Friday, September 5, 2014

Birth Story, part two-Eames

Part one, here.

The version was scheduled for 10:00 that morning. Though my midwife had told me to come at 7:00, apparently the nurses weren't expecting me until 9:00. It wasn't a big deal though, we just got in some extra monitoring time, and played some Uno :)

So, the doctor. He has a somewhat complicated last name, so everyone calls him Dr Tom. My midwife had scheduled everything around his schedule; she told me that he was extremely good at what he did, especially concerning ECV's and cesareans, but still had an attitude that would be very complimentary to my "as little intervention as possible" wishes. It boosted my confidence to have him on my side!
Now, my midwife. So, as I mentioned, I actually saw a team of midwives during my prenatal care. All of them were wonderful, but I had a favorite: Pat. Pat is Irish, and so motherly and wonderful. I had hoped my whole pregnancy that I could deliver with her. Well, guess who was starting a 36 hour shift that very morning?! I was so thrilled to have her. That also made me feel hopeful, no matter what happened.

10:00 finally came, and baby's stats were all double checked, as well as positioning (yep, still breech!). I used my Hypnobabies to help me relax during the procedure, which everyone insisted afterward was a major contributor to the outcome. I'm assuming it took about 30-40 minutes, but the only thing I have to base that on is that once they succeeded (yay!!!) my water was broken to keep the baby head down, and that happened right around 11:00. It turned out I had had a few contractions during the procedure, small ones but definitely contractions! That was exciting to me, that my body was doing SOMETHING on its own, which would hopefully mean a better response to the induction-I really didn't want to start at nothing! Then, when they checked my cervix, I was somewhat dilated and effaced. I honestly don't remember the exact numbers, maybe something like a 3 and 50%? Enough to know that something was happening, but not enough to really say I was necessarily on my way.
I had to stay on the monitors for a few hours to make sure that the baby was "tolerating the procedure", as sometimes ECV's may lead to distress. I apparently continued having contractions during this time, but for the most part I wasn't even aware of them happening. I listened to a few hypno-tracks to help me stay relaxed, and that also enabled me to take a small nap. At 2:00, I was finally given the okay to get out of bed, but would only have an hour because we were to start pitocin at 3:00 (which would mean constant monitoring). Me and my doula (who is also named Tiffany!) spent that entire hour power walking through the L&D ward. Which, by the way, only consisted of 2 hallways shaped like a T, so I'm sure we looked kinda loony passing the nurses station every 15 seconds! But I wanted to make the most out of my freedom of movement, as well as do all that I could to help my body progress naturally.
So at maybe a quarter past 3:00, the pitocin was started. Then, honestly, the next 12 hours were pretty consistent as far as contents goes! But these are the 3 main reasons I made it through:
1. Evan and Tiffany. Evan's love, and Tiffany's skills. You guys, I could NOT have done this without my doula. No way. I am so incredibly grateful for her-words cannot convey how huge of a role she played.
2. Counter pressure on my hips. Because although we got the little babe head down, he wasn't FACE down. My sunny side up baby=100% back labor. Not one contraction in front.
3. This goes back to Tiffany as well, since she's the one that helped direct me to do this and reminded me throughout to continue it, but "ohhh"-ing through each contraction. Low tone, and as if I was saying the word "open" (which I did end up saying a lot toward the end, because it helped me visualize myself opening up, and helped me make sure I was keeping that low tone.)
So, by 8:00, I was definitely ready for a nap. That's when I had all of those thoughts that I honestly (naively) thought I wouldn't have: "I'm never having a baby again"  "This will NEVER END!" "How did I think I could do this?" I told my doula I just wanted to take a break...I'd come back to it later! I was actually able to relax really deeply between contractions, nearly falling asleep! But in some ways that just bugged me even more-imagine being about to drift away to the sweet relief that sleep offers, then being woken up by a CONTRACTION...every 5 minutes or less...for 12 hours. Pretty annoying, lol! I never did ask for, or even want an epidural, but not because I wouldn't have appreciated some relief-it was that I knew full well there was NO WAY I was willing to sit still long enough to get one! No way. Every time I had to get a cervical exam, I just wanted to cry, because I hated having to sit/lay still. Anyway, it was around that 8:00 hour that I felt most discouraged. I knew I wasn't anywhere near the end, and felt overwhelmed with the idea of continuing this for hours. Tiffany said wonderful things that encouraged and reassured me, and soon I realized I just had to make a mental switch if I was going to do this. And I WAS going to do this, because I frankly had no choice, so I might as well make it easier in myself by switching my mindset! I started noticing that if I could just make it to the 3rd breath during a contraction, (out of the 5-6 I'd take) I'd be past the worst of it. So I tried taking it just one contraction at a time, just focusing on getting to that 3rd breath. That felt MUCH more doable than thinking of another 7 hours of contractions (boy, am I glad I had no idea I still had that long! Probably would have put a damper on my mental strength ;))
So that pretty much was how I spent my time until sometime near the 3:00 hour the next morning. Isn't time during labor so strange? I had absolutely no concept of it-besides feeling like there was too much between where I was, and where it all would end! But when Evan and Tiffany told me we were hitting midnight, and our baby would actually be born the 20th, I thought it was so strange how much time had passed! Anyway, eventually I felt the urge to push, but was still only at an 8 and therefore had to ignore that instinct. That. Was. AWFUL! It felt so much better to push with the contractions. Then, when I was finally given the go-ahead to push, nothing much happened, so I had coached pushing, which then lasted two hours! That whole situation was definitely the worst, because I felt so unproductive. Eames' head was visible for a large portion of that time, but any progress I made reversed as soon as I stopped pushing. When I did finally delivered his head, it wasn't because I magically got more strength or anything. It just seemed to finally work-but Tiffany has a theory that I think makes sense:
Apparently he did come out face down, despite my back labor. She thinks that he was sunny side up, but twisted head down in the birth canal, which would help explain the cord that was wrapped so tightly around his neck, and would mean there was less cord to work with for me to get him out. She hypothesizes that my placenta finally detached, which allowed me more give to finally get him out.
Whatever ended up happening, it was so wonderful that it finally did after so much time passing of feeling like a failure who didn't know how to push her baby out!
As I said, his cord was wrapped incredibly tight around his neck, tight enough that Pat immediately cut it. I pushed the rest of him out, and he was pretty much immediately taken to that little table where they worked to get him breathing. I knew things were a little more severe than normal, because I had asked for delayed cord clamping + immediate skin to skin, and there was no way Pat would disregard that without valid reason. Evan went to be with Eames (though we didn't know he was an "Eames" yet...Tiffany was actually the one to remind Evan to go check the gender!) while I was stitched up (minor tearing). It was about 10 minutes before he was brought to me, all bundled with his cap on.

He looked EXACTLY like Evan to me. He looked straight into my eyes while I held and talked to him, but it was so short lived-less than 5 minutes-before they took him to the NICU for some monitoring. 
I thought it would be an hour or so. Then it was a few hours. Then, a neonatologist came in to talk to both me and Evan, and we were informed they were concerned about something called perinatal asphyxia. They wanted to run some tests, but they weren't available at our location and Eames would be transferred to a different location an hour away. Evan and I got to go see him in the NICU for about 10 minutes, then he left shortly after because the main test they wanted to do needed to be done within 6 hours of birth, and it had already been a few hours. 
Now I'll just state facts: Eames passed all tests beautifully, and all original concerns were eventually disregarded. He was born on a Wednesday, I was discharged Friday and we immediately went to see him. We got a hotel for the weekend so we could spend as much time as possible with him. He was discharged that Sunday. 

I can't yet write about my feelings of those first few days. Even though he's home, two weeks old and perfectly healthy, it's still too painful. Even when I just think to myself, it makes me sob, so I try to focus on the now-he's beautiful, healthy, and I am beyond grateful to have him home with us. Maybe someday I'll be able to elaborate...perhaps when my hormones are a bit more regulated? :)

As far as feelings toward the birth, I feel very proud of what my body was able to accomplish! But if next time, I could just not have pitocin induced back labor...that'd be awesome! ;) I'll take either one without the other if I have to! Really though, at this point I'm thinking, if I can have a regular, natural progressing labor...   I will be so ready to handle that! 

Here is my beautiful son, Eames Kenneth Nay
Born Aug 20, 5:05 am
7 lb 9 oz, 20"

Monday, September 1, 2014

Birth Story, part one-background

 Wow. Here it is. My birth story.

I've been wondering for years now, what exactly my story would be.
Anyone close to me knows I've been somewhat obsessed with labor and delivery for a few years now. I started researching it after watching The Business of Being Born sometime in 2010.  I will say, that all of the knowledge that I'd obtained helped me feel SO excited, now that I finally had an actual birth to prepare for. I also started Hypnobabies around 30 weeks pregnant, thanks to the recommendation of a wonderful friend, and that boosted me to the point that I truly had no fear as I looked forward to my birthing day, which I think is a pretty remarkable thing for a first time mom! I was completely confident in my body, I understood pretty much all of the medical options I may be faced with, and I trusted that birth is a natural thing. Knowledge truly is power, and I'm so thankful I was able to spend my pregnancy filled with excitement rather than fear of the unknown that was to come. Even though things didn't end up at all ideal, I do not in anyway regret all of the effort I put into preparing myself for birth, nor do I think it was silly or naive of me to feel the way I did. I still do believe in my body, and that labor is a natural thing that is often over-medicalized.

I had wanted a homebirth for a long time, but with our insurance (Tricare) it was easier (not to mention, free) to go where they referred me to. I ended up being sent to a hospital with a team of midwives I could receive care from, so I settled with that. Interestingly, the hospital I was referred to is different than the one that nearly everyone else in my area gets referred to. I think of it as a thoughtful blessing, so that I could have the team of midwives that I did.

So, my pregnancy was, to be honest, nothing short of amazing in my opinion. I didn't have any major issues, or even minor ones, really. Besides my extreme food aversions in the first trimester, I can't think of anything to complain about.

At 33 weeks, we had our growth scan ultrasound done, and everything looked perfect. Baby Nay continued to be extremely active, and even kicked at the tech's ultrasound wand! He hated things on
my belly. It was at my almost-37 week appt, my midwife put her hands on my belly and we learned that this crazy mover of ours had turned himself breech. Though it was a bit of a shock, I left that appt somewhat optimistic, feeling that I still had a few weeks to get this baby to turn. I dutifully spent the next few weeks doing handstands in the pool, pelvic tilts during entire movies, cat/cow positions, ice packs on my belly, inversions, hypnosis targeted to encourage the baby to turn, and even went to a chiropractor! I became even more desperate with these things after my next appt, where we talked about how if the baby didn't turn by the time I came in next, we had to make a plan. And that plan may involve a c-section. I left that appt emotionally crushed at how real the prospect was of my completely losing out on the birth experience I'd been dreaming of, and preparing so hard for. I couldn't help seeing the irony of feeling so prepared for birth, yet may not even get to go
through labor. I eventually did come to a place mentally where I was able to accept whatever came my way, but I let myself mourn that weekend. Please understand, this birth I was looking forward to wasn't about control, It wasn't about proving myself to anybody, It wasn't about things being perfect and according to MY plan. I was genuinely excited to go into labor! I was excited to experience the natural progression of labor, and to deliver my baby. And before learning that the baby was breech, I had had every reason in the world to assume I'd have that opportunity. So when I learned that I may not get ANY of that, I was pretty heartbroken, even though I knew that technically everything would be okay in the end. But I needed to let myself just feel the way I felt, no matter how ridiculous it seemed. So, I let myself feel the sad things, without immediately reminding myself of the positive things (I'd had a great pregnancy, I was still healthy, the baby was healthy, I'd be a great VBAC candidate someday, etc). I started spending time reading positive stories about successful ECV's, (external cephalic version) a procedure to try to manually turn the baby by pressing the stomach. We were going to attempt an ECV, and the rest would depend on if it was successful or not. I decided to focus my energy on imagining a successful version, while still keeping my mind open to the fact that whatever happened would be okay. I continued using Hypnobabies, there is a track called "fear release" that I listened to everyday to try to rid myself of the anxiety I had been feeling. Because really, I just wanted to be able to continue looking at this birth as a joyous thing. Birth should be joyous! It's such an incredible thing, the moment a human is brought into the world, and it's beautiful no matter how it ends up happening.
At my next appointment, we planned a day. Tuesday, August 19th, at 39 weeks*, I would go to the hospital for my ECV. If we succeeded at turning the baby, I would then be induced to ensure the baby was head down when I went into labor (the doctor and midwife didn't want to give the baby a chance to turn back). If it was unsuccessful, we would do the cesarean that day because 1) I'd inevitably have one anyway, and 2) they didn't want me going into actual labor with a breech baby.
This plan was made 5 days beforehand, and officially confirmed 2 days beforehand. We went from thinking I may have a September baby (since so many 1st time moms go overdue) to "actually let's just have a baby now". It was quite the head trip! I asked Evan for a blessing that Sunday, and it was extremely reassuring. I love priesthood blessings!
We spent Monday doing some shopping (a last Costco trip, and a few more onesies). We went swimming. We were surprisingly calm! I took a nap that afternoon, then went with a friend to a yoga session at our local community center that evening. It was such a great way to spend my last night-it cleared my mind, relaxed me, and made me feel so strong and proud of my body. I felt so at peace about everything. Afterward, my friend and I went on a walk around the neighborhood. It was the perfect summer night weather, and that just added to the peace that I felt.
I got home around 9:30, Evan was already asleep (I knew he would be-his sleep schedule is weird since he works nights, so he was trying to sneak any sleep in that he could) and I tried to sleep as well. I think I succeeded until about 2 am, then it was nearly impossible! Evan woke up during the early morning as well. We finished some packing, Evan filled the car with gas. I took a bath to try to at least keep myself relaxed, then laid down again to just rest. We were supposed to be at the hospital at 7:00-we were ready by about a quarter to 6:00! (It takes maybe 25 minutes to get there). Our doula was originally going to meet us at our house and follow us there, but we were too antsy to wait and ended up meeting her at the hospital.

I will follow up with the actual labor and recovery!
Stay tuned for part two.

*so, my original due date was August 25. At my first appt, they said August 30th looked like it was more accurate based on growth. So, I took that to mean "August 30th is now your due date", but the hospital neglected to tell me that they only adjust the date for their records if it's a 10 or more day difference. So, I tracked everything based on the 30th, but the hospital tracked it based on the 25th. That's why there's a slight discrepancy with my weekly bump pictures and me being 39w2d on the 19th.