Friday, September 7, 2012

Greta's Birth Story

One of the more frustrating things in life is a peacefully sleeping baby, coupled with the inability to fall asleep myself.  DH kindly took Greta this morning so I could get some extra sleep, but I didn't realize he'd let me sleep as long as I wanted!  I slept until noon, and now can't fall asleep for anything.

So I'm trying to get some things done.  And drinking a beer in the hopes it will help me fall asleep.

Let's go back a month.  On Saturday, July 28th, we went to a going away party for some dear friends of ours.  They were our first friends in Minnesota and are greatly missed.  At the time, I thought we would see them again before their departure, so it didn't really feel like a goodbye.  That, and I hate goodbyes, so I usually just avoid them.  It was a wonderful party.  MJ was up late that night, probably not getting to bed until about 10 o'clock.  I felt completely blissed out.  It was an absolutely phenomenal evening.  I'm not sure quite how to describe it, but the feeling was one of elation, intoxication (and no, nothing was imbibed).  At first I felt like it was due to it being a wonderful party, which it was, but as DH and I were crawling into bed I realized that the feeling was the exact same as I had had the evening before I went into labor with MJ (which was at a Regina Spektor concert).  I made a comment to DH that if I was a betting person, I would bet that I would go into labor with MJ that night.

I got up many times that night to pee, and as the early morning hours started to roll around I began to despair.  Like, really despair.  I had been really, really certain that I was going to go into labor.  And now it looked like I was wrong.  But about 6 am I woke up with very mild cramping.  I thought it was wishful thinking, but (of course) hoped it was the real thing.  By 7 they were real enough that I began to wonder if I wasn't imagining it.  I decided to get things ready, just in case.  I got out of bed and made some cinnamon rolls.  I packed up the last of the things that needed to come to the hospital with us.  At 7:45 I had some bloody show, and I started to become convinced this was it.  I was nervous to notify anyone, because I didn't want to be wrong.  But the show convinced me to contact our doula.  Just a head's up, in case she was trying to plan her day.

MJ woke up about 8 and was ecstatic to see cinnamon rolls waiting for her.  We ate some together then woke up Dad.  I told him I thought I was in labor and he should get up and get things together.  He was totally skeptical but I ignored him.

Apparently at 8:45 I started sending out emails to people (because I have a record of this).  My contractions were 7 to 9 minutes apart.  I asked our friends if they could watch MJ for the day.  I told my work that I would not be coming in and sent them my timesheet info.  I was pretty convinced, apparently.  I still was afraid that things would totally stall but didn't want to be caught in a panic situation.  I also lost my mucous plug at 10 am.  So by about 10ish (10:30?) MJ was at our friends house with enough stuff to stay the night if needed.  She was excited for it and completely oblivious when contractionts hit, but I was relieved when she was gone. I knew she was in safe hands and I didn't have to worry about anything other than getting the baby out. 

After DH came home from dropping MJ off we sat and watched some olympics.  I had some strong contractions and called the oncall midwife.  Contractions were 5-7 minutes apart.  She seemed subdued, unconvinced this was anything serious yet, but I was convinced.  I took some Zofran at 11, because I was starting to feel nauseous and wanted to head off the extreme nausea that had gotten me last time.  I ate part of a sandwich, largely because I was told to.  Our doula showed up about 11 to see how things were going.  We chatted for a while, and my contractions lessened.  We went for a walk and things seemed to have totally slowed down.  This was exactly what I was scared of: putting everyone on alert for nothing.  After our walk, about 12:30, when it seemed nothing was happening, our doula went home for a while.  We sat and watched some more olympics, me feeling totally discouraged.  But by 1:30 things had picked up again.  I took some more Zofran.  DH called our doula again about 1:45, and when she showed up at the house 15 minutes later things were intense.  While we were chatting, I had an absurdly painful contraction that made me convinced it was time to go to the hospital.  I remember Rebecca asking what it felt like and responding that it felt like someone was stabbing me.  It wasn't until then that I realized my water had broken during that contraction.  So we threw everything in the car and left, about 2:15.

I sat in the back seat of our virtually brand new minivan.  I didn't think to bring a towel.  With every contraction fluid went everywhere.  I remember just sitting in a puddle of warm fluid thinking how gross this was going to be.  I also remember driving by the hospital we had MJ at, which is about 5 minutes from our house, thinking "Why did we decide to go somewhere so much further?  Maybe it's not too late to just go to the closer hospital."  I was yelling through each contraction at this point. 

At some point, I realized we were nowhere we were supposed to be.  I asked DH "Where the fuck are we?"  I took joy in swearing, knowing MJ was nowhere around and therefore it was okay.  All in all, I think I took the fact that DH got lost on the way to the hospital very well.  I was really in too much pain to worry too much about it, and by the time I realized it we were almost there. 

He dropped me at the door to the ER so he could park.  I was not in a cooperative mood.  I spoke to the receptionist, and she asked me to sit down while she contacted maternity.  I told her no.  I need to go now.  I am not sitting down.  I wasn't angry or anything, I just felt like there was no way I could do these things they were asking me to do.  They wheeled me to maternity (I was still leaking fluid, afterall) and asked me questions on the way.  They called my midwife, got me into a room and told me I'd have to wait to be checked and monitored.  Again, I couldn't do this.  I wanted to get in the bathtub.  I remember them telling me I'd have to wait, and then leaving.  They didn't come back!  So I did it myself (with help from Rebecca and DH once they realized I was not going to abide by what I was told). 

When they came back and checked me at 3 o'clock I was 8 cm.  This made me feel better, knowing that I had every right to be having a tough time at that point.  I almost wish I'd arrived earlier, because at that point I had a really hard time complying with their requests.  They wanted to monitor the baby for 15 minutes before letting me labor freely.  A reasonable request, but it was torture to not move.  Things went so fast from there that I never really felt like I got my feet beneath me.  I wish I'd had a little more time to settle in before labor picked up so much.

By 3:20 there was only a tiny lip of cervix left.  But we were having problems with Greta's heart rate.  It kept dropping to uncomfortably low levels, so they put an internal fetal scalp monitor on her.  I was having the urge to push, but the lip of cervix wasn't gone until ~4 pm.  After about an hour and a half of pushing, Greta was not really descending.  She was somewhat twisted, and we continued to have problems with her heart rate.  I felt like this was becoming a mirror of MJ's birth.  The difference was that with MJ, I had an epidural at this point and felt like I just wasn't pushing effectively because of it.  This time I could feel everything and was pushing, but just didn't feel her get anywhere.  She was stuck at +1 or +2, I think.  I was starting to shake really badly with each contraction and became convinced I needed an epidural.  Largely, I felt like I had to do something to change what was happening.  Because we'd tried lots of positions, etc., and all that was happening is that I was getting exhausted and she wasn't moving.  I was starting to become so convinced this would end in c-section that I wanted to change something.  I also found myself making peace with MJ's birth, because I started to think that it was my anatomy and not anything I did. I knew that the epidural might lead to a c-section, but I felt like I was already heading that way and maybe it would help me rest.

At 5:30 they gave me some fentanyl, which I don't recall provided any relief.  At 6:10 the epidural was in.  Having to sit still through those contractions was absolute torture, but it went in without a problem.  It started to take effect soon after and they let me rest until about 8:00.  During that time, I had my right leg resting on a peanut (which looks like a large, peanut shaped birth ball) with the hope that my contractions would turn her into a better position.  At 8 I started pushing again, but there were two issues.  Her heart rate kept dropping unless I was in one particular position (which was not the position I needed to push from).  So every time I pushed I had to rearrange myself, then go back to another position so her heartrate returned to normal.  Furthermore, I couldn't feel when the contraction was coming so the timing was problematic.  They were concerned enough about Greta's heartrate section that they called the OB in from home.

 This looked even more like it was heading towards a C-section.  If I had gone with any other OB practice I still think it would have.  Between the time the OB was called and the time she arrived, we figured some things out.  We were able to turn the epidural down to the point that I could feel the contractions well enough to know when to push.  This also helped Greta's heart rate; it still fell a bit when I was pushing, but wasn't as dramatic or prolonged.  When the OB arrived, rather than suggesting a C-section, she labored with me for a while, then went into the other room and let my midwife take over again.  I was very impressed (in retrospect) at the way she dealt with everything.

By 8:45 I was into active pushing.  I recall at 9:30 asking how much longer they felt it would take, because I needed to mentally gear myself up if we were looking at hours still.  I could feel myself wearing out again.  But they told me no, we were close.  We were not talking about hours still.  Shortly thereafter I remember feeling her hairy little head with my hand; one of the oddest feeling things I've ever experienced.  And at 10:08 she was born!

The activity immediately after she was born was frenzied.  There was a lot of meconium, so they had a whole team in place in case she was in bad shape.  The cord was around her neck, which was what was causing the heart rate drops.  They let DH cut the cord then rushed her to the little NICU table (not sure what the real name for it is) to suction her; she took a breath before being suctioned, but didn't show any detrimental effects from it.

It was all pretty awesome.  I felt pretty ecstatic it had worked out.  I didn't feel the rush of "I can do anything" that so many women talk about.  I mainly just felt really freaking lucky that this didn't end in a c-section.

In retrospect, if we have another kid, I'm not sure if I would try for another VBAC.  I felt like we so narrowly squeaked by that I'm not confident another birth wouldn't end in C-section.  Last time, I attributed all of my recovery to the C-section, but this birth showed me there was still quite a bit from a vaginal birth.  Much more than I expected.  Yes, the recovery was easier than with a C-section, but if I had to put a number on it the recovery was still about half as bad, maybe a little more.  My greatest fear is pushing for a long time and still getting a C-section, and I'm not convinced that wouldn't happen again.  Only time will tell, and only if we decide to have another kid. 

The rest of our stay in the hospital was pretty uneventful.  She nursed pretty well, we got some rest.  MJ loved meeting her for the first time, and you can see in the picture below she was already stealing her things.  There is, of course, always more to say.  But this post has been a week and a half in the works, so time to just hit "Publish" already...


  1. Loved reading your birth story.I have a natural, unmedicated birth so I love birth stories. Glad it all worked out ok! I also love her name! :)

  2. Awesome birth story, glad you got it out! (The birth story, not the baby, GOOD LORD that didn't sound right.)

    I love your swearing at your husband when he got lost on the way to the hospital. How cliche is that anyway? Hilarious. I would have been swearing too, I remember on the way to the hospital being really pissed that my husband was sitting at lights right next to the hospital when no one was coming. Yeah that's right, I was annoyed with him for not running red lights with his laboring wife in the back seat. Irrational.

    Also love this: "I was not in a cooperative mood."

    I had a similar experience, arriving to the hospital waaaay far along and just not being able to deal with the random requests people were making of me. So while I do think it would have been nice to get a little more settled at the hospital before I was to that point, I also feel like if I had been earlier, there would have been more requests and random things they wanted me to do and I still would have been annoyed. Eh well.

    MJ in Greta's hat is AWESOME. That's a picture the girls will love looking at someday down the road, when they're all grown up. :)