Monday, September 9

My First Birthing Experience

Because we had a scheduled induction, the night before was exceedingly long. The best way I can think to describe it is like the most intense Christmas Eve ever. After going to bed much later than planned (because, ya know, you're supposed to get some sleep and all...), Dalin and I lay in bed trying not to talk to each other so we could fall asleep. But it was SO hard. All you can think about is "I'm having a baby tomorrow! I'm having a baby TOMORROW!" I could hear Dalin awake almost the whole night so I know he was going through the same thing. We woke up quite early...I felt like I'd only just closed my eyes when our alarm went off at 5am. We hurried to get ready, never so happy to go to the hospital. I felt a little nervous and even sad because I really had not wanted to have to be induced, but mostly I felt excited and ready to finally meet my daughter! Dalin cut up some strawberries and sprinkled them with sugar for my breakfast, then we also stopped at Einstein Bros Bagels for a sesame bagel and an OJ for me. You're supposed to eat before you get to the hospital because most hospitals don't want you to eat once you're there (which stinks. You can have water and ice chips and, if you beg, jello. I didn't even throw up so it was a rip off, especially because I was SO tired by the time I was pushing! The first meal after was a blur, I was so ravenous). 

When we arrived at Orem Community Hospital, (which is only 15 minutes away from us) we took a few "last moments pregnant" photos.

Got my "Just Do It" t-shirt on...looking chubby. Being pregnant in August heat is no joke, people.

The last pic of us as a family of two! 

As mentioned in my last post (well, last real one) written a month ago, thanks to whoever I spoke with on the phone when "scheduling" our induction, I was anxious about getting an unfriendly nurse who would ruin my experience. But in the Women's Center, the lady at reception was extremely kind and after being brought to our room, we were introduced to two nurses who were equally pleasant--Denise and Ashlee. I really liked them both. I was hooked up to an IV, which was one of my least favorite parts of the entire thing. The stupid tape was pulling on the little hairs on my arm and that bothered me more than anything else for the first couple of hours! (Side note: With my second, whenever a nurse asked what my pain rating was, I kept answering, "Like a one or a zero...the I/V is pretty annoying." Haha). 

Right away, I was started on the oxytocin drip and after a few hours the contractions started to build. During those hours, Dalin and I watched TV, listened to my Hypnobabies Relaxation CD, talked excitedly, and tried to rest. It was impossible though because all I wanted was to hurry up and hold our baby girl already! My mom had gone to a few stores because not much was happening and I didn't want her to be bored so I encouraged her to go. I assured her I'd call her if anything happened. The contractions weren't so bad at first. They felt like strong period cramps, but there was also the grinding pressure of the baby's head on my pelvis. That started to feel worse and worse. Especially after my water broke, which it thankfully did on its own. I had been a little worried about how that would feel but it just felt like a tiny pop. My doctor had said it would feel like a water balloon popping but it didn't even feel that dramatic. More like a tiny bubblegum bubble popping. I wasn't even sure whether that was what happened right away because I was lying down and no water gushed out at first, but after calling the nurse in to check me, I moved and felt a lot of warm liquid coming out. I couldn't tell where it was coming from but I knew I couldn't control it. My nurse Ashlee confirmed that my water had broken by doing a simple pH test (at least, she did the same thing as you would for a pH test with a little strip of paper to sample the fluid). After that, we watched the contraction monitor and Dalin and Ashlee both tried applying counter pressure (by pushing against my feet) when I could feel one coming to help me get through them. I was checked a few times and was informed that I was at a steady 6+cm. It was around that time that I began to think, I am going to need that epidural. I called my mom to let her know and she hurried back to the hospital so she could be there with me.

The epidural guy was my hero. He did a terrific job and even though I was nervous, he talked me through everything he did. He basically said, "Ok, it's going to feel like a bee sting then you're going to feel warmth spreading through your back." I had never been stung by a bee before so I wasn't sure what to expect, but compared with the contractions and pressure on my pelvis, the epidural shot was nothing. And it felt exactly like he said so there were no surprises. Plus I had Dalin holding me still and my mom rubbing my head and I knew relief was coming so I felt grateful knowing that. It's probably a good thing I did not see the needle though...apparently it's pretty long. Anyhow, they rolled me on my right side, then after ten or fifteen minutes, they flipped me over to my left side. I didn't know this until then, but apparently the epidural only goes to the lowest point in your body so they had to make sure it got spread around by changing my position often. I was relieved pretty quickly. And I was happy that I could still feel from about my knees down and my chest up. I had been concerned I'd feel completely paralyzed! One thing I had not known about the epidural is that it does not remove the pressure. It kind of takes the edge off, but I was feeling a lot of pressure from the baby's head and it continued to build as I dilated further. Those lucky ladies who don't have to feel that! 

Another thing that I experienced (that I had never heard about) before and after the epidural was intense shaking. My family kept asking me if I was cold but I felt perfect--I just couldn't stop shaking. My arms, hands, and chattering teeth were kind of out of control for a little while. It was really annoying as I tried to speak and my jaw just kept shivering. It was weird but the nurses said it was a normal (though annoying) side effect that lots of pregnant ladies experience.

I was pretty satisfied with the epidural. Also, looking pretty swollen from the summer heat here. Sheesh.

My sister-in-law Shaina showed up around one and my cousin Whitney arrived a short time later. Though I had initially thought I would not want anyone with me during my labor, in the heat of the moment, I didn't give a darn who was there. I just wanted the baby out and nothing else mattered to me. Looking back, I am so very thankful they were both there. Shaina took turns with the nurses holding one of my legs while I pushed and continuously gave me words of encouragement to motivate me. Whitney served as our photographer after the baby was born and gave me sips of water every few pushes. My mom also held my leg and rubbed my hair and offered encouragement. Dalin held my leg much of the time and was constantly whispering that I was doing so well and that we were almost there. It felt wonderful to know he believed in me. Having a great support team is so important! I would even tell my spouse or other family members beforehand what would be most helpful to you. I was being offered cold water, chapstick, and words of encouragement the whole time and it made everything so much better for me. 

We had been at the hospital about nine hours when they told me I was at 9+cm. Dr. Pace had been in to check on me at one and told me he'd be back around four or five o'clock. When he said that, we all looked at each other and thought, "Uhh, it isn't going to take that long if I'm almost to 10cm already." Well the joke was on us because I started pushing around four and continued for four straight hours. (Note to pregnant ladies: That is NOT a normal experience! My doctor said he had never seen anyone push as long as me. Usually it takes an hour or less! My baby was just really comfy in there.) 

My contractions were about a minute apart the entire time and I pushed EXTREMELY hard. The nurses told me that most women can't figure out how to push right away when they have an epidural and typically reach around a 60 on the contraction chart with their hardest pushes, but mine were all well over 100 consistently. I was pushing with all my might to get our baby girl out, not just because I wanted her to be here already, but also because I felt an overwhelming urge to push because of the immense pressure of her head grinding on my pelvis. Honestly, it felt like the worst constipation of my life. I couldn't describe it any other way. I've never even really experienced constipation before but that was exactly what my labor felt like. A few months into my pregnancy I learned that it is not uncommon for women to um, well, go to the bathroom while giving birth (I also didn't know that a lot of women throw up from the epidural--fortunately I did neither). Naturally, this idea was a tremendous source of anxiety and embarrassment for me because no one wants to do that in front of anyone, let alone a crowd...but truth be told, at the point where I was at in my labor, I could not have cared less if that happened. Actually, I felt like I wanted it to happen because I thought it might bring some relief to the intense pressure. Amazingly, it never did end up happening--I know because I asked after--which surprised me because you can't really tell what's going on down there but it kind of felt like I did when my daughter came out. (But even if it had, you reach a point where you just don't care). 

Anyhow, when Dr. Pace returned to see me again, he was optimistic that everything was going well. Baby girl's heart-rate was very healthy and consistent--it only dropped once for a moment and that was after I had pushed the button on the epidural thing to give me some more drugs. I am not sure how she did so well being pressed against my pelvic bone for such a long time, but I am so thankful she was okay for that long. It was during my fourth hour of pushing that my doctor started to get very quiet. He mentioned that he thought it was starting to look like I might have to go with a C-section. At this point, I was completely exhausted. I could not even open my eyes due to exhaustion and it actually took me a while to realize that I hadn't opened my eyes in a long time. I was feeling very sweaty and very out of it. They put me in an oxygen mask which was a big pain. I did not like wearing it but I was too tired to argue. 

Anyway, back to the action-- They called the obstetrician (Dr. Broberg) in to take a look and discuss the options with me. They were: to try using the vacuum (which was a risk at this point because baby girl's head had been in the birth canal for so long she surely had a gnarly cone head and the vacuum can actually separate the scalp) which sounded horrifying; to try using forceps (which also sound terrible and make me picture metal salad tongs); or to perform a C-section (which I was strongly opposed to because I want a big family and was worried I'd be limited by the number of C-sectins I could have in the future). So the best option to me sounded like the forceps even though I was worried about them hurting my daughter's head. Honestly, I don't even remember making that decision though--I was a little occupied with pushing. 

During the four hours, the nurses told me several times to just take a fifteen minute break from pushing or to try and rest. But every time they suggested that, I thought, Are you kidding me? I'm not stopping until she is OUT. The pressure was so intense that it was far more comfortable to push than to just sit still. So I would push on my own until they were ready to help hold my legs and count with me again. I completely exhausted the staff, which isn't funny, but as I look back, I can't imagine what they were thinking. I think everyone was dying for a break at that point, haha.
Dr. Broberg and Dr. Pace readied themselves with the forceps, while I simply continued to push with all my might, hoping I could somehow deliver her without any help. One nurse brought a mirror in to "help" me. I didn't think I'd care to see but I couldn't argue at that point. I was so tired that everyone had to tell me repeatedly to open my eyes. When I finally did, it was not a pretty sight--I was very swollen--and I was discouraged to find that even with my hardest push, I could only see about a golfball-sized view of her head, which looked grayish purple with dark hair. My thought then was, She is never getting out because I am pushing as hard as humanly possible. Dr. Pace seemed to be thinking along those same lines as far as I could tell in the brief moments I was able to pick up on his body language. The next time I glimpsed her head, everyone said, "She has so much hair!" and I, in frustration yelled, "Can't you just pull her out by the hair?!" That got a laugh from everyone in the room. I was half kidding...but I was also half serious. I was desperate! When the forceps were ready and in place, I knew it was in my daughter's best interest that I get her out fast, so I prepared myself to push with all my might. They counted and in two pushes I felt her head was out and everyone was cheering. They told me to give one more big push and I felt a weird wet/sliminess as her shoulders and body came out. 

Immediately, I began crying because I was so relieved it was over and so, SO happy she came out. The next several minutes were a blur as Dalin cut our beautiful baby's umbilical cord then she was immediately handed off to some nurses because she hadn't cried when she came out. It wasn't long though before I heard her lovely voice and I waited impatiently for them to bring her to me. Meanwhile, they had me push the placenta out (which was a piece of cake after a baby...) and then stitched me up which seemed to take forever even though I supposedly didn't tear too badly (I had been very concerned about the tearing beforehand but because of the epidural I didn't notice that part at all). I was too distracted trying to see my baby during the whole process that it really didn't affect me. Dalin held her first and the look on his face as he looked at her made me sob. It was even more emotional when they handed her to me. I felt a little hysterical but after four hours of non-stop pushing, it seemed justified. They had me try breastfeeding and (just like in my dream I'd had a month beforehand!) it seemed to come naturally to both of us. It was much easier than I had expected (and much easier than I'd been told.) She was beautiful--I could see that right away--and such a calm baby. She obviously had Dalin's personality. She looked at me with her darling eyes and I fell completely in love with her. It was the most amazing feeling in the world to know that she was mine and Dalin's. We had created this perfect little being and now she is ours for eternity.

I knew then what my mom had meant when she had said shortly after giving birth to me that she would do it again in a heartbeat. I felt the same way. Especially because I knew the first birth is usually the longest and most difficult so anything by comparison would be more manageable. Later that night when everyone else had left, I said to Dalin, "That was the second best day ever." (The first being my marriage to my sweet husband for all eternity). He looked at me and said, "Are you kidding? That was the most stressful day ever!" I laughed because I knew it had been so for him, seeing me in so much discomfort and in a state of complete frustration when she wasn't coming out, and of course worrying about our daughter. 

She was (and still is) perfection. I love this girl more than I ever imagined I would.
But I really and truly loved my experience. When I read back, I realize that sounds crazy. But I had a harder than normal birth and it was still amazing.


Now that I've had my second, (and it was significantly easier) I can still say that I love giving birth. I love the insane adrenaline rush and the immense flow of love that I feel when I see the baby my husband and I created. I feel like a birth junkie. I absolutely love it. It's hard, and sometimes painful, and a little bit gross (okay a lot, depending who you ask), but it is AMAZING and I can't wait to have another. If you are looking for more comfort, here's a post I wrote called: 15 Things You Should Know About Giving Birth. 

Feel free to ask me any questions about my experience. I would be happy to answer them for you!

1 comment:

  1. Aww, so sweet^_^ Thanks for sharing your story. I can't believe you had to push for that long: it's amazing that you were able to do it! I'm 38 weeks along and can't wait to meet my own little one!!!


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