Monday, July 2, 2012

Elijah's Birth

Tracy, Josh, and Elijah Roberts:  Birth Story
We found out that we were going to have a baby in mid October after trying to conceive for 4 months.  We were as prepared as we could be with all our research done and having decided that an out of hospital birth was the safest option for our baby.   We wanted a natural birth and we knew that this would be a sensitive time in our lives and we did not want to be pressured by a hospital with their own standard of procedure.  I also felt that if I was gonna do this without drugs, I needed drugs to not even be available.   When the time came though, I never wanted them.  Maybe I had prepared myself well enough and I had heard the horror stories about how most women ask for them at some point, but that was simply not the case for me.  I never even thought about it once in 18 hours of labor.  I say this only because as women we have all heard how awful this experience is, how some people even commented that they thought they were gonna die.  Awful is just a word I would never use for this empowering experience, but let me go back further….
I was so exhilarated to finally be going down a road I had seen so many go, after 14 years as a preschool teacher and director, it was finally my turn to be the mom.  Pregnancy was tiring and so full of ups and downs.  I did not want to have any interventions if possible, but at 12 weeks, Lorri found a fibroid, I had thought it was our babies head.  This meant ultrasounds to watch the growth and position 3 times during the pregnancy.  I was also diagnosed with Myontonia Cogenita, a muscle disease that made me even more tired and difficult to walk, this led to some invasive genetic testing including tiny electric shocks and sticking needles in my muscles…  Yikes, that was a hard day.  Then at 30 weeks gestation, the baby turned breech.   I spent the night I found out, crying while lying upside down at a 45 degree angle on our ironing board pretty sure at any moment all that extra weight I was carrying would end up crushing my head.  The baby did eventually turn back with the help of many exercises and some great midwifery massage.
In the end, all of these complications had been evaluated and followed by every specialist we could think of and all of them said they were not affecting the baby and I was cleared for an out of hospital birth.  Ironically with all these “issues”, the most concern my midwife had was to make sure one of my fibroids (yes, I had several) was not blocking the cervix.  Not sure if it was her experience or just plain instinct, but I had no idea how right she would be.
So then the final few weeks approached and I was doing all the natural things that can help with getting labor started, homeopathy, Chinese herbs, raspberry, drinking lemonade, eating pineapple, eating spicy food, walking, having sex, acupuncture, and then…. It happened or at least we thought it did.  I had some severe pains that lasted many hours.  We tried to walk, eat, sleep, drink, and shower ( all the things Bradley tells you to do to test if you are in real labor) and they kept coming.  Even our midwife thought this was it over the phone.  We called the family and then, just as the mother in law boarded her plane to come home from vacation, they stopped.  We were so disappointed.
The waiting game then commenced.  And when the “due date” ( I think they should be called guess dates) came and went, the midwives prescribed more of the same and they even stripped my membranes TWICE, but nothing worked.  You have until 2 weeks after your due date to give birth with the midwives and then your care is transferred to an OB, so 2 days before this time limit was up, y midwives suggested Castor Oil.  I can barely type those words without gagging.  We attempted to mask the flavor with two very big root beer floats and lets just say I will not be drinking root beer floats ever again.  And, it did not work either… no labor, just vomiting.  Ugh…..Horrid.
Lorri suggested after determining that my cervix was "ripe", that we rupture the membranes.  I was two weeks “overdue” at this point and while they always left the decision to me, I was unsure.   I was really worried this would not work to start labor as nothing else had, but my midwife was very sure and I trusted her.   We went into the birthing center that morning and I was so nervous, but as soon as I saw Lorri, I calmed down.  I remembered that she was the reason I had so much faith in this birth and my body. They broke the bag of waters and all was clear. That was a long day, they sent us home to pump and wait. It was a tough day.  Around 3pm, I was in tears thinking I had rushed the baby and that it was not going to work.  My husband was so great though, he jumped right in and took my mind off everything assuring me we would be OK.  I spoke with Lorri and Angela a few times that day and at one point they found out that my inlaws were at our house with us.  They told me they needed to leave.  I was nervous to ask them to leave and wasn’t sure I wanted them to go, but my husband again reminded me that we needed to trust our midwives and follow their instruction so he asked his parents to go spend the night close by.
At 8pm that night (just as the in laws were walking out the door…smart midwife) contractions started, but I had had these mild ones for weeks so I did not get my hopes up.  By 10pm, they got much stronger and about 12-20 minutes apart. At midnight, I woke up Josh cause I could not handle them alone anymore. The entire night they got stronger and closer together and progressed exactly like a text book case. I tried to sleep in the beginning between them.  That worked for a little while.  We went on a walk, took lots of showers, and called Laura Jane (our doula) around 5:30 am to come help us at home.  I remember the first thing I said to her was, "this is really hard" (as if she didn't know that).  With every contraction, the best way that I could allow them to do their job was to stand and put all my weight on Josh.  I tried very hard to focus on not tensing up with the pain and to allow Josh to hold me up.
Around 7:30am, I wanted to go to the birthing center because I felt like I was ready, we called the midwife and she agreed to meet us at 9:15am. That felt like an eternity to me then. The car ride over there was horrid  cause I could not stand or deal with them the way I wanted (I think a home birth next time).  We got there and the midwife checked me, I was 7cm plus she said. I remember being satisfied with that ironically.
I got in their birthing tub and in about 2 hours, at 10:55am (not that I had any idea of the time then), I was fully dilated and my body just started pushing. Wow! Pushing! That is the most primitive feeling in the world. Nothing has ever overtaken my body like that .  Josh was so supportive.  He was talking me through every one, but I told him to just be quiet at one point.  I felt like the talking was distracting me from the all important job of pushing.  I just had to focus.
At some point, I just felt I needed to stand up and push so I got out of the tub, squatted and pushed.  I felt like I was making the most progress here and when the Lorri finally started saying, "yes, yes".   This is when they started noticing the babies heart beat dropping.  They said I could not stand, they put me in a few different positions on the bed and the heart rate was fine, but I felt like I could not get any leverage to push him out. I was getting hot and tired and they put me on oxygen.  I asked to stand again after a while and they said OK, but his heart rate dropped again.  I could see and feel him moving down when I stood, I felt like I could get him out so I was very disappointed to be put back in the other positions even though it was necessary.   I was squeezing Laura Jane and Josh’s hand with every push and I had Cheryl, the midwife assistant(the human epidural they call her) and Lorri coaching me through every one.
Apparently there started to be quite a bit of meconium coming out around this time too. The baby was trying to come out sideways also which is the way he sat inside me the last 2 months or so. The midwife tried to reach in and turn him a few times, but it didn't work and we didn't know why at the time.  I remember seeing one of the other birth assistants face at the time and thinking she looked terrified (not sure how many times she had seen a birth), but I remember feeling very calm inside, not a bit worried, just tired and wanting the baby out.
After 2 hours of pushing with heart rates dropping and meconium coming out with a baby that appeared to be stuck, Lorri said, lets go to the hospital. I was so ready thinking they would "take him out".
They put me in the car and told me not to push, that was the hardest thing I think I had done so far to try to stop something that was so instinctual.  Its akin to telling someone with the violent flu not to vomit anymore.
When we got to the hospital, there was like 12 doctors, nurses, and midwives waiting for us. They hooked me to IV's and I thought, here comes the medicated birth I didn't want, but was just so wanting him to be out. They just gave me saline though and told me I had to push him out, no epidural or c-section was possible because he was crowning. Thank Goodness!
I remember thinking at that moment that I was going to kill him. I had very sad visions flash in my head. The OB said to me that she was going to help me 1% with the vacuum, but that he had to come out now and I had to push him out. I was crying and so not sure I could do it, but I pushed as hard as I could and with the vacuum and an episiotomy,  and only 45 minutes in the hospital, our little BOY came out at 2:10pm on Friday, July 17th.
Even though he was whisked right away to the pediatricians in the room, he cried immediately and got an apgar score of 8.5. Josh held him skin to skin pretty quickly after that and he came to me pretty soon too and nursed.
It took an hour and a half for the placenta to ease its way out cause it was stuck on my fibroids which we later found out the baby was too.

So there you go, and unmedicated birth with some interventions that I of course did not want, but seemed necessary at the time and I am glad the hospital was there for us when it needed to be. I am glad I did all my laboring at home and the birth center.  I, of course, am sad I scared my family, but I never felt unsafe or like we were not in the best hands. I knew if anything like this happened, Lorri, our midwife, was so experienced and able to handle it and I have even more respect and admiration for her now than I did before. I think I even said immediately after Elijah was born, "Lorri, I love you!" Poor Josh :(.

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