After three false starts (the last on the night of Tuesday, Dec. 11), I went to the hospital at 1:30 Wednesday for my NST (non-stress test) and ultrasound. The NST was fine, but the ultrasound revealed that my amniotic fluid was low. I was told to walk over to Labor and Delivery and get induced right then and there. I had purposely left my bags a home in case that happened, so I headed down to tell them that I had an acupuncture appointment at 4 p.m., and that I wanted to try that first. On my way down, I ran into a guy from my birth class. His wife was the only one beside me who hadn’t yet delivered. She was due three days before me, and I’d run into them at a previous NST. He told me his wife had eaten a castor oil omelet at 4 p.m. the previous day and gone straight into labor. Six hours later, she’d delivered a baby girl. I went to L&D and told them I wanted to go to my acupuncture appointment and asked the doctor on call (it was my OBs day off) about the castor oil omelet. She said it would give me cramps and make me sick, and that it wasn’t safe because my fluid wouldn’t be monitored at home.
On my way home, I called my doula, another doula friend and my OB friend to get more opinions. In the end, I decided to eat a castor oil omelet AND go to acupuncture. It took me three stops to find castor oil, then my doula met me at my house to drive me to my acupuncture appointment in case the castor oil made me really sick. I made the omelet and some toast and by that time it was 3:50, so I had to eat it in the car while my doula, Anna, drove. As soon as the acupuncture began, I felt contractions. I have no idea which did the trick, but I find it hard to believe that the acupuncture would work that quickly. By the time I got out of the appointment and followed the acupuncturist’s instructions to walk around for ten minutes, I was having strong contractions. I had to stop twice at a Thai restaurant on Shattuck to use the bathroom, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. No cramps (other than contractions), no diarrhea, no vomiting. I went home and labored there for the next three+ hours.
At first I wanted to be alone in the cold, dark bedroom or sitting on the cold ceramic toilet (with clothes on). I didn’t want to listen to my labor play list or my meditation/hypnosis tracks. I tried the hip swaying moves I’d learned from the belly dancer who came to our birth class, and those helped. Eventually I got into the bathtub and that lessened the contractions quite a bit. Once I was in there, though, I didn’t want to get out. Contractions grew strong enough that I could no longer talk through them and did the 5-4-3-2-1 meditation where you feel each part of your body go limp in order not to tense against the pain. After about an hour of that, Anna suggested I get out and try the birth ball because water can slow labor down, but I was too happy in the tub to get out. Eventually the contractions got bad enough that I started asking when we were going to go to the hospital, and Anna’s response was, “Why do you want to go to the hospital?” I knew she was testing me to see if wanted an epidural, and I knew that I didn’t. Somehow the hospital just felt “safer” because active labor contractions can be so scary. I started to panic, to whine that they hurt too much, and she told me to moan deeply. When I’d watched all those hippie labor videos where women are bent over chairs making weird noises, I thought that would never be me, that I would keep my noises to myself, but in the throes of the strongest contractions, moaning deeply helped tremendously. They gave me an outlet for my whining and calmed me down. Eventually, I asked about the hospital again and Anna finally convinced me to get out of the tub and walk around. Just after I got out, I had the bloody show (gush of blood that comes out), and then my water broke, so she said it was finally time to go.
At the hospital, I had a contraction in the lobby and another in the hallway of Labor and Delivery and both times had to bend over a railing and moan and sway my hips. I didn’t care AT ALL who was watching or what they thought. I was in too much pain to care about anything but getting through that 60 seconds. Upstairs, I was taken to triage, where everything seemed to be moving far too slowly. After a few minutes they got me into a room, where they checked me and said I was 9 cm dilated. I continued to labor for the next hour. First I lay in bed and bent over the table (as shown in the picture), then I stripped down and got into the shower, where I sat on a stool under the warm water until a contraction came, then stood up and leaned into the corner, my face pressed against the cold tiles. After 15 minutes or so (I had no sense of time), I said, “I want to push!” and they took me out of the shower and into the bed. I never had time to put a hospital gown on, get an IV (which I didn’t want, but the nurse never even had time to ask me about it) or sign any papers. I started pushing right away and it was total hell. Once I was pushing, it felt good to be able to hold my breath and tense all I wanted through contractions, but the first few seconds when I was getting into position (a person on each side – I don’t know who – held my feet up with my legs bent while I pulled hard on my thighs with another person behind me holding my head up so I could put my chin to my chest). After pushing for an hour his head was right there and I could see everything in the stand-up mirror they placed at the end of the bed. They even had me reach down and touch his head inside of me, which was gray and squishy and not feeling at all like a head. After several more rounds of pushing, the doctor said she wanted to do an episiotomy and I said no. This went on for another ten minutes or so, and she said again that she really needed to do an episiotomy. I knew his head was big and I was completely exhausted from pushing, so I finally said, “Okay, do it” at which point my doula whispered to me, “You don’t have to do that,” and I said, “I can’t push any more.” Just then another contraction hit and everyone (there were several nurses in addition to Martin and Anna) said, “PUSH!!” and I did, and out his head came. Then another round of pushing for the body and another for the placenta, and it was all over. They put Shea on me while the OB stitched me up (all the while saying that I wouldn’t have so many stitches if I’d done the episiotomy). I had trouble enjoying him while getting stitched, so I agreed when the nurses offered to take him to clean him up and weigh and measure him. After that, they cleaned me up (including the huge poop Shea did on my stomach after he came out) and I put a shirt on. After Shea’s vitamin K shot, tests, etc. we eventually transferred to a postpartum room at 3 a.m. and continued to receive visits from nurses until 5, when we finally slept for about half an hour.
The next two days were pretty mellow—Shea slept for two to three hours in his bassinet between feedings while we slept, checked e-mail or ate our meals. We received several visits from friends and an equal number of flower arrangements. Breastfeeding hurt like hell, so I received four visits from different lactation consultants, attended a class and watched a video. One consultant gave me a breast shield, which I’ve been using ever since, but I’ll save all that for another post. Now we’re home and just trying to get enough sleep. I’m blogging, by the way, while he’s breast feeding. It’s the only freedom I have right now. All in all, the birth couldn’t have gone better. I think I got every wish on my birth plan, which is below.
• I would like a drug-free birth. Only offer medications if I ask and no pain scale questions, please.
• No IV or a hep-lock unless absolutely necessary
• Intermittent monitoring for increased mobility
• Minimum number of vaginal exams
• Avoid tearing by supporting the perineum with hot compresses and directing me to push very slowly once the baby crowns.
• No episiotomy
• Allow my partner to catch the baby.
• Local anesthesia for stitches
• I would like the baby placed on me, not the warmer, when he’s born.
• Delay clamping the cord for five minutes and let my partner cut the cord.
• Delay non critical newborn procedures for at least an hour, until I’ve had a chance to breast feed.
For the BABY:
• No eye ointment (erythromycin) for the baby.
• Only breast milk. No formula, sugar water or pacifiers, please.
• No circumcision.
• No Hepatitis B shot for one month
***If Complications Lead to a CESAREAN DELIVERY:
• Please allow my doula to stay in the OR with me, so my husband can stay with the baby once the baby is born.
• I would like a double-layer stitch upon repair of the uterus.
• Assuming the baby is well, I would like to hold my baby and/or nurse my baby as soon as possible.