You Are Not Alone

Monday, December 28, 2009

Labor Of Love

This is Colin's birth story, and it’s long, so if you’re going to read it, get settled first. ;)
I sat on the loveseat, two days after my due date, watching television with my Husband, my six-year old Niece and my Mother.

As images flickered on the television screen, I sat awkwardly and uncomfortably bloated with child. I felt a twinge in my lower back, and thinking it was just my muscles protesting, I sat forward trying to stretch them out. My effort seemed to work, as the twinge eased, and I shifted back into my previous position. Five minutes later, I felt the same twinge again, and this time my heart constricted, wondering if the twinge I was feeling was a contraction.

The rest of the evening passed without another twinge, and I settled into bed, wondering if this night would be the night my Son would decide to come.

I had spent the previous three weeks trying to keep my blood pressure low, which was difficult since my Mother and Niece were staying with us. It was a goal dear to me, because at my thirty-seven week checkup, my Obstetrician spoke the word I most feared, “Induction”.

For nine months, I dreamt of the day I would give birth to my first child, and being induced was not part of that dream. Even before I found myself with child, I knew I wanted to give birth naturally

No fewer than twenty people thought I was crazy, when I told them I wanted to have my baby without the aid of drugs. Stubborn to the core, I remained steadfast on the hope that I would be able to bring my Son into this world without the benefit of an epidural. I wanted to experience birth the way millions of women had from the beginning of time. I had read that it was beneficial, to both Mother and Child, and the very effort of giving birth naturally was a spiritual experience, not to be dismissed.

Induction did not fit into my plans, as I had read and heard that the drug, Pitocin that hospitals administer could make the endeavor to give birth naturally much more difficult and painful than it would already be. Aside from the increase in pain, I had also heard and read that being induced could draw out the time a woman was in labor, also causing her unborn child undue distress.

So, for my Obstetrician to announce that she wanted to induce me, because she thought my baby would be large no less, was severely alarming. I had been given a sonogram during my thirty-six week checkup, because the Obstetrician I had seen on rotation thought that I was measuring “small” for my gestational age. It was found, during my sonogram, that my Son was a bit on the small side, but not so much as to be alarmed over. Still, every moment I held him in my womb was a chance for him to grow stronger, and I was not going to give that up for the world.

For the ensuing three weeks, every check up I had, my Obstetrician wanted to induce me. The second week she brought this up, after the first time, my Husband and I carefully considered and agreed to go through with it. We felt that our baby was in danger, and I did not want to endanger my child’s life.

The morning I was scheduled to be induced, the hospital I was to give birth in called to say that all the beds were full, that I would not be admitted should I go for my appointment. My Husband was disappointed, but I was immensely relieved. I took it as a sign, and I was grateful for that sign.

After further research on the effects of high blood pressure on a woman with child, we discovered that it is not uncommon for a woman in the last weeks of her pregnancy to have elevated levels of pressure, and mine were not so high as to be life threatening.

The Monday after the Sunday I felt the first twinges, I was due for another OB visit. During my next Obstetrician visit, I refused her offer for induction, and went home feeling safe and happy about my decision.

After my appointment, I began to have contractions. I told my Husband, and we spent the morning walking around our community, trying to ease myself into labor. We spent the entire day on tenterhooks, marking contractions and hoping that they would lead to the birth of our child.

Shortly after midnight, I suggested we take our Hospital bags downstairs, and without waking my Mom, we spent the next two hours downstairs, watching television, me on the yoga ball, my husband on the couch. At two in the morning, my contractions waned, and to my Husband’s disappointment, I suggested we go back upstairs and get some sleep.

Tuesday morning, I was scheduled for a biofeedback and heart monitoring session. I had begun contracting again, and we called my doctor’s office to make sure they wanted me to still come in, or to have me go to the Hospital. They told me to still come to my appointments, and so we went.

I continued to have contractions during my appointment, but the nurse administering my heart monitoring session consulted my doctor, I was told to go home.

My Husband and I went home, and he prepared a breakfast of wheat toast and scrambled eggs that we both hungrily ate. After our late breakfast, we both retired for a nap. Two hours into our nap, I woke up to a contraction, and the need to use the bathroom. I got out of our high bed, used the bathroom, and came back to bed to try to get more sleep. Fifteen minutes later, I had another contraction and felt the urge to use the bathroom. This time, as I moved to get out of bed, I felt a pop, and became alarmed. I thought the pop I felt could have been my bag of waters, but as I stood, I did not feel any liquid leaving my body. I went to the bathroom and asked my Husband to call my doctor’s office.

My Husband was told that if there was no fluid coming out, that my bag of waters had not broken, so we relaxed. Up until this point, my contractions had not been painful. They had been uncomfortable, and somewhat surprising, but not painful. Now, at two in the afternoon, they had started to have an edge of pain to them.

I paced our bedroom, bending over our bed during a contraction, breathing and moaning and standing up on the tips of my toes against the pain. At one point I went downstairs to sit on the yoga ball, but found it immensely uncomfortable, and went back upstairs to the comfort of our room. My Husband suggested a bath, (we have a garden tub in our Master Bathroom) and my Mom thoughtfully cleaned it out and drew a bath for me.

Not caring for modesty, I stripped my clothes in front of my Mother, and waited impatiently for the comfort of the bath. When it was midway filled, I stepped in, waiting for the comfort to come. I lounged on my back, and it seemed to make the contractions worse, so I got up onto my knees. This was not a comfortable position, so I leaned against the side of the tub. Unfortunately, this didn’t do much to ease my discomfort, but by this time it was four p.m., and my Husband, who had been monitoring my contractions, said he thought it was time to go to the hospital.

My Husband collected our bags and took them downstairs, while I dried off and got dressed to leave. My Husband came back upstairs to help me to the car, and went to make the bed before we left. On Monday night, when we thought we were going to the Hospital the first time, I insisted that we make the bed, going as far as putting on a decorative throw at the bottom of the bed. My Husband had made a joke about the baby noticing that we had made the bed nicely for him, (you can imagine how well that went over). This time, as he began to make the bed, I snapped at him in unbelief, not caring if he made the darn bed or not, it was time to go!

As we left our home, I was afraid of the car ride to the Hospital. I knew I would be confined to the seat, and at this point in my labor, I did NOT want to sit down. Still, I had to get to the Hospital, and while it was within ten minutes driving time of our home, it would not have been a pleasant walk.

Halfway to the Hospital, I unbuckled my seatbelt, lifting my pelvis off the seat and clawed at the door while saying, “I want out, I want out, I want out, I want to WALK!!!” while my poor Husband gripped the steering wheel of the car and drove onward.

Amusingly enough, as we neared the Hospital, I willed myself to calm and pause. This helped me to stave off any contractions while my Husband debated whether or not to use the Hospital’s valet, asking me if we should and then regretting his decision to ask when I glared at him and snapped, “I DON’T CARE JUST PARK”.

We navigated the hellish parking garage, and finally found a space. My dear Husband loaded his arms with our heavy bags and we made our way to the OB Triage. The triage for our Hospital was quite a walk from the parking garage, and I was afraid of having a contraction in front of the visitors in the hospital. I ended up having one, but in a hallway, away from most strange eyes.

I remember getting into the elevator to continue our way to triage, and seeing a single Youngman riding with us. He took one look at my sweaty, grimacing countenance and looked away. It afforded me an inner chuckle in what had already been a long day.

Finally, we made it to Triage and our Triage room. I stripped down and donned a Hospital gown and paced the floor of our room while waiting for the attending nurse. At this point in my labor, the pain of my contractions had worsened to the point where I preferred only to walk through them, not giving one whit to breathing or holding my Husband’s hand.

When the attending Nurse came in, I was told to get in bed, and I groaned and told her that I didn’t really want to. Still, I had the presence of mind to hand her my birth plan, which she took and smiled at me and said that the admissions lady would be in soon, as the attending OB from my clinic had given the go ahead for me to stay.

In the meantime, I had felt the need to vomit several times since we’d left our house, but somehow managed to stave it off. Now, at the Hospital, I felt it was okay to let the contents of my body out, and politely asked my Husband to grab the pink, plastic tub on top of the wardrobe and to bring it to me so I could vomit. No sooner than he put it by my mouth did I gratefully allow the eggs and toast I ate earlier that day leave my body.

Unfortunately, the admissions lady came in and sat rather near the tub. I apologized for the oversight, (ever polite, I am) and asked her if she could wait until the contraction I had to be over before I signed papers. Gracious lady that she was, she agreed and fanned my face with the packet of papers waiting for my signature.

I did not have to wait long for a room, and I was allowed to walk from the Triage room to my room. We passed another expecting couple on the way, both of us women grinned tiredly at each other, great pregnant ships, passing in the night.

Finally, I was settled in my Labor room, and bound to bed with monitors, cuffs and I.V. line.

My desire to give birth naturally flew out the window when I was ordered bed bound. Knowing that I did not want to withstand the pain of contractions without walking, I requested an epidural. Two hours, and several many painful contractions later, (one of which caused me to pound the side of the Hospital bed rather vigorously, while my Husband’s offered hand remained empty and scorned) the anesthesiologist briskly walked into my room. The Anesthesiologist told me to sit upright, to which I replied that if I did, I would have a contraction. He told me that would happen, and to just breathe through it and I obeyed, dubiously. By the grace of my mental powers, I only had one or two contractions while he was administering the Epidural, and they weren’t so painful that I wanted to scream so loud as to peel the wallpaper off the walls.

I was told it would take up to fifteen minutes for the Epidural to take effect, blessedly, the relief was instantaneous, and I began to feel numb from the waist down. I tingled, like my feet were falling asleep, and I shivered almost uncontrollably. I forced myself to relax, and eventually the shivers stopped and I was able to relax and ride out the rest of my labor watching television.

Our Nurse called us her “calm room” because every time she came in, she found us tranquil and peaceful. I urged my Husband to get some sleep, as he was exhausted, but I was high on the experience and instead of sleeping, I remained awake, looking at the television, but not really watching it.

As the night wore on, my Son’s heart beat began to dip, (Turns out, the reason his heart rate dipped during my last contractions, was due to his cord being wrapped around his neck. The OB had to deliver him through is cord). One of the Nurses came in during one of these alarming dips, and told me to breathe deeply through them, which I did faithfully. Finally, at eleven p.m. the Nurse came in and told me that it was time to start pushing. I felt fear, not knowing what to expect, but pushed it aside as she helped me get into position.

I bent both knees, and my Husband cradled one foot, the Nurse the other. She told me to push when I felt pressure, and we all watched the monitor for contractions. I pushed a couple of times, and finally requested that the mirror be brought out, something I said I wouldn’t do. With the mirror in place, I watched as I pushed my Son’s head closer to the outside world.

As the top of his head emerged, we could see the full head of dark hair he would have, and the Nurse joked that we could pull him out by his hair, and twined a bit in her fingers and made a curl. At one point, we saw, and I felt, my Son wiggle within the birth canal. We all marveled at his strength and eagerness to be born.

I continued to push, each one being a fun effort, until finally the Nurse said it was time to get the Doctor. My Husband and I spent the next minutes excited as the Nurse and the Doctor set up for the birth of our Son. When all was in place, the doctor urged me to push, and I could feel my Son’s heavy weight bearing down. I continued to push, and felt him slide out, a gush behind him, and finally his sweet, piercing cry.
Finally, he was here, and he was swooped above my knees and onto my chest. As he cried, naked and wet on my chest, my Husband and I laughed and cried and kissed, ecstatic at what our love brought about.

For nine months, we struggled over what to name our Son, and even at the moment of his birth, we still had not yet named him.

At the time, "Baby Boy Andrews", later to be named, Colin Hushel Andrews, weighed in at six pounds, eleven ounces, nineteen and one half inches at 12:17 a.m. on Wednesday, August 12th, 2009. His Apgar score was 9 out of 10, and he was eager to nurse upon birth.

Shortly after cord was cut, he was cleaned and wrapped; I put my Son to my breast and began to bond with him. In the quiet, wee hours of the day, my Husband and I marveled and loved our newly formed family.

I held the most precious, wonderful being in my arms. I felt more awake and alive than I had ever felt. I glowed from the inside out at my accomplishment, at my healthy and whole Son, at the love I had for him, and my Husband.

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