Monday, September 19, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Mark came home from work around 9:30 that evening and I didn’t tell him that I was timing them. I didn’t want to get his hopes up; I figured that if anyone was going to lose sleep over this, it should be one of us instead of both. I wanted him to get a good sleep.
Around 1am I woke up to use the bathroom. I had been getting up every 2 hours or so for the last week in order to pee. I climbed back into bed afterward and fell back to sleep very quickly, only to awaken again with a start at 1:32am. My eyes popped wide open and a couple of moments later I felt a small gush of fluid come out. And then another. I sat up quickly, crossed my legs as I hopped out of bed and I felt a third gush of fluid. I got to the bathroom as fast as I could (which was not fast at all, really, since I had been having so much trouble walking) and changed my clothes, smiling ear to ear knowing it was my water that had broken and that I had indeed not peed the bed.
The outfit I had been wearing which was now soaked was the most comfortable outfit I could fit into, so I decided to do some laundry since I was too excited to sleep at this point anyway. I checked the timing of my contractions and they were holding strong at 20 minutes apart. Suddenly I was starving.
Mark awoke around 3:30am to find me eating pizza and folding laundry in the living room, watching TV. I told him my water had broken. He gave me a thumbs up. I told him he should get a good night’s sleep just in case he wouldn’t get another chance for a while. He agreed and went back upstairs to bed.
Eventually it dawned on me that I should take my own advice so I went to bed, too.
By 7:30 or so I was up again and texted Eileen (our midwife) to let her know my membranes had ruptured, contractions were 20 minutes apart, and that Mark and I were planning to go mall walking to encourage dilation. She thought that was a great idea and Mark and I first decided to head to Ollie’s since Mark loves that store. While we were there, he bought a little baseball game for his BFF Ray. My contractions were starting to get closer together- sometimes as close as 8-10 minutes! We knew that the contractions weren’t hard enough or close enough together to go to Eileen’s house at that point, so we stopped at the Destination Maternity next to Ollie’s to look for wedding dresses. I found one I liked and was texting my sister that I was in labor and trying on wedding dresses… she texted back that I should get to the midwife’s house hahaha. I had noticed that whenever we got into the car, my contractions would slow down and I would become much more comfortable. This was a double edged sword because it sure felt great to have some moments of comfort but I wanted to have this baby already!!
We walked around the Galleria mall for a while before the contractions got so bad that I couldn’t continue walking or talking until they had passed, and they were 2-3 minutes apart. This seemed promising! I texted Eileen to tell her what was going on and she said we should come on over to her house. We decided to head home and finish packing our things up into the car before we went over with high expectations.
We got to her house sometime between 4 and 4:30pm. My contractions felt good, she said, as she felt my stomach while I was having one. The baby’s heartrate was fine and in the 140s. The problem was, whenever I stopped walking, the contractions would abruptly slow down to every 20 minutes apart again. We decided that I should keep walking until the contractions took on a life of their own… this meant I spent the next several hours pacing in circles around Eileen’s home while she hosted a birthday dinner for her son’s fiancée in the dining room downstairs. We ordered pizza from Just Pizza and ate almost the whole thing in between laps.
Around 10:30pm I felt disheartened and Mark seemed bored and tired. Eileen said that we were welcome to spend the night if we wanted. I said that maybe I was too riled up to dilate enough to get the baby out and wanted to sleep in my own bed. She suggested I take my temperature every 4 hours and in the event that it became elevated, to take it every 2 hours. If I was to get a fever I knew I would have to get to a hospital. We left and came home, where I slept HARD through the night, as the contractions had died down to a point where I barely felt them.
Saturday morning (Jan 29th) we woke up and the contractions picked up once again. I decided to lie around in bed and see what they did, and indeed they continued to get closer together, however the rate of progression was very slow. I was feeling depressed and uncomfortable, and like this was going to keep happening forever. I was worried about going septic with the membranes being ruptured for more than 24 hours at this point. Mark wanted to go walking again, but I was so sore from all the hours of walking the previous day that I told him I wanted to lay in bed for a few hours and see what happened. Knowing that I was unlikely to change my mind, he backed off for a while but did continue to check in with me every once in a while to see how things were coming. The contractions had gotten regular and uncomfortable and were 8-10 minutes apart. After he pointed out that they hadn’t progressed in a while, I finally agreed to go walking again. We went to the Boulevard Mall for a little while before I told him that I wasn’t comfortable being in a mall while contracting as hard as I was… what if I went into transition and we were at the opposite end from where the car was? He couldn’t leave me there alone and I wouldn’t be in any position to walk to the car… so we went home again. My parents came by to sit with us for a while but when it appeared obvious that their presence wasn’t helping to ease the discomfort I was in (and that I was not good company that day anyway), they left and Mark convinced me it was worth walking again.
He came up with the most brilliant idea ever and he took me to Kelly Furniture on Alberta Drive. I could walk a few paces and sit through any contraction that I couldn’t handle standing or speaking through. Plus it was a nice perk to discover their bathroom was pretty clean and fairly easily accessible. While walking the contractions would get extremely strong and close together- 1-2 minutes apart- but again, my new “normal” was 8-10 minutes apart while I was sitting or lying down.
By now it was getting late, and we decided it was time to head home and call it a night. I sent a final text to Eileen letting her know what was up, and that I’d let her know if anything changed.
I awoke throughout the night with contractions which were getting harder and leaving me writhing in pain. Once they’d pass I’d be able to get back to sleep again, in the beginning anyway. Somewhere around 4-5am I think I was sleeping in 5-6 minute increments and crying out a little bit during them, but I was still quiet enough that I am pretty sure I didn’t wake Mark up.
When he did finally wake up I was still feeling much the same way, but they were still 8-10 minutes apart. Mark went in to putz around on the computer and I continued to stay in bed, writhing with every contraction and sobbing in between them that they hurt so badly but weren’t getting closer together.
Around 8:30 I texted Eileen to tell her what was going on and she called me. When she called I was mid-sob and she suggested that we come over to her house. She told me she’s seen babies be born when the contractions never got closer than 5 minutes apart, and this gave me hope. We got our things together and headed over there, stopping at the Dunkin Donuts drive thru in order to buy some orange juice and egg+cheese bagels on everything bagels for breakfast. We got there around 9:30 or so and Eileen started giving me black and blue cohosh, alternating between the two and giving me one little pill to dissolve under my tongue every 15 minutes or so. This helped to kick up the contractions to another level and I soon found that I only felt okay to sit backwards on a chair, kneeling on the seat with my head resting on my arms along the back of the chair.
At this point, Eileen came in with her friend Stacey Nazitto. She and Stacey had been out at an Asian dance performance the night before and Stacey had spent the night. Her name was familiar to me because Eileen had suggested I go to her for acupuncture, as Stacey is a licensed acupuncturist. Sadly, she hadn’t accepted my insurance so I never ended up using her, but it worked out because I got to meet her now, anyhow. Eileen asked if we cared to let Stacey stay so she could help stimulate acupressure points. We enthusiastically agreed and invited her in. I think Mark appreciated having someone to step in and massage my back for me and rub my feet, so he could switch to talking to me and holding my hands and just otherwise being a supportive partner.
Stacey got to work immediately, playing the role of acupressure doula beautifully. She worked some knots out of my back and stimulated the points on my body which made the contractions become much, much harder. She was really sweet and funny, making us laugh and keeping the mood light. I have no concept of how long we were there but I think it was probably more than an hour, because somewhere around 11:30 I noticed that my body was starting to give a quick push at the peak of each contraction.
Eileen had told me to let her know well in advance when I wanted her to fill the tub up, as it took about 45 minutes for her to get it ready for me. Once I felt the little pushes my body was making, I told Mark he had better go get Eileen because it was definitely time for her to hurry up and fill it for me! She didn’t waste any time getting to work.
I remember feeling a POP, like the cork of a champagne bottle blowing off. I told Eileen what I had felt and said that although I had never had the experience before, I was pretty sure that the baby’s head had just popped through my cervix.
Things start getting very blurry for me around this time. I remember getting to the point where I would cry through every contraction and at this point Stacey grabbed Mark’s camera and started playing the role of photographer for us. I knew we would appreciate that later, but I had no idea how much. She captured the difficulty I had walking into the birthing room with the tub and she got a touching picture of Mark helping me through a contraction as I sobbed. He ended up having to basically hold me up when I was contracting. I think I had two or three contractions as I walked the seven or eight paces from the chair I had been kneeling in to the birthing tub.
Mark held me up while Eileen took my clothes off so I could get into the tub. I remember telling him that he didn’t have to look because I didn’t want him to see the bloody show in the pad I had been wearing. Loss of modesty- hmmph. Not me. I’ll always be modest! I got into the tub around 12:15 or 12:30 and remember a weird feeling come over me as I got into the water. It would have felt really great if I wasn’t in stage 2 labor. It wasn’t exactly relaxing but it was sort of rejuvenating. It also made things much more, well, real. This was where we were going to have our daughter. She was actually coming and I was actually pushing her out. Sort of.
Stacey had put in a medieval sort of pagan headband which Eileen had been using as a decoration in the birthing room and was cracking jokes to keep the mood light. She managed to get me to grin a bit between contractions and I kept pushing away. I was moaning and crying my way through the contractions and I remember the women in the room moaning along with me. I remember thinking that was a little weird and it reminded me of some of the wonky Ina May birth stories I had read about. I asked Mark if he could put some music on so he took my phone and started playing Chamberlain’s Exit 263 album. That’s a great album and it helped avoid the awkward silences where I would become self conscious as I realized everyone was waiting for me to start moaning again so they could moan along with me.
After a while I realized my legs below the knees had fallen completely asleep and my hips were starting to cramp. I was disappointed because I had wanted to have the baby while kneeling, with Mark in front of me so he could catch her as she came out. I knew intellectually that this was as close to squatting as I could get and that would help prevent tearing. I did NOT want to tear. I figured I’d lay back for a bit and get back into my preferred position before the baby started to crown.
After a while Eileen suggested I check to see if the baby’s head was able to be felt. I reached in and felt something squishy. She asked if it was the baby’s head I was feeling or if it was my cervix and I remember telling her I didn’t know what either one was supposed to feel like but that there was something there! She asked if I could feel a bulge on the outside and I said I didn’t know. She took a look down there and confirmed that there was indeed a bulge. The baby was almost here.
Within a few minutes, the contractions were hitting me from out of nowhere. I felt like I was fine and then like a possessed woman with zero time to transition from one to the other. My eyes were closed between contractions yet would fly open on their own. I remember hearing myself screaming and realizing how weird it sounded, because I had never really screamed like that before. It sounded like a blood curdling, Hollywood style scream. I reached down and felt her head poking out of my body. She was crowning.
I wanted to get back on my knees, but I couldn’t do it myself. Mark and Eileen started to help me but I told them to stop touching me and to leave me alone. I couldn’t move out of this position; I was like paralyzed. This was it.
I remember feeling like I was going to tear. I could feel an especially uncomfortable stretch up at the top, not in my perineum like I had been expecting. I remember trying to reach my fingers down between the tight spot and her head, trying to massage it and slowly stretch it out in between contractions. I told Eileen I felt like I was going to tear and that I did not want to tear! I don’t remember what she said back but I do remember coming to the realization that whatever was going to happen was going to happen and no matter what, this baby as coming out at any moment. I remember the worst, unimaginable pain and pressure followed by an incredibly uncomfortable feeling. I asked if she was out and Eileen said only her head had come out. I remember frantically telling her to pull the baby the rest of the way and that I felt frustrated when she said that I had to push her out on my own. That incredibly uncomfortable feeling I had was a set of shoulders inside the birth canal, ready and waiting to come out. Getting those shoulders out felt like the worst pain of all followed by a complete and total alleviation of all the pain and pressure I had felt. The baby was out.
I remember staring at her in disbelief for a few minutes before I thought to ask if it was a girl or not. We had thought it was a girl, but you never really know until the baby comes out! Eileen said she hadn’t checked so I reached my hand down under the towels to check. We had indeed had our little Claudia Grace at 2:11pm on Sunday, January 30 2011.
We tried breastfeeding but she really didn’t seem interested, and Eileen said it was okay not to force her. We snuggled in the water for about 45 minutes as I tried to get the placenta out.
My muscles were completely exhausted after more than 2 hours of pushing so we decided to cut the umbilical cord at that point, since it had stopped pulsating some time before then. After the cord was cut, Eileen and her assistant Natalia helped me out of the tub and over to the bed, where I laid down to recuperate, try to deliver the placenta, and have something to eat. Eileen made me an English muffin with peanut butter and cut up the most perfectly ripe delicious pear I had ever eaten. I drank my orange juice (and therefore officially had a Bradley birth) and two bottles of water, as Eileen told me I was going to have to pee before she let me go home and I knew I’d have to drink a lot in order to make that happen.
As I ate and Natalia helped apply some chilled witch hazel to my aching girl parts (which had not torn outright though I did experience a labial “skid mark” that Eileen compared to a winter-weather mouth sore, and my butt did end up prolapsing a little bit which prevented me from sitting on my bottom), Eileen weighed and measured little Claudia.
That POP I had felt had indeed been Claudia’s 14.5cm head popping through my 10cm cervix. The eye-bulging screaming had been fully warranted with a 22” long, 9lb 7oz child coming out of a teeny tiny hole which had never in a million years imagined something so huge would have to come through it.
After a half hour or so, when it seemed that the placenta was not coming out, Eileen asked Stacey to search in her car for an acupuncture needle to help stimulate my uterus to begin contracting again. Surely enough, Stacey delivered, and she started poking me all over the place while Eileen firmly rubbed the same acupressure points Stacey had stuck with the needle. One hour and fifty four minutes after Claudia was delivered, her placenta finally came out. Afterward Eileen informed us that if the 2 hour mark had rolled around and the placenta hadn’t come out, that I probably would have had to transfer to the hospital as that is considered an emergency situation. So, we avoided that just in the knick of time!
Mark was left to bond with our new bundle of joy while Eileen and I made our way to the bathroom so I could pee and take a shower. I won’t elaborate on that, but I did successfully pee.
My parents came to visit and see their newest grandchild. I think Mom cried and Carl was scared to hold her. We hung out and chatted for a little while more before packing up to go home.
Around 6:30pm we were in the car driving our new daughter back home again. My parents had brought food and we inhaled it as though we hadn’t eaten in days. The baby slept mostly and after the parents went home, she and I started practicing breastfeeding.
Claudia’s first night started off in her cosleeper bassinet, but that ended after about 20 minutes and she then moved to where she would end up for the next three weeks; safe and snug in between Mommy and Daddy in bed. After that three week period a switch seemed to have gone off inside her which allowed her to sleep in her own bassinet for extended periods of time as long as she had a good swaddle and her pacifier.
And I guess the rest has been documented in this blog already, from her first days of hunger while waiting for my breastmilk to come in to her first doctor’s appointment and her parents’ wedding. This is the beginning of an amazing, terrifying, exhilarating journey for our family and I’m so happy Mark created this blog so that we can document the twists and turns as they happen!