13 December 2010

The Obligatory Birth Story

I have hemmed and hawed for longer than you can imagine about how much to write regarding the details of the Mancub's birth. I don't necessarily mind telling the world about my experience, but I also don't know how much people really want to know. I know that I really love to read about people's experiences, so I've ultimately included the sort of information that I would want to know, and I've left out details that I may wonder about but would never actually ask a person.

If you only want the watered down version, here it is: Epidurals are amazing.

I was admitted to the hospital for induction at about 7:45. By 8 my IV was going with pitocin (it is the synthetic version of oxytocin, which is what causes contractions). The nurse checked me, and I was about 1 cm. dilated and 90-95% effaced, like I had been for four weeks. I had hardly slept the night before, nervous both about my induction and my dad's heart surgery (which went great, by the way. He is doing well and on the mend.) Once the pitocin was going, I fell asleep and slept off and on for the next two hours. I could definitely feel the contractions, but they were no worse than they had been for the four or so weeks that I had been feeling them intermittently.

At about 10 my midwife arrived, checked me, found minimal progression and broke my water. During the next couple of hours my pain began to pick up, but I was able to handle it fairly well. I practiced my breathing techniques and tried to focus my attention on other things. I was checked at about 12, only to learn I was a mere 2.5 cm. dilated and 100% effaced.

For the next two hours the contractions intensified, and they came faster and faster, often only 30-45 seconds apart. I soon found that I was not dealing well with the pain, primarily because the contractions were coming so close together that I didn't have time to relax and regroup between contractions. I requested some pain medication and was given fentanyl via my IV. It started working very quickly and helped take the edge off the pain. It also made me fairly dizzy and extremely tired. Plus, it wore off very quickly. I was ready for another dose before I was allowed to have one. I started to try to walk through my contractions, but because I was on pitocin, I was basically tied to the monitors. I wouldn't have minded wandering around my room with the IV, but there wasn't a way for me to wander around with the heart rate and contraction monitors. Since I couldn't walk around, I tried just standing and swaying through contractions. Sometimes I would lean on Eric, and sometimes I would lean on the bed. My midwife brought me an exercise ball, but sitting was very uncomfortable for me.

I soon realized that standing was going to wear me out long before the real work of pushing would begin. I started to switch between sitting and standing, but this too was fairly exhausting. I got back in bed and proceeded to cry, primarily because I didn't know what to do. I knew I'd want an epidural at some point, but I was very worried I'd get it too soon, and it would slow things down, which would create a greater need for pitocin, which would then make me need a stronger epidural, which would then slow things down, etc. I think Eric really didn't know what to make of things at that point. I was having contractions so frequently that I didn't really have time to explain my concerns. I think he just thought I was in a lot of pain, which I was, but that wasn't really the source of my tears. I asked Eric for a blessing, and he gave me one.

I requested another dose of fentanyl, and as the nurse had warned, it wasn't as effective the second time. The next time she came in, I told her I wanted my epidural. I had no idea how much I had progressed, and I didn't really care anymore. The anesthesiologist was up in no time, and Eric took the chance to go get something to eat. I should make it clear that Eric is a fairly squeamish person, and he wasn't really looking forward to watching me go through the whole labor process with all its associated messes and pains. He had thus far done a great job. I really didn't mind that he was stepping out for the epidural. I wasn't the slightest bit worried about it, and I don't have anything close to an aversion to needles. They just don't bother me.

I had planned on telling the anesthesiologist that I wanted a very low-dose epidural, just to take the edge off the pain. I knew that epidurals came with these little buttons that you could push if you wanted to increase your dose, so I figured I'd start very low and work my way up, at my own pace, if I needed. But when the anesthesiologist was actually there and asked me if I had any questions, I told him I didn't, and he went to town. The whole thing went over without a hitch. When the epidural was in full-force, I couldn't feel a single thing. It dawned on me then that I should have told him to make it weak to start with, but it was too late.

The nurse checked me, and I was dilated 4.5 cm. It was roughly 2:30. I vaguely remember telling her rather enthusiastically that that cervical check (which I couldn't feel at all) was the best one ever. Then I fell asleep. At some point my nurse brought in a new nurse and told me that the new nurse would be taking care of me for the rest of the delivery. Mostly I just slept and slept. It was fantastic. I was going on only about 3 hours of sleep to begin with, and then the few hours that I had dealt with labor pains took a lot out of me. I was very glad to have a nap.

At about 4:30 I woke up, and my nurse came in and checked me again. She said, "You're not going to believe this, but you are dilated to a 9." She then told me she'd check with the midwife, but she'd probably be back in about an hour and pushing would commence. Eric and I started watching The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I bought for Eric for his birthday, and which has brought him hours and hours of viewing pleasure since that time.

As my nurse had told me, my midwife showed up about 5:30, and things were pretty much ready to go. I was given some instructions on how to push, and the work began. Only, it didn't feel like work at all because I couldn't feel anything. I was using a mirror, so I could see my progress, and I could see what my midwife was doing. She gave me lots of positive feedback and encouragement so even though I couldn't feel anything, I knew when I was doing things right. I pushed for about 50 minutes, and then I was finished. It was actually pretty easy, and not because I am awesome - just because epidurals are awesome.

I have to say that watching the head emerge was amazing. At first when the midwife pointed out that his head was visible, I wasn't sure that I was really seeing the head. I wondered if she could see something that I could not. Soon I could tell that it was his head, but it was such a strange version of a head, that it was still hard to believe. When his head actually came out, and there was a face on it, it finally dawned on me how real the whole experience was. Throughout the pushing phase I would look at Eric to see what he was looking at. He had expressed a bit of dismay that I wanted to use the mirror (I think because that meant he might actually have to see something), so I was curious as to whether he was watching me, glancing at the mirror, staring at a wall or what. It was really neat to look over at him right as the Mancub was born and see his expression.

When he was born, they placed him on my belly to clip the cord. We had already told them that Eric wasn't really keen to do that, and so I was caught off guard when they asked me if I wanted to. Had they told me in advance that they would offer, I would have taken them up on it, but at that precise moment it sort of freaked me out, and I let them do it.

I had stated in my preferences that I wanted them to lay the baby on my chest for skin-to-skin contact as soon as they had wiped him off a bit, but because there was concern that he may have breathed in some of his own fecal matter in utero, there was a special newborn team on hand who took him to a little corner of the room to observe him. They kept him over there for a long time watching him try to get his breathing under control while the midwife and nurse finished up the things they needed to do with me. They were very kind to be reassuring me that everything was fine with the baby, but to be honest, I wasn't worried. I knew that things could have been better, but I also knew that if there was anything serious going on they would have taken him out of the room altogether. The team decided to take him to the special care nursery to observe him for an hour, but before they took him, they let me hold him for about two minutes. It took about an hour for my nurse to finish things up with me, and we met Eric and the baby and the nursery nurse in the hallway and were transferred to our regular room.

The recovery has gone remarkably well, besides the hormonal fever that accompanied my milk coming in. I hadn't been warned that that could happen, so it sort of scared me when I became so ill the night I left the hospital. I was worried that I had some sort of infection, but when I called the midwife she knew without me telling her that my milk had come in. I have since taken my ibuprofen every eight hours, even when I haven't really been in any pain.

Overall, I've had a great experience. I was not thrilled to be induced, but things went swimmingly. I'm thrilled about my baby; I'm a stereotypical mother who thinks he is just perfect, and I shower him with cuddles, kisses and praise all the time, even when he is screaming about a diaper change or wanting a feed.


Jenny said...

He's a little dream!
Congratulations to all of you.
(I wish I could come sing you a lullabye)

Janssen said...

After having my own baby, it's been amazing to me to look around and realize just about every mom feels this way about her little babies. Blows my mind.

Dusty and Amy said...

Yay! Thank you for writing this. I have been curious. What day was he born? Just curious b/c Colton's is the 11th. Maybe I will write his birthing story for his first birthday :-)

charisse said...

Congratulations Sherry! Epidurals are amazing, aren't they? I'm glad things, although different than you originally wanted, went well.

Science Teacher Mommy said...


My mom always called my little brother mancub and I have, in turn, used the same on each of my boys. Good stuff.

And Janssen--it is startling to realize how your own mother must feel about yourself.

Brianne said...

You should clarify: Good epidurals are amazing. The area you live in seems to have the corner on the market. I hope you are getting some sleep!

trishtator said...

That was the most Sherry-like explanation of a birth. I loved it! You are awesome, Sherry :)

Erin said...

Hooray for healthy and happy babies and moms! Hope we get to see you when we come out for new years.

Angela Noelle of SK said...

Thank you.

Jasmine said...

You're amazing! Well done! He's so gorgeous :-) Congrats guys xoxox

Jasmine said...

You're amazing! Well done! He's so gorgeous :-) Congrats guys xoxox

bubby69 said...

As I am a nurse I love to hear all the details (everything) the more the merrier. Thanks for sharing the birth of your mancub. I love that photo of you all. Merry Christmas and enjoy you little man he's totally gorgeous. xxx