Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Birth Story: Part 1

Don't get too excited.  I'm still pregnant.  But a lot went down this weekend and the whole thing is a little confusing so I thought I should write an update.

A warning to readers:  Much of what you are about to read contains words that have to do with the female anatomy.  If you're not up for that, stop reading now and move on.

Saturday was Brian's birthday.  We had nothing planned.  It was the perfect day to have a baby.  And apparently my body thought so too as I started experiencing regular contractions.  They were intense enough for me to notice but still not at a point where I knew I was nearing the end.

But not wanting to be in a situation where we were racing in the car to the hospital, we called my brother over to watch the kids.  We called the midwife and upon realizing how far progressed I was at my last check-up (5 centimeters dilated) she thought it was a good idea for me to come into the hospital.  Soon after this news, my mom decided it was time for her to leave and make the two-hour trip to my house.

At the hospital I was hooked up to the contraction and heart rate monitor.  My midwife checked me and found me to be 7 centimeters dilated.  She said it was a good thing I came in when I did and thought, in the two hours she had left of her shift, she'd be catching my baby.

I met with my awesome nurse.  Filled out some paperwork.  Answered some questions.  Then she filled the bathtub for me and I got it.  It was then that contractions started to slow down a bit and I began to wonder if this was really "it."

"No, no!" All the midwives and nurses said.  Any minute, they told me, things were going to turn a corner and I'd be pushing out a baby.  So I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.

I just couldn't shake the feeling that things weren't moving like they had with the rest of my births.  But all the numbers and signs were telling the hospital staff that there was no way I wouldn't have a baby in arms any minute now.

By 11:00 that night a new midwife was on staff.  And I was getting very tired.  She checked me again and found me to be 8 centimeters dilated but with a very posterior cervix.  (Meaning my cervix was back toward my tailbone instead of moving up to the front to allow the baby to come out.)  To complicate matters, the baby was very low and his/her head was in front of my cervix instead of on top of it.  She gave me three options: (1) Break my water, if possible, to see if that moved things along.  (2) Give me a shot of morphine to help me sleep through the contractions.  She also said sometimes the morphine can help kick start things because it allows all the muscles to relax.  Downside is that sometimes it make women really groggy for a very long time. (3) Do nothing.  See what happens.

I chose option 3, not wanting to intervene unless there was a real reason to.

As it turns out, I fell asleep and awoke after midnight to realize my contractions had completely stopped.  But because I was so far progressed, they wouldn't let me go home so I was told to get some rest for the remainder of the night and we would reassess in the morning.

At 7:00 the next morning I was greeted with a spunky new midwife.  She was Cuban, in her 60s and probably no more than 5 feet tall and 100 pounds.  I could tell right away this woman knew what she was talking about.  She had caught a lot babies and there probably wasn't a single situation she was unfamiliar with.

When she checked me that morning she said, "OK, this is unusual.  But not abnormal.  I've seen it one other time."

She said that my labor the day before was real and that my cervix was completely ready.  But the baby's head was very low and was sitting in front of my cervix.  She had to reach under the baby's head to get to my cervix.  This meant there was no pressure on my cervix.  Which is why my labor stopped.  This posed two problems: (1) Because my cervix was so ripe, I was basically a walking time bomb.  As soon as that baby's head moved into position s/he would be out in no time.  (2) Because of the baby's position, there was no safe way for her to break my water without also risking nicking the baby's head.

At that point she told me she couldn't send me home because she didn't think there would be any way that we would make it back in time. She gave me some exercises to encourage baby to move and told us to take a walk around the hospital.

Later that afternoon, after exhausting all the ways to get baby to move, it was clear that this baby was staying put.  So we had a real conversation about what to do.  I couldn't just stay in the hospital for eternity, and my midwife knew that.  She did offer pitocin but neither of us was too keen on that idea.  There was no danger to me or the baby, just a giant inconvenience.  And inconveniences aren't worth the risk to intervene, in my opinion.

In the end we decided to take the risk of having a possible homebirth or highway baby and go home to be with the kids and my mom.  My midwife warned that Brian cannot go to work.  And my mom cannot go home.  When this baby decides to come we will not have time to make childcare arrangements.

So here we sit, in limbo.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  Oh Number Four, you are going to be an interesting one.

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