While being pregnant with my first child, my body was going through changes I had never experienced before. Let's just say Google was my friend. How do I prevent stretch marks? What exercises are still safe for me to do? What foods can I eat and which ones do I need to avoid? How big is my baby right now? Developmentally, where is she at? How many diapers will I need? What are the must have baby items? What about all the safety guidelines and recall items? There was so much unknown. So many things that I had no knowledge of. While I was overflowing with excitement that I was joining the mom club, I equally was overwhelmed. I was fearful I would make the wrong decisions; not be prepared enough for this bundle of joy arriving so soon.
Despite all of these unknowns, I was most fearful of childbirth. My mom's experience was pretty rough and resulted in C-section, something I really did not want to experience. I remember reading a good friend of mine's birth story from a couple years earlier. I think it stood out to me most because it was out of the ordinary, and quite honestly, inspiring. She had an all natural childbirth. That's right. No medications, no interventions, nothing but her God-given ability to birth His creation inside of her. I mean, it made sense. God did create us women to birth children. There is no question about that. So why did we need all of this unnecessary intervention and medication? Well, isn't it obvious? Childbirth is freaking intense! Anything that can reduce the pain should be welcomed, right?
|Last belly bump picture. 40 weeks 4 days pregnant|
For all you moms out there, I applaud you. Whatever your birth experience looked like, I hope it is what you wanted. The only thing that truly matters, is that your little peanut arrived safe and sound. With that being said, I personally wanted to go to all natural route. That doesn't make me better, mightier, or more in tune with my body. And quite honestly, I even had doubts about it in the beginning. I signed up for a 12 week Bradley Method class with my husband, which educates on natural childbirth, nutrition, and having the spouse play the birthing coach role. My husband was less than thrilled that this was my decision. On one hand, it was 12 weeks, which does seem excessive in the beginning. On the other hand, he's a nurse. Wanting an all-natural experience with no medical intervention was very foreign to him. Nonetheless, I got him on board. The classes were so helpful in understanding what was going on in my body, what would happen during labor, and educating me on what could result from medical intervention. With all this knowledge, I was more sure than ever that I wanted an all natural childbirth.
Oh, if only things happened the way I wanted.
Thursday, August 28, was the day before I was turning 41 weeks, and I had an appointment with my doctor. Throughout my pregnancy, my OB said that she would not let me go past 41 weeks and would likely induce me if I did. As time crept closer, I was fearful I would have to get medical intervention because Brynlee was very content where she was. I was frustrated by this, because I knew that most first-time moms would go to 41 weeks, if not passed it. Why did my OB want to rush things? Unless the baby was in danger, or my placenta was aging, there's no reason for me to receive medical induction. At the same time, I was ready for this little girl to come out. My OB strapped me to a machine to check how frequently my contractions were and to monitor Brynlee's heartbeat. I was having contractions every 3 to 5 minutes. Brynlee scored a 10 out of 10, meaning everything was looking great. My OB asked me how I felt about intervention. I told her I was only comfortable with her stripping my membranes at this point, which basically means she takes her finger and sweeps the side of my cervix. It was very painful, but it was supposed to get things started without medication. As we were leaving her office, she said that if I hadn't had Brynlee by the following Monday, she was going to induce me. At this point, I wasn't too worried about it because almost immediately after leaving her office, my contractions felt stronger. My husband said, "Well, looks like we need to go walking!" He was right. I wanted this labor to get going.
We went to the Santa Anita mall to walk around. He dropped me off at the front because my contractions were already uncomfortable. As I waited for him, I just leaned up against the wall and breathed through them. Matt joined me, and he immediately started shopping. Not the casual browsing, but literally shopping for what seemed like a whole new wardrobe. I tried to keep moving, while he stopped and looked at clothes. I did circles around the racks he was at, and while he was trying on clothes, I just walked from one side of the dressing room to the other. By the time his shopping spree was done, I told him I was over walking and needed something to eat. We headed to Cheesecake Factory where we had a delicious meal. I was still having contractions throughout it, and I was surprised that the waiter didn't ask if I was doing okay. Obviously, I hid the discomfort well. I am so grateful for that meal, because it was my last one before I had Brynlee.
After lunch, we decided to head home. I decided I would try to take a nap because I knew this baby girl was coming and I wanted to save as much of my energy as I could. Having continuous contractions made sleeping impossible, but at least I was able to rest. When I got up it was probably around 6 PM Thursday night and I labored for three more hours at home. I bounced on my exercise ball, trying to relieve the pressure I had on my lower back. I heated up my rice pad and had Matt press it hard on my lower back, and this gave me so much relief during the peak of the contractions. At 9 PM my contractions were constant at four minutes apart. We decided to head to the hospital, which was about 45 minutes away. I made sure to heat up my heating pad before we left, and it gave me relief most of the way. Because we arrived at the hospital after 8 o'clock, I had to enter through the emergency room. They got a wheelchair and took me to triage, where I was checked. At that point, my contractions were three minutes apart and I was 1 cm dilated. The nurse told me that I could stay at the hospital because I was technically in active labor, or I could go back home. Because my plan was to labor and deliver naturally, I didn't want to be put on the clock if I was progressing slowly. I was still only a centimeter dilated, which was no different than that morning at my OB's office. If I chose to stay at the hospital and didn't progress fast enough, they likely would induce me to get my labor going. I wanted to avoid this, so I decided to leave the hospital.
Because we live so far away, we got a hotel room about five minutes away. I wanted something with a tub so I could sit in the hot water. I had heard from many people that this gave the most relief during contractions. I sat in the car while Matt got us checked in, which felt like an eternity. My contractions were very painful at this point and I just wanted to get in the tub. I hadn't had my heating pad since we left for the hospital. He finally came back, and helped me to our room. He immediately started the water and as soon as I could, I got in. While I labored in the tub, Matt left to go park the car, which was currently parked in front of the hotel. The hot water did give a lot of relief, and I think I stayed in for at least an hour or two. If I was staying in the room next to ours, I would've called security because I would've thought someone was getting murdered...seriously. You don't really think about a lot other than the pain during labor, but that thought went through my head.
At this point I was uncomfortable sitting in the hard tub so I wanted to get out. The darn room didn't have a microwave for me to heat up my rice pad, so Matt was clever and got a towel wet with really hot water and put it in a plastic bag. I had him push that on my lower back while I laid over my exercise ball. We had been at the hotel for probably about four hours, and Matt started to freak out a little bit. Seeing me in so much pain was really hard for him. Also, I was bleeding a lot (I had been bleeding all day since my OB stripped my membranes) and neither of us really knew what was normal. I was surprised because he's the nurse and I thought he would not be phased, but of course, I am his wife, not a patient. When we decided to leave, Matt helped me to the elevator down to the car. The car was in a parking structure so I stood by the doors while Matt went to go get it. I was grateful it was the middle of the night and no one was around to hear me screaming and moaning. Matt pulled the car up and he helped me get inside.
We drove up to the gate to get out of the parking garage and Matt hands the ticket to the attendant. Because I was in and out of the water, the ticket was soaked. There was no way it was going to get in the machine, so Matt was hoping the guy could manually open the gate without entering the ticket. Well, the guy either did not know what he was doing, or the system didn't allow him to open the gate without the ticket. We were sitting there forever. Meanwhile, I'm having contractions and the guy is looking at Matt like, "What the heck is wrong with her?!" Matt did a little chuckle and said, "Sorry, she's in labor." Well, I sure as heck didn't feel like chuckling!!! I was so upset that the stupid gate wouldn't open. At one point, I may have yelled at the guy to open the gate. #sorryI'mnotsorry An hour and a half later - no just kidding, it was probably only about 10 minutes - we exited the parking structure and headed to the hospital.
Matt dropped me off in front of the emergency room and took the car to valet. I waddled my way to the desk and they wheeled me to triage. When I got there I told them I wanted to go straight to labor and delivery because I was just checked four hours earlier. I was clearly an active labor and didn't want to go through the process again. They refused, and strapped me to the machine again. My contractions are still three minutes apart but I was 5 cm dilated. I was in excruciating pain. It felt like the contractions were one on top of one another without any relief. When Matt came in the room I was devastated that he didn't have anything with him. Because I was going to go the natural route, I prepared a lot of things to help me deal with the pain. I had my exercise ball, the heating pad, a crockpot I planned to put water, towels and some oils in so Matt could put hot towels on my back. I also had my essential oils and my diffuser that I wanted to use in the room. All of these things were meant to help me in the laboring process, but THEY WERE ALL STILL IN THE CAR.!! Because I was in so much pain I didn't want Matt to leave me to go get them and my mom hadn't arrived yet. I felt so defeated. I had no hope that I would be able to continue laboring without the help of these things. I was so consumed with the pain that I didn't even realize I had progressed so quickly in such a short amount of time. So… I opted for the epidural. By the time they transferred me from triage to labor and delivery, an hour had passed and I was 7 cm dilated.
I remember the anesthesiologist told me to stay absolutely still as he gave me the epidural, then got upset when I didn't. I'm sorry. It's not like I was hunching over in RIDICULOUS pain or anything. I felt almost instant relief...guilt and sadness immediately followed. I had spent 12 weeks of classes preparing for this, hours reading books and birth stories, and countless conversations with my husband convincing him natural birth was not only what I wanted to do, but possible. And all of that went out the window in one second flat. I wanted to go back in time. I wanted to change my decision about getting the epidural, because I realized at that moment how far I had come in such a small amount of time. I realized that I was strong enough to keep going. But it was too late.
After I wiped my tears, I allowed myself to rest. I believe it was about an hour later when fear started to creep in. I hated the way the epidural made me feel. My hips and butt were completely numb, and my legs were so tingly it felt like needles were poking me for my upper thighs to my toes. I couldn't feel any contractions. I couldn't feel any progression. I had learned that epidurals slow down labor, and when it comes time to push, the woman is unable to because she can't feel anything, so she has to end up getting a C-section. This is something I really REALLY did not want! Matt encouraged me, saying they can titrate the epidural, which means they could turn it down. He asked the nurse if they titrate the epidurals, and she said no. Upon further questioning (thanks for not giving up babe!), she said that he would have to talk to the anesthesiologist if we wanted to change the epidural. So she called anesthesiologist, and I voiced my concerns to him. To put it plainly, he was a jerk. Saying, "I don't have a magic ball and I don't know at what amount you will feel contractions again. I know you're just going to call me back you're to turn it back up." Matt talk to him again outside the room, advocating for me. The anesthesiologist walked back in and turned it down. Love that man of mine.
Once he left, the nurse checked to see my progression, because I was concerned I wasn't making any. I was a 9 cm and my water broke. I couldn't feel it at all. There was meconium in the water, which scared me because I learned that that happens when the baby is under stress. But it turns out, because she was a week late, she was just more developed and already had a bowel movement in utero. I was relieved that there were no complications, but I knew immediately that I wouldn't be able to have her skin to skin right when she came out. Nor would I be able to have a delayed cord clamping because they would have to take her right away to suction her nose and mouth to make sure no meconium got in her lungs. I was disappointed, but having a healthy baby is so much more important. I think this was around six in the morning, but timing as a blur. I remember feeling nauseous, and my peppermint essential oil helped tremendously. Until, that is, when my mom walked in with an omelette. -_-
I threw up.
It took me a while to gain some feeling back, but when I did, it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. A couple hours had passed and I was starting to feel my contractions again, and it was time to push. I pushed for about an hour and a half, and my doctor almost didn't make it. The nurse kept telling me not to push, but I couldn't help it! My body was telling me something else.
Brynlee Rose was born at 10:10 AM on August 29, 2014.
They took her away immediately and I got stitched up. It felt like forever until they handed her back to me. I remember just repeating, "I want my baby girl. Where is my baby girl? Give me my baby girl!" When they handed her to me everything else faded away, I was overwhelmed with so much love and joy. Words cannot describe how I felt holding her for the first time, but it was one of the most precious moments of my life. She was perfect.