Saturday, September 4, 2010

Welcoming Will

Sorry, this has taken forever to write. But there was a lot to remember!

Will's birth story really begins on Friday, August 6, when my mom arrived for a quick weekend visit. From the moment she got here, we were working. I was a task master... we got my car washed and detailed, went shopping for postpartum clothes, installed the car seat, washed windows, weeded the garden, pruned bushes, hung artwork and cleaned the house. Looking back now, this was most certainly my last "burst of energy" before labor. I remember feeling a little tired, but I just wanted to keep working.

At 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 8, I woke up with what felt like mild menstrual cramps. I didn't think much of them, and went back to sleep.

By 3:30 a.m. the "cramps" were more intense. I couldn't lay down comfortably anymore, so I snuck out of bed and went downstairs to watch some TV. Since I was up and watching the clock, I realized the pains were coming about every 10 minutes. They didn't feel like what I imagined contractions would be like, so I still didn't believe I was in labor. I slept on and off on the couch, until about 7:30 a.m. when my mom and Ben got up.

We ate breakfast, and I continued to monitor the pains. At this point, I was pacing the living room during contractions. They weren't terribly painful if I was moving, but hurt like hell if I was sitting or laying down. We timed them for an hour or so, and then decided to take a walk and run to the grocery store.

By 12:30 the contractions hurt even when I was moving around. They were now coming every 5-7 minutes, lasting about 45 seconds in length. The nurse on call at our OB's office told me to keep monitoring the contractions for another hour or so. By the end of the hour, they were coming every 4-5 minutes, lasting about 60 seconds. The nurse suggested we head up to the hospital. It was 2:00 p.m.

Our bag was already packed, so we just had to grab it and go. As Ben was pulling the car out of the garage, I started crying as I hugged my mom goodbye. "My whole life is going to change." "Yes," she said, "But in the most amazing way possible."

I was so terrified that we'd get to the hospital and I would be barely dilated. I was in a fair amount of pain, and starting to doubt my ability to labor without drugs. I was so relieved when the nurse said I was 3 centimeters along. They moved us to our permanent room and hooked me up to monitor my contractions and the baby's heartbeat for 30 minutes.

We met Sally, our labor nurse, who was really supportive and excited about our natural birth plan. Since I was declining an epidural and everything looked good on the monitor, I was free to labor out of bed. Ben and I walked the halls of the labor and delivery ward, pausing to sway my hips when a contraction hit. After about an hour, I started to get really tired. It was 4:00 p.m., and I had been up for over 12 hours.

I laid down in bed and tried to rest in between contractions. After a little while, Sally came in and suggested I keep walking to move labor along. We got back out of bed and kept pacing the halls.

Around 5:00, the contractions were so intense that my knees buckled. I had so much pressure in my bottom. Sally checked me and I was already 9.5 centimeters. I had only been laboring at the hospital for 2 1/2 hours. Sally called the doctor and asked me if I felt like pushing. I didn't yet, but I was in a ton of pain. I couldn't find a comfortable position, and the contractions were constant. I was kneeling on all fours on my hospital bed when my water finally broke.

The doctor got to our room at 5:35 p.m., but I still had a small lip of my cervix remaining. I now had the urge to push, so the doctor pulled on my cervix to help me dilate the last little bit (this hurt like hell).

Since I didn't have an epidural, the doctor had my hold my own legs and curl my upper body around my belly. I remember thinking that I just wanted someone to help me hold my legs! I was exausted, but it was the most effective position to get the baby out.

Though pushing was tiring, there were breaks between contractions so I could rest. As I would start feeling the next contraction ramp up, I would almost start to cry. It was always hard to start pushing, but once I got going it wasn't so bad. Even without drugs, I couldn't feel the baby coming down, so I had no concept of the progress I was making. I remember thinking that the pushing wasn't doing anything. It just hurt.

The nurse and the doctor both said I was doing great, but I didn't believe them. It felt like I'd been pushing forever and it seemed like nothing was happening. Then I felt the "ring of fire", an intense burning and stretching as the baby crowns. Ben said he could see the baby's head... we were almost done! The doctor asked me if I wanted to touch the baby or use a mirror to see him coming out. Um, hell no. That was just one more step between the pain I was feeling and getting him out.

So I buckled down and pushed with everything I had. The burning got worse and worse. I thought it was never going to end, and then I felt a great release. As Will's head, shoulders and body emerged, all of my pain vanished. It was 6:02 p.m. Will was born after a mere 26 minutes of pushing (for the record, it felt like way longer).

Will started screaming immediately and the doctor put him on my chest. I couldn't believe I was holding my son. He was tiny, pink and perfect.

Ben and I had a few names we liked, but wanted to wait until he was born to pick one. As I was holding our tiny boy, Ben looked at me and said, "I think he looks like a William." And he did. It was who he was meant to be.

After a few minutes Ben cut the cord, and they took Will to the warmer to check his vitals. He had a 1 minute Apgar score of 9 and a 5 minute Apgar score of 10. As Ben and the nurses looked after Will, the doctor delivered the placenta and stitched up my small first-degree tear (with Will out, I happily took pain meds for this). I started thanking Sally and the doctor profusely. I couldn't believe it was over and that I had really done it.

Soon Will was returned to me to try nursing. He had little interest in breastfeeding right away, but snuggled up into my chest and fell asleep. It was amazing to feel his tiny chest rising and falling on my own. All seven pounds of him seemed to melt right back into me.

When I tell anyone that we delivered naturally, they always want to know if I'd do it again. And truthfully, I would. I felt so empowered by my delivery, and I'm really proud of my body.

That being said, I would have never been able to do a natural birth without our Bradley birth class. Labor and delivery is overwhelming and scary. Even with all our Bradley training, I had moments of fear and self-doubt. I can't imagine trying to do this without an informed birth partner and an implicit understanding of the stages of labor.

A million thanks to the team of people that helped us bring Will into the world. I feel very fortunate that we were given the opportunity to have the birth that we wanted. I'm far from an expert, but if I can answer any questions about my experience or give any encouragement to those seeking a natural birth, I'd love to.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely Sammy. You made a very hansome little man!


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