Childbirth. A beautiful and terrible act.
For pain and suffering to go hand in hand with bliss and rejoicing is nothing short of a miracle and that, of course, is exactly what birth is.For pain and suffering to go hand in hand with bliss and rejoicing is nothing short of a miracle and that, of course, is exactly what birth is.Click To Tweet
We just welcomed our third son into the family and while I’ve not made time for blogging since the first of this year, writing is how I come to terms with things and so I’m writing again. Writing and sharing the birth story of our little Andre Jean.
Any woman who has given birth in situations less than what they desired will understand the feelings of loss. Sure, they have a healthy baby and that truly is what matters most, but losing your ideal birth is also a real loss and there is no shame in mourning it.
ICP (Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy) has been my lot since our first.
Extreme fatigue, anemia, itching on hands, feet, and even all over, are things the momma deals with. Risks include increased chance of hemorrhaging at birth and increased risk of stillbirth.
Treatment is medication and early induction.
Instead of being pregnant for 40 to 42 weeks like I expected to be (like my mom was) I’m going into the hospital at 37 weeks, with a body not nearly ready for labor but needing induced for the safety of my baby.
I honestly thought I was okay with it this time. After all, it wasn’t my first rodeo. They had us coming in Thursday evening to start induction and knowing how things have went in the past I anticipated (and correctly so) a Sunday baby.
I truly appreciate the nurses and midwives at the hospital we go to. They are kind and considerate, focusing on momma’s welfare as well as baby’s. As a result, the inductions are as “gentle” as an induction can be.
My Inductions are Slow.
The first 26 hours I’m in the hospital (yes you read that right) they have me on cervical ripeners. This time is a bit boring, but I used it to continue my stretches and the spinning babies techniques I had learned in my desire to avoid back labor this time. As I learned with my second child, back labor while on Pitocin is miserable. I also managed to finish crocheting a baby blanket I had started while pregnant with my first!
This brings us to Friday night when they put in a Foley bulb to force dilation of the cervix. When the bulb comes out during the dark hours of Saturday morning we knew I was at 4 cm dilated. But the contractions that were strong and steady with the bulb in, die down to nearly nothing by 6 or 7 am Saturday morning so we start the Pit.
Walking, resting, changing positions. The nurses and the midwife are certain that Saturday is the day. I’m not so certain.
The Pit is very slowly increased throughout the day and by 7pm Sat eve I ask my doula to come in. At this point I think I may escape back labor but no matter what position I am in, after about 20-30 minutes the contractions move from my stomach to my back, so I change positions again.
Went to the hallway around 9 or 10p and walked I think close to an hour. The contractions were hard and decently regular, but it felt better to walk through them than to stop so that’s what I did.
Back to the room for rest and my midwife makes sure the pool is filled with air as she expects a baby soon. In spite of regular hard contractions, I’m not sure. I’m still talking between the contractions and while in pain, I’m certainly not in enough pain to be close to giving birth.
During this time I was dealing with some serious restless leg syndrome. In fact, they were so annoying and antsy during contractions, that for a time I didn’t even notice the contractions but rather focused on keeping my legs still. In fact, just remembering it, has my legs dancing again!
Slowly Getting There
Now time starts to blur, we walked in the hallways again, but this time was much harder to walk during contractions and I was wearing out. Back to the room and back in bed with position changes every 20 to 30 minutes. Definitely relying on Jason and my doula for more and more support.
They gave me a pill for the pain that was supposed to last around 2 hours and give me a little break and perhaps a small nap. It did give me a break and a short nap but only lasted around 1 hour instead of the promised 2.
It was getting hard and I was still having the odd contraction in my back here and there. I was also feeling more emotional and close to tears. This whole process takes so long and deep inside I was a little worried about my baby. He felt small. He always had felt small in the womb compared to my memory of the other two. I always measured right, but he just felt small.
Definitely getting closer to time as my tears were near the surface and I was hoping, hoping that the next time they checked me I would be dilated enough to get into the pool. I was needing relief and soon.
Finally, they gave me the okay to get into the pool. I slid into the warm water and waited for the expected relief. With my other 2 the pool had been my lifesaver, a natural type of epidural.
This time though, the pool broke me.
It psychologically broke me. There was no relief. None. The contractions were coming harder and faster and they were both back and front, which I didn’t believe anything could be worse than straight back labor and I was wrong. This was far worse.
In spite of my dear hubby’s support and the doula’s coaching, I was losing control and fast. I asked them to break my water, hoping things would progress a little faster.
*Jason told me this little bit. After breaking my water, the midwife and nurse stepped away for a bit and Jason heard them talking in a low tone, something about presenting funny.
Now the pain has become so great that I’m panicking. My body has betrayed me, it threatens the life of the child I’m bearing and I cannot handle the pain of induction any longer. I ask for an epidural, Tylenol, anything. I don’t care anymore, just get me out of this body of pain.
No quiet moans, no breathing through the pain, I’m roaring, tried pounding the walls, writhing. I ask the midwife if she can turn off the Pit as I’m certain it’s going to kill me. She kindly tells me that I was only at 7 cm when she broke my water.
Only a 7?! I nearly lost it all over again when suddenly my pain fogged brain registered what she said. She had broke my water less than an hour ago and I was at a 7 then. Knowing how fast I go from 6 to 10 I realized I could be nearly there.
While not feeling the need to push, I started gently trying to bear down, and it worked! (probably the pain blocked the normal “pushy” feeling) Slowly and carefully I pushed hoping to avoid the tearing and rebreaking of my tailbone that happened with my other 2.
The “ring of fire” and then I felt something slide out. I said the head was out and they didn’t believe me. Certain I had felt something I reached down and felt “something” it wasn’t smooth and round like a head though. Jason looked down and then realized he was seeing and arm!
A Perfect Baby Boy
Andre was born with at least 1 arm by his face. Possibly he had both armsfists up there as what I felt seemed lumpy enough for it. The photo below shows where his arm was in the birth canal, as the vernix is rubbed off there.
The arm(s) by his face explained a lot. The odd back contraction, the horrible pains right at the end and… within 15 minutes of being born, he had fingers in his mouth!
Born Sunday morning at 6:36. He was definitely my smallest baby at 6 pounds, 9 ounces, but not near as small as I feared. Sweet and absolutely perfect. Good apgar scores and no need for any nicu time at all. Such a blessing that none of my early babies have needed medical help.
My recovery this time has been amazing. Because my pushing was controlled, there was no tearing, and my tailbone did not break.
Yet, there’s mental pain left behind.
That’s where I mourn. I sorrow the realization that at this point I will probably always have ICP, always need induced and always have horrible labors.
Do I want to do this again? I always did before, but now, I’m not sure. Now I know a pool doesn’t always offer relief. Now I know that I can do everything in the world to get baby into position for labor and yet still have him present wrong.
It hurts. Will I even try again to have a birth without pain meds? I don’t know. At this point, the fear of losing control again, is greater than my fear of a needle stuck in my back.
They say time erases the pain of childbirth, but I’m not so sure. I remembered the others, and did everything I could to make this time easier and yet in many ways, it was far worse.
So I ask you, fellow momma’s who’ve lost their ideal birth; who tried to do everything right, but still ended up with things going wrong. Do you mourn that loss in spite of a healthy baby?