Monday, February 14, 2011

April's Birth Story

April's birth certainly did not go the way I had planned and wished for it to go however I still feel it is important for me to put it writing.
Days before real early labor began I started having agonizing back pain. It was so painful I couldn't really sleep. So by the time my contractions were coming every 20 mins early Friday morning, I was so sleep deprived and in so much pain that I couldn't really imagine how I was going to cope. I called the midwife around 9am on Friday and she came to the house and checked me only to find I was only 1 cm dilated. She recommended I take some Tylenol and Gravol and get some sleep. The Tylenol took the edge off the back pain but by the time I was feeling drowsy enough to sleep my contractions had really picked up. I had had a little bit of bloody mucus in the middle of the night but I wouldn't say I had my bloody show until just before lunch on Friday. I decided at that point it was time to call Jon and have him come home and support me. Once he got home around 1pm we lay in bed and had a quick snack. The back pain started picking up again and we moved to using the birth ball. I did really enjoy the relief I got when I lay across the birth ball.
Around 5pm my water broke. It was filled with meconium.  I was so disappointed because I knew that I would have to decide whether to risk it and stay at home or transfer. After my water broke the contractions really picked up so Jon and I hopped in the shower. The heat was soothing but not enough to curb the endless back pain. We stayed in the shower anyways until the hot water ran out. The one coping mechanism that seemed effective in letting go was sound. I was definitely loud but it was the best way for me to release that pain and tension.
Our midwife came around 6:30pm and checked me again. I was only dilated 3 cms but I was contracting every 2-3 minutes. It was really intense because between contractions I didn't feel I had a break due to the horrible back pain. After about a half hour of serious thought and discussion we decided to transfer to the hospital because I just couldn't live with myself if she was born with meconium in her lungs and got sick because we were at home.
The drive to the hospital was awful. I was sprawled over the birth ball in the back seat but the drive is at least 20 minutes and I had a bunch of really intense contractions. Being so limited in movement inside the car meant that my back pain just got worse as we drove. I was also feeling less relaxed and really nervous about the hospital. I'm sure the tension didn't help my pain. I was just praying it would end.
Our hospital room was small and limiting. I was definitely crying as we "set up" the room. I tried using the shower for my back pain (I was actually encouraged by the promise of endless hot water) but every time someone on the floor flushed a toilet the temperature would change. It was hard to relax when the water went from too cold to too hot. I ended up just lying on my side in the bed. I had written up motivating flashcards that I had brought with us and I was trying to read them to stay positive but I couldn't even focus my eyes. I was really struggling.
By this point I just couldn't cope with the back pain. The pain was so intense and so unbearable that I really couldn't feel anything in my abdominal muscles, all I felt was back pain. We tried the laughing gas but I found all it did was make me dozy between contractions instead of helping during contractions. We tried some morphine, which did absolutely nothing for the pain. I'm really surprised that it is even offered for back labor because it was that ineffective. Finally, I was just beside myself. I had not had a break from the pain in almost 24 hours, I had not slept for 3 days, I begged for the epidural.
Getting the epidural took a while but once I got it I felt so good. I tried to sleep but I was really overcome with sadness over the loss of my natural homebirth. I cried for most of the night. I felt that I had completely lost control. However, my midwife helped me feel a bit better about getting the interventions by showing me how April's heart rate didn't change. I was concerned she would be stressed by the drugs but she was strong the whole time. That helped to lessen my guilt but didn't take away my sadness. My midwife and talked for a while and tried to salvage my birth plan and keep some of the things that were important to me (such as low light when she was delivered, let the cord finish pulsing on it's own, skin-to-skin immediately after birth, etc.). Jon, who had been such a patient partner, was grateful for the rest too. Lucky guy got 4 hours of sleep.
Five hours later, I could really feel the pressure in my rectum. I knew she was low, really low. At 4:30 am they told me it was time to wake Jon and push. Pushing was such a release. I thought I wouldn't be able to feel anything or know when to push but I really did. I could feel her moving down and the stretching in my perineum. Getting to the pushing stage is a little strange. I was used to the contractions coming one after the other but I was surprised at how we had to wait for the contraction (sometimes about 5 minutes would pass before I felt another). It took just 30 minutes of pushing and then there she was on my chest.
I was definitely in shock. I didn't believe Jon when he said it was a girl, I couldn't believe how dark her hair was, she was so amazing. She stared at me and I stared back. I loved that moment. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing, then Jon got to cut it. Unfortunately, because of the meconium, the pediatrician took her to the warming table and pumped the meconium out of her stomach. I felt so sad for her, what an awful first experience. But once they were done Jon got to have some skin-to-skin time with her while I delivered the placenta and got stitches (I had 2nd degree tearing so I needed about 6). Finally, I got to feed her and man was she ready. She latched on right away and stayed there for the next 2 hours.
At 7am we got moved to Motherbabe and luckily did not have to share a room. We nursed, snuggled and April slept. I just could not rest in the hospital. People were coming in to drop off food, pick up the trash, check my IV, etc. We decided to stay just long enough for my epidural to wear off and then go home.
It was sad to go home and see my house still all set up for a homebirth but I was so blissful with my new baby that I didn't worry about it too much. I hope that time will ease my disappointment. I do feel that I was present and proactive during my birth. I did what I had to to bring April into this world healthy and safe. In the end I do believe that my birth was exactly as it was meant to be.


  1. I can relate to the shock right after the baby coming out. :) I'm sorry everything didn't go the way you had planned though. I aspirated meconium and was in the NICU for a while as a newborn. I think it was Gloria Lemay who posted on her blog that the best thing to do with meconium babies is make sure they get lots of skin to skin and that you allow the umbilical cord to stop pulsing, so the baby is getting oxygen through the placenta and the lungs are given a chance to clear spontaneously. So, it sounds like you guys did the best thing you could for her.

    Also, may not seem like it now, but time will ease the disappointment. I felt that way after Fiona's birth since she had to be taken and given a puff of air and I felt so guilty that she hadn't got that perfect start to life, but she did get the skin to skin and we let the cord stop pulsing as well, and really she was only gone from me for such a short time. Now I can look back and see all the positive things about the experience. Those post-partum hormones are so funny though.

    I hope you guys are enjoying your babymoon. There is really nothing more precious than having a newborn in the house.

  2. First of all, I want to tell you that your story is amazing, empowering and beautiful. Don't EVER let anyone (including yourself) tell you otherwise.

    Second, You still maintained control and made all the decisions. It is still YOUR daughter's birth and no one else.

    Third, congratulations. I am so happy for you, I cried while reading this post.