Friday, June 20, 2014

simon's birth story

simon is 6 months old today, and I decided that I wanted to share his birth story on this happy day. even though I wrote it out right after he was born, at first I wanted to keep his story private. I think that sometimes we read about experiences that other people go through and what another person chose to do (or not do) and we may judge them or we may compare ourselves to them. for me, simon's birth was so sacred and wonderful and, yet, so raw and difficult that I wanted to avoid any sort of judgement, comparison, or anything that could detract what was, to me, one of the most beautiful and personal experiences of my life. however, the more that I thought about it, the more that I wanted to share our story in the hope that it will, somehow or in someway, inspire, be of help, or simply give another glimpse into birth.








Simon’s labor began around 3:45/4 am earlier on the morning of the 20th. I had finished my last final paper of the semester the night before around 10 pm. Well-timed, baby, well-timed! The contractions were slight at first and I wasn’t sure if they were the harbinger of real labor or just some normal pregnancy discomfort, but I felt that they were a little different from previous Braxon-Hicks contractions. I decided to get up and eat a bowl of cereal, surf the Internet and see how I felt with a little time. The pressure waves were not coming very frequently, but I still felt that this was different and was causing slight pain, so I figured that this was the beginning of his birthing time. I decided that it was best if I tried to sleep as much as I could and went back to sleep. I woke up around 5 am and let Phil know that I thought I was having contractions but was not totally sure. We went back to sleep until around 7 until a few more light contractions convinced me that this was it. I called my mom so she could get on the road from California to up come for the birth. That's when it really hit me: BABY WAS COMING! Mom told me to do as much as I could around the house in order to stay busy and to help me not think as much about the birthing waves. Phil and I began to do things around the house to straighten up. After about 10 minutes of that, however, I realized that "not thinking about the birthing waves" was semi-impossible, and since they were becoming stronger I just needed to lay down in bed. At the time, I was wearing sweat pants and a tie dye t-shirt (guys, so cute!) and I had everything ready to go for the hospital. So I went back  to  bed and starting listening to a CD from the birthing program that would help me relax. That particular CD was about 50 minutes long and it helped a lot to listen to it over and over as I encountered each birthing wave. Some of the contractions were manageable, but some of them were very difficult to breathe through without making loud “ahhh” sounds with each exhale. Seriously, when I made those sounds, it made the contraction less difficult. I tried to stay peaceful and Phil would come in every now and again to place his hand on my shoulder or my forehead to help me through the waves. After a few contractions, I had the feeling that I needed to throw up (sorry, this is entering into the not so pretty part of my laboring). I went to the bathroom and nothing came, so I spent the next birthing wave on the floor in the bathroom. One position that was comfortable to me was to be on all fours and to rock back and forth during the wave. But, really the only position that stayed comfortable to me throughout labor was just being on my right side. After a few more contractions in bed, some being more successful than others (for one or two, Phil held me in a tight hug and I cried a little), I had the urge to throw up again. I did and I felt weak afterwards. From then on out, after every 3 or 4 contractions my body would need to empty itself and soon all I could do was drink Gatorade. I've heard that this is normal, but it doesn't happen to everyone. Until that point, I had only thrown-up twice during the pregnancy, so I suppose this was some sort of karma. Throughout the time that I labored at home, I would become super warm and have to toss off the covers. Phil would give me a cold compress for my neck and forehead. Then there would be times that I felt very cold and needed to bury myself in our comforter.

Around 11:30 am, Phil and I decided that it was time to go to the hospital. I had been having contractions every five minutes from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next. The car was very cold inside and it was snowing a bit outside and those elements made me feel better since this was a period where I was feeling super warm (it was like I was exercising - which, in a sense, I was). At one of the stoplights near the hospital, my head was just hanging out the window (because the cold felt so good!!) and I am sure that I just looked wretched. At one point, Phil told me that the girls in the car stopped next to us looked over at us and gave a sad face to Phil and mouthed, “What’s wrong?” Phil mouthed back while motioning to his stomach “Baby,” and the girls nodded their heads as if they suddenly understood my state. When Phil told me that, I just told him, “Those girls are never going to want to have children.”

Once we arrived at the hospital, our car was valeted (angels!) and I was put into a wheelchair and Phil pushed me up to Labor and Delivery. By the way, is it strange that I love being wheeled around in wheelchairs? It was a fun little ride. In L&D  it was quiet and we checked in with the nurse (pre-registration, people!).
Once in bed, the contractions began to intensify and as much as I strove to focus on relaxing and breathing, my body wanted so much to abandon itself to the discomfort. After every two to three birth waves, I would have to call Phil to bring me yet another one of the hospital’s throw-up bags. It was glorious. By this time, this constant need retch was weakening me and took away most recovery time between contractions. I was beginning to feel out-of-control . The nurse has taken my measurements when I arrived and after an hour of labor in the hospital I was progressing well, so that was comforting. I soon needed an IV since I was quite dehydrated and unable to keep anything down for very long.  During this  time, Phil had to keep pushing on my back and my knees through each pressure wave to provide a bit of counterpressure. He was totally supportive of me and was there to comfort me in any way that he could - putting a cold compress on my forehead, placing his hand on my shoulder for support, pushing me in various places to relieve any pain. All of his aid helped me feel more comfortable through the waves and s
omething that helped calm me was also just simply praying, asking for help to endure well as well as for guidance in the process. Throughout pregnancy, I never felt scared of birth. I knew that what I would experience would be difficult but I also knew that I was capable of doing it (unmedicated or medicated). Furthermore, I had also felt the need to be accepting of any changes that came during labor and to keep an open mindset.
In the hospital I labored for about three hours until I knew that I could not continue the way that it was going. It was almost 3 pm and I was grateful for all that I had been able to do that had helped me get up to where I was, but the fatigue and the constant retching weakened me and my resolve. I got to the point where I felt good about asking for an epidural (kinda an understatement). The nurse called for the anesthesiologist, but he was in the middle of a C-section and would not be able to come for another hour. So, I held on and around 4 he came in and although I am not the biggest fan on needles, I could barely feel the epidural (any discomfort paled in comparison), and soon I felt the intensity of the waves slowly disappear. I told the anesthesiologist, who was specifically assigned to the L&D ward, that women must just LOVE him because I sure did. I don't know how many times I thanked him. It was a lot. The dosage of the epidural was low, so I was able to feel my feet and tingling in my legs. After that, when I looked at the fetal heart monitor and saw all the contractions I was supposedly having, it was a real relief to not be able to feel them. Honestly, that epidural was a miracle to me and was the reprieve to the previous 12+ hours. The nurse soon checked my progress and said that I was now dilated to about an 8. I felt grateful again that I was progressing to a foreseeable end.
A little after the epidural, Simon's heart rate dropped quite a bit and a whole gaggle of nurses and doctors came in to make sure everything was okay. They went in and broke my water (which hadn't broken yet) in order to insert a monitor that would closely watch his rates. All I could think during this process was 1.) I SO want the baby to be okay! and 2.) hmmm, I guess we're inviting everyone on the floor in here to check out my very exposed lower half. At one point, the nurse asked if a paramedic-in-training could witness the birth for educational purposes and I was like, "the more the merrier."

 ^^ this photo was taken, as you can guess by the smile, post-epidural.

Around 6pm our kind nurse checked me again and said that I was complete at a 10 and that the baby was very low in the birthing canal (yes. canal. I kinda hate that word too in reference to my body). Phil called my mom and she was about 30 minutes away so the nurse said that we could wait and allow the baby to descend by himself until my mom arrived for his birth. She arrived around 6:30 and the nurse made the front half of the bed descend and positioned the stirrups in front of me (yes. stirrups. I also kinda hate that one too). I put my legs in those and was instructed on how I would begin pushing with each subsequent contraction. I would get a big breath, bear down for 10 seconds, get another quick breath, bear down, and finally get a last breath and bear down for a final 10 seconds. After doing this about three times (I thought I was going to pass out each time), the doctor came in and prepared for the delivery of baby. Phil was at my left leg, my mom next to him and next to me. The nurse was at my right leg and the doctor in front of me. With each contraction, I focused on pushing hard down through my abs. Because I could not totally feel where I was pushing, I had to focus where I was bearing down. With each contraction Phil and the doctor were very encouraging. Soon they could see the top of the baby’s head and the doctor told me that he had blond hair. After about the sixth contraction, the doctor was worried about the baby’s heart rate so he took a little suction cup and with  the next contraction he was able to help the baby out; I pushed, he suctioned, and then the baby came! He began crying immediately with the doctor holding him and then he proceeded to urinate right there “just like a boy,” the doctor said. We watched as he was cleaned and weighed in front of us. I couldn’t believe how big he was! I couldn't believe that he was there! Ours! After they weighed him, they placed him on my chest, skin-to-skin, and he began to calm down. I felt this overwhelming sense of awe and love. I couldn’t believe that Phil and I had created him and given him this perfect, little body that had begun with such minuscule elements (and nourished with lots of popsicles and cadbury chocolate).
Recovery went so smoothly after Simon's birth. I was up and walking later that night, and despite a little soreness, I felt great afterwards. Bodies change with pregnancy, but I'm grateful for what the change has meant for us and the joy that our sweet babe brings us. Phil and I talked and discussed his birth and our feelings in recovery. We were surprised by the love that we felt so instantly for little Simon. That love came powerfully, and all we wanted (and still do!) is take care of him and make sure he is safe and loved. I also felt this a surge of love for Philip. He had become a dad and he had been such a huge support to me throughout not only the birthing time but the entire pregnancy. I could not have imagined having gone through all that I did without his love and support.

10 comments:

  1. You are a superhero! Thanks for sharing :) And remember how strong you are in your half tomorrow... Love you friend!

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    1. Brooke! Thank you! I think you are such a strong person the way you run and endure physical trials. You are awesome to me. :)

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  2. I just think you are an amazing person! You have such strength and make everything (even the not so pleasant :) ) sound beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Melanie! That is so kind of you to say. :)

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing Laurel! I loooove birth stories! They really have been the biggest help in getting mentally prepared for my own. Also, way to be! You made such an adorable little babe and I still can't get over how adorable of a pregnant lady you were :)

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    1. Lauren, it's going to be such a wonderful experience. I am excited you! Your little guy is coming so soon! :)

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  4. Thank you for sharing his birth story- it's really *your* birth story too! I have read several women's accounts and I sincerely hope to have an experience just like yours!

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    1. Thanks, Emily. It was a beautiful experience. :)
      Hope you are doing well!

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing, Laurel. I have always been impressed by your strength in all the facets of your life. This remarkable and beautiful birth story is another example of your strength. Thanks for being you!!

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  6. What a lovely piece! Thanks for sharing! Still so happy for your little family!

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