Today on Life as Mom, Jessica is having a Birth Story Swap in honor of the birth of my sweet new niece who was born on Monday. So, if you don't like hearing about women birthin' babies, you'll want to stop reading now and come back another time. But, if you do like hearing all the details about the miracle of birth, click here to read some wonderful stories...and read on. (Warning: This is a long post.)
Since I am the mother of two, I've decided to tell the story of when Ella was born...when I became a mother for the first time. That was in my pre-blogging days so that story never actually appeared on this blog. If you'd like to read the story of Baby Lucie's birth, go here and you can read the posts during and after that labor. Yes, I did blog through labor -- it was kinda fun. And strangely, it was an easier way to communicate with friends since our cell phone had spotty service -- and some of their comments were just hilarious! If you do check out Lucie's story, you'll just want to start reading the posts from the bottom of the page since that is the chronological order. Anyway, on to Ella's story....
My due date was January 25th (or the 27th according to the ultrasound). I had ended work about two weeks prior and was sick of sitting around at home waiting. The night of the 24th, Brett and I sat around watching t.v. and I remember thinking that this might be the last night with just the two of us. At 4:18am on the 25th, I woke up and realized that my stomach was contracting and it felt a bit different. I laid there for several minutes wondering if this was IT, and started timing the contractions. They were coming regularly, but I decided to let Brett sleep while he could. At 6:30am, Brett's alarm went off and I told him that he better start writing the lesson plan for the sub he'd be needing that day. We were gonna have a baby that day...or so I thought.
I had tested positive with Group B strep and needed to have a couple rounds of antibiotics before I gave birth. Since the hospital was 40 minutes away, I decided I'd rather go sooner than later. I wanted to make sure that I had the antibiotics AND didn't give birth in the car. So, at about 10am, we headed for the hospital. Little did we know what a LONG day we'd be having. As I think back on that day, I remember it in shifts...of nurses, that is.
Shift #1: Our first nurse was named Sandra -- a sweet woman with a lovely British accent. Brett found something in common with her right away...a love of History. (She was studying to get her PhD in History at the local university, and Brett is a history teacher.) She "checked" me and I was at 5cm. I was excited that I was halfway and the contractions weren't too bad at that point. Sandra started my antibiotics but shortly thereafter they made me sick. I wanted to try out the labor tub to try to relieve some of the pain. It was somewhat relaxing but she thought I shouldn't stay in too long since it can cause dehydration and I had already lost fluid with my sickness. Slowly, family trickled in and I got out of the tub to visit and avoid dehydration. I tried walking around, sitting in the rocker and on the birth ball. For the most part, it wasn't excruciatingly painful...I managed through the afternoon without pain medication. I wanted to do it the "natural" way and so far everything seemed tolerable.
Shift #2: Well, Sandra went off duty and a Nurse #2 (she shall remain nameless) came on. I can't say that I have any fond memories of her. She was pretty absent most of the time, told my family they should leave because they were too loud, and seemed unsupportive of my decision to forgo pain medication. Overall, she wasn't helpful in any way. During her shift, my doctor showed up to check me. After laboring for most of the day, I had progressed to about a 7, so the doc decided to break my water. The fluid that came out was green which meant that the baby had passed meconium. Not good. The baby can aspirate that and get an infection. So, to help prevent that, they tried flushing out my uterus with clean fluid. They also put me on pitocin because my contractions weren't long enough or strong enough. By this point, I had IV fluids, pitocin AND the flushing fluid. Basically, I was bedridden at that point and just tried to make the most of it. The pain wasn't unbearable, but the uncertainty nearly was. Just not knowing when this ordeal would end was difficult to handle. I really wanted to avoid a C-section and things did not look good. We prayed a lot in those hours.
Shift #3: Finally, the horrid nurse left her shift, and she was replaced by her complete opposite. Thalia was friendly, encouraging and willing to help. I really felt that she was our advocate and willing to do whatever she could to make this birth happen the way that we wanted it to. The labor got more intense and I continued with breathing exercises. Thalia checked me, and it wasn't the news we wanted to hear. I was still not fully dilated and the ridge of my cervix was slightly swollen. Thalia knew that if she called the doc, she'd head over to do a c-section. So, Thalia said that she wanted to try a few more things to see if it would help me progress. She realized that I hadn't gone to the bathroom all day long (I just couldn't) and they had been pumping me full of fluids all day long. Not a good combo. So, she gave me a catheter that seemed to help. I also began having some tremendous back labor that made me tense and push instinctively. I just couldn't help it. Since I wasn't fully dilated, I knew that pushing would cause my cervix to swell and then it would be c-section time. Once again, Thalia stepped in and showed Brett how to apply counter-pressure. Amazing. I went from intense pain to almost no pain. I kept telling Brett (and my mother-in-law who also helped) to just keep pushing hard. They were afraid they'd hurt me, but, not pushing hard was what hurt! Finally, Thalia checked me and then had another nurse Dawn check me for a second opinion. Then I heard the words I'd been waiting HOURS to hear, "You're fully dilated and ready to go!"
At that point, it was nearly 3am and the doctor returned fully expecting to perform a c-section. Thankfully, I had just finished dilating and she checked me again to be sure and check the baby's position. Then she told me that the baby was O.P. or "sunny-side up" and that I had probably 2 hours of pushing ahead of me. Not the most encouraging news. But the nurses Thalia and Dawn along with the help of Brett, my mom and my mother-in-law were all my cheerleaders. They helped me try various positions for pushing -- including standing up to help use gravity. It was so exhausting -- they even had to give me oxygen at some points.
Finally, after nearly two hours, birth was close and the doctor reappeared. The room got very full in just a matter of minutes. Because of the meconium issue, the doc didn't want the baby to cry and get the gunk in her lungs. So, after the head was out, I had to stop pushing so the doc could suction the gunk out. Then, I got the go-ahead to give the final push. Now, this moment I remember distinctly despite my exhaustion and blurry vision. I pushed one more time and the baby SHOT OUT WITH A HUGE SPLASH! I heard it AND felt it. I was soaking and so was the entire vicinity! I guess all the fluid they used to flush me was backed up behind the baby...and came on out right after her. I think I actually laughed at that point!
Things happened rather quickly at this point. They cut the cord and whisked the baby to the side to check her out and make sure meconium was no longer an issue. Because we had requested that Brett announce the sex of the baby, we STILL didn't know if we had a son or daughter. He left my side to go look at our baby and see. We both thought for sure that we were having a boy, so I was quite surprised when he announced, "We have a girl!"
After over 24 hours of labor, our sweet baby girl was safely in our arms. As I look back, I am thankful that my doctor took the necessary steps to make sure my baby arrived safely. But, I realized that when you labor as long as I did, the NURSES play a huge role in the birth experience. I am so thankful for the women who helped me that day, and those that helped me in my recent labor and delivery. I truly feel that they were an answer to prayer.