Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sophia's Birth Story, Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

My non-stress test was Thursday, and I would be 42 weeks on Monday. The next day (Friday), my sister was trying to make weekend plans with us, as my aunt was visiting her from the west coast. There was the possibility of meeting up at a playground or similar location on Saturday.

I didn't want to commit to anything, and the more I thought about it, the more I doubted I could handle a car ride. Wait a minute...I wasn't feeling well at all!

Other ladies in the birth forums had been feeling terrible for ages. Aching joints, contractions, etc. If I was just starting to feel poorly, it didn't necessarily mean something was happening...

At dinner, I went easy on the garlic aioli, just in case the nausea was going to start like it had with David, right at dinnertime!

I finally had to admit to my mom that I wasn't sure I would make it through the night. With David, the contractions had started at least 48 hours before. So I hated to get my hopes up, but then again, we had to be prepared.

A skunk had sprayed outside. I remembered the same thing when I was in labor the first time, heading out to the car in the middle of the night.

I couldn't even help David brush his teeth. Andrei took over and I retreated to the other room for the night. The contractions were just about 10 minutes apart, all night long. And that brings me to my birth plan...

...I was planning on a "natural" birth, mostly meaning no drugs. I didn't want anything that could possibly hurt the baby, stall labor, or make me feel out of it. I wanted to see if I could get that euphoric experience that people talked about. David's birth had been so challenging (but with no epidural) that I thought just maybe I was strong enough.

However, I had not "prepared." I did not have a theme Bible verse, a song playlist, or a collection of props and pain-relieving techniques. Andrei and I had not really practiced anything. I took an online course on pushing, but didn't really finish it. I'd thought about getting a doula, but Andrei thought we could handle it by ourselves. Everyone said that "winging it" wouldn't really work for a natural birth, but the birth center seemed pretty supportive, so I had that going for me.

When contractions started, the song that came to me was based on Psalm 139: "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your Presence? If I go up to the heavens you're there, if I make my bed in the depths you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will lead me home." The song's up and down cadence went perfectly with the rise and fall of contractions. If I got to the end and the contraction wasn't over yet, then I repeated the chorus again as needed.

Towards daybreak, the nausea set in...of course I'll spare the details there. I wanted my mom and asked her to come up. Then I eventually transitioned downstairs to be closer to the door. I was still nauseous and the smells of breakfast were bothering me. I also noticed that the nausea picked up as soon as I was distracted. And the contractions seemed to slow down in that case, too. A lot of times you hear that it's better to walk around to get labor going. But it seemed that lying down and relaxing was when labor was actually more productive. Since I had been up all night, I was tired enough to doze between contractions, and that was actually helpful-with David, we had left for the hospital in the middle of the night, and then labored all through the night and into the afternoon. The contractions were always right on top of each other, and I didn't get a break.

I was having back labor at this point, which I didn't remember having with David even though he was posterior. I started reaching back to press on my tailbone, and then my mom and Andrei started helping me.

I was feeling ready to go to the hospital even though contractions weren't quite as close together as they could have been. My mom called and talked to the midwife on duty and she said I could come in if I WANTED to. So my mom stayed with David and my dad was all set to drive us to the hospital. It was about 10 am.

I was nervous that labor would stall when we left for the hospital, but I definitely had several contractions in the car on the way there! I had to reach back and apply counter-pressure, while humming the song in my head. My dad dropped us off and we made our way up to the birth center. They sent us into a room to do all the initial diagnostics. Now was the true test! With David I had labored for hours and still arrived at only 2 cm dilated, ugh!

The intake always takes so long, but I did go for several minutes without a contraction. When I got the first one, I asked Andrei to please press on my back. The midwife came in a few minutes later and checked me...I was at 7 cm! What a great feeling! She and the nurse said they really hadn't been sure I was even in labor! :)

Unfortunately I was found to be dehydrated from my earlier incidents, and that meant placing an IV with fluids. It's probably good to have an IV in place just in case, but definitely more of a hassle in terms of moving around.

After I was settled, they pretty much left us alone and it was nice and quiet! The contractions were closer together though, so I kept calling Andrei over to apply counter-pressure. The nurse had gone and gotten him a cup of coffee, and it took several tries for Andrei to even get the sugar mixed in!

The next time they came to check on us, they asked how everything was going and I said "I'm out of ideas." They suggested a few techniques, and I climbed up on the bed to brace against the back of it for a change. We'd only been there for an hour or two, and I was ready to be done. I tried kind of moaning, and then Andrei would try to get me to breathe through the contractions since I would forget. The "mouth-breathing" is tiring since it makes you thirsty.

The midwife came in again and I said I was getting tired. It turned out I was fully dilated and she offered to break my water. Or was it the other way around? I can't remember the details very well, but I hesitated for a moment and then agreed to the procedure. With David I had agreed to it because we needed to get labor going, but in this case I had not been stalled. The amniotic fluid was clear with no meconium. We were so thankful not to have that complication this time.

It was time to push, or so they said. I talked about how I'd never really gotten the "urge" to push with David. They helped me visualize it a little bit. I did feel something. And there was pain! For some reason I'd expected to feel relief from contractions, but the pushing was more painful than I'd expected. I wonder now if there had been drugs in my system the first time. It said in my chart that they'd given me morphine, but technically that shouldn't have been in my system by the time I was going to be delivering. So I wonder about that.

I was instructed to hold my breath while pushing, and I didn't like that. My abdominal wall was very weak and I wanted to do belly breaths to help it do its job. Holding my breath took a lot of energy. Basically I wished I'd prepared more. I did not feel very strong. I remembered kind of "forcing" the pushing with David, and it felt like I would need to do that here, too...or was this what normal childbirth was like? (side-note: ended up with pelvic floor damage, though very little tearing)

They were monitoring the baby and I was studying their faces as the stats were called out. Sometimes the midwife looked worried. "Look at me," she said. "We need to get this baby out." I wanted to let my body take its time, but I did not want to run out of time. They had me change positions, one of the most painful things! But it helped the baby's heart-rate stabilize again.

I pushed and pushed. At one point the midwife said that the baby had made it around my pubic bone. That meant she wasn't stuck. It was such hard work to push, and right at the end they said "she is doing it HERSELF!" Now that was a healthy baby! I was so thankful I hadn't been given anything that would have made her sleepy. Also, she came out flat on her back, staring up at the ceiling...another posterior baby!

Once she was out, they were able to place her right on my chest, just like you hear, while they finished taking care of me. The placenta came out no problem, as opposed to manual removal the first time. So in general I was in better shape. We declined cutting the cord and inspecting the placenta. I think Andrei was a little taken aback and the hospital staff were amused.

It had been about 4 hours since we'd arrived at the hospital. Andrei and I were inspecting Sophia, who still lay on my chest. She had done her first you-know-what while lying there. Could I call it a euphoric experience? More than anything it was a relief for the long wait to be over.

Sophia was in great shape when she arrived and passed all tests with flying colors. I held her for a few hours and then it was Andrei's turn-they had him do "skin-to-skin" with his shirt off. When he was done holding her, there was a baby-shaped red mark on his chest, so funny!

Everything was done in the same room, so we hung out while all the cleaning was done to make the delivery room into a recovery room. The nurse came to give Sophia her first shampoo. She told us we could watch, but we were content to just sit and wait! I'm not sure when we finally started taking some photos, though Andrei had been on skype with his parents while Sophia was being weighed.

And then we waited for my parents to bring David to meet his baby sister! I couldn't believe it had all happened in one day. We'd left the house and had the baby, all before the sun going down or coming up.


  1. Hooray! So happy to have the next part of the story! And how much more lovely is its joyful outcome!

  2. Oh, thanks, Elizabeth! I was so happy to see a post!

    I also wanted so much to have a "normal birth" and the "ecstatic experience" and all..... Aidan was born by emergency C-section at 26 weeks.....(though in the end it was actually the midwife who saved the day)...long story. With Lydia I was DETERMINED and even drove to another city so I could have a doctor who allowed VBAC. In the end, though, she showed some of the same issues, and it was another C-section. But - you know what? I DID feel ecstatic when I saw both of them for the first time - even though with Aidan, I was looking at a Polaroid, not even at him.

    By contrast, Anastasia, tiny though she is and 100% totally unprepared, had easy and pleasant 2- hours or less labors. When the nurses were trying to get her to do things she didn't feel "good" about - she told them "no" and did her own thing, which certainly worked.

    I'm glad this birth was easier, and I pray for healing as needed.

    Now I need to see pictures of little Sonya!


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