Three years ago my husband and I found out we were pregnant for the first time. It was then that I decided I wanted to have a natural birth. I had done lots and lots of research and I knew that I wanted as little medical intervention as possible. It wasn't because it's the new fad, but because I wanted what was best for my baby. I wanted her to be as alert as possible after birth so that we could bond and so she could feed. I didn't want to look back on my birth and regret what happened because I wasn't in control.
Unfortunately Isabella's birth was completely out of my control. My biggest fear, losing her in utero, led to a still birth rather than a live birth. It was the most devastating birth experience. But I'm not here to share the sad details with you. Instead, I want to share with you her brother's birth story.
This is the story of how Isaac Thomas came into this world:
I knew from day 1 of my pregnancy with Isaac that I wanted to have a natural birth. While I was pregnant with Isabella I had gone through Hypnobirthing classes and hoped to use that method. I decided to go with that method this time around as well. So, I re-read the book I had received in class and reviewed all the information I had. I started early on with my breathing and relaxation exercises. My husband and I also took a refresher course so that he could learn how to help me out during labor. I had prepared as best I could and thought I was ready...
On Monday, January 24 I was 40 weeks and 1 day. For the previous couple of weeks my husband and I had been taking walks daily to try and bring on labor. As any pregnant woman knows, you tend to get pretty uncomfortable the last 2 weeks. I wasn't sleeping, not because I was uncomfortable, but because I had to pee every hour. And I was ready to be un-pregnant. I read all the ways to bring on labor and we were determined to try [most of] them.
On this particular Monday I was trying the raspberry tea trick. I had been working on a whale painting I made for Isaac's room and was taking a break from that, watching Dr. Phil (I still don't know why) and drinking raspberry tea. At about 3:20 pm I stood up to go to the bathroom and there it was, a gush of fluid.
Now, they told me that only about 13% of women's water actually break before labor begins. Of course I would be in that category!! Why wouldn't I be? (If there is a small chance of something happening, it will happen to me.. that's just the way it always seems to be). Oh did I mention that I hadn't had a single contraction up until this point? No Braxton Hicks, no false labor.. Nada.
So I texted my husband "my water broke" and called the doctor. She told me to come in so she could check me and if I was dilated enough that I could go ahead and check into the hospital. My goal was to labor at home as long as possible, but when your water breaks, they want you to come in because there is a higher chance of infection
(although I'm not sure how true that is considering my vagina doesn't act like a straw).
Ben rushed home, and in between contraction (oh yeah, they were coming now! Less than a few minutes apart but still very short), I helped him gather all of the hospital essentials. I'm not quite sure what time we arrived at the doctor office but I do know I was leaking! I waddled into the office, pants a little soaked and still contracting like a champ.
My nurse practitioner was there and came in to check me. She informed me that if I hadn't dilated much they would want to begin pitocin since my water had broken. Pitocin is my least favorite word. I did NOT want to be induced. Especially since I was having contractions on my own. But, to my (and her) surprise I had already reached 4 cm. It was a surprise to her because I had only been about 1cm the Thursday before.
Happily, Erin (my nurse practitioner), filled out my admissions papers and sent me over to the hospital (just next door). Unfortunately Erin wouldn't be the one delivering Isaac because she wasn't on call that night. But, the doctor on call was very supportive of natural births. I have several friends who see him (and his wife had 2 babies using Hypnobirthing). By the time that was done and we got to the hospital it was around 5:30 pm. My contractions had gotten strong enough that I had to stop walking to get through each one, but they were still very tolerable.
We checked in and they hooked me up to the monitors for the required 20 minutes. At my request, I did not receive an IV so I guess they planned to wait on even giving me the heplock. My contractions continued to come quickly; only a couple minutes apart. They got longer and more intense very quick. So quick that I wasn't even able to catch my breath in between them. So quick that I couldn't start my relaxation exercises because I was so worried about the next contraction coming on. So quick that I was sweating profusely and starting to worry my husband because apparently I "looked like death."
At about 8 pm I looked over to my husband and said, "will you judge me if I give in and get an epidural?". He told me that he would not and that he wouldn't even tell anyone that I had. (I do love that man :) At that point my contractions were so intense. I had only been there a couple hours so I assumed I still had hours left and I knew I wouldn't be able to handle them coming so fast for the rest of my labor. I told my husband, "I'm throwing in the towel. Get me the anesthesiologist."
My husband finally found a nurse (apparently they were all either in the OR or the break room) and brought her in. At this point I was already feeling the need to push and was doing so through every contraction. The nurse apparently noticed this because she let the anesthesiologist know. When he got to the room the first thing he asked was, "has anyone checked her?". No, no one had checked me. Not once since I arrived at the hospital. So the nurse checked me and I was 8 cm. 8 cm!! I had gone from 4 to 8 in like 3 hours. No wonder my contractions were so intense!
Now, by this point I had already given in and gone for the epidural. But I think that if I had known before that I was 8 cm, I would have gone longer without it. I mean, 8 is pretty close to 10. It's past transition. Since they hadn't put in a heplock, I had to wait for that and then they did the epidural. The poor nurse had to hold me up during my contractions. But once it was in, I felt oh so much better.
For a while my contractions kept coming less than a couple minutes apart, but by 10pm they had slowed down quite a bit. At that point I started to stall. Oh, did I mention that I was 9.5 cm dilated?? I stalled at 9.5 for a good 5 hours. I was pretty glad I had gotten the epidural. But one questions still remains (although it doesn't really matter now): did I stall because of the epidural? or should I be glad I got the epidural because I stalled?
Either way, at around 4am, with the help of some pitocin, I finally reached 10cm and the nurses had me start pushing. By this time my contractions had slowed way down. They were coming 5 to 6 minutes apart. It was actually kind of nice because I had a break in between each push. But, by the end of the 2 hours of pushing I was soooo exhausted! I honestly don't know where the energy came from for the last couple of pushes.
So, what took so long? Well, apparently Isaac was coming down the birth canal at an angle. Everytime he inched out a little bit, when I stopped pushing, he would slide back in. Oh and did I mention that he was 8 pounds, 9 ounces?! The first words out of my doctor's mouth were, "that is a big baby!"
The nurses placed him right on my chest. I looked down at him and thought "oh my gosh, we have a baby!". I didn't know what to think. You go through pregnancy waiting and expecting to have a baby. But when the baby finally gets here, it's so surreal. I couldn't believe we actually had a child. Just like that, he was here! (And as far as the goopiness goes, it really isn't bad at all. I honestly didn't even notice that he was covered in goop.)
And he was beautiful! My husband and I were worried about the whole alien looking newborn thing. You know, the wrinkly skin and weird shaped head.. I wasn't sure if I'd really think my newborn was cute. But he didn't have any of that. And he was suuuuper cute! I joke that God knew I would have no idea what to do with a 6 pound baby, so He gave me a full sized one.
My adoration, however, was quickly interrupted by a crazy NICU doctor. Apparently Isaac had inahled his meconium on the way out (which can be a big deal). But he was breathing on his own and had quite a cry. This doctor was trying everything she could to take him to the nursery.
All I wanted was skin to skin contact so we could start breastfeeding. She tried to tell me that at this point it would be too much work for him to breastfeed. "I understand how important breastfeeding is, but right now it would be like walking up hill for him" she said. What?! Lady, don't you know how successful kangaroo care is? Besides, like I said, he was breathing just fine.
Finally, my wonderful nurse convinced her to give me my baby (how terrible does that sound?). I was kinda out of it around this time from being so tired, but my husband was starting to get pretty pissed off at this NICU doctor. She agreed to leave him with us as long as he had the breathing monitor on his foot. The alarm kept sounding because he was breathing so well. Whatever...
The nurse wrapped him and brought him to me. He began feeding right away. He ate 20 minutes on each side, no problem. I still don't know what that crazy doctor was talking about. (And when I say crazy, I'm not exaggerating. She was a nut :)
In the end, everything turned out just fine. Baby Isaac is a healthy beautiful little boy and I couldn't be more in love. I took him in for his 2 month checkup yesterday and he's up to 14 pounds!! He certainly doesn't have any problem eating or growing.
God is so incredibly amazing. A year ago I honestly didn't think we would ever be able to have our own children. In fact, my husband and I had decided that we would try one more time for a baby and if it didn't work out, I was going to research adoption and start the process while he was deployed (we still plan to adopt in the future). I really didn't think we would have a baby 9 months later, but God knew. And I couldn't be more thankful.