Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Birth Story: Retrospective

Today is the first anniversary of Shoshana's birth.  Originally, I had intended to post a detailed birth story on my blog.  I even had a couple of drafts.  Eventually, I abandoned them, because I was busy (imagine that!), and also the original post was overly-detailed, long, and mostly boring to read.

So, on her first birthday, I think it's appropriate to simply relate the story without too much minute-by-minute contraction statistics and the like.

One year and one day ago, I was lying in bed, peacefully asleep, when I felt Elizabeth bolt from the bed.  I heard her scramble for the bedroom door and charge to the bathroom.  My working model of physics did not allow for a pregnant woman to move that fast.  In the midst of my formulation of a new theory of mechanics, new information was presented to my brain, in the form of not-quite-water-sounding splatting noises, as if someone had scattered viscous liquid on the bathroom floor.  I glanced at the clock.  It was just shy of 5:00 AM. 

I got out of bed, and started mopping up.  Elizabeth had leaped from the bed and into the bathroom at a rather alarming rate for something as bulky as her pregnant body had become.  The resulting mess was less than I had anticipated.

The immediate crisis having been handled, I called Amanda, our midwife on my cell phone.  She assessed the situation, and instructed us to call her back when contractions started, and get some sleep in the meantime if we could.  Next we called Bethany, our doula, and Elizabeth's sister Katherine.  I changed the sheets, and Elizabeth went back to bed.  I took care of the chickens and ducks, got a load of laundry started, and cleared the baby's room, where the birthing tub would be set up, and finally got to bed.  Twenty minutes later, contractions started.

The contractions came on and off all morning.  Sometimes they were clustered together, and then they would peter out.  Amanda and her assistant Allison stopped by to monitor the baby's heart rate.  At Amanda's advice, we took a brisk walk around the block in an attempt to get things going.  Later, I installed the car seat in the car.  Elizabeth's due date wasn't for another two weeks, but thankfully two weeks prior, she had had some contractions, after which we had purchased all of the remaining "must have" items on our registry.

At noon, we called some more relatives to let them know what was going on.  Amanda and Allison stopped by again in the afternoon.  They take some vitals and some blood from Elizabeth, to monitor her for infection.  

Eventually that evening (about 11:00), the six of us (Elizabeth and I, Amanda, Allison, Bethany, and Sarah, Bethany's assistant) were sitting in the living room discussing the situation.  The baby was not coming.  It was decided that the two of us would get as much rest as possible, because we had a big day ahead of us tomorrow.

Elizabeth and I went to bed sometime around midnight.  When I woke up at 11:00 the next morning, Elizabeth had been up for several hours, and everyone was over again, sitting in the living room.  I made myself some breakfast and joined them.  They were discussing their options going forward.

For whatever reason, the baby did not seem to be coming.  Since Elizabeth's water was broken, the longer we waited, the more the danger of infection increased.  Since Elizabeth was not being "checked" at all, this danger was significantly less than it would have been in a hospital situation, where standard procedure is to check every hour (giving germs a free ride!).

It was decided that Elizabeth would take some sort of herbal "tincture" to help move things along, which was a kind of inducement, though obviously not as powerful as what would be given at a hospital.  I called Elizabeth's mom, and she went to the store and dropped off the ingredients that were necessary.  It was also decided that everyone would leave Elizabeth and I alone, so that we could have a peaceful, low-stress, comfortable time in which to allow labor to start.

And boy did it start!

At about 1:00, we called Amanda, asking if we should take the second dose of the tincture, given the strength of the contractions.  Midwives have this thing where they keep you on the phone and listen to your body, not so much your words, while they get you to talk and stay on the phone.  It's quite a clever trick, actually.  In any case, labor had started for real, and so she was on her way, and when we hung up the phone, we called Bethany over as well.

The next seven hours were full of pain and holding and pushing, and then a short break before it all happened again.  They made me leave Elizabeth's side once so I could eat.  I shoved half of a bowl of cereal down my throat and returned to her side.  As the contractions got more intense, we moved from the bed to the birthing tub.  Elizabeth was in a lot of pain for a long time.  Periodically, she would get out to go to the bathroom.

Amanda pulled me aside.  Elizabeth was ready, physically.  She had been for a while.  But she had no urge to push.  We needed to get her out of the tub.  Elizabeth didn't want to leave the tub.  Leaving the tub made it hurt more.  Pain bad.  Tub good.  At this point, she just wanted the pain to go away.  She said she wanted an epidural, which you can only get in the hospital.  She agreed to leave the tub and be checked, and then go to the hospital.  Amanda checked her.  She wouldn't make it to the hospital, so it was at home or in the car.

She was almost fully dilated; all but one part.  Amanda said she could help her and it would go faster, but it would hurt.  Elizabeth wanted the baby out NOW.  So she helped her.  And it hurt. 

Amanda and Allison erected a birthing stool, which is like a chair without a seat.  They stuck a bowl under it, and told me what I had to do to catch the baby.    Elizabeth was going to get the head out, and then slow down, and then push the rest out.  I was ready.  The head was coming out, but Elizabeth wasn't going to wait for the next push.  She wanted it out NOW, so she kept pushing, and Allison caught Shoshana. 

After that, there was a lot less screaming.  We moved Elizabeth back to the bed, and she held Shoshana.  Amanda noticed that there was a lot of blood, and indeed there was a tear.  According to Elizabeth, the pain of getting stitches is nothing compared to giving birth (I believe her). 

My daughter was beautiful!  My wife was amazing!  I was a daddy!

One year.  Just a year?  Wow.

Happy birthday, Shoshana.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I love birth stories when I'm not the one in labor! =)
    Happy birthday little big girl!