Birth Story...

I finally have some free time [Austin is with his Aunt Kirisha] so I figure now is as good as any time to start writing out this birth story. For most of this pregnancy, Charlie and I had decided we were going to do an unassisted birth at home. What this means is that there would be no midwives present, just Charlie and me [and my mom and besties -of course] to help with the entire process. While it sounds kinda crazy to most people [trust me, I was even skeptical at first and periodically as the pregnancy went along], we'd done enough research, practiced and felt confident in trusting God [and our healthy pregnancy] to get the birth we wanted. In the end, the end result is what matters. Healthy baby, healthy mama. But it's goes a little deeper than that for us. We wanted Austin to be welcomed with loving arms surrounded by the people that love him most. We wanted him to take his sweet time entering the world and not rush him. We also wanted a birth where I could be free to do as I pleased without having to fight anyone off or constantly have to defend my choices and decisions.

At my last doctor's appointment on the 4th, I had a high BP reading. It wasn't super high off the charts or anything, but considering how low my readings had been throughout the pregnancy, the doc started talking pre-eclampsia. We did a urine analysis [to check for proteins] and a blood draw. He told me to just take it easy and try to get another reading before my next appointment a week later. The next day, I was feeling dizzy and seeing spots so Charlie and I went to L&D Triage to have them check my BP. They did and I did another urine test and was sent home after a little while. The consensus: neg for pre-eclampsia and BP wasn't really an issue.

Fast forward a few days...my mom finally makes it into town and on her first day here, Laura-Jean [my BESTIE!] came over from Port Townsend and we went shopping for birth supplies. We wanted to pick up any last minute items and discuss our tentative birth plan since I was almost 39 weeks and Austin would for sure be making his debut at some point! [Little did we know...]. Charlie came home from work and made the most delicious dinner of pork chops, broccoli, and jasmine rice. We all settled in the living room and watched birthing videos and just had a grand ole' time. I remembered that I had my first rehearsal with the worship choir that night but was having too much fun to leave so I sent off an email to the pastor explaining that I'd be at next weeks rehearsal. Shortly after that, my mom and Charlie went upstairs and settled down for the night. Lauren decided to stay over since it was getting late so we started talking birth plans. Earlier in the day, we bought a BP reader from Walgreens so that we could monitor it during the labor. Lauren suggested we take a nightly reading to get a good baseline so we opened it up and got on it. The first reading was 140/107. I actually laughed because I thought it was a joke. We took two more readings that ended up going higher each time and even checked Charlie's and Lauren's to be sure it was semi-accurate and calibrated. I called L&D and they told me to come in and get checked out. Begrudgingly, I threw on my shoes and a sweat shirt and we all set off for the hospital.

The funny thing is, as we left I said, "wouldn't it be funny if this was the last time I leave the house pregnant?" Charlie and I laughed about it because we were so sure that L&D would send us right back home after determining [yet again] that sure I had high blood pressure, but I didn't have pre-eclampsia. So there's the four stooges [mom, lauren, charlie, and i] taking our sweet time walking up to the labor and delivery floor. We actually stopped and laughed about how non-chalant we were, especially when people saw how pregnant I was and marveled at how calm I was. One lady said, "wow you look super chill right now." I said back, "Oh, it's just a chill kind of visit." ....Little did I know!

So we're sitting in the triage room. I'm hooked to monitors while they run an NST on the little guy and take my blood pressure every 15 minutes. They had determined that my little cheapo reader from Walgreens was in fact legit and giving actual readings. We had the coolest guy as our nurse. He had no idea how crazy we all were! We tried to warn him..lol. Despite having a good time being funny and all, he kept mentioning they were probably going to admit me and start an induction. I told him I wasn't happy about it, but if it needed to be done...so be it. I told them I wanted to be informed of my options as they went along so that I could make a decision that would make me happy. They said they'd oblige, but I was skeptical. Whenever the hospital staff would leave us behind the curtain, I'd drop my pretend/non-chalant smile and have a mini melt down about having to be induced. The nurse guy kept scaring me with talks of using Magnesium Sulfate if I did end up having pre-eclampsia. I was freaked because he kept saying how they'd have to come beat on my legs every hour to make sure I wouldn't get a blood clot and eventually stroke and how if I didn't get it, I'd stroke anyway. I'm like, "grrrrrreeeeeaaaaat. Let's avoid that at all costs." Eventually [after 3 hours], I was being wheeled out of triage and into good ole' Labor/Delivery room 3.

They get us all set up in the room and our nurse, Terry [really amazing, btw] stared hooking up my Heplock with fluids. At some point, she decided to tell me that she was hooking me up to and starting the magnesium sulfate. You should've seen how quickly I sat up! We all looked at each other and I blurted out, "Uhm..they told me I wouldn't have to be on that unless my urine analysis came back positive for pre-eclampsia." She looked at us and was kind of taken aback at how quickly we all were against the meds. So she said she'd wait until the doctor came in to explain it to us. The doc comes in and we say the same thing to her about the mag and she tells us that there was so much protein in my urine there was no WAY I'd be able to not have the meds. *insert super internal meltdown here* I, then, told her that I was okay with having to do things their way seeing as how my entire birth plan went to crap, but I'd appreciate it if they would inform me of things before they started doing them and also present me with EVERY-OPTION-AVAILABLE so that I could be in the driver's seat. If I was going to be induced, it was going to go my way dangit! She agreed and asked if we had questions. We asked her the different methods for inductions and she said the natural methods [nipple stimulation, sex, etc]weren't options for me at this point because of my BP, but that I could choose from cervical ripeners like cytotec, a foley bulb, pitocin, or any combo of those. Despite being on edge, and therefore unable to recall a LOT of information, I remembered the cytotec was a BIG no-no. I also wanted to avoid putting anything up there increasing infection risks so I opted out of the foley bulb and decided on pitocin. I asked how soon they'd start on the pitocin and if I'd be able to go without it at some point if my contractions got to a steady rhythm. She checked my cervix [I was 2cm dilated, 50% effaced, and minus 2 station -not much of a change since last week] and stripped my membranes to see if that jumpstarted anything before getting the pitocin and that once my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, we could turn the pitocin down or off, whichever I preferred. We asked a bunch of other questions about the process, reminded her that I wanted to minimize my vaginal exams and needed to be in control of the situation and sent her on her way. I have to say, at this point, I felt like a big failure. I felt like I'd gone through such great lengths to give Austin the most loving/safe option [in our opinion] for coming into this world and my body was giving out on me. I knew that I couldn't control the fact that I had pre-ec, but I still felt like I'd failed. My support team was really awesome in reassuring me that I had NOT failed and that there's nothing I could've done differently. I think it was around this time that I texted my friend Cassie and told her that I was being induced. She confirmed my suspicion of the cytotec and gave me another boost of confidence that I could, in fact, do this. At some point, the magnesium gave me AWFUL hot flashes and in the middle of talking to the doctor I said out loud that I felt the need to vomit. Everyone in the room rushed around to find one of those kidney shaped pans and just as I started heaving, it was beneath my chin. There was like zero vomit in it, but all of the rice from dinner earlier! lol. It also got in my nose!!! I felt crappy for puking, but we all ended up laughing about the rice in my nose.

This is where I started taking notes on the whole process. lol I didn't want to miss a step.

At 5:30, the nurse who answered the phone from earlier that night came in to put a face to the case. Apparently, I was special because of my high BP. lol She also told me that I was Command Priority because Charlie worked there. That made me feel good. It also gave me hope that I could get things done more of "my way" since I "mattered." lol Another nurse came in and checked my monitors. My contractions were varied between 2 minutes and 8 minutes apart so she started me on 4mL of pitocin at 5:45. Feeling like an idiot, I asked if she'd be able to tell on the print out which contractions were natural and which were pitocin-induced. She said no. I don't think she was too impressed with my humor. About half an hour later, I went to the bathroom and saw some bloody show. I was started to get pumped. Maybe I wouldn't have to be on this pitocin drip all night! [yah right...] I asked the grumpy nurse how far apart my contractions were at 6:20 [2-6 min apart] and she proceeded to increase the pit to 8mL. Just fifteen minutes later [at 6:35], my contrax dropped back to 2-7.5 min apart and I started to feel like maybe this WOULD take forever. The doctors were anticipating a 24-48hr labor anyway.

I got compression hose at 6:39am so that my circulation would continue in my legs .Those things were AWESOME! One leg would pump up and slowly come back down and then the other would. It felt so cool. I want some so I could lay down without my legs getting restless. I mean, I was in bed for three days and not ONCE did I feel the urge to get up and walk around. As promised, the nurse would come in roughly every half an hour to forty five minutes and up the pit dosage. By 8am, I was at 16mL with contrax every 2-6 minutes apart and at 10:30am I was at 26mL. I honestly consider this part of the process the easiest. The contractions just felt like a low dull backache and tightening of my belly so I slept through most of these contractions. I remember waking up and looking at the IV machine and seeing that the nurse had upped my dosage without waking any of us up and telling me. Oh I was NOT happy. When she came in, I asked when she'd done it and also reinforced that I didn't want to tell her how to do her job but I'm firm on wanting to be informed so if any or all of us are asleep when she needed to do something, she had better wake us up to tell us. I didn't want anything to be done without being notified first. I also said my peace to the doc when she came in! The only real frustrating part was because of the mag, I was on fluid restriction. They were worried that if I ended up retaining water it'd flood my lungs and stuff- thus creating a bigger problem. This was TORTURE! I could only have 30cc's of water [smaller than a shot glass people!] every hour and absolutely no food whatsoever. So of course, when everyone went to get breakfast and came back with the room smelling of delicious Burger King..I was NOT a happy camper! I kept begging them to let me have an extra sip of water but everyone [including Charlie] was firm on not obliging me. The last pleasant thing I remember before it all went to hell was when they brought me flowers and a stuffed puppy from the gift shop.

Shortly after 11am, the pit dose was at 28mL. I was dead asleep [the mag works as a muscle relaxer so every inch of my body was zoned out!] and woke up to the most intense pain ever! It was in my back and belly like it had been all morning but it also radiated down to my cervix. I sat straight up and looked around [no one was in the room except Charlie, who was passed out in the corner on the floor]. I said his name a few times and then had to practically scream it before he woke up. He was like, "wha? what?" I said, "I need you! NOW." So he comes running over and we start our Bradley techniques. [relaxation, breathing, back rubs and such]. It wasn't a long one, but the pain took forever to dissipate. Lauren and my mom came back in the room and I told them what had happened. I started to get scared..lol. I'd heard the contractions with pitocin were no joke and super intense but since I'd been laboring for the last 6 hours without any real pain I figured that my pain tolerance was, in fact, super high. The last time I remember the them turning up the pitocin was around 11:30am.

The contractions started getting really intense. I would feel them building up and try to relax but then the pain in my back would be so severe, I'd need someone to come put a ton of pressure on my back. I had Charlie and my mom [then Lauren stepped in because my mom's knees are bad] practically lying on me just to get a little bit of relief. I felt so bad for them. In between contractions, I'd go into a sort of fog. I wasn't tuned into what was going on around me and could barely hear anyone talking to me. I think everyone started worrying that I wasn't breathing because I'd hear them tell me to breathe. I'm not sure when they checked me next, but the doctor came in and wanted to check to see if I'd progressed any since she stripped my membranes. I remember hearing them say I was almost at 4cm and then offering to break my bag of waters. I did NOT want to be put on a time clock and if they broke my bag of waters that's EXACTLY what I'd be on. I literally came out of the fog I was in and said, "please don't break my water...." then went back to la-la land. I'm also glad that I had such good advocates in their with me because they backed up every decision I made so the docs had no choice but to take my suggestions seriously. I know sometimes it can be hard to take a laboring woman seriously...there's more evidence of this later on. I DO remember that while her hand was inside me I had a contraction. Talk about uncomfortable. I was such a weirdo during this phase. I kept apologizing to the staff and my support for having contractions during conversations. For example, they'd be talking to me and I'd be like, "oh no...contraction." and Charlie and Lauren would lay into my back and the doctors and nurses would stand around just waiting for it to subside. Afterwards, I'd apologize. WHO DOES THAT?! lol

I started showing signs of the self-doubt signpost around this point. It started out as a single thought in my head and I kept trying to shove it aside because I just *knew* I couldn't possibly be at the third signpost. I had only been concentrating and focusing for about half an hour. But eventually, I was really doubtful I could keep going without an epidural. I first just kept mentioning that I couldn't do it and then I was literally BEGGING my support to let me have one. During the contrax, I would grab the railing or the bar they'd put in front of me and just whimper and moan. Screw relaxation techniques...they didn't work. I didn't want to be one of those screaming women you stereotypically think of when you imagine labor, but I did scream. I cried out for Jesus, I asked "why me?"..I did it all. Again, I have to praise my support team. They kept me from hyperventilating and getting that epidural I was so desperate to have. [BTW: I'd told the staff that I didn't even want them to mention pain relief to me unless I asked. They made good on their word too!] Here's where it gets interesting. I started feeling the urge to push. I started getting really worried. I announced to the room that I couldn't stop pushing. They all were like, "don't push! just relax and breathe!" I was terrified that I'd cause some serious internal damage if I pushed, but the sensation was so overwhelming. With me trying to hold back, I started convulsing really badly. I could feel Austin's head moving down further and further with every contraction. The nurses came in and my peeps told them that I was feeling the need to push. They asked me where I felt the most pressure and I told them it was more in the front. So they said as soon as I felt it more in my butt to let them know. During the next two contractions, I focused on where the pressure was and, indeed, it was still in the front. But on that third contraction, I shouted out, "I feel like I have to take a shit!" My mom told me that when I said that, the nurse kind of rolled her eyes as if to say, "oh great, now that I've told her where the sensation needs to be she's imagining that it's there." lol..right. So she grabs the doctor and they decide to do another check to see where I'm at in the dilation/effacement process. They had to wait for the next contraction to subside. So there I am with Charlie and Lauren laying into my back, my mom standing near my head telling me to focus and breathe and I shout out that I was pissing on myself. Well apparently, I wasn't peeing but there was a large gush of blood coming out of me. Someone almost announced it to me, but the nurse skillfully cleaned it up so I couldn't see it. I'm sure if I had seen it, I'd have lost it and demanded a c-section. lol They get me on my back to check my cervix and I heard them say "she's complete". I sat up and said, "what?!" Then the realization hit..."oh crap..it's pushing time!"

In no time, the labor room turned into a delivery room. Things dropped from the ceiling, came rolling in from the bathroom, a table was wheeled out and set up with instruments and there were so many people in the room. I was definitely feeling some performance anxiety at that point. I swear, none of the doctors or nurses believed in me because the doctor wanted to do a "practice push". Little did they know. During the next contraction, my mom and Charlie grabbed my legs and held them back [all the while I'm screaming- "I don't want to push on my back..sit me up. But they would let me sit up any further. I didn't know that I was in a good sitting/squat position already..] and they all counted to ten while I beared down and pushed. I hear a collective, "omg that's the head!" and I'm like, "whaaa?!" Apparently, Austin's head came out a little bit and that's when my bag of waters burst and squirted out [gotta love how they relay the info to me!] and his head went back in. That's when the doctor started taking me seriously! Everyone told me to stop pushing which really pissed me off! Couldn't these people tell that stopping my body from pushing meant convulsing?! I started panting and breathing really erratically just to try and stop from bearing down. My mom, God bless her, remembered that I wanted a mirror at the foot of the bed so I could see my progress. She had the nurse grab it and set it up for me. I couldn't see around the doctor's head at first because she was right there telling me that at the next contraction I was going to push 3 times. I felt it building and then I started pushing with it.

The ring of fire doesn't even begin to explain it. It was indescribable. I looked down and saw his head emerging and saw the doctor put her hands down there to help stretch me out to allow for him to come through. Then I felt myself tear. [ouch.] I remember getting mad at the doctor because I'd wanted to slowly get his head out to avoid tearing. When I tore, I threw my head back and stopped looking at the mirror but I felt his head come out next then his body just slipped out. I immediately reached down for him but they weren't handing him to me. I was like, "give him to me...i want him." but no one was handing him over. Turns out, his cord was really short. So short, they couldn't even place him on top of my body at ALL. They clamped his cord and gave Charlie the scissors and demanded he cut right then and there. Bless my husband, he said, "wait..we want it to stop pulsating first." but because I'd been so overheated from the magnesium I'd had the thermostat turned down really far and they needed to get him to the warmer right away. So he cut the cord and they laid him on my chest and stared toweling him off. I was saying, "stop, leave him alone..." because it just looked so painful the way they were doing it. I was rubbing his face and kissing him..he was just so tiny..he fit perfectly in my hands. I wanted him to nurse and was about to try but the nurses whisked him off to the warmer because he wasn't regulating his body temperature too well. Blame it on me for having the room so cold! I don't remember much of what they did with him at this point. I was preoccupied with the fact that the nurses started pushing on my stomach to get the placenta out. Apparently that was small too. Then they started stitching me up. I don't know why I was so tense about getting stitches. I'd just pushed that kid outta me, surely I could handle a few stitches, right?!

I heard him crying and felt my heart grow another chamber. He's so spectacular...perfect in every little way. I didn't get the birth I wanted, but I got the birth he needed. From start to finish, my labor lasted 7 hours and 33 minutes. First stage lasted 7:22, second stage lasted 7 minutes [4 pushes] and the third lasted 4 minutes. I never even considered that I might be one of those speedster laborers. The hospital staff and even us, had been preparing for a 24-48hr labor at the very least. Especially since we were inducing which is akin to jumpstarting a dead car. lol And Austin handled all of it like a champ! Not ONCE did his heart rate drop into the danger zone. During our three day stay, so many of the staff was more impressed that I'd done the entire process without any pain meds. Several nurses kept checking for evidence of one when they would come do vital checks on me. lol I have to give that credit to my support team. In hindsight, I know I could deal with the pain of the contractions but at the time I was such a baby. If they had caved...I would've gotten an epidural.

So there's my baby. Born at 1:17pm at Madigan Army Medical Center after an induction for pre-eclampsia. He weighed a cool 5lbs 6oz, was 18inches long and had a 34cm head circumference. Apgar scores were 8 and 9 [go boy!] and he's been perfect ever since. Now if only the little bugger would stop sucking his hands and lips and perfect his latch...

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