Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Emma's Birth Story

The day Emma was born was one of the best of my life - next to my wedding day. I will forever cherish the memories and feelings of that day and hold them close to my heart. I hope that this post will capture even a small part of the joy we felt. 

Thursday morning (May 16th) around 1am I started having a terrible stomach ache. About every 15 minutes for 2 hours I would wake up with terrible cramping. And for those two hours I thought it was constipation. Truth be told - I wasn't expecting for birthing waves (contractions) to start yet. First of all, I wasn't expecting her to come until the following week. And second of all - I expected they would feel like the Braxton Hicks I had been having for the last several weeks. That tightening of the stomach. This felt like a mixture of gas pains and menstrual cramps and was much lower than I was expecting. So I got up every 15 minutes and tried to go to the bathroom. Around 3:30am I was really starting to get frustrated. I just wanted to sleep!! Finally I had the thought - maybe this isn't gas. :D

So I got up and went and did some Googling. What did people do before Google? I read several forums of women describing their contractions - all exactly like what I was feeling. So I downloaded a contraction tracker on my phone and started counting. They were every 15 minutes and lasting about a minute and a half. After about 15 minutes - I decided to work. Haha - Might as well do something since I'm up. After I worked for an hour - I decided to try sleeping again. I was able to get a few hours in. Waking up every 15 minutes for a birthing wave. When Mike woke up I let him know he should probably stay home for the day.

Later I will be posting another post with information about why we chose to go natural - and to do Hypnobabies. For now, I'll just tell you that we did. :) Hypnobabies was a 6 week course to learn not only about birth, but also about how to use self-hypnosis to deal with the discomfort in a peaceful way.

The Birthing Waves were uncomfortable, but not painful. Just like uncomfortable cramps that would come and go. It's amazing how the second it would stop - I would feel just fine. They continued all through out Thursday at this interval. Sometimes they would be between 7-8 min apart. Those were always shorter though, like 30 seconds. But for the most part they were 15 minutes apart - almost exactly all day. As the day wore on - they did increase in intensity of pressure. I could tell they were shifting to a more productive birthing wave.

A good part of the day I was so anxious that it was false labor that I didn't really want to tell people. I didn't want to get my hopes up - let alone theirs. But we did eventually tell our families that labor may have started.

In the afternoon we decided to go for a little walk - not really to get labor going, but more just for a chance to get out of the house for a minute. We walked to the end of our street and back - very very slowly. :) As we were coming back our neighbors were out and we let them know the waves had begun. They have a pool and were so kind to allow me to come over and sit in their pool for about 30 minutes. The water was really warm and it was very soothing for my muscles to enjoy some weightlessness for a while. While I was in the water the waves started to slow down - and I thought maybe it really was just false labor. It was about that time my cousin told me she had false labor contractions for two weeks. Big sigh. :) I was pretty tired and that was kind of a daunting thought. Luckily that wasn't to be the case for me....

We finished the night out watching a TV show together and breathing through the waves. Also we got the hypnosis scripts out so that Mike could read them to me during the waves. This helped IMMENSELY! A little while after returning home from the pool they continued again and were still every 15 minutes. Around 10pm we decided to go to bed. I was exhausted. While the waves were not "painful" - at least not what I had been expecting really - they were tiring! And it took a lot of focus and energy on my part to help stay out of that painful realm.

We laid down and I had one wave in bed and got up. It was so much more uncomfortable and I'll say it - painful (during the whole process we really tried to avoid the word pain, as that usually makes you have it) - laying down. I knew at that point it was going to be a long night. I came into our front room where we have a old rocking chair that used to be my Grandma Richards. I sat in the chair with my feet up on an ottoman, wrapped in a blanket. I think I must have slept in between waves, because before I knew it, it was 1:30am. At that point they were still 15 minutes apart for about a min in a half to two minutes - like clockwork. But they were definitely getting much more intense. During that whole night I felt really close to the Spirit. I was praying a lot for help and assistance, as by then I was getting very very tired. I really hadn't slept much. And although Mike fed me well - my energy was waning.

I woke Mike up and asked him to help me take a bath. We has just finished cleaning most of our house the day before - but the one thing we didn't get done was to scrub the tub clean. So my sweet sweet husband woke up and scrubbed it down for me at 1:30am in the morning. Filled it for me and sat by me while I soaked in the tub. The warm water really helped so much and although I didn't get any sleep - it did help me relax. Which was good and bad - because it kind of made me realize just how exhausted I was. When I got out of the tub, I came back to my chair. I asked Mike to stay with me and he was going to sleep on the couch. At this point my emotions were starting to be pretty raw. I really needed to some relief and some sleep. I asked Mike to give me a blessing to help me sleep. He gave me a beautiful blessing and I really felt my Father in Heaven's love. For the next two hours I slept comfortably in between waves. I would wake up - breath through a wave while Mike said the Hypnobabies scripts to me to help me stay in hypnosis, and then would instantly fall asleep again after the wave ended. It truly was a blessing!

Around 4am I woke up and stayed awake because the intensity of the pressure was so strong it was starting to take my breath away. As long as I stayed in my hypnosis I managed the sensations okay and was fine. If I stopped though - I would instantly start to really feel the wave and the pain! At this point I stayed awake in between and we started timing again. They were now 5 minutes apart or less and still a minute and a half to two minutes long. I could tell things were getting serious and that this was definitely NOT false labor. After an hour of these waves - we called my parents to have my mom join us. And Mike called Marinda - our Doula - to let her know it was time to make her way here.

Mom got to our house about 5:30, and Mike was already packing the car. I had a few more waves - and she was great to jump in and start reading scripts to me. At this point it was really difficult to stay focused. The pressure and pain were getting harder and harder. I wanted to take a quick shower - just to rinse off - before leaving, so they helped me get up and in the shower. While there I had at least 3 or 4 more waves. My mom came to check on me and I told her that I was feeling like I should push. I knew that was probably a bad idea - so I didn't. But that made it very obvious - it was time to leave. Mike called Marinda back and told her I was feeling pushy and to meet us at the hospital. My dad had also been planning to join us at my house for a blessing - but we also sent him to the hospital.

Mike was so great through out the entire process. He was calm, collected, patient, loving, attentive, and just fantastic. The only time he showed any kind of panic was on the harrowing drive to the hospital. He was speeding considerably - and getting frustrated that he kept hitting every red light. I had ear phones in and was trying to stay focused on my hypnosis - but it was kind of crazy ride. Especially when we came up to the Trax train - and the lights started flashing. My sweet - calm - loving husband  gunned it and flew across the tracks. Yeah - I was scared at that point. After that I fully expected him to run into the hospital asking where the boiling water was. Haha We were way ahead of the train - and had been going a speed if he had tried to stop - we probably would have hit the rail thing when it dropped, so it was fine. But I still like to tease him about it!

We pulled up to the hospital and as I stepped out of the car I gave Marinda a hug, and started having a wave. She knew instantly and knew exactly where to put pressure on my hips and back to make it better. At that instant I knew we had made the right decision to hire her and was so grateful to have her with us! Once it ended, I waddled into Labor and Delivery. They took me into triage, and wanted to monitor Emma and I for at least 20 minutes. They had me put on a gown, go to the restroom - and then sadly - I had to get into bed. I was NOT happy about that part. But they needed me to for the monitors. Once they got the monitor on - the nurse asked a few questions for registration. Then she checked me to see how far I was dilated. I told her I didn't want to know how far along I was. I felt really pushy - so I figured I was pretty far along, but didn't want to be disappointed if I wasn't. She did indicate to Marinda how far I was - and Marinda said "Oh yeah - we're good" so I figured we were pretty close.

The nurse stepped out to check on my room, and the tub - as we were planning on a water birth. This gave us time for my dad to join us so that he and Mike could give me a blessing. It was another beautiful, and comforting blessing. How grateful I was during this whole time to have the Spirit with me, to know that I was doing what Heavenly Father wanted, and that we would have his assistance through out the birth.

The nurse was only gone for about 5 minutes, when she returned and told us that we needed to go ahead and move into our room right away. She hurriedly got me up wrapped me in a blanket (but it felt like everything below my belly button front and back was flapping in the wind), and took me across the hall to my room. They tried to put me in bed again while we were waiting for the tub to fill - but I just did not want to lay down. So I sat in a chair to wait. By then the waves were coming very quickly and were so so strong. Luckily I had Mike and Marinda there to help me stay focused on my hypnosis, breath, and to stay strong through the IMMENSE PRESSURE. While in the chair - I swear I felt my water break. I even said - I think my water just broke. I felt a rushing pressure and release. But they said that there wasn't anything on the sheet I was sitting on. So it must have broken later in the tub.

Each wave the feeling to push was getting more and more. The midwife walked in and said "So I hear you're at an 8". Which was funny because everyone was like "no no no - don't tell her". I was fine with it though, because it was an 8. The problem was that I was an 8 and I REALLY wanted to push. But they wouldn't let me until I was at a 10. And it started to just happen - each wave I would have this uncontrollable bearing down feeling. Marinda talked me through and told me it was okay to just give little grunt pushes. So that's what I did. With in what felt to me like 10 min (and an hour at the same time - if that makes sense) I was in the tub, and had been checked again and was finally at a 10. Angela, the midwife, finally gave me the go ahead to push. Ahh, sweet relief to actually push. Until I actually started pushing! Haha then I found out just how hard it was to push and didn't want to so much - even though my body was doing it like it or not.

I sat against the wall of the tub and had waves and pushed for probably 20 min.  I'm not really clear on what the actual timing was. I eventually moved up to my hands and knees for another 20 min or so. And then back on my bum, and then back on my knees. The whole time my mom and Mike were pouring cold water on me and putting cold cloths on me because I was so warm. It was actually the perfect mix. Hot on the bottom - and cool on top. At some point on my hands and knees my hamstrings started to cramp - this was very very unpleasant. And there wasn't really a great way for me to stretch them out. Marinda gave me a homeopathic that helped my legs to relax a bit.

With each push I could feel Emma moving down, but then when I would stop she would go back up. Okay - TMI moment - having a baby feels exactly like having the largest bowel movement you've ever had. So if you've ever been constipated - then you know what it's like (x10). :D

Once my legs relaxed again - I started to get so so so tired. I had been pushing for about 50 min (and having waves for over 24 hours). I was exhausted. I kind of wanted to give up. But I knew in my heart that the only way to make it stop was to push through the pain and just get this little doll here. After a particularly tiring push/wave I got really quiet. Everyone in the room got really quiet too - they just let me be. Maybe they thought I was trying to sleep. But really I was praying. I realized that it was time. I knew that I had to bear down and do the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. And I knew that I could not do it by myself. He had prompted me that this was the way to go - and I needed his help now. Because I was so tired, and in pain, and truth be told - I was scared of this last part. But I truly felt his love, power, and help. When the next wave started - I knew this was it. Time to really push!

I got upright on my knees, grabbed the handles on the outside of the tub, and the pushing really began. I think it took two waves. That first one I think I moved her down so that she was truly crowning. I could feel her head and knew that we were almost there. And the next wave - I gave it everything I had. And although it felt like I was tearing apart, I could feel her coming down, feel her head come out, and knew that I was moments away from holding our daughter. I think one or two more pushes and her shoulders came through and she was out. Just so you know - if you've heard of the "ring of fire" - it's very very real. BUT.... the second my midwife told me to reach down and pick up my little baby ALL the pain was gone!

I will never forget this moment. Still on my knees, she was in the water, and I reached down and pulled her little slippery body out and cuddled her in my arms and held her to my chest. We kind of fell back together against the side of the tub. From the moment I saw her sweet little face - which was perfect - I was in love! She was covered in vernix (but not too much) and she screamed right away, they didn't have to clear her throat. We chatted and I told her how much I loved her and that I was so happy she was here. Mike was on the outside of the tub and was very much a part of this moment as we met our daughter. We counted her toes and fingers - all there. It was everything I'd ever hoped for and more!

We waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing, and then Mike got to cut it. Then he and Emma stepped away with the nurse so they could weigh and measure her, while my mom and the midwife helped me out of the tub. She weighed 6.4lbs and measured 20 inches (although she was actually 18 - they measured wrong). When they said outloud that she was 6.4lbs - I said "take that diabetes!". We thought she would be bigger because of that - but... she wasn't. I really think that was more to do with how early she was more than my stellar control of my diabetes, but either way. :)

Side note here - kind of funny. While preparing for the birth I was very concerned with what I would wear in the tub. I didn't want to be nude. I looked for weeks, and tried lots of different options. I didn't want to spend a ton of money, but I wanted something. Finally I found a $10 tankini top that I planned to wear. Funny thing was it didn't even make it inside the hospital for the birth. I was nude. And I could have cared less the entire time. I didn't care that there were about 8 people in the room seeing me naked. I didn't care about my fat. Or my tiny chest. I simply was focused on managing the pressure, and getting this sweet girl here. All sense of shyness and modesty went out the window for that time and I didn't care at all. :)

Anyway - I got out of the tub and had to lay down so we could get the placenta out and check for tearing. I did end up with at 2nd degree tear, so they numbed me up a bit and sewed me up. There seemed to be some concern about the amount of blood I had and some clots, but after pushing and pushing on my stomach (this sucks), the midwife felt it was all out and everything was good. I didn't hold Emma during this time because I was worried I would flinch and squeeze her too hard. But Mike had the opportunity to do skin to skin with her - and that was so adorable to watch. Finally they handed her to me and I got to cuddle with her again! Oh the joy is inexpressible! Marinda helped us attempt to breastfeed, Emma didn't want to latch so it didn't go so well. After about 15 minutes Marinda said her goodbyes and they came and took us upstairs. I thought that our birthing story would end there... unfortunately there was a little more to come. Stay tuned....