It's been almost two months since Riesling's birth and I still haven't gotten around to telling her birth story. I figured I better get to it before I start forgetting the details and making up my own fantasy version.
When you talk to people about pregnancy, labor, and delivery everyone will tell you that they just want a healthy baby and how you get to that point doesn't really matter. Of course I wanted that as well, but truth be told, how it happened did matter to me. And because it mattered I made conscious decisions throughout my pregnancy about health and wellness and equipped myself with as much knowledge as possible. The beginning and the end were exactly as I hoped. The crap in the middle was unnecessary sh*t that I had to deal with because of my decision to give birth in a traditional hospital setting with an obstetrician vs a midwife.
I was six days overdue. Around 1 or 2am I woke up to a wet-ish sensation. Did my water break? According to any movie or TV show I've watched it should be a gushing followed immediately by racing to the hospital and birthing my child within minutes. It wasn't even close to that so I thought maybe my bag of waters was just "leaking" or it was just some other form of pregnancy related wetness (gross things happen with pregnancy people). Either way I was not in a panic, went back to bed and tried to relax hoping I would start having some steady contractions. Which I did. I still wasn't for sure that I was actually in labor so I stayed in bed with Jim sleeping soundly next to me and tried to doze while also paying attention to the time between contractions.
After awhile I realized that the were pretty steady and deemed myself in labor. It was advised in our birthing class to try and rest as much as possible in early labor because you'll basically never get to rest again, so I attempted to keep snoozing with little success.
At some point I woke Jim up more for mental support than anything. We packed the rest of the hospital bag, Jim watered his seeds and tended to a few house related things, and I decided to take a shower. As dawn turned into the light of day my contractions continued to be steady and increased in intensity, frequency, and duration. I used my physioball and deep breathing exercises to help with the pain during contractions and tried to walk around in between to keep things moving. We even made a slow trip around the block. By 10 or 11 am my contractions were between 3-4 minutes apart, lasting near one minute each, for about 1.5 hours.
See "I'm fine Dad. I just need to sit for a minute."
We called my doctor's office, who advised us to come in and get checked. I was 4cm going on 5cm dilated and by some form of swabbing and microscope procedure it was determined that my water did in fact break. This is automatic admission to the hospital (and apparently panic) in the eyes of any traditional obstetrician. I was transported via wheelchair, against my request to walk, to the hospital adjacent to the doctors office. Nursing swooped in from all directions resulting in me flat on my back, being poked and prodded for IV access, and hammered with mostly ridiculous questions. In all the chaos I meekly asked for a drink of water to which a group of voices responded "you can't have anything to eat or drink" without even looking up at my ash gray face and eyes rolling back in my head. I think maybe it was Jim that pointed out I was about to pass out. Now I'm flat on my back with ice packed under my neck and an IV with fluids that I didn't want, a nurse came in to inform me that the doctor had ordered a pitocin drip.
I broke down and started crying. Little uncontrollable sobs with tears streaking down my face. All I could think about was, "here we go...." The snowball effect of unnecessary interventions and limitations that occur when woman delivery in a traditional hospital setting. Flat on my back, hooked up to wires & monitors, unable to drink, eat or change positions. And wouldn't you know it....my contractions had slowed down to a crawl. I really was devastated at this point. Jim was upset, cursing, and committing to a home birth the next time around.
I refused the pitocin until I was able to speak with one of my doctors directly. I just came from their damn office. Why couldn't someone have spoken to me there about this plan? I just closed my eyes and tried to calm myself and refocus my energy.
See "Do not even think about talking to me until I open my eyes"
Apparently they were concerned about the amount of time that had passed since my water broke (about 12 hours) compared to the status of my labor. Through teary eyes I practically begged my doctor to wait a few more hours before starting the medication. She said I had no choice. No choice in what happens to my own body. Some things in healthcare make no sense. She did agree to delay antibiotics and allow me the use of a portable fetal monitor so that I could get out of bed and move around again. I was started on the lowest possible dose of pitocin and it was never increased.
I got out of that damn bed and moved around the labor and delivery area and within a few minutes my contractions were back in full swing. I was mentally prepared for hours more of labor, but from this point everything happened really quickly. My dad actually went back to our house (less than 5 minutes from the hospital) to have lunch and walk the dog. By the time he got back he had missed the whole thing.
My contractions started coming stronger and closer together and I was having trouble walking around. We stayed in the room and closer to the bed so I could sit during contractions but move around some in between. Nurses and the in house doctor started preparing the room with the little baby box, heat lamps, and delivery stuff. I started having a lot of pressure during contractions and really had to focus on Jim and my breathing methods.
See "I could care less who sees me in this state"
Everyone said it and it was definitely true. Transition was definitely the hardest part but never once did I think about or ask for medication. My legs were trembling and I was soooo hot! Jim used a wet washcloth and ice chips on my face and chest in between contractions but I wouldn't let him move much more than that. The contractions were really intense and really close together. For me the hardest thing was at some point I was fully dilated but had an anterior lip so I was allowed to push yet....but dear god did I want to push. Jim ended up with a large red claw mark on his shoulder during this period. But, once I got the Ok to push it was smooth sailing. With the help and support of Jim and our nurse, Riesling was born about 20 minutes later.
With Riesling cleaned, swaddled and snuggling with Daddy I delivered the placenta and had a bit of repair work down. One or two stitches in the classic area and then a terribly painful hematoma in an extremely sensitive area. Let's just say that it required a second doctor to come in and retract. They actually wanted to put me under general anesthesia but I refused because I wanted to be able to nurse the baby. And seriously...anesthesia now?! It was a bit dicey at points and I can't believe I didn't reactively kicked the doctor in the face during the procedure.
See "You need to repair what?"
After what seemed like eternity I was allowed to hold and nurse Riesling. She latched on and feed on both sides for a good amount of time. I will say that although I thought I had prepared for breastfeeding I obviously had no idea what I was doing nor was the labor and delivery nurse any help. I couldn't remember anything about latching or positions at this point and it actually hurt a lot. See "I seriously think she is biting off my nipple" But I didn't care at this point. I was already so in love with that little bundle that I didn't care one bit....