Thursday, August 02, 2007

Hope's Birth Story Day 3 - She Finally Arrives!

Okay, so how'd you like my nail biter ending to my last post? I guess I should have warned you I have a flare for the dramatic? Sorry....back to the story, we gotta have a baby here.

Okay, we have fever and high heart rates, what next? IV fluids, that's what. Like I said before, things are a little murky for me in some of these spots so I have to rely on The Mad Monk's memory for some of this. Anyway, Ann says we are going to try IV fluids, but if the fever and heart rates didn't change then we would have to look into transporting me to the hospital. This information did not make me happy. Actually, part of me was screaming, "yes, yes, transport me! I'm a wimp, I need drugs!". The other part of me was screaming, "no, no, we can't transport me! I want this birth HERE! My negative family members will win!". Like I said before...flare for the dramatic.

Thankfully, after the IV was put in, it did the trick with the problems and seemed to give me a second wind as well. It also felt as if there was somewhat of a respite with my contractions too. Ann had checked me right after I had left the spa and I was between 4 and 5 cm. I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. I thought for sure I was further along because of the pain, but I realize in looking back that I was exhausted from being dehydrated, not because I was laboring super hard. I would also be lying if I didn't want to give up at that point. It took every bit of will power in me not say "forget it". Little did I know what was to come. (enter dramatic music)

I was laboring on my side with a pillow between my legs. I was vocalizing loudly through my contractions now, but it was a release to make the noise. I was working very hard at keeping my bottom relaxed through the contractions, trying to let my uterus do its job in bringing the baby down. Then, it hit me. Excruciating back pain. I would have to say I was about 7 cm dilated when this happened. It happened fast and hard. All of the pain I had experienced prior to this point in the labor would be a walk in the park compared to what lie ahead of me. I believe it was during this time that they realized that Hope was posterior. She was sunny side up and the back of her head was leaving skid marks down my spine.

This is when my "team" around me was invaluable to me. You can not imagine the comfort it was to have these women encouraging me and praying over me. I needed these things more than I would ever know. Dr. Cindy and Cheryl (Ann's assistant) were doing counter pressure on my back and hips during contractions trying to relieve some of my pain. My legs and arms were being massaged. Anything and everything to try and make me more comfortable. I changed to a hands and knees position for a while. I went to the birthing stool for a while. Everything was being done to try and help this labor along. I ended up back on my left side and that would be where I would stay until Hope was born.

I have to be honest and say at one point the pain was so bad in my back that I thought I would die. Really, I thought that. It wasn't labor pain that was getting me, it was back pain. I know I was crying out at this point and I know I screamed once. It was also at this time that Ann was reminding to not let the contraction get ahead of me. It may not sound like sage advice to some, but it was oh so true. The pain was so much worse when I would allow it to control me and give into it. As long as I would keep breathing and stay ahead of the contraction I was coping. I might not have been coping well, but I was coping.

Even though I was coping,I was still delirious with pain. Dr. Cindy decided to try another method for getting the baby to turn to an anterior position. Forgive me for not having the formal name for the contraption she used, but I don't. When I find out or remember I will change the post for accuracy, but for now we will call it the "sling thingy"**. I didn't have my eyes open so I couldn't tell you for sure what it looked like, but what it felt like was this giant piece of material that would go around my lower belly. Dr. Cindy had both ends of the "sling thingy"**and would pull and shimmy the two ends back and forth, shaking my belly. I really do wish now that I could have seen it. At the time I didn't care. Anyway, she tried this method for several minutes and I'm not sure if it worked or not, but I know that shortly after I was 9 cm dilated.

You would think that at 9 cm dilated I would be elated that we were nearing the end... uh not. I was so tired and in so much pain that I was still telling myself, "I can't do this". Funny enough, I had been telling myself this since I was 5 cm dilated and here I was still doing it and doing it fairly fast. I'm such an optimist, aren't I? At this time Ann, sensing my waning spirit I'm sure, asked The Mad Monk, as my head and authority, to please pray for me. I didn't hear what he was saying, but I know I heard him praying and I know it was a balm to my weary soul. I know our gracious God heard his prayers because things changed rapidly after that.

I'm assuming that Ann saw something "down there" to lead her to ask me to roll to my back. She knew I was very close to becoming complete and was checking me one more time. Now, she had told us during our birth classes and during the labor that my body would involuntarily begin to push when it needed to. I knew this information, but apparently I didn't believe it because when it happened it completely took me by surprise. As I was on my back I was literally writhing in pain and then all of a sudden with the next contraction came this completely uncontrollable grunt and push. It was loud and it was long. It was nothing like I had ever experienced before. It didn't matter what I did, I couldn't control it. My body was doing what it wanted to do and my brain could do nothing to stop it! I know I panicked for a moment and then came another contraction with another overwhelming grunt and push. I didn't even know my body could bare down that hard. It felt as if my bottom was turning inside out and I yelled as much ( like they haven't heard that before!). They assured me that was not the case and that it was okay. It was during this contraction that someone began to tell me that they could see Hope's head and that she was coming. With the third contraction her head came out and Ann started telling me to breathe, just breathe, no more pushing. Ha! My body was not about to have any of that! No matter how hard I tried (and I tried hard), as I blew out, my body went into another long grunt and push. And with that fourth and final push Hope Evangeline came flying out like a little, wet, slippery seal! It was 4:42 am on Sunday, July 15th. The total labor had lasted just over 8 hours.

I don't think I can ever forget the emotion of that very moment and I don't want to. I could savor it forever. The Mad Monk began to sob openly when he saw his beautiful baby girl born and it touched me deeper than anything ever before. This grown man, this certified jokester completely melted at the birth of this incredible gift that God had given us. I didn't think it was possible to love him more than I already did, but at that moment our great God gave me an even deeper love for him than I ever thought possible.

I was exhausted and elated all at once. They placed her on my belly and I touched my sweet baby's head only moments after she entered this world. This was something I had never done in four previous births. Let me tell you, it was worth every ounce of pain I endured. She was worth it and I would do it all over again for her if I needed to. She was not taken away from me, but was lovingly left with her momma to see me first and know my voice. Those first moments spent with her were priceless.

Believe it or not, I had less than a 1 degree tear even though my body had literally hurled my child out of me. Ann would tell me later that there was nothing I could do, my uterus had just gone into overdrive. Yep, that's me, an overachiever. In all of my previous births the doctor had always given me an episiotomy whether I needed it or not. I am now convinced they were not needed. more reason to use a midwife?

While Hope, TMM and I were bonding, my wonderful "team" had prepared an herbal bath for Hope and I. Let me tell you, it was THE best. Hope was alert and looking around, taking in her new surroundings. This was also the first time I would nurse her which was very special for me. It was such a soothing and peaceful time for all three of us. We stayed in the bath for about 30 minutes before getting out. After I was in my gown we went back the birth room where our bed was all made and a tray with some sparkling juice and dainty little cakes awaited us. It was so sweet. I think we were still pinching ourselves that this had all just happened!

We were then able to watch our sweet girl get weighed, measured and examined all while we were watching. We didn't have to miss a thing. TMM was the first one to diaper and dress her as well! We were then left to cuddle and rest until we were ready to go home.

While it was a very painful birth it was a life changing moment for me. Some may say I'm crazy, but I wish all of my children could have been born like Hope. Into such a loving and peaceful environment with minimal interference. I can't begin to express how much I appreciated my midwife Ann's, support and presence. My chiropractor, Dr. Cindy was sooooo needed and appreciated. And Cheryl, the midwife assistant, who gave me such comfort with her presence as well. These are people I have come to know and love and I know that I could never go back to any other way of giving birth.

We don't know what the future holds for our family. We pray that somewhere down the line (before I get too old and decrepit!), if it's the Lord's will, that we might be blessed again. Crazy? Maybe. But that's who we are and we like it that way!

**edit: it was called a rebozo. This link tells a little about it.


Laurel said...

Beautiful! Thank you, Michelle. :-)

Mrs. Brigham said...

What an incredible and beautiful birth story! Thank you for sharing it.

Blessings! :o)