Corder's birth story
Find a Conversation
|Fri, 10-20-2006 - 9:59pm|
This is a novel, so if you just want the quick version: Corder was born after 50.5 hours of labor, 42 of which were spent at home. He was eight pounds eight ounces, born without a tear! Now, if you are bored and want the details, it was quite the journey:
My Little Bean
This is a long story. It includes the joys of giving birth, the peace of laboring at home, yet also the constraints that modern medical law place on a womanâ€™s body and the struggle the medical community has with placing trust in nature, preferring instead to propagate fear and intervene in every way possible. I hope I was strong and made the right decisions. Iâ€™ll never know what my body would have done had we not transferred, but I take peace in having my baby safe in my arms and I think it was a good start to motherhood.
I went into early labor on Oct. 8th at 3:00 AM. But really, the story begins before we went to bed that night. It was Saturday and we were scheduled for a biophysical profile ultrasound on Monday. I desperately did not want to go to that appointment, but understood that so close to 42 weeks, it would bring my midwife some peace of mind to continue waiting. I, on the other hand, was sure that it would do nothing but scare me. I had worked so hard at trying to trust my body, that it would know what to do, and each time we had had an ultrasound, it had placed a seed of doubt in my mind. So, before we fell asleep, Mike had a very long talk with â€œlittle beanâ€ about how happy it would make us if s/he would come into the world before Monday morning, because it would be best for mommy and him or her. It worked. I woke up needing to go to the bathroom badly and had my first contraction sitting on the toilet. I felt a flood of relief come over my body. I was at 41 Â½ weeks gestation and getting closer to the end of my homebirth window. There were doubts all along as to what my body would do anyways, having a bicornuate uterus and a baby that just would not drop down into my pelvis. The contractions were fairly close at 6 minutes apart, considering how early it was, but they were very tolerable and I could walk and talk through them. I rested in bed, not waking Mike, until about 5:30. I decided that maybe this would actually be it and that a shower might either confirm that, or slow things down. I woke Mike up to tell him I was going to take a shower, because I thought it might be odd for him to wake up to the noise of the shower at that hour. He seemed happy to hear I was having contractions, but in his typical relaxed way didnâ€™t jump out of bed. The shower really didnâ€™t change anything, but they kept on coming, which continued to relax and encourage me. Afterward Mike got up and we made some food. I always thought that the woman is supposed to go into â€œnesting modeâ€ when labor is imminent, but in our case it was Mike. I sat eating my breakfast while he couldnâ€™t sit down, paying bills, cleaning, and just being a bit fidgety.
A little later in the morning we called my parents, who were in town hoping to be here for the birth and told them that it looked like things were getting started. They came over and spent the day with us, walking around and trying to relax. I called Joanna and told her that I thought things were getting going but that I was fine and it looked like it would be a while. She had delivered a baby at the exact time my contractions started that morning and said she was going to sleep right away but to call as soon as I needed her. The day passed with almost imperceptible change in the contractions. Finally near dinner time they had strengthened enough that I really needed to be quiet and still during them, but they were still consistently 5-7 minutes apart. Mikeâ€™s mom brought over a big dinner for both families and I ate as much as I could, figuring I would need the strength. Afterward I pretty much kicked everyone out, feeling that things might pick up if there wasnâ€™t so much pressure on me to play hostess. It worked. At 9:00 one of the assistant midwives came over to check me. I had requested it because I thought it would give me some idea of how things were going. I wanted to know that progress had been made since the change had been so gradual, but also the reassurance that I didnâ€™t need Joanna there yet. Johanna came over and said that I was 2-3 cm, about 50% effaced and stripped my membranes after asking me if that was ok. She left and things immediately picked up more, both in strength and time. The contractions were coming every 2.5-5 minutes and by midnight I thought I needed Joanna there in order to relax and let my body proceed. Mike spent an hour or two filling the tub and Joanna showed up at 1:00. I was still only at 3-4, but feeling good strong contractions. I decided to have a soak and see if they helped me relax more. I think the breathing and relaxation that we had practiced in the hypnobirthing classes really helped me to relax and think positively, encouraging each contraction and eagerly awaiting the next, knowing that it was one more contraction closer to little bean being born. The tub felt great, though I didnâ€™t stay in too long, wanting to move around too. I ate some frozen grapes, walked around, sat on the yoga ball and finally got back into the tub. When I stepped out at 4:00 am, my water broke on the towel under my feet. It was very warm and felt good. I woke up Joanna to let her know. She was excited and checked me again. Still 3-4, but now about 90% effaced. I went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet for a while. Then, I felt an odd sensation in my vagina and reached down to feel something bulging out. I hollered for Joanna and she came in and said it was more of my water bag. We kind of laughed about it and Joanna got one of those crochet hook things to pop it. With the next contraction though it popped on its own. I thought things would really pick up once my water was broke, but they just kept on going at the same slow pace. I tried a lot of different things to relax or encourage contractions. I could just sit on the bed or in the tub and zone out, concentrating on breathing and it was very relaxing, but I never made any progress when I relaxed that much. The midwives thought maybe I was too relaxed and needed to do more to encourage the contractions.
The day passed in a bit of a blur, and very quickly. I would walk around, sit on the toilet, the bed, the yoga ball, or in the tub. Mike and the midwives tried to get me to eat several times since I needed the energy, but it was very difficult and I threw up several times after eating just a little bit. Around noon I was at 6-7 cm, but the contractions were slowing down even more, sometimes being spaced as much as 10 minutes apart, and they were becoming more manageable â€“ the opposite of what we wanted. Sometime in the middle of the afternoon Debbie, one of the assistant midwives, who is also a naturopath, gave me some blue and black cohosh and a few homeopathic things under my tongue to try and help out. I was really surprised that they didnâ€™t do anything at all. At 4:00 I was still at 6-7 and getting tired, but still determined. Joanna mentioned going to the hospital for some pitocin, basically to try and scare a few more centimeters out of me! Mike and I shut ourselves in the bedroom and we walked in circles around the room. With each contraction I would squat down and he would hold me and I focused as hard as I could on opening up and getting the baby to move down (he still hadnâ€™t dropped!). We did this without a break for 2 more hours and Joanna checked again â€“ still 6-7. The only encouragement was that he had moved down a bit. She made the call though. I had been in labor for almost 40 hours, hadnâ€™t kept food down in 24, my water had been broke for 14 and my labor was continuing to slow as soon as I stopped moving. I cried so hard for a little while. I knew my homebirth dreams were shattered and I needed to deal with that before going to the hospital. Joanna cried with me and really helped me see that we needed to do this. We had a talk about her being there with me in the hospital and that she would make sure that they didnâ€™t do anything I didnâ€™t want â€“ vit. K, eye drops, hep B vaccine, etc.
Joanna called ahead and found out which doctor we were going to have. Turns out we were going to have a doc that Mike knew â€“ he did construction on her house the winter before. Joanna was encouraged that we had her, but I was a little nervous. When Mike had told me about her the previous winter he told me her job was â€œdoing c-sections at the hospitalâ€! We got there and got admitted. Riding in the car during contractions was probably the least comfortable thing that had happened to me yet. I got to skip a labor room and go straight to a delivery room, which was nice and somewhat cozy. We heard that our baby was going to be the 5th or 6th baby born there that day which is a LOT for Juneau. Interesting because of the extreme tides and full moon! People started coming in to do things and I would have to ask them to wait for the next lull between contractions. They were drawing blood and putting in IVs and putting on monitors. Dr. Valentine came in and introduced herself and said hi to Mike. She immediately launched into a lecture about how risky my birth was because I was 41.5 weeks along, my water had been broke so long, how it was very stressful on my uterus and increased hemorrhage risk and that there was no way to know if my body could finish after so much stress. She suggested a C-section first before pitocin. I adamantly told her I wanted to avoid surgery and that I would very much like pitocin to give me a chance. I won some battles at the hospital and lost others. She agreed to the pitocin, but only if I would agree to internal monitors. She didnâ€™t like the results of the external monitors and refused to use pitocin without more concrete data. I agreed â€“ it was better than surgery for both me and baby. It broke my heart a little more to have that monitor put on his head, but I had to do what I could. We got the pitocin started around midnight â€“ I had been at 6-7 for 12 hours. My mom showed up at my request and was just quiet by my side from here on out.
At this point I made the most difficult decision yet. I decided that time was running out very quickly for me and that if I wanted a shot at a vaginal birth I needed to relax a little more. I had been unsuccessfully trying not to fight contractions for hours. I was exhausted and they were starting to hurt â€“ not because they had changed, but because I was exhausted and no longer had the mental power to breath and concentrate through them. I chose to get an epidural. Joanna highly encouraged me, saying that if it worked, I might get the rest I need to finish dialating and push the baby out. Dr. Valentine assured me that it could be shut off for pushing and I would be able to feel everything. The anesthesiologist was descent enough, but it really hurt more than anything I had felt yet putting the epidural in. Mike got so upset at watching me in that much pain that he left for a while. I found out later that he had walked down the road to Twin Lakes to get some fresh air and pull himself together. The doctor came in once more to try and scare me into getting antibiotics, spouting about how long it had been since my water broke and invasive procedures like the monitors increasing the risk for infection (well, maybe she shouldnâ€™t have insisted on the monitors!). I outright refused, saying I would prefer that we monitor the babyâ€™s heart and my temperature instead. She didnâ€™t like that, but couldnâ€™t really do anything about it.
Mike and I both fell asleep for the first time in 44 hours. We slept for 2 hours and at 2:00 Dr. Valentine came in and checked me again. Still 6-7! What! I thought pitocin was supposed to take care of this! She was seriously talking C-section as we were quickly approaching 24 hours since water breaking and I had been â€˜messed withâ€™ down there so many times that infection was a serious concern. Then while standing there a few minutes later, the babyâ€™s heart rate dropped to 70 for a few seconds which appeared to be the last straw. I said I could suddenly feel pressure down there, which the epidural had been blocking up until then. Joanna said that maybe someone should check me again, but I didnâ€™t really take in what she was implying and Dr. Valentine ran out to call the c-section team. I cried harder than I think I have in my entire life. I knew what this meant. It meant long recovery, a baby who didnâ€™t get pushed through the birth canal and could have breathing problems, antibiotics and pain killers in my milk and a long stay in a germ-infested hospital where I would share my first few days with my baby with complete strangers in the bed next to me. Mike and I were both destroyed, barely registering that we were going to have a baby soon. He had worked, I think, just as hard as I had over the last 2 days and 9 months for that matter.
The c-section team was there, and the doc came in to check one more time. I was crying and I heard her say, â€œI canâ€™t find the cervixâ€¦â€ It perked me up a bit and then she confirmed it â€“ I had dialated the last 3-4 cm in less than 20 minutes! She had scared it out of me! Mike and Joanna later said the look on my face was priceless. I remember screaming, â€œREALLY!!â€ and I felt an absolute flood of energy coursing through my body. Dr. Valentine shut off the epidural and they put the bar on the bed for me to use for squatting. I didnâ€™t do much pushing for that first Â½ hour, waiting for the full effects of the epidural to wear off. The contractions got stronger and stronger and I started feeling the urge to push. The Dr. had shut off the pitocin when the babyâ€™s heart rate dropped and though I was pushing, the contractions were spaced back out to 7-10 minutes apart. I had one tired uterus. After a short while Joanna convinced her to turn the pitocin back on. I was so energized that after a contraction and pushing I was getting bored in the long intervals inbetween. I remember asking Mike to tell me a story or something to pass the time!
They started picking up again and I was pushing and it was painful! My mom left the room sometime around now, but I didnâ€™t even notice. I thought pushing was supposed to feel good and be a relief but I really had to focus and push through the pain in my abdomen. We tried squatting, hands and knees, and finally my back with my feet on the squatting bar. Surprisingly, this was the most comfortable and I was making the most progress â€“ flat on my back! Mike was energized too and was an amazing comfort and so helpful at encouraging me. I must have told him I loved him a thousand times over the whole course of my labor.
I think the pain was the baby moving into the birth canal, because after a few more contractions and pushes it did start to feel good to push. As a matter of fact, the absolute harder I pushed the better and better I felt. Joanna and Dr. Valentine said I was an excellent pusher and I felt so energized by their encouragement. After an hour and a half, apparently things were getting close because all kinds of people started coming in and Dr. Valentine told me that because of my â€œriskyâ€ labor she was bringing a pediatrician in to examine the baby. â€œWhateverâ€ was all I could think or say. Just when I started feeling like I had been pushing for a long time, the doctor told me to feel the babyâ€™s head. It didnâ€™t feel like a head at all! I pushed and pushed and she told me that soon, she would tell me to not push as hard, so the baby didnâ€™t come rocketing out. A few pushes later and I saw her jump up and put a cover over her shirt and tell me to slow down. She said, â€œa few medium pushes nowâ€ and I felt a little burning and then slithering relief as the baby came out. At 5:21 am she laid him on my stomach and my whole world was turned upside down and inside out. Mike started crying and kissed me and the baby screamed as the nurses started drying him off. I had a hand under his butt and said, â€œI think itâ€™s a boyâ€ and we looked and sure enough we had a beautiful little baby boy. There is no feeling in the world like having your baby put on your belly.
Dr. Valentine said he had one of the longest cords she had ever seen, about a foot longer than â€œnormalâ€. She said it had been wrapped around his body. After ten minutes or so, she asked me if the pediatrician could check him out and I let him. He was quick and gentle and gave him back immediately. My mom and Mikeâ€™s mom came in the room and stood back watching, both looking a little emotional themselves. I didnâ€™t even care that I was laying there naked in front of all those people. At the beginning of pushing I had ripped off the hospital gown â€“ what a pointless piece of material! The doc checked and I hadnâ€™t torn! Pretty surprising when we weighed him â€“ 8 lbs 8oz. A perfectly sized perfectly healthy baby boy.
The doc started spouting about long labors and hemorrhage and getting the placenta out quick, and although I didnâ€™t want active management of this stage of labor, I was falling in love with my son and just wanted her to shut up so I told her Iâ€™d push and letâ€™s just get it over with. Then I asked when I could go home. She wanted me to stay for 24 hours, but I left after 12. The hospital nurses were nice enough. They never tried to take him away from me, but seemed a bit baffled that I didnâ€™t want a hearing test or any of the other â€˜normalâ€™ things they do. After a few hours Mike went home to sleep â€“ he didnâ€™t have the post-delivery adrenaline that was keeping me going â€“ and my dad came and held Corder while I took a few hours nap. The hospital staff also had a hard time understanding that we had no interest in their food. We had food brought to us from home all day long and they kept leaving a tray of hospital mush even though I would say I didnâ€™t want it. Finally, at a little after 5:00 Mike helped me walk out of the hospital and we went home so we could crawl naked into bed with our little bean and really get to know him.
I hope that I made the right decisions to get Corder here. Iâ€™ll never know what would have happened if I hadnâ€™t had the epidural for those few hours. Maybe I still would have gotten to ten cm, but maybe my body would have continued to fight just long enough to get me into the operating room. If that epidural saved me 20 minutes, it was enough to stay out of surgery. I have been feeling a little bit hurt that I didnâ€™t get the homebirth that I wanted, and have shed a few tears over it, but mostly I feel so grateful that I got as much as I did â€“ a healthy baby that I pushed out under my own steam. Apparently Juneau has a 40% c-section rate, and with my lengthy labor I am an anomaly. If I could change one thing, I would have asked if Joanna could catch the baby. She has been with us for the entire journey, and helped me to grow such a healthy baby. Corder is amazing and I learn from him every day. Writing this all down has made me realize how lucky I am, and also helped me to deal with the pain of being manhandled by the medical community, though I think I did pretty well at defending myself considering I had been dealing with labor for 48 hours!
Thanks if you got through this all,