Friday, February 22, 2013

Mabel's Birth Story

(Unabridged, in case you want to know all the details.)

At 33 weeks I started a prenatal yoga class hoping to have time alone each week to relax, AND prepare for an unmedicated birth. Ahh! An unmedicated birth! Sadistic? No. Crazy? Maybe. But, I had many friends who had done it (not to mention the millions of women who have done it pre-epidural-age), most with very positive (though painful) experiences; and, thinking about how easy my births were with Henry and Theo, I wanted to try.

So, every Wednesday I would go to yoga for 90 minutes. I went with a good friend, Tara, and we had so much fun. At first I felt really silly, especially "vocalizing", but when I recognized how much energy, patience, and clearness of mind it gave me, I became a yoga believer.

Anyway, my yoga instructor was Tami, and she is amazing. She is also a doula so her class was very much geared toward preparing for labor and birth. Tami said that as a yogi she had an epiphany and received this insight: yoga is birth and birth is yoga. She said it almost every session. And, at the end of every class she would thank us for coming and have us thank our baby for "bringing us to this highest journey in life": to carry life and give birth.
She has a beautiful accent which made listening to her all the more enjoyable.

So, on to the birth story:
 At 38 weeks consistent contractions began. They began in the evening, roughly 9 pm. I had contractions, about 5-7 minutes apart, for about an hour. I felt sickish through the night and between 4-5 am contractions started up again and lasted about 90 minutes.

Thinking this was it we called my friend, Ashlee, to come over and be with the boys and we went to the hospital. I was 3 cm dilated and had consistent contractions for about 1 hour . . . and then they stopped. I hadn't progressed at that point so they sent me home. I was disappointed but I can't actually say I was surprised. I felt different than I did with both Henry and Theo, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was.

At that point the waiting game began. The next two weeks continued on with teaser contractions (false labor) almost every night and morning. I started to think that I would never have her--that I would be pregnant forever--or worse, lose her. I know, it was a pretty irrational fear, but because my experience with her was so different than with Henry and Theo, I thought something could be wrong.

(About 38 weeks pregnant. The boys were doing Spiderman moves off the couch during my "photo shoot".)

There were a few times during the day or night that I wouldn't feel her for hours at a time. I would do a kick count (drink a tall glass of water, lay down and count her kicks for an hour) and end up feeling her, but not as much as I had hoped. My doctor did an ultra sound to make sure everything was alright, and she looked great. So, I tried not to worry.

Well, Christmas Eve, her due date, came and went. We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas at home with the boys and no stress. On the 27th we went to the hospital for my scheduled induction. We got the boys all ready to spend the day with Ashlee and then on the way to the hospital I realized I hadn't had much breakfast so we went through the McDonald's drive-thru and picked up a sausage, egg biscuit with cheese and a smoothie. It was so yummy. With all those "good" calories I was ready to give birth.

We arrived around 7:30 and got all checked in. I think my pitocin drip and antibiotic started around 8:30 am. Labor progressed for about 3 hours. Contractions weren't painful, just hard and tight. During this time I paced, watched HGTV (and to my surprise saw my friend and home-ward buddy, Paige, and her husband on the International House Hunters show) the History Channel, crocheted the edge of a baby blanket, and played Qwirkle with Todd. I stood and paced while I played the game and despite being slightly distracted by contractions (haha), I totally schooled Todd. (I just had to point that out because it's one of the very few games that I can beat him in.)

I also found out that the doctor I had seen for 9 months wouldn't be able to deliver Mabel. But, when I met the doctor that would deliver Mabel, Dr. Dillard, it dawned on me that I had met my doctor's mother at McDonald's just two weeks before. I took the boys there to get an ice cream cone and play in the play-place and just struck up a conversation with this lady who noticed I was pregnant--obviously--and asked if I had met her daughter, Dr. Dillard, an OBGYN. I told her I hadn't, but said I'd keep my eyes open for her.

Little did I know then, that her daughter would be delivering my baby. Although both women were perfect strangers to me, knowing that I kind of knew my doctor--or had at least had met her mother, who was very kind--helped me feel more comfortable with the situation.

Anyway, at lunchtime I had progressed to 5 cm dilated and Dr. Dillard decided to break my water. As soon as she did she and the nurse gave a wince and she exclaimed, "Your baby knows how to go to the bathroom!" I thought she was making a crack about how much water it was, but it turns out my water was green and Mabel had had a bowel movement inside.

They assured me that it was likely she would be just fine but they would have the NICU there when I delivered in case she wasn't breathing, or something. Although I was worried about her I knew at that point there was nothing I could do to help her so I just prayed that she would be fine, and kept focused on making it though the delivery.

After my water broke contractions quickly intensified and Todd became my wonderful labor partner! When I said jump he asked, "how high?!", if you know what I mean. I was nervous to try this thing unmedicated, but I think Todd was more nervous. He hates seeing me in pain, and I hate seeing him see me in pain. It's just uncomfortable. And he grimaces watching me and I don't appreciate that. I'm sure it's not pretty, but seeing it mirrored back half restrained is quite distracting when you're trying to manage pain.

Well, for the next hour I labored standing up and pacing. Every contraction became a bit more painful, and I got through them by hanging on to Todd kind of in a dance position, like this. Todd was helpful by giving encouragement and telling me what a good job I was doing. The next hour was the most painful. It was around 2 pm that I had to get into bed, the contractions were just too much.

This was the hour that I didn't want praise or encouragement. I wanted silence. The only thing I could do to get some relief was to hang on to the railing of the bed and Todd. (Next time I'm asking for a birthing bar to hang on.) With each contraction I basically did a pull up using one railing and Todd. After about 5 contractions I said in a whisper-voice, "Boy, it'd be really nice if this bed had two railings."
(Because I didn't want to bring Todd to the floor, and I knew if I put all my weight on him I would!)
Todd said there were! Phew. I was so relieved. Now I could hang with all my dead weight and that would bring relief. I was looking forward to it.

About 20 minutes into these (pull-up) contractions I told Todd I was giving up. I didn't think I could deal with this kind of pain much longer, and my arms were tired! I didn't know if I was hours or minutes away from delivery but the thought of doing this any more was almost unbearable. I told my nurse and she took one look at me that said

I don't think you'll get an epidural; this baby's coming

but she didn't say that. She said, "Sure! I'll let the anesthesiologist know and get your bag of fluids going (because to have an epidural you need a lot of fluids IV). Even though I could honestly see through her words, she gave me the hope of relief, and that was enough to deal with the next few contractions.

About 5 minutes later the pain was so intense I thought I'd try a little push to see if that brought relief . . . and it did! In a whisper yell I told my nurse who was hustling around,
"So much pressure . . . I want to push!"
At that moment the anesthesiologist came in and my nurse told him that we wouldn't need him anymore. I was a little bit panicked but excited, too.

She called my Dr. in and I was at a 10 and ready to go!
My Dr. quickly prepped, looked me in the eyes and said, "This is it. You're going to have to do it on your own."

For a split second I was filled with fear and dread. I had no idea what it would be like or if it could get any more painful. But, I knew one thing. I wanted her out and out quick. So, I pushed with ALL. MY. MIGHT. during the contractions.

--This was my Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde moment--

 My face turned purple (says Todd), my eyes were watering, I was sweating, and with each contraction I pushed until I couldn't push any longer . . . and then to give an EXTRA umph! I had to blow raspberries in the most high-pitched voice. I say I "had" to because this was something I didn't consciously do. If my frontal lobe was in control I would have been too embarrassed to do that, but being embarrassed didn't matter. I wanted her out and I just did what felt right.

With all of this going on, and through my tear-blurred vision, I could see neonatal nurses silently hustling around, my nurse on my left, my Dr. out front coaching me, and Todd on my right.
Everyone spoke quietly with very calm voices.

She was so close!

I couldn't wait. After 5 minutes of pushing she was out.
I cheered for myself, "Wahoo! I did it! Yeah!"And then my body felt like jelly. I was pooped.

Mabel cried, and oh how beautiful a cry it was. The NICU nurses didn't have to stick around or whisk her away. Her apgar was 9. She was perfect. The Dr. put her on my chest, and although my arms were jelly I was able to hold her and love her. The placenta was delivered, I was stitched up (2nd degree tear), and we were now a happy family of

Mabel made it! We were thrilled to finally have her.
And, that's the birth story.
I can't say I was super brave--I did give up at one point--but I pushed through and did it. I accomplished my goal of an unmedicated birth. If you asked me right after, or two weeks after I would have said "never again". But, now, 2 months out, I definitely would. Knowing the pain was short-lived, though extreme, I could do it again.

It was fun!
Sort of.

Thanks to everyone who took care of me, brought us meals, and especially our parents who gave many gifts and helped take care of our kiddos and me while I healed.
I love you ALL!


Emily Savage said...

Way to go, Rachel!!! What a super woman! You inspire me. And Mabel is so worth the pain, huh?

We loved having your boys over this morning :) We like everyone in your family of FIVE!

Ashlee said...

The birth story! Yay! I think my favorite part was the high pitched raspberries :)

She is so beautiful Rach! Thanks for posting! I absolutely love to read birth stories!!!

Brittney Richards said...

I must say that natural is the way to go. I don't think you are crazy in the slightest for wanting an unmedicated birth. Both of my children were born (albeit quickly) without any pain medication, which is the only way I would go. Getting an epidural scares me more than not having one. Now that you've done it, you can do again with no problem!! Good job Rachel, and of course she is beautiful - just like you.

Meg Morley Walter said...

You are so brave and I am so proud of you

sarah e. said...

Well done! I bet you are glad you recorded your experience. I was happy going without meds with Kate, but I am also very pleased with how Maggie and Em's births went. I liked your description of Todd's reactions. Mike HATES seeing me in pain too and that is the hardest part for me.

Alysa said...

Yay for Mabel! I'm so glad she's here. We just love you guys. <3

Rachel said...

I love all the photos! I only hope that I look as good pregnant as you do. I'm glad everything ended up ok - sounds rather traumatic!

Grant and Jenny said...

That's awesome. I'd love to chat with you some time about preppy for a no-medication birth! You're so brave, especially being induced and not having an epidural! :)

Katie Parent said...

Awesome story!! Way to go!

Cassie Lynn said...

This was really exciting to read. Probably especially because I'll be writing a story like this one of these days! Thanks for sharing!

You're also super cute pregnant-hope I'm like you :)

Allen and Cameo and Little Leo said...

Rachel, You are incredible! What a beautiful and encouraging story!