Monday, September 24, 2012

The Birth of Amelia Evelynn Rose

Short Version: Amelia was born via spectacular waterbirth on Saturday 24th, 2011 at 4:27pm. She weighed in at 8lbs 6oz and was 21 inches long. She scored 9 on both apgars. She's perfect. :) 

Long version:
(Reader be warned--This does include some graphic, medically-relevant details. )

I noticed bloody show on Friday morning and tried not to get my hopes up since some signs of labor mean more than others. I went to a consignment sale (got a sling and some cloth diapers) and talked to some moms there about my hopes for going into labor over the weekend.  I went home to meet with my sister to go on a 20min walk before she went in to work. During our short walk, we talked about how she could help James coach me during labor. That evening I upped my intake of red raspberry leaf tea to about 4 cups. 

Not feeling any different, I went to bed convinced that I would be pregnant all weekend long and would probably make it to my scheduled bio-physical profile on Wednesday. I started mentally preparing for the idea that I might have to discuss the possibility of induction. 

I woke up at about 4:17 am to pee (right on schedule) and was having to work through contractions by the time James got up for work at 4:40 am. At the time, I thought my contractions were just the typical morning backpain and some strong braxton hicks. I begged James to rub my back some but realized I was making him late for work so I got in the shower instead. (Hear this pregnant ladies: showers = complete bliss) The water felt amazing and not long after, I was back in bed, napping off and on. 

I cleaned and organized a little while I could and my contractions were about 30 minutes apart but were definitely getting harder to get through.  My contractions were getting closer, but still weren't consistant. I'd have two back to back then nothing for 20 mins. I wasn't sure what to think. It was a confusing point in labor, mostly because I couldn't even tell if I was actually in labor. At about 9:00 am, I texted James that I wanted him to try to come home early like maybe around noon. 

At this point, I started doubting that I could handle the natural birth I so badly wanted and worked hard to prepared for. I went on my usual online messaging board,, for some moral support and got great feedback on the Natural Birth board. Because I slept some and felt like contractions were so far apart that I began thinking it was silly for James to come home.  Just as I started to tell him to just work his normal hours, I got his reply that he was coming home. He got home around 10:00 am and heated up some leftover pasta for me (I really hadn't eaten anything all morning--big mistake) I was relieved to have him headed home but still felt dumb for calling him out of work.

He came home around 10:30 am and immediately jumped in to help me get something to eat and took over cleaning the house. I was trying to finish straightening up but the contractions were just making it too hard to get anything else done. James was so jittery with excitement as he ran around the house making final preparations. He was so excited that I was actually in labor (though I still wasn't convinced) I showed him my timing sheet and he took over for me. We worked through contactions together mostly doing a "slow dance" move.  In between, he would try to help clean for me and at some point he called the midwife as it had become clear that things were really progressing. 

Because I was GBS+ and needed to get to the Birth Cottage for my antibiotic IV drip, our plan at the time was to leave the birth center after the first round of antibiotics and then labor more at home. While on the phone, James reviewed the contraction timing sheet with our midwife, Alice, and talked about when to meet at the Birth Cottage. "A few hours", she suggested. The midwife and James didn't seem in a hurry so I took over the conversation and made sure they knew I wanted to go in soon. I just knew I needed to go. 

We agreed to meet up in about an hour at 1 pm. Packing up the car took forever and any time James was out packing the car while I had a contraction it felt ten times worse than when he was standing near me so I could lean on him and relax into his arms. At last, I sat down on the birth ball and found relief as he finished loading up our bags. 

Getting into the car and loading all our gear took seemingly forever because I needed James to stick with me during contractions and when he was working to get our bags loaded, they were so much harder to handle. It hurt to talk so couldn't call for him so I just banged on the nearest surface until he came. I knew he was working hard to help me and I was grateful. I thought about my gratitude but I couldn't tell him anything in the moment. The sensations were just so intense that I couldn't do anything but survive through them. 

As a last thought, I grabbed our bathroom trashcan and I didn't even really know why, I just felt like I needed it. Then, I had a contraction before walking out of the house, before getting in the car, and two en route. Remember, our grand plan was to go get my IV and then come back home to labor until it was "go time". But after that ride, I told him we would be staying. I single-handedly decided that I wouldn't be going back home while in labor because contractions in the car are the worst. That was that. 

We walked in the Birth Cottage to find Alice cheerfully setting up my IV antibiotics.  James told her he was going to go get our bags and Alice said, casually, "Hold on a second, I'll check her first to see if you guys should stay."  When she checked me, she was shocked and said "Woah girl, you're 8cm dilated!!" I was SO happy to hear that mostly because it meant I wouldn't be going back in the car. Hooray!! I'm curious, now, what I was dilated to at my last appointment since I had declined an internal exam for my own sanity, I would have been too anxious. We were there for the long haul, so we got settled. 

James started calling family to come quickly while I sat on the birth ball.  James and I did more slow dancing then decided the tub sounded good. I was just entering transition and lost my lunch. (Now the urge to grab the trashcan made sense!) Alice reminded us that it is normal to feel queasy in the transition stage. That was a happy thought for me, 'I'm in transition!' It was exciting to know how close we were getting to meeting our baby! I got in the tub and Alice placed my IV, it bubbled and needed to be placed in my other hand. I was worried that I wouldn't finish my IV since I could feel Amelia dropping lower and lower. 

James helped me to relax so much just by touching my forehead when it got tense and it reminded me that I was holding tension there. Thinking about relaxing my forehead helped my whole body to release. I remembered another birth story I read, the mom said to think of a contraction as embracing your child rather than an obstacle to get over during labor. I think this was the most helpful thought during labor and I was most pain free when I thought on that. My sister brought me honeysticks and refilled my water so James could stay with me. If he tried to let go of my hands I got very firm with him. I NEEDed his hands. 

Family arrived slowly and everyone kept very calm and quiet. I was unaware of them even being in the room until I turned to reposition for pushing. Once I saw them, I had the fleeting thought that they would feel awkward about it. But I couldn't care less. I think it helped that I was in the tub so it was harder to really see things. (Afterwards people kept asking for permission to enter and every time I said, "I don't care but you might not want to see this" especially since my father-in-law tried to enter right in the middle of each of my 3 exams. Poor guy!)

When I turned in the tub and saw my mom, mother-in-law, sister, and best friend so I said, teasingly, "Oh! I have an audience, glad I didn't say all those mean things I was thinking about you guys." It was a moment of humor I didn't expect so late in labor. I surprised myself with the demeanor I had during labor.  I felt the urge to push at about 4:00 pm. Sharon asked me if I was going to want to move to the bed. I really wanted to but didn't think I could move. I had tried to stand and squat earlier but my legs were shaky and I was used to being 'weightless' in the water. Since I was complaining about being cold they draped my t shirt over me and kept it wet with the warm water.

I had initially looked into waterbirth but late in pregnancy had learned of all my other options for pushing positions and had my heart set on squatting. So, I didn't exactly choose waterbirth. More so, I surrendered to waterbirth because I was laboring in the tub and by the time I wanted to get out, my legs were too shaky and I felt that I couldn't get out. I was actually cold which my dad overheard me complain about and he was mad that my water couldn't be controlled via thermostat. I had prepared for the idea of waterbirth because I find relief from menstrual cramps in a hot bath. Its a good way to manage the pain for me.

I heard the sounds of the FSU football game from the next room where the men were sitting (we lost to Clemson just before she was born but they were entertained) I told Alice that it sounded like a party out there and I thought Amelia wanted to come to the party.

I also heard my grandmother enter and offer my mom a sweater-- this was my one truly rude moment and I threatened to strangle her if she continued to offer her sweater to people. "So help me God, Grandma if you offer me that sweater, I'll strangle you" I growled. Fearing that she might have heard my threats, the ladies in the room set into motion to wisk Grandma away and calm me. It was funny to see them react, even in the moment I thought it was funny.  

Pushing started very uneventfully. I am so used to seeing in movies and tv the moment where a doctor gets up in mom's face and says "Okay, I NEED you to push now! Really push!!" But that didn't happen. I just did. No one talked about it. In fact, I don't remember a single sound. It was as if the whole world stood silent in waiting for her to appear. My friend later told me, she had been sent out of the room on a mission to get some towels and missed my pushing completely. 

I was slipping down in the tub and James came to my rescue by putting his feet in so I could use his legs like stirrups and he continued to hold my hands which helped me push more. After pushing for I'm guessing 20 minutes, James told me he could see her head and I didn't believe him. My sister went and got the midwives who were trying to move their gear into the bathroom from the birthing room we had set up in originally. With the next contraction, I felt her crowning and everyone was telling me they could see more of her. I reached down and felt her. I was shocked. I thought it would feel different to crown. I tried to wait so I could stretch gradually but with the next contraction I couldn't stop my body from pushing and so I delievered her head. 

I felt so relieved and all the pictures show my face completely changed. I started giggling because she was turning and kicking in my belly. I had heard this can happen but never imagined that I would get to experience it. I pushed with the next contraction as the midwife told James to "catch your baby" and he DID. His face was priceless. He wasn't even sure he would be able to handle seeing the baby crown or cutting the cord but there he was, catching his daughter. She was very alert at birth and so chubby. I didn't expect her to be so squishy. My reaction to seeing her caught me off guard and it was hard for me to believe that this was my daughter. I had just birthed her, and I was in complete denial that there she was. She cried and I held her. James moved to be with us and there were pictures. There we were, a family of 3. It was surreal.
My labor was roughly 12 hours from the first noticable contactions to her arrival into our arms. We are all shocked with how quickly she came. James got to catch her and cut her cord which we hadn't planned on but he was just in the right position for it. In the end, Amelia was born by waterbirth at the Birth Cottage (which was such a treat) and her birth so was amazing all around!!

I had some very concerning bleeding right afterwards so I'll summarize the scary parts. I was given a pitocin injection in the leg and moved from the tub to deliver our placenta. I was then given methergine tablets to help with restricting the bleeding after a hemorrhage. I got stitched up for my 2nd degree tear and then showered.  I had a dizzy spell in the shower which was later determined was mostly low blood sugar and overheating but did concern the midwives a great deal. They were concerned it might be placental membranes still in my uterus that were preventing me from clotting properly and were worried I might later have infection due to remaining membranes. There was discussion about transfer to the hospital where our cooperating OB was. I opted to wait and be monitored at the Birth Cottage for several hours and after further tests looked markedly better, we went home at around 11pm that night. 

At a few days postpartum, I was showing signs that the bleeding was all normal and the concerns for potential problems were in the past. I am so grateful for all the prayers sent up to cover us during the time just after her birth. I know that God was listening and He has granted me great health. 

Quotes that reflect my mood at my birth in regards to my efforts
 and in response to the maternity care I received...

"My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness"
2 Corinthians 12:9

"If I don't know my options, I don't have any."  Diana Korte 

"You are a midwife, assisting at someone else’s birth. Do good without show or fuss. Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening. If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge. When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say: 'We did it ourselves!' "~ from The Tao Te Ching