Bear’s Birth Story

Continuing with the theme from my last post of Bear being a stubborn child, of course his birth was no different. The very fast, water-suddenly-breaking-and-barely-making-it-to-any-medical-facility-birth I expected did not happen. He had his own agenda.

I felt pretty good two days after my hospital stay. No bad nausea, my acid reflux was tolerable, and I was pretty well-rested. Sunday night, I stayed up a bit and monitored my contractions. Still no change from the what they were at the hospital. I was slightly afraid of my water breaking at 1 AM like Jack’s did, but really thought I had several more days before real labor would start. So I went to sleep like normal.

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Last bump pic!
Around 6 AM I woke up to more contractions. They didn’t hurt, I was more annoyed. I was sleeping very well and did not want to get up. Plus, Jack was all snuggled with me. I wanted to stay in bed with my sleeping angel face. Then I felt a weird gush. I was even more annoyed, but knew I had to get up. I went to the bathroom and was very surprised to see a tinge of pink when I wiped. I had another contractions and more pink stuff. I put a pad on and went to tell Michael. He didn’t seem too concerned, but told me to call midwife. I felt more stuff gush out so I checked my pad again. It wasn’t wet like when my water broke with Jack, but stuff was definitely coming out. I called my midwife and told her my water may have broke. She told me to come to the birth center just in case since I was already dilated to 4cm and have a history of fast labor.

The receptionist saw us pull-up and another midwife took us straight back to the birthing room we wanted. Shortly after, my midwife and her assistant came in. They took all my vitals and checked me. I hadn’t progressed more yet. And my water had not broke yet, but my bag was bulging and my contractions were closer together and hurting more.

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Contractions are annoying when you trying to enjoy 90s pop radio on Pandora.
I spent the next 3 hours progressing steadily in the birthing suite. I started out walking around, then moved to sitting on the couch. Then, once my contractions really started to pick up,  I laid down on the bed with some music on to try to rest between them.

DSCN3751Then it started to really get intense, so I decided to get in tub. Oh man, I can’t even begin to explain how awesome it felt. The water takes all the pressure off your body and soothes your pain. I stayed in there nearly two hours.

But as I was getting close to pushing, I needed a little relief to help me stay calm and focused. I originally told Michael I didn’t want to do the Nitrous Oxide, but at that moment I wanted it. The man did not hesitate and got my midwife quickly.  It doesn’t stop the pain like other pain relief methods, but just takes the edge off. It was too hard for me to hold the mask out of the water and have a contraction at the same time. So my body said get out of the tub.

As soon as I stood up, gravity kicked in and I could feel his head. I laid down on the bed and clung to the gas mask for dear life. A few more contractions later and my water a finally broke, just a trickle at first. Then my body went on autopilot. It started to push. My midwife asked me to spread my legs because I was baring down and I thought, “I am? Huh..I am…”

Suddenly, I felt the ring of fire. I had heard about it in many other birth stories, but oh man. It’s more than you can imagine. Literally feels like your labia are set on fire as baby crowns. Next my water came GUSHING out, followed by his head. Little stubborn guy got his shoulder stuck on my pelvis and decided that was the best time to try to take his first breath. My midwife quickly jumped in and rotated his shoulder to get him out. Then he slid out just fine and she placed him in my arms.

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Moment of disbelief.
I pulled him on to my chest and waves of love just hit me. He is here! He’s out. I’m done. The hardest thing I’ve ever worked for in my life. My beautiful rainbow baby. He made little peeps but didn’t scream like Jack. I knew right then this was indeed my quiet, stubborn child.

Then they had me push out my placenta. It came out whole but had long tails from where it burst
open from my water breaking. Took my midwife a bit to pull them out. After it was out, my uterus was “boggy”, meaning it was retaining all the fluids. My midwife tried a uterine massage to help it along, but it hurt way too much. She offered a pitocin shot instead and I agreed.
DSCN3767Bear started rooting so I started to position him to nurse…then I realized no one actually checked if he’s a boy! I was more concerned he came out safely and my midwife was more concerned he was okay for 36 weeker—no one looked right away! But we all looked, he was indeed a boy.  He latched on like a champ and I was so happy that it didn’t hurt like Jack’s first latch did. He nursed both sides then fell asleep. The nursing also helped my uterus to contract better and it started to “unbog”.

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We had a glorious two and half hours of truly uninterrupted skin-to-skin bonding time. They check our vitals quietly in the bed when needed, but no one really disturbed us. It was truly magically.

IMG_6303This is when my midwife suggested I go to the bathroom. So I handed Bear to Michael, and he smiled ear to ear to hold his second son. My midwife helped me to the bathroom. I walked pretty well on my own, much easier than after my epidural with Jack. However, unlike Jack’s birth, I was not numb down there this time. Sitting on the toilet hurt, everything was so swollen I couldn’t pee, and even the water from the peri bottle hurt.

Then I went back to the bed and my midwife did the newborn procedures. Checked him over, tested his oxygen levels and weighed him. I expected to hear 6 lbs or under, considering he was technically a preemie. But nope! He was 7 lbs 9 oz, only a pound smaller than Jack! My midwife concluded my due date had to be off, he was absolutely not a 36 weeker. She thinks he is closer to a 38.5 weeker.

IMG_6305Then my midwife handed us off to the postpartum midwife. The birthing center includes food delivery service, so we ordered from my favorite restaurant, Veggie Grill. One of the biggest acid reflux and nausea triggers this pregnancy was leafy greens. Do you know how much that sucks for a vegan? So when my Crispy Chickin’ Plate came, I dove into my steamed kale. It was amazing to eat without pain. I devoured everything and had no regrets. Best postpartum meal ever.

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He was so excited mommy had milkies again!
My parents and Jack came that evening. Jack looked at his little brother, but kinda didn’t care. He just wanted me. It had been a rough week without me and he needed me. I let him nurse while my parents held Bear. He was very happy to discover there was milk once again. He was upset to leave, he begged to stay the night with us. I hugged him, then told him tomorrow we will be home and all be a family.

Best sitz bath ever.
Best sitz bath ever.
We rested some more, had a very yummy ThaI food for dinner, and Bear had his first cluster feeding (followed by his first milk coma).  I had a very lovely herbal sitz bath that took down a lot of the swelling almost instantly.

Just sleeping like a baby while my uterus is trying to kill me.
Just sleeping like a baby while my uterus is trying to kill me.
I tried to take a big nap while Michael held Bear, but my uterus had other plans. I had started to have contractions so intense that I had to breath through them. The midwife gave me Motrin, Tylenol and Cramp Bark to ease the pain. I don’t recall any uterine pain like this after Jack was born. The midwife said your uterus has to work harder to go back to normal after each baby, so the pain tends to be worse. And of course Bear kept waking up to to nurse, making the my uterus contract more. I eventually got a couple hours of sleep towards the morning.

IMG_6316In the morning the midwife made us a very yummy breakfast, then I took the best shower of my life. I just stood under the hot water and let all the stress from this pregnancy just wash away. Then we asked about being discharged. I could have stayed a second night, but I was ready to go home to Jack. We were both healthy and doing great, no reason to stay. My normal midwife came to check on us and agreed we could go home. After some final checks and procedures,  I got to wrap Bear up to take him to the car. I had been dreaming of wearing my rainbow baby in the rainbow wrap I helped design for months. I teared up once I got him in. I will never forget that moment of relief for my heart.

Bear’s birth was as close to perfect as it could have been. I was respected, pampered, and truly cared for. No one argued me and no one did things without my consent. Because of this I never felt stressed or worried—no crying at 2 AM from exhaustion this time. This is what birth should always be, regardless of where you deliver.

Hyperemesis and Preterm Labor

This stubborn little child. He had his own agenda from the day he was conceived. I dreamed a pretty easy pregnancy like with Jack. Some nausea, acid reflux, and low blood pressure issues again. But nothing too crazy. I also wanted a very active pregnancy this time. I wanted to hike everyday with Jack and get my body as strong as possible. I envisioned going into labor on a trail somewhere….

…but nope. It started with bad hyperemesis right away. Followed by a stomach bug. Then migraines. Then worse hyperemesis. Then a UTI. Then even worse hyperemesis. Then vaginosis. Then the irritable uterus started up. Even worse hyperemesis. Horrible allergic reaction. Pulled a groin muscle and couldn’t walk. And then the throwing up acid at night from the worst acid reflux in my life.

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35 weeks
By the time I went to my 35 week midwife appointment, my body was exhausted. I was happy to have made it so far with a very healthy baby—my rainbow baby.  My midwife asked how I was doing, I answered “I am coughing up acid at night, I’m having a TON of Braxton-Hicks, I can’t eat much food because everything is so squished, I feel faint because I can’t eat or drink enough, and I can’t sleep at night. But overall, good.” She nodded, she knew I was exhausted. Then she said the good news—she did not believe I would go to my due date and I just had to deal with a few more weeks. This was Monday. After that Saturday, I would be 36 weeks, the legal gestational age to give birth in a birthing center in Oregon. I went home and planned on just sitting around relaxing until my appointment next week.

That Thursday, Jack had a playdate at a nearby park. Towards the end I got really tired. So we said goodbye a few minutes early and left. A few minutes later, it happened…

The worst thing that happened my whole pregnancy so far. I puked ALL over my car. Projectile vomited without warning when I stopped at a stop sign. And continued for 30 seconds. I couldn’t open the door or window, it just kept coming. When I finally stopped, a car had pulled up behind me so I had to go. Jack started laughing hysterically, “Mommy threw up! Mommy you are so silly!” I started crying and called my mom over the car speaker. I told her I was pulling up right now and I needed her help. I puked all over my car.

She sent me inside and told me to get cleaned up. She put Jack inside and cleaned my car.  I showered and laid down in bed. I kept throwing up every 30 minutes or so. I couldn’t keep anything down. A few hours later, I called my midwife. She told me to come up to be rehydrated. Michael picked me up and my mom watched Jack.

I threw up again when we got there. I was so dehydrated they once again couldn’t get a vein on me. The midwives are trained medical professionals, they knew what to do. But I am a hard stick even hydrated. So they started a rectal IV. But it started to kick up my Braxton-Hicks into real contractions so they quickly stopped it. I threw up several more times and was started to get very upset.

At the birth center, starting to get very worried.
At the birth center, starting to get very worried.
My midwife talked with the other midwives, and they decided it was time to transfer me to a hospital. I was still 35 weeks so I could not give birth there if it was the real deal. And if it was just dehydration, I needed IV fluids quickly to stop preterm labor. I was scared, but I understood.

A little while later I was in a wheelchair in Labor and Delivery at OHSU. As they took me to triage, I looked into all the delivery rooms and started to panic a little. This was not what I wanted. Why are you doing this to us, Bear? We could be at a wonderful birthing center of you could just wait a week or so!

Then I threw-up again and I knew this where we needed to be. My body needed helped. The nurse saw all needle pokes on my arms from the birth center and knew right away she needed to get the most experienced nurse possible. She brought in a 20+ year NICU/OB nurse who can get veins on 1 lbs premature babies. It still took her 3 tries. I really am that hard of a stick.

Stay in!!
Stay in!!
I was so happy once I could feel the fluid in my veins. They quickly gave me a Zofran shot and a Reglan shot for nausea. Then the OB came in. She checked my cervix , I was 3 cm. I was 1 at the birthing center three hours ago so this worried me. She also did a quick ultrasound, she said baby looked great, but was totally head down and engaged. She said they would not stop my labor if I continued to progress, but she hoped it would stop on its own once in hydrated. For that reason, the doctor suggested a Betamethasone shot. It is a steroid that helps develop baby’s lungs quickly. She explained all her reasons and the possible side effects, which I greatly appreciated. I felt very very respected and greatly appreciated her taking the time to inform me. As a result, I was not upset when they admitted me for the night for monitoring and continued fluids.

I threw up a few more times, so they gave me more medicine. Also, she added some acid reflux medicine because all that puking was triggering a major reflux attack. And this whole time I was having consistent, steady contractions. But they didn’t hurt, felt slightly stronger than the Braxton-Hicks/cramps I’ve had since 20 weeks. Then they gave me some medicine to help me sleep and I was out! Like didn’t even notice the nurse coming in a few hours later to change my IV bag and take my vitals kind of out.

IMG_6274The doctor woke me up at 6 AM before her shift ended to check me again. I hoped it was all good and I could leave in a few hours…but nope. My stubborn, stubborn child had other plans. I lost a huge chunk of my mucus plug overnight. And I dilated another centimeter and thinned out a tiny bit more. So I needed to stay for at least a few more hours and probably the night again. Good news was the doctor decided this was probably not a stomach virus or true labor. It was probably just my hyperemesis causing dehydration contractions (if you can call that good news). Actual good news was I hadn’t thrown up for several hours and I wanted breakfast! And I eat my entire breakfast and kept it down! Same with my lunch and dinner. I had horrible acid reflux and it took several medications to keep the acid from creeping up though. But I will take that over projectile vomiting any day.

A new OB checked me shortly before dinner and had more good news. I had not progressed, and my contractions had slowed and spaced out. They took me off the monitor and gave me instructions to let them know immediately if my contractions got worse. And they stopped my IV and told me to drink all that I could to stay hydrated. But, they wanted to keep me one more night just to be safe and give me the second dose of steroid shot for his lungs. My body was still exhausted so I didn’t argue. Everyone had treated me with such respect and honesty that I would not be upset if I had to deliver there. A much different hospital experience than with Jack.

Happy to be released!
Happy to be released!
They gave me more medicine to sleep and I was knocked out again. In the morning I got the best news, no more progression or change in contractions, so I was going home! She said I was really not likely to make it to my due date, but I would be more comfortable waiting for labor at home if I am not actively progressing. It was Saturday now, I was 36 weeks. So I asked if I could still deliver at my birth center birth like I planned. Without hesitation she said yes! As long as I listen to my midwife and no other complications arise, there was no reason why I couldn’t. I was so happy!

They released me quickly and we stopped for lunch on the way home (which I ate and kept down!). Jack was so happy to see us. He jumped on my lap and snuggled with me on the couch watching TV for a long time. This whole pregnancy was hard on him, too.

I planned on laying around for the next week or so, giving Bear a bit more time to cook. But he had other plans. Check out my next post for his birth story.

Jack’s Birth Story: What To Do When Your Birth Plan Doesn’t Work Out

I was going to do update last week about how my maternity leave is going but…I had my baby!

At 39 weeks and 4 days along, bright and early in the morning, Jack made his entrance into this world. My labor and delivery did not go as I had planned, but it ended up all working out. All that matters is Jack and I are both safe and healthy. AND that my wishes were respected all along. Birth trauma is a real, serious issue. If you feel you were disrespected or even harmed during your birth, speak out and get help! Some links are listed below. I am referring to when thinks don’t go according to plan due to natural circumstances.

I had made a birth plan on babycenter.com and was pretty intent on sticking to it. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. I wanted to try for an unmedicated, natural birth. I wanted to be free to move about and labor in any position I wanted if possible. I wanted to be able to push in any position possible too. I only wanted an episiotomy if I was not tearing cleanly. I wanted only Michael present in the delivery room and for him to cut the cord. I also wanted to breastfeed as soon as possible.
Out of that list, only the last two sentence came true.
That Monday I had been a little extra crampy. My mom said that was a good thing and her labors started that way. Random braxton-hicks would start up, then die out. Overall I knew my body was getting ready for labor but I didn’t think too much of it. I was looking for the timable contractions.
That night I was up administering Spring recruitment for my sorority online until about 11 PM. I had to sit up on the couch because my cramps bothered me more laying down. I thought about walking around the house to get them to turn into contractions, but was too exhausted. I went to bed. Oddly enough, Michael was exhausted that day too. He came home from work and took a 3 hour nap randomly. My mom joked he subconsciously knew he would be up soon to take me to the hospital.
I woke up around 1:30 AM because my cramps were suddenly horrible. Then I felt something wet, I assumed I peed a little. So I went to the bathroom and the minute I sat on the toilet a small gush of clear liquid came out. I put on a new pad and decided if I soaked the pad again quickly, it was for sure my water. I woke up Michael and as I was telling him I noticed I had already soaked the pad. So he jumped out of bed and I woke my mom to tell her we were off to the hospital. I went to the car and I started having contractions as soon as I sat down. Four minutes apart and lasting 1 minutes instantly. I slowly leaked amniotic fluid with each one too. I am so glad I grabbed a towel to sit on so I didn’t ruin my car.

We got the hospital in only 15 minutes. There is no traffic in the Bay Area at 2 AM luckily. If it had been rush hour, it could have taken an hour. Also luckily, there was no one else going into labor when I got there so I was taken back to be checked quickly.

The triage nurse had me do the standard pee in a cup, take your vitals, and get hooked up to the monitor. All while my pain is getting more and more intense, and I am leaking more and more fluid. The nurse did a swab to confirm water broke and then got the doctor. The doctor checked my cervix, I was at 2 cm. Then they told me I would be admitted shortly.

Here is where my birth plan went totally out the window. I was already in a lot of pain and knew there was no way this was going to take long. And I was still exhausted as I only had 2 hours of sleep. I also started to throw up a bit too. So when the nurse asked if I wanted to go ahead with the epidural paperwork, I instantly said yes. It took an hour get my admitting paperwork, the epidural paperwork (both of which Michael signed because I was already kind of out of it from the pain), and draw my blood. In the mean time, they gave me shot of pain medicine and Zofran for the nausea in my IV. I was very grateful to say the least.

The only labor picture I let Michael take.

The doctor came back to check me and I was now 4 cm. She quickly got me to a room since I progressed so fast. My bloodwork was still not processed yet so I still couldn’t have my epidural. I was crying for it at this point, and I mean seriously crying. I asked for another pain medicine shot since the first was wearing off, but they were having a hard time picking up Jack on the monitor. I couldn’t have another until they could track him better. They wanted me to lay on my back to pick him up better, but that was SO uncomfortable I couldn’t do it. I wanted to sit up or stand, but they said I couldn’t because of the medicine. Finally they got a good read on him and gave me another shot.

The doctors checked on me again about an hour later and I was at 6 cm already. The nurse kept refreshing her screen for my lab results so I could have my epidural. I was seriously pleading for it at this point. I am not a wimp when it comes to pain at all, but this was something different. It was happening so fast and was so intense.

Another hour went by and I suddenly felt the urge to push. The doctor came in to check me, I was at 9 cm with just a slight lip left. She let me try pushing, but it was not working. I wanted to push on my side, but the doctor said that I needed to be on my back because of the way he was positioned. But it did not help. I was too tired. I did not have the energy. I asked if I could still have the epidural and the doctor said yes. I was elated, I needed to relax and calm down before I could push effectively.

I laid back down and dealt with the contractions for like an 30 minutes. Then suddenly the nurses sat me up and said the anesthesiologist was coming right then. He was squeezing me in quickly. He did everything quickly and efficiently. He gave me only a half dose so I would still feel the pressure to push. The doctor then gave me 10 minutes for everything to kick in and for me to relax. It was a huge relief. I calmed down and actually wanted to push.

I did not get pushing right away. I was pushing into my legs. The nurses kept telling me I need to push into my butt, “Like you need to take the biggest poop of your life!” one kept saying. His head was 1/3 of the way out for the longest time. Then finally—over an hour later— I got the pushing thing right and he started coming out faster.

At this point is when I looked over at Michael. I noticed he was getting a little pale. He doesn’t do that well with blood. He had been holding my leg and encouraging me the whole time though. He was exhausted too and I think it all got to him. The nurses told him to sit down for a minute to recover.

And suddenly, they said Jack was coming out. The doctor told me to keep pushing continuously and Michael to come back over quickly. Then Jack popped out! Just like that. They cleaned his nose and mouth, then put him on my chest. I started crying, I couldn’t believe it.

I can’t even explain the joy I felt.

He was prefect. He looked just like Michael, just in like the ultrasounds. I loved him instantly.

They started a line of Pitocin (which was not on my birth plan either actually) and delivered my placenta. I tore cleanly and naturally, but the doctor did a small episiotomy to give Jack some more room. So she had to stitched me up down there, but I didn’t even notice. I was just mesmerized by Jack.

Then they sat me up a little so I could breastfeed. Jack was rooting and sucking his fist as soon they had put him on my chest so he had very little trouble latching on. Not gonna lie though, it hurt like hell and he did bruise my nipple. But I didn’t mind, I was happy to have that bonding experience.

So, am I upset that Jack came into this world totally not like I planned? No. Not at all.

It would have been nice to have followed my plan, but all I cared about was having a healthy baby. It happened so fast, I was so tired, and I was in so much pain that my plan was not practical. I am glad I made a plan though. I educated myself on giving birth and knew the options open to me. I also knew the possible procedures that could be done so I was not freaked out when they did something new (like the Pitocin).

My advice for any expecting mom is to have a birth plan so you can be your own advocate, but in the end do what your body tells you. My body said it was too tired to handle such an intense and rapid experience on its own. Don’t be upset if your birth reality doesn’t match your birth plan. Just focus on what needs to be done to have a healthy baby.

I will do a post about my postpartum recovery soon. But right now I want to go snuggle my son 🙂

Informed Birth and Birth Trauma Information: