Special Delivery

During my pregnancy, I really appreciated hearing others’ birth stories. There are so many ways to bring a baby into the world and I wanted to document Oliver’s birth story for sharing and safe keeping as well. So here it goes, a very long and wordy post. First, a quick recap of the last trimester…

32 weeks: body stretching apart slowly, able to pull a groin muscle just by doing too many stairs

36 weeks: got stretchy body under control by watching my activity level, exhausted easily- sewing projects nearly killed me

38 weeks: very much hating waistbands, getting really ready… pretty much wearing the same outfits over and over to work. Very little is still comfortable. No one told me maternity clothes didn’t fit anymore during the last month!

39 weeks: ready for every trick in the book! special tea? stairs? bouncing on an exercise ball? lots of squatting? yes, all of the above!

40 weeks: trip to the mall to walk… and walk and walk the baby out

40 weeks and 1 day (March 3): It’s snowing buckets AND I’m still pregnant?! {insert utter despair} Went to my scheduled visit for a ‘post-date’ ultrasound check up. Sent immediately to the hospital. Wait, what?

So, on that first day of being past 40 weeks, another big gross snow storm was hitting the D.C. area. Chad had to come pick me up in a friend’s 4-wheel drive SUV just to safely get me to my dr appointment. Having had a pretty textbook pregnancy up to this point, I fully expected another clean bill of health and to be sent back home to my computer to finish my day at work (from home, due to the snow). But to our surprise, the doc I saw that day for my ultrasound (different than my OB that would deliver me— and my least favorite doc in that practice!) said something like ‘hmm, amniotic fluid is too low, can’t even score it, you need to go across the street to the hospital right now to be induced, I’ll call your doctor.’ Me: ‘can I go home and get my stuff first?’ Him: ‘No, you need to be on monitor right now. He (referring to Chad) can get your stuff after… off you go!’

Needless to say, this was not the start I was planning on or had prepared for. Chad and I had worked together to prepare for a natural childbirth using primary Bradley method techniques and what I had learned in prenatal yoga. Not that I was against having pain relief if I decided on it, but we made a specific birth plan that avoided any unnecessary interventions including i.v. fluids, continuous monitoring, or pain medication unless I specifically requested it. I practiced my prenatal yoga and various pushing positions (mainly squatting) to help ensure I could achieve a vaginal delivery and minimize risk of a c-section. We had the breathing techniques for complete relaxation well practiced, the counterpressure back rub to get through contractions, as well as the intention to labor at home as long as possible, before grabbing our packed bag and heading to the hospital for the final phases of delivery.

So, new plan. I walked into the hospital, not in labor, but fully dressed for work and without any of my ‘labor bag’ stuff. I didn’t even have my cute delivery gown! I signed papers completely without labor pain and walked into my delivery room feeling about the same as when we visited for a tour. I imagined this would all happen during hard labor, but ended up quite different. The first nurse (the only one I really remember to be honest) and my OB were great to help mediate any parts of our birth plan that were still feasible. So, they brought in the birth ball and squatting bar, even waited for Chad to get back (after returning our friend’s car and going home to collect our things and take care of Ollie) with my green gown before making me change clothes completely. So at this point, I was on a continuous fetal monitor, but could unplug it to get up to the bathroom and such. I had an i.v. in, but they disconnected it once my first round of penicillin (for GBS preventive treatment) was in. They broke my water first to see if my Braxton Hicks might amp up into real labor in an effort to avoid Pitocin and keep things more natural. After a couple hours, it wasn’t enough though, so as we expected the Pitocin was started, though thankfully on a relatively low level. With Chad’s dedicated coaching, backrubs, ice chips, and our labor play list all employed, I labored about 6-8 hours before I was trembling uncontrollably and unable to relax my body in between, let alone during, the contractions. This really took off right after my OB did a cervical exam to check our progress. This was my turning point, as I felt like I ought to be in transition already the way my body was reacting, but was only at 3 cm. Chad and I talked together about epidural. It was late at night by this point, my parents had just arrived, I was uncomfortably stuck in bed and was finished with natural labor- I called for the epidural. The angel anesthesiologist was in my room within 15 minutes and placed the epidural with minimal issues, during which I clutched the nurse holding me up on the side of the bed through two more contractions. God Bless the labor and delivery nurses (and postpartum care nurses, while we’re at it- wow, they’re job is something else!). I wish I could remember them now, but labor is kind of a consuming job and their changes over the shifts are a blur to me now.

With this decision to have an epidural, I was risking my ability to be mobile into different positions for pushing at the end, and had now signed myself up for yet another line attached to me, along with a urinary cath and continuous blood pressure monitoring. So, that’s 5 lines now– i.v. penicillin with fluids, epidural, blood pressure cuff, urinary cath and fetal monitor belt. Everything I hadn’t wanted! BUT the anesthesiologist agreed to set the epidural pump at a lower than usual basal rate which left me with a little more control over how much I felt my using the button to dose myself as needed on top of the basal rate. This was a great decision. I definitely used the button throughout the remaining 12-14 hours of labor to remain comfortable and under control, but was able to let it lighten up enough to pull myself up into a squat on the squat bar attached to my bed at the end to help Oliver descend. I was also able (to the surprise/dismay of my nurse) move around to all fours to get off my back in bed. I had been switching back and forth between sides all night long, but finally hit a wall in the wee hours of the morning where my back hurt so badly I just had to move. I couldn’t lay on my back/side another minute. It wasn’t back labor– it was bed fatigue. And it felt soooo good to turn over and just hold myself up on my hands and knees for a little while. This apparently acrobatic move (for someone with an epidural) was what convinced the nurse that there was some hope of my squatting with the support of the bar without falling off the bed and I’m so glad I was able to still do that- as it was one of my main goals for not wanting the epidural to begin with. I wouldn’t say it didn’t meet resistance though- no one seemed interested in my moving around much having had an epidural. But I was stubborn!!

Around 7am, my OB arrived and gave the green light to start pushing. I had been fully dilated and effaced a couple hours maybe at that point, but Oliver had a ways to come down still during that time and she wanted my pushing to be minimal to reduce swelling/trauma, etc. (isn’t childbirth lovely?) So, once we started pushing, he arrive in about an hour and fifteen minutes! Not bad for an 8 lb 3 oz baby, and my first time I think! I seriously couldn’t believe how big he looked when they placed him up on my chest. Did I really just produce this huge infant?? Really he wasn’t giant or anything, it’s just very crazy to realize the process your body has just undertaken over the past 9 months. Bam, there he is! A whole baby, over 8 lbs worth. I’m told that it’s also kind of amazing when they have their 6 month pediatrician appointment, just before you start solid foods, and you realize that all those pounds they’ve gained over those months (if you’re exclusively breastfeeding) have come 100% from you. Wow. All in all, Oliver’s birth was not how we expected or planned, BUT the number one thing you have to know when you make a ‘birth plan’ is you must be flexible and you must acknowledge that those plans are in the ideal circumstances. Our circumstances changed a bit with that last ultrasound visit, but with a great husband, great doctor and supportive family and nursing staff, we got it done in the best possible way and went home a healthy mom and baby. Mission accomplished. Welcome, Oliver!!

First fam pic

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6 thoughts on “Special Delivery

  1. I’m trying to think of something to say other an my standard “beautiful” comment. My brain is slow today. How about “informative?” No, that’s not quite right “Interesting?” That doesn’t quite do it. I’m back to beautiful. There is nothing quite like the birthing experience. It truly is beautiful. And miraculous! There, I included a new word. We are so happy for you and Chad, and can’t wait to see more pictures and hear about your parenting experiences. 🙂

    • Thanks, Joyce. It was something I thought about through my whole pregnancy- how will the delivery go??? Maybe a little more anxious about it than the average person… so I am now so glad to have had such a positive experience in the end even with the detours!

  2. Wonderful birth story! I have an Oliver, too. He is 32. When we brought him home he had a huge lump on his head from the monitor! And so many things were less than “ideal” during the process, but I still get emotional just thinking how wonderful it was to “meet” him for the first time!

    • Oh yes, I forgot about the silly monitor! Ours never seemed to stay in the right position! Glad you had a positive experience in the end too meeting your little Oliver!

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