Sunday, November 08, 2009

Pain with a Purpose: Finley's Birth

Warning: You may want to skip this post if birth stories weird you out or you don't want to think about me in the situations I'm going to talk about. I realize this post may not be for everyone, but it's a story I want to document because it was so wonderful. Also, I don't feel like there are enough positive birth stories out there. When women get together and swap, it's always a horror-fest. I have attempted to keep things as tame as possible, but I just gave birth. It's messy.

Wednesday evening around 5 pm I was sitting on the couch with T when I felt a now-familiar pressure pop. I had just talked to Ry, who was on his way home from work. He was planning on running an errand before heading to the house. I scooted into the bathroom, and sure enough, saw the telltale pinkish amniotic fluid that said my water had just broken. I called Ry back and told him that he probably ought to come straight home rather than run his errand.

Then, I called my midwife and my girlfriend (who was going to watch T for the evening). I started gathering last minute items for T and myself: extra "special toys" and underwear for T, final toiletries for me. My midwife called back and told me that since my Group B Strep test* was positive, I needed to head into the hospital sooner rather than later. When Ry got home, I headed for the shower. My contractions started around 5:30 and were 5 or 6 minutes apart.

My girlfriend arrived shortly to collect T. He was super excited to spend the night with Q and have a new brother soon. Ry and I finished gathering the stuff we needed, and by the time we left the house around 6 my contractions were only 2-3 minutes apart.

It must've been a slow night on Labor & Delivery, because when I walked in, the triage nurse said "J?" We got checked in (through a few contractions) and escorted into the labor room. They started the required 20 minutes of fetal monitoring, started my IV, and went through the battery of questions. My contractions were getting much stronger and closer together as my midwife walked in the room to check my dilation. I was 4 centimeters around 6:15 pm. By the time my 20 minutes was over, I was dying to get out of the bed.

Then I knew I needed to hit the bathroom. I spent the next hour laboring on the toilet. Everything in me needed to come out, including the chili and watermelon I'd had as a snack around 4. Even now, 5 days later, I still can't look a watermelon in the face. I told the nurse I needed to throw up and she gave me this darling little kidney-shaped bowl. It probably held 12 ounces. I looked at Ry and said "that's not going to cut it!" He found a basin, and it's good thing he did or he'd have been wearing watermelon and chili.

At 7, the nurses changed shifts, so I got a new nurse. She came to hang out in the bathroom with me and Ry. I think I remember saying something to Ry and the nurse about there being nothing like a party on the toilet. Around 7:00, I needed to move again, so I left the bathroom, got on the bed, buried my head in the pillow and proceeded to "ahhh, weeee, oooohhhh, and haaaaa" through the next 30 minutes.

Then I started to feel "pushy." For those of you who have never had a baby (or talked to someone who has), it feels like you need to have a BM. My midwife checked me again, and I had gone from 4 centimeters to "almost 10" in just over an hour. I remember the midwife telling me that if I felt the need to push, I should just listen to my body.

To be honest with you, I have no idea who was in the room that last hour. Ry tells me it was him, the midwife, my nurse and the baby nurse. All I remember was the incredible pain, and then the incredible relief of pushing. I'm not going to lie, it was nearly the worst pain of my life, but it felt so good to be able to do something with the pain. Why wasn't it the worst? The end of my labor with T was worse because I wasn't in charge of the pain. Huh? Lemme 'splain. With T, I was epiduraled and hooked up every which way. Towards the end T's heartbeat started showing some troubling decelerations. The doctor ended up using a vacuum to pull him out. The agony of having a baby pulled from you is something I hope you never experience.

This time, with every contraction I pushed. I was able to focus the pain, do something with the pain and, most importantly, be in charge of the pain. I decided how hard and how long to push. I remember someone telling me to not be afraid of the pain when Finley started to crown. That was what I needed to hear. I remember saying that I thought I was going to split in two. Someone assured me that wasn't the case. I remember someone putting a hot towel on my back and asking them to take it off. They did. Most of all, I remember the absolute euphoria I felt when Finley was born at 8:26 pm. All of a sudden the pain was gone. I turned around and they put my sweet little boy in my arms, rubbing him dry. I felt like I had just run a marathon. I was exhausted, but I felt great.

After a few minutes, they took Finley to measure him, warm him up and do all the new baby stuff. The atmosphere in the room was serene as Ry talked to Finley and my midwife stitched my minor tear (which probably only occurred because of the tear/episiotomy during T's delivery). She delivered the placenta, which is a really brilliant color of blue on the baby's side. And then they handed Finley back to me, where he snuggled in and nursed for 45 minutes, all before he was 30 minutes old.

I was up on my feet within the hour. My recovery has been swift. I have never felt more alive than I did in the moments after Finley was born.

In the long run, I suppose it doesn't really matter how your baby is born. I know that this experience was an intense, amazing experience and I will be forever grateful to have had it. It won't change my relationship with my boys, but it does change my relationship with myself. The highly medical model of childbirth tells women that their bodies are insufficient, incomplete, and even broken. I feel like a warrior. Should you get the opportunity, I highly recommend it.

*Group B Strep is a bacterium that is part of a woman's normal flora. About 10-40% of women carry it at any given time and it is generally nothing to be concerned about. It can, however, get into a newborn's system during birth and cause pneumonia, respiratory illness and other yucky stuff. Being treated with IV antibiotics during labor lowers the risk of illness for the baby from 1 in 200 to about 1 in 4000.


Becky said...

This may be a strange sentiment, but I'm so proud of you! Congrats and I'm glad everything went smoothly!

Cathy said...

I just got all teary - I am such a sap. Thanks for sharing the story of Finley's grand entrance - you are making me feel brave

Aunt beth said...

I second your comments. I did the same thing with both of mine. It was the worst and best feelings in the world. I wouldn't trade them for anything.

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