Thursday, November 12, 2009

Heather's Story - Naturally Myself

This is the story I promised in yesterday's post. I love the part about the Ute Indian reservation.

"My journey to natural childbirth began after having my first child, Haven. During that pregnancy, most of what I read about pregnancy and labor was very basic. I just found out what I wanted to know and Tyler and I went to a standard birth class, maybe practiced a breathing pattern or two and then expected the best. My water broke spontaneously one week before the due date and I had not been experiencing contractions yet. I got to the hospital and was only at 2cm. I also had GBS and needed an IV. The combination of having my water break so early in labor and having GBS had the staff in Logan Regional a little worried and so someone just started the pitocin right away and kept increasing the dosage as time went on. Immediately, with no knowledge of having a natural contraction, I had a pitocin contraction, and with barely a break, another one and another one in sporadic lengths of time and sporadic time between each. It was a train wreck from the beginning. I was throwing up, not wanting to walk around, Tyler had no clue what to do and so I begged for the epidural. It was a wonderful feeling to have that pain go away and labor ended up only being 8 hours, with a short pushing time and a surprise episiotomy. Haven was only 5lbs 14oz so I can’t figure out why the doctor cut me to this day. Overall, every thing was fine and I felt fine and recovered really well. When I look back, I can’t believe how disconnected I was to the whole experience. I just let it all happen to me instead of having any say in the matter. I knew things were going to be different the next time around.

"After seeing several close friends and my sister tackle a natural birth I knew that if they could do it, I could. I read books, among my favorite was the Dr. Sears Birth Book and Birthing from Within, and watched The Business of Being Born. It seemed like I was learning things for the first time even though it was my second child. I also talked and talked to people who gave natural birth and they were always so positive and happy about what they’d gone through. I also felt a deep confidence that Heavenly Father had blessed me with a healthy and capable body to give birth naturally. So I knew I was on board for a natural delivery, but it would take a lot of effort to convince Tyler. He just basically said, how ever you want to do it, I’m there, but I just hope we can communicate during labor. Last time, I pretty much ignored him and didn’t want him to touch me, so I could understand where he was coming from. I knew that he’s also one to want to fix the problem at hand immediately and getting him used to the idea that I might act crazy and out of sorts again was difficult. I just basically mentioned that I was serious about natural childbirth and I needed him to be supportive no matter what. He just said okay.

"So let’s begin the labor story already! Being a second pregnancy, I had more Braxton Hicks from pretty early on. They were just bothersome, but otherwise unnoticeable. I was still terrified of the day when an actual, real, non-pitocin, contraction would hit me and I wouldn’t know how to handle the pain. Saturday seemed pretty normal except for some reason, I didn’t have much of an appetite and was going to the bathroom a lot. After having a fun little baby shower at the mall the night before with friends and watching the RS broadcast late Saturday night, I went to bed late. I woke up at 2:30 and my belly was really tight and I was a little shocked at how much it hurt. I went back to sleep and woke up with another one about ten minutes later. This pattern went on for about an hour. I got a rice bag and heated it up in the microwave and put it right above my pubic bone, because that was where each contraction would end and began. I just kept trying to focus on normal breaths during each one and went over in my mind if this was “it” or not. As the pain increased, I started imagining a little rainbow starting at the pubic bone and arching up and over my belly and then retracting back down. I have no idea where this imagery came from.

"I got into the bathtub and watched the clock until about 4am. The contractions were about 6-7 minutes but only seemed about 30-40 seconds long. I took a shower and laid back down in bed with the rice pack again listening to Tyler snore. The pain was increasing, but closing my eyes and breathing helped me through each one. I was really trying to conserve energy for a long day of laboring. Tyler woke up at 5 and I mentioned to him that we were probably going to have a baby today. He started talking casually about some other topic and then I interrupted him, and asked him if he’d heard what I said. I repeated myself. He said, no way. Then I grabbed his hand during the next contraction and he noticed that my hair was wet from the bath and he started arranging his Sunday meeting substitutes and trying to figure out how to deal with Haven for the day.

I loved grabbing his warm hand during each contraction and then talking about what we should do about everything between each one. (Haven was sick and couldn’t go to nursery and so we needed someone to stay home from church with her.) Well Tyler got dressed and ready and through all that Haven woke up. Normally I’d send her straight back to her bed, but Tyler got hold of her first and sent her to the couch with some cartoons. I got up and blow dried my hair and felt the need to put on a little makeup for some reason. Each time I’d have a contraction I’d just lean against the counter and sway my hips and breathe deep. Tyler would come by and rub my back and tell my how great I was doing. He also found a stopwatch and we started to time everything. They were getting to be 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long. Time to call the midwives and doula! So I paged the midwife, called my doula and told her calmly that within the next hour or so, meet us at the hospital, we’ll call you. I also had Tyler give me a blessing. This helped immensely and was a very special moment.

A note on doulas and midwives: UNC Hospitals is awesome. They have an amazing staff of midwives and VOLUNTEER doulas. I had been visiting for my prenatal care an OBGYN at the student health just for convenience and then requested to have midwives deliver me. I also requested a doula and had met with her the week before and she looked over my birth plan and we got to know each other. I basically got her to help Tyler know how to help me. She was a great girl!

"Haven at this time was getting prepped on meeting her new sister and trying to figure out why she wasn’t going to the hospital too. I basically just ignored her. By this time I threw up some and was going to the bathroom a lot too. She was really concerned about me throwing up. She also leaned against the wall with me and imitated my swaying hips during a contraction. I just ignored her. At 7am we called over my wonderful neighbor and friend and she told us not to worry about anything. By 7:20 we were in the car with bags packed, garbage bag on the seat, and throw up bucket in hand. Luckily we only live a mile away from the hospital. It was also a quiet Sunday morning and there was no one on the road. Tyler took the speed humps pretty slowly and we finally got there. He was going to park the car in the drop off area, get me up to Labor and Delivery triage, and then go move the car and get the camera later. Getting out of the car, I was throwing up some more and it took a bit to walk up to the elevator where someone had it waiting for us. When we got to the desk, some wise staff member asked, “Are you sick or in labor?” I looked at her through foggy vision and whispered “labor” to her, really annoyed. The other woman at the desk was trying to get me to sign papers. I scribbled here and there and they walked me to triage where they explained that I need to give her a urine sample, put the gown on and then we’ll do 20 minutes of fetal monitoring and start and IV right away for my GBS (again with the GBS!). In my heart of hearts I knew I wouldn’t be able to withstand 20 minutes of fetal monitoring. I went into the bathroom stripped down and tried to pee in the cup, but I couldn’t! I was so baffled! I had been peeing and drinking all morning and couldn’t pee! Then a contraction started and POP there goes my water, just like a balloon! Then a bunch of mucous and blood came out and an intense pressure began. THE URGE TO PUSH! What? I knew that feeling and there was no mistaking what it was.

"The nurse came back and I told her my water broke and I was feeling a lot of pressure. A peppy OBGYN resident came in and told me she was going to check my cervix. She went in---pain—her fingers opened really wide and she said “You’re ready to go.” I asked her, well how many centimeters then? “Ten. You’re fully dilated.” I told her that that was the perfect answer to that question. (I still had a sharp wit about me, I was kind of impressed with myself throughout the whole ordeal.) Tyler and I were shocked! Then people started moving fast. They cancelled the IV (Yes!) and told me they were going to wheel me to the labor room. I thought they meant by wheelchair and I just wanted to walk, but the nurse just started wheeling THE WHOLE BED to the room quite fast. I was going through contractions, closing my eyes and breathing, Tyler was just repeating how awesome I was doing. They started getting the room ready, but not in a frantic hussle like you’d see on TV, but really calmly. The TV was on in the room when I got there, Jerry Maguire, and Tyler just shut it off, knowing that that would bug me. The lights were dim and the room was cold and comfortable. I remember starting to notice and make sense of everything in the room and meeting a nice, matronly nurse and having really natural conversation with everyone between contractions.

"The midwife got there, Deb, and I told her how famous she was around Baity Hill and that she’d helped my friend give birth only a month ago. Deb and I were fast friends and she sat very calmly at the foot of the bed and commented on how wonderful it was that we were all going to have a fast delivery. She encouraged me to push when I felt like it. My doula got there and I told her she was just in time. For a contraction? No, I’m pushing! And then I started to push with the contractions. This is the point when I start to make noises I’ve never made in my life. Then the contraction would end, I’d calm down, and do it again.

"I requested a mirror to see my progress. That was awesome to me for some reason. I just focused on the mirror during pushing or closed my eyes and screamed like a banshee while I pushed. I was propping myself up in practically a squat, but my sacrum was still on the bed. My arms were behind my thighs gripping the sheets and mattress. The pillows and the bed were really bugging me and my doula helped rearrange everything. She was basically put in charge of water and chapstick and comfort duties. Tyler was so encouraging! I couldn’t believe throughout the whole thing how amazing he was being and how much I loved him!

"Then Deb brought up dental school and she started up a conversation, between contractions, about dental implants, something Tyler was currently studying. The amazing thing about this, is normally, I would’ve been foaming at the mouth mad that he was talking dental while I was in labor, but I decided to focus my attention on just kind of tuning it out and relaxing between contractions. Tyler said, 'Wow, I’m talking about dental school during labor and I’m not being slapped.' I said, 'I don’t have the energy.'

"Apparently, we were amusing and enjoyable for everyone and everyone really seemed to be having a fine time, just staring at my crotch and listening to me scream while pushing. And boy was I screaming! I remember a point in my screaming and moaning that I sounded like a Native American drum circle, which I am really good at mimicking normally—being from a town situated near a Ute Reservation— but this time it sounded really tribal. Then I screamed like a hyena and would apologize for my behavior between each contraction. They encouraged it all. The nurse reminded me to do small breaths and that would help me not tear. I obeyed. All the while the mirror is showing me that my crotch has a large hole in it and that something is definitely coming soon! This is when we asked the doula to go get the camera from the car. By the time she came back, I was crowning and experiencing THE RING OF FIRE OF HELL AND BRIMSTONE TIMES 20. I’ve never in my life experienced anything like that and curse the time when I have to feel it again. Then Deb poured hot mineral oil on it all, and it felt minutely better and the urge to keep pushing and getting that baby out was insatiable. I just kept on screaming and pushing. Then Deb, very calmly, said, now, Heather, with this next one, low sounds and long and hard pushing. I made a very low sound, pushed way deep into my bottom and long and hard and saw a head emerge in the mirror. I look down and see a slimy black head and a cute little right ear. An ear! I remember saying “Oh hi baby! Hi!” And then just pushing out the shoulders and grabbing the baby and putting it on me. Blood guts and all. I never thought I’d ever want to do that or touch something so nasty! But here was the fruit of my labor and it was warm and cuddly and beautiful! She wasn’t really crying, but gave a good squawk and blew bubbles out of her mouth. She was perfect in every way!

"By this time (8:33am)Tyler was a bit teary eyed and I was beaming with joy and just talking baby talk babble. Ty and I kissed and hugged and that was one thing I didn’t think I would experience—an overwhelming feeling of joy and love and family and all things cheesy that you see in labor stories. Everyone was thrilled and overjoyed and that was such an amazing moment! The cord was still attached and eventually Tyler cut it, which was kind of gross, but cool, and then, because of GBS or something they took the baby over to the station and did a quick rundown of everything with Tyler taking pictures. I delivered the placenta, which is another thing really gross/cool.

"Then the baby came back and I got some apple juice and tried feeding her and she did great. They let us hang out for about an hour in the labor room, all the while we are answering questions to fill out the paperwork we missed out on in the beginning. The staff (which was only like three women) were all relieved that after their long, hectic Saturday shifts the day before, they’d had such a peaceful Sunday morning birth. Deb commented that my labor was one of the most amazing she’d seen. I was so pleased with myself!

"The most amazing thing about natural birth is that it’s NATURAL in every sense of the word. I was so worried that I’d turn into someone completely out of sorts and nutso, but I was NATURALLY MYSELF. I was able to think clearly, even make a few jokes here and there, and completely obey what my body was telling me. After having a natural birth I cannot go back to a medicated one and hope I don’t have to.

"There were many, many miracles throughout labor that only a loving Heavenly Father would think of to bless us with. Like how awesome that we had her on a peaceful Sunday morning when we wouldn’t get a ticket for parking where we had and when Tyler didn’t have school? And how special that it was my mother’s birthday! It was also very important to me that this baby would be a little bigger than Haven in order to avoid jaundice and other issues we’d had. June was a pound bigger, 6lbs 9oz and we escaped jaundice. It was a major blessing that I didn’t get the IV because that was one of my biggest fears that I would be bothered by it too much to focus. It also required me to stay at the hospital the full 48 hours, which was actually just what I needed to have a peaceful few days alone before heading home. We were also indebted to wonderful neighbors who took charge of Haven and made a few meals for us. Everything I had worried about had been totally better than expected and was “taken care of” by my Heavenly Father. I am so grateful to be a woman who has been granted the gift of motherhood."

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful story. I love how she was able to experience a connection and closeness with her husband the second time around. :-)



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