Monday, December 1, 2014

Whitley's Birth Story

I've been debating about posting this, but I decided to because ... birth matters. How we handle births in our society are a reflection of how we view life. Positive, real narratives help us! Often birth is dramatized and made out to be something less than normal... that is really unfortunate for mothers-to-be! Generations of woman have successfully birthed babies ... big ones, small ones, 2 or 3 at a time, special needs ones, early and late... and we all are proof that birth is most often normal, natural and positive! 

That said, medical interventions saved one of my babies... which allowed her to join our family. I am so so thankful that doctors and interventions made it possible for her to live today as a last resort when events necessitated it!

Birth Stats...
Estimated Gestational Age: 40 weeks and 4 days 
5 hours labor, 45 minutes pushing
8 lbs. 12 oz.
Unmedicated, Home, Water birth
4th Pregnancy/Delivery, 6th baby in our family

On Wednesday I was 40 weeks and 4 days, overdue again. Totally expecting I’d eventually make it to the 41 week mark. I was beginning to think that taking Castor oil or a natural induction would be inevitable. Early at about 2 am I woke up and had fairly intense contractions until about 5:30 am. I was up with them for a time and then was able to go back to bed. This was a pattern that I'd been having for about 2-3 weeks every few nights. Oddly, I felt fairly energized and ok when I woke up at about 8:30 am. 
All SIX of my sweet children... one just still on the inside.

We skipped most of school that day due to my active night and just listened to Story of the World and did a little history read-aloud. I was suspecting our 3 year old had a UTI because she was having huge potty issues. I got her a doctor appointment for that afternoon. I’d take her to the doctor and Tim would stay with our 4 older children. My parents (who have a vacation home near us) stopped by to see us and pick some stuff up and I told them that if things started up again that night that it would likely be “it”. I had continued to have the more “intense” contractions through out the day, but I doubted them because they were so far spaced apart and irregular. I let our midwife know that I might be starting up, but it could also be a false alarm. 

40 weeks... 4 days to go!
I took Thea to the doctor at about 3 pm and felt great, did a lot of walking with her back and forth the the bathroom, poor girl. Then we had to go to pick up her antibiotic prescription at Walgreens. They, of course, took their sweet time filling it and we did laps in Walgreens just to keep Thea busy and happy. While walking around I thought "I bet this baby will come tonight... just maybe." On the drive home I noticed that the contractions were now about 8 minute apart and coming regularly. I was still in denial or doubtful however.
We were planning on going to camp for dinner. The camp had been running outdoor educational trips for local public schools and it was the first week, so we wanted to be present and help out. When I got home there was an hour before dinner (it was about 5 pm) and Tim told me to go lay down and rest my achy back before we would head over. Once I laid down the contractions immediately went from 8+ minutes apart to 5 minutes apart and about a minute long … and they were still fairly strong in intensity. 

Tim came in at one point and saw me timing them and sort of panicked a bit. He said we wouldn't go to dinner, I think I told him we should still go, he said "no way." Tim called our midwives and put them on alert, one of them lived near us and said she would come check me to see if I was making progress. My parents also came and picked up the children for the night on Tim's insistence. I was still really doubtful, but also seemed to know that this probably was "it."
By the time our assisting midwife, Beka, arrived at about 6:30 I knew this wasn’t a fluke, but also was still feeling it might be a long time, because our last birth took about 14+ hours.  Beka checked me and I was at 4 cm. I was slightly disappointed... (stupid, I know, but who doest hope they are at like 7 or 8 the first time being checked???) ... I also knew that 4 cm was proof that this was happening and I wasn't imagining things.

We figured I better eat now and so Tim made some soup. I sort of horked it down. At about 7 pm we went for a walk in the dusk that really ramped things up. Honestly, it was a really short walk... I kept thinking I'd have to go back in the house to use the bathroom and I was afraid to get too far from the house. We made about one lap before I said we needed to go back in, then went out again and got about 50 feet from the house and just stood there for about 10 minutes before we went back inside. 
I took a hot shower at about 8:30 pm for about a half hour. That's when things got much stronger. I was still very much mentally/emotionally feeling doubtful... fearful that this would be a long labor like my last one. Tim kept saying, "This is much more like Eli's labor pattern, your moving fast... don't worry." That was helpful for me and affirming of truth I couldn't see myself.
I tried laying down after the shower, but that didn’t last long as it was much more uncomfortable. I am often restless in labor and moving helps me a lot. After trying to lay down I tried sitting in a rocking chair. That was nice and I stayed there for some time. It was comfortable and I could move, but still relax in that position.

My happy place.
Then Tim wanted to draw me a bath (and prep the bath by cleaning it out well)… I didn’t really think I “needed” the tub yet… and I like to reserve the tub for my “epidural” ... as a last resort comfort measure. So I was almost hesitant to get in, but Beka said I could get in and out if I wanted and keep switching things up (bath, walk, shower, repeat). I liked that idea. About the time I got in Carole our main midwife who delivered Cora showed up. That was at about 9:30 pm. Things got intense and I was checked and found I was 7 cm. The tub was nice, it is relaxing and takes away so much of the discomfort! I had to get out a few times to used the bathroom, but it was all very comforting and a really normal and everyday place for me to be.
Her first photo and one of my first glimpses!

A bit later Carole checked again and said I was at 9 cm, and she thought I would be at 10 cm if I gave some little pushes to push the remaining cervix away. I was SO doubtful, I was getting to feel like I couldn’t take it much more, yet I was still really doubtful I was “ready” or that things were progressing for some reasons (um… transition). I kept thinking, "I feel so with it" and able to smile and joke between contractions, even if they were far more intense than I'd experience in the past... this even made me doubtful, because I usually am "in the zone" and not really very communicative during labor. I made Carole checked again and she said again I was really almost ready to push, she said I should follow my body. I pushed hesitantly from time to time during the peaks of contractions. This felt better for a bit. Tim was great at rubbing my arms, legs and keeping my head cool with a cloth and giving my water after every contraction. He was my hero... he always is!

My help.
At some point pushing became fairly painful, a feeling I'd never experienced in labor.  The pain was very high and radiated down my legs and in my back. One issue was that the baby was still very high up and she was moving a lot. Tim and midwives could see her head above my pelvis moving and bulging about. I could feel her kicking and moving her hands… Her back was on my right side and her head was still not at a 0 station.  It is likely that the pushing was really painful because my muscles were having to position her to get her down and through my pelvis and bring her down so much farther than I'd experienced in the past. Pushing had always been sort of a relief for me in previous labors, so I was really displeased about it. I tried to change positions in the tub, thinking that might change things or help the pain … but that was horrible! I moved back down to a reclining position in the tub, slightly on my left side.

During one contraction and pushing the water broke, and after that she began moving down faster. At one point I felt her head move down quite rapidly and I could feel she was only about a finger length to move down. At that point I decided to just finish pushing her out and stop messing around. I tend to do this and would rather "rip the bandaid off" than keep fooling around... not always the best idea, but it is my instinct. I was so done and starting to feel like I was “losing it” a bit and not be able to function (ie… I was freaking out)! The pain was over my whole body, Tim and midwives were trying to help me with the back pain and with the pain in my legs, but really they couldn't do anything to help much.
With the next she was crowning and the next contraction brought half her head out, to about her brow line… I was not happy it wasn’t all the way out (obviously) but the contraction had ended and I couldn’t push the rest of it. It really stunk waiting for another to come so that it would help me get the head out. It wasn’t long and I didn’t want to wait long because she needed to come out, but with the next contractions her head was completely out and Beka checked for a cord, as I pushed out her shoulders there was a cord around them very loosely, it easily looped off and the rest of her came sliding out! 

Best feeling ever! I kept saying, “Thank you Lord! Thank goodness she’s out! I feel so much better!” and various other proclamations. 


Her poor face was pretty blue (due to it being compressed for that short time) and she was a tad floppy, so I didn’t grab her up from Beka, who had caught her. They held her body in the water with her head out and worked on getting her breathing… the cord pulsed and gave her oxygen and her heart rate was great and strong! They stimulated her, gave her little puffs of air and cleared her airways in a very gentle and yet systematic manner. They were fantastic and so professional! I never felt remotely worried. We were just all waiting for her to join us. I kept rubbing her feet and and legs that were on my body. What a precious moment to observe... a margin of time between the womb and the world. Soon she pinked up and gave a really little cry. It was all very calm and unhurried and a beautiful serene moment to follow all the craziness I had felt as she came out. Sacred really.
After birth pains stink!
Feeling much better.

She was born at 11:14 pm, after about 5 hours of active labor, start to finish. We named her Whitley Cate (both family names of meaning to us) and she weighed in at 8 lbs. 12 oz and was 20 inches… my biggest baby yet by a few ounces.  I was stunned she was so big! She looked so tiny to me.

Seriously. Smiles!
Still all balled up ... that is how she fit.
We moved to the bed and finished up the process, while resting and recovering. Getting in one's own bed is glorious, even though I felt like a limp noodle for a few hours and I did my typical leg shaking routine. I had a shot of pitocin to ward off any extra blood loss and delivered a fairly massive placenta (that's what was making me so big!!!)

Someone made me a meal; ice cold milk, peanut butter toast and some fruit. It is always the best tasting food... I remember the meal I ate after each child! SO good. Whitley also had her first meal. She took to it right away and was alert until daddy took her to the other room while I got patched up. They both fell asleep for a while.

After about 4 hours our amazing midwives left for the night. They called the next day and visited again the following day and then again at 5 days postpartum. I love how they "mother" and care for us both in those moments and days that follow.

Then we promptly went to sleep. I don't know who slept best, but I think it was probably Tim and Whitley.

We were very thankful for a safe and sweet birth!
Thankful for skilled and caring midwives who make hard things seem much more possible.
Thankful for a husband who never leaves my side and will walk through the rough stuff.
Thankful for the beautiful gift of a new daughter!

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