Friday, November 16, 2012

The Birth of Zoey Jane

Laboring in the Nursery
Thursday, October 25th started out like every other day in the end of my 3rd trimester...uncomfortable, tired, swollen...super sexy. News reports were getting more and more serious about the threat of Hurricane Sandy and the debate over when and where she'd make landfall were starting to make me nervous. I was 40 weeks 5 days at this point and could literally go into labor at any moment. It was about a 45 minute ride to the birthing center in Arnold and I definitely did not want to make that hike in the middle of a hurricane. My husband and I decided that morning that Operation Baby Eviction had to start.  Black cohosh during the day and a date with my hubby to Buffalo Wild Wings for some spicy wings were in my future! (They were REALLY hot...)
Elvis is there for moral support ;)

On Friday morning, I woke up around 6:00am and felt "different." I went into the bathroom and BAM! My water broke! Yay! This was it! I texted our doula, Nicole, and told her the good news.  She gave me some tips on what to look for next and told me to update her with my progress throughout the day.  Well, that was the extent of our excitement for most of the day.  A few scattered contractions; nothing requiring too much energy to handle.  Corey and I spent the day mostly waiting...and walking.

Just arrived at Special Beginnings
Around 11:00pm, I started having some more serious contractions. They were scattered and irregular but didn't go away with a glass of water and some rest so I knew this was it.  I told Corey he should get some rest and I went into the nursery with my birthing ball and pillows and hypnobirthing music.  Saturday at 2:30am, the contractions got much stronger and slightly more regular at about 9-10 minutes apart, lasting almost two minutes each! Two minutes!  That's a long time for a contraction! I called our doula Nicole and asked her to come over for more support.  We couldn't go to the birthing center until I was contracting at least five minutes apart with one minute contractions for an hour. They call that "5-1-1."

Nicole arrived at 3:30am, we woke up Corey, and they watched me have a couple of contractions.  Nicole suggested a few different positions for me to move into to help get things going a little better.  Well, damn she is good.  Within the hour, my contractions became much stronger, more regular and were a lot closer to 5-1-1. By 6:00am, it was time to move to the birthing center.

Setting up the birthing pool
With the help of Corey and Nicole and my hypnobirthing scripts, I was coping well with labor pains. I was 5cm dilated when we arrived. I was in the birthing pool for a while which felt A*M*A*Z*I*N*G* but Zoey's heart rate started to escalate into the 180s.  They wanted to rule out dehydration in me so they started an IV and gave me a bag of fluids.  Zoey's heart rate came back down to the 150s and I was now laboring on the birthing ball.  Contractions were getting stronger and stronger each time.

Each one made the last one seem easy. I just kept telling myself that I am one contraction closer to meeting our daughter.  It's one less contraction I have to go through. Positive self talk was so important for me. Believe me, it was difficult to do, but doable, especially with the support of Corey and Nicole.

At 11:00am, I was 7cm dilated, but Zoey's heart rate kept jumping into the 180s/190s and they wanted to transfer me over to the hospital to be safe. I was devastated. I saw our birth plan falling apart. People said that could happen and not to get too attached to your plan, but I did and this was a huge blow to my confidence.  If I went to the hospital, would I be strong enough to resist the urge for pain medicine? It would be so easy to get!  I just had to keep telling myself that an unmedicated birth is best for Zoey and to stay strong.  Corey advocated for me so much. He asked them to check the heart rate with another doppler. He watched as they did it and was convinced that it was more of a fluke than anything and we should stay, but protocol is protocol.  Baby's heart rate is up, you go to the hospital.  Off I went. (In hindsight, this was a good move. I had a very smart midwife.)

Nicole was wonderful through all of this.  She helped me to understand what the midwives were looking for and helped keep Corey informed and calm.  At a point in my labor where I was about to panic, devastated over the loss of my dream of a water birth, our doula was amazing.  She kept us focused on our goal: a natural childbirth, and assured us that even though we were going to the hospital, a natural childbirth is still possible.

When we got to the hospital, I was still 7cm, in transition, breathing and making dead cow noises through the hardest contractions. I was hooked up to continuous fetal monitoring (another blow to the birth plan) and Zoey's heart rate was completely normal.  It never jumped above the 160s the rest of the time. I continued to labor without medication for another three hours with the help and support of Corey and Nicole.  These were some seriously intense contractions and I'm pretty sure the entire unit knew where the natural delivery was taking place!  At points, I felt bad for my husband because he is a "fixer" and there was nothing he could do to take the pain away.  I know he felt very vulnerable and helpless  (and exhausted!) but I will tell you that having him next to me the entire time, holding my hand, rubbing my back, groaning through contractions with me, kissing me, and telling me he loves me was more help that he will ever know. I truly could not have gone through this without him.

Around 2:00pm, Suzannah (my midwife) checked me and I was STILL 7cm, however, with a contraction, I'd dilate to 9cm, and then go back down to 7cm.  It was so frustrating and that news about did me in.  How much longer was this agony going to last? How much more did I have in me? That's when she said it..."It might be time to think about some other plans."  Luckily, she was not referring to a C-section which is what I feared at first.  She was suggesting I get some type of pain medication to help relax my pelvic floor so I could dilate that extra 1cm during a contraction.  Another blow to the birth plan, but I was not giving in to this one so quickly.  I started crying hysterically and Corey asked everyone to leave the room and give us some time alone.

Of all the amazing things he did during my labor, this is one of those moments I will never forget.  He looked me in the eyes and said, "It doesn't have to be this way.  You can do this." With that, he put on my hypnobirthing music, held up his hand, a focal point for me to stare at and began an off-the-cuff guided imagery with me to help me calm down and relax.  I had several contractions during this meditation, all of which I handled silently. Don't get me wrong...they hurt, but I was able to focus my energy elsewhere and it made them much more tolerable.  We meditated together for almost 20 minutes before Nicole, Suzannah, and Racheal (the nurse) came back in.  I told them I was not ready for any medication and that I wanted to try whatever positions they thought may help, regardless of how uncomfortable they were.

First we tried squats in the shower and one leg up on the seat for a few contractions.  On a pain scale of 1-10, this was about a 20 during a contraction, but I did it for four contractions. Then, we moved to the bed where I tried lunges, two on each side, again about a 20/10 on the pain scale during contractions.  Next was an inverted position where my head and arms are down and my back and legs are up...almost like a keg stand, but not as upright. This was to help Zoey move out of the position she was in and then I'd stand up after a few contractions, hoping she would slide back into the right place.  No luck.  Lastly, we tried hands and knees on the birthing ball while Nicole used the rebozo on my belly and shook during a contraction.  Still...nothing.

At 6:00pm, Suzannah checked me again.  I was still in a very relaxed state thanks to Corey's meditation and my hypnobirthing, but I could feel the end of my rope coming.  The "one less contraction" mantra was started to wear me down.  Unfortunately, I was still 9cm.  I had been in transition since 11:00am. The suggestion of an epidural was more forceful this time.  My energy was low and we hadn't even begun pushing yet. More tears came as I realized my birth plan was about to go completely out the window. Nicole, Suzannah, Rachael, and Corey all assured me that I had done absolutely EVERYTHING I possibly could to get to 10cm, but unfortunately, Zoey just wasn't cooperating.  I had what they call an anterior lip on my cervix and, even manually, the midwife couldn't do anything about it.  I was pretty much out of options.  My choices were labor like this indefinitely, get an epidural to relax the pelvic floor, or c-section. So, defeated and deflated, I opted for the epidural.  I was so upset.  I felt like the entire day and all of my mental, physical, and emotional effort had been a complete waste. I felt like a failure.  I heard those voices in my head saying, "I told you so. You couldn't do it."I was beside myself to say the least.

Ten minutes after getting the epidural, I was a full 10cm dilated. The birthing team thought it was a good idea for us to rest before pushing so the lights went out and I slept for about two hours.

(Before I fell asleep, I texted my girlfriends Joey, Melissa, and Danielle to let them know we'd be pushing soon and they could probably head over.  I was expecting that pushing would be quick and by the time they got to the hospital, Zoey would be here. I had no idea how long I'd be pushing.  I really thought this would be the easiest part.  My girlfriends were about to get a lot more than they bargained for!)

Danielle arrived a little before 9:00pm and we chatted for a few. She was surprised baby wasn't here yet and texted the other girls.  She took a seat on the couch next to me when the birth team came in.  When they said it was time to start pushing, Danielle was about to bolt out the door.  She is a very private person and this was not something I pictured her being involved in but I was pleasantly surprised when she decided to stay.  This was also not in the birth plan but certainly a welcomed change. I asked them to turn my epidural down so I could continue my "natural" labor, and we got to work.

Pushing was tiring and uneventful for the first couple of HOURS...yes HOURS.  Joey and Melissa both showed up and were excited to help.  They jumped right in, each grabbing a leg and cheering me on. New Kids on the Block was blaring in the background and I was determined to get this baby out ASAP.  Danielle even hopped up a couple of times and got in on the action.  I'm sure this wasn't easy for her because I was using the mirror to help me direct my pushing and all of my business was on display so, even at the head of the bed, she had a front row seat. She did great. I needed her. I needed all of them.  Corey and I were so grateful that they showed up when they did.  He was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted, as was I, and that extra help at the end was just what we needed.

Saturday night turned into Sunday morning and I started to wonder how long this was going to go on. I would push three or four times per contraction and I could see myself making progress but it was so frustrating to see her "disappear" in between contractions. She was stuck under my pubic bone so I had to push while laying on my back (another blow to the birth plan). The only time I saw an actual doctor was when one came in and "manually readjusted her head" read that right.  He MANUALLY ADJUSTED HER HEAD.  That was pleasant. No it wasn't.  There isn't enough sarcasm in the world for that statement. Once that was over, pushing resumed.  I was definitely making more progress but it was still going slowly.  I seriously thought this was going to be the easiest part of labor so as the hours dragged on, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

My team could see me losing confidence, I think. I started having a lot of negative thoughts. I was thinking this was going to end in a C-section and the day had been a complete waste.  I was thinking about all the people I talked to at work and friends that had already had babies and hearing them tell me I have no idea what labor pains are like and I wouldn't be able to do it. I started thinking they were right.  My confidence and determination were slipping away.

I really don't have much concept of time at this point, but as I was about to give up, I felt this amazing energy around me.  Joey and Rachael on the left, Corey and Melissa on my right, Danielle holding my head and shoulders, Suzannah down low and Nicole capturing every moment for us to keep, I suddenly felt reinvigorated. All together, they gave me that extra push I needed to push out Zoey.  I pushed and pushed, as hard as I could through every painful contraction for what seemed like another eternity but it worked.  One second-degree tear and a few hemorrhoids later, Zoey Jane finally arrived at 2:15am on Sunday, October 28, 2012. She was placed right on my chest and our bonding began. I never thought I'd fall in love with such a raisin-y, gooey, slimey...thing...but she was my gooey slimey raisin and I couldn't believe she was here.  She was so beautiful.

As quickly as the euphoria came, panic came back when I realized the initial gush of amniotic fluid behind her was still gushing.  Only, it wasn't amniotic fluid.  I heard Suzannah calling for some different meds and, being a nurse myself, I knew exactly what was happening.  I was hemorrhaging. Could this really be happening? I was terrified.  I'm not sure if anyone else in the room knew what what going on, especially with a new baby on my chest, their attention was clearly diverted away from my hoo-ha (finally). Two wide open bags of fluid, a bag of Pitocin, a shot of Methergine and some lovely internal examinations and the bleeding finally stopped.  I have no idea how long it took.  I just remember getting very lightheaded and telling myself I will not die in childbirth.  Dramatic? Maybe, but with the way my labor had gone, I needed to reassure myself. It was scary.

Once that excitement was over, Corey was able to cut Zoey's cord and we were a family! What an amazing feeling. I'm so glad I was able to share it with three of my best friends, our amazing doula, excellent midwife and very caring nurse. Within twenty minutes, she began breastfeeding and our life as parents was underway.

I did it.  I am confident saying I had a natural childbirth. As natural as it could have been. Zoey came out awake and alert, wide-eyed and ready to breastfeed. That was the whole goal...the whole reason Corey and I wanted a natural labor.  We wanted her to enter this world drug-free and despite the low dose of drugs that I was given, we feel good about the decisions we made.  I labored naturally for 27 and a half hours with four hours and 45 minutes of pushing.  It was the most difficult thing I've ever had to do in my entire life.  It was the most excruciatingly painful event I've ever experienced...but I did it. If I can do it, you can do it.  I'm not special. I'm no superhero.  I'm just a mom who wanted the absolute best for her baby.

Well that, and I'm really stubborn. A lot of people told me I couldn't do it.  Well...I did it.

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