- 4 years ago
- Wedding: June 2012
This is super long, but I wanted to make sure I captured all of it, and I needed to set up the big finish. Hope you enjoy it!
Audrey’s birth story:
Early labor started in the afternoon of September 30, not that I realized that’s what was happening. I was having what I thought were an insane amount of Braxton Hicks contractions – they felt just like BH, but I was having them every half hour or even more frequently. I was also having a lot of period-like cramps and they were getting pretty intense at times.
The period cramps continued all through the afternoon and evening, but I still didn’t really clue in as to what was happening. I convinced myself it was false labor and there was no way we were going to be having a baby that night. I finally figured out that maybe something else was going on when we went to bed that night. I was lying there playing games on my phone and realized the cramps were coming and going regularly – VERY regularly. I looked at the clock and realized that the cramps were at most 4-5 minutes apart. They weren’t lasting very long – maybe 15-20 seconds – but it was enough to make me panic a little. It almost seemed inevitable when my water broke at 9:15PM. I tapped Jesse on the shoulder and told him my water had broken, then ran to the bathroom to take a look at the damage (I had been wearing an adult diaper at the time so no mess was made).
Once it was assured that my water had indeed broken (and was continuing to leak out), we sprang into action. Phone calls were made; items from the list were gathered; Jesse took a quick shower; and then off into the car we went on our way to the hospital.
When we got there, I was taken into L&D triage to get checked out. They found my cervix dilated to 3cm and my contractions regular but brief. They were getting stronger though – they felt just like really really horrible period cramps; the kind that knock you on your ass whenever they hit. I hoped that all of labor wouldn’t feel like this, because I can handle a lot of different kinds of pain but something about the bottomless yawing agony of a bad period cramp just darts around my pain tolerance every time.
My mother arrived soon afterwards, as did our doula, and I was admitted to a labor suite. I was thankfully able to get midwife care, which meant I had an advocate for intermittent fetal monitoring and another person on board for my plan of a natural birth.
The contractions continued to get stronger and I spent a lot of time leaning heavily on Jesse and swaying rhythmically when they hit. I tried to get in the shower, but the water wouldn’t get quite hot enough so all it did was make me shiver violently. It didn’t help at all.
I tried sitting on the birth ball and swaying my hips in circles for a while, and while that felt fantastic, it seemed to be slowing down my contractions so we decided to try wandering the halls. Up and down the halls we walked, my contractions bumping up to a solid 7 on the pain scale and piling up one on top of another. They had started coupling up – one would start, peak, and then tumble 80% of the way back down, then hang out at that 20% level for a while before bumping back up to a second peak. It was awful. The worst part was definitely when the contraction would linger at that 20% level, because while that was manageable, I knew I wouldn’t get any real relief until it had risen to its second peak.
The pain was getting so bad that they decided to check me again at around4:30am. I thought I must be getting close to go time – the contractions were so intense I really didn’t think I could keep it up for much longer. I hoped I was in transition, since I know plenty of people say “just when I couldn’t take it anymore, I realized I was in transition and soon it would be time to push.” So the midwife checked me, and found … I was at 7-8 centimeters. Maybe I was in transition, but if so, it was only just the beginning and I still had lots of these terrible contractions to go before I’d be fully dilated.
I wanted to quit. I wailed that I couldn’t do it. But everyone there – especially the midwife and the doula – told me I could do it, that I was doing it right now, and that I shouldn’t quit. So I kept holding on. I pretty much just quit paying attention to anything other than breathing through the contractions and trying not to push because I knew it wasn’t time.
But the urge to push was becoming unbearable. With every contraction, my body just wanted to push and it was taking every ounce of willpower I had just to hold back from pushing on maybe half of them. Through each contraction, my body wanted to push maybe 5 or 6 times. So if I only gave in and grunt-pushed three or four times, that was considered a victory. Also, I was peeing myself every time I pushed. EVERY. TIME. Thankfully I was wearing these mesh panties and a giant pad so the peeing myself didn’t really bother me. It just happened.
After what felt like an eternity in the open knee chest position (which is supposed to help take the pressure off the cervix that makes the body want to push before it’s ready), the midwife finally checked me again and found me at 9 ½ cm. Awesome, almost there!!!
But they also did another check on the baby’s heart rate and found that it was low and getting lower. Not so great.
The labor suite started to fill with people – word was starting to spread that something bad was happening and there needed to be a lot of people at the ready.
They put me on oxygen and turned up the lights and rolled me onto my back. There were people everywhere and the fetal monitors were strapped onto me full time. I started to realize that something not good was happening.
There were multiple doctors in scrubs entering the room and I started to worry that this whole adventure was going to end in a C-section after all. I didn’t really understand what was happening; just that the baby’s heart rate was falling and they needed to get her out ASAP. The eastern European nurse kept getting in my face and ordering me to breathe deeply and slowly to get in all the oxygen I could. When she wasn’t in my face, I could feel my eyes darting around the room rapidly, not really seeing anything except the lights on the ceiling. I remember the lights.
I had specified in my birth plan that I didn’t want to push while lying on my back, but there I was lying on my back. At the time, it was absolutely the most comfortable position I could imagine and it just felt right. This was a really big surprise to me. I mentioned something about pushing on my back not being part of the plan, but both the midwife and the doula assured me that if it’s what felt best to me, then it was the right thing. So I stayed that way.
The contractions kept coming and the midwife ordered me to push, saying she was going to try to pull my cervix the rest of the way open. I pushed and pushed, and everyone kept screaming that the baby was right there, RIGHT THERE and they could see her hair and I just had to push a little bit harder and we’d have a baby!
So I kept pushing and pushing, but she didn’t come out. And the heart rate dropped lower and lower. And the panic level in the room started to rise to fever pitch. At this point, there were no fewer than 15 people in the labor room with me – my three support people, the midwife, the nurse, plus at least two OBs, an anesthesiologist and team, a bunch of pediatric doctors and nurses … it was a circus.
One of the OBs told me that they needed to get the baby out immediately and in order to do that, they were going to give me an episiotomy and use the vacuum to pull her out. Apparently, the reason she wasn’t coming out was because she was sunny side up, which nobody had realized until then. That would explain the premature urge to push, and the coupling contractions. The baby wasn’t going to come out on her own, because with each contraction and each push, she was getting forced into a position that wouldn’t let her crown. So, episiotomy and vacuum it would have to be. And if that didn’t work, emergency C-section. They couldn’t use forceps on me because I hadn’t had an epidural.
All I could manage in response to this was “aw, man!” – in the same tone you might use when someone tells you the meter maid is writing you a parking ticket. Aw, man! An episiotomy and a vacuum-assisted birth? This wasn’t in the birth plan at all!
They took the end off my bed and gave me some local anesthetic on my perineum (since I still had not had any pain medication whatsoever while in labor), and then gave me the snip snip. Another contraction rose and all 15 people in the room started screaming at me to push. And then all 15 people started screaming at me to take a deep breath. And then 15 voices rose again in unison ordering me to push.
I pushed through a couple of contractions but the baby still wouldn’t come out. I could sense that my time was running out – that I was about 20 seconds away from getting the C-section I was so desperate to avoid. So when the next contraction rose, I listened to the 15 screaming voices and pushed as hard as I possibly could. Jesse said my face turned purple and my neck looked bigger than my head. I popped capillaries all over my body and a blood vessel in my eye from the strain.
And then it happened. I felt another pop.
The pop of a fourth-degree tear. The pop of my entire perineum just exploding. My mom said that blood sort of sprayed out and onto the floor like a scene out of one of the Saw movies.
But it worked. Her head finally came out, and then with one more push, out came the rest of her. And then she cried, and 15 people, most of them strangers, gave a loud cheer together. Audrey was born, and she was fine 🙂
My birth plan continued to go out the window, though. Because of all the drama and the danger, they clamped and cut her cord immediately so that the pediatricians could take her over to the incubator and make sure she was okay. She had a major hematoma on her head from the vacuum, and Jesse said she looked pretty bad in general. The cord had also been wrapped around her neck. So much for immediate skin-to-skin.
But, she was fine – Apgar score of 9. And as soon as she was given the green light, she was brought over to me and placed on my chest. She was so gorgeous, with a big full head of hair. The midwife helped me get my gown open and we put the baby on my chest to feed, and she latched immediately and easily and suckled for a good 15 minutes. I was in love.
And it’s a good thing I had the baby to distract me, because my bottom was absolutely shot. The two OBs worked together for over an hour stitching me up. My vagina and rectum were completely merged together. When the placenta came out, I actually felt it brush against my rectum like a sloppy turd. It was gross. They had to stitch each part individually — vagina, perineum, bunghole. I tried to ignore what the two doctors were talking about, but I could hear things like “next we’ll repair the muscle” and just tried not to picture how much damage had been done to my down-below. I figured the next few weeks of my life would be abject misery.
I finally had my first pain medication of the day (other than the local anesthetic before the episiotomy) while they were stitching me up – some nice narcotics in through my IV lock. It didn’t really block any pain but it did snow me out nicely and take the edge off the whole experience.
Not that I really felt any pain – I was actually cracking joke after joke at my own expense. One of the nurses taught me the word “vaganus” after I asked her if there was a word for what I had going on down there, and I laughed and laughed and kept teasing everyone about my vaganus. I told Jesse he was in luck because “you’ll finally get all that anal sex you’ve been after.” The nurses told me they were shocked by how good my attitude about the whole thing was – but I just said that I couldn’t imagine acting any other way. What’s the point in being hysterical? My baby was born, she was safe, she was healthy, and I got my natural vaginal birth. Sure, it didn’t go according to plan, but close enough.
Meanwhile, I think at least partly because of my good attitude, my bottom hasn’t been the least bit sore at all. In fact, I think I’ve been less sore than most women after giving birth, even though my vagina and anus ripped together into one giant opening. I can honestly say that my pain level has been consistently at a zero. A ZERO. Can’t beat that. They sent me home from the hospital with Percocet but I haven’t taken any of it. No need.
Anyway, now it’s almost a week later, and we’re having a few breastfeeding issues but nothing too serious, and nothing that can’t be handled by a meeting with the lactation consultants tomorrow. Our little daughter is beautiful and perfect and life is good.
Plus, mother and baby are both BMing normally, which I think we can all agree is the most important part.
And I have a vaganus. I don’t know how many stitches it ended up being, but I’d guess at least 50 while my mom guesses 100. Not too shabby for a drug-free birth 🙂
And now for the pictures or our little Eskimo baby!
Moments after birth:
Oh hello there!
Baby’s first selfie with mommy at the hospital:
Ready to go home!
The new family:
The most hilarious picture of all time, in which Audrey looks like Chinese-American character actor Victor Wong giving the “everything is ooooooookayyyyyyyy” pose:
Love. Just love.
Somebody needs their luxurious hair washed. Total bad hair day, kiddo.