. She saw that I was having contractions (at this point I needed to stop in between contractions to gain my composure) and was paranoid. It was a scene out of a television drama series where one person is running around the house, frantically trying to get everything together to go to the hospital. I assured her I had plenty of time that my contractions were only 4-5 minutes apart and we needed to call Mark to come home. Mark arrived home around 10 a.m., and we headed down to UCLA from there. We arrived at the Labor & Delivery department around noon and they checked me shortly thereafter. I kept telling Mark that the mid-wives were going to send me home because I wasn’t in labor. I did notice on the drive down to UCLA my labor seemed to slow down, probably due to the stress of the drive and the stress of going to a hospital. At about 1 p.m. I was told that I was dilated to 6 cm, 80% effaced,–2 station, and anterior position. I asked if I could go home and they laughed and said I would be having a baby by the end of the day if not sooner. That seemed impossible to me!
I called my sister-in-law who wanted to be at the birth and she flew down from Sacramento. She made it to the Labor and Delivery room by 3 pm and everyone there was having a late lunch (In-n-Out might I add). I would get up as much as possible and would move. Moving made my labor progress, kept my mind off of the pain, and gave me something to do then just sitting around. I took LOTS of hot showers, which helped my back pain that had started at 3:00 a.m. By 5:00 p.m. my contractions were about 1 minute apart and I was not joking anymore as I had been in the previous hours. I wasn’t dancing to our wedding song by this point and I was definitely my serious. I went for a walk around 5:30 p.m. and asked Mark if he could clear out the room of visitors. I needed some quiet time. At 5:45 p.m. I was bent over the bed during a contraction when I noticed that I was peeing on the ground. I was mortified. Not only could I not control my birth, I couldn’t control my own bladder! When I said this to my husband, he said, “No that isn’t pee, honey, you’re water just broke!” At that moment, I was so grossed out that I wanted to shower again to clean up. In the shower, my water burst and it sounded like a big bucket of water was poured out all over the shower stall. It was at that moment I felt “real” pain. No longer did I have the advantage of having my water sac buffer the pain of the contractions. Fortunately at this point I was near complete dilation and was in transition. I wanted to stay in the shower and birth the baby but due to hospital regulations and the safety of the mid-wives and nurses I had to return to my bed. Not caring that I was fully naked, I returned to the bed in transition to begin birthing. I knew that I didn’t want to birth on my back due to a back injury I had sustained in college. I asked my mid-wife if I could birth on my side. She agreed and we started on my right side. After a few pushes the baby still wasn’t coming down. His station was still –2 but I was fully effaced and fully dilated. They were concerned that he was too big and could be stuck. My mid-wife continued to have me push and she told me I would need to move around from side to side to get the baby through the pelvic area. Each time I moved it seemed like quite the ordeal. Imagine trying to move Shamu to one side and then another and that is how I felt (and I am sure how I looked). I was quite grateful to my husband, my sister-in-law, and the nurses for helping me position myself so that I could move side to side. After about an hour of pushing, I looked to my mid-wife and said, “I can’t do this. Please help me.” I was doubting everything and everyone. My mid-wife looked at me and said “You are doing a great job. Yes you can.” Having heard the lady next door scream for 3 hours during her birth, with an epidural I doubted if I could continue through with this natural childbirth. My husband was giving me lots of encouragement and so was my sister-in-law. I voiced that I didn’t think I could push like this for 3 hours and my mid-wife reminded me of the present and to make each contraction count.
I remember when we switched positions and I was on my back holding my husband’s hands in front of me. Imagine doing a stomach crunch with your arms stretched out in between your legs. That was how I was positioned. It was at that moment; I felt my son move into position and could feel him move down the birth canal. That feeling at that moment was the most intimate, intense, joyful, awesome feeling I have ever had. Feeling a life move within you and make its way outside of your of body is miraculous. I felt my son move down with each contraction and push. As he was starting to crown I was repositioned on my side once again. Now with every contraction I could feel him move forward, and then backward. He would start to crown with a contraction and then when the contraction was done he would go back up towards the birth canal. I was frustrated by this. It was a series of forward and backward motions until one really big contraction when he crowned and stayed. Now I faced the ring of fire burning my perineum. I kept thinking to myself, “Damn Eve!” As I kept feeling this ring of fire while my mid-wife massaged the perineum I kept telling myself, “where was this in our Bradley class” I don’t remember her going over this part?” Shortly afterwards and with one gentle push John’s head came out and I felt such relief. I thought he was completely out and wanted to move. I was quickly told I still had to get his shoulders out. So with the next contraction his shoulders came out and both my husband and I were in disbelief. I kept saying over and over again, “I can’t believe it! He is finally here!” I looked to my husband after I delivered my placenta and said, “It wasn’t that bad. I can do this again!” Everyone in the room was in shock and of course stated that we needed to wait at least 6 weeks to let my body heal. However my body really didn’t have a lot of healing to do. I had one small interior tear due to pushing when I didn’t have a contraction and the perineum was a little raw from being stretched 15+ inches. Yup, my son’s head was 15 inches in diameter and I had no tearing. He weighed 10 lbs. and 1 oz. He was born alert, awake, and fully cognizant of whom his mother and father were right from the beginning. He was able to latch on to fed within minutes afterwards and thus we began our relationship as a family, and as a mother and son.
From this experience, my husband and I are convinced that natural childbirth is the way to go! It saddens us that more people do not choose that route and are ignorant of their choices. It amazes me that people do more research and plan for more “things” then for the birth of their child. I knew that a one-day wonder course given at our local hospital wasn’t going to prepare me for the birth of our son. I wanted a course of study that I could take throughout the last trimester of my pregnancy so that I had time to reflect, ask, and analyze all of the information given to us over the course of those weeks. The relationship that I was able to foster with my Bradley instructor has been life-giving and on-going. I know that I can still call and ask for advice if needed and can count on her if I need help with finding support or resources for birthing naturally.