Friday, May 4, 2012

Avery's birth story

Ever since I caught a stomach bug that had been going around, around 39 weeks, I'd been having light contractions on and off, but nothing that developed into any sort of pattern. Wednesday morning, a day past my due date, Sammy and I went to preschool at the library, as usual. I started having the same light, almost painless contractions. I ignored them, thinking they would stop soon. They kept coming consistently through lunch with my Mom and then our usual visit to my grandmother. I started timing while I was there. 7-8 minutes apart but very short. I ignored them another couple of hours as we all got home. My mom came over to take me to my prenatal yoga class. They were still about 8 minutes apart but spaced out a bit when I got up and moved around. Yoga class was nice; I took it pretty easy. I had several more during class and some good strong ones in the car on the way home. Rebecca was waiting for me when I got home with a glass of wine (doula's orders) and Sam was sleeping upstairs.

After the glass of wine, some magnesium, and a shower, I laid down to get some rest. But laying down made them stronger and closer together, so I got up and fiddled around/tried to rest. By about 2am they were getting strong enough that I woke Rebecca up to help me through them. They were less than a minute long, but about 2-3 minutes apart. Shortly we decided to call the doula and start setting up the tub.

Heather, our doula, showed up around 3:30. I got in the tub for a while, which felt amazing. It didn't slow down the pattern of contractions. The midwife came and checked me around 4:30. Then we took a walk around the neighborhood. Checked again, was declared to be in labor but very early. I was a bit discouraged due to the lack of bloody show and the difficulty the midwife had reaching my cervix. The midwife left. Soon Sammy woke up for the day. We had breakfast, and then I got back in the tub and she helped pour water over my belly. My mom came over and helped Sammy get packed up and then took her to their house for the duration.

For the rest of the morning, under Heather's and Rebecca's ministrations, I got in and out of the tub, walked in the yard, listened to birth affirmations, tried to rest and eat, and tried various other positions and locations around the house. I also had a few emotional moments. The contractions spaced out a bit to more like 5 minutes apart sometimes. I dealt with them by saying "Hooooooh" a lot, louder and louder as the intensity stepped up. Heather suspected the baby's head was cocked a little bit, interfering with dilation. About 2pm, Heather put me in the open-knee-chest position to let her float up a bit and hopefully reposition. I stayed that way for about 45 minutes, and then Heather and Rebecca took turns "sifting" my belly with a towel. The contractions then got very intense. They started coming one right after another with no or very little break. I was kind of singing my "hoooooh" sound, very loudly, with lots of vibrato :) I was checked and made them tell me a number, which was 5. I had a little bit of a breakdown then, thinking I was still many hours away from relief. Heather and Ashley, the midwife, wanted me to put my foot up in a lunge position but I couldn't deal with it during contractions. All I wanted was to get in the tub, so Rebecca was reheated it again. I got in and was able to lift my leg out a bit for a few contractions. The tub helped a lot but it was still very, very intense. I was just hanging on for dear life. I knew it had to be transition but I also believed it couldn't be, that soon after being at 5 centimeters (which was actually generously rounded up, I later learned).

After a little while in the tub, about an hour after the belly sifting, something changed. I got "pushy", as they say. For some reason I started needing to grunt and bear down during the contractions. It was scary because I was sure this was too early to be pushing. After a few of those contractions, Heather asked me "Do you feel like you need to bear down?" My reaction was a dismayed, "I thought I was!" For some reason in my head I had translated that to "You are not bearing down right now, would you like to?" so I thought I was doing it wrong! But she assured me that yes, I was bearing down.

After she said that, I reached down and felt inside. I could feel the bag of waters there. I told them I could feel her coming down. The midwife came and checked me in the tub and said we were good to go. All of a sudden there was activity all around. Phone calls were being made, like telling the nursing assistant, previously told to take her time, to stop taking her time and step on it! The contractions spaced out a bit and I was so, so happy for the break. The midwife said we could stay in the tub and I couldn't decide what to do, but ultimately Rebecca reminded me that the plan was to go upstairs, and I'm glad I did. Everyone was busy hauling gear and everything upstairs. I got on the bed on my hands and knees, and pushed like that through a few contractions. Sometimes pushing felt good and sometimes it was terrifying and I cried and fought it instead. But I could feel myself making progress. Holding some pressure to keep her in place between the contractions was hard! I was so tired. I had a hard time holding myself up and decided I wanted to flip over. I got on my back sitting up a bit and started pushing that way. During one of the pushes I felt a pop and gush as the membranes burst. The midwife was checking heart tones between contractions as she came down. I think hearing that her heart rate was down a bit (even though it was still fine) gave me some extra motivation because I think in the next 1 or 2 contractions, I pushed through that burning ring of fire. People were saying stuff to me, instructions, that I had a hard time really understanding but I got her head out and then I heard them say "No more pushing, no more pushing." I got that! It was an incredible feeling. The midwife felt for a cord around her neck, then asked me when I was ready. I wasn't sure so I just said I was! I pushed some while she wiggled the baby right out. Delivering the rest of her hurt more than I thought it would, but it took almost no time and she slipped out and then she was on my chest and it was *amazing*.