Posted in Pregnancy

Almost as Planned: Amélie’s Birth Story

The first contraction started at around 9 pm on Thursday evening.  Of course, at the time, I didn’t know that it was a contraction, I thought it was just a cramp.  I went to bed not long after and between the “cramp” that kept coming back and my snoring partner, I was struggling with falling asleep.  By 10 pm, I decided I was going to take a shower.

Oh yeah, much better.

I felt like I could have stayed in the shower all night (that should have tipped me off, but it didn’t), but I decided to get back to bed.  I was extremely tired, but just couldn’t fall asleep.  Thinking that my snorer was the bulk of the problem (sorry honey, my inability to fall asleep had to be blamed on someone 😉 ), I went to the living room to try the miracle couch (which is where I sleep when I just can’t sleep in my bed).

But it didn’t work.  The darned pain kept hitting me again and again no matter what position I was in.

And then, my brain did something wonderful, it decided to play the game of “connect the dots” that my body had initiated.  I started timing my pains.  They were suspiciously regular.

Contractions they were!

A part of me was super excited that my body was going into labour on its own (more on this in Charles’ birth story) and that I would finally be meeting my little boy or girl.  Another part of me was still wondering if I was truly going into labour.  Yet another part of me told me to get up and tell my partner that he would not be going in to work the next day.  I calmly listened to that rational part of my brain.  Then I went downstairs to tell my brother that he would have to watch Charles the next morning until either my parents or in-laws came to get him (it was 11pm by then and I didn’t want to wake the grandparents). 

I called L&D at the hospital and was told to come in when I mentioned that my contractions were about 5 minutes apart.  Of course, the nurse also mentioned that I would not be admitted unless I was at least 4cm dilated, but I wasn’t too worried about that.

I got into the shower again as I waited for my partner to wake up and get ready and then got into the car as he loaded the already packed hospital bags.  We were on our way (after a small pit stop to get some gas in the car).

We arrived a little before 1am and I was checked.  To my dismay, I was only dilated 1cm (the cervical check I’d had three days before had me at 1cm).  A part of me was afraid that I was making a fool of myself and wasn’t really having contractions.  Another part of me reaaaaaly did not want to go back home.  Nonetheless, the nurse hooked me up to the monitor and I was, well, monitored for almost an hour (the L&D wing was full so she kept being delayed before coming back to see me).  Once it was established that I was indeed in labour and that everything looked good, the nurse told me that she was going to have me walk along the hall just outside of the L&D wing for half an hour and see how I’d progressed.  After that she’d decide if I was worth admitting or not.

Well, walk I did and my contractions got closer and closer.  My partner was wonderful and each time one of them hit, he helped me get down on my knees so that I could lean against a chair and he massaged my lower back as I breathed through them.  He also made sure I stayed hydrated by handing me my bottle of icy cold homemade “Labour-ade”.  He and I were both amazingly calm throughout our walk.

We went back to L&D where I was checked again and admitted (yay, the baby was indeed coming!).

In my room, I alternated between bouncing on a birth ball, getting down on my knees against a chair and taking a shower to help me through each contraction.  The nurse had been very supportive when I’d told her that I was aiming for a natural birth and she only came in once in a while to see how I was doing.  Despite the fact that I didn’t hand her the birth plan that I had brought with me, everything was going as planned.

Things were going really well, but eventually fatigue caught up.  Since my contractions had started right before going to bed, I had been awake since 6:30am the previous morning (it was now 4am Friday) and I was exhausted by that time.  Another contraction hit me and I decided then and there that the next time the nurse would come in, I would ask for the epidural.  I didn’t feel defeated by my decision (and I still don’t), it just seemed like the logical thing to do.  I knew that the fatigue would make the pain harder and harder to manage and I didn’t want to get into panic mode and end up fighting the pain and the contractions.  I knew from experience that fighting the pain made the progress of the labour slow down.

Since the nurse thought I was nearing transition (she told me that many moms aiming for a natural birth feel like they can’t manage anymore at around 8 cm), I was checked (and was at a 7) and the anesthesiologist was called in.  Half an hour later, I was all set and it did not take long for the epidural to work its magic.  The nurse told me that she could call the obgyn to have her break my waters and help labour progress more quickly, but I declined and asked to wait things out.  She was very supportive of my decision.

My partner and I managed to get some much needed rest while my body continued its work.  At 6:15am, while my partner called my parents to ask them if they could go grab Charles at our place, I was checked again and was almost fully dilated.  The nurse offered to ask the obgyn to rupture my membranes and though I had initially planned to allow them to rupture naturally, I felt like it was time and agreed.

My partner came back, my membranes were ruptured and then I felt something I did not expect to feel: the urge to push.  An extreme, unrelenting urge.  My body had taken over.  I immediately told the nurse and obgyn who were surprised and told me to hold it in while they got ready (yeah, like that’s easy to do LOL).  I requested to be allowed to deliver on my side and turned to my left side as I waited for my body to tell me to push.

Ten minutes later, I was holding my beautiful daughter in my arms.  I was so enthralled by the moment that I only realized when it was too late that I should tell the doctor that I wanted to wait for the cord to stop pulsating before it was cut.  Oh well (note to self: next time, give the nurse your birth plan instead of counting on your brain to handle everything).

I am very happy with the way the everything went.  Both my partner and I remained calm.  I know that his support and implication were the cornerstones that helped me progress without pain medication for as long as I did.  The staff was also very supportive and despite the fact that everything did not happen the way I had initially planned, I have no regrets with the decisions I made.

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Our little sleeping beauty.
Posted in Write for me Wednesday

Write For Me Wednesday – 4 Surprises from my Son’s Otherwise Standard Birth (Jocelyn’s guest post)

This week, I have another wonderful guest poster who agreed to share her birth story with all of you.  Jocelyn is the witty, talented and incredibly funny blogger behind The Home Tome.  She has guest posted for me before and I am so happy that she has accepted to do it again, this time helping me with my project of providing a multitude of different birth stories for expecting moms to read.

Enjoy your read!

4 Surprises from my Son’s Otherwise Standard Birth

Ian

My son (now 19 months) came into this world after a fairly standard vaginal birth in a hospital with an epidural. But there were a few surprises along the way…

1. Four days before I went into labor, my husband came down with a serious inner ear infection called labyrinthitis. This gave him a severe case of vertigo (i.e. he suddenly couldn’t stand up or go a few minutes without vomiting). I had to call an ambulance and we spent a scary night in the ER – we worried it was some kind of stroke or a brain tumor. Thankfully, it was neither of these. However, his dizziness and loss of balance would last for several weeks and even lingered to some degree for months – what a crazy way to become a new father. He was able to be by my side for the birth, albeit sitting in a chair. He was incredibly supportive and positive, despite the fact that his own world was rocking like a ship in a stormy sea.

2. My labor was 36 hours, from first contraction to birth. When I arrived at the hospital at 4 am, I had already been up all night and managed 12 hours of contractions – I assumed I was at least 4 or 5 cm dilated. Alas, I was only one centimeter. Because I hadn’t slept and wasn’t progressing too quickly, my OB ordered some morphine so I could get some rest. Already feeling guilty enough about wanting an epidural (hey, I was scared), I resisted this at first – I didn’t want this drug to cycle through my little guy even if it would supposedly be out of his system when he hit prime time. But I agreed and it was the right decision – I was able to relax a bit and I also experienced a hilarious and very specific physical sensation – my hands felt huge, like they were the size of bed pillows. Go figure. My husband and I laugh about my Big Hands to this day.

3. Because I was so nervous about the birth (even knowing that I’d get an epidural – hey like I said, I was truly terrified), we hired a doula from Northeast Doulas (http://www.northeastdoulas.com/) to help us through the process. This was especially fortuitous, considering my husband’s wobbly state. Lauren Porte Schwardsfeld was exactly as supportive as I was hoping. What I didn’t expect was how much she was able to decrease the intensity of contractions (pre-epidural) through massage. The way she put pressure on my lower back and hips during the rough parts was nothing short of miraculous. She. Is. An. Angel. She helped me manage the pain and the fear – this allowed the labor to progress naturally; without her, I suspect I would have gone the way of a C-section. If you think you might need a little extra support, I recommend a doula, whether you are aiming for a drug-free birth or not.

4. Unlike the movies, I didn’t embrace that “bonding” moment with my son the second after he arrived. Nope, I had just pushed for two hours – a physical exertion well beyond anything I’d done as a lifelong athlete. I was exhausted and disoriented. When they put him on my chest, I was like, “No, no, not ready.” Ha! The nurses must have had a good chuckle over that – after all, who is ready for this crazy adventure called parenting? No one. But when it’s time, it’s time: we snuggle that child, we coo, and – dizzy as we may be – we stumble into the wildest and most wonderful journey of all.

Thanks again Jocelyn for sharing your birth story with us!

Would anyone else like to share her birth story?

Posted in Parenting

Calling All Guest Posters: The Many Faces of Childbirth

We all know that every pregnancy and every birth is different, right.  And, let’s face it, we mamas like to share our birth stories (I’ve yet to meet a mom who isn’t happy to share hers).  Now that my own pregnancy is nearing its end, I thought it would be nice to create a resource for moms-to-be who want to read up on birth through the anecdotal experiences of mamas-who-have-been-there.

If anyone is interested in sharing their story, please shoot me a comment.  If you already have a post about your birth story, just send me the link, tell me which category you believe it fits best into and I will link directly to your blog.  If you would like to send me your birth story, just shoot me an email through the “contact me” page.

Below are some examples of the different categories your personal birth story could fall under.  If you consider that a new one could be added, just let me know.

Home birth

Medicated hospital birth

Med-free hospital birth

Birth in a birthing center

Scheduled C-Section

Emergency C-Section

VBAC

HBAC

Water birth

Giving birth to multiples

So, what do you think?  Anyone up to sharing?

Posted in Parenting

The Birth Plan

So a (big) while back, I mentioned that I had started working on my birth plan.  With my approximate due date about 5 weeks away now, I figured I’d come back to it and blog about it.

I had linked to a great blog post that really did an awesome job at explaining how to make the best birth plan.  I read through it all and all of the links and had lots of fun building my own.

In a nutshell, a birth plan should be:

  1. Personalized: Definitely look at samples, but don’t just use a checklist type plan.  You want to know your birth plan inside out.  There are so many different formats that can be used, use one that reflects you the best.
  2. Realistic: Two thoughts on this point.  a)  For instance, if you know that your hospital doesn’t do water births (like mine), don’t ask for one even if it is something that you would enjoy trying.  b)  Keep in mind that even though no one wants anything to go wrong things can go wrong.  Keep an open mind to the options that will or won’t be available to you if such is the case.
  3. Researched: Know what your options are and how each choice you make may effect you and your baby.
  4. Short: Let’s face it, nurses and doctors just don’t have the time to read pages and pages of text or check marked statements.  Keep it down to a page or two at the most.

When I was pregnant with Charles, I had thought of doing a birth plan.  Actually, I had filled out a couple of blank ones with statements that you just checked.  After printing them out, though, I remember deciding to trash them because I had felt that I didn’t know enough about birth to be deciding upon things I knew nothing (or next to nothing) about.  I figured I’d go with the flow and see what happened.

Now that I’ve gone through one birth, I have a better idea of the things that can go down.  I have a better idea of what I liked, what I didn’t like and what I don’t really care about one way or another.  I also did quite a bit of research since giving birth to Charles.  I therefore felt more comfortable with writing a birth plan.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that birth is unpredictable and I’m very much aware that just because it is planned and written, doesn’t mean it’s going to all go my way, but at least I know that if I do have control over some aspects, I will know exactly what I want.

Now, enough blabbing, how ’bout I share the plan I wrote up with you guys.  (P.s. The actual birth plan is in table form and fits on one page.  I’ll be adding a pdf link at the end in case anyone wants to see the actual version that I will be bringing with me to the hospital).

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Will be present: (baby’s father)

Students and residents: I am open to their presence during labour and delivery

*The preferences expressed in this birth plan are the result of much research and thought. They reflect my wish to have a natural, med-free birth with minimal interventions. However, I do understand that labour and birth are unpredictable and want above all else the safety of both myself and the baby if an emergency situation arises. In the case of a non-emergency situation, please discuss any procedures (benefits and risks) with my partner and I so that I can give my informed consent after discussing them with my partner.*

We thank you in advance for your support in helping us achieve the natural birth we are aiming for.

1. Labour preferences

  • Hydration: through water/ice chips/popsicles rather than through an IV
  • Vaginal exam: upon arrival and subsequent checks no more than every two hours afterwards
  • Foetal monitoring: 20 minutes of external monitoring upon arrival and no more than 5 minutes every hour afterwards
  • Pain management: massage, mobility, birth ball, shower/tub, breathing techniques. Please do not offer any medicated options. If I change my mind, I will ask which options are available to me in relation to the progression of my labour.
  • Pitocin: use to be discussed only after 8 hours of natural labour
  • Amniotic sac: please allow my waters to break naturally

2. Delivery preferences

  • Pushing: please allow me to push when I feel the urge to and in the way I feel I need to. If I need guidance, I will ask for it.
  • Positions: I plan to alternate between a squatting, all-fours and kneeling up position during the pushing stage. If under the effect of an epidural, I will privilege a side-lying or semi-sitting position.
  • Preservation of the perennial area: I prefer tearing to an episiotomy.
  • Cutting of the cord: to be performed by the father after the cord has stopped pulsating.
  • Announcement of the sex: by the father.
  • Immediately following birth: I would like to have skin-to-skin contact with my baby and attempt breastfeeding on both sides.

3. Postpartum preferences

  • Delay of regular procedures (eye drops, vitamin K shot, weighing…): until we have attempted nursing from both sides or up to 60 minutes after birth.
  • Nutrition: I plan on breastfeeding, please do not offer formula or pacifiers.
  • Bathing: we would like to give our baby his/her first bath.
  • Visitors: only my toddler who will be accompanied by his father.

4. In case of emergency caesarean section

  • Consciousness: I prefer to remain conscious during the procedure.
  • Presence of the father: at all times during the procedure.
  • Announcement of the sex: by the father.
  • Skin-to-skin contact with the baby immediately after birth to initiate the bonding period and begin breastfeeding.
  • Suturing: please use double layer sutures to allow me to attempt a VBAC if desired for a subsequent birth.

Please sign to acknowledge that you have read and understood our wishes: ____________________________________

(My) sample birth plan (pdf version)

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So there you go…

Have you ever written up a birth plan?  How did it go?  Do you plan on using one?