Warning: the following is EVERYTHING I can recall from Jan 4th-5th, 2012. Some of it may be a bit TMI for you, so read with caution! :) Also it's ridiculously long...my sister advised me to write every single thing I could remember...I'd put it in a journal, but I type faster than I write, so there. Also, if you're currently pregnant and hoping to hear that this thing is a breeze and doesn't really hurt at all...just take the mouse and click on that little red dot or X in the corner and close the window now and never come back. I promise it does have a happy ending though. :)
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 @ 12:00am I awoke to my water breaking. Somehow I made it to the restroom in time, immediately sure that this was not a flashback to childhood bed wetting accidents. One of my very first thoughts was, 'remember to let Tim sleep...he'll need the energy later when I have natural adrenaline keeping me up'. Within a minute of this thought I realized our poor puppy had had an accident in the baby's room...so clearly I decided to wake Tim up since there was no way I was going to clean up a doggy mess while in labor! I gently woke him with the following statement, "Hunny, 2 things: Norm had an accident in the baby's room, and also, my water just broke". His reaction was first groggy and then instantly awake he said, "what!?" We shared a happy moment, and then I went and got him the carpet cleaner. :)
We'd heard from several friends and our Bradley class that it's a good idea to bring treats to the hospital for the nurses to help lock in a private postpartum room and also make friends since we have a detailed birthplan that may or may not be completely welcome/convenient for them. So of course, I started baking Great Grandma Thumper's oatmeal cookies. Since we were still two weeks early, I had just gotten our hospital bag completely packed the day before, printed out copies of our birthplan, downloaded my birthmusic mix to my phone, and had made a list of the things to throw in the bag on the day of. Tim cleared out the back of the pathfinder and loaded up the car...I took my time, remembering that Bradley class and my doctor had said to wait until contractions were 5 min apart before heading to the hospital. I was forgetting one caveat: Unless your water breaks.
So I called my sister, asked some questions, made sure the amniotic fluid was the right color etc. etc. and she told me to call my dr. now since my water broke. Got ahold of the doc and she said, "head to the hospital now, I'll see you there". What?! I'm not even having contractions yet!? Well, just little ones. So we sort of stalled for another 2 hours and didn't head to the hospital until about 2:30am. Before we left I packed Norman's bag and put a key under the mat for our friend Ellie to come get him so he could play with their dog Hindley for what we thought would be just a day or maybe 1 and 1/2 days. Norm didn't know it, but he's a pretty lucky guy. He was scheduled to be neutered that very day at 8am. Saved! He still has his manhood to this day, soon we'll reschedule.
At 2:30 something en route to the hospital we called my mom in Oklahoma to let her know we were in labor. She answered this 4:30am her time phone call with a suspicious, "yesss??". I could hear the smile on her face through the phone.
Once we got to the hospital, between the two of us we somehow managed to get; 1 small suitcase, 1 travel bag, 1 giant yoga ball, 1 basket of cookies, 1 cooler (for my placenta), and 1 camera bag up the elevator. Tim didn't want me to carry anything...but he's not an octopus so he gave in to my insisting that I could help.
We sat in the waiting room for a while and Tim finally decided to go park the car and reluctantly left me all alone for just a few minutes. At that point Dr. Chao came out and said hello (she had just finished another delivery), took some cookies and headed home for the night to sleep. --I can't imagine being an OB. It's like having an infant! You get woken up at all hours with no warning and no choice to say, nah...I'm tired.
At triage we had an awesome nurse, Cassi, who totally respected every part of our birth plan. Did a test to make sure it was amniotic fluid that was filling about my 10th giant sized maxi at this point. The swab is supposed to turn blue if it's your water and not urine. It turned navy blue. We also found out at that time that we were "closed" so I was not dilated at all. :( Cassi let us walk around the floor for 30 min at a time to get oxytocin going naturally, then we had to return to be on the external fetal monitor for about 30 min at a time....so we followed that routine for a while.
Finally, about 5 or 6am (time was a blur thoughout our stay at the hospital) we were moved to labor and delivery. Lisa came in with a soft quiet voice (as per the plan) and turned monitor volumes down etc. She also loved the oatmeal cookies. Sometime between 5 and 7 am Debbie joined us. I love the Naiman family. Debbie is like a sister/mom to me and we asked her to join us for the process since we had no way of knowing if my mom or sister could be there. She isn't afraid of speaking her mind which is good because Tim isn't the quickest to speak up when someone needs to get told. He (and I) like peace and harmony...so Debbie was our advocate when needed. :) Then around 9:30 I think Sarah came too. She is the first friend I ever made in Long Beach and I so needed her support and back rubs and confident voice saying "you can do this" throughout the process.
Unfortunately, Lisa's shift ended shortly after we met her and in came Star. Star burst into the room, flipped on all the lights, and with her booming voice told us about her 2 home births and how she thinks is just great that we have a birth plan and want to do this naturally, BUT... She continued to tell us all about what great pets pot belly pigs are and how if we have a pet we should take all the blankets with "the baby's blood and fluids" all over them back home for Arnold (somehow she thought our dog's name was Arnold...?) to smell to introduce him to the baby. I reminded her twice we really wanted a peaceful environment...she didn't get it. Add construction right outside of our room and we were quick to request a room change. Room 6 was great...also had a tub and shower which we were excited to use for natural pain management (although no tubs allowed since my water broke and that could introduce infection...but showers were a-okay).
While we were walking in the hall (still trying to get contractions goin) not too long after the room switch we bumped into a young beautiful nurse named Natalie. She said she was our new nurse. ?? We just got Star? Apparently one of Star's patients had become "complete" or in the pushing phase and so Star had to transfer all the other patients she had. I loved Natalie. Our personalities really fit well together. Unfortunatley, like me, she gave WAY too much information. (Tim never fails to let me know this about myself when I'm telling a story to someone :). So Natalie was great because she only made us sit with the monitor on for a few minutes at a time and then let us get up and walk stairs, move around to get contractions goin. One other method for natural oxytocin release is nipple stimulation. So, being the pretty modest person I am, I watched and listened for passers by as I walked stairs while implementing said methods for 30 min segments. It worked...but not enough.
At every point during her shift (7am-7pm) I was at 4cm. :( He was station 0 to +1, I was 80% effaced, and a 4. So things were going great, except I just wasn't dilating, and since my water had broken so long ago, the talks of pitocin started. This is where we got way too much information. We had asked to be given a clear explanation of the medical need for any interventions or medication and be given the chance to give informed consent. Well, we should have said that we only wanted to know about the medical need relevant to us at that time. We were given every worst case scenario that might influence us to say yes to pitocin then and there. Interestingly...my Dr. never mentioned it or pressured us. I started to get overwhelmed, and started to second guess our ability to make a wise decision. I called my sister. She talked me through things. One of the things she kept saying to me was "your body was made to have this baby. You were created to do this, and he's going to come when he's ready". My mom told me to listen to my heart. I didn't feel peace about pitocin at that point. BUT I also didn't want my stubbornness or a selfish desire to be able to say I did this naturally to be the driving force of our decisions. I started regretting ever telling anyone on this earth that we wanted a natural birth. I would never be able to live with myself if one of those worst case scenarios did happen and Henri ended up with a horrible infection that put him in the ICU for 7 days. I was crying a lot. Debbie seemed like she was starting to lean toward pitocin too. Finally there was a moment when it was just me and Tim in the room. We prayed. and then I called my doctor. She was awesome. She said, you have 3 options. 1. take pitocin. 2. take antibiotics to help protect against infection (it wouldn't prevent but it would protect if it started to set in). and 3. do nothing. She said she didn't advise me to do nothing since my water had broken 24 hours prior at this point. She said it was completely my choice. At the same time my sister texted me to see if we had considered antibiotics. We chose antibiotics. I think this was one of the most challenging moments of the labor. I was sort of a wreck...and to be totally honest, I don't even feel like we were totally confident that we were making the perfect choice....but I just decided that I didn't have control over this and that we needed to trust God. So I kept praying. I tried to focus on the fact that one way or another we were about to meet out son...and that was all that mattered...
My sister had had an almost identical birth process and delivered at the 26th hour...so when we passed that point I started to get discouraged again. Something she kept telling us was that once she got in the tub she totally relaxed and her body went into motion...so we decided it was time for a hot shower to relax me. It took a LONG time to get a bench for the shower, and then Jenn (an orienting nurse under Natalie) came in and wrapped up my IV line since we had okay'd a hep lock when I was admitted. Got all set, Tim in his trunks, towels ready, turned on the water and it was kinda just warm...but I still got in. Within seconds it was FREEZING COLD! Opposite of relaxed!!!! I wanted to scream curse words...I may have, I can't remember. I think I said that it was bullshit that a hospital didn't even have hot water. Apparently it was due to that pesky construction that made room 15 so loud and un-relaxing. This was when I started to love Jenn. She practically ran to get heating pads and a cup of hot tea for me to warm up.
One of my favorite things about our birth process was the time the 4 of us (Me, Tim, Debbie, and Sarah) spent together. Telling stories, laughing. Sarah said at one point it felt like we were roommates again and this was just one of those days where we got to stay at home and hang out all day. Debbie talked to me a lot about how her kids have remained true to the personalities the revealed during their birth...for instance, coming in their own time. Debbie at one point said she had a dream recently that the baby's name was Hudson. Which is funny because friends of ours just named their son Hudson. I told her she wasn't far off. Tim and I had gone back and forth on names for all of 9 months. We love our girl name and knew it was perfect from the moment we said it...but boy names proved more of a challenge. We finally made it final when we made him a stocking at Christmas and Tim embroidered his name on it. Clearly we can't make a new stocking!! :)
Back to the birth story...I'm not exactly sure when, but at some point Tim went home for a nap, knowing that we were still in for a long haul. Luckily we live about 10 minutes from the hospital, so that was no big deal. There were other times when I would look over at the chair and he'd be sound asleep...or on the floor and he would be curled up on a pile of blankets and towels. Poor guy. He was so pooped. So was I, but I was also in the zone. It was crazy, 10 hours would go by in the blink of an eye. I kept telling Debbie that I felt like time was flying. I did get 1 or 2 "naps" in. Between contractions and nurses and beeping machines waking me up I wouldn't really call it quality sleep, but maybe it was enough of a power nap too jump start me a bit.
the 7pm to 7am shift brought us Teresa. She was great because she never once mentioned the idea of drugs to us. Unfortunately she wanted me to be on the external fetal monitor for up to an hour at a time, which really restricted my mobility. I sort of fought her on that topic, and just annoyed her by constantly asking how much longer I had to be on that thing. And I honestly had to pee several times during those intervals, so I'd just take it right off and go do my thing. We stayed at a 4 almost all night. No progress. Maybe because I wasn't able to move being on that dumb EFM. Maybe because it wasn't his time yet. Or maybe because he was purposefully waiting for his Grandma to fly in from Oklahoma. She had switched her flight the day before. :)
Teresa also had me on the monitor while sitting/laying in the bed a lot. I eventually got really direct and told her I absolutely could not lay in bed. It concentrated all of the pain of the contractions right to my lower back and it was really unbearable. If I was on the birth ball I could move around. If I was up and walking I could lean on Tim or the bed or the counter. On my knees facing the back of the bed with my upper body dangling over the head of the bed became my favorite position. It actually hurt more in that position, but I could feel more pressure in my pelvis, which I knew meant he was headed down...and that was the kind of pain I knew I needed to go through to help Henri along. One amazing thing that happened overnight was Teresa called the hospital engineers to try to get the hot water fixed. That never happened, BUT, they did figure out that for some unknown reason room 3 wasn't affected by the construction. We promptly packed our stuff up and went to room 3!! and I'm so glad because what happened next was the greatest pain I've ever experienced.
So labor pains/contractions felt like intensifying menstrual cramps. They had a clear start and a clear end. Don't get me wrong, they F-ing hurt!, but you know it won't last forever so you can make it though. Well, all of this sudden I had a SHARP pain in my left side and it did NOT come and go. It just stayed. I desperately asked Teresa what the heck this was. She shrugged her shoulders. (thanks lady) She agreed with me that maybe Henri had a foot in my ribs, or was sitting on a nerve or something about his position was just creating this sharp pain that lasted through the contractions. There was no end to it. No hope that it would just go away in a few minutes. I remember writhing around on the bed like an animal screaming "make it stop!!!" No position relieved the pain. Tim got a cool washcloth for my forehead. For some crazy reason the nurse decided strapping me to the monitors again was a great idea...so I couldn't move at all once she had me hooked up. Finally, we decided it was time for a shower. The hot water helped me to relax, Tim was great and stood right outside the tub adjusting the water for me, helping me calm down. I could have stayed in there until I was a shriveled prune all over. When I finally got out the pain was gone. HALLELUJAH! Sometime before Teresa left she checked me and I had made it to a 7. Things were happening, but we were at hour 31 and worried even more at this point about infection...
7am Judith and Jenn took over. We had Jenn again!! Actually, it was more like 7:30 before they made it to the room. Which we totally took advantage of and walked the halls for another 1/2 hour since Teresa wasn't paying attention and strapping me back up to machines. We later found out that what took so long was that Jenn was researching all the ways to get oxytocin (your body's natural pitocin) to release and clearing her plan with Dr. Chao. She came right in with the attitude that we were going to do this, we were going to do it naturally, and we were going to make it happen ASAP! She had Tim and I turn out the lights, here's the TMI part..., and got some lubricant and we used nipple stimulation and visualization. She even brought in a breast pump if nipple stim wasn't enough. Almost immediately my contractions got stronger and closer together and more consistent. At this point it had been a very long time since I had eaten or slept...and I started to feel like my body was just breaking down...I've never been so exhausted in my life.
Then that side pain came back. Jenn was so encouraging. She told me this is part of the process, that this was normal and not to worry. I actually threw up it hurt so bad. I literally started stripping off my clothes and got back in the shower in a rush (we actually forgot to wrap up the IV). It helped, but the pain was still there. There were times when I really started wanting to ask for drugs. But instead the words that came out were just for Tim to hear, "I don't think I can do this". He responded every time by telling me that I could do it, that we were so close, and that he was there for me. One thing that really was great is that no one ever offered me pain medication. I'm so grateful for that, because there were a few moments when I would have said...bring it on!!!
Sometime around 10 I think Jenn checked me and I was still at a 7, "maybe an 8"...I was so discouraged. At one point on the monitors it looked like Henri's heartbeat was dropping in response to my contractions...which isn't good and could be a sign of distress. This was amazing...to see if we could help, Jenn suggested that I really focus on breathing more through the worst part of the contraction to make sure he got oxygen. I had been clenching down and holding my breath. The next two contractions he was perfect. Perfect perfect. It's amazing what our bodies can do!! Henri's heart beat was actually a perfect picture of health the whole time. My blood pressure was great, we were so blessed to have God's protection over our health. Even throughout pregnancy we were practically complication free, praise God.
At 11am my mom made it to the hospital (huge thanks to my brother in law for picking her up). It was so great to have her there, and it was just in time. Josh, Debbie, and my mom went and got some lunch while Tim and I continued with nipple stim to keep things progressing. When they got back Debbie came over to me and said, your mom and I were talking and we think the name is Henry. I just smiled and said, "where'd you come up with that?" and in my head I thought, "how in the world?? we haven't told a soul!!"
I was back in my position on my knees with my body hanging over the head of the bed. We had talked about pushing positions already and I was super direct about letting everyone know how much it hurt to be on my back. So they brought in a squat bar and gave us a print out of different positions, which we had practiced in Bradley, but you really kind of forget most things at this point, so that was really helpful. The pain was really intensifying at this point...Debbie asked Jenn, "when can she start pushing?" and Jenn replied, "when she's in a lot more pain that this". I wanted to punch her in the face. But instead I just got louder...I don't think she realized how much pain I was already in. I've broken several bones in my life...and never cried, except later when the dumb radiology techs made me straighten my arm with a broken elbow....I digress...
At some point I told Debbie I needed to push, she said maybe we should wait until Jenn got back...and I don't remember this, but apparently I snapped and said "NO!" So Debbie went and got Jenn. :) During this time I was still on my knees over the bed with contractions really strong and about 1 minute apart. After each contraction my body would go completely limp and I would sort of "fall" and then wake up. yep. I was taking 30 second naps between contractions. My body was at the end of all it could take.
Finally I was screaming loud enough that Jenn decided to check me again. I'll never forget the feeling I felt when she said I was "complete". I was so relieved, so happy, my head fell back and I let out the most joyful sound. Finally!!! this was it! I kept asking them to call Dr. Chao. In my naivete I thought that once you start pushing it's like minutes before the kid is here! No no...try 1 hour and 40 minutes of pushing. She had plenty of time to get there. Sometime during this transition to pushing Tim was helping me be as comfortable as he could with cool washcloths and rubbing my back, pushing in on my hips during the contractions...and he soon realized that this nightgown I was in was just getting in the way. So with my okay he stripped me down. Modest little me was au natural for the whole room to see...
Tim was right by my side as we pushed. His poor knees on the tile floor...me gripping the back of his neck and digging my left foot into the crook of his arm. I didn't realize it until later, but suddenly about 5 extra nurses appeared. Little did we know we had gained a following of natural birth cheerleaders throughout the floor. They sort of wanted to just come see and be a part. Had I not been so tunnel visioned I might have cared and said no, but I'm glad I didn't. They all ended up being so helpful and encouraging.
We started pushing in a side-lying position. After a while we switched to sort of a sitting squat. Whatever...it worked. At some point Dr. Chao got there. She got a sheet and wrapped it around the squat bar and had me pulling myself up with it as I pushed. Each time I pushed I would hear "this is it!" "this is the one!" "he's right there!" I wanted to tell them all to shut up unless it really was "it!" But Tim told me later that it just really looked like that was it every time! I would take a deep breath, push, push, push, maybe more than 3 times each time. And then I'd have no strength left and I'd fall back and say that I was sorry. I'm not sure who I was sorry to... They'd all laugh and tell me not to be sorry and told me I was doing great. Someone told a joke: "what did sushi A say to sushi B? WASABI!?!" everyone laughed except for me. I told Tim to never get me pregnant again...I was trying to be funny...but I was also serious. At one point I think Dr. Chao had her instruments ready for an episiotomy and someone mentioned that the birthplan said no episiotomy. I regained all consciousness and spoke right to Dr. Chao and said, "you and I talked and I said if I'm going to tear badly then cut, but if I'm just going to tear a little then leave it." And she said, yes, that's exactly what we decided on. But instead she just used massage for the whole time we pushed to help avoid having to cut. That brought in a whole new kind of pain...like a stinging burning pain...but I knew it was better than a cut or tear.
A few times while we were pushing the nurses had me feel his head...so much hair!!! It was encouraging to feel him and know how close we were. I kept thinking, why doesn't someone just pull him out!!? Finally, toward the end of one push I felt the "ring of fire" and I knew this was it.
As he came out Dr. Chao realized the cord was wrapped around his neck, twice! She quickly maneuvered him out of this tangled mess and then what happened next is our absolute favorite part of the whole thing. Someone took my hands and brought them down to Henri...and I delivered my son with my own hands.
I carried him right to my chest and told him how much I loved him. He was absolutely perfect and completely worth all 39 1/2 hours of labor. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat for him. Tim told everyone his name was Henri Morgan. Henri because we share Danish heritage and Henri Nouwen is one of my favorite authors. Morgan after Tim's grandfather.
Most of the procedures were done while I held and breastfed Henri, then after about an hour Tim got to hold him for a while. Soon they realized his breathing was a little labored, so they had to take him to the nursery for about 4 hours to suction his lungs.
Tim stayed with him the whole time. By the time they joined me in the postpartum room I had fallen asleep for the first time in 2 days. When they came into the room I was so groggy and out of it...like when you fall asleep on vacation and then wake up and forget where you are. When they said, "here's your son"...I honestly did a double take. I sort of forgot I had a son for a minute. Funny right?? :)
We went home the next day, Friday, at 7:30pm. And now we're a family of 3. 4 if you let Norm make the cut. :)
We're so grateful to God for the beautiful gift of our son. He's more perfect than we could have ever imagined.