Monday, August 25, 2014

Birth Stories Part 3 - Lala 2013

My 3rd (full term) pregnancy was the only one that came as a surprise. Conception did not come so easily with my first two children and I assumed that I would face the same trials and waiting game all over again. Not so much. My due date was almost exactly two years since my last birth.

Everything had gone so well at my last birth that I didn’t really do much to prepare for this birth, I thought, I have a respectful doctor, a hospital staff who respected my birth plan. I had had a successful natural birth in a hospital, and I planned to do it again.

I did finally figure out what a doula was and my husband and I interviewed one. I told my husband that honestly, what I really wanted was a postpartum doula, someone who comes to your house after you have the baby and helps take care of the older children, helps with the new baby and does household chores, like laundry, dishes and making meals. You know, like how it was forever ago when a woman would have a baby and all the neighboring woman would come and help her out and then she does the same for them when they have their babies. Expect now we have to pay someone do to that.

The doula we interviewed was not a postpartum doula, just a regular doula. Meaning her job is birth education and labor and delivery support. Support being the key word. A doula will not deliver your baby. She will simply support you in any way you need while your care provider delivers your baby. My husband and thought it over and decided two things 1) we had a natural birth at the hospital once, we can do it again and 2) what I really wanted was a cleaning lady.

The cost of hiring someone to clean your house for approximately 6 months is about the same as a doula fee. So we decided this was a better investment. I loved coming home to a clean house after leaving the hospital and having a clean house for the months that followed, but if I could make that choice again, I would have undoubtedly chose the doula.

The Birth
On a Saturday morning, 4 days post due date,  I woke up with labor pains. I told my husband, today is the day. We are having a baby today! Then I took a nap. And another nap. Then by the end of the day, the pains had subsided quite a bit. I was so disappointed, but went to bed thinking I would wake up in the middle of the night and things would get going. I slept all night and woke in the morning with labor pains still mild and far apart. "Screw it!" I thought, "let’s take the kids to Bay Beach (a local amusement park) and let them have some fun. Plus the walking around will help things along."

My husband gave me a funny look, "You’ve been in labor for a day and now you want to go to Bay Beach?" That's what we did and the kids had a blast. It was our last adventure as a family of four. Waiting in line for the train ride, a family ahead of us was also waiting. The grandfather noticed my giant belly, “When are you due?”
I laughed, “You mean, When was I due? Five days ago!”
The family laughed and smiled at me. “And you’re here! Riding the train?!”
“Sure am. I’m hoping all this walking will move things along.”
“Good luck to you!” they said. I felt a little bit of awe and respect from these strangers.

Bay Beach is a place special to my heart because I have been going there since I was a baby and now I take my children there. Now it also holds a special place for another reason. Just as I have the memory of laboring at the nature center for my 2nd birth, now I have another beautiful memory of walking around, helping my boys on and off kiddie rides, an ice cream treat, and laboring on a wonderful summer day.

It is about a forty minute ride home from the park and during the drive I finally started contracting more regularly. We called the grandparents and told them to meet us at home. We got home, called the doctor and headed to the hospital.

When we got there it was after 5pm on a Sunday night. We used the main entrance and there was no one at the front desk, so we just went to the elevator and went to the labor and delivery floor. I told them we here to have our baby. “Are you checked in?”
“Umm I’m here to check in” I said confused. They gave me a room and the nurse called down to the ER desk and told me that I was supposed to have checked in at the ER because I arrived after hours. She put me on the phone with the lady at the ER desk. She asked me for all of my information and in-between contractions I answered her. Then she told me that I really should have come to the ER first and I could tell that this had really upset her. Maybe I created extra work for her? Then she says, “Next time make sure you do it correctly and come to the ER first!”

“Okay, well, we don’t plan to have anymore children, so don’t worry!” I laughed at how ridiculous she sounded, as if I come to the hospital every week to birth a child. 

I was around 6 centimeters dilated upon admission and still contracting regularly, but they weren't very strong. So my doctor and I discussed breaking my water. I was a little apprehensive about any interventions. I asked the doctor, what if you break my water and things don't progress, am I on the clock now? He said, "I would be very surprised if you went 24 hours without having this baby with or without me breaking your water." I agreed. I knew birth was coming and this would help it along, so I had him break my water. Three hours later my baby was born.

I think that part of the reason my birth went so well with baby #2 is because of my nurse. She read my birth plan and respected my wish for checking baby’s heartbeat with a  handheld Doppler rather than continuous fetal monitoring. She did a vaginal exam when I was admitted and did not ask to do another one the entire labor. That was on my birth plan, that vaginal checks should be at a minimum. When you have and epidural it is not such a big deal, my first birth I can’t even count how many times I was checked and I didn’t feel anything, so I didn’t really care. If you are unmediated however, a hand up your vagina in active labor is excruciating. There is really no need to know how many centimeters you are yet people can become obsessed with how many centimeters you are. It doesn't really matter as long as birth is obviously progressing and imminent.

However my nurse for this birth was not as respectful. She would put on a glove and stand near my bed and tell me, okay, I’m going to check you now. Not ask, just tell me. Over and over again. Finally I had to forcefully yell, “No, you can’t check me!” Thankfully my doctor was present and told her that she didn't need to check me. I was in very active labor at this point, but I could sense that she was pissed about this. It is not good for a woman about to give birth to have the person helping her pissed off. No woman should be surrounded by animosity at this time in her life.

When I was pushing, the baby’s heart rate dropped, prompting my nurse to strap a fetal heart rate monitor across my stomach. I screamed out in pain, not because of contractions, but because that thing put pressure on my stomach and made the contractions worse. I ripped it off and yelled something along the lines of, “Get this thing the hell off of me!”

Next, the nurse put on an oxygen mask over my face. This was much less intrusive and I did not protest. Shortly after the mask, the baby was born. “Is it really a girl?” I said. Even though we had an ultrasound revealing the sex, having two boys already, I needed to see for myself that it was true. We had a daughter.

There was a knot in her umbilical cord. A knot! I couldn’t believe it. My doctor placed the baby on my stomach and my nurse covered us with a blanket. My doctor informed me that the reason her heart rate was dropping was probably because the knot was being compressed as she passed through the birth canal. As soon as she was born, the compression was not an issue anymore and the cord pulsed as usual. I wonder what would have transpired had a different doctor been attending her birth.

I did not tear at all this birth. I again felt awesome after the birth. A day or two after we came home, I was outside hanging up laundry to dry and my neighbor said "Hi, I heard you had the baby. How are you guys doing?" Then she answered her own question. "Well I’m guessing you're doing pretty well since you are outside hanging out wash!" I thought about my first birth and how I had a hard time walking up and down stairs and sitting hurt for weeks. This is such a better way, I thought.

I do wish I would have hired that doula though. She could have taken the brunt of the hostility from the ER desk and dealt with my nurse. The nurse for my 2nd birth was patient and respectful and followed my birth plan to a tee and I didn’t need a doula when I had that nurse. The problem is, there is no way to know who will be your nurse ahead of time. I found that out the hard way.

My three greatest accomplishments in life, together at home for the first time.

This Crazy Birth Thing
So that’s it. We are all done having babies. Maybe that means now I shouldn’t care anymore about birth. But even though it is hard to imagine right now, I’d like to be a grandmother someday. I don’t want my daughter or my daughter in laws to have to fight for a natural birth. A right every woman should have is to be able to birth her child in a supportive, loving environment. Never one of judgment, manipulation, or hostility. For instance, no matter how much of a inconvenience it is, no hospital staff should ever belittle a laboring woman because she didn’t come in the right door! 

It belittles the whole process of birth, that women are not cherished at every stage of labor. It belittles all of humanity that we don’t respect the very essence of what keeps our humanity going. So yeah, I am pretty passionate about this crazy birth thing. It is an amazing experience, even for the most ordinary birth.

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Thank you for sharing!

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