Monday, July 07, 2008

Labor Day

Just Born

Ok, it’s been awhile but I have a good reason. I’ve been busy.

I’d like to introduce to you, my daughter.

Today I gave birth and went through what I dreaded for weeks, ok months, labor. Labor is definitely labor. I’m not going to lie. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it but at the same time 6 days later I would do it all again for my baby girl.

There was a line at the registration office and even though I preregistered, I needed to check in. Hubby brought me up to L&D to settle in with the nurses and he registered for me. While he was registering and reserving a private post partum room, my water was broken. Being the neurotic that I am the doctor immediately told me the water was clear which put me at ease. I kept asking the nurse to check the baby’s heart rate throughout which is the only thing I clearly remember. The nurse and doctor realized this was my calming and strengthening mechanism, I suppose.

Oh, and the nurse that eased my mind and made me feel so much more confident and assured during my NST was my assigned nurse. Thank heavens. I thank the heavenly Lord for that blessing. She was a true blessing for me, my husband and my baby. I will never forget Susan and everything she did for me.

I began having contractions immediately or at least contractions I actually could feel. They weren’t painful just cramping. However, my husband and I wanted to know what the pain options were and we were told I could not receive an epidural until I was 4 cm dilated. At the first check I was 1-2 cm dilated. I recall telling myself, I’d be a trooper.

I remember I kept thinking my breath is really kicking and I kept trying to eat mints but my breath just kept getting worse. I know that sounds silly to think of during labor but that’s what I was thinking of at the time.

By the time the contractions kept coming more and more frequently, it was the early afternoon and I was dreading the doctor would come in and tell me I was only 3 cm dilated. So I kept praying I could hold out longer just so I wouldn’t be disheartened. After a while I couldn’t take it anymore and the doctor came and told me I jumped to 8cm and I was good to go for an epidural. In fact, I may go heading to the finish line sooner and instead gave me an intrathecal. This analgesia lasts for approximately 2 hours.
It makes you feel like you have pins and needles in your legs but you still feel stuff but not terrible pain or discomfort.

I know there are many opinions on pain medication but I will tell you this, I appreciated the hour and a half of painless contractions. It allowed me to rest up for the next phase. Call me a wimp (which I did say to my doctor and nurse) but I’m seriously needed that 90 minute rest period.

An hour later, it was time for me to push. I had been laboring actively for 6 hours by this time. By the way, you know it’s time when you call your nurse and feel like you need to do number 2. Pushing isn’t like the pushing you think it is. I know everyone told me to push like I was taking a poop but I found that pushing like I was doing stomach crunches or Pilates were more powerful and lasted longer. I kept visualizing my muscles pushing downwards like a wave from the top of my belly to the bottom. It wasn’t easy. You feel a lot of pressure and I mean a lot on your pelvis. The worst part was when baby girl was down in my pelvis. No matter what you do, you feel like your pushing isn’t going anywhere. That’s where your support team comes into play. Susan was phenomenal giving me play by play and teaching my husband.

Even though I asked my husband to stay north of the border he was down in the trenches the entire time. Hearing him tell me that he say the baby’s head turn or the hair or whatever gave me that much more energy to push more. Still it was tiring and many a times I told my husband I wouldn’t be able to do it for much longer. The problem is for every 2 steps, your baby kind of pulls back 1 step. Think about it. You’re tightly packaged inside an elastic container. If you squeeze it on one end, it protrudes out but once you let go, it pulls back slightly. That’s why you need the encouragement.

Susan said the trick apparently is that you want to work with the contractions. The advice I have is what Susan told me to do, “Push out that pelvic pain. It’s right down there. You can push that out. Use the contractions to help you push out the pain.”

Hubby kept his hand on my belly to help me focus on the crunch pushes. It really did help. I’m not saying it works for everyone but crunches helped better than bowel movement pushes for me.

Just when I felt like I was going to pass out Susan pulled down the lower part of the bed and my doctor made it in. It was showtime. That didn’t take as long as the actual pushing with Susan. My feet when on the stirrups, I grabbed the handlebars and kept my eyes closed. It didn’t seem too long from there. When baby girl came into this world, it wasn’t like the big final push you see in the movies. It was the same intense pushing I had been doing. I know there was supposed to be a ring of fire and I’m sure there was but I didn’t want to focus on that. I kept hearing my doctor say push through the fire but I kept thinking, the pelvic pain has passed. It’s only a matter of time. I’m just grateful I’m past that pelvic pain.

Baby girl came into this world and the first thing I heard was my husband, “Oh, Wow.” It wasn’t an exclamation wow but more of an in awe wow. It was silent if you understand what I mean. I opened my eyes and there she was, my beautiful girl.

The world stopped for me. I didn’t feel like I had been in a bed pushing or going through contractions. I opened my eyes from my dream and there she was. There was a moment where all I heard were adults talking to me. I think I looked dazed. Then I heard her first cry, a strong healthy long cry. I looked to my right and there she was being cleaned up and inspected by Ms. Ma, the nursery nurse.

I looked over to my husband who was still holding my I think my husband was in shock because he seemed to be at a loss of what to do. I turned to him, smiled and whispered, “Go to your daughter.” He ran to the warming bed and watched as Ms. Ma inspected our baby. She was fairly quiet by now. I reminded my husband to get the camera. Even the doctor told him to get the camera.

Hubby shot pictures of me, the doctor, Susan the nurse and Ms. Ma and of course, our daughter. Yes, if you must know, hubby has several shots of my in the stirrups birthing my placenta. Don’t ask.

Labor stats:
Water broke: apx 9:30am (clear liquid)
Total Active labor: 6 hours
Cm dilated: from 1-2 to 8 cms
Anesthesia/Analgesia: Intrathecal
Total hours pushing: 3
Nurse: Susan N.
Baby Nurse: Ms. Ma
Doctor: Daniel M.

Thoughts in my head:
My breath stinks.
I need more breath mints.
I’m a wounded animal, leave me alone.
My husband’s shirt is great. (see below)
My husband’s shirt is white with blue and dark blue spots and pearl snaps.
Why do they make you sign the anesthesia authorization in the middle of your pain? First I could barely write my name. Second, the paper could have been a blank check and I would have signed it.
Hubby was a really trooper and I’m so glad he was the one to witness this. I don’t think I’d want anyone else to see and feel this. It is the most intimate thing I’ve ever done in my life.

So how did I cope with the pain? Pushing was hard work. They don’t call it labor for nothing. I breathed. I pushed. I closed my eyes and wished to be in my happy place. I grabbed hubby’s shirt for dear life. Thank goodness he wore a snap shirt as I ripped it open several times. I grabbed his hand for awhile and wrenched his wrist several times. Honestly, I looked up once and he had a wince but I didn’t care. It couldn’t have been more uncomfortable than a bowling ball pushing down on your crotch and pelvis.