Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Full Truth - Mac's Birth Story

Just as with Cash's birth story - this is the entire truth (as I remember it) - you've been warned. Since I now have a 2.5 year old AND a new born - I haven't been able to edit this story very much - so it might be a little all over the place and messy - which is kind of like having a baby. 

If you want the really LONG background story - it's best to read Cash's birth story.

The short background is that I wanted a natural childbirth.  I found a wonderful new doctor (not at all like Dr. Bitch) and new doula and already had the wonderful husband/coach.  I was prepared for a great birth experience, but wasn't planning to use hypnobabies to the extent I used it (and by "used it", I mean screamed the word "Peace") during Cash's birth.  I was also prepared for a relatively quick birth (Cash was pretty fast) - my doula and doctor both said to get to the hospital ASAP and that the baby would probably be out in a couple of pushes  - hmm, we'll see.

This is my version of events and some of the details are a little hazy (it may also be mellowed by post-birth hormones).  My doula, the marvelous Shelley, took very detailed notes so I'm kind of anxious to get her version.

Overall, I was much more relaxed during Mac's birth and I did my very best to absorb everything and be a little more present (with Cash - I would say it was more of an "out of body" experience) because I'm not sure if I'll ever do this again - but a little girl might be nice. 

So, Mac missed my original prediction date of the 14th or 15th of December. It's amazing how quickly you can go from  - "take your time baby" to "OK, TIME TO COME OUT BABY".  By Sunday (the 16th), I was ready.  Truth be told, all day long I felt a little funny and I was having some strong Braxton Hicks contractions; however, I didn't want to say anything because I thought it would jinx me.  On Sunday night, I ate Mexican food (not Chuys, but still spicy quesadillas - from Chipotle) and made my husband have sex. Poor Buttin was a piece of meat.

I went to sleep without any indication that Chicken would be born soon, but by midnight I was awoken (is that correct? maybe awakened) by contractions - real ones this time.  I started to time them - about 7 - 8 minutes apart.  Crap, I don't want to feel contractions for a long time.    I was very concerned about striking a balance between complete denial (again, read Cash's story if you want the full version) and being overly aware.  I didn't want to feel contractions and then be in labor for 48 hours or start warning people prematurely.  

Around 12:30 I got up and started walking around the house doing chores.  At around 1:30 Buttin got up to go to the bathroom and I told him that I thought Chicken was coming soon, but I told him that my contractions were still pretty far apart so to try and go back to sleep.  I was planning to rest too.

At  1:56 I called my mom and told her to start heading to Austin (again, I was a little hesitant about being alarming because my contractions weren't very severe and were still pretty far apart).   At 2:03 (I have the text messages, so I can be precise), I texted doula Shelley and told her that I was having moderate contractions and that I was going to try and rest.

Buttin decided to take a shower and I laid down and listened to some of my hypnobabies tracks. Buttin never went back to sleep - he just played video games and read in bed.  I was relaxing pretty well, but by 3:30 the contractions were starting to become more severe - I was moaning in bed and having to concentrate to work through them.  I told Buttin that he should probably go put my hospital bag (I did pack it about a week in advance) and some pillows in his truck.  

I think Buttin could tell that my contractions were getting pretty intense and he kept asking me if we should go to the hospital.  Again, because my contractions were still about 5 - 7 minutes apart (I would actually get two pretty quickly and then get about a 6 - 7 minute break) I didn't want to alarm people prematurely and I certainly didn't want to get to the hospital too early.  

By 4:20, I was starting to shake and sweat during contractions (although they were still pretty far apart) so I texted doula Shelley and told her that I was shaking during contractions and that the contractions were much more intense.   She thought it was probably time to go in and even though I was hesitant about going into the hospital, I was in some pain and knew it was time.

Around 4:30 I called my doctor's office and got Dr. Bubbles (I knew it would be her or midwifey) and told her it was time.  She said she'd let the hospital know that I was on the way and that she would be in shortly after I was checked by a nurse.  After I got off the phone with my doctor, I asked Buttin to call my mom and ask her where they were - drive faster Mormor! .  Thankfully, they were less than 10 minutes away. 

When I originally called my mom I was thinking that we would sit and talk for a while before I left for the hospital, but by this time I knew that we would be running out the door around the time they were coming inside and that's exactly what happened.  

By 4:40 Buttin and I were on our way to the hospital.  I don't really remember the ride to the hospital, but I do remember disliking the seat and being uncomfortable because I couldn't get the seat to recline - someone's car seat was in the way.    

I remember telling Buttin on the way to the hospital that we should drop the credit card off at the office (our cleaning technicians use it to gas up in the mornings), but Buttin said I was crazy and that we were going straight to the hospital.  We arrived at the hospital around 5:00 - Buttin dropped me off and I waited inside for him to park.  

Buttin and I headed upstairs together.  I was working through my contractions, but I was still having a nice 4-5 minute break in between them  (again, I was extremely concerned that I was arriving too early).  We were met by a nice nurse (I don't remember her name) who took us to a triage room.  In the triage room, I put on my gown and shortly thereafter doula Shelley arrived.  She put the birth ball on the chair and I leaned over it and labored in a standing position while Buttin rubbed my back (I actually didn't mind being touched this time).    The nurse accommodated my request to stand while on the monitors (actually doula Shelley held it in place the entire time - that must have been a nice view for her)).  I remember the monitoring and questioning (is my current weight really THAT important - am I at risk of collapsing the bed?) seemed to take forever - all I really wanted to do was get into a room.  Buttin rubbed my back during contractions and I talked to the nurse, doula Shelley and Buttin in between contractions.  Poor Shelley sat on the floor the entire time holding the monitor on my stomach.  She was very encouraging during contractions - she would say things like, "yes, that's it" and "it's all working to bring the baby here".   During contractions I was just doing a very low moan - no hysterical screaming (I kind of screamed hysterically during Cash's birth). It felt a little strange to be so relaxed.   

After what felt like forever, it was time to get on the bed and be checked (I wasn't really looking forward to this part because it had hurt so much last time).  Turns out - I was already 7 cm - WHOOPPEE -  and the exam didn't really hurt - DOUBLE WHOOPPEE.   The nurse mentioned that she was anxious to check me because she wanted to call Dr. Bubbles soon because she had a feeling I was pretty far along.  I have no idea how she could tell, but apparently doula Shelley could tell too.  The nurse went to call Dr. Bubbles and a new nurse returned - her name was Katie and she stayed by my side until Mac was born.

Katie, Buttin, Doula and I all walked the fifteen miles to my room (I remember doula Shelley saying maybe the long walk would get me to 8 cm) - apparently, they had been busy.  I don't remember what we talked about during the walk or if I had to stop to moan through a contraction.

We arrived in my room and I remained standing.  Katie went to go get the stuff for my saline lock - I hate needles.  I told Katie that I really, really hated IV needles.  She asked me if I wanted a little lidocaine to numb the area before she used the IV needle.  I had no idea this was an option and I was delighted! Why didn't they tell me this last time??!! The IV was a much easier procedure with a little lidocaine (yes, I do understand the strange irony of using pain medication for a IV, but none for actual childbirth).

Shortly after my saline lock was in, nurse Katie took some blood.  I remember teasing her because she said it was only going to take about 10 seconds, but it actually took much longer (apparently, my blood just wasn't flowing very well). She also had me sign some forms.  Again, I have NO IDEA why you can't sign these forms before you're in the throes of childbirth. Also, all the signatures are on about 23 different pages.  Why can't they just make one signature page?

Soon after I signed enough paperwork to mortgage our home, Dr. Bubbles arrived.  It was a very relaxed and calming environment and I remained standing while laboring and chatting in between contractions.   The only people in the room were Dr. Bubbles, doula Shelley, Nurse Katie, Buttin and me.  This was a much different environment from Cash's birth - were it was a revolving door of lots of hospital staff.

After a little while,  Dr. Bubbles asked me how I was doing and if I was ready to have the baby.  This seemed like a silly question  - I don't know any woman who would prefer a longer labor to having a baby quickly.  She suggested that we break my water.

At first, I was a little hesitant.  I didn't really want medical interventions and I was concerned that my contractions would get much worse.

This is where timing starts to get a little fuzzy. 

Dr. Bubbles assured me that breaking my water was not invasive and would feel similar to a cervical exam.  She also said (and this is what I was hoping for) that usually when the water is broken this far into labor, the baby just comes right out – like a “water slide”. Yes, her words were that the baby would simply slide out of me as though at Sea World.  This almost sounded fun, but not really; however, I was ready for things to progress and to meet my baby.

Around 7 AM (give or take a half hour, I’m not exactly sure), Dr. Bubbles broke my water and checked my cervix -  I was 9 cm.  I was in disbelief – so much disbelief that I was laughing and talking (I must have been delirious).   I remember Dr. Bubbles and Doula telling me – “this is you at 9 cm”.  This ME at 9 cm was a lot more relaxed than the ME who had Cash and was at 9 cm.

I just kind of laid in bed for the next several contractions and continued my low moaning.  Hmm . . when was this water slide fun going to happen?  Then I started moaning a little differently and felt a little more pressure (but not a ton) and Dr. Bubbles quickly put on her baby catching head and body gear.  I asked her if I sounded different because it was starting to feel different and doula Shelley assured me that I was making – “baby coming noises”.  Yeah!  This is it!

Even though I wasn’t feeling a very strong desire to push, Dr. Bubbles encouraged me to try pushing.  This was very strange because with Cash the urge to push was EXTREMELY strong, but this time I didn’t really feel like I needed to push yet.  I tried pushing though a few contractions, but didn’t feel like I was doing it correctly.  I remember asking for some specific pushing directions because I just wasn’t accomplishing much.  I pushed for about 20 minutes and was well past the whole “one or two pushes and the baby comes sliding right out on the water slide” that Dr. Bubbles and doula Shelley had promised (liars!).

Around 8:00 (again, give or take a half hour), Dr. Bubbles suggested that I try to go back to laboring through contractions because she thought the baby might need more time to move down and into position (again, I’m thinking – liars – this is the WORST water slide EVER).  There is nothing (well, that I’ve experienced) that is more discouraging during labor than going in reverse.  THIS SUCKED!

Doula Shelley asked me if I’d like to go sit on the toilet (because that’s how doula Shelley likes to party) and try to go to the bathroom and relieve some of the pressure.  She had told me numerous times that she’s had many clients sit on a toilet (preferably a clean one) and they instantly feel relief and then the baby comes!  Um, this sounded like another “water slide” fib to me.

I sat on the toilet – no tinkle and it felt HORRIBLE – like a watermelon was trying to come out my pee hole.  I stood back up immediately.  Doula Shelley had me lean over the sink area and elevate one foot at a time to try and get things moving.  I remember looking down and thinking – wow, this looks bloody – but Shelley assured me that this was a GOOD thing.

After about 20 minutes of fun in the bathroom, I guess I started making some more “baby coming noises”, so doula Shelley and Dr. Bubbles encouraged me to get out to the bed area because I didn’t want to have the baby in the bathroom.  At this point, I wasn’t sure when the baby was coming and I didn't really care if it came in the bathroom.

I made it out to the bed and Doula Shelley suggested that I push while on my hands and knees.  I was not a fan of that position and quickly rolled onto my back.  At this point, it must have been around 8:30 and I just started to feel tired.  In some good news, I was having a much stronger urge to push. 

Dr. Bubbles, doula Shelley and nurse Katie all encouraged me to take deep breaths leading up to the contraction and then to start pushing right at the height of the contraction.  They also wanted me to do at least three good (count to 10) pushes per contraction and (here was the difficult part) not to vocalize during the pushing.  I guess that last bit of “uhhhhhh” that you let out can be better directed towards pushing, but at this point, it sounded like bologna science to me - they were all liars (have I mentioned the whole "water slide" thing yet?).  I NEEDED to grunt and to vocalize, but they really didn’t want me to.  I REALLY wanted to say mean things to them, but I didn’t.

Every time I would push Dr. Bubbles (and Shelley and Katie) would say things like “yes, yes, yes – you’re doing it” and “go, go, go”.  In between every push I would say something like, “where is this baby – in my rib cage?” and “why isn’t the baby coming out?”.  Dr. Bubbles assured me that she could see the baby rotating and that the baby was just trying to get in the right position.  Also during each push, Dr. Bubbles would reach into my who-ha and do something that wasn’t very comfortable (I later found out that she was pushing down a small lip of cervix that was still there and preventing the baby from fully descending). This child was already in BIG trouble with me.  After about 30 minutes of this kind of pushing, I started to get very discouraged (not to mention TIRED).   This is how the conversation went between me and Dr. Bubbles for a while.

Me:  Can’t you please HELP me get this baby out?  PLEASE HELP ME!
Dr. Bubbles:  I can help you, Stephanie, but it’s better for you and the baby if you push the baby out yourself.
Me:  But you’re like elbows (or at least) wrists deep in my who-ha – can’t you just find a little baby arm and pull it out?!!!??
Dr. Bubbles:  Stephanie, I want you to focus on how you’re going to push this baby out all on your own.  I don’t want to hear any more discouraging talk from you.
Me:  Ok, sorry.

Dr. Bubbles and I had a variation on the above conversation about fifteen times.  I would vacillate between “GET THIS BABY OUT” and “I’m sorry, I’m going to do this.”.

So, I returned to pushing (again) – it must have been around 9:00 or 9:10. (Side note:  I'm actually pushing in a "yoga" position.  My feet are touching and are pulled up close to my head, which was a new position for me.) Dr. Bubbles asked me if I would like some oxygen.  I’m not exactly sure what made her ask, but I said yes.  I’m not exactly sure why I said yes, but I guess I thought at this point I was going to take whatever assistance (even if it was colorless, odorless and tasteless) I could get - since my doctor wasn't going to pull the baby out! 

At this point, I also remember my stomach was starting to growl – I was really hungry. Thankfully,  I was starting to make considerably more progress (although I was still occasionally demanding that Dr. Bubbles pull the baby out somehow).  At one point, I actually felt the head right in my who-ha opening.  I remember I stopped pushing and Dr. Bubbles said (kind of in a funny voice), that it would certainly be a lot of pressure, but that I could rest. Sadly, I felt the head go back inside - another discouraging moment. 

Soon, Dr. Bubbles told me that it really was almost time (again, I think she's lying) and they were calling the "Baby Catch" nurse.   The Baby Catch Nurse (I don't remember her name) came in and I had Dr. Bubbles, Shelley, Katie and Baby Catch Nurse all cheering for me.   We were also talking about the sex of the baby and Dr. Bubbles and the nurses were all convinced that Mac was a girl (they thought he was a girl because he was so cooperative with the monitoring and was never in any distress - even though I felt a ton of distress). So, they were all saying "Come On, Georgia."

After about five more extremely pressure filled pushes - Dr. Bubbles said, "Here Comes The Head - Keep Pushing".  It was so hard to keep pushing, but I did not want to go through any more contractions or pushes, so I pushed though.  The first thing Dr. Bubbles said was - "Nope, not a Georgia."

Nope, not a Georgia - A George. It was 9:31 AM.

As it turns out, little George Cormac (that wasn't his name right away, it took us a day or two to agree on it) was born in the posterior position or "sunny-side up".  Babies are usually born with their heads down, facing down (toward the ground), but Mac was born, head down, facing up.  This means his skull was up against my pelvis bone and hence, the reason for difficult pushing.  This is from the interwebs, so it must be true:

Mothers whose babies are face-up at birth tend to push longer, more commonly need Pitocin to stimulate contractions, and have a significantly higher risk of having an assisted vaginal delivery or a c-section. They also have a greater risk of a postpartum hemorrhage.

Those who do give birth vaginally to a baby who is posterior are more likely to have an episiotomy and severe perineal tears than moms whose babies are in the more favorable face-down position, even after taking into account the higher rate of forceps and vacuum-assisted delivery.

The posterior position at birth also is associated with a higher risk of short-term complications for the baby, such as lower five-minute Apgar scores, an greater likelihood of needing to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, and a longer hospital stay.

Thankfully, Mac and I had none of these complications and that has a lot to do with Dr. Bubbles, doula Shelley and nurse Katie.   That's right - I had absolutely no tearing!

I learned (after the fact) that Dr. Bubbles and Doula Shelley had suspected Mac was in this difficult position (Dr. Bubbles probably KNEW, since her hands were all up in my stuff), but didn't let me know - just kept encouraging me. 

Dr. Bubbles put Mac on my chest right after he was born.  He was more gross than I remember Cash being, but he was healthy and strong (apgar scores were 8 and 9).   We worked on nursing right away and he latched pretty well.

While Dr. Bubbles was pushing on my stomach  (ouch) and delivering the placenta (gross) - I really don't remember what we talked about - but I think I apologized (some more).  Doula Shelley went to get me a snack and a drink.  She brought me a turkey tortilla wrap and it was the best thing I had tasted in a long time.  It was bland hospital cafeteria food, but to me, it was wonderful.  She also brought me cranberry juice and Sprite (a drink I'm now addicted to) and it tasted awesome.  She also put some peanut butter on graham crackers and (guess what?) those tasted really good too. I was really hungry. 

Buttin said that Mac's birth was easier than Cash's - , I'm sure both were easier for him than for me!  Here is my very nice drawing of my labor and delivery room.

Buttin didn't look at anything happening south of my neck.  He told me after that he pretty much memorized the entire back wall of the room.  Even if he didn't see anything, he was still an excellent coach.    Buttin also said that Dr. Bubbles, Shelley and Nurse Katie were all fantastic and they were the perfect combination of authoritative, encouraging and sweet.   I really had a pretty perfect birth experience.  A side benefit to having a somewhat long pushing phase of labor - NO TEARING!!! 

I am so sad that I did not get a picture of Dr. Bubbles, doula Shelley and nurse Katie.  I remember being disappointed after Cash's birth that I didn't have a picture of my nurse, Patty, so this time - at least I got a picture with Katie. If I ever do this again, I am going to instruct doula Shelley to remind me to take a picture with everyone. 

One brief after note - just as with Cash, my bladder was shy so I had to have a catheter.  Those things are really uncomfortable and I'm just happy I had a baby to distract me.  Overall, my recovery was easy. 

Giving birth isn't pretty, but I do love having done it.  I love it because it makes my body feel purposeful.  It's kind of like running a marathon - I feel the pain, but after the pain there is an incredible rush and satisfaction of finishing. It's difficult to explain, but coming home from the hospital (even though I was really ready to get home) kind of felt like the day after Christmas - there is a little bit of sadness because it's over, but it's also pretty wonderful because I have this great little gift.  


So again, congratulations if you finished this story with only one or two naps. 

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