Monday, March 19, 2012

Birth story

When I thought about how I expected birth to go, a lot of scenarios played out in my head--most of them worst case. What actually happened had never once entered my mind.

To give some context, on Friday Peter went on vacation with his brother, cousin, and friend to Vegas and was planning on returning Sunday night. I had a sushi and sleepover night planned with my girl friends for Friday and then I was going to get last minute things done for the baby ( car seat install, hospital bag, type out birth plan, thank you cards). I was looking forward to both of us having a relaxing last weekend.

So Friday night, my three friends and I had dinner, grabbed some snacks at whole foods, chatted for a bit and of course joked about how funny it would be if I went into labor. I was 37w1d and I knew my chances were slim to none so at that point, it was still safe to joke about. We went to bed and I breathed through a few Braxton hicks like I'd done for the past few weeks and then fell asleep. I vaguely remember a large contraction right before I woke up to a feeling of water trickling at 5:45. I would repeat this thought over the next few hours: there's no way that I'm going into labor and even if I am, I have hours of mild labor ahead of me. I then released a ton of fluid and changed my mental state to: ok I'm in labor technically but I know that doesn't mean that I need to rush to the hospital. So I went to my friend's room to calmly announce I'd be going home and not to worry about me when a contraction hit me with enough force that I couldn't speak. After it subsided, it hit me that Peter was gone and I was going to have to go it alone and I wasn't prepared for the baby and I started to shake uncontrollably. By that point all my friends had woken up and were freaking out too. So ironically, that calmed me down enough to focus on what I'd do next.

I called Peter and told him he would probably have to fly back but to wait to buy the ticket until I knew I was for sure going to have the baby (totally still in denial). Then my friends and I caravanned up to my house to pack the hospital bag. I showered, we bought Peter a ticket (plane ETA was 12:15), and was still proud of how I was handling my contractions; they were coming a bit erratically but generally every few minutes and lasting a little under a minute long. I thought I might even have time to do a load of laundry and bake the nurses some cookies when they started to become really intense and last longer than a minute. My doula had told me that I would know it's truly progressive labor when they last about a minute and fifteen seconds and so I decided I should probably go to the hospital. I called her at this time but she didn't answer and I decided to call her again once I got settled in at the hospital. This was around 8am.

My friend drove me to the hospital while the others grabbed some breakfast and met up with one of my coworkers to get my birthing ball I had been sitting on at work. We get to the hospital around 8:30 and the contractions intensified. But I was still able to work through them up until I got on the bed to get monitored. All of a sudden they started hitting me super hard and fast with hardly any break in between them and became REALLY INTENSE. I was bewildered. It felt like how people had described transition. I couldn't breathe and I couldn't recuperate between them. The nurse told me I was 3.5 cm dilated and I knew that generally, first births take around 12 hours to get through active labor, so I had no idea how I would be able to do 10 more hours. I was especially lost without Peter there. I decided to get an epidural and felt pretty bad that I was abandoning a natural birth at only 3.5 cm and worried that it would slow me down too much. They gave me the epidural around 10 and shortly afterwards, the nurse declared I was at a 6. So on the one hand, it was like no wonder I was in so much pain. On the other hand, I thought, without the epidural slowing things down Peter might not make it back in time.

For the next two hours, my friends and I chatted and napped. My in-laws came down and said hi and then left to go pick Peter up at the airport. The nurse had told me that she would check me every 2 hours and to expect another centimeter for each 1-2 hours. Around noon I began feeling the contractions again but nothing like they were before. I waited a half hour and then asked her whether I should be feeling them. She checked me and surprised, said that I was at a 10.

I called Peter and told him as soon as he arrived, I could start pushing even though I could hardly believe it. I felt like it was way too soon and I wasn't prepared and once again, I was blessing the epidural for giving me a few more minutes to mentally prepare. Peter rushed in the room at 12:45 and we did a few practice pushes with the nurse and then waited again for my doctor to arrive. She got there a little after 1:00 and at that point, things became very real. I was laughing because my three friends were perched on the sofa to my left, just watching like it was a movie. My MIL filmed behind me and Peter was holding my leg. So then I mentally prepared myself for maybe an hour of pushing since I couldn't feel anything but apparently the baby wanted OUT. At 1:27, she exited my uterus for good. Hooray!

Basically I never expected to have a fast labor. I also never thought Peter wouldn't be there. And I especially wasn't prepared to have my friends there. But it was really a great birth and I felt so amazing afterwards. I was super happy that I was able to use my breathing to stay in control for as long as I did, I LOVED the epidural, I loved that I had a few hours to laugh and talk with my friends, and then I was happy that she came out without me needing to go on pitocin or undergo surgery. And I'm loving these sweet calm first few days (praying that they continue!) with just her and Peter and me. It is hard to tell her personality right now but she calms easily and you can't ask for more from a newborn :)

I am also loving post partum recovery. I know that sounds weird but it's been so awesome to start to feel like my body is back. I told Peter that even before I started showing, I was always acutely aware that there was another person inside of me.
Also awesome is how light she is. I am currently holding her cradled in my left arm while typing with both hands. I am pretty sure I won't be able to do this for more than a week :)

I am going to print and bind this blog into a book for her so this will likely be my last post. It has been the best 9 month project though and when I print these, I will include everyone's comments. I have appreciated all the advice and love and want her to be able to read them when she's older.

Anyways, you can find me posting on our family blog now

Wide eyed

Saturday, March 17, 2012

She's here!

Kennedy Lynn Tew
6 pounds 6 ounces
19 inches long
Born March 17, 2012 at ~1:30 pm

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dilation and Effacement

I'm dilated to a 2, 80% effaced, and baby is at a -2 station. So basically she could come tonight or in five weeks. Hooray :)
My doctor did a little cervical stretch while she was examining me and while I doubt it will put me into labor, there is always the chance. It wasn't painful at all but then again, it wasn't a true membrane strip/sweep. I have no idea what we'll do if I do start contracting because Peter is on vacation until Sunday and I really really really really don't want him to come home early. He has told me that the birth is more important, and ok, it is :) but having one last sunny weekend with his friends is something he deserves and I'd be sad if he missed out.
I still don't think she'll come until after her due date but it was exciting to hear that the baby has dropped and everything is progressing as it should.

37 Week Bump

37 Week Stats

Baby: Well she is definitely growing. Last night was the first time I felt something pressed up against my ribs. According to the books, she is putting on an ounce a day

Mama Size: Up 30 pounds and according to the books, I should stop gaining weight now. The books suck.

Symptoms: I had a weird one-day episode of feet swelling and I have no idea why. It made me grateful to be heavily pregnant in the spring where the weather is simply beautiful and the heat is not unbearable. Peter thinks I'm nesting like crazy and maybe I am; I do have a ton of energy and motivation to be productive at both work and home.

Other updates: I go in for my 37 week check today but I don't expect any changes from last week. I don't think the baby has started to engage at all.

Last night, my neighborhood threw me a baby shower and it was like the combination of five Christmases and 10 birthdays. I'm not kidding when I say we carried laundry baskets full of gifts into my house. As fun as it was to receive tons of cute outfits (oh the sun dresses! And the tiny socks! And rainbow....RAINBOW LEGGINGS) it was so much nicer to feel loved and supported by the community. The woman in charge of the local church's children's program told me that in the summer, there are usually weekly play dates at the nearby playground and even though her social skills won't be quite up to par by then, I will definitely take as much interaction as I can get.

I forgot to write up my doula story last week so here it is. First, I view a doula as someone who can support myself and Peter during the birth since neither one of us really knows what to expect. That being said, I have strong opinions about not having strong opinions :) What I mean is that I would rather approach labor and delivery with an open mind, an understanding that I will need to be flexible, and a "let's see how I feel at that time" mantra. I have met with my doula twice now and both times have felt uneasy that she is so pro-natural that instead of arguing with my doctors, I will be arguing with her. Sigh. Both times she has looked at me very seriously and asked, "How much do you want this?" (This=going all natural). I was caught off guard the first time she asked me and responded, "Well I definitely would prefer if I could birth that way, but I would be fine if it didn't happen." The second time, just last week, I said, "I would view it as a successful birth if everyone was alive at the end." She said, "Well you know, unless you really want it and have it as your goal, then you could waver during transition and that's when it's almost over." Yes, I know that usually, when the thought of 'I can't do this anymore' comes to mind, that means you're about ready to push. But good grief, if I've been in active labor for more than 13 hours with no end in sight, there is no way she or anyone else will get in my way for rest and pain easement. Then she said something that really bothered me. "A lot of times, if the mom is asking for drugs, I'll ask her to wait another hour, just to see." I told her very clearly, "I don't want you or anyone else to do that." Well I actually meant, except for Peter but he knows that all decision making rests between us.

I talked it over with Peter afterwards and I realized that what bothers me about both the medical establishment and my doula's remarks is this assumption that during birth, they know more about my physical and mental state than I do. I just work better with someone rationally laying out the pros and cons and letting me (and Peter) make the decision instead of pressuring us with emotional tactics. My doctor is very much that way but I'm worried my doula is not.

It is unfortunately too late to hire someone else. When I called her up the first time, I was under the impression that our first meeting was the equivalent of a job interview. Apparently, the first phone call was the interview and setting up the first meeting meant that we were then obligated to pay all the fees. That bothered me at the time and I expressed my surprise, but I felt like I had already agreed to the deal since she told me she had told me on the phone (which she did but it didn't register what she meant).

Ultimately, we can always kick her out of the room but I really think it will be fine in the end. She teaches hypnobirthing so it will be nice to have someone there to remind me to relax, to read some scripts, and whatnot.

Question of the Week: What has been your experience with emotional pressure from medical or lay professionals?

37 Weeks

Dear Baby,
You are now full-term! Totally freeloading after this. I am really enjoying this part of the pregnancy though, so feel free to stay in a few more weeks.
I was thinking about how excited we are to meet you and get to know you and I realized we already know so much about you. You love it when your dad and I talk while laying with our stomachs facing each other because you begin to kick up a storm. You'll move when some songs come on the radio (like Michael Buble? Riddle me that one) but are usually rather indifferent to the radio. I have eaten spicy and really flavorful foods and don't notice a response until I eat something sugary. Your dad thinks he can feel your feet some times and likes to play a game where he attempts to grab one. You always respond to that indignity by withdrawing whatever appendage it really is.
These are all things that no one but a first time mother would document but I really do cherish this time of your life.