Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Henry, inside out

I know, I know... you've been sitting at your computer just waiting for the rest of the story of Henry's birth, right? When I left you I had just started - after what seemed like months of receiving pitocen - a good pattern of contractions that put me in active labor. And now, as Paul Harvey would say, here's the rest of the story. A lot happened pretty quickly (from the end of this sentence to holding Henry was 3 hours and 15 minutes), so I'm not sure I have all the details exactly right.

First, I forgot to tell you that I had asked the nurse if breaking my water would prevent the necessity of labor inducing meds. She told me that the baby had moved back up the birth canal and was so high that breaking the water would make contractions more painful and less productive. So, no...

Okay, so I'm in a hospital bed, on my side still, in full back labor. And that hurts. Jim and I discovered that if he pushed his balled up hands against my lower back on either side of my spine through the contraction, I found relief. After about an hour and a half of this, the attending doctor checked dilation. I came in at a 4 and after an hour and half, I was still at a four.

"Sarah," I said, "I think I want to just talk to someone about an epidural."

Ninety minutes and not even a centimeter of progress? After a pretty sleepless night? And how long is this going to take? Can I do hours and hours of labor like this? I wasn't sure and wanted to discuss options and float the idea.

Except I wasn't a candidate for an epidural with no progress. And for the second time in 24 hours, I nearly cried. Nurse Sarah called my doctor to go over the situation. My doctor called my room. "Honey, I know you're having a hard time," she said. And then suggested a medicine called stadol. If I could go an hour on that we'd reassess. Between contractions we reviewed the merits of it. With Willa, I took stadol and felt absolutely no relief. But, it seemed this was the only option for a gal stuck lying on her side, in a heap of pain, and not progressing.

Just a few minutes after the stadol was added to my IV, I was more relaxed. Stadol didn't dull any pain for me. It dulled how much I seemed to care about it. I also stopped worrying that we'd have to replace the hospital's bed if I had broken it while using my kung fu-woman-in-labor grip on the side rails.

We continued.

After a while, I asked again about breaking my water. The nurse said she'd talk to my doctor about it now that I had a good amount of active labor and no progress. I whimpered a little through my next contraction. I heard Nurse Sarah tell Jim, "I think she can do this soon, and without an epidural."

That, more than any medicine prepared me for the last part. I started saying "I can do this" with every contraction. Jim said it with me. At some point, my mom joined us in the room, and I think she was saying it too.

Someone checked my dilation, and I had progressed a lot in a short amount of time. It was time to call the doctor who was at home cleaning up her son's birthday party. It was, in fact past time.

And she took forever to get there. We couldn't break the water bag until she got there because it would go fast after that. At that point any loyalty I had to Dr. B was gone. I was thinking break the water and Jim can catch the baby. Still, we waited.

There was construction, and roads closed because of the city's big marathon, but she got there. The water bag was tough and took a few tries to break (this involves catching a tool that looks a lot like a crochet hook on the membrane that holds the amniotic fluid). Dr. B said it was so tough it was likely keeping the baby from descending into the narrow birth canal. There was a gush.

A few contractions later I felt the distinct urge to - I'm sorry there's no delicate way to put this - poop. And even though I knew what this meant in the delivery process, I remember being concerned that the medical staff - there were a lot of nurses and my doctor and a few in training it seemed, and they were all casually chatting as though they were having coffee - would not let me get up to visit the bathroom.

I told the nurse that I would like to watch the delivery in a mirror. I had done this with Willa, and it empowered me to get through 3 hours of pushing. She called for a mirror.

And then I started pushing. No one told me too, I wasn't trying to, my body took over. I said out loud, "I don't know if I should stop, but I can't stop pushing." And it felt sooo good.

There was no time to break the bed apart for the birth. There was no time for stirrups. I am pretty sure I had enough time to roll from my side to my back.

I asked about the mirror again, and Dr. B asked if I wanted to reach down to touch my baby's head. I was astounded I (mostly because the last 6 paragraphs all happened in about 4 minutes). I started to reach down, but before I could get there, I had another contraction that my body pushed through. And a newborn baby - sticky, white, slimy and wailing - was placed on my chest.

And at this point, I did cry. Joy, relief, and feeling like the most powerful and lucky woman on the planet.

There was no epidural. There were stadol and bed rails. There were Jim's hands and words and comfort. There was knowing my mom was in the corner (this was not planned, she was there to offer labor comfort and things progressed so quickly it was a "are you in or out" scenario), quietly in awe and watching the birth of her grandson. There was the incredible nurse who gave me the confidence that I could do it.
In the following days, I was amazed at the strong partnership that Jim and I shared during this birth. He was right there, doing and saying and being everything I needed. I was amazed with my body and its ability to take over and do what came naturally. My blood pressure was back to normal.
Most importantly, I was amazed with the new little life that joined our family. Henry James, we're so glad you're here!


Keri said...

Maya Angelou's poem, "Phenomenal Woman" ran through my head as I was reading this. A phenomenal woman, you are indeed.

Mandy said...

Wow, Amy - what an amazing story! Congratulations again.

Kerri said...

Oh I got tears in my eyes! What a great story! I learned a lot. :)

I guess I'm confused though. Why, when you asked for an epidural, were you refused and put on stadol? Why wouldn't they comply with the patient's wishes in this case?

You are wonder woman for doing it w/o an epi though!

Anonymous said...

such a wonderful birth story. Congratulations, you did it. A beautiful baby-naturally. ~hgh

Maribeth said...

You have me crying. I love your closing paragraph.

You are a warrior woman. Congrats on making it through. What an amazing story you have to tell.

HLPM said...

Yep. Shedding tears over here, too! What are you doing Wednesday? Can you come be my cheerleader? Great story Amy!

Em said...

What a beautiful story.

Thanks for sharing.

Shana said...

Amy there are no words for your strength. Being just 10 weeks from giving birth you give hope and confidence that I too can have a wonderful, epidural free birth. That's my goal. After reading your story I'm even more determined to make it through. Thank you.