Tuesday, January 17, 2012

E's Birth - My First Birth Experience

Originally it was my plan to finish off my Mom's Birth Story Series with my first birth story, but I decided to take advantage of a sudden urge to write it all out today.  It really is about time I get around to writing out my birth story with E. After going through almost half of my Mom's birth stories, I can really see how much of a great influence she was on me.  I am fortunate to have had her expertise in the field on my side. And many of the stories she shared with me when I was pregnant for the first time encouraged me to research more and ask my Doctor more questions. So thank you Mom! As I prepare for the birth of our second child in May, I think it is an important step to reflect on my experience not only for strength and encouragement but writing of the actual birth plan.

E's Birth Story

I had the two weeks off on vacation before my due date (April 23, 2009).  My plan was to prep the house, baby clothes, etc and prepare some freezer meals to have for when baby came.  I had an OB with E, but most of my appointments were with a nurse (rarely the same one) and my OB would whisk in for the last few minutes for questions.  At my 39 week appointment a nurse performed a cervical check to see if "how close I was". I didn't know any better then, but I know now how ridiculous these checks are.  She told me I wasn't even close, that the baby was still too high and that I would be over due.  Talk about depressing. Leaving the office that day I had a little cry in the car with Hubby.  I was SO ready for this baby and the nurse had just squashed every little hope I had for going early.

After a day of self-pity I picked myself up and continued with my daily exercise routine. I was in excellent physical shape while pregnant; running on the treadmill until 7.5 months and then continuing to walk briskly every day until the end.  I took the dog for long walks, up hills and through the woods. I was on a mission to walk this baby into motion.

Two days later, a Saturday morning at 9am, I woke up with extra pep and decided to make Hubby and I pancakes for breakfast. While I was preparing our meal in the kitchen I felt a trickle in my underwear and ran upstairs thinking I was peeing my pants.  It turned out to be the "bloody show". I had read about the bloody show but to be honest the sight of it freaked me out.  I called the hospital to speak with a nurse in the delivery unit and she told me it would be a good idea to come in and get checked to be safe.  After breakfast we headed in.

I was hooked up to monitor and had a cervical check again that showed that I was only 2 cm dilated. The nurse asked me if I had a high pain threshold in which I replied "I think so". She was monitoring my contractions which were consistently 3 minutes apart and had been noticing that I didn't even twitch. I could barely feel them, but they were coming up as stronger than she expected. 

We were sent off to walk around for an hour to see if  I would progress. We were told to stay at the hospital but Hubby and I went out and grabbed some lunch and did a little shopping instead. We even found a great new diaper pail that we hadn't got around to getting yet!  I called my parents and told them I was in the early stages of labour. When we returned it was determined that I was not progressed enough to stay at the hospital and we were sent home.  I was discouraged but happy at the same time. As a first time Mom, knowing "when" to go the hospital was my biggest battle. I really wanted to labour at home. On the way home we stopped at the grocery store to stock our fridge and I remember seeing family friends who asked how I was feeling. I was so exciting to tell them that the time was very near.

That evening, Hubby had a hockey game at 11pm and while the contractions subsided I decided, that why not, let's go to the game to keep my mind off of things.  I watched from the stands and let him know that if he saw me waving frantically that he was to get off the ice immediately.  Back home that night I woke at 2am with contractions again and although they weren't very strong, they were consistent and the anticipation was building.  I couldn't sleep so I decided to have a warm bath and then went downstairs to rock on my yoga ball while watching TV.  At 6am I woke Hubby up and told him that I was ready to go to the hospital. I wish I held out longer, but being my first labour I was anxious and wasn't sure when the "right time" was. I called my parents to let them know that this was the day and that I would call with an update later (they would have a 2 hour drive ahead of them).

Yet another cervical check at 7am, and I had only dilated a couple more centimetres. While my contractions were getting stronger I was still able to talk through them. Hubby and I walked the halls of the hospital and they got stronger and stronger and I would bend over the hallway rails while Hubby massaged my lower back. Having another cervical check an hour or so later, I was finally admitted at 9am at 5 cm dilated. A nurse was listening in and talking to the nurse checking me when I told her my plans for a natural birth.  She immediately told the nurse at the computer to switch her care so she could be with me and to put me in the largest birthing room at the end of the hall.  I felt pretty special that this particular nurse wanted to be with me and so lucky to have someone that cared about my wishes. I called my parents to let them know that I was being admitted, only to find out from my brother that they had already left.

One thing I knew and read a lot about was staying upright and moving throughout labour and that I did.  My room was huge and I had a lot of room to move around.  I had a great walking pattern and would call Hubby over to massage my lower back with each tough contraction. I tried the jacuzzi tub but soon realized that I didn't feel comfortable and much preferred walking around. Between contractions I sipped on watered down apple juice that the nurse fetched for me and watched a hockey game on the small TV in the corner with my Hubby as I continued to walk.  I think I may have walked a marathon in that room that day.

At 1pm I was checked again and had not dilated at all. At this time it was decided to break my water.  An hour later I still hadn't progress and so it was decided that I had to be given a small amount of pitocin to help induce my labour further along. Hospital time lines! I agreed to the minimal amount to start to see if it would help kick start things.  The nurse took four tries to put the IV in. I had some nasty bruising on my arms and hands because of this.  Sure enough, within minutes my contractions picked up again. The nurse laughed and said that I had barely received any pitocin and that it must have just been the threat that got my body moving.  I was happy to have the IV removed. 

From 2pm on my contractions jumped me into active labour.  I leaned over the end of my bed and squatted, visualizing the baby descending with each contraction. I rode each wave/surge and welcomed them, still walking like crazy between each one.  I did not have much pain in my abdomen, my pain was the worse in my lower back and Hubby explained to me later that he felt bad for how strongly he was digging in and rubbing. It helped so much and near the end my nurse also joined in.  At 6:30pm I told them I had the urge to push and when they told me to climb up onto the bed I remember saying that it did not sound like a great position. It certainly wasn't and I wished at the time I could be birthing while in a squatting position. 

I remember doing a couple sets of pushes through my contractions and how gloriously relieving it felt.  A resident doctor came in and stood very calmly beside me telling me in a monotone voice to "push, push, push". I wanted to slap her and tell her to leave me alone. The other nurses I think could notice my frustration and the resident was given other tasks.  After "purple" pushing for about 20 minutes the nurses came to the conclusion that E's head was slightly tilted and was not clearly fitting down the birth canal properly.  His head needed to be adjusted.  I was flipped from one hip to another  a few times in an attempt to straighten things out.  This plan worked well and it also relieved some of the back labour I was feeling.  Through the next few sets of pushes my breathing was becoming sporadic and the room became overwhelming. I believe this was my "transition phase". Nurses were yelling for me to push, nurses were coming in and out of the room to see my much talked about natural birth - it was chaotic.  I joked between one contraction with my nurse and Hubby, asking them if it was too late for drugs.  At this time, I was starting to doubt myself.  My nurse attached a mask to my face and told me to inhale the gas.  I did not like the restricting feel to the mask and removed it. Again and again they encouraged me to put it on to help me relax and Hubby even tried to help, but I declined.  What ended up helping me calm down was Hubby speaking above everyone and telling me to just listen to him.  This was our plan, this was on the notes that he carried in his pocket. I was to listen to him to help relax, and it helped immensely.  I drained everyone else's voice out, turned my head to touch his face and only listened to his commands and reminders to breathe (which he was getting from the Doctor that had finally arrived).  The next 25 minutes flew by as I pushed intensely again (I wanted to speed things up so I did 4 reps of pushes per contraction to my nurse's surprise - not a great idea now that I'm more educated) and before I knew it I went from feeling the burning ring of fire to pushing my baby out at 7:15pm.  Totalling my active labour at 5 hours and 15 minutes.

Our surprise baby boy, E, was born on April 19, 2009 (4 days early) weighing 6lbs 15oz. He was placed on my chest only briefly and Hubby cut the cord (something he was sure he wouldn't be able to do, but jumped right in when asked).  I must have been given pitocin to birth the placenta (but I don't remember being asked about that).  The placenta came shortly after and I remember the nurses pushing (with all their weight) on my stomach to help it along it's way. That was a pain I wasn't expecting!  While E was being weighed and checked on, I was given a local anaesthetic and the doctor gave me 4 stitches for what he later told me was a 2nd degree tear.  The doctor was extremely friendly and told me he had a family of six.  He congratulated me for being "a champ", but that's all I really remember about him. He was not the OB I had met with, but a Doctor within the same clinic that was on call that day. He was in and out of the room in no time.

Once I was cleaned up, Hubby went down to the waiting room and gathered my parents.  I was given E to hold, but he was all bundled up. We didn't have much skin-to-skin during the first hours at all. I'll never forget the overwhelming emotion I felt when I saw my Mom. The only thing I could say was, "Mom, I did it!" I knew she would be proud of me and having a drug-free birth was something I talked to her on the phone about often. My parents didn't stay long and I was encouraged to go pee before being transferred to the Mother-Baby unit.

I just gave birth!
Once in the Mother-Baby unit  I asked for the nurse to assist me in breastfeeding and she assured me that someone would later. E was taken through the normal hospital tests while Hubby accompanied him and I waited in my room. It took 2 1/2 hours to initiate breastfeeding which still really upsets me today and something I wouldn't stand for again.

I experienced a lot of swelling and since I had gestational thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets) throughout my pregnancy the hospital would not give me ibuprofen to reduce the swelling. Acetaminophen helped with the pain and hemorrhoid cream helped with some minor hemorrhoids. Ice packs and sitz baths helped relieve the pain. I'll never forgot the feeling of weakness in my bottom muscles. I woke the next morning and urgently had to go pee. The problem was I couldn't hold it. So while I tried to quickly get out of my hospital bed, I completely peed the bed.  It was pretty humiliating at the time to call the nurse and ask her to change my sheets, but she laughed and said not to worry - apparently it happens a lot.  I look back now with laughter - this is one of the funniest stories I have from after the birth and have shared with all my friends.  It's something I wasn't prepared for, to say the least.

E's latch was weak and he would fall asleep constantly while trying to nurse.  It would take me weeks and a lot of nipple pain in the beginning to work out our breastfeeding relationship. E and I were finally discharged at 36 hours after much pleading. There was nothing more that I wanted than to be in the comfort of my own bed in my own home and soon enough we were off as a family of three!

Stay tuned to more on lessons learned and birthing plans for baby #2...


  1. Wow! What a fabulous read and a truly wonderful story! You`re so strong, and determined, friend! I admire those qualities about you. It was great to finally read this story with all of the details as I have often wondered what your experience entailed (as mine was much different, I only have my reference to go by). I was surprised to read that at one moment you felt doubt - something I have not yet heard, or seen in you. I find a bit of comfort in that because as determined I am regarding my next birth, I have wondered if I would doubt, and or persevere! You did it! Thanks for sharing! Cannot wait to hear & read all about the next experience with baby 2!

  2. Great story! I'm so glad to hear that the "pee incident" makes you laugh - it is very common (actually, some women have "poo incidents" which are a heck of a lot messier!) After pushing out a baby, your muscles down there aren't up for the challenge of holding much in :) I'm excited to hear the lessons learned part :)

  3. Thanks for sharing your story! It's great, you certainly are a strong woman. I love hearing all the details, and I am looking forward to hearing about your lessons learned. And obviously about meeting baby #2 as well! Yay!