Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The birth story

To follow the theme Dr. J & Mrs. H started, and for anyone who is interested:

I went into what I THOUGHT was labor on Wednesday morning (the 23rd)
at about 3:00 am: regular contractions, 7 min apart, that felt pretty painful to me. We waited a while and watched to see if they stayed regular and they did, so we thought it might be getting started. I was scared and excited, because I'd been so anxious to have her before Christmas since my whole family was coming into town. So we called Labor and Delivery and I described things to the nurse, who said "Yup, sounds like early labor, just stay at home until your water breaks or you just are too uncomfortable to be at home anymore." My husband decided to stay home from work (since he works about an hour away), and we got everything together for whenever we'd need to go to the hospital. But then as soon as I hung up the call, everything slowed down and got all irregular. I was so ticked off!! All day that continued, irregular contractions everywhere from 6 to 30 min apart, some stronger-feeling but some very weak, and I got more and more depressed and pissed off at my body for fooling me into finally getting my hopes up.

I tried walking around the block in the crappy weather, going to Walmart just to walk around, bouncing and doing my circles on my yoga ball, going up and down the stairs, sitting against the wall, doing more circles on my hands and knees, EVERYTHING I could think of, but to no avail. I'd just had a good cry after we had dinner, thinking it could be weeks still since I was only just arriving at my Dec. 25th due date, and people have early practice labor that fools them all the time. I went to bed, and was talking to my husband while he brushed his teeth, and all of a sudden I felt this HUUUUUUGE pressure on my left hip joint, like an electric shock, and a big painful pushing on my pelvis from the baby, and then a POP and my water broke! I have to say, the amniotic fluid was nothing like what I thought it would be. What weird stuff.

We called and they told us to come in. By the time we got there my contractions were getting more painful and were fairly consistent, but I seemed to have a cycle of a big one, then a couple of littler ones, then a bigger one again etc. It hurt, but it was manageable, I breathed deeply like my pre-natal yoga instructor/doula taught us and tried to relax through them. I was about 3-4 cm when we arrived at 10 pm, and decided to start out in the shower--which seemed like a great idea until I started shaking all over from being too cold and probably also the contractions too: not very relaxing, plus it seemed like the shower made the contractions MORE painful. By this point I unfortunately couldn't manage anymore through them with deep yoga breathing, I had to start doing the "choo choo" sound we learned from the childbirth class. So we moved to the jacuzzi. I felt better there, and was able to relax more, until again everything intensified another step and I was having a lot of trouble moving during contractions--I just had to hold still and try not to be completely tensed all over. We headed back to our room and I tried sitting on and rotating around on the yoga ball for a little bit, but I could barely even do my circles on
it because I just could not control the pain.

It just got too bad for me, and I decided I needed an epidural--I was having some very bad physical reactions to the pain, like wailing, shaking and throwing up, and I just could not get ahold of things. It was like my body was going into shock, and I was not doing well at all. This was a big decision for me, because I'd wanted to be as natural as possible and also I have a deathly fear/creepy feeling about needles and spines...

Once the epidural was kicking in though, I knew it was the best decision I ever could have made. Suddenly I was physically capable of relaxing, and we were able to sleep from 6 to 10 cm without slowing down the rate of my labor too much: I still made it through at about 1 cm per hour in that time, and started pushing early in the morning on the 24th. I pushed for about an hour and a half, and the experience in yoga (plus my hypochondriacal body awareness) really helped to focus my energy on what muscles to use for pushing, even if I didn't have the same physical urges to do so because of the epidural. So I was pretty efficient even without any feeling down there, and the only downside was the incredibly surreal atmosphere where it still feels like a dream.

It's also so strange to already feel like it happened so long ago (even by just three days later), and to have such strong nostalgia for a process that I don't necessarily look forward to ever doing again. Without pain relief, I don't think I could have managed--I felt like I was going to become unconscious from shock before getting the epidural. But with the epidural, it was more like being on a long road trip where you can sleep in the car, and it takes a while, but it's not very exciting until you get to where you are going.

And for the last three weeks, it's been going back and forth between being lovely, sweet and relaxing, and like being under the control of a cruel sleep-deprivation torture program. The jury is still out on what kind of mommy I am, but I know I am NOT the kind who says "I knew from the first moment that I was made to do this." Nope, rather, I am managing to make myself do it because I know I love this little girl and want her to be happy and well developed. But many of these things I have to do all day and all night do not feel natural/beautiful/etc. at the time. Many are hilarious, like the poop explosions that shoot across the room during (constant) diaper changes--but do I feel like they complete me with ultimate fulfillment? NO. Hopefully I will look back on them with more rainbows than I'm getting right now.

13 comments:

Genomic Repairman said...

Congratulations

Aurora said...

That's a great story. Interesting how its a different experience for everyone. I'm all for epidurals.

Prof-like Substance said...

You'll forget this stage. That's why there are multi-child families.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

I lolzed at poop explosions!

Nat Blair said...

Thanks for sharing Arlenna. Not two deliveries are the same, and it's interesting to hear about the experiences that other people have. But as PLS noted, time will take the edge off the hard parts of pregnancy/delivery.

The first 6 weeks are very hard, as there is so much to do for the baby, and it doesn't reciprocate with any really meaningful interaction. All it does is eat, sleep, and poop. But it gets better as the baby gets older and the parents get more experienced (and the second baby was WAY WAY different because of this experience).

Plus, when the baby is older and can track objects, you can print a piece of paper with dark black bars on it, and move it in their visual fields. I could almost hear the popping of visual cortical cells when I did this with my kids.

AL said...

Congrats! For me, the first 4-6 weeks were extremely disorienting. I felt that my body was way out of control (just when I'd expected to kind of feel back to "normal"). And I had a rare issue that made nursing extremely painful in the beginning. But everything smoothed out within a few weeks. Good luck!

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

My friends with new babies have told me about the "poo-nami" phenomenon. It does not sound like fun.

One of these friends had an emergency C-section as there was quite a lot of blood when her water broke. She still says that she feels "cheated" of the natural birth process that she really wanted to experience. I should get her to read this post ;)

Congratulations again!

Candid Engineer said...

So I was pretty efficient even without any feeling down there

The engineer in me is so proud of you. :)

Thanks for sharing your story.

Mad Hatter said...

Congratulations, Arlenna!!! Thanks for sharing the story.

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

Oh, that was fantastic! I too had a shower shivery time during the labor--I tried to take a shower at the hospital (since I was restricted from going into the tubs) but started shivering insanely from cold and was miserable, so that was the end of that. I'm so glad things worked out for you in the hot tub and with the epi--sounds ideal.

I would say that I loved our cat better than I loved Small up until about the 3 month mark. Some people have the whole "fell in love as soon as I saw the baby" but not me. And the first 2-3 months seemed to last an eternity. However, things are FAR more enjoyable now! So don't sweat about not feeling instantly like a super mommmy.

ScienceGirl said...

I felt very similarly about the epi - from not wanting needles in my spine, to getting it because I was shaking uncontrollably and wailing, to the surreal experience once it was on. And it already feels like the whole thing was so long ago - I am sure even more so for you!

I hear you on the sleep deprivation torture - so glad to hear things are getting easier for you from your newer posts! There's light at the end of the tunnel!

Congrats again on your beautiful baby girl!

Arlenna said...

Thanks ScienceGirl! It is feeling much more normal now that we are 4 months out! Although we've gone from sleeping through the night to NOT anymore because she got sick... but we'll get back there some day.

Micro Dr. O said...

Once the epidural was kicking in though, I knew it was the best decision I ever could have made.

This was pretty much my experience. After they broke my water, it got so bad that I absolutely could not do the breathing/concentration that I knew I needed to be doing. I hated giving in, but was so glad I did afterwards.

Oh, and I have a great poop explosion story. I got the trifecta just days after coming home, complete with the Monkey peeing onto his own face as spit-up was rolling down his cheek, and a wonderful poop explosion all over me, our bedspread, and the bedroom floor. Definitely not the sweet baby experience I was looking forward to. ;P