Sunday, October 31, 2010

Birth Story #2: Braveheart

My second son was born at 10:25 p.m. on October 22, 2010.

The story actually begins well before the birth itself. In fact, it really begins in September of 2008 when I found out I was pregnant with my first son, but maybe that's a different, longer story about motherhood. We'll just start a couple weeks from this baby's birthday.

My doctor first suggested induction at my 38 week appointment. It was actually a question: "When would you like to schedule it?" I was unprepared for the question, since I never intended or wanted to be induced. So I deflected and bought myself another week. At my 39 week appointment, we scheduled the induction for 2 days past my due date, but I was still not resolved to do it. I kept just hoping I would go into labor on my own.

The night before my scheduled induction, after all sorts of "natural" induction methods had failed, Jenn called and wanted to make sure that I was comfortable going forward with a pitocin induction. I wasn't, so her call forced me to the point of fully accepting whatever choice I made. I even spoke with my doctor the next morning - the morning I was supposed to show up for my induction - and he (without his typical warmth) affirmed that the choice was, in fact, mine (but that he had already made enough of an exception for me by letting me go to my due date and did not approve of my hesitation). Still unconvinced by his heavy-handed warning about the statistical doom that awaited my child and my pregnancy, I told him that he may or may not see us at the hospital in an hour.

After a three minute discussion with my husband, we decided to go for it (in reality the conversation had been ongoing for weeks and involved many more people than this, but for the sake of brevity, I must cut it off here. Will post more on that discussion later). So we hopped into the car.

We arrived at 8:00 a.m., were admitted, and met our nurse. And after meeting our nurse, I knew that God had prepared this ahead of time for our good. We had a lot in common, and she seemed very excited to help us bring our baby into the world. We even invited her to our son's anticipated baptism.

The pitocin started at 10:00 a.m. I was already dilated 4 cm and 90% effaced, but had similar stats at the beginning of labor with Symeon, so I was not convinced that this didn't have the potential to be a 24-hour ordeal. Contractions gradually gained regularity and frequency, but were weak. I wasn't doing any real work. We read, checked e-mail, talked with each other and with our nurse. We were pretty excited to meet our little man, but I was having doubts about how it would all go down. One bit of luck I had is that one of the residents did an ultrasound before they started the pitocin and she was able to print a picture of my baby for me...and his eyes were open! I can't tell you how much it helped to get me excited to be able to look at a picture of my baby during these waiting moments.

Around 5:00 p.m., I was maxed out on pitocin with not a lot happening. My doctor checked me and I was "5-6 centimeters." In plain English, that means I was probably closer to 5 cm but they wanted to make me feel better about my progress. He wanted to break my water but I wasn't ready. I was still not convinced that I was actually in labor, and if I was, I wasn't sure I was ready for the intensity that would likely follow an amniotomy. I asked them to wait. He stripped the membranes, grudgingly agreed to wait, said he was going home, and told me to let the residents know when I was ready.

Over the next two hours, the contractions became more intense (but I was still talking through most of them). Now I knew I was in labor, so the only obstacle to them breaking my water was whether I was ready for it to go quickly and get hard? After some deliberation, my husband and I decided it would be best to have them break the water.

At 7:30 p.m., when the resident went in with the amnio hook, I was still only "5-6 centimeters." Which meant that no measurable progress had been made. Still, I knew I was really in labor now, and I was emotionally ready to get to work and meet my baby. These are not measurable indicators, but it was still extremely important progress.

Within one or two contractions, the intensity came on strong. I was still on the maximum pitocin dose, so our nurse began to turn it down. After another half hour, I asked her to turn it off, since I did not have ANY break in between my contractions and really needed some time to recuperate. Half an hour after the pitocin was all but removed, I had the peace that I needed in between contractions, but they were still fast, long, and strong. I told my husband I wasn't sure how much longer I could do this. He told me I was doing great.

At 9:30 p.m., I was feeling a lot of "pressure." The experienced reader may understand the difference between "pressure" and "urge to push," but I sure didn't, and thought maybe I was ready to give it a go. I asked the resident to check my dilation, but I was only at 7 cm. Oh, wow, did that news hurt. Like, even more than the contractions did. She told me to continue to try to breathe through the contractions, since my cervix was not really ready to let my baby through.

My pleas for pain relief became more urgent. Thank God that neither my husband nor the nurse believed me when I said I couldn't do it. My husband reminded me that an epidural could make it take even longer, I was already so close, and as much as I wanted to avoid the pain, I mostly just wanted to get it over with and meet my son. So I metaphorically gritted my teeth (but in fact tried to relax my jaw, like all advocates of natural childbirth recommend!), remembered Bradley's advice ("5 more contractions"), and offered my pain to God.

Within 30 minutes, I grabbed my husband and said with urgency: "Tell Jen [our nurse] I can't not push anymore." With calm that did not mirror my urgency, I heard my husband whisper quietly to Jen. "Beth told me to tell you that she can't not push anymore." It made me chuckle because I was fairly certain that neither of them comprehended immediately what I already had: that THIS was the urge to push, this baby was ready to be born now and I was ready to assist.

Jen came over and checked my dilation and lo and behold! I was fully dilated after only 30 additional minutes! I quickly absorbed the good news, which I had intuitively surmised already, and with my next contraction I pushed hard. "OK, I can see baby's head, so I'm going to go get the residents."

Pushing felt good, but getting the baby out did not. Just 20 minutes later, at the very end, there was a lot of screaming and "ow, ow, ow, ow OWWWWW!" My husband said it was hard to watch me in so much pain and he even shed a few tears because of it. But every woman who has ever been there knows that there's no turning back. So you give one last big push and welcome to the world, baby!

He weighed in at a whopping 9 pounds, 8 ounces and 22 inches long. Everyone exclaims what a big baby I have and wow, that must have made labor hard? I laugh and tell them that the size of the baby matters very little to me - as far as I'm concerned, it's probably going to hurt whether you push out 6 pounds or 9 pounds - the biggest obstacle to pushing out babies for me is my own anxiety about it. And I'm not just talking about anxiety over the pain of labor, I'm talking anxiety about being a mother, a parent, responsible for one more new life plus holy living, even after your crankiest, most sleepless nights.

My blood sugar was right around 110 at delivery, but sky-rocketed shortly afterwards. I suggest you keep a close eye on it while pushing, because that's when mine rose last time around, too. It's just that this one came flying out so fast that my rising blood sugar didn't have time to affect him! His was 63 at birth and dropped down into the 40s over night, but his condition was stable and no supplemental feeding was necessary. Breast-feeding has been a huge success.

That being said, I highly recommend a second child to any one who experienced a lot of anxiety with their first. I can't believe how much fun I missed out on during the newborn period the first time around! Labor was faster, recovery has been much easier, and my perspective on babies and being a mother is larger, longer, and growing every day. And I'm sure loving the baby snuggles...

1 comment:

  1. SO AMAZING, Beth!! Thank you so much for sharing and encouraging us all! :) Jenn