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.

Why A Birth Center and Midwife

I want to be clear first: I think modern medicine and hospitals are awesome. Seriously, they have been my good friend this pregnancy. Rehydrated me 6 times now due to hyperemesis. My son bashed his chin open a few weeks ago and the wonderful local children’s hospital glued him back together. I had repeated tonsillitis and ear infections (so bad it was damaging my immune system) in college, my amazing ENT took out my tonsils and my hospital took great care of me afterwards. Seriously, wonderful and totally awesome when you need that kind of treatment. But I don’t view a pregnancy with no major complications as a something that needs that kind of treatment.

 

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Jack was a few hours old, both of us doing good.

Jack’s birth was good. Nothing horrible happened and we were both given reasonable care. It was very standard Medical Model of Care. They followed protocol and did all they could to ensure we both were healthy and alive. I gave birth in a very busy county hospital, so some resources took longer to get. But when they did come, they tried hard to give us good care with the limited time they had. Overall, I say it was just good.

However, now that I am more educated on birth, I want better than good. I want my requests respected (within reason). I want the Midwife Model of Care this time. In a nutshell, the Midwife Model of Care believes that birth is a natural process that your body already knows how to do on its own. You just need a little guidance and enough time to relax to do it. There is still medical care offered—a midwife doesn’t just leave you alone for 40 weeks and only show up if you have a problem in labor. Standard procedures like blood tests, ultrasounds, and exams are offered. The key difference is you build a closer relationship with your midwife, so you feel comfort and trust her during the birth process.

That last part was what drew me to midwife the most. My OB with Jack was not the person who delivered him. I adored her and wish she had delivered him, but that’s not how my clinic worked. The on-call OB at the hospital at the time delivered Jack. I had no idea anything about her, only her name and that she was a doctor. I didn’t know her stance on natural childbirth practices, c-section rate, or anything else. And I had no choice but to just trust this random woman when I was the most vulnerable. It was worked out okay, but it’s not something I want to do again. There are a few things I want to avoid now that I know better.

First of all, when I got to the hospital, they did not believe me that my water actually broke. The triage nurse looked at me like I was lying…despite the fact that I was carrying a SOAKED towel between my legs. She left me standing next to the bed leaking and gave me no instructions. I had a contraction, so I leaned over the bed and set my towel on the tray. She came back in and freaked out! Threw the towel at my husband and said NO NO NO! She immediately got cleaning supplies and sanitized everything again…leaving me hunched over wanting to cry from the contraction and still no instructions. Then she left again. I just grabbed the gown on the bed, got undressed, and laid down. She came back in and asked if I was having contractions. I looked at her crazy and said yes. I told her they were 2 minutes apart and 90 seconds long. She kinda rolled her eyes. She hooked me up and looked very surprised to see I was right. Then she asked for a urine sample. I told her I did not have to pee and really needed to lay down because my contractions were coming faster. She said I had to, they needed a urine sample to admit me. So Michael helped me hobble to the bathroom. I tried, but only got a big gush of fluid. I came out and told the nurse I couldn’t. She took the cup and said fine, she will check to see if it’s actually amniotic fluid. Then she announced it indeed amniotic fluid and without saying anything else really, she checked me. I was 2 cm. I was kinda bothered that she didn’t ask first, but it got me away from her faster so I didn’t argue. She left without saying anything again and came back close to an hour later. At this point, I was starting to transition. I couldn’t talk during my contractions and was started to shake. While Michael was asking if I wanted him to sign the epidural form just in case, I started to vomit. The nurse once again couldn’t believe it so she checked me again, I was close to 5 cm. They quickly took me to my room and I was so happy to be away from that nurse. Looking back, I can understand her attitude. She had to follow the Medical Model of Care and I was not following the procedure she was set to do. I didn’t come in as a women not sure if she was in labor who had the time wait as she checked all the boxes. That being said, she did have poor bedside manner.

In my room, I was progressing so fast and was exhausted. I knew I needed an epidural to relax. They needed my blood work results before the anesthesiologist could come. One nurse really fought for me. She put a STAT order on my blood work and refreshed the screen every 5 minutes to check. Then once the results came, she called the anesthesiologist immediately. She held me while the needle went in and stroked my hair when I had contraction at the same time. So, I know nurses can be very amazing and really help you when you need it.

 

Would you keep telling this face they need to flip on their back?
Would you keep telling this face they need to flip on their back?

However, there were some other issues. She and another nurse kept insisting that I had lay on my back for continuous monitoring. I physically couldn’t. That made contractions unbearable. Plus, I knew on your back is the worst position possible for labor progression. And continuous monitoring is unnecessary if there are no complications. I did go onto my back for a bit every hour or so to check if Jack was still okay, but flipped back on my side once they said it was good. I finally asked if there a major reason why and they said no, just protocol. Then they backed off. Once again, they didn’t do anything bad really. They had a system to follow, but my body’s needs didn’t fit into it.

 

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Taken the day I posted this. The red mark is permanent. It should have been our consent to give it to him.

I pushed for 1.5 hours and Jack was stuck with his 1 head inch out. The doctor stuck an external probe on Jack’s head to check his vitals since he had been in there so long. No one said anything to Michael and I, just told me to stop pushing for a second. At the time I didn’t really realize what she was doing. He was fine so she told me to push again. In general, I have no objection to having this done. He was stuck for awhile and it was important that she made sure he wasn’t in distress. But, it left a scar on Jack’s forehead. If anyone was going to make the choice to permanently mark our child, it should have been ours. I would have totally understood if they said “I’m going to stick this on his head to check his vitals, okay?” It was not an emergency situation, no one was rushing, they did have time to ask. I resent the lack of communication and consent, not the actual procedure.

 

About this time is when I saw what the IV bag said...
About this time is when I saw what the IV bag said…

After Jack finally came out, they plopped him on my chest and encouraged me to nurse him. I vaguely remember them saying my placenta came out intact and no excessive bleeding. I thought yeah yeah, I’m trying to feed my child. Then I looked up at my IV and saw the bag said Pitocin. I really wanted to get mad. I said out loud and in my birth plan that I did not want Pitocin unless it was truly necessary. They started a bag to get my placenta out quickly and never mentioned it to me. They gave me a medication I did not consent to. If they said something like, “We would like to start Pitocin right now to get your placenta out quickly because we need to make sure you are okay before the doctor has to leave for the next delivery”, I would have totally understood and said okay. I know this is standard Medical Model of Care, but I resent not being informed of what was happening to my own body.

I was one EXHAUSTED and stressed mama, don't let the smile fool you.
I was one EXHAUSTED and stressed mama, don’t let the smile fool you.

I also hated my hospital stay. The nurses were all super busy because the ward was full. Many of my questions and requests barely got answered. Also, being woken up to be checked every few hours stressed me out beyond all belief. I was exhausted and the hospital was not restful. The second night there, Michael went to sleep in the car because he was so exhausted and had to drive us home the next day. I was alone in the room with screaming Jack and so exhausted I couldn’t even think straight. I burst into tears and was shaking. The nurse came in and said I just needed to sleep. I explained that I can’t because he won’t calm down, and you are going to come back in shortly to check us. She just shrugged and left. I know there was nothing she could do, that was not her role and she was just following the Medical Model of Care once again. But it was stressful and hard for me in that moment. It made me feel like I was already a horrible mother.

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This time around, I know what I want in my birth experience. And unless there is an emergency, I don’t want the Medical Model of Care. There are women who truly need this type of care all along (my friend who has Sickle-Cell Anemia and fought infections most of her pregnancy definitely did). So, it is wonderful this type of care exists. However, I want something different this time. I want a connection with the person I am trusting to touch me when I am the most vulnerable and help bring my child into the world. I want her to know right off the top of her head that I do not want Pitocin. I want to labor on my side without question and not have to argue for occasional monitoring. And I want to recover in a relaxed, comfortable setting with my husband and newborn. I want my provider to believe me when I say something is happening. With the Midwife Model of Care at a birthing center, I get all this. They are not crazy things to ask for at all. I want to be respected, informed, and comfortable. All medical patients deserve this, especially women who just giving birth.

I really suggest you check out Birth Without Fear. It really changed my views on birth and helped me process some of the issues I had with Jack’s birth.

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: