Monday, April 1, 2013

Labor Day Birth Story: Part Two

You can find part one of this birth story here.

When we got to the hospital, I found out that I was 4cm dilated, 100% effaced, and that my water would likely break any minute. I was so lucky to have an amazing nurse named Jennifer who was super sweet, encouraging, and very supportive of our birth plan, which I myself was barely even aware of at this point. I spent the next several hours in Labor and Delivery rotating between the birth ball, to the bathroom, to the bed. All the while, my mom was behind me rubbing my back and Andy was in front of me reminding me to breathe and relax. Every time a contraction came, I would grab on to Andy and sway and moan and try to relax and breathe. Sometimes I would squeeze Andy too hard because of the pain, but never once did I ever feel even a little annoyed by him. He was an amazing support all the way through. The next time they checked me, I was 7 cm and that’s when things began to get intense. The contractions were one on top of the other, and I began throwing up some, which, thanks to my birthing class, I knew meant that I was at least approaching transition and that the end was in sight. Throughout my whole time at the hospital, I kept thinking, “Why did I want to have a natural birth again? Why did we take the class? What was I thinking?” but for some reason I felt like it was too late to turn back now, so I just kept breathing and relaxing. I think the main thing that got me through the worst parts, though, was all the encouragement I received. Both my mom and Andy know me well enough to know that I needed verbal affirmation more than anything else and they never ceased to comment on how well I was doing, which made me feel like I was tough enough to keep going. It also helped that the sweet nurse kept popping in and cheering me on as well.

After my second measurement, they called the midwife and when she got there she measured me at 9 cm. At that point, my "about to break any minute" water still had not broken, which the midwife said had probably helped me manage the pain up until then, but would speed things up now if she broke it, so I said sure and it wasn't long after it broke that I starting feeling the urge to push. Andy told me later that it was just he and my mom with me when I started to feel the need to push and that he was super scared but just thought, “Well, you have to push then.” The midwife came in soon though and we started pushing. I say we because it really felt like it took the work of all five of us, Andy on one side, my mom on the other, and the midwife and nurse in front of me, all helping me in their own way. Pushing was interesting because, at least for me, it was very much something I had to learn to do. It took me a while to get the timing right with my contractions, but once I got the hang of it things went really fast and my midwife just kept saying “You’re doing so good, Alissa, keep going.” I was vaguely aware of her telling me that the baby’s heart rate had dropped and calling the doctor to come use the vacuum, but I just kept pushing and then Andy said that the baby had hair and a few seconds later he slithered out and was on my chest. As he was being handed to me, I heard my mom say, “It’s a boy!” so I just said “Hello, Oliver!” It was an amazing feeling and an amazing experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better birth.

Oliver was born at 4:49 p.m. so I was in labor for 13 hours total and pushed for just about half an hour of that. Later, my midwife told me that with my first baby and him being so big (9 lbs. 5 oz.), I shouldn’t have been able to push him out in time for them to not have to use the vacuum.* I hadn’t had an ultrasound since halfway through the pregnancy, so I had no idea he would be so big, which is lucky for me because I probably would have had way more anxiety had I known. It’s also lucky that he decided to come when he did because I had an ultrasound schedule for the next day otherwise, which may have revealed his size, or even prompted an induction.

Giving birth to Oliver was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life. Throughout my pregnancy, I had this secret fear that my body would somehow not be up to the task of delivering a child, much less one so large with hardly any medical interventions. I was so amazed to see what my body was capable of, that one of the first things I remember thinking and saying after Oliver was born was, “I did it!” Giving birth the way that I did was hands down the most empowering event of my life thus far, because I was able to really witness my body going through the entire birth process the way that it was made to.** I have never felt more capable of handling anything than I did in the hours following Oliver’s birth (a feeling that really came in handy during the difficult weeks ahead that we ended up spending in the hospital's NICU, but that's a story for another day.)

*In some ways, particularly considering my situation, I am proud of this, but I've also recently learned from an interview with Ina May Gaskin that it's the time spent pushing that helps prevent tearing. I ended up tearing pretty badly and took a long time to heal completely, so I'm just saying that I don't think pushing time itself is necessarily something to be proud of.

**I am completely aware that natural birth is not for everyone, nor should it be, as there are a myriad of health issues that can prevent a woman from giving birth this way. However, I do believe that most women and babies would benefit from at least being given the opportunity and education to attempt a natural birth if they choose. 

1 comment :

  1. I had a natural (unmedicated) birth in the hospital because of my medical history. I remember saying the same thing--"I did it!" :) Thanks for sharing your story!