Monday, June 3, 2013

{finola's birth story} part 3 : the short, sweet and painful labor

The drive to the hospital was as uncomfortable as you might imagine. 

Only a fifteen minute drive, but with the road construction bumps it felt like forever.  For some reason I felt like Hubby was hitting every one on purpose, and I grew increasingly agitated.  Not yelling at him, but talking in a very slow, very low, very annoyed voice, "You need to slow down.  You cannot go over bumps when I am having a contraction."  

So I think he drove about fifty miles/hour the whole way there.

My contractions were getting much closer together - maybe a minute and a half apart.

We got to the hospital around 8pm.  Our doula, Eileen, was waiting at the main entrance for us, as we had discussed perhaps walking around outside before going in to check in.

Clearly no time for that now.  After she helped me breath, lean and sway through one contraction outside we both knew we better get inside - and fast.  

We went to triage, where apparently everyone agreed just by looking at me and learning I had been 6cm before beginning labor that we didn't have time for trivial things like paperwork and consent forms.

All paperwork was skipped.

They hurriedly got me to a room with a birthing tub, which was also on my 'birth plan.'  They started filling it up, even though my doula kept telling them there would be no time for the tub.  

Maybe the shower, she told me...but seemed doubtful.

I probably had about 4 strong contractions just on the walk to the room alone.  The elevator one was especially fun.

In between contractions I was still pretty okay at this point.  Not super exhausted.  I was able to communicate and even smile a little!  Some female hospital workers outside my room as I was being ushered in with my entourage of nurses, doula, hubby, and midwife (who had just arrived) remarked, "You look way too cute to be in labor!"  I guess because I was still in my cute shopping clothes, sunglasses perched on my head, and brave smile on between contractions. 

The nurse, Autumn, asked me if I had something specific I wanted to wear during my labor.  I had brought a simple black cotton maxi dress so they helped me into that.  I was then put on the delivery bed so my cervix could be checked by Trish, the midwife who would be delivering my baby.  I was glad it was her.  Her calm and very matter-of-fact demeanor gave me added confidence.  

She checked me, and not surprisingly I was at 9cm.  "I could easily stretch you to 10, though.  Your cervix is very soft."  

This was music to my ears, particularly after being stuck at 8cm for literally hours during my last labor, while having contractions at the same frequency/intensity that I was now.  

They stopped filling the tub.  The idea of the shower was abandoned.  This baby did not require any hydrotherapy, clearly.

I labored laying on my side on the bed for a little while, which was fine, but then I asked if I should switch positions.  My doula suggested I try getting into an "all fours" position, so I slowly moved up onto my hands and knees.  

Ow!  That was ten times more painful!  

Then I decided I did not want my cute "labor dress" on.  "I would rather be naked!" I declared.   So off came the dress, with the help of nurse and doula.   

I was extremely warm.  I felt feverish.  I told them.  I also felt like I was going to throw up.  Wave after wave of nausea hit me between the contractions, now about a minute apart it seemed and definitely at a 9 on my pain scale.  I remembered this pain from labor with Cormac.  

Someone got me a pink plastic bowl to vomit in if I needed to.

I gripped Paul's hand, and he said quiet, encouraging words after I made it through each contraction.  His words were perfect...

...but I needed silence.  (Sorry babe.)  

"Just hold my hand.  That is all I need you to do.  Just be here." I told him, keeping my voice as even and quiet as possible.

So then, because I was so hot, he was given a fan to fan me with.  That was perfect.  
I was also given cold towels to put on my forehead and the back of my neck.  They felt so good, as I was seriously burning up.  And still very nauseous.

In my mind I was pretty grateful for these symptoms, as I remembered reading that when you hit transition {getting to 10cm and you body being ready to push} that some women feel nauseous and feverish.  So I was comforted by it and actually encouraged to keep going!
I was no longer silent during contractions.  I was instinctively making low groans throughout the entire minute of extreme pain.  The consistent, loud, even sound coming out of my mouth helped me focus and sort of lulled my brain during each one.  I also had covered my eyes with one of the cold towels.  I held it over my eyes with one hand.  I didn't want to look at anyone.  I just wanted to get through each contraction.

I just wanted to get this over with.  I wanted the baby out.  I wanted sweet relief from the pain.

It must have been about 8:40pm when I transitioned and was ready to push.  {since my doula took the below photograph - am I right Eileen?} 

I think it was Eileen that said to me quietly, "You will start to feel an urge to push during each contraction, Greta.  When you feel that you need to bear down and focus all your energy on pushing the baby out."  This is not verbatim, but it was something to that effect.  

I had no idea what they were talking about.  My "push process" with Cormac lasted several hours, with a super-strength epidural, and a lot of "1-2-3 puuuuuush!" when I guessed I was having a contraction.

No counting this time.  Just me feeling "the urge" and "bearing down."

I was also encouraged to make "low noises" during the push.  

I felt confused and yes, a little scared.  I had no clue what I was doing.  

I asked several times, "Should I change positions?  Should I be squatting?" since I had read that squatting was the most natural position for a woman to deliver a baby.  

"Greta, this is a beautiful position for birthing a baby.  If you are comfortable stay right here."  This was referring to the side-lying position I was in, and had been my entire labor at the hospital - a mere 45 minutes so far.

During the next contraction, which was probably now an 11 on my pain scale, I waited for what I thought was the "high point" of the contraction and tried to "bear down."  It didn't feel like I was doing it right, and I ended up just breathing too fast and kind of hyperventilating.

"Slow down your breathing, Greta.  Calm your breathing for your baby."  That was my nurse Autumn.  She was pretty awesome throughout the whole thing.  (Funny how I can't remember any of the nurses, or much of anything at all, from my hospital experience with Cormac.  Everything about this labor seems crystal clear.)

I knew I could do better.  The next contraction I tried to focus all my energy "down there" and imagine throughout that the baby was emerging.  Also, someone said to "bear down like I was having a bowel movement."   Even though that sounded disgusting and it made me realize why so many women are said to "poop on the table" during labor -- I knew I had to do what they said.

So I followed the instruction - and boy was that embarrassing and uncomfortable!   But, it also felt like I had done it right.  I felt like the baby's head was there, where it was supposed to be, ready to come out!

Also, I felt like the whole area "down there" was on fire.  The "ring of fire" that I had read about!  I was close!

"Greta, just a couple more pushes and your baby will be out," my midwife Trish stated calmly, and this sentiment was echoed by my doula.  I was encouraged.  I felt baby coming out.

It was painful and probably the oddest thing I have ever been through.  While the contractions were hard, pushing was harder and I actually had to work to do it.

I really just wanted to be done, so I did everything they told me, still with my eyes covered with the towel, my naked body contorted, knees being pushed up by my head, sometimes with me holding them there.

"Curl your body around your baby when you push!" "Focus your breath!"  "Imagine Baby coming out!" 

At one point I said exhaustedly, "I don't think I can do this."  Of course, this was met with disagreement from all present parties.  I was kind of at the point of no return, anyway.

The mood in the room was excited and high-energy - I didn't need to see anyones faces to know that.  I kind of felt like an animal on the table.  The whole thing was completely animalistic - me naked, growling with a loudness and power I had never felt before.  

Then came the final push - after only about 15-20 minutes of pushing.  The baby's head finally emerged, followed quickly by the rest of the body.  9:12pm.

It was the best feeling.  Ever.  The baby coming out.  The ultimate relief.  Seeing for the first time the little human who was housed in my body for nearly 39 weeks.  I saw the white umbilical cord, attaching us to each other still.  I wanted the cord to pulse out before it was cut, so we stayed attached until that happened.

Also, Paul was to announce the gender.  So he fumbled around with the wriggly, purple, crying little one, to see what "it" was.

"Its...a girl!" he announced surprisedly.

I was completely shocked.  Even while pushing I was envisioning a boy, even thinking his name in my head for motivation.  I had to look for myself to believe it.  The umbilical cord was slightly blocking my view, but it was moved aside and I saw that yes, she was definitely a girl!

I was awash with happy emotions over this, and in general.  She was handed to me for our 'golden hour' of skin-to-skin time.  I immediately started blubbering, "My little girl!  My beautiful baby girl!" over and over.  

I felt ecstatically happy about everything!  On a complete hormone high.  I felt like I could do anything, and loved everyone.  I cuddled my vernix-covered, slimy, beautiful baby girl.

Finally the umbilical cord finished pulsing and Paul did the symbolic cutting of the cord.

so thankful for these ladies - midwife trish, nurse autumn and doula eileen - for making the experience perfect.
our golden hour together - and feeding her the first time

So that is my story - the end of my pregnancy, my time with Finola inside me.  Together we survived super awful morning sickness, two violent bouts of the stomach flu, a fall down the basement steps, a kitchen renovation, pregnancy depression, a toddler constantly kicking and whacking my tummy, and five days a week at the gym.  Whew - it was one long pregnancy.

Now we face all new challenges together, and I feel so much more confident and prepared to tackle them.

I feel overwhelmed with happiness over how this birth went.  After my first experience I really desired a natural birth, and this could not have gone any better.  My birth plan went out the window - and I am thankful for that this time.  God made it go quickly and I feel very fortunate to have gone through it.

***Thank you to my doula Eileen for capturing most of these moments with my camera.  I will treasure them always.***