Friday, May 11, 2012

Meagan's Birth Stories- All 3!

Birth One – October 27, 2006 – The Goose Egg
After seven years of marriage, nearly 42 weeks of gestation, and countless hours of researching and determining my desired birth plan, labor with my first child started in the wee hours of October 26, 2006. The contractions had some rhythm to them, but not much intensity. Having not experienced labor, I thought perhaps I would just get off easy. In about 32 hours, I would realize that wouldn’t be the case.
Throughout the day, contractions came and went. My husband Matt took the day off work since we had no idea what lay ahead. We spent the day walking and walking and walking some more. Finally at the end of the night, we decided to cook up some spicy Mexican food to see if that would get things moving along. For the next few hours, nothing changed until we went to bed. As soon as I laid down, more intense contractions started. I got up to shower and was gripped by a full-strength contraction. I dried off, dressed and headed to the hospital.
Once we arrived, my contractions stopped. The nurse examined me and I was only 4 cm dilated. I was quite angry. A few days prior I had been 3 during an exam. The nurse called my midwife who said we should walk the hospital halls for the next few hours to get things to progress before being checked in. Frustrated and already tired, I wanted to go home and try to sleep some. Sherri, our midwife, said to give it one hour and we’d go from there. The walking worked and soon I was unable to walk or talk through my contractions. With each one, I leaned against the wall and swayed from side to side as Matt rubbed my lower back with all his might. After an hour of this, we were admitted.
I couldn’t wait to get into the room and into the tub. Desiring to go pain-medicine free, I was hoping the warm bath would help ease my discomfort. Sherri asked if I wanted her to break my water to get things progressing even more. I consented, hoping things would speed up. With that, my contractions got stronger and I wanted the tub even more. I finally made it in and welcomed the “relief” it gave. Of course the pain was still intense, but the warmth helped ease some of the discomfort and allowed me to better focus and stay on top of the contractions.
As soon as I hit the water, I sort of disappeared. I had been jovial and trying to hold conversations (to a certain degree), but suddenly I realized that if I was going to make it through, it was time to focus inwardly. With that decision, I disappeared within myself. I paid little attention to what went on around me. For the most part the room was quiet and dim, which is exactly what I wanted and the nursing staff honored that. Matt sat outside the tub, laying cold washcloths on my head and massaging my back as needed. Both he and Sherri stayed beside me, watching and waiting.
After a few hours and at the peak of a contraction, I suddenly doubted myself and my ability to make it through several more hours of this. I would estimate the time to be around 3 in the morning and I had been in the tub for maybe an hour by then. I told Sherri I needed something to help dull the pain, to give me time to refocus. She asked if I would like a shot of nubain. I consented. I’m not sure it offered me any pain relief, but I took that time to refocus.
A few hours later, Sherri asked if I felt like pushing. I had no idea (which now I understand to mean my body wasn’t ready at all). I tried a few practice pushes in the tub, but couldn’t get good leverage, so we moved back into the room. We tried different positions and the birth ball, but nothing seemed to feel right though I had started to feel the urge to push. At one point, they attached a bar over the foot of the bed, tied a sheet around it and had me pull it with all my might during each contraction. Even after just a few of those, I had sore biceps for the next few days.
I had been pushing for over three hours and did not feel as though I was making any progress. The nurse and Sherri were both being supportive, but I was becoming mentally and physically tired. That’s when Sherri asked if I wanted assistance. She said she believed I could do it, but she needed to update the OB on my progress. If I wanted to, she could ask the OB to come in and do a vacuum extraction. Worn out, I agreed.
Within a half an hour, the OB was there and the entire mood changed. She brightened the lights and chatted loudly and non-stop. I wanted so desperately to tell her to be quiet. She kept telling Matt to not look at the tray behind her because of some massive needle she would use to numb me for the vacuum. Matt is not exactly weak in the knees and wanted to see what she would be using and she just kept saying, “Don’t look. Really. It might upset you.” Again, I wanted to tell her to shut up.
She inserted a catheter in prep and emptied my bladder. I was also told I no longer had to push through contractions, but my body didn’t agree. I tried to sustain the urge when Sherri said, “It’s okay. If you have to, go with it.” Finally we were ready to roll with the vacuum. The OB did say that if this didn’t work, we might need to consider other measures. She didn’t say it, but I sensed she was laying the groundwork for a c-section, if it got to that point. With the vacuum in place, the nurse said, “Okay, now you’re really going to have to push.” I wanted to deck her for that comment. And what exactly had I been doing for the last few hours? Taking a leisurely stroll? I should also point out that this same nurse attempted to play Kenny G elevator music, but I promptly vetoed that.
Not thanks to her comment, but because of the fear the OB instilled in me, I pushed with all my might, popping a blood vessel in my eye. After 20 or so minutes, Jonas Elijah finally entered the world at 1:41 p.m. (32 hours from when the first, dull contractions had begun), exercising his lungs to their fullest capacity and donning a huge goose egg on top of his head thanks to the extraction. They placed him on my chest immediately. I looked down and thought, “He looks just like my dad. I just gave birth to my dad.” The nurses took his vitals as he lay on top of me. I held him for a while until Matt had to take him so I could be sutured. The vacuum had caused a pretty serious tear quite close to my urethra and if it wasn’t repaired just right, I could sustain long-term effects.
While he was still in my arms, I delivered my placenta. The OB showed us what it looked like and pointed out signs of calcification meaning it was beginning to age. I had been scheduled for an induction a few days after his birth date, since I was 10 days past due. Thankfully that induction would not be necessary.
The suturing didn’t take long and he was soon back in my arms, ready to nurse. He nursed within the first hour. Our families had been at the hospital all night and were anxiously waiting outside. We finally cut Jonas off after 20 minutes so they could come meet the little guy.
My recovery went fairly well. I had moderate pain and cramping, and of course tenderness due to the tear. I didn’t walk much for the first few days. It took a couple of weeks before I was able to walk more than a couple of blocks, but soon I was back to doing a mile or so at a time.
Jonas wore his goose egg for a few days. It’s no wonder he cried for the first hour of his life. I can’t imagine what his head felt like. It’s one thing to go through the birthing process naturally, but to be yanked out as he was had to be quite traumatic. Perhaps that’s why, three-and-a-half years later, he still demands cuddles from his mama—on some level he hasn’t forgotten his journey into the world.
Second Birth – October 15, 2008 – The Towel Trick
My second pregnancy happened almost exactly two years after my first and very much mirrored it…up until hard labor set in. In typical fashion, my due date of October 9 came and went. Six days later, I awoke around 5:30 a.m. to regular and firm contractions. They weren’t too painful and were about 7 minutes apart. Just as with the first time around, they faded, lost regularity and only pestered me randomly throughout the day.
That evening we decided to walk to try to get things moving—it seemed to work with Jonas. I was scheduled for a non-stress test and ultrasound the next morning and I didn’t want to have to go through it. It wasn’t like it was painful or anything, but I knew they might want to schedule an induction for a few days or so later. I did not want any sort of intervention, especially an induction because once medicine comes into play, you never know where it will end…perhaps in a c-section. So, I was hoping the word “induction” wouldn’t have to be mentioned at all.
While walking, my contractions started getting more regular and stronger. Soon we were making arrangements for our little one to spend the night with his grandparents—though I assumed they were premature. Jonas took so long to enter the world, so I figured we still had plenty of time. Nonetheless arrangements were made, and I waddled my way home to eat some spicy Mexican, hoping the meal would once again get things rolling for good since it worked the first time around. But that’s about where the similarities end.
At 9:30, just before the grandparents arrived, hard labor set in. The contractions were coming regularly and were painful enough that I couldn’t talk or walk through them. Learning from my first labor, I did not head to the hospital the moment I felt a hard contraction. I wanted to labor at home as much as possible. I knew the earlier I got to the hospital, the more apt my labor would be to slow down and if that happens, the more likely intervention would take place. So, I got out the exercise ball and swayed to help me through them.
Jonas left and Matt and I decided to watch an old episode of one of our favorite TV shows (our nighttime ritual). He wanted to play the Wii, but I said I didn’t think I could focus enough for that. As we watched the show, my contractions progressed. I moved from the ball to bending over the back of the couch. I could feel that the baby wasn’t in the right position because I was having pretty severe back labor meaning she was face up instead of face down. My midwife, Kristin, had told me to bend over and sway during contractions to try to get her to flip. With about 10 minutes left in the show, I said, “After this I think we should go to the hospital.” I was beginning to feel some pressure and the contractions were speeding up.
By the time we left, they were coming just under 5 minutes apart and when we got to the hospital, they were 3 minutes apart. Thankfully we live only 2 contractions away from the hospital! And thankfully it was 11:00 at night because I was twisting into strange positions with each contraction. I was glad no other drivers could see me.
Labor definitely didn’t stop when we arrived. It just progressed more and more. They got me into triage where the nurse informed me I had to lie down for half an hour so they could monitor me. Was she serious?! Lying down was the last thing I wanted to do! My back hurt so much that the only “comfortable” position was to bend over and sway so Matt could put pressure on my back. Well, she informed me that, yes, it was necessary. I relented and did my best to lie down, but each contraction caused me to writhe in pain.
The nurse kept trying to ask me medical questions, but I could barely answer them. The contractions were one on top of the other with little or no break between. At one point I looked at Matt and said, “Why do we do this more than once?” Finally the nurse decided to examine me. At my appointment a few days prior, I was about 2 cm dilated. The nurse guessed I’d be about 5 cm now, but to her surprise I was nearly 9. Suddenly she sprang into action. She said they needed to get me into the delivery room right away. She asked if I wanted to walk, take a wheel chair or just lay on the bed. I said I didn’t care. So the bed it was. They wheeled me in and as we entered, I heard the nurses saying, “She’s 9 cm and she hasn’t had any drugs?”
Well, at that point I was getting no breaks between contractions and was having a hard time staying on top of them. I was clinging to the side of the bed, trying to find a semi-comfortable position. I was informed that I couldn’t get into the tub because Kristin wasn’t there yet and I might deliver before she arrived. The resident doctor didn’t know how to do a water birth. The nurse asked me if I wanted any drugs and I asked for a shot of nubain. I needed something at that moment that could help take the edge off and give me time to refocus. But I’m not sure it really did anything for me. I didn’t notice much of a difference, just as with Jonas.
Speaking of the resident, the nurse introduced him to us and can you say Doogie Howser? At that point I didn’t care. I just wanted to get this kid out! Then I felt the urge to push. Doogie examined me and told me not to push because I had a cervical lip that needed to open up first. Are you kidding me? Don’t push? Like I can control that! He told me that for two contractions when I cried out, “Where’s Kristin?” Thankfully she was walking through the door at that moment.
Kristin came in and felt the baby. Yes, she was facing up, but Kristin had a maneuver that could flip her around. She told me to lie flat on my back. She rolled up a towel and placed it under the small of my back. Amazingly the position didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it might and within 4 contractions, the baby was in position. Doogie was quite amazed. I think he learned quite a lot from Kristin that night. So once she was flipped, I gave a few good pushes and within minutes Kenna Grace entered the world at 12:33 a.m. after just 3 hours of hard labor. Matt was able to catch her and place her on my chest. The nurses gave us ample time for skin-to-skin contact and nursing which she did within the first hour of her birth. It was amazing!
The two pregnancies had been so similar that I had expected labor and delivery to go about the same. But when Miss Kenna decided she was ready to enter the world, she got it done in quick fashion. Hard labor lasted only 3 hours. Because I labored at home for so long, we were only at the hospital for just over an hour before she was born. I also felt amazingly well after she was born. It didn’t seem like I had just birthed a child at all. My recovery was amazingly fast. I didn’t require any pain medicine post-partum, which amazed the nurses…and myself (I attribute a lot of that to staying active during pregnancy). I was also able to walk right away with no pain—what a difference from Jonas’ birth.

The nurses told me I was the talk of the floor. The nursing staff was amazed at how I labored at home with no drugs and some nursing students were impressed by my birth plan—something they had yet to see. Apparently many mothers were also talking about my birth and were quite jealous of my speedy delivery. Though between the two kids, I averaged 20 hours of hard labor, so it was sort of sweet relief to have such a quick delivery this time after the long one with Jonas. My question is that if we would decide to have another one and it goes even faster, would Matt have to deliver the baby?!
Birth Three – January 26, 2012 – The Water Birth
This being my third pregnancy, you’d think I was a pro at giving birth. Well, after my 16-hour labor with number one, you’d think that would earn me some sort of pro status. Even still, I know that every birth is different and that scared me. Going in to my third pregnancy, I had certain reservations because my first two had gone so well. Could I be so lucky once again? I felt my time was running out. Not to mention the fact that my open-mindedness from my first pregnancy was becoming a lot more closed off. I did a good amount of research for my first and had a good sense for what I hoped for in the birth. But having done far more reading and fact gathering, my mind was beginning to close off and strongly oppose certain options I had previously been open to. I began to have this feeling that if things didn’t go as planned, I would somehow be disappointed and left to deal with those emotions post-partum. So how did it all turn out? Let’s start at the beginning….
On Wednesday, January 25 (five days before my due date) I woke up with mild contractions around 2:00 a.m. They came off and on without much regularity or intensity. I tried my best to sleep, but knowing that this meant the end was near, task lists and details began running through my head. I got little sleep that night. The contractions did not increase at all as I went about my day. I hesitated telling anyone because I assumed I still had plenty of time. I did tell my husband before he left for work and I also called my mom. With having to make plans for the whereabouts of the two older kids, I needed to at least inform a few people. But I refrained from making any Facebook status updates.After all, I had a history of going post-due. Would this child really come before the due date?
Around 9:00 p.m. they began to come more regularly, but were still not intense. I started to think that perhaps the baby would be arriving soon since both my first labors had followed this same pattern of early morning contractions followed by little action the next day and then active labor that night. But I was still having a difficult time making a decision as to whether or not the grandparents should get in place for the kids. I had a fear that this wasn’t going to progress into active labor and then my parents would’ve had a sleepless night on our couches for no reason. At 11:30 p.m., I was still being indecisive, but called Mom anyway. We finally decided it would be best if they came up since it would take an hour for them to get here and we didn’t want things to progress faster than they could drive.
Around 1:30 a.m., my parents were in place and we headed to bed. I slept for about an hour when sleep no longer became an option. My contractions were growing in intensity and coming more frequently though their spacing was not completely consistent. They would be 7 minutes followed by 10 minutes apart and then down to 5 minutes. Back and forth they’d go. So, I laid there, breathing through them, still in denial that I was heading into active labor. Finally around 4:30 a.m., I woke Matt to say that he should probably get dressed because we might want to consider going to the hospital at some point. Yes, I was still indecisive even though they were getting to be as close as 4 minutes apart. The thing is, the pain was tolerable. I was still breathing through them. I had begun rocking and swaying to ease through them, but in between, I was still talking and joking just fine. My history had been that once into active labor, I stopped talking and shut out the world around me until delivery.
After getting dressed and packing my bag, the contractions had slowed slightly, so instead of heading out the door, we watched an episode of “30 Rock.” I might’ve missed a joke or two here or there, but otherwise I was still focusing on the show. If it weren’t for the fact that my contraction counter app was saying the contractions were back down to 4 minutes apart, I probably would’ve fired up another show. Instead, we decided to head to the hospital.
On the way there, one of my fears began to come true. To this day, I am certain that part of the reason my first labor was so long is because I went to the hospital too soon, which caused me to stall. After reading Ina May Gaskin’s thoughts on the sphincter law, I understand how such a transition can cause labor to actually reverse to a certain degree. I still wonder how things would’ve gone differently with my first delivery had I stayed home longer. So, when my contractions slowed with this one and I had only one on the way there, I was afraid we were regressing. While it was great that I wasn’t squirming and contorting my body the entire way to the hospital, it was upsetting because that meant the last two contractions were 10 minutes apart. I began to wonder if we’d made the wrong call. Should we have watched more Hulu before heading in?
We walked into the hospital at 5:30 a.m. I was still clear minded and able to talk. Again, I doubted whether or not this was for real. In triage, I was able to answer all of the nurse’s questions and even cracked a few jokes. When I arrived during labor #2, I was near transition and was 9.5 cm dilated. There was no joking at that point. When the resident finally checked me, I was very relieved to hear I was 7 cm and would be heading to my birthing room soon. And the tub was already being prepared for me.
The tub was part of my birth plan. I had labored in it with #1 for a long time, but got out before delivering. I wanted to attempt a water birth with #2, but she arrived too quickly to even make it into the tub. The nurse asked if I wanted to just labor or actually birth in the water. I told her definitely labor, but I still wasn’t sure about birthing. She went on to encourage me to try a water birth. She said it was really amazing. I was so impressed that she was actually recommending a water birth. That put me at ease for being in the hospital where hands-on interventions can oftentimes trump natural experiences.
The tub was ready for me once we got into the delivery room. My midwife hadn’t arrived yet, but the nurse helped me into the tub. The water felt great and offered some relief as my contractions gained intensity. Even still, I was talking in between contractions and at times thinking to myself, “Okay, let’s get this show on the road and have this baby already.” Then transition hit.
I had horrendous back labor with my first two pregnancies. So far, the back labor hadn’t hit with this one. But once I entered transition, I began to feel it with full force. I had taken somewhat of a squatting position in the tub, leaning over the backside of it, so Matt could rub my lower back through each contraction. This was his main role in the first two labors and we joked that he nearly rubbed off his fingerprints during both. By this time, my midwife had arrived, but was with another woman who was near delivering. We were told to pull the call button cord if I felt the urge to push. A nurse came in and out of the room, but for the most part, it was the two of us just hanging out, waiting for our baby and it suited us just fine. Having been through this before, we knew how to work our way through it as a team.
By now I had begun vocalizing during contractions. This was all new to me, but it helped give me release. I was embarrassed at first. After all, the door to my room was open and I thought I would scare off any laboring woman who had any inkling of trying for a natural birth. After hearing me, there was probably an increased demand for epidurals. And then the urge came on.
I had reached that point in labor when I was done. I didn’t know if I could deal with it anymore. Should I give in and get a shot of Nubain? I had in the past, but it had never done anything for me. Could I hang on? But what if I still had an hour to go? But then the urge to push hit. Mid-contraction I yelled, “Pull the cord!” Not thinking Matt heard me the first time (though I was certainly less than quiet about it), I yelled it again. He assured me that he had pulled it and in a moment two nurses and my midwife were by my side. With the jets on in the tub, I couldn’t hear well. I thought the midwife was telling me to push. So I did.I realized later that I hadn’t been checked since I was admitted. How did I (or the midwife) know if I was complete? Well, my body knew well enough because I began pushing, which was such a relief. They asked me if I wanted to get out of the tub. At that point, I was focused on one thing: having this baby. I didn’t want to be moved. I was good where I was. Suddenly I felt the baby descending followed by my water breaking. Being able to push made the contractions so much more bearable. I had something to do, a goal and an end in sight. With some good, strong pushes, the baby was born at 7:42 a.m. on January 26.
The midwife declared, “It’s a girl!” and placed Adelyn Grace on my chest—all 8 lbs. 3 oz. and 21.5 in. of her (not too shabby for being 4 days ahead of schedule). Adelyn let out a few small whimpers and then began to fall asleep. She was so at peace, or as her name means, serene. We stayed in the tub for a while, waiting for the cord to stop pulsing. As I held Adelyn in my arms, the midwife cleaned us up and soon we were moving to the bed. As I stood, I was amazed by how good I felt. In fact, I did not require any pain relief even after birth. Sure my body needed rest and relaxation, but otherwise I felt great. The hospital gave us ample time and space to bond. We stayed in the room for a few hours. I ordered breakfast and Adelyn nursed. And nursed. And nursed.
Looking back, I am still amazed by a few things: how quickly it all went, how smooth it was, how little assistance we really needed, how peaceful she was at birth, what a great nurser she was from the start and how great I felt once labor ended. I soon realized my initial fears and hesitations were for naught. And I also realized how blessed I have been to have had the births I’ve had.

Jen Starks, Owner 

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