Thursday, November 25, 2010

my birth story

I was originally intending to write a separate version of this for this blog. But i have no time ever and since i just want to get this posted i decided to cross post this from my Friends Only blog to here. Feel special lol

here it finally is, my birth story...directly posted from my more personal blog so it's got all the details ;)


okay this got VERY long and took me an incredibly long time to write. I would love it if you would read it though...this is definitely a story about the most significant thing that has ever happened in my life. And i don't mean that just because i had my baby but because of what happened during the birth...i just, i'm not sure even how to begin recovering honestly but i know that i can.

so here we go: The Birth Story of Henry Ryan

(i started this the same day he was born)
I know it's kind of insane to be writing this the same day that i gave birth to him but I have time at the moment while the baby is off getting some shots and being weighed and I really want to put this experience down on digital paper while it's still fresh in my mind. I have no doubt that it will get lengthy and take me quite a while to write but then again, that's fitting for the end of my pregnancy anyway in a fashion, isn't it?

I do have to say that this birth experience was overall incredibly traumatic for me. I guess that word "traumatic" really just sort of sums it up the best. Traumatic with the most worthwhile ending there possibly could be (i know that's cliche to say but it's so true. before I had my baby and i would see people say things like that i would always kind of inwardly shrug a little just because i thought it was simply an "expected" thing to say...i didn't know that it's just oh my god the absolute truth. it really, really is, my baby is amazing...he's so amazing and i love him SO MUCH it hurts).

I want to start off with a little tidbit that is interesting and unrelated and makes me happy. I will come back and insert photos into this later to show you what i mean but for now I will just describe it.

Back when we found out we were having a boy, Ryan and i went out and got a big mylar (one of those fancy foil ones) balloon in the shape of a blue foot. It said "It's a Boy!" on it. That's how we announced to my family that we were expecting a son.

We got the balloon and found out Henry's sex on June 9th (five months exactly before Henry's birthday!).

I brought the balloon into our livingroom and tied it to this "Happily Ever After" sign on our mantle. It proceeded to float there - never sinking at all like most helium balloons - until yesterday (Monday, the day i went into labor).

It's funny because Ryan and I have occasionally commented to one another about the state of that balloon and the fact that it was still floating in the air. Then last Friday when my due date came and went sailing on by i said to him, "you watch, when that balloon sinks, the baby will be born."

and i kid you not, i woke up on the 8th and noticed that the balloon had started sinking. This coincided with a night of contractions and a different feeling in my belly. I knew it was really going to be real this time, i just KNEW it and when i saw that balloon like that i was positive. i know that might be weird to some of you but it was just the absolute truth to me.

Throughout the day I had more and more contractions that hurt and felt different than before.

Along with that fact, all day long the balloon sank lower and lower towards the floor in our livingroom.

I just find that fascinating and amazing...the fact that that happened with the balloon. That balloon had been in the air for five months without moving at all and then suddenly the day the baby starts to make his way into the world, it starts to sink? so crazy! How does the universe always know to give me gifts like that? I am so lucky to find signs everywhere.

Anyway, let's get back to his birth...

like i said, Monday the 8th just felt different. I had had contractions through the night that kept me up a lot and they were quite different than the braxton hicks that i had grown accustomed to experiencing day in and day out. Ryan went to work but it wasn't long before i was texting him and saying that something more was going on and to keep on alert. By 2:00 i had asked him to come home.

My sister had come over and i had put myself to bed for a nap to try and figure out what was going on with my contractions. I started timing them and watched as they went from 8 minutes apart to 7 minutes apart to 3 - 5 minutes apart for a few hours. that's when i asked Ryan to come home. They were on and off like that all day and I honestly wasn't sure what was going on or if it was another false alarm.

I went to bed after my bath around 9:45PM. I didn't get much (if any) sleep at all though. my contractions were coming every 6 minutes or so. Then they went to 5 minutes, 4 minutes, 3 minutes and by around 1:00 in the morning they were 1:30 to 2:00 minutes apart

***back from a brief hiatus during which Henry returned to our room, the lactation consultant showed me some different techniques, i fed him, swaddled him and then held him as he fell
asleep. so cute***

so like i said, by around 2:00 in the morning they were REALLY close together and so i woke up Ryan and we went over to the hospital. i was 4 centimeters and we were admitted!


i noticed that the contractions were really intense when the triage nurse made me lay down.

***super long hiatus that time lol (i'm including these notes to remind myself what my first day with baby is like...he cried in the middle of writing that last part and i never got back to it...this is literally like five hours later (it's 4:45 in the morning now and Henry just went back to sleep after eating, Ryan is snoring away and i'm just kinda sitting here in awe of things. i should be sleeping but i'm having trouble)***

anyway, i noticed that my contractions were SO painful when i was asked to lay on my side for a while. This was new and something i just kinda kept in mind.

anyway, we were admitted and sent to our super gorgeous fancy labor and delivery room. we got
hooked up to monitors etc. At this point i was able to walk so i walked myself over there.

Our nurse was named Patti and she wasn't really too familiar with people wanting to go natural although she tried to be as supportive of that goal as possible for me. She asked a lot of other nurses for tips and advice and she was really sweet. She knew i wanted the freedom to walk
around but she wanted to keep the baby on the monitor for a while at first because he had been
sleepy through contractions so i agreed for 15 minutes of monitoring.

15 minutes stretched out into about an hour because she had to ask us a ton of questions for the
admittance process and because the baby kept coming off the monitor (typical! he always hated those). In the meantime, my contractions had definitely intensified and i was having to focus to get through them. The wallpaper in the room was gray with swirls in it and I was able to find random abstract shapes in the swirls to focus on while i breathed through the contractions.

I want to stop for a minute here to try and explain what contractions feel like. I always
wondered about this before i had the baby and no one could ever explain it. I sorta understand
that now because there really isn't much of a comparable experience. I'm going to try anyway...

so first (at least for me), contractions start off with a menstrual-cramp like feeling. that's part of it that builds up into the actual contraction. Most contractions are about 60 seconds long. So the menstrual cramp feeling eases in and gets stronger and then it becomes more of a centralized pain. Some people feel that pain in their lower backs, some in their whole abdominal region, some deep inside their pelvis. Some all three at different times and it changes.

For me, most of the time the pain was in what i was imagining to be the space between my pelvic bones - literally where the baby was. It was a "bony" kind of pain. It felt like a my body was just closing in around a solid mass that didn't fit where it was and that my body was in pain because of that.

It's like the way a rock hurts your foot when it's lodged in a shoe with's uncomfortable and it hurts and your body rebels against it.

Sometimes though the pain was in my back and it was different but still equally as painful. It's not like a muscular pain, for some reason all of the contraction pain feels deeper than that to me - like bone-level pain. The back pain felt just like that - my bones in my back hurt and they were being pushed on from something inside and it was incredibly uncomfortable.

So during the contraction this pain experience gets escorted on with a menstrual-like cramp and then it takes center stage and does it's thing for about 40 seconds and then it tapers off. They have fancy little monitors that chart the rise and fall of the contraction for you btw.

After about an hour on the monitor, our nurse told us we could walk around but first the doctor was here and wanted to check my progress. It was probably about 4:00 in the morning by then...maybe 4:45.

The doctor came in and said i was at a 6 - 7 dilated, 90% effaced and the baby was at a -1 station

so we got ready after that to get up and walk. By then i noticed that when i shifted positions from anything but sitting in the bed (for example to swinging my legs over the side of the bed, to standing, etc) i was in a LOT of pain. The weight of gravity pulling on the baby inside of me was excruciating. Seriously, it really hurt.

They took me off the monitors and told me I could walk but I quickly found that really I couldn't walk at all. It honestly just hurt too much. I couldn't tolerate the contractions in an upright position, i almost threw up twice from the pain. So Ryan and I went back to the room and I climbed back into the bed with my abstract owls and other random shapes on the wall and i labored there for a while more.

Patti had been trying to convince me to get in a rocking chair to labor for a while and i had kept resisting since walking was pretty bad and changing position hurt so much but at around 6:00 or so i agreed. It wasn't good.

It hurt really bad and I couldn't do it so I ended up back in the bed a bit longer.

I got checked again at this point and I was at 7 CM, still 90% and the baby had moved down to a 0 station. I was disappointed that i had only really stepped up a little bit in terms of centimeters but i was encouraged by the 0 station, i knew that meant that once i could get all the way dilated that i would be able to push right away. Also, my water was still in tact.

There was a shift change for the staff at the hospital at like 7:00AM and we got a new nurse named Sandi. Sandi is amazing. Seriously, Sandi was like a gift to us from the universe, for sure.

What was also extremely lucky for us I was her only patient (it was for some reason (thanks to the grace of God my grandmother would say) really quiet in the Labor and Delivery ward that morning. I had Sandi all to myself and she was awesome.)

Her favorite kinds of patients are the ones who want to go all natural and she herself has given birth naturally three times. She was sooooo awesome to me during contractions (which were getting really intense at this point because i was entering what's known as transition - the period between 8 centimeters and 10 centimeters). She would sit on the edge of my bed and stroke my leg and just say "you can do this, breath it out. you've got this" and she would watch the rise of the contraction on the monitor and say, "you're at the peak now, you can get through it,now it's coming down, you did it" and it was amazing.

i also have to say that Ryan was incredible as well. he kept stroking me, telling me i was so strong, i was so incredible, i could do it, i was doing great. He was so reassuring to me, it was amazing.

Also earlier before this part my mom and sister Heather came in and talked with me a few times. my mom didn't stay in the room much which surprised me but she's had a cold this week and i think she was staying away for that reason. Heather was in and out. My sister Eunice even came by for a little while.

anyway, so Sandi was really helping me out. By the time I got to this phase (before i knew i was at 8 cm) it was really getting intense.

The doctors had a shift change too at 8:00AM and me and Ryan were anxious to find out who our doctor was going to be for delivery. There was only one doctor in my whole practice of 14 or so who we DIDN'T want to have. So of course, guess who walked in at shift change? Yup, you guessed it: the one we didn't want: Dr. F.

Dr. F is smart, but he's got a weird bedside manner. one might actually be able to say that he just doesn't have many social skills. He's got googly-looking eyes and big round glasses.

The whole pregnancy, Ryan and I were joking that since he was the only doctor we didn't want, he would obviously be the one we would get. And of course, that's what happened.

So Dr. F walks in and i just look at Ryan and he looks at me and in between contractions we laugh. Figures we say to each other without even saying it at all.

He comes over and during the middle of a contraction he decides to check my progress. This is kind of insane because most doctors had at least been waiting until between contractions before putting their hands in me and feeling my cervical opening. Anyway, so when he checked me i was at 8 centimeters.

I proceeded to stay at 8 centimeters for a while.

and this is when things sorta shifted. The contractions had hurt the whole time but they had totally been manageable. now they started to REALLY hurt. Like, really, really hurt. This is corresponding with the baby getting lower in my pelvis which my nurse said was to be expected to be a little more intense. She said to expect it to be more intense in terms of pressure but this was more intense in terms of pain. Like, we're talking really intense. It was bad and I wondered what was going on.

They broke my water and things continued.

The pain got worse and worse and worse. it was honestly becoming impossible for me to maintain focus and control through the contractions.

I want to stop here because people spend a lot of time talking about the pain of labor and the pain of contractions. It is my experience that everything up until this shift did hurt, yes, but it was 100% manageable. it really was. it's a mind-over-matter situation honestly and my head was in the game and i was going to beat it.

then something happened and i just could feel that something was wrong here. This pain was NOTHING like what i thought a body would need to go through in order to get a baby out. Nothing like it. This was the pain of the contractions i had been having earlier only it was multiplied by a hundred percent. i can't even express to you how much this started to hurt. It was unbelievable.

It felt like the bones in my pelvis were literally being jacked apart with a crowbar. I'm not exaggerating here okay? i literally just sat here trying to verbalize what the pain felt like and that is the exact image i came up with: that is REALLY what it felt like. (disclaimer to people who are pregnant: as i am about to explain, pain this bad isn't normal so don't freak out and expect this to be your experience AT ALL). Literally, my pain at this point felt like my bones were breaking inside of me. I kept trying to maintain control, maintain my attitude and my goals (natural birth) and go forward with things but I was really starting to lose it. It was about 8:45 in the morning and the contractions got so intense i literally was unable to stop myself from screaming through them. Screaming. Not yelling or moaning. I'm talking blood-curdling, horror-film screams. Like i was being stabbed. seriously.

This is when I decided I had to get the epidural.

I know that despite my description, that sentence might surprise a lot of you because you all know my incredibly intense desire to have a natural birth. That should indicate to you though exactly how bad this pain was. Seriously, this was unlike anything i can explain. It felt like my bones were being broken every minute that i had a contraction (and the contractions were one minute apart and coming in pairs). Again, i have to say here i am NOT exaggerating or using hyperbole. Also, i need to say again, this is NOT typical, i'll explain why in a second.

Anyway, so Ryan and I had come up with a Safe Word for me to use if i had to give in and get the epidural. The rule was if i said it, i was serious. We had read that all women contemplate giving in at some point and so we came up with the safe word just to make sure that if i felt that way and meant it that we would know it was the real deal. So i came up with a safe word...something you're only supposed to say if you REALLY mean it. something you don't ever WANT to say and isn't something you enjoy saying and doesn't mean good things to you.

my safe word was Lord Voldemort (lol)

so anyway, at like 8:30 in the morning i said it. I said, "Lord Voldemort. I can't do this anymore. I have to get the epidural"

you might be wondering how i came to that conclusion (or maybe not but it was a REALLY tough decision for me) I had Ryan help me figure it out.

Part of my problem was that i had no idea how much time was left and the idea of facing hours of this kind of pain literally was impossible for me to imagine. So Ryan said, "what if you have to get through another hour of contractions? Could you do that?" and i did the math..thirty more of these i knew i couldn't do it. I was just not capable. The mental side of that much pain at that point was killing me. I said no. So he said, "okay what about 45 minutes" and i said no again he said "what about 30 minutes" and i said no. I knew then that i had to get the epidural because honestly, i could only make it the 20 or so minutes that Sandi told me it would take to get the anesthesiologist up into the room with us to administer it. I couldn't take it any more than that. Not at all.

So I said Lord Voldemort and we called for the epidural.

I second guessed myself a lot. I felt like a failure, I felt like I was going back on my goals, i felt like i had given in. But during the contractions, i literally thought i was going to die. I was literally unable to take any more. I knew i made the right choice.

Sandi knew i felt bad and said, "would you like to get checked once more to see if you've progressed before you get it?" and i said yes. Dr. F said he wouldn't be able to check me for 10 minutes or so and so i said, "never mind, i can't wait that long."

the anesthesiologist and Dr. F came into the room at the same time. Dr. F checked me and i was still at an 8. It was probably 8:45 at this point. I signed the consent form and the anesthesiologist went ahead and started getting stuff done. It takes about 10 minutes to get it in place.

Then she says words that i didn't know were coming and that i thought were going to kill me: "Now you have to lay flat for 20 minutes for it to work"

do you remember how i mentioned earlier that laying flat was the absolute most painful thing for me? whenever they had to check my cervical progress they would lay me flat and I would cry hysterically because it hurt THE MOST in that position. Now i was going to have to lay flat for 20 minutes? I just kept telling myself it's okay, soon the pain will be over. this is the last contraction you have to survive through. because, i reasoned, within that 20 minutes the medication would kick in and I would be okay.

The anesthesiologist kept saying "are your legs getting warm and tingly?" and i would say, "no" because they weren't. Sandi our nurse would get ice and drag it across my upper belly and then my lower belly and then my legs and she said "does this feel the same everywhere" and it did. Exactly the same.

meanwhile my contractions kept coming and i kept being forced to lay down and go through them in that position. I was HYSTERICAL at this point. I'm not going to sugar coat this or anything, i was screaming in pain. SCREAMING in pain. I was trying to get through it but it was just so bad that I literally coudln't stop the screams from coming out. I could NOT stop them. I had lost control mentally so I was giving in to the physical. I snapped, something in me literally snapped and I absolutely lost my mind.

The anesthesiologist left at some point during this and after a while it became apparent to all of us that something went wrong.

The prognosis? The epidural just didn't work for me. It didn't work. not even SLIGHTLY

I have this problem at the dentist. Whenever they try to give me Novocaine i have to get like 7 shots before it works. I was afraid this might happen if i ever needed more serious pain medication but i never actually thought it would.

I mean, i'm not kidding here guys. It literally did NOTHING at all. Sandi did a test and it showed that it had NO effect on me whatsoever. None.

this is when i had some kind of further mental break. Sandi let me sit up again at least which was some minor little glimmer of light in the situation but really provided hardly any help because when you change position while in labor it causes another contraction to come. I was out of my mind. I'm not kidding. Out of my mind. I had lost my control and I was unable to do anything at this point but scream through the contractions. It was probably 9:30 or so by then.

Sandi gave me a choice, she said I could try again with the epidural or I could just try to power through. I knew i could never take 20 more minutes of laying down so i said forget it, i would just get through it. I said i knew that I had lost myself mentally and i asked for help to try and get it back. She said that i had been so strong up until that point and i could do it.

by 9:40 whenever a contraction would come I would feel like i had to push. Actually, no, it's more than that, i would feel my body pushing even though i was told not to push yet.

I begged for someone to check me and a doctor came in and said that i was almost at 10 but there was still a little ridge left and i couldn't push yet. Each contraction came and i would have to fight my body not to push even though i could tell it was pushing anyway. I got through some more and said there was nothing i could do i HAD to push. They had someone else come check me and she said "the ridge is gone, you can push" and she reached in and checked again. I got to push once before she said, "Wait, STOP."


She was urgent about her command and i just knew something was wrong.

She said, "Do NOT push, i mean it"

She was feeling the baby and she said again that i absolutely could NOT push, that something was going on. Then she said, "I think i feel his chin coming out first."

since this girl was apparently a resident, they ran out and got another doctor. It wasn't Dr. F it was the first doctor they found. That woman came in, felt the baby (meanwhile i had to scream HYSTERICALLY and NOT push at all through two contractions while they looked for her) she felt the baby and said, "that's his chin. She can't deliver vaginally."

all of a sudden they were telling me i had to go to the OR for a C Section. I screamed and said "I can't have a c-section! my epidural didn't work" they said, "we know. we're going to have to put you under, you won't be conscious for the birth."

this was literally the worst thing i had ever heard. THIS was my absolute, all time worst case scenario. I said "please, please, is there anything else we can do? I don't want that. I'm so scared! I don't want surgery. What if THAT medication doesn't work and i don't go under? what if i can feel it? Is there anything we can do? please?"

They said "no this is what has to happen and we have to go NOW."

Ryan is over my shoulder telling me it will all be okay, he won't let anything bad happen to me. I can do this, it's going to be okay.

then Dr. F comes in, someone had found him. He checks me and he says, "Wait a minute. This baby's chin is up at the top, not at the bottom, she can deliver him vaginally."

he recites a little Rhyme "position A, push away" and then said "his chin is presenting first, yes, but he's in position A so it's alright for her to deliver"

What he meant was, not only was the baby coming out with his face first (instead of the top of his head) but he was ALSO facing up (so he was sunny-side up). Apparently if you're going to have a baby come out face-first, this is the way you want to do it. If he were face-first but facing downward, that is somehow worse and i would NOT have been able to deliver vaginally.

Most of the material i've been able to google about this since the birth (admittedly not much) says that only .4 percent of babies are delivered this way. Dr. F told me not to worry, he had delivered babies like this before, i could do it and he was really excited about it. I actually found this amusing! i was so relieved to be able to push and get him out that i had gotten my mental stamina back.

Dr. F blew away my previous misjudgments of him immediately. He is quite obviously a genius. he started spitting out all this knowledge and organizing everyone in the room. He then started saying what a miracle it was that we were going to get to witness a birth like this. He was really actually super excited about it.

Finally I was allowed to push again and push i did. Ryan counted for me and I was able to push four times per contraction. They all said that I was doing awesome. I started pushing at 10:00 exactly (i looked at the clock).

The pushing was a HUGE relief from the pain of the contractions. In fact, i actually almost LIKED it. It was finally progress.

Slowly i noticed the room filling up with people. Word about the way Henry was being born was spreading and people wanted to see it. The room filled up with doctors and nurses. They were all SO kind to me. One came and stood by my head and rubbed my forehead with a cold wet cloth wihle i pushed. My nurse Sandi kept saying "you are so strong, you can do this!"

they all kept saying "wow you're such a great pusher!" someone said, "if this was a normal birth you would have had him out in three pushes!"

Then his lips showed up. Someone said, "his lips are out! he's coming to kiss you!" and i laughed even though i was pushing. It took a few more pushes but slowly but surely the rest of his face came too. He came out like that, face first into the world amidst excited chatter of doctors and my immense relief.

i was able to push him out in 29 minutes. He was born at 10:29.

AND they told me to open my eyes so i could see him being born. I was scared but i did and oh my gosh, it was so amazing.

I only got a brief glimpse of him though. They had to rush him away to make sure that he didn't swallow and fluid. I didn't get to hold him for at least a half an hour. ryan ran over and took a picture of him for me though. I knew he was beautiful.

They kept warning me that his face would be incredibly bruised and oh my god it was. His face was a dark purple and his lips were swollen to four times their size at least. I have pictures but they're not on a computer yet.

But he was born! he was born and he was okay! and i delivered the placenta and they sewed me up (i only had a second degree tear, Dr. F said that was amazing! and he said it's not even a bad one at that. I woudn't have torn at all had it been a "normal" birth). He said "this is like the world series of birth experiences for a doctor, you just don't get to witness something like this very often."

all of the people were so nice to us, they all said i did a great job.

After a half hour i finally got to hold him. I was an emotional mess, he was so swollen and bruised but he was MINE and he was here and i couldn't believe he was finally here. I got to hold him for probably 15 minutes and me and Ryan chose his name officially and then Sandi had to take him to the special nursery for monitoring because his face was so swollen they had to make sure he could breathe. He wasn't able to open his eyes because his cheeks were swollen but he did sneak a tiny peak at me when she put him in my arms. He has beautiful dark blue eyes. and so much hair!

oh my gosh guys, he is so beautiful.

After they took him away, i noticed that my whole body was pretty violently shaking. In fact, my body had been shaking for hours at that point. That's "normal" but it's something that you don't know about usually. I could still feel my legs and everything obviously despite having received that epidural. In fact, I was able to stand up and walk easily.

Ryan went out and told our waiting families that he was here, it was really awesome to get to announce that he had been born and that he was okay. They hadn't known about ANY of the drama because Ryan hadn't left my side for hours. They were all concerned but honestly, i remember thinking in the middle of it all that it was good that they didn't know. I didn't need them hearing me scream like that. my mother would have felt so helpless. No one needs to go through that. Better to be aware after it's over and everything is okay.

We got taken to our hospital room after an hour and then Henry was allowed to come in and room with us after two more hours. finally our families were able to meet him around 3:30 that afternoon.

And while this story does have a miraculous ending, I can't help but be scarred by it in some way. The pain i went through was so intense because of how he was presenting (how he was coming out of the birth canal) and for the rest of the day when I would have cramps that were just due to my body calming down, i would seize in fear over the thought of the pain. I was told that this was the most painful way to have a child. I can really understand why. And not only that but the epidural didn't work.

at this point in time, I don't think i am going to ever have another baby. I just am so terrified of another experience like that. We came so close to something so terrible happening and i know i couldn't survive another labor like that with the knowledge that pain relief just apparently isn't even in the cards for me. Sure, a "normal" labor would be something i could definitely handle, i know that with 100% certainty at this point but I could never go through this experience again. Never, ever. I honestly feel like I have some kind of post-birth trauma or something. I want to see a therapist I think because it was THAT painful and disarming for me. When i breastfeed the baby now, it causes cramps in my uterus (which is normal and a GOOD thing - it shrinks my uterus back to size) but every time i have a cramp like that i get afraid i'm going to have another contraction. Remember how i explained that they come in for me like a menstrual cramp...that's what these uterus contractions feel like too and it gives me flashbacks and I am scared and right back in those moments again.

Hopefully this will dissipate over time but for now it's incredibly vivid and still incredibly scary for me.

BUT nothing takes away the fact that my baby is here. Nothing. Honestly, he is so amazing and so wonderful.

his breathing is good, his swelling has gone down, his lips are now a completely normal size. his face is still bruised but it is clearing up all the time and soon it will be gone completely. He is amazing, he is a little fighter and he is so wonderful. I love him so much i can't even express it. SO MUCH. and it was worth all of that pain to get him at the end. it really and honestly was worth it. He is just...god i just love him.

so that's the story of my birth experience with Henry Ryan. That's why his face looks like that in the pictures, that's why his lips are "so full". He was so, so swollen. the poor little baby.

but i love him so much, oh my god guys, i just love him so very much.

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