Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Birth Story (November 2013)

I woke up around 3:30 AM with mild contractions, a common occurrence in the past few weeks before baby was born so I began my routine to see if they would stop. Trying to repress the excitement that accompanies the possibility of labor, I drank some water and ate a cracker and put on a hypnobabies relaxation CD. This usually put me back to sleep and I would wake up in the morning depressed because I wasn't in labor. However this time, I was still awake all the way through the CD. So I started another CD. The contractions seemed to be more regular than previous times and I found myself irritated with the voice on the CD because she wasn't helping me sleep. So I decided to take a bath and change CD's. At this point I was pretty sure I was in labor this time but I figured some time in the tub would let me know for sure. I did not wake my husband yet, he needed his sleep!

Sitting in the tub with candles, wearing my yellow sunglasses, with the hypnobabies going was relaxing but the contractions kept coming. I looked at the clock and thought I'd wait until 6 AM to wake Fixitman and call my dear friend at her hotel. She had came to town to help out as my doulal. While listening the CD, I was also counting marbles stacked in pyramids in my mind. Best suggestion for a distraction I've ever been given! I loved the orderly stacks of shiny black marbles in my head. It helped me be distracted enough to be able to calmly continue to breathe. Since each contraction was about 25-28 marbles of counting at this time, it let me know the contraction was almost over. I loved the rhythm of it.

At about 5:45AM the contractions were getting strong and I decided I needed to get out of the tub. Fixitman woke up and I asked him to time some of the contractions because they seemed really often and I wanted separate verification that they really were so often. Getting out of the tub the contractions seemed to be coming more often and I was having to focus more during them. When I called my friend to tell her labor was indeed happening, I had to pause during the contractions, I couldn't talk through them anymore. Fixitman called our night back up person to come sit at our house and got voicemail. We were almost to dawn so I called our daytime back up person as well because we needed to get going. I spent time resting mostly while Fixitman got everything loaded in the car. At one point I was in child's pose on the floor and the thought occurred to me that I was going to have this baby pretty soon. I could sense that I was definitely out of early labor and in the active labor stage. Fixitman had to help me out to the car. Dinoguy woke up and I gave him a hug and told him everything was okay we were just going to go to the hospital to have the baby now. Our back up child watchers had not come yet but we needed to go! It was about 6:30 AM. I think they got to our house about 6:45 AM, both of them within 10 minutes of each other.

While driving we discussed whether or not my doctor would be at the hospital today, since there was one day each week he worked at another facility. Fixitman called his phone number and left a message. The reason it mattered to me was he was the only doctor willing to let me labor in the birthing tub I was bringing to the hospital. The back up doctor wasn't going to "let" me use it. (Really how is that his call?!? Women should be able to labor however they want!) Originally our plan had been if my doctor was not going to be at the hospital we were just going to "accidentally" stay at home too long and have the baby there so I could use my birth tub. Since we were already driving to the hospital, I decided I was okay with whatever happened, that whether or not I labored in the birthing tub was not critical.

As we pulled into the hospital parking lot, I started crying because I realized Fixitman would have to leave me at the entrance and go park the car and I did not want him to leave my side. I was cold and heavily involved in labor at this point. He reassured me he would not leave me and helped me to the entrance and put me in a wheelchair. The registration nurse was a bit alarmed when Fixitman told her my contractions were every 2 minutes and lasting for 45-60 seconds. He covered me in my mother blessing blanket and told me he'd be right back. My dear friend called me to ask me a question and I responded with something like "Hospital, Just get here. Now." I had on headphones with my birthing affirmation CD from hypnobabies and was focusing on listening to that and stacking my black marbles in my head during contractions. So when the nurse from labor and delivery came to get me and was trying to talk to me I told her to shut up, I was having a contraction and she was distracting me. Then when it was over I apologized. I was still freezing cold and feeling vulnerable. I knew I had to sit through them doing their initial fetal monitoring on the bed and wasn't looking forward to that. I hate the monitors. They are one of the worst things!

Happy news was that my doctor was at the hospital! An initial check said I was about 7 cm dilated.  Hooray! However I also heard my doctor say the baby was occipital posterior, which worried me. My two longest labors the baby was posterior, so I had been mentally telling this baby to present anterior please! I wanted Fixitman to go get the birthing tub and bring it up to set up but I also didn't want him to leave my side. My dear friend finally showed up (she had gotten very lost) and I wanted to send her to get the tub but also didn't want her to leave my side. It turned out there wouldn't have been time to fill it up and use it but I wish we'd just brought it in with us when we first arrived. The 20 minutes of the initial monitoring were quite uncomfortable. Laboring while lying on your back in a bed is the MOST UNCOMFORTABLE position possible for labor. When that was done, Fixitman helped move me to the birth ball which was more comfortable. I was whiney and overwhelmed at this point, not liking my position but not feeling capable of moving so he had to guide me through each step until I was resting on the ball and leaning on him. He is such an awesome support person for me! My dear friend was their providing positive words and being my advocate. I was so glad she was there too so Fixitman could just focus on me.

Mentally by this time I was having a hard time focusing on my pyramids of marbles. I had given up making them three dimensional anymore and was now making flat triangles of marbles. The music and affirmations on the CD which had been so relaxing previously was not helping as much anymore and the contractions seemed to never stop. I was getting to 55-60 marbles and losing my place counting and getting very frustrated because I was still feeling the pain. The very clear thought came to me: "You're in a hospital! You can ask for pain relief and they have it! You can make all this go away!" The next time the contractions had subsided enough to speak I said "I want an epidural." Fixitman smiled nicely at me and hugged me, which I knew meant he didn't believe me. So I started whining and possibly crying that I really wanted it. The nurse immediately said she could get one for me, but Fixitman suggested they do a check on dilation first. This required me to move back onto that evil bed.

Fixitman guided me up to the bed and I lost my headphones in transit but didn't care. The nurse did a check and announced I was a stretchy 9 and could possibly try pushing, there was just a small lip. She then went off to get the doctor to come back up. (He was downstairs doing a surgery.) I wanted to push but I didn't like my position of course. Mike helped me get onto my knees and then at the next contraction I felt the need to bear down. It felt wonderful! I heard and felt a pop and the pushing stage was in process. (The pop was the bag of waters breaking.)

Our sweet baby had apparently had a bowel movement in utero because the nurse kind of freaked out. Instead of clear liquids, greenish blackish liquid was everywhere. I know there were more people in the room all of the sudden but I wasn't super aware. Mentally I was somewhere else and completely focused on pushing out the baby. I was in a half squat/kneeling position I believe and it only took a few good pushes for the baby to be born. They cut the cord quickly because of the meconium and the nurse whisked him off to suction off his face. After pushing him out, I was suddenly out of energy to move. I waited for someone to help me turn over onto my back and for them to bring my baby back to me. It took what felt like a really long time and in the mean time I pushed out the placenta and had the doctor checking me. Shortly after he was born my friend had announced that I had a son. It was only 8:14 AM. We had only been at the hospital a little over an hour. This was my fastest labor and delivery by far.



I did not find out the gender of our baby before he was born. I had heard it was a neat experience to find out at the birth and wanted to try experiencing that, especially since I knew I'd be happy with either gender. When she told me he was a boy, it just felt right. I knew he was meant to join our family and was the child I had been waiting to meet. When they finally brought him back to me he was beautiful. I was so thrilled to finally be holding him! He was happy to cuddle and nursed a little bit. Then the nurse was after me to go use the restroom and so I had to hand him off again.

Once I was cleaned up and back in bed holding him I was hungry but happy. My sweet boy was here and he was beautiful and healthy. He weighed in at 9 pounds 6 ounces and 21.5 inches in length. Not quite my largest baby but close! My friends brought my a delicious Chick-fil-a classic chicken sandwich and their delicious lemonade.

Then I noticed the IV still dripping in my arm. What was it for and why was it labeled oxytocin? I had received the group b strep antibiotics while in labor but those were done. Why was there a new bag? I called the nurse and found out that I was indeed receiving oxytocin because she felt it would prevent hemorrhaging and because he was my fifth baby she felt I was at risk of this. I should have demanded it be removed but I didn't. I don't think I had the fight in me. But I didn't need it and didn't want it. Afterward discussing it with my doctor he said nurses could give that without getting doctor permission and he had not known about it. Maybe this isn't a big deal, but my right to informed consent was violated. Additionally it made my after birth contractions so strong that I had to take some pain medicine to deal with them. I dislike taking medicine and having to take medicine because of the effects of other medicine was irritating!

Overall I am choosing to remember this as a wonderful positive birth experience. My son was born healthy and with no complications. However if we are discussing birth in general, my wishes and my birth plan were ignored. Sharing or wants beforehand did not work, we still had to inform every nurse about things that differed from their standard policy while arriving for the birth. Additionally I was taken advantage of in my vulnerable new mom state. Baby having meconium is not crisis enough to warrant immediately clipping the cord and taking him over for a vigorous exam immediately. My third child was also born with meconium in the waters and the midwife just quickly cleaned him off before handing her to me, without cutting the cord. Additionally you have the IV and oxytocin that was put in me without informing me.

When I have given birth at a birth center (twice previously), the people are busier right when you give birth, but there aren't suddenly 4-5 more people in it. Additionally I have been able to just hold my baby IMMEDIATELY after the birth. Hospitals are so worried about their protocol. They are not concerned with the individual needs or wants of patients. While I had a fabulous doctor, most of my interactions were with the nurses and I didn't meet them until I was there in labor! This doesn't make sense at all to me. I should not have to worry about building a relationship while I am in labor. Why even bother to talk about all your concerns with the doctor when he won't be there most of the time while you are in labor?

When you have a midwife care for you beforehand, you also have that same midwife there the whole time you are in labor. They don't attempt to go back and forth between seeing patients in their office, doing surgeries and checking in on you. Anyone scheduled for an appointment when you are in labor is rescheduled or seen by someone else. Mother care by a midwife is more than just seeing if her physical stats are fine, it is caring for the whole person. My midwife with my fourth child especially was wonderful at providing a safe place for me to discuss my mental and emotional stuff I was dealing with while we were pregnant. Then she was there the whole time I was in labor.

I've given birth in a hospital with a family doctor, in a hospital with an OB twice, and with a certified nurse midwife twice. I absolutely prefer the midwife. This doesn't mean my doctors weren't great because I do think they were. However the system they work within is fundamentally flawed with hospitals and their management of birth. I believe almost all women should be giving birth in birthing centers, (or at home if they prefer) with just a few being sent to hospitals. If I were a hospital administrator, I'd be building a birthing center right next to the hospital and recruiting midwives.Why isn't this more common?

With regards to home birth, I think I would like to experience it if I have a nurse midwife with me and a hospital is nearby for backup. My husband would rather not deal with the messy results of birth at home. However he is a fabulous wonderful support person, and was willing to consider it when my options were limited this time. Ultimately after prayer, I had felt like the hospital and the doctor I chose were the right choice this time for me. I don't think it was because of any conditions that happened to my child but because I needed to revisit what it was like to birth in a hospital so I could get over my irrational fear of Texas hospitals. I was also able to review what I dislike about the setting.

Hospitals are for sick people y'all. Most women in labor are not sick but doing something natural and beautiful. I think the oversight of professionals is very good to have because of the possibility of complications but for most women this possibility is very small and does not require an institutional setting. We need to spend more time educating and inform women about the natural process of birth. Hospitals do not provide emotional support to women in labor. Women need doulas and support people who are with them. This is scientifically shown to improve the outcomes for mom and baby! But because of money, hospitals are happy to continue to perpetuate the lie that labor is painful and difficult and you should just let all your decisions be made by professionals without becoming informed. I am not saying all women should give birth without drugs. I am saying women need to become educated and empowered about the things happening to their bodies. If a woman wants to have an epidural or other pain relief product, that is fine, but she needs to be educated about all of the possible side effects.

If I have a choice, my next baby will be born in a birthing center or at home.

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