Prenatal Care and Birth at Best Start

Wednesday, June 4th 2008

I had been counting down the days for what seemed like forever now; I was 9 days overdue and had been having only very slight teaser contractions for about two weeks, maybe longer, but nothing consistent or serious. Matt kept asking me what my gut feeling on when I thought it would be, of course I hoped every contraction was the real thing but I had no idea at all. I had started taking Black Cohosh since my appointment at the birth center that Monday and I had my ‘membranes swept’ to try to get things moving; at that time I was between 1 and 2 cm dilated but not completely effaced. Just in case I still didn’t start labor by the following Monday, which would be 42 weeks, I had to make an appointment at my backup physician for a check up and to schedule an induction for the following week – which would mean that I would then have to throw my whole birth plan out the window since I would no longer be able to do an all natural birth at the birth center with the midwives. My appointment was the next day, Thursday June 5th at 8:15am.

Thursday, June 5th
I awoke at 6:15am with a pretty significant contraction and as I rolled over to get out of bed, I felt a gush of warm fluid, I thought might be my water breaking, but I wasn’t too sure since I knew that in actuality water breaking prior to delivery was pretty rare. I got up to pee and wash my face and as I was standing there I felt a few more little trickles, so I was more convinced at that time. I knew that if I wanted to keep things going I needed to keep moving so I called my mom and began pacing the living room and kitchen, trying not to wake Matt. I started cleaning and then took a shower, all the while timing contractions, which were for the first time consistently about 10-12 minutes apart. I still had that appointment but was slowly thinking (and hoping) I wasn’t going to need it after all. First mistake I made was not eating a big meal when the contractions were minor, I only had a donut and milk; I was still doubting that this was finally the real thing.

I called Roberta at Best Start and told her the situation, hoping she would say to just stay at home and come in when the contractions got closer and more intense but she said instead to keep the appointment and if things were really progressing and I was in labor then I could just come down there (the doctor’s office and birth center were close together). I had really wanted to labor at home as long as possible before heading to the birth center, but I knew that just in case this was not the real thing, or it stopped, it was important that I meet with Dr. Blake and get the induction scheduled. As Matt and I were on our way downtown, my contractions were about 5 – 7 minutes apart and I had a towel under my butt because with every couple contractions I would lose more fluid. Luckily Matt suggested I call the dr. office and let them know we were going to be late and they said that if you are more than 15 min late (we were) they won’t take you. I called the birth center and told them the update and I was told to just come in to the birth center since we were on our way and they would check me out there.

By the time we got to the birth center, the contractions were much more uncomfortable, I had to pause every time and I probably looked pretty funny walking in there, shuffling my feet, leaking amniotic fluid down my legs and pausing to lean against things during the contractions. There were two other women in the rooms downstairs so we got the big room with the Jacuzzi tub upstairs, which I was really hoping for since I planned on having him in the tub. Also, the main midwife and CEO of the birth center, Roberta, was working along with a super cool midwife in training, Adrienne, whom I had met at my last couple visits and I really wanted them to be the ones to deliver my baby so I was a happy camper, my timing, or I should say, his timing, turned out to be just right. As we walked in, the girls at the front desk saw me coming in and told me to go on up to the room and wait for Roberta to come up and check on me.

As we waited upstairs, I soaked through my undies, my skirt, the towel and the top cover of the bed I was sitting on. I started breathing through the contractions; they were getting more intense but still very tolerable with a little deep breathing, Matt helped by rubbing my back and reminding me to breath every time. Roberta came up and asked how I was doing and then Adrienne came up and examined me – I was 3 to 4 cm dilated, Dylan had a good steady heartbeat and we were told that maybe we should go and waste some time; Matt suggested we go and get lunch and go over to Balboa Park. I was not hungry at all, in fact I felt somewhat nauseous at the more serious contractions and I really just wanted to stay where I was comfy and there was a bathroom I could run to every few minutes, but I realized it could be hours and figured it was a good idea to do things to keep labor progressing (eating and walking) and to keep myself distracted and Matt preoccupied.

The first stop was Rite Aid where Matt ran in and bought me some adult diapers like the midwives suggested because I was like a faucet not quite turned off, and, leaking amniotic fluid had the same effect as putting your hand in warm water – I had to pee constantly! We then drove downtown to Subway and picked up some sandwiches – Matt ran in and I stayed in the car, hanging on to the car’s ceiling handle, and breathing through the contractions; driving back to Balboa Park was torture on the bumpy, construction-riddled streets of downtown San Diego. Once we got to the park, I already had to change my diaper; thank goodness I had worn a long skirt! Matt held onto me and we walked/shuffled over to one of the tables and sat down to eat and check out the super ballsy squirrels that practically came right up onto the table when they saw we had food – food I could not stomach, I tried to take a bite but instantly spit it out, I only was able to drink some of the root beer. I had to change again and we began walking around and stopped to ‘slow dance’ through the contractions. We stopped in the garden to sit for a spell and it felt nice sitting in the sun on this beautiful day and I took a moment to reflect on how lucky I felt to be in this place, in this town on such a beautiful day with the man that I love only hours before we finally meet the little one that has been kicking me for months now. When we finally made our way back to the car and I changed again, I was able to get down a couple pieces of fruit and we started to make our way back – Matt suggested we stop at the dog park but I’d had enough.

When we got back to the birth center, the large room upstairs was still open so we went up and waited to get checked out again. I think I was about 4 cm and 90% effaced; by that time I was in what is referred to as ‘labor land’ – I would doze off between contractions and was just dealing with each contraction as they came. I could hear everything going on around me but was not really participating, and thankfully I had Matt there to remind me to breath and Roberta and Adrienne to remind me to keep my lips and shoulders loose because I had a tendency to hold my breath or keep my face and shoulders all clenched up. The next few hours flew by for me and the contractions were coming closer and closer together, I had given up on timing them entirely and sometimes it felt like they would come back to back, all I wanted to do was sleep but the only position I could really tolerate was sitting on the edge of the bed, (standing was horrible and laying down was just as bad). Roberta suggested that I give laying down on my side a try again since the change of position might help speed things up, at that point I could have cared less what would speed things up, I was more concerned with being as comfy as possible – although that was seemingly more and more impossible to accomplish, even the so-called ‘break’ between contractions was simply a duller version of the contraction – but I was so exhausted, I decided to lie down after all, but before I did, Adrienne checked me and I was at 6 cm. I laid down on my side and started groaning through the contractions – I told myself I wouldn’t be extremely vocal but I was at the point where I didn’t care how I sounded, modesty is something you lose at some point during labor, it is such a basic animalistic process where you are just listening to your body and going with the flow and the flow was do what is comfortable, and if groaning and being vocal is what that took, fine with me. Time flew by and before I knew it I was having the pushing contractions, I told Adrienne that I felt like I had to poop and she told me that’s fine it meant he was descending down into the birth canal and it was okay to push. Matt went to get Roberta and Adrienne examined me one more time (these examinations were killing me – it is torture to lay back and stay still when these gnarly contractions are going on), I heard her say that I was 100% and ready to go! They got a move on getting the water going in the tub because it had only been about an hour or and hour and a half since I was 6 cm. As they got the tub ready, Adrienne told me to get on my hands and knees on the bed and I remembered from the birthing class to sway through the contractions, what felt so odd in the class made all the sense in the world now and it felt great. I was involuntarily pushing through the contractions, sort of half heartedly trying since I was afraid I would push him out right then and there – little did I know it takes a lot more than that! In just a few minutes the water was ready. Matt had changed into his trunks, and in between contractions, I got into the tub with the help of Roberta and Adrienne. When I lowered myself into the water, I felt like I was in heaven, the weightlessness, the warmth, Matt’s arms around me, it was awesome, I felt renewed and motivated to finish this.

This is when the real pushing began, this was different, and not what I had expected, I kind of was under the impression that once I got to this point, pushing just happened, just like the rest of the labor, I had underestimated my role in this part of the process – up to this point I had just coped as best I could but now it was up to me to get this baby out into the world. Having the midwives there to tell me how to push, how to bear down, was invaluable. The first two pushes, Roberta had me hold onto her hands and pull but then she got a mirror so we could see what was going on (I also think I might have almost pulled her into the tub) I started watching through each of the pushes and I could finally see his head start to show, twice I pushed as hard as I could and twice his head became visible, but then the contraction would end and they said it’s okay to let him go back (in the meantime, I’m thinking ‘no, it’s not!!’) I had to stop looking at the mirror because I got so discouraged when it felt like I was stretched to the max and yet only saw a tiny bit of progress, plus the water makes everything look distorted so it was hard to judge how much head was out each time. So I closed my eyes and just pushed with all my might through each contraction. There was a total of about four times that his head came close to coming out and I felt the intense burning before I had to let him go back and try again. After every contraction, Adrienne checked his heartbeat; he was totally calm and collected through the whole thing. I vaguely remember hearing Adrienne tell me when to slow down and not push and breathe again (they were easing out the shoulders) and then I heard Roberta say “hold out your hands” and I thought she meant for me to feel the baby’s head and I actually told her “no, I’m busy!” She said “no, take your baby” and I was like ‘????!” and looked down immediately and saw Dylan’s upper torso in the water! I reached under his arms and pulled him out, through the water and into the air. It seemed like slow motion as his perfect little face with big dark open eyes staring at us came out of the water, he was all clean and pink. I pulled him onto my chest and Matt and I embraced him as he lay there gurgling just a bit, working out the fluid, still serenely staring at us, seemingly unperturbed by the whole situation. It was 7:57 pm. The tub was drained, Matt cut the cord and they withdrew the cord blood to be banked before the placenta was delivered, which I hardly remember, understandable I suppose since I was preoccupied by the little wonder lying on my chest. We got out of the tub and made our way to the bed, where Dylan was once again on my chest, and he stayed for hours, until we were ready to let him be weighed. After I was stitched up (I had torn above the birth canal but my perineum, thankfully, was intact), Dylan began to nurse with no problems after a little help with the crossover hold from the midwives’ assistant. Matt and I left the birth center at around 12:30am and went home as proud, happy, exhausted parents!