(continued from Nov. 19th)

We arrived at the hospital around 1am and we went in through the ER entrance and were escorted to OB.  I spent a little while in triage while a nurse admitted us and caught up on computer admission charting.  I went through several contractions laying on a gurney in the triage room which was incredibly uncomfortable.  Dr. C greeted us in triage and let us know she was staying the night to be available to us!  The nurse checked my cervix to confirm that I was 6cm dilated and monitored the baby for about 20 minutes.

We then moved to a labor room and I paced back and forth in the room through contractions while Josh and Amy took turns applying pressure to by lower back.  I used the birthing ball some and, again, preferred to have pressure on my back.  Around 3am we went to the “spa” room with the large tub and I spent 30-45 minutes in the tub while Josh and Amy took turns talking me through contractions.  Josh encouraged me during contractions by counting down slowly from 10 to 1 which was surprisingly helpful in reminding me that each contraction would eventually come to an end.  At this point in the night both Josh and Amy were getting very tired but hung in there!  Eventually I became unbearably uncomfortable in the tub and went back to the room to have the nurse check my cervix.  I was discouraged to find that I was only 7cm dilated and asked to have Dr. C come break my water with the hope that it would speed things along.  She broke my water around 4-5am, we monitored the baby for about 20 minutes and from then on I labored in my room by pacing, swaying, slow dancing with Josh and rolling on the birthing ball.  By 7am I felt as if I couldn’t go on.  Each contraction felt like it was stronger than the one before and I was losing my ability to cope with the pain.  Occasionally I would get an easier contraction which would give me a break and I would tell Amy and Josh over and over during those contractions “this is a medium one, this is a medium one”.  The rhythm of it really helped me to feel some sense of control.  But eventually the intensity at the peak of the contractions was so strong that I wasn’t able to “get ahead of” the contraction or “stay on top of it” as Amy was encouraging me.  I felt hopeless because, as a labor nurse, I knew I was far enough along to not get IV pain medication and yet I could not imagine staying still enough to get an epidural (and ultimately I knew I didn’t want either of those options, anyway).

It was at this point that I realized the only way out of the pain was to go through all of it and I was becoming overwhelmed by thinking about how much worse it could get.  Amy was a continual support by offering suggestions and encouragement and countering my negative thoughts and comments.  I know what a tedious and frustrating job it can sometimes be to convince a laboring woman that she can overcome.   Even more so to do it every two minutes for hours throughout a long night.  Amy was a lifesaver. I was encouraged to remember that I had seen her go through this successfully twice before!  Still, around 730am I was losing control.  During contractions I would occasionally scream and plead to anyone who would listen that “I’m going to die, I’m going to die!”  It’s comedic now to think about what my nurses must have thought of me.  It was somewhat helpful to sway back and forth and I started to pull at my hair to distract myself from the pain. (This was remarkably helpful!)  I asked to be checked again and I was 9cm dilated.  I desperately wanted to push because I knew that was the only way to end the pain.  They encouraged me to wait a little longer and I began squatting at the side of the bed hoping that position would speed things along.  The nurses occasionally would Doppler the baby’s heart rate but generally were very hands-off in their care as I had requested.

Form here on out, Dr. C remained in the room with us.  Around 8am I began pushing while squatting at the side of the bed.  I didn’t necessarily feel the need to push but knew that if I didn’t deliver soon, I would give up and pushing relieved much of the intensity of the contractions.  I pushed through a few contractions at the side of the bed and then decided to get on the bed so that Dr. C could check me.  I pushed another 4-5 times while Josh and Amy were coaching and encouraging me.  At 8:23 I delivered a healthy baby boy.

Seeing him for the first time was almost an out-of-body experience.  I feel as if I had expected that I would recognize him immediately.  As if we had known one another all along.  I’d spent nearly 10 months learning his movements, his sleep cycles, planning is nursery, collecting his clothing and yet it took me a few moments to integrate the physical him into my “thoughts” of him.  He was huge, weighing in at 8lbs, 10oz.  His size also threw me off as I had measured small throughout my pregnancy, gained a mere 23 lbs and we lived at altitude. But he was beautiful and perfect with dark hair, blue eyes and chubby cheeks.

(And each day I love him more, in unexpected ways and amounts.)

We named him August Heath.  August means “exalted or revered” and is in some ways an homage to Francis Schaeffer and St. Augustine).  Heath is a family name on Josh’s side (Josh’s mom’s maiden name, Josh’s middle name and our nephew’s middle name).

I’m proud that I delivered August without medication or medical intervention.  I could not have done it without the support and encouragement of my husband and sister. I am a strong proponent on having a doula or labor support in addition to your husband if you intend to have a natural delivery.  I also feel that I needed privacy and hands-off medical care in order to succeed.  I enjoyed that fact that August was so alert and awake after his delivery and that I was able to breastfeed immediately.

Josh:  The most memorable point of the whole labor was when August started to crown.  Up until that point he seemed more like a figment of my imagination than a real person.  I had dreamed of having a son, but in some ways hadn’t expected it to really happen.  But now, I COULD see him!  He’s coming!  He’s real!  The adrenaline was pumping.  And then all of a sudden, Amber delivered this slimy, gelatinous fleshy being.  It looked like part human, part gooey marshmallow!  And then he stretched out and cried.  Dr. C was already clamping the umbilical cord and I fumbled to get the scissors and took a couple attempts to completely cut the cord.  At that point, a flush of emotions started to roll in.  I was extremely proud of Amber and was filled with pride, relief, and excitement.  We had made it!  Together.

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The Birth Story Part I

November 19, 2010

Around 2am on the 19th of November 2009, I woke up feeling a tightening in my lower back that came and went every so often. At 40 weeks and 5 days gestation, many prayers had been offered to the fairies, hormones and cortisol of labor-commencement.  I had eaten fresh pineapple (to ripen my cervix), used the elliptical at the gym daily, took the stairs whenever possible, baked my baby a birthday cake, worked 12 hour shifts right up until my due date with the hope of coaxing my body into labor.  In the end I had faith in my body and baby’s ability to know when it was time.

So that morning, November 19th, I stayed in bed and dosed on and off, but was uncomfortable enough that I couldn’t sleep very well because my heart was full of hope that this was IT.  We got up at our usual time and I told Josh that something was “going on” but that he could go to work and I would call if contractions became regular.  My parents, sister and youngest niece were all in town(patiently).  I didn’t tell any of them that I was feeling anything because once I got up and got a shower, most of the tightening went away.  I had a doctor’s appointment that morning and my sister went with me.  Dr. C checked my cervix and I was still only 1 centimeter dilated (same as the week before).  She also did a Non-stress test and very few, if any contractions were registering.  I left the doctor’s office feeling disappointed and worried that I would go too far past my due date, my family would go home, and that I would be pressured to have an induction.

After the appointment, Amy and I met Mom, Dad, and Aliyah for lunch.  During lunch I started to have some of the same tightening in my lower back.  I asked my family to give me some time alone so that I could go home and rest.  They thoughtfully gave me my space and I went home alone.  I went up stairs and laid in the bed listening to music.  During this time, the tightening in my lower back started to spread to my belly.  The tightening also became regular about every 10 minutes.  By 4pm the contractions were so strong that I couldn’t lay in bed through them.  During each contraction I would stand at the side of the bed or lean over to take the weight of the baby off of my back.  I was glad when Josh arrived home around 5pm because I was really uncomfortable and I knew that “this was it.”  Around that same time,  my family returned home and we informed them that I was having regular contractions.

Josh and I put on our coats and went for a walk around the neighborhood hoping that the contractions would get closer together.  When we came back from our walk, we both ate a light dinner and Josh answered some emails from work while I sat on the birthing ball.  During this time the contractions got a little stronger but stayed about 10 minutes apart.  Amy suggested that we go to the gym to walk on the treadmill.  So, we packed up and the 3 of us went to the gym.  I walked on the treadmill while Amy timed my contractions and Josh lifted weights.  We stayed about 30 minutes and during that time my contractions got a little closer together – maybe every 6 minutes or so.  I was still able to both talk and walk through the contractions but they were definitely getting more powerful.  After we went to the gym, we came home and I rolled around on the birthing ball while my contractions became more intense.  By 11pm, I was curious as to whether my cervix was dilating, so we called my co-worker Jessa and asked her to come and check me (please remember, I am a labor and delivery nurse!).

At 11:30pm, Jessa checked my cervix and I was 3-4cm.   She suggested that I get in the tub for a while and she would re-check me in 1 hr to better gauge when I should head to the hospital  I got in the tub while Amy and Josh took turns encouraging me.  The contractions were still the strongest in my lower back and belly.  And, it was very difficult to stay still during contractions and I was surprised that I didn’t find the water very relaxing.  I needed to sway or move in some way to distract myself and found that difficult to do in the tub.  At 12:30am, Jessa checked me again and I was 5-6cm!  So, we packed up our things, put a towel down in the back of the car, and Amy drove Josh and I to the hospital.  On the way, we called Dr. C to let her know that I was 5-6cm dilated and I was on my way to the hospital.  The 10 minute drive to the hospital was very difficult.  I had the birthing ball in the back seat and was able to lean over on it during contractions but the cramped quarters made movement difficult…

(Stay turned tomorrow for part II, August’s birthday!)

(Amber, overdue)

(Amber, Josh and Aliyah making baby’s birthday cake)

November 14, 2010

because all promising weekends include a baby cowboy…

November 8, 2010

The beginnings of Ugly Monster: