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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Si's Birth Story, pt. 2: 32 Hours

Please note: If you haven't visited the blog in a few days, there is a part 1, posted just below this posting. Start there, and then head back up to this one!

Early on the morning of Thursday the 15th (around 3 am), I woke up with contractions about 10 minutes apart. I think I'd been having them since the previous evening, but they were finally strong enough that I could no longer sleep through them. I let Drew sleep for another hour, then woke him and announced that I was FINALLY in labor. I had been told that when labor begins, the best thing to do was to store up as much energy as possible and eat a high carb meal. I remember that we decided to watch the episode of Lost (of all things) that we'd taped the night before in order to distract ourselves during the early stages of labor. What a surreal experience that was for me. I could not quite focus. I also ate two bowls of granola. Little did I know that that would be the last meal I'd eat for a day and a half. After finishing Lost, I think we tried to start watching a movie, but I couldn't deal with it. That was the end of the distraction phase. Around this time, we also made two phone calls. The first was to Anna, the midwife's assistant. We let her know I was in labor and she told us to call her back when things progressed. The next call was to Patty, one of our fabulous, extraordinary doulas.

--Side note 1: I cannot stress how important it is to have a doula, especially if you are a first-time parent. They completely take care of you, support you, and are a wonderful resource for the dads or birth partners. We were fortunate enough to have not 1 but 2 awesome doulas. Louisa was our first doula, but I was so overdue, the week I went into labor coincided with the week Louisa was in Seattle for Midwifery school. Patty was called in to take her place.

Back to the story: We called Patty. Doulas come to be with laboring moms whenever the moms want them (midwifes don't have to be there till things progress further, usually). So, Patty came fairly early in the morning and hung out with us, massaging my feet, walking me around, etc. The labor did progress, slowly, and as afternoon hit, Peggy, the midwife, and her assistant Anna showed up.

Things start to get blurry here, so I will give a list of impressions I have from that time:
I was put in every position you can imagine. We even did lunges and climbed the stairs. We also utilized every room in the house--living room, bedroom, bathroom.
The birthing tub was wonderful for pain relief, but it slowed the contractions down.
In the evening, Peggy and Anna ordered Thai food for their dinner. Around that time (I think) Louisa showed up! She was back from classes in Seattle and was kind enough to come and spend the entire night with us, leaving only when she had to catch the ferry back to Seattle again.
The baby's heartbeat was monitored after every contraction. Although I never said anything, once or twice I thought it was truly annoying to have the Doppler shoved onto my belly constantly. This was, of course, irrational, but I was in pain, and any added disturbance was most unwelcome.
I was put on oxygen at one point. This was the scariest moment for me because I didn't really know why I needed it. They removed the oxygen after a contraction and then took the baby's heartbeat. Peggy smiled. Apparently, his heartbeat had dropped but now it was back up. That's the only time this happened.
People were constantly sticking a straw in my face getting me to intake electrolyte-laden fluids. At one point, Peggy wanted me to go on an IV unless I could get more fluids into me (I'd been violently sick several times). I didn't want to go on an IV, so I forced myself to drink as much as they wanted me to in between the next several contractions. Some of the stuff I was drinking made me feel sick, and I remember insisting to Drew and the doulas and anyone who would listen that I needed to have my puke bucket with me no matter where I went. I was obsessed with having that thing right next to me.
As things got intense, every time I had a contraction, I made low guttural sounds, and the birth team joined in with me. This is one of the things Drew remarked upon later--that he felt strange being a man among this primal force of females howling out the baby.
I got stuck at 9 centimeters dilated when my cervix inflamed. Ouch. I was given homeopathic pills every 15 minutes, and they let Drew and I lie down in bed for a while. The idea was for me to relax as much as possible, slow the contractions down and allow the swelling to subside. This worked eventually, but in the interim, let me just say, that laying down is the WORST position to be in during labor.

Meanwhile, there was, how shall I say this, a situation brewing. Peggy had gotten a phone call from another client who was also in labor. I was 2 weeks late. This woman was almost 3 weeks early. So even though our due dates were 5 weeks apart, we both went into labor the same day. Peggy uses a back-up midwife in these sort of situations, but the back-up was already attending a birth. Yikes! Peggy was on the phone a lot at this stage, trying to work things out. She attempted to keep this stressful situation from us as much as possible, but even in labor, I got the gist (though the fine details were told to me after the fact). Another midwife was finally called in. Lucky woman, she gave birth at her home, just an hour or two after the step-in midwife arrived. Peggy could have gone to her home, birthed her baby and still been back at my house hours before my baby arrived.
I don't remember how long I was pushing (not exactly watching the clock, you know?), but I began when it was still dark out. Likewise, I don't know when my water actually broke. I never actually felt it happen. Apparently, I was in the birthing tub as we noticed the water became much murkier. Ah, yes. The "murk" would be from our good friend, meconium. You'll be hearing more about that in just a moment

Night passed into morning. Let's pick up the story again at about 9 am. I've been in labor for over 30 hours. I'm squatting on a yoga mat. Drew is seated behind me. Peggy and the rest of our birth team (minus Louisa who had to depart for the ferry) are crouched around me. We hear Peggy say to Anna "That's a lot of meconium." Now, I know in my preparatory reading, I'd seen that word before, but in the moment, with nothing but the next contraction in mind, the word meconium could have been the word cello or the word daffodils. It meant nothing to me, but the next words did hit home: "my policy when there's this much meconium is to transfer."

--Sidenote 2: "Transfer" means "travel 20 miles to the nearest hospital." Meconium is a normal occurrence, but a lot of it can signify increased risk of Meconium Aspiration. This means that the baby breaths in meconium during or right after birth. It can cause problems, including death. I learned later that Peggy had attended a birth in which a baby died from this: Hence her policy.

I hear the word "transfer" and I know what it means and I know I don't want to go to the hospital. I want the baby out NOW. He's so close. I can reach in and feel his head. But according to Peggy, we have time to make it to the hospital. I've trusted Peggy with the birth of our baby, so I trust her decision now. This was perhaps harder on Drew, who wasn't experiencing the primordial-laboring-woman-zone that I was. He was really upset that we had to go to the hospital, and that something might go wrong with the birth.

It was decided that I would ride with Peggy and Anna. Drew would go separately with Patty.
Have you ever ridden a half hour in the backseat of a Corolla in the pushing stage of labor? I don't recommend it. This was not the best half hour of my life. I was apparently supposed to try to not push. Uh-huh. My body was a bit on autopilot. One thing I recall was that Anna fixed my hair, which must have been a complete nest, in order to make me less of a mess once we got to the hospital. I recall Peggy coaching me, saying that I'd have to give it my all once we were there. Meanwhile, the ride was good for Drew, who benefited from a half hour with the calm and patient Patty, rather than with my constant screams.
We all arrived at Harrison Hospital. I didn't know what to expect when we pulled up at the emergency entrance. The doctor I'd encountered here just two days previously was such a prick. Would we be treated that badly by the doctors and nurses today? Worse yet, would THAT doctor be on call and deliver the baby?

I am so glad I had Peggy, Anna, Patty, and Drew with me. Sure, we were in a hospital now, but actually, it felt as though we'd just transfered our energy from one location to another. We kept doing everything we'd been doing at home and the nurse helping out was very obliging. About an hour after we arrived, a doctor (NOT the bad one) showed up and caught the baby, who was born at 11:04 am.

Silas was so alert, so healthy. No meconium aspiration, after all. He could have been born at home, and though it didn't matter at the time, looking back, I wish his first breath had been in our living room rather than a hospital room. At the same time, we made a good decision and erred on the side of caution, and I'm okay with that too. Since we labored at home for so long, and since our homebirth energy transfered to the hospital, in a way, I still feel like we had Silas at home.

Silas was placed on my chest and he was so beautiful, so surprising. I didn't think he'd be such a pink color as I had the impression that all newborns were rather purple. His skin was the same tone as mine. I was surprised that he was blond (I thought he'd have brown hair like his dad). I was also surprised at how ravenously hungry I was. I had just birthed a baby after 32 hours of labor with no pain meds and hadn't eaten in over a day, so why would this surprise me? Drew fed me pasta premavera while I held our son. I was tired, but euphoric, and so happy to have our lovely boy, at last. That meal was the best!

That's where I'll leave things. It's really the beginning of the story, rather than the end. But for rest, you'll just have to read the blog!

2 comments:

Morag said...

Heya Mama,
It goes without saying that yours was a *great* birth (even though I wasn't there for all those many hours). One of the things I love most about birth work is that sometimes I get to be in the room, and be watching a woman as she changes into a mother. That very basic, primal life stage shift. I feel as though I was there to witness this with you. It was an honor and a privilege.
And Drew was just amazing too.
You cats are such an AMAZING little family!
Xx L.
P.S. Can I say also that I totally hope you decide to do it again some time?

Kerri said...

Hey Drew & Amber,
Thanks so much for sharing your story. We're 6 weeks (I guess with how due dates go, that should be in quotation marks) away from our homebirth.
We miss you guys and love checking in with Silas' goings on.
Love,
Kerri & Jeff