Childbirth: Some Afterthoughts.

As you may have gleaned from reading all three parts of Sadie’s birth story, it turned out that after all the initial concerns we had when I was admitted to the hospital, my labor and delivery turned out almost exactly as I’d hoped. The only things that did not follow my original “plan” (I sort of cringe at that word now, at least as it pertains to all things childbirth) were:

  1. I did not “Go into labor”…I had been in a state of pre-labor for weeks. As in, effacement and dilation were in full swing for quite some time. When I would tell people how dilated I was, many would say things like, “Wow, I labored for nine hours before I was that dilated!” I tried a couple of herbal supplements, and though I have no idea if any of my progress can be attributed to them, it didn’t seem to hurt. I started taking evening primrose oil and raspberry leaf at 36 weeks. I didn’t take much of the evening primrose (2 capsules orally…I tried the, um, other way and wasn’t a fan at all) because I’d effaced pretty easily on my own. I started drinking raspberry leaf tea, and then once I hit “full term” at 37 weeks, incorporated capsules as well.

The pre-labor portion of things was a little bit rough in the sense that I had about a billion Braxton-Hicks contractions a day (sometimes it felt like my whole day was one long BH) and Sadie was sitting so low on my pelvis that bending over was REALLY uncomfortable. I had my bloody show about 17 times it seemed, so I was constantly in a state of high alert, which was frustrating.  That said, going into active labor with 60% of the work of dilation already done was a huge help.

But I did miss out on the experience of labor beginning spontaneously. Though it was done with a non-medicinal method, my water still had to be broken before my body would get the hint. Still, I feel very fortunate that given our circumstances, the intervention needed was minimal.

Perhaps NEXT time my water will break in line at Starbucks?

  1. I didn’t labor at home. I had hoped that I’d be able to get through the earlier stages of our labor at home. I pictured us relaxing, watching TV, breathing through contractions, etc. Instead, and quite abruptly, the whole process took place in one hospital room. To be completely honest, though, the whole thing progressed really quickly. The intensity of those contractions combined with my existing dilation would likely have sent me to the hospital within an hour anyway.

The Aftermath….

I am so, so thankful that I was able to have the delivery I hoped for. It was much more intense and yes, painful, than I expected. All of the breathing techniques and coping strategies we’d learned more or less went out the window in the first two hours. It was hard, but I did it.

As I write this, I think of all the mamas out there who were NOT able to have the birth they wanted. Please know that I am not unaware or insensitive to this—the truth is, whether it’s a natural vaginal delivery or an emergency cesarean, EVERY single birth is an absolute miracle, and EVERY mother essentially walks through fire in one way or another to bring her baby into this world.

As far as recovery goes, the first few hours were a little scary…though not at all abnormal. I felt a little pain, but it was easily managed by ibuprofen. I had a very small tear that I didn’t really notice…all in all, my body responded really well to labor this time around. HOWEVER: The bleeding. OH MY HEAVENS, the bleeding. They tell you it’s going to happen, and it’s frightening, but normal. Fine, whatever. But when it happens to you, you are pretty sure you are going to die. Or at least I did. At one point, I paged our nurse, called her into the bathroom with me and revealed to her that I was clearly hemorrhaging. She very politely and gracefully disagreed, and within a few hours, things seemed a little more manageable. Going home, I remained quite dependent on those delightful mesh underwear (my favorite nurse sent me home with quite the supply) and the maxi pads the size of my arm. Childbirth is so glamorous, you guys.

Now, seven weeks later (how?!) I have made a full recovery and feel back to normal, other than the stretch marks, loose skin, and fifteen remaining pounds. I’d gained 40 altogether, so you can imagine my astonishment to find that I hadn’t delivered a 30-lb baby. I’ve started exercising again, thanks to my husband and mom who watch the little princess for me a few times a week. I know losing baby weight is a process, especially when one is breastfeeding (that will be a whole different post, BTW) so I’m trying to be patient and take it slowly. In the meantime, I’m having my “ I JUST HAD A BABY SO BACK OFF” sign made as we speak.

So anyway, now that the horrors of labor and recovery have faded, the question I’ve been asked most is, “Would you do it again?” with the “it” being a natural labor/delivery. The short answer? Yes, I would. But the thing is, I have no idea what my next pregnancy will be like, or what circumstances will surround delivery. Giving birth to Sadie is the single greatest accomplishment of my life thus far—am I proud of it? Hell yeah. Would I have been just as proud if she’d been delivered with an epidural, cesarean, or by stork? You bet. So while I will certainly attempt another delivery like this one, I know not to plan for it. If/when God blesses us with another child that child will be blessing enough — however he or she gets here.

That is likely a way off, though. In the meantime, this one was worth every moment and then some.

Sadie 6 weeks

Sadie: A Love/Birth Story, Part 3

Ok, so where I left off (many, many days ago…Sadie currently seems less concerned about her story being told and more about being fed and attended to on her own schedule. Newborns, man. ) I was going to start pushing and therefore meet my baby in roughly twenty minutes.

Kim asked where I’d like to start pushing, and being all about comfort (or what semblance of it I could get at the time) I thought we might as well go the traditional route and try the bed. With the next contraction, she said, bear down like you’re having a bowel movement.  I thought, “Can do!” At the same time, she instructed,” pull your legs up.” This seemed like a bit too much multitasking for a laboring woman, but I agreed to give it a go. When the next contraction came, I ended up pushing my legs down and pushing as instructed.  And without getting too graphic, I will just mention this once: You know the horrible thing they tell you will probably happen to you during labor, the one you fear more than pushing the baby out of your lady parts? Well, it happened. And I noticed. Thankfully everyone else pretended not to.

Apparently the first push was insufficient…I wasn’t quite pushing enough.  So I tried again. Still not quite getting the hang of it, but finding some serious pain at this point. I kept asking Kim if I could take “this next one off.” So she’d let me rest (“rest”) through a contraction and then try again. This was attempted on the birthing stool as well…finally, with one horrendous push, the worst one yet, she exclaimed, “YES! Now THAT was a good push!”

I remember thinking here that the bowel movement analogy was crap (hehehe). If I had to push like that to poop, I’d take a break, drink a gallon of Metamucil, and try again in an hour. As that was not an option during my labor, we moved me into the bathroom to attempt pushing on the toilet. It was after midnight at this point. We now knew that we were most definitely meeting this baby “today”. It was on the toilet that the pushing got downright ridiculous. I don’t know if it was gravity or what, but I was no longer able to half-ass the effort…it was like it happening to me. It’s so amazing how one’s body just knows what to do, despite the protests of its owner.  After several minutes of toilet sitting/pushing/screaming/grunting, with Ryan sitting on the edge of the tub holding my hand, Kim came in to check our progress. She was VERY excited with how far I’d moved baby along, so she and Ryan helped me back to the bed. Apparently giving birth on the toilet is frowned upon.

On the way to the bed, I noted a team of five or so people—the nursery staff in place to take care of our baby if she needed it.  I waved to them absent-mindedly, not at all caring that other than a fetal monitor around my belly, I was completely naked and sweaty, with my make-up smeared all over my face. I also noted the little bassinet off to the side of my bed, ready for our little one. This was encouraging, as their presence meant we MUST be almost done.

Once settled on the bed, we waited all of four seconds for the next contraction, and I pushed again. I requested once more to take a contraction off…really, I just needed a quick break. This time, both Kim and Erin responded with an emphatic  “NO.” She needs to come out, they said, and this is how we’re going to do it.  So I pushed some more, screaming with the effort of each one.

When I told someone this story later, Ryan interjected here to say, “Actually, it was more of a grunt-scream.” Thanks, honey.

Kim and Erin kept saying how close she was, but I doubted their sincerity when each push failed to produce a baby. Finally they said they could see her head. “She has dark hair!” Once I heard that, I knew we were getting close. Ryan spent this time right by my side, and leaned over and told me this was it, we were going to meet her now. I can neither fully describe nor recall (thank you Jesus) the pain that was the “ring of fire” but I know I felt it and it was terrible. As her head emerged, I remembered from the many cinematic births I’ve witnessed that I would also have to deliver the shoulders, so you could imagine my surprise when out of nowhere, I felt this sort of sliding feeling.

All of my pain subsided and in the same moment a wet, warm,  slimy, screaming, perfect baby was placed on my chest.  For all ten months of pregnancy, eight hours of labor and what seemed like an eternity of worry and waiting, it happened so fast. There she was, our stunningly beautiful baby girl. I remember crying, laughing, and saying over and over again, “She’s so pretty!” and “Hi sweet girl!” Ryan was crying too, both of us in utter disbelief that we had created this tiny being, and that she was so damn beautiful.

She kept crying, so Kim waved off the nursery team. They packed up their isolette and congratulated us and commended me on my hard work. At some point, Kim told me to give her another push to deliver the placenta. “Whatever, sure. No problem.” I executed said push seemingly without effort, still gazing at our little wonder. You have a very minor tear, she said…I’m going to stitch you up. “Okay, sounds good!” I paid little attention to anything going on and felt no pain at all until Erin had to “massage” my uterus.  That part was some kind of awful. I had to steel myself to keep from squeezing the baby in my arms.

Soon, Kim had finished stitching and left to get some rest. Erin cleaned off the baby, weighed her, and returned her to Ryan’s arms. I was able to get up and use the restroom (oh dear me) and dress myself in real clothes. We settled in for the rest of our family time (about twenty minutes at this point) before allowing my parents in to meet her. They’d waited and listened steadily throughout the night.

It was all so…surreal. It still is, really, but then especially. In the middle of the night, in the heat of the summer, my body brought forth the life it had housed and nourished for months. The child we’d conceived and dreamed of—when she would arrive, what she would look like, who she would become—was here. And she was more amazing than we ever could have imagined. Ever.

After a while, Erin asked about her name so she could update the info board in our room. We had long been planning on her name, but had a back-up just in case she came out and the name didn’t fit.

But it did fit.  It was an easy choice, in fact.

Sadie Lorraine

July 29, 2015- 1:09 am

7lbs, 7oz, 19.5” inches long.

SadieBirth SadieBirth2

Sadie-girl, We are humbled and blessed to be chosen as yours. You are so loved- deeper, wider, bigger, stronger than you will ever know, always and forever. Welcome to the world, little one- it will never be the same.