Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lauren Jade's Birth Story - Part 2

Warning: There's light discussion of uteri and birth canals approaching. If you're a boy (which I highly doubt) feel free to take cover. If you're a squeamish girl, you should stay; it's not really that bad. In fact, it's quite awesome.


Though my hope for a natural childbirth had grown thin by the evening of March 27th, it was still strong enough to keep me from giving up altogether. I kept on practicing the...highly embarrassing techniques...recommended to stimulate labor (please don't make me spell it out)(again, moving right along...), without really expecting it to lead anywhere. I'd been doing this technique for at least two weeks now, and each time, contractions picked up but didn't throw me into labor.

This night though, something was different. My contractions began, as usual, and they started to feel a bit stronger than they had before. I took a break and rested, watching TV while Justin piddled on the computer. Usually, when I'd take a break, the contractions would, too, so I was confused when these contractions stayed strong enough to make me uncomfortable well past 20 minutes of resting. I thought it was a fluke, so I started trying to coax labor out of my body again (I'll be so glad when this part of the story is over, so I can stop notsaying those words.) with one more try.

The next contraction that hit me was unlike anything I'd been feeling up to this point: it was powerful. It made me stand up and walk around. It made me lean over the side of the couch and make some strange noise in my throat. It made Justin look up from the computer and take notice. Before, I'd say something like "Oh, babe! That one was uncomfortable! I felt it!" But this time, I didn't say anything at all because it hurt too bad.

I looked up at Justin and immediately got scared. I'd wanted spontaneous labor, and I was nearly certain this was it....but...once the moment was upon me, I wanted it to go away again. I wanted to start the night over and not try to get labor started. I have no idea if what I'd been doing actually had a real effect on my body or if it was just time, but all the sudden, I wasn't ready.

Which had absolutely no bearing on the events which were about to take place. Ready or not, labor had begun.

I walked circles around our living room, trying to remain calm. This was exactly the place I wanted to be -- in my own home, comfortable with my surroundings -- and these were exactly the things my body needed to be doing. I couldn't bear to sit down, more from nerves than pain. The contractions at this point were highly uncomfortable, getting stronger by the minute, and walking seemed to relieve both the pain and nervousness.

By about 10 PM, I was hurrying to a solid object each time I felt a contraction building strength. The couch, my husband, my bed...anything to ground me and hold me up while the waves washed over me. Contractions were about 3 minutes apart, lasting 60 - 90 seconds, and I was beginning to rock and dance with them. I could absolutely not sit still when one hit, and more and more often, I rushed only to Justin for support.

I all but required him to be close to me so that when a contraction was imminent, I could grab his arms, lay my head on his shoulder, and sway with the rhythm of the contraction. I couldn't relax and sway with a piece of furniture -- I needed Justin to both support me and comfort me, and throughout the rest of the night, he never stopped.

We called our fabulous doula, LeeAnn, at 10:15 and let her know that we thought labor was in full force. She listened to me breath and hum through a contraction and agreed that I seemed to be headed down the labor path, but just to make sure, she recommended I drink a big glass of water and lay down to see if it would stop. That would be our clear marker as to whether or not this was real: Real labor doesn't stop for a glass of water. We planned to call her back in an hour to update her on my status.

I tried to follow her instructions, but laying down was simply not an option and sitting was almost as impossible. Nothing felt right but to move around, walking and swaying my way through the pain. I had no doubt left that this was real labor, and I just prayed that it would progress smoothly enough to allow me the natural childbirth I'd been hoping for. Before an hour had passed, my contractions were getting stronger and closer together; we called LeeAnn back and told her this was it. She was on her way, and so was my mom. (Justin had called her and explained the details, but she was probably halfway out the door before the phone even stopped ringing. Her baby was having a baby. She'd been waiting for this phone call for weeks.)

When LeeAnn got to our house, we decided to go ahead and go to the hospital. Justin was really nervous about how quickly I seemed to be progressing, and although I knew it would be several hours before I'd probably need to go, I just wanted to do something. My aunt was on her way to my house to stay with our sleeping Mia, and as soon as we were ready, we left for the hospital.

Getting in the car was one of the most frightening experiences so far. I knew I'd be confined to the seat and it's tiny space, and I couldn't imagine getting through a contraction without standing up and swaying. Our house is only a short 7 or 8 minute drive from the hospital, but I knew that within that time period, I'd have several contractions. The ride was a blur of ignored red lights and shifting positions and animal-like bellows and by the end of it, I was kneeling in the front seat, leaning over towards Justin's lap. I was purely elated when we reached the parking lot, begging Justin to park the car immediately in the first available open space. I didn't care if it meant we'd have a longer walk to the entrance, as long as I was out of that tiny car.

Once the fresh, cold, night air was all around me again, I felt lighter. Less worried. We joked and laughed on the walk to the entrance, stopping to do our baby-dance a few times along the way. Anything seemed bearable after being pinned in the car during contractions.

At 11:45 PM, we checked into the hospital and went to an examining room. My cervix was checked, of course; I was excited about that part. I couldn't wait to see how far I'd progressed. Earlier that morning at my OB appointment, I had been dilated to about one and a half centimeters. Nothing, really. But my contractions had been so strong for the past 3 hours that I was hoping for at least 4 or 5 centimeters when the nurse checked me. I wouldn't have been surprised if I was dilated way past that number, even. I was sure my pain had been doing some good work -- sure the pain had been strong enough to warrant a quick progression of labor.

Laying still long enough to be checked was more awful than I could have imagined. I rocked on the table through a contraction and then lay down as quickly as a 9 months pregnant, laboring woman possibly could for the nurse to check between contractions. My heart sank when I heard my progress: I was still at 2 centimeters.

I teared up and tried to hold myself together; just because no real change had happened after such good, strong laboring, didn't mean my labor would fail and I'd end up with another c-section. Justin and LeeAnn assured me that everything was happening just as it should, and told me not to worry about the numbers at all.

I breathed in, breathed out, and tried put all thoughts of centimeters and cervixes out of my head.

Instead, I concentrated on the strength of my body, the warmth of my husband's arms under my clinging hands, the sounds of my doula humming along with me, and my baby daughter curled up inside me.

I was doing this for her, and we would see each other soon.


And I'll see YOU soon too -- mid-day tomorrow -- for the third installment of Lauren's birth story.

11 comments:

  1. Ack! You stopped writing again! Tomorrow? I can't wait!

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  2. we have to wait until tomorrow???? can't wait to hear what happens next :)

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  3. Gah!!! I am riveted. You meant you were posting the next installment tonight, right? Right?!

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  4. Oh my gosh! I have goosebumps and tears in my eyes! Hurry - we must hear the rest!

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  5. I don't know why, but I love reading birth stories :)
    And oh my goodness.. your description took me right back to the panic that set in when I realized I'd have to get in our little car to get to the hospital when I was in labor with Fynn!!

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  6. Oh, and like Corinne I have a car-ride memory myself. It was not pretty. :)

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  7. Oh my, I can't wait to see where this is going.

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  8. Hurry Friday, Hurry!! I am so excited!! (you write the best birth stories)

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  9. Ok -- couple of things:

    1. My hubby's birthday is March 27 -- one day before Lauren's!

    2. I am SO GLAD I'm not the only one who experienced painful, rocking contractions and was only dilated to a two! That was me too! I hear of women who walk around dilated to a 3 or 4 and it has always made me feel like a wimp. But you understand! I feel better :)

    3.Can't you finish the story tonight? Pretty please??

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  10. You stopped there? Meanie.

    I couldn't STAND to lay still long enough to be checked during labor either... it was pure torture!

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?