Saturday, April 26, 2014

Baby Mila's birth story

 She's finally here!  I realize that a child's birth story is most meaningful to the mother more than anyone else.  I always laugh to myself when I hear women sitting around comparing and trying to one-up each other on their children's birth stories, but with Mila's birth, it truly was special for me.  I wanted to write things out before I forget any of the details.

In the days and weeks leading up to her coming I was getting more impatient than I had with the others.  My body was sending me signals on an almost hourly basis that things were moving along, but then nothing substantial would come from it.  I told Dennis that it wasn't waiting 40 weeks that was the hard part.  I knew that was the deal from day one and I expected it.  The hard part was all of the false alarms and wondering if this was all going to last 2 more weeks or just 2 more hours.

On Wednesday night at about 9pm, I was standing in my room getting ready for bed when I suddenly felt a gush of fluid.  Dennis and I still laugh about how I looked like Calista who has been potty-training.  I was so startled that I didn't move, I just stood there like a deer in headlights and let it all come out the way Calista does when she realizes she's started to tinkle in her pants, while Dennis tried to throw towels in my direction.  To be sure that I hadn't just piddled, I called my sister Patty, who is a labor and delivery nurse, and she confirmed that my description matched that of a breaking water.  Although they weren't painful, the contractions had been consistent for the past 45 minutes so we decided to go ahead on in.  I called my friend to come sit with the kids until my in-laws could drive in from Grandview, and we were off.

Before leaving, I looked into Camden's room and saw he was still awake reading.  I told him what was happening.  His eyes filled up with tears and he told me how afraid he was.  He hugged me tightly and said he was worried that something would happen to me or the baby.  Just then Dennis came in, and by the light of Camden's reading headlamp, we said a prayer together.  I love that little boy's tenderness.

I think I need to rewind a little for this next part.  Early on in this pregnancy, I knew that I wanted to try to do things differently than I had with the others when it came to delivery.  With my others, I had received epidurals early on in the labor and they had all worked fabulously.  I experienced only a few painful contractions before the epidurals kicked in and then had completely pain free deliveries.  With Calista especially, I remember thinking how anti-climactic it seemed.  I wanted to feel what was happening and not give a couple of non-feeling pushes before a baby was in my arms.  I knew it seemed crazy, but I wanted to at least try to deliver this baby without anesthesia.

My only hang-up was that I didn't want to be one of those "cave women"-  you know, the screaming, melodramatic kind that are in the movies.  I didn't want to be one of those women that made me roll my eyes when I worked on the post-partum unit that I could hear hollering from half way across the hospital. Self-discipline and self-control are two things I've always considered as the ultimate strengths and those screaming, out of control women, in my mind, were the furthest thing from it.

So I began reading up on hypno-birthing hoping to find some coping techniques, but soon was reading the book simply for its entertainment value.  I could see how the techniques might be solid, but the theory behind it was just too quacky for my liking.  I would lay in bed reading passages of the book to Dennis- about the flowering cervix and ribbon-lined uterus, and we would laugh and laugh.  I knew my half-hearted studying of natural childbirth was going to come back and bite me in the butt, but I figured if it got too bad, then I'd just get an epidural.  With all the discomfort I was experiencing at the end of my pregnancy, I had decided that maybe I didn't need the additional pain of natural childbirth after all.  So yes, I was doomed to failing when it came to delivering naturally before even going in.

So back to the delivery room...

I was dilated to a five when I was checked in and I was handling the contractions like a champ, if I do say so myself.  I was breathing through them, using the relaxation techniques I had read about, and I was thinking, "Hey... I got this!  I can totally do this!"

Fast forward an hour later.  Things were revving up quickly.  I had been in the jetted tub but the contractions were getting harder to handle and I was starting to feel like I was losing control.  The techniques I had been using were becoming less effective and I knew that I had reached the end of my poorly supplied arsenal of coping techniques. I asked the nurse to check me, figuring that if I was progressing quickly, then I would keep going.  If not, I would get an epidural before I turned into a wild woman.

"Hmmmm... you're only at 5-6 cm, honey.  You've progressed almost 1 cm in an hour."

Are you kidding me?!?  At that rate, I could go on for another several hours like this!  And just like that I pathetically dropped the little resolve I had and told her if that was the case, then I wanted an epidural.  I knew I just didn't have the coping techniques to deal with more than what I was going through.

As we waited for the anesthesiologist to come in, things continued to escalate... quickly.  And just as quickly, I was morphing into the cave woman.  With each contraction, the restlessness became moaning, which became whimpering, which soon became crying, which became yelling.  I could see what was happening, but for the life of me, I just didn't care!  Heck, it actually felt good!  Who woulda thunk?

By the time the anesthesiologist showed up about 30 minutes later, I was a complete mess.  And of course as luck would have it, as he tried to place the epidural, he missed.  Twice! Having to hold completely still through the contractions, as he poked and fished around with a needle in my back was the most excruciating thing I could have ever imagined.  I never knew a body could experience so much pain.

After a handful of contractions following the failed epidural, the nurse suggested she take a look, and there was baby Mila, ready to make her entrance into the world.

The pushing, which I had been the most terrified of doing without an epidural, seemed like a cake walk after that.  I remember thinking, "I know this should hurt.  Like really hurt, but it doesn't even compare!"  After just one push, she was here!  And just like that, by 1:41am, it was all over.  I can't describe the exhilaration and joy I felt when I saw her for the first time.  It was anything but anti-climactic like it had been with my other children when my body was so numb.  She was here, and I had done it!  Even as I write this, I tear up thinking of Dennis and the sweet support he gave to the wild, writhing, yelling cave woman that used to be his (usually) composed wife.

The pain in my hips and sciatic nerve pain were gone almost entirely, and immediately I felt like a completely new woman, even before I left the delivery room.  It was amazing!

So my take away lesson from my delivery experience... I'm eating crow when it comes to judging women who deliver naturally!  The hollering and screaming that I used to think was annoying theatrics was actually really helpful and even therapeutic when it came to chanelling the pain.  Experiencing "real" childbirth for the first time was humbling and empowering all at the same time.  Humbling because of how vulnerable I felt through it all, but empowering because of the power of the female body that I was able to witness.  It truly is an amazing process that Heavenly  Father has created to not only bring children into the world, but to draw a husband and wife closer together.  I've never needed Dennis as much as I did during those hours, and he was there for me.

Adjustment to life at home has been wonderful so far.  The older children are smitten with their new little sister.  Watching them fall in love with her so quickly has been heart-warming and amazing to see.

When there's a newborn in the home, it feels like heaven is almost palpable.  Words can't describe how grateful I am for the arrival of this little angel into our home.


Leslie said...

Thank you for sharing! I'm so glad she's here! I felt that too- the most painful deliveries were ones when I was happiest to see the baby. Love you!

Liz Johnson said...

Ok, I've read this twice! I read it last night and then knew I wanted to come back and read it again this morning. I'm so happy for you! I am so glad you got to have that experience. It's really amazing how much that vocalizing/moaning really does help (physiologically, opening up the jaw helps relax your bodily sphincters, which helps the cervix opens - so it's actually doing physical work as well as providing emotional release!). I still think the TV representations are over-the-top and ridiculous, but dude, I love hearing about moaning cave women! It's so amazing to me - whenever you think of a Goddess in embryo, you certainly don't picture a strong, moaning, growling woman - but every time I go to a birth, that's exactly what I see - a moaning, strong Goddess in embryo. Way to go, Rita! I'm so, so, so happy for you all!!!!!!

Percy W Hawkes said...

Thank you for sharing. You are an amazing writer and daughter. Love, Your dad

Cher said...

amazing! you rock.
this is almost the exact same as my birth story for adam, except that the epidural didn't fail twice, it worked the first time, :). i was at like an 8 when i got it i think.
i can't wait to see more pics!

Cher said...

ps, my recovery was so much better with adam. i guess because i didn't have to get pitocin and i had the epidural in for a short time. i hope your recovery is awesome too!