My Birth Story

As my due date drew nearer, I found myself visiting a lot of mom blogs to see birth stories for an idea of what to expect.  It was my first time and I was clueless. I had taken a birthing class but it seemed too textbook: there are three stages, labor, birth and afterbirth.  Don’t go to the hospital too soon, or you’ll be sent home. Don’t go too late or else…

I did pay attention, I really did, but it was months ago and I just couldn’t get a good idea of the general timeline or how I would know how everything is proceeding, well or not.

Holding hands with Newborn hands

My Birth Story

So here is my birth story.  The shortish version is that my water broke, sorta, and so I was admitted into the hospital before my contractions started.  Turned out I had a double amniotic sac and only the outer layer had broken.  I ended up getting an amniotomy (AROM) because my unborn daughter and I both developed a temperature.  I also ended up getting an epidural with mixed feelings as it wasn’t originally a part of my birth plan, but having it resulted in such an easy, enjoyable, painless (except for the burning sensation from the Pitocin) and most importantly quick delivery that with 20/20 hindsight I wish I had gotten it as soon as it was offered.  Another benefit was I didn’t feel the episiotomy or the stitches afterwards, although a part of me still feels like I missed the full experience of giving birth to my daughter.  And in the future, when she is being an insufferable teenager, I can’t say I had a rough time bringing her into this world.

Just kidding.  But not really.  Anyways, now the loooooooong version.

3 AM – Water Breaks

According to Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, a pregnancy and childbirth expert, only 13% of water breaks before labor.  Well, two days after my due date, I think my water broke. At 3 AM in the morning, a warm wet feeling in my nether region, like a heavy period or a (female) wet dream, woke me from my sleep.  I had started wearing a pad and was sleeping on a few towels just in case (yeah, I am prepared like that!) so I wasn’t worried about cleaning up, instead I was staring at a damp pad. So did my water break? I didn’t have any contradictions yet so from what I can google, I shouldn’t be going to the hospital either case.

I wasn’t sure if my water broke but I was too excited to fall back asleep so I just wandered around the house organizing this and that until around 6 AM when the mister woke up for work.

He called the 24 hr answering service for the obgyn office and left a message.  The obgyn who was on call returned his call around 7 AM and after asking about my COAT (color, odor, amount and time) told me to go to the hospital for a check up, given the fact I had no check ups the 3 recent weeks, and that I was already past my due date.

8 AM – Arrive at Hospital

Since we only lived 10 minutes from the hospital, I took a shower first and ate breakfast and still arrived before 8 AM.  However, the receptionists, reasonably, admitted the moms arriving in active labor first so I wait until almost 10 AM before seeing the room where the magic will happen.

Hospital delivery room

My newborn awaiting testing in the hospital delivery room

I still had no contractions and not sure if the water broke so a nurse examined me and confirmed with litmus paper, and reconfirmed under the microscope that the water had broken.  But by noon (8 to 9 hours since my water broke) I was still only a few centimeters dilated and didn’t have contractions yet.

3 PM – Started Temperature (Fever)

Over the next few hours, I started getting contractions.  They were fairly regular, intense and lasted 45 to 60 seconds and were 3 to 5 minutes apart.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, this is the active labor phase and when I should have headed to the hospital.  With my contractions, I also felt chills and started to shake uncontrollably. I had a fever/ temperature and was given antibiotics through IV.

4 PM – Amniotomy

The obstetrician examined me and said my amniotic sac was still intact and after conferring with the nurses and reviewing the test results, determined that I had a double sac and only the outer layer had ruptured.  I don’t recall making a decision but the obstetrician performed an amniotomy, otherwise known as an artificial rupture of membranes (AROM). I didn’t remember reading or learning anything about this before but apparently it’s common although not always necessary.

5 PM – Epidural

The obstetrician and nurses who came to check on me, and there were many had all highly recommended I get an epidural.  I was originally noting down people’s names so I can send thank you cards, but there were approximately 5 new faces every 4 hours. By now I had been introduced to at least 20 different people.  I declined the epidural repeatedly, partly because I am scared of needles, and even more scared of urinary catheters, and partly because I had wanted to feel the whole birthing experience.

I persisted until my daughter’s heart rate stayed high even when I wasn’t having contractions and I started having a temperature.  The obstetrician said if things don’t progress really really quickly, it’s highly likely I would need a cesarean section and then I would have to get an epidural or anesthesia anyway.  I didn’t want to risk my daughter’s health so I readily agreed to an epidural at this point.

She also wondered if I might be suppressing the contractions to limit the pain (only normal right?) and so it might progress faster if I wasn’t feeling the contractions.

An hour later, I met with the anesthesiologist.  The anesthesiologist was very nice and addressed my concerns and tried to calm my fears.  The local anesthesia felt like a small cold pinch – like a typical flu shot or blood draw.  It worked quickly because I didn’t feel any pain when the epidural needle or the tube that replaced it were inserted. I had sat and leaned forward for the procedure.

In less than half an hour, I suddenly felt no more pain.  Wow!  I can feel the tightening and the pressure of the contractions but there was no discomfort.  Did I say wow?  The epidural tube was connected to an automatic pump so the dosage could be dialed up or down easily.  I had requested the lowest dose possible to start, knowing that I can always increase the dosage if required.

With the epidural at the lowest dosage, I could still move my legs if I tried to, but I didn’t feel any discomfort from the contractions.  I also didn’t feel the episiotomy, a surgical cut in the perineum to facilitate delivery and reduce the likelihood of tearing.  I also didn’t feel the urinary catheter insertion which was one of my biggest fears for getting an epidural.  My grandmother, before she passed away, had told me several times she mostly dreaded her hospital stays because of how uncomfortable it was to have a urinary catheter inserted so I had not wanted to ever experience it for myself.

In fact, the Pitocin, a hormone to cause uterus contractions, which made my hand and most of my arm feel like it was burning, was the most painful part of the whole delivery.

9 PM – Delivery

Just 3 hours later, maybe because of the epidural, or the amniotomy, or the Pitocin, or some combination of those three, I was ready.  The nurse called the obstetrician because I was crowning.  I of course couldn’t feel it.  So I pushed when they said push and 4 pushes later, 3.5 pushes if I want to be exact, my baby was out.  It could have been only 3 pushes, but I ran out of breath on that third push it was totally weak sauce.

My newborn came into the room and said “eh” once.  And that was the end of my birth story and the start of a completely new one where we are both still writing together everyday.

Newborn foot print

The nurse made a foot print of our newborn for us upon request after her bath. But they no longer did hand prints.

Looking for more birth stories?  Check out Melissa’s amazing home birth story!  They are more rare than my birthing class led me to believe.

 

Best Housewarming Gift Ever

I am sorry if you thought you were going to get a list of most awesome housewarming gift ideas.  What you’re going to get instead is so much better – a recount of how I came to have a home birth.  😉  Bear with me, this is a long one.

Let me start by saying that it was not how I had imagined I would have my baby.  I thought, like the majority of births in Canada, that I would have my baby in a hospital.  In fact less than 2% (7000/380000) of births in 2012 were outside the hospital.   A similar statistic  is seen in the United States (53,000 home births in 2012 out of 3.95 million births or 1.36%, the highest % since 1975).  I did not that know what I did was so uncommon.

My plan was to also have a physician deliver my baby.  There were a few reasons why I ended up in the care of midwives.  I didn’t have a regular family doctor, well not after I became an “adult”, anyway.  I went to walk-in clinics when I needed to.  So when I became pregnant, I went to my usual walk-in clinic to confirm the pregnancy and they referred me to a maternity clinic near where I lived.   This clinic was supposed to call me for an appointment but they never did.  By the time I finally got an appointment with them, there was a mad rush to try to get me in for the prenatal genetic testing.  We were able to have the testing done in time but it was stressful not knowing why I wasn’t contacted for an appointment and that I might have missed the window for the testing.  Aside from the mix-up, I had 3 appointments with the clinic and each time the appointments before me ran late and I had to wait for 30-60 minutes for 10-15 minutes of face time.  Is this the norm in other places?   Being busy and not having a lot of time to read on my own, I wanted more time with the experts to answer all my questions.   Also, there were 7 physicians in the clinic and whoever was on call the day I go into labour would deliver my baby.  So there was a high chance that I wouldn’t even know the doctor that delivers my baby if I don’t meet him or her during my prenatal appointments.  I wanted to build a relationship and have a rapport with the person who was going to “catch” my baby.   These were the reasons I decided to seek out the care of midwives.

After I switched to midwives, I still had to wait for my appointments, but the waits were shorter and the appointments longer (at least 45 minutes) so I had more time to connect with each of them.   There were 3 midwives who cared for me rather than 7.   Since I was having a low risk pregnancy, we had discussed the option of having a home birth, but this wasn’t an option for me.  I was set on having a hospital birth.  I thought I would be more comfortable with that.  I thought I would feel more secure in a hospital environment.

Our baby decided to arrive 10 days after we moved into our new home.  She had perfect timing!  I was already off work and had unpacked the essentials for the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.  Our new sofa had arrived and the living room was pretty much set up.  My husband played his last round of golf the morning before my contractions started and we even managed to have my in-laws over for dinner.

My contractions started around 10:30pm that night.  Maybe baby wanted to come out and have a taste of Japanese food herself.  😉  The contractions started at about 10 minutes apart and progressed, in my opinion, slowly.  I couldn’t sleep all night.  It was too painful for me to lie down or sit during the contractions so I was standing or pacing into the early morning.  During those wee hours, as I tried to cope with the pain, I thought about how I was going to go to the hospital when the time came.  How was I going to sit in the car during the contractions when it was too painful to sit?  How long would it take to get to the hospital?  The hospital was only about 15 minutes away, but what if we hit rush hour traffic?  What if there was an accident?  The contractions were not 3 minutes apart until about 7 am.  My husband called the midwives at around 8 am.  By then, I was almost certain, but not positive, that I didn’t want to go to the hospital.  The midwife came a short time later.  She checked on me and the baby.  We were both doing fine, aside from me throwing up all over the powder room floor from being exhausted.  I was only 5 cm dilated so there was still some time to go.  The midwife reassured me that it would be safe to have to baby at home, so that’s what I decided to do.

When I made the decision to not go to the hospital, I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t be able to have an epidural if I wanted one.  It wasn’t in the birth plan.  I wanted an un-medicated birth, but at times, the pain seemed so unbearable that I think I would’ve asked for an epidural if I was in the hospital.  To cope with the pain, the midwife suggested I soak in the bathtub.  I’m not a bath person (think it’s gross to soak in dirty water), so I was reluctant, but I gave it a try and it really helped.  That was another perk to staying at home, since the hospital I planned to deliver at didn’t have tubs, only showers.

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When it came time to push, we tried many different positions, and moved from bathroom to the bedroom floor, to the bed.  Obviously, we were not prepared for a home birth since we didn’t plan for one.   We hadn’t bought one of those home birth kits, which basically includes a bunch of plastic bags to keep your furniture clean.  But the midwife was resourceful.   She put a shower curtain under our sheets to protect the mattress.  And it didn’t get too messy aside from a few dirty towels.  Sorry if this is too much information.  We even learned a few things like use cold water, instead of hot to rinse out blood stains so that the stain doesn’t set and add salt to washing machine to get rid of the stains.

We didn’t let either of our families know that we were having the baby at home.   I didn’t want to hear their opinions on my decision or have them worry about whether it was safe or not.   We didn’t even tell them I was in labour until after baby arrived.   My mom wasn’t too happy about not being present, but I had everyone I wanted with me (my husband and the midwife).

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My baby arrived just before 3pm on our bed after about 2 hours of pushing.  She was perfect and healthy.  I had a bit of tearing which the midwife took care of.  In the end, having a home birth was the right decision for me.  Although we were only in our new place for a short time prior to the birth, I was comfortable there.  I was surrounded by the people I wanted to be present at the birth.  I was confident in the skills of the midwives and knew that they wouldn’t let me have a home birth if it wasn’t safe.  My daughter was the best housewarming gift I could’ve gotten.

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