Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Birth Story

WARNING: if words like "cervix" bother you, you should skip this post and go straight to the pictures in the next post. No cervixes there.

Some of you might not really care about this stuff. That's fine, but I want to document it. Curie will care some day. And my mom cares.

This is going to be a long post. Seriously, you can skip it. I'm not offended.


I was having contractions for a couple months before my due date, but not enough to worry about. At 36 weeks, I realized that I really wanted to have this baby in August so that I could choose her school year. I was due Aug. 26th, so that wasn't unreasonable, but as my date got closer, I was not a good candidate for induction because I (my cervix) wasn't progressing. This was no surprise to me, because in the last two births, my water broke before I dilated at all. So Nick had me walking miles, eating spicy food and pineapple, and swinging on our swingset. After a couple of 3-4 mile walks with the family, the kids lost interest, so we resorted to walking up and down the driveway after they were asleep. These walks were 2-4 miles long. 12 lengths of the driveway per mile. It would have been very boring if Nick hadn't walked most of those lengths with me. Counting laps with chocolate chips didn't hurt either.

The evening of the 27th I went to a movie night at a friend's house and while there was having a lot of contractions, but didn't say or do anything because I really wanted to finish the movie. Silly, I know. When I got home they had slowed. The next night, we walked four miles in the driveway. I was totally spent, and told Nick that I'd rather not go into labor until 10 the next morning. I was pretty close. I'd say it started at 8:30 am. I've always had long labors, so I just finished up packing and getting ready while Nick packed the kids and did the dishes. We finally took the kids to my parents' at noon. Then we stopped for lunch on the way in and checked in to the hospital before 2pm. My contractions were starting to get pretty hard and had been 2-3 minutes apart all day.

From the moment that I stepped onto the hospital's vinyl floors, my contractions all but stopped. It was so frustrating. "No really, I've been in labor all day. I promise. Don't make me go home!" The first nurse couldn't even find my cervix. Not a good sign. She told me I could go walk around for half an hour before she discharged me. She had another nurse come check me first (I do have a cervix, after all), and she said, "Oh, yeah. You're a sssss......"

Ssssss..... ? That means six or seven! Hope was restored!

"Six." The verdict. Does this mean I'm staying? "Yes." Relief. And I was going to have a baby in August!

She still sent me on that 30 minute walk to get the contractions going again, and it worked. My water broke as soon as I got back to the room. With the lack of this cushion came the pain, so we started my epidural process (you have to get a full bag of IV fluid in you before the epidural). The pain was manageable, but increasing. I got my epidural around 3:30 pm.

As the time went by, I dilated to a 9 (10 is the goal), but the baby was still very high and not "engaged" in my pelvis. The midwife was there by then and had me push a few times to encourage her down, but it didn't work. They kept saying I was "stuck at 9" and we were just waiting. My nurse said that I might begin to feel pressure in my pelvis when she dropped. And finally, I did, so I told the nurse.


After a little bit longer, the pressure turned into pain, and then a lot of pain. The nurse explained that the pain had just increased over the blocking power of the epidural and gave me a button to push to increase my dose every 10 minutes. This didn't help in the slightest. It was getting worse. I started crying with each contraction and they no longer had breaks between them. One contraction would just start coming down on the monitor when another would hit. They were about four seconds apart. I just needed a break for a little bit! Just a break! I could hear another woman screaming with her contractions, but I was crying.

Nick, who had been a trooper through Rigby's pain-free birth, but had had a seizure when I was in pain with Bethelle, had to go lay down on a cot with his feet up while I cried. I was trying to hide the pain from him, but couldn't. And as the pain increased, my whole body began to shake violently and uncontrollably and my jaw clenched painfully. They said that it was just due to the dumping of hormones into my body. Nick really didn't like the shaking.

The midwife called the anesthesiologist who took a good 15 minutes (of constant contractions) to come. She gave me an additional super-size dose of the epidural and some time to let it kick in. Then she checked my abdomen, asking me where I could feel moisture as she swabbed. Pretty much everywhere. She turned me over to see that the epidural catheter had slipped out 5 centimeters! All of the medication that they had been pumping into me had been dumping somewhere unintended and ineffective. I now think that this is what caused all my shaking, but I haven't confirmed that yet.

Being a nine (dilation), I wasn't sure if I could have it put back in and was a little panicked in my mind. The anesthesiologist asked my midwife if she could redo it. Yes. Even though she's a nine? Yes, no problem. Phew. In all, I had been without it for about an hour and a half.

I realize of course that many women choose this option. Also, most women throughout the centuries have not had the option of an epidural. My respect for these women's ability to stick it out has greatly increased, as has my resolve never to attempt such craziness! I love living in this age!

When the epidural got back in and securely taped, Nick was able to join me again. Poor guy. The delivery is as hard or easy on him as it is on me. He's pretty lucky that he chose a wife who likes her epidurals.

With the pain relief, the contractions slowed to a normal, one or two minute apart rate. The baby descended and we were ready to push. I haven't mentioned yet that my amniotic fluid was tinged with meconium, causing a little concern. A nursery nurse and a nurse practitioner were called in for the birth to hopefully clear the mouth and throat before her first breath. I pushed for 45 minutes. Two steps forward, one step back. My midwife said that Curie didn't know which way to go. She kept twisting around and cocking her head to one side and another, slowing down the process. The throat clearing was a success, so we have no worries about lung infections, etc. that come with inhaling meconium.

As she came out, the nurses oohed and aahed over how big she was. They couldn't believe that this chubby girl came out of such a little mommy. Everyone in the room had a guess, and all were in the nine pound range, which turned out to be right. She was 9 pounds, 3 ounces. I didn't get to see her right away because of the meconium clearing, but Nick pronounced that she looked just like our other babies, but chubby. He was perfectly right. She was born around 9 pm after a 12-hour labor.

I only needed two stitches; same as the other babies, but surprisingly so. The other two were 6-14 and 7-7, so I would have thought that 9-3 would have really messed me up. We left the hospital 21 hours after the birth. It's nice to have the meals brought to your bed and to be taken care of by nurses, but honestly, they bug you way too much. You cannot get any sleep there. We were ready to get home.

I think this has been a long enough post. I could detail more, but I'll wait. Love you, Curie! You were worth it.


Elise said...

Thanks for sharing this story! I always like the birth stories. How frustrating to have your epidural not work the first time! It's one thing to plan on going without an epidural, but to think you have one and yet not be getting the benefits must be completely unnerving! What an adorable baby.

Our Ohana said...

Wonderful job documenting your birth stoy!!! I can't believe they weren't on top of your epidural like that, letting all that stuff get pumped into your body and not even in the right place! I think I would have punched someone. Please tell me you did :)
The pictures are soooo beautiful! I love her in that little peach dress! She definately has that Rushton look! Just precious!

Ashley and Nate said...

I love birth stories. Yours reminds me a little of mine because my epidural also didnt work the first time. But then it didnt work the second time either. When I was 9-10 cm I started shaking uncontrollably too and they said it was a normal sign that the baby was about ready to come. It was definitely scary though. I'm glad things eventually went smoothly for you.