Thursday, July 15, 2010

Birth Story #1: The Pious One

Hi, I'm the other contributor to this site. I hope to tell you a little bit more about my experience with pregnancy and Type I diabetes, particularly as I go through my second pregnancy. For my first post I'll share with you the birth story for my son. I wrote this shortly after it happened:

My first son was born Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 10:46 in the evening, at 8 pounds, 2 ounces, one week past his due date. What follows is some of what I remember.

On Saturday afternoon, I began having contractions similar to contractions that I had periodically for exactly four weeks leading up to this day. After dinner, I confessed to my pregnant friend, who had delivered her first baby unmedicated, not induced and vaginally (all goals to which I aspired), that the contractions were different than they had been before. I wondered aloud, to her and to myself, if I might have my baby this time.

I never fell asleep, and around the wee hours of the early morning, I was quite uncomfortable and worried that the car ride to the hospital might be unbearable if my husband and I waited any longer to leave. But when we arrived at the hospital, I was only 4.5 centimeters. This was not so much progress as it seems, since I was at 4 centimeters prior to the onset of labor. Contractions were anywhere from 4-7 minutes apart. I'm pretty sure the nurse thought I was a pansy. But I'm telling you, they hurt.

We passed the morning laboring quietly. My husband and I had taken a Bradley Method course in natural childbirth, and he assisted me through the contractions. He also checked my blood sugars every hour and helped dial in boluses and give me juice from a straw. We did a lot of things, but mostly what I remember helping was holding myself up with my arms at the peak of the contractions and counting the number of breaths it took to get through them. In the early afternoon, the nurse checked my dilation and I was only at 7 centimeters. That was a blow. The silence in the room began to feel oppressive. Though no one said it, I knew they were all looking at the monitor and thinking that the contractions needed to be closer together and more intense before the baby would come. But I didn't want them to be any more intense. I wasn't sure I would be able to handle this much pain for much longer. They hurt really bad.

I told my husband several times during the afternoon hours that I couldn't do it. He said, "yes, you can." I repeated my statement, thinking maybe he didn't really understand what I had said, or that maybe he didn't really understand how much they hurt. I purposefully kept myself from changing the chorus line because I thought he might give in and let me have the epidural. I thought at one point that I would even be OK with a c-section. I didn't really want that, but I was starting to feel desperate. In fact, it felt a lot like the last four weeks had - waiting, getting our hopes up, wondering how much longer it would be. Except now there was pain and exhaustion times ten.

Around 4:00 in the afternoon, I brought out the big guns. "I
don't want to do this anymore." Without missing a beat, he responded, "that's not true." I bristled a little at that, but only because he was more right than I wanted to admit. How did he know?

My contractions were still 4-7 minutes apart, as they had been since the wee hours of the morning, but at some point, they became longer and the peaks became more intense. I know because I had to count more breaths before they were over, and I was holding myself up with my arms for more breaths. I didn't need the monitor to tell me that.

At 5:45 in the evening, they broke my water, and I cried happy tears, feeling so relieved that I would have my baby soon. About an hour later, I was fully dilated.

I tried squatting, lying on my side, standing on the bed, hands and knees. You know, all the things they tell you to do when you're pushing. At some point, however, I guess I lost the urge. I was exhausted. So after 2+ hours, we still did not have a baby to hold. Discouragement crept in again, only this time it felt more like panic. More tears, this time sad ones. My doctor suggested pitocin to get the contractions closer together, since they were still 4-7 minutes apart. He assured me that the contractions couldn't possibly hurt any more than they already did, so the pitocin wouldn't make a difference. After some deliberation, we agreed. I took naps in between contractions while we waited for the pitocin to begin working.

I don't know whether it was the pitocin or something else, but at some point everything changed. Whatever calm demeanor I had had during the previous day of labor disappeared. I was hot, weak, exhausted, and noisy. I couldn't think of anything else but getting the baby out. Darkness crept in after the sun set. They turned on some really hot lights that made me feel like I was on a stage during the climax of a play. Before, it had been quiet with only brief, gentle interruptions by our nurse. Now, there were people in and out of the room, setting up equipment, looking at me, talking. Everything was messy but I didn't care anymore. I felt guilty for making everyone wait so long. Then I felt the ring of fire.

At the very last, my son's head literally seemed to pop out and it felt weird. I was so weak that I could barely reach down and touch my slippery baby. After 22 hours or so, our harrowing journey was blissfully behind us.

For the first week, I spent some mental energy trying to figure out how I was going to tell my husband that I thought we might be a one-child family. But a short six weeks later, I was already looking forward to the next one...

1 comment:

  1. How beautiful Beth. Thanks for your honesty. You're the reason I have my children and brought Audrey into the world in a healthier way! Looking forward to hearing more about your story.