Thursday, May 23, 2013

Susanna Beth's birth story

Disclaimer: This is a birth story so if you don't like to hear about dilation and bodily fluids, you might want to skip this post.  And it is super long :)

Susanna's birth story starts back late Tuesday night, May 14th (her Daddy's birthday).  He had gone to a late movie with a friend and I had a nice, calm peaceful evening.  I was having a bunch of Braxton Hicks, but I'd been having them for the last couple of months so I really did not think much of them.  2 out of 3 of my girls had been overdue so I really wasn't expecting anything a week before my due date.

  I went to bed earlier than normal (since Mark wasn't there to keep me up) and fell sound asleep.  He woke me up going to bed around 1:30am (Wednesday by this point) all excited about his fun night and promptly fell asleep.  I never did go back to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time because I started having super strong Braxton Hicks and the baby was kicking and punching me all over and I kept having to go to the bathroom because my body was apparently cleansing itself for labor.  I started getting really scared at this point, because I had not yet re-tested my iron level and knew that if I went into labor, I would have to go to the hospital instead of the birth center.  I was supposed to test the next morning, so I just prayed over and over and over that night that I wouldn't go into real labor until I was cleared for the birth center.

Wednesday morning I was feeling icky and miserable because my stomach was still not right and I had no sleep.  I rushed out to the lab as soon as it opened because I wanted the results of that iron test as soon as possible in case real labor started.  With my other pregnancies, the "cleansing" period had preceded real labor by less than 24 hours.

My OB appointment was at 10:30 that morning and we were taking the girls with us because they wanted to meet the midwife and see where I would have the baby.  I was in so much pain in the car on the 35 minute drive because I had worn my maternity jeans (which I usually love) and they were too tight for the contractions I was experiencing.

My OB appointment went well and my midwife thought I looked great.  Even though the iron results would not be in until the following day, my midwife's assistant did some other checks (eyes, fingernails, etc) and said she thought it must be up so if I went into real labor that night, I could come to the birth center.  I cannot tell you what a relief that was to me!  My midwife asked if I wanted her to check to see if I was dilated but I declined.  I know how quickly that can change and that it is not a good indicator of labor prior to being in real labor.

So I took a nap, took a shower, and went to the chiropractor, fully expecting to go into labor that night. Mark and I enjoyed a nice date night and got some last minute baby things at Target, but I was having too many contractions to sit down and relax when we wanted to get a bite to eat or go look at baby names at Barnes and Nobles.  And I was exhausted by staying up the night before so we went home and I went to bed early.  And my contractions completely stopped!

I woke up the next morning think surely I must be going into labor but it had all stopped.  I panicked a bit, because my parents were going out of town for the weekend the next day and I really wanted my Mom to be at the birth.  But God had given me a little break before real labor began and I just had to accept that.  I started praying that the baby would wait until after my brother's graduation so my parents would not be in another state and miss the birth.  

No contractions on Thursday and I was so thankful.  But Thursday night they started up again and that was the one night that I really did not want to go into labor!  I went to bed early in hopes that they would stop and prayed and prayed that this baby would wait for Grandma to get back in the state.  It worked and Friday and Saturday I felt great with hardly any Braxton Hicks at all!  I thought for sure labor had stopped and this baby was going to join the ranks of my other overdue babies!  We had a lovely afternoon and evening at Mark's parents house and went home and I went to bed without any contractions, getting ready in my mind for church the next day and Karis's birthday celebration that we had planned a little early since I am usually overdue.

Saturday night, I slept soundly until 2:30am (Sunday) when I woke with a start because of a contraction that actually really hurt down low like the real thing!  I was utterly in shock and could not believe it!  I had another one a little bit later and then got up and went to the bathroom to see if they stopped when I walked around.  Nope, they only got stronger.  So I had to wake Mark and start calling everyone.  And he had actually taken a half of a sleeping pill around 1:30 am because he hadn't been able to get to sleep!  I was worried I wouldn't be able to wake him, but once he realized I was serious he sprung into action.  We were all in disbelief because I really had not experienced any labor symptoms since Thursday night. My parents had just gotten back to VA late that night and then I woke them up at 3am telling them to come to the birthing center.  This baby had just been waiting for Grandma!

We tried to take a quick last belly shot before heading to the birth center, but the lighting was weird and this fuzzy picture was all we got:

We got to the birth center around 4:15 and my midwife (Karen)  checked all my vitals and said the baby and I both looked good.  So I started walking around.  My doula got there soon after with her assistant, as well, and things started falling into a routine.  Karen raised the bed so that it was the right height to lean against when a contraction hit.  I would walk til I felt one coming on and then fall against the bed and my support team would spring into action.  They were amazing!  Mark and my two doulas did most of the pushing on my back and hips.  As I was moaning on the bed, one of them would grab one hip and one would grab the other and one would press a hot heating pad on my lower back as hard as possible.  I honestly don't know exactly all they were doing but it really helped.

I cannot state how wonderful it was to have such a nice support team.  My midwife was so calm and supportive, making sure that everything was going smoothly but also pretty much allowing me do my own thing.  My doula was amazing at helping me remember to vocalize really low, relax my shoulders, etc.  And of the course the heat and counter pressure on my lower back and hips helped tremendously. Another thing my doula really helped with was to remind me of my goals.  She knew I wanted to labor in the water through transition but not before because I didn't want to slow down labor.  And she knew that I wanted to turn around so that I could see and help catch the baby.  I would never have done those things without her encouragement because when I am in labor, I kind of get stuck in my routine and find it hard to change.  My doula had to really firmly remind me to go to the birthing tub and then again remind me to turn around when it was time to push so I could help catch the baby.  And I was so glad that she did!  

When I finally got in the water tub, it felt good.  Mainly because the weightlessness of being in the water helped to take some pressure off and the warmth felt really good.  But I have to say that it is not at all the pain reliever that many seem to think... I was glad to be in it but definitely still overwhelmed by the pain and wondering if I could do it by the time it came to push.  But I do not think I could have given birth in the squatting position and helped catch my baby without being in the water so I was very thankful for it!

I was so thankful and proud of my doula and her assistant because I know it must have been hard to reach me and put pressure on my hips and back when I was in that tub, but they sure did!  They worked so hard!  Karen brought out a pitcher and they poured the warm water over my lower back with every contraction.  (I labored in the hands and knees position until it was time to push because that seems to help my back the most.)  We would relax in between contractions and talk about the progress I was making and what was coming next, and then I would moan, "Here it comes!" and they would spring into action.  My doula was ever so encouraging.  I tend to doubt myself and my capability of pushing the baby out when it gets really bad and she was so encouraging and knew just want to say to keep me going.

When the contractions became utterly unbearable and I didn't think I could stand it any longer, I finally asked my midwife to check to see how far I was dilated.  I hate to do it in the beginning because I don't want to be disappointed if it is low and it can change so quickly that it is pointless.  But when I started feeling the urge to push, I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to be wasting my energy.  So she checked me and I was at 9.5!  So Karen said just to start pushing whenever I felt like it.  My doula reminded me to turn around and squat so I would be able to see.

When I finally pushed the baby down low enough to see her crown, we were all amazed that her water bag was still intact!  I could feel it with my fingers and they brought me a mirror so I could look.  It was amazing!  This was really an encouragement to me to keep on pushing!  I felt like this was the hardest baby yet to push out and I didn't realize at the time it was because she was my biggest!   Her head was 14 inches and it did not mold at all... (my dad is a numbers guy and somehow did the math and said that in order to push that out, I should have waited til I was dilated to 11 centimeters instead of the normal 10... that explains my stitches this time around!)  When I finally got her head out, her water bag finally broke and it was the most amazing thing to see that head sticking out!  But then I panicked because I kept pushing but couldn't get the rest of her out!  Usually once the head comes, the rest comes out with just one big push so I couldn't understand it.  But we found out later that her chest measured 14.5 inches -- even bigger than her head!  So that was my trouble.  She finally came out and I got to help catch her.  It was the most amazing moment of my life!

I really think she liked the waterbirth because she came out just as calm and happy as could be.  She was very alert and looking around with great color but it seemed like she hardly even cried about it.  (My dad was in the next room waiting to hear a cry and he said it made him nervous because it just never came!)  But she was perfectly healthy.  She breathed well and didn't even have to be suctioned or anything.  It was amazing.  She also came out looking a lot cleaner than my other babies.

Here is the video taken right after the last push as we catch her and find out she is a girl:

I snuggled with her for about 5 minutes and then we cut the cord.  

After another 5 minutes or so, I needed to push out the placenta.  So I gave the baby to my midwife's assistant (an RN) for measuring and delivered the placenta.  Unfortunately, I had a lot of bleeding so they immediately laid me down and gave me a shot of pitocin, which worked immediately.  (For those of you who might be worried about the safety of a non-hospital birth, most certified midwives keep an arsenal of medical supplies handy in case they need it: pitocin, fluid for dehydration, antibiotics, etc.)

I could look over and see them measuring and checking the baby and my family's excited shouts of "she weighs 9.26 pounds!" and "she got an apgar of 10!" kept me happy til they let me get up and go to the bed to finally have my baby to myself.

Oh, I was so glad to get in that comfy bed and get to know my baby!

Here is a very short video someone took of my first moments with Susanna in the bed:

I snuggled with her and nursed her for a while and then Karen said that she needed to check my bleeding and see if I needed stitches.  Unfortunately, I had a 2nd degree tear and did.  But Mark got to spend some quality time with his new girl while I got stitched up and cleaned up again.

Finally in my bed with my baby and I didn't have to leave her again!

I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it was to give birth at the birthing center!  I trusted my midwife so much and it was such a relief to know that she knew my wishes and would only suggest something contrary if she really thought it absolutely necessary.  At my other hospital births, I always felt like I was fighting the doctors (particularly the pediatricians!!) to do the natural thing and with Karen, I knew she actually agreed with my desires and would do her absolute best to fulfill them.  She was such a blessing to me and I am so thankful that God worked everything out so that Susanna came after I was cleared to give birth at the center and that my Mom was able to be there as well.  It was a crazy week for me but I am so thankful the way things worked out!  

Susanna Beth: 3 hours old

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