Tuesday, March 22, 2016

avery amelia's birth story.

As I am waxing nostalgic and thinking back due to Avery's quickly-approaching first birthday, I thought I would take a moment to share her birth story. I actually posted this previously, before I did some blog refreshing and weeding out of old posts. I am going to edit this, though, to reflect some newer information.

|| One piece of that newer information is that in August of 2015, the ob-gyn who I saw all through Avery's pregnancy and who delivered Avery died very suddenly and tragically. He was the most amazing doctor I have ever met, and it breaks my heart to know he is gone. I am so lucky I had the experience of going through my first pregnancy and childbirth with him. ||

Let me just take a second to warn you, this might get a wee bit graphic. If you don't want to hear about the nitty gritty details of childbirth, perhaps you ought to steer clear. Or go out on a limb and read on out of morbid curiosity? Whatever floats your boat...

Anyhow...

I really enjoyed sitting down and remembering Avery's birth story. It actually is a lot of fun for me to think back and relive the whole experience in my memory. I am still amazed and awed that I went through that, and proud that I was tough and made it through such a scary, painful experience. I guess it helps that the end result is something so amazing! :D  So, here goes:

On the afternoon of Monday, April 6th, 2015 (my mom's birthday!), I had my second weekly doctor's appointment. He checked my cervix, which was dilated 1 1/2 to 2 cm and thinned and effaced a bit more than the previous time. So, nothing that shouts shortly impending labor. However, my blood pressure was elevated, which worried him a bit, so he told me to visit the hospital that Wednesday for some screenings to make sure everything was still okay. Needless to say, that didn't happen, though I was at the hospital on Wednesday...



That evening, I was wiping a bit of my mucous plug / bloody show, which had begun happening at my first cervix check the previous week, so I didn't think much of it. We had Popeye's chicken from the drive-thru for dinner: a silly detail, but one that sticks in my mind. I guess I'll be able to tell Avery what I had for dinner before she was born! Anyway, we settled in on the couch to watch some t.v., and I began having what, after more than a week of confusing Braxton-Hicks contractions of varying intensities, I felt were the real deal. I began timing said contractions; they were pretty far apart at first but were gradually getting closer. I actually still have the note on my iPhone where I was recording them...


So, at bedtime we went to bed, thinking that if this was going to be the real deal, we should try to get some sleep first. We decided that I would let Mike catch the ZZZZs he needed to be a good helper to me, and that I would not wake him up until things got more serious. So, he slept, and I wasn't able to. The contractions were getting more intense, though they were fairly inconsistent as far as timing goes. They were also very much in my BACK rather than in the front, which was a new sensation.

Finally, the contractions were bad enough that I texted my doula to let her know I thought it might be happening. I was still second-guessing myself because of all the Braxton-Hicks I'd been having and how confused I was...but part of me knew it was the real thing, especially because of the fact that I was feeling it so much in my back. My doula called me up, and she wasn't as sure, however. She advised me to take a warm bath with lavender oil, go up and down the stairs a few times taking them two at a time to help with the back labor, and try to get some more sleep. So I tried; but the bath was gross and uncomfortable and cooled off too fast, so I had to get in the shower instead, and lost all the hot water very quickly...so here I was, in labor, and taking the most uncomfortable cold shower...not pretty. I had to laugh so I wouldn't cry! The contractions were still bearable, so I went downstairs and turned Parks & Rec on on Netflix.

As Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope tried to help me through the beginning stages of my labor, things really started to amp up. I was in some SERIOUS pain in my back, and the contractions were getting closer together. I sat on my birth ball for some relief, rocking and swirling my hips, pausing Parks & Rec to breathe through my contractions which were so bad I couldn't stand to have the show on during them anymore. Finally, at about 4:00 a.m., I went and woke Mike up. It was time. We called my parents so they would come and stay with the dogs. Mike tried to call the doc's pager to no avail, and then called the doula, who suggested I eat something before we left for the hospital--all I could get down was some applesauce and fig newtons. Finally, Mike loaded us up and took us to the hospital.

I was wheeled up to triage (the staff all complimented me on my Death Star t-shirt, ha) and I was checked; I was dilated 4 cm. My contractions were pretty consistently 4-5 minutes apart at this point. Since I was positive for Group B strep, they got me admitted and got me my first dose of antibiotics. My doula came and things were rolling.


Since I was having such intense, painful back labor, my doula was worried Avery might be sunny-side up. She had me try walking the halls, doing some lunges and leg lifts to try to get baby to turn. I only made it one lap, though, before I asked to go back to the room. I just was not feeling the walking around stuff. So, in the room, she had me try a few different positions, and tried her rebozo on me for trying to turn Avery, but when I found the holy grail of positions for laboring, there was nothing they could do to convince me to try anything different: on the floor, on my hands and knees, sometimes leaning an arm on the birth ball. I guess it helped take the pressure off my back. When I had to lay on the bed to be checked, I thought I was dying. It was the floor or nothing, folks. So they got down there with me and made it work. I was in primal mama state, my brain barely aware of what was going on around me or what was being said; I just focused in on my breathing and moaning (the doula kept telling me to "sing" my baby out and to make low noises) through the pain. I threw up a few times, I guess from the pain, and so my doula had me sniffing some aromatherapy oils which kind of seemed to help a little.

I was on the floor on my hands and knees, laboring through the contractions, with my doula giving me reminders in my ear to breathe and to "sing," she and Mike taking turns putting counter pressure on my back and hips for 5 hours straight. We had a shift change of nurses and they probably thought I was nuts. I was getting the impression that the "natural" stuff wasn't seen all that much. Everyone was a little surprised that I was going sans-epidural (which, by the way, I asked for three times even though I had decided I wanted to avoid it! Mike and my doula kind of diverted me each time, not to deny my wishes but because they wanted to postpone it until she felt like baby had turned for our safety). I had a student nurse in the room for a whole shift, shadowing a senior nurse (who kind of butted heads with my doula!), and she was as sweet as can be and said she wanted to be a nurse-midwife. I vaguely noted them talking about how this would be her first time of seeing a "natural" childbirth. Everyone sort of talked like they were surprised by my avoidance of the epidural and by my insistence on laboring in this weird position. From my childbirth classes at the hospital, though, I had been given the impression that this was pretty common! I guess not as much as I thought. Everyone was very nice, and accommodating to me and my preferences. 

I am not sure, but they may have given me my second dose of antibiotics while I was laboring on the floor. I vaguely remember holding out my arm for them to hook my IV line up to my saline lock. Shortly after, they had me lay on the bed to check my cervix--which was AWFUL, to lay on my still-painful back and hips--and found I was fully dilated and it was go time. I got really scared at this point! This was the scary part I was unsure about--pushing the baby out. Exciting, but so scary!


My doctor came in, and my doula tried to make the case for me pushing in an upright position as I had put in my birth plan, but my doc talked me into laying in the classic legs-up on the bed position without much protest from me, actually. I was tired, in pain, and ready to make this easy for him to help me out. I definitely felt like he was asking, and not telling me what to do, and felt respected by my doc. I just didn't care as much anymore about some of the things I really thought I would care about when the moment arrived. So I laid there, and before the pushing began, he was about to break my water, and first reached a finger in just to check...and it burst and gushed everywhere. It was kind of crazy! Then Mike held one leg, my doula held the other, and after some coaxing (I was so scared to begin!), I started to push.

Pushing a baby out is nuts! I did it in just 20 minutes, though. I didn't poop on the table, but I did pee everywhere, heh. It looked like a murder scene, too. I've never seen so much blood before! But I did it. There was much screaming, a good bit of pain that is thankfully fuzzy in my mind now--that is TOTALLY a thing--and I had a big ol' episiotomy AND a second degree tear. But nbd, that's all because Avery's head was (and is) freaking HUGE. 85th percentile. Yeah. GIGANTIC. It's a wonder it came out at all. Her head looked like the xenomorph heads in Alien, it was all squished to a point. But she came out facing the right way, and I pushed her giant head out with nothing but local anesthetic, which was mostly for the episiotomy and tearing. (My doctor also asked my permission before giving me the episiotomy--I had said I wanted to avoid getting one--and at that point, I could have cared less. I told him to go for it. Mike had a front-row seat and said from his view, there was just no way Avery was going to be able to come out without it. Yikes!)

They laid her on me, I cried, Mike even cried a little, and it was awesome. Avery Amelia was 6 pounds, 11.4 ounces, and 19 1/2 inches long.


I still can't believe I kicked ass and gave birth like that. I think just the very act of being brave enough and strong enough to do it AT ALL, however you do it, with whatever meds or procedures you do or don't have, is a huge thing. It's certainly a rite of passage and your survival through it, however it went, ought to give any woman a huge confidence boost. You made it through that! You are amazing! I can't say I definitely wouldn't go for an epidural the next time around, so I certainly don't feel like it gives me any sort of superiority for having gone without. Bragging rights, maybe, but trivial ones that don't make me any tougher than anyone else!


So, there you have it. It was certainly an insane experience, and insanely painful, but one I look back on almost longingly. I must be some kind of crazy masochist because thinking about it actually makes me want to do it again. I don't feel sad about the parts that didn't go according to my wishes, which I'm thankful for--I went in knowing a lot would be ultimately out of my hands and up to chance as the events unfolded, and I'm glad I pre-let-go of any hangups on the experience itself. As my doc said, all childbirth is inherently natural, when it comes down to it! He also did Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions and made Harry Potter jokes while I was pushing the baby out, so, yeah...Basically the best doctor ever. I will miss him very, very much the next time I go through the experience of a pregnancy and birth.


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