Thursday, March 21, 2013
Miss Roo's Birth Story
I featured Miss Moo's birth story as we neared her third birthday. As I constantly have birth on the brain these days, I thought perhaps I should take a few moments about a month from Miss Roo turning TWO to recollect her birth.
Roo was born here as opposed to NoVA like her sister. We had a different midwife, a hospital that called it's Maternity floor a "birth center", and a successful birth under our belts. Although we may have been told, earlier in the pregnancy that neither of us can recall, we "relearned" at about 32 weeks that my midwife was going OUT OF THE COUNTRY for two weeks - starting 38 w 5 days and ending 40 w 5 days. She was the only midwife in the practice I was using and all the doctors scheduled to be on call during her trip I had never met before. She assured me that "I would be fine" with any of the on-calls because she would send out an email asking them to honor my birth plan.
We also decided we'd try to get Miss Roo out before she left. I now realize that this decision wasn't in my best interest, but I can't change it now. We started checking my cervix at 37 weeks. We stripped my membranes twice- nothing. I was dilating - a tight 2 at 38 weeks - and effacing but just the occasional back contraction. Nothing promising. When I hit week 38 we started walking, having sex, eating pineapple, eggplant Parmesan, and anything spicy I could get my hands on at every meal. Nothing.
On the Saturday before Easter, I had a few regularly spaced contractions. I was 38 w 4 days- 1 day to spare. While Miss Moo napped, I went to Target and walked the store for two hours. Contractions were coming ever 20 minutes or so and lasting 40 seconds.
I returned home for dinner, though I can't remember what we ate, and labor cake that Drew and I made. We had bath and bedtime with Moo. I still had distantly but regularly spaced contractions. By 10:30 pm they were at 10 minutes apart so I called my midwife to let her know it *might* be happening. She told me to rest and call her if they got closer together. I tried to lay down and rest but I was too restless. I got up and started walking the loop in our downstairs. The contractions kept coming.
We called Drew's parents, who are an hour away, to come stay in the house because we saw a hospital trip in our future. We called my parents to tell them to head out first thing in the morning. And I kept walking. And walking. None of the contractions made me stop but they slowed me down considerably.
Once Drew's parents arrive, the two of us got in the van after calling my midwife and headed to the hospital. I had chosen the hospital furthest from us in order to HAVE a midwife and now that seemed like a bad idea. Especially because my contractions stopped. When I arrived and told my midwife, she said it was perfectly normal and we'd see where I was since my last check 4 days ago. I was dilated to 4 cm and 90 % effaced. Not bad. She suggested that we rupture my membranes so we'd have a baby in a few hours. I agreed and it was done.
Then I started walking. My contractions started picking up and after about 30 minutes I felt her drop into my pelvis and hit my cervix like a rock. As I passed the nurse's station my nurse told me it was time to get in the bed for a check.
Wait, what?!? Get IN the bed? But I'm walking! Things are happening! Nope, hospital policy and nothing that my midwife could prevent. So, in the bed I went. Everyone was monitored for 15 minutes. I had ONE contraction. They let me up and after 50 minutes I was having contractions every 3-4 minutes and they lasted 60-70 seconds. Then I had to get BACK in the bed to be monitored for 15 minutes again.
By this time it was 4 am and I thought we'd have already met our daughter by that point. My midwife told me to keep walking and she'd check on me in two hours. I told Drew to rest because this was taking a lot longer than expected. I was also concerned that he might have to go home to help with Moo as soon as Roo was born. He laid down on the window couch and I kept walking. For 2.5 hours. ALONE.
If you know anything about birth and labor statistics, you know that women who have a doula have quicker labors with less interventions. You also know that a woman left to labor alone usually has a high percentage of stalling out. That's exactly what happened. I got to 7 cm and stalled. Walking didn't help, the tub didn't help, massage didn't help. At 7:30 am I was 7 cm dilated and not contracting.
I couldn't go home because we had ruptured my membranes. I had been up 24 hours at this point. My midwife said the word I never wanted to hear - pitocin. After talking with Drew and being told I'd only have a tiny amount, I consented, and wept. I felt as if I had failed everyone, especially my baby. At 8:30 am, I was strapped to an IV, allowed to sit on a birthing ball, and watched as clear drugs dripped into the tubes going to my arm.
For the first 3 hours, the pitocin did practically nothing. I DID have contractions - but nothing worse than I was having before it was administered. At 10:45 the drip was upped to 5 units. Within a matter of 15 minutes, I was having one contraction on top of another. I'd contract for 2 minutes, come down for 30 seconds, contract for 1.5 minutes, and rest for a minutes. Then it would start all over again. It was like transition with Moo X 3000. There wasn't time to prepare mentally for the next contraction before it was slamming into me.
I laid on my left side in the bed trying to cope as best I could- I only remember telling Drew over and over again that "This really hurts. It REALLY hurts." Suddenly I looked at my midwife and said, "She's right there, my cervix is just in the way!!" She checked me and I was 9.5 cm and her head was trying to come through. I pushed and she pushed back the lip of my cervix. 11:29 am.
That first push took me to a full 10 AND pushed her head half way out. I took a breath to deal with the burn and remember Drew telling me she had my hair. I pushed again. And that was it. Miss Roo was born at 11:31 am - two pushes and two minutes after I hit a full 10. That was the BEST part of my labor.
The next bit is a blur because I was so physically and emotionally exhausted from the pitocin and change in plans for my birth. I remember her as a lot fussier than Moo and I remember the trip from L&D to Postpartum. Drew went home to take my placenta for encapsulation and to see Moo. I may have eaten but I don't really recall. I remember nurses and Roo.
My postpartum was FAR better with Roo than Moo. Nurses checked on me every hour or so. The lactation consultants came in daily to check on us and offer support and a chat. Relatives came to meet Roo, starting with her big sister.
And I was able to room in with her and keep her by my side. She was healthy and happy and we were blessed.
But the experience was still bittersweet - mostly due to the attempted manipulation to get Roo out before she was ready. Our experience with her birth was the beginning of the journey for this pregnancy and has ultimately led us to the decision for a gentle, non-invasive home birth with this baby.
I never want Roo to think that her labor was bad or wasn't worth it- I would do it all over again to get her here to us. I just want us all to learn from it and grow - just as we did from Moo's birth.
We always have choices when we choose where we birth. We just need to be sure that our choices expand beyond the threshold of the door of our choosing.