I blogged about the birth of my daughter Leah, because it was a difficult (and honestly, a little bit scary) experience and I wanted to do something that would be “therapeutic” for that experience.
I’m going to tell you all about the birth of my daughter Keira, but this is a bit different in that it’s a birth story with a few “sidenotes” and reflections on the entire process . I feel really awesome about my birth with Keira. In fact, I didn’t realize how not-ok with my first birth I was until I had delivered Keira and they put her straight into my arms. But let me start from the beginning….
Around 36 weeks, my blood pressure began to rise. It wasn’t super high, however my normal blood pressure rested around 110/70 and sometime between 36 and 37 weeks I was measuring 140/90 and testing positive for protein in my urine (a positive test is indicated at 300, and I was at 306). My numbers were very borderline, but it was enough for my doctor to monitor me a little more closely.
I stayed at 140/90 for the last 3 weeks of pregnancy, so my doctor was comfortable letting me get “to term” (40 weeks) and then she told me we’d make a decision together about what to do.
SIDENOTE: One of the things I LOVE about my doctor is how willing she is to be open and honest with me about her opinions but ultimately let me make the final decision in my birth.
She told me she’d really rather not have me go past 40 weeks. I told her I’d like to wait until at least December 2nd (40 + 3) and she agreed that as long as I had an u/s, took my BP 3x daily, and peed in a cup for her once every 2 days until the birth that would be ok. So, my due date came and went, and I never went into labor on my own. This meant an induction. I thought I would struggle with this decision more; instead I found myself very at peace with it. I knew it was what I was supposed to do, just as I had known the week before that it was not what I was supposed to do.
“B-Day” (kind of like D-Day, but it’s Birth – Day…see what I did there?)(shut your face I AM HILARIOUS):
On Sunday, Matt and I spent the day with our sweet daughter Leah and then got packed and headed to the hospital. We decided to birth at the same hospital we did with Leah (Crestwood) because despite my difficult birthing experience, the hospital staff/nurses/anesthesiologists were amazing. Truly, I felt as if I was cared about and not just a “patient”.
When we got there we were brought back to a labor and delivery room. I got into a gown and hooked up to some monitors. BP was still high (150/96) though I think some of that is probably attributed to my nerves. I was anxious about how the induction would go. I really just wanted to avoid a c-section if at all possible. I had much more realistic goals for my birth this time, but I still wanted to attempt a natural birth so I sent a text to my doula (my labor lover, I shall call her. She was there for me throughout my labor and coached and helped me to feel more at peace) letting her know I was settled in and I’d call her when labor started.
Around 7:30 I took some cytotec (a cervical ripener that helps to completely efface and dilate the cervix) and by 8:30 I was having regular contractions that were increasing in strength. By 9 I was feeling a little rough already and realizing that yes, I’d be laboring through the night (again…ugh). I was starting to feel a little anxious about my birth. Anxious that it would go like my first birth, anxious that I wouldn’t dilate, anxious that I’d end up in surgery – really just all around anxious.
They placed me on telemetry monitors (so I could walk around without being tied to a machine – but they could still keep an eye on the baby) and I was back to walking, squatting, sitting on the birthing ball etc. By around 10 I was ready for my doula. When she got there I was very much starting to feel “in pain” and the amount of energy I was using with each contraction was growing. Matt and my doula just sat with me and helped me through each contraction and talked with me about anything and everything in between contractions. When I first imagined giving birth, I strongly believed I would need absolute silence to focus and “get through” labor. I assumed this because when I work on things that are important (like school work) I need silence in order to focus. After having Leah, I knew that was NOT what I actually needed (because newsflash Diana, BIRTH AIN’T SCHOOL).
I labored until around 6am. At this point, I had gone into labor at 2cm and after around 8 hours of labor, I was a “stretchy 3″ (which is code for, “you are 3cm but I don’t want to make you feel too bad about having just been in labor for ours and not having dilated practically at all.) I knew that this meant I would be getting the pitocin for sure (doc was waiting to see how I responded to the cytotec to see if we could avoid the pit) since I was only dilated an extra 1cm after several hours. I knew I was ready for the epidural.
SIDENOTE: This is one of the big differences between my birth with Leah and my birth with Keira. During my birth with Leah, I was very much against the idea of drugs during birth. But then I had an atypical birth and I wasn’t dilating and my contractions were too strong, too fast, and too painful. My labor was NOT effective and I was moving towards a c-section and the effects of that labor showed very much in my baby’s heart rate (less than 100 and then non-existent during contractions) and her passing her first stool in utero. I wasn’t prepared with how to respond to this and accepted an epidural as a last ditch effort to avoid a c-section (by slowing down my contractions and giving my body and baby time to rest – and hopefully time for my cervix to dilate)(It worked by the way.)
At around 7 the anesthesiologist came in. It took him a little longer than I expected (he was still on his way in from home) and I’ll be honest y’all – I was CUH-RYIN like a baby that whole hour. By the time he came in I literally had tears streaming down my face. My contractions were starting to resemble the same pattern that they had when I was in labor with Leah (very strong, long and close together with only a short resting period) but this time, I was ready for it! So once my epidural was in, the contractions slowed down, became more regular, and y’all by 8am (aka ONE hour) I went from 3-6 cm. My doula probably said the most hilariously accurate thing ever when she said, “Your cervix is a drug addict.” Shortly after my water broke all on its own and it was clear (hooray!).
SIDENOTE: My doctor seems to think that my angry cervix is a result of my oddly shaped (re: ANGRY) uterus. My doula even mentioned that my contractions seem to be different in that all the pain comes at the beginning of the contraction and very quickly and if she were a cervix she wouldn’t want to open up for that either. So I feel a little better in that maybe I’m *not* just a wimp. (No, I’m really probably just a wimp, but we’ll go with it )
Within the next two hours I went from 6-10 cm. My poor, exhausted husband took a much needed nap. I know those of you that know me well probably think I’m being sarcastic when I say that – but I assure you, Matthew earned that nap. He was so supportive and kind and perfect during my labor. He gets a gold star. I also rested for a bit while my doula hung out with me and my photographer showed up and got ready for “the big show”. Those few hours after getting my epidural were probably the happiest hours of my labor. I could feel the intensity of my abdomen and knew my baby’s arrival was imminent. I was able to share in that joy with those around me.
I thought with my first daughter I wanted this beautiful, natural, calm, unmedicated birth and then here I was – sitting with these people having this beautiful, calm birthing experience. I realized that just like all things parenting – I had no idea what my preferences about ANYTHING child related were before I had children. From birth to attachment parenting. But I knew better about myself this time, chose better, and was having a birth I could love and be proud of. I share this with you in case you are a person who has unhappy thoughts and feelings about your birth. You’re entitled to those feelings and you’re also entitled to choose the birth that will make you feel happy and wonderful.
Around the 9-10 cm mark Keira’s heart rate started to slow a bit so they started me on some oxygen as a precaution. They were pretty sure it was just because she was descending into the birth canal but the oxygen was probably a big help for us both, to be honest. Keira’s heart rate came back up and we were still in the vaginal birth game, so I was very happy.
Once I got to 10 cm (around 10am), it was just a waiting game.
SIDENOTE: If you’re pregnant or might become pregnant let me tell you about this little secret: 10 CM DOES NOT MEAN IT’S PUSH TIME.
I know. It makes no sense, right? But trust me on this, if you get to 10cm and your doctor wants you to push, ask if you can wait until you feel “pushy”. If you get an epidural it’ll (sorry guys) feel like you have to poop. Don’t stress, it doesn’t mean you’ll poop. It’s just the baby being so far down the birth canal that it’s pressing all those lovely organs and giving you the “have to go” sensation. I did this with Leah and didn’t push for long at all – 15 min, maybe 5-8 contractions worth of pushing. I did this with Keira and…well…you’ll see.
Around 10:45 am the nurse asked if I was feeling “pushy”. I said I could try a push and so we did – she told me to stop mid-push and that we would be needing to call my doctor to come catch. I figured this was a good sign, but was even more surprised when my doctor came in around 11 and asked me to push again. Mid-push there were a lot of gasps from my lovely admirers (seriously, everyone in the room was all up in my vagina. My vagina was a ROCKSTAR. BOOM) and then my doctor asked me to just “wait a minute” because she didn’t want me to tear. Obviously I obeyed. Apparently after my 1st push Keira’s head was out and about saying hello to the world.
My doc then told me to “cough” through my next contraction, which I thought was odd. I did as she asked though. I coughed and out popped a shoulder. Coughed again and out popped another shoulder and a baby!
Then, my favorite part of the entire birth, my baby was handed to me.
SIDENOTE: Because Leah had a bowel movement in utero, she was at risk for infection and aspiration and all sorts of other things so they had to take her to the warmer away from me. For almost 30 minutes I had to steal glimpses of her while everyone else got to see, touch, and admire MY child. I was heartbroken. I didn’t say it at the time, but I think this is where some of my post partum depression started. More on that in another post.
My doctor placed Keira on my stomach and I got to love, touch, and admire her. I was the first person to look into her eyes and the first person to tell her how much I loved and adored her. I got to see her hair (so much of it!) and her little nails, and her nose (it’s my nose!) and her squishy face and her squishy bum and her long feet (I knew it!) and I cried. I loved her immediately and she knew me and loved me too.
Matt was able to cut the umbilical cord. While I was loving on my baby, my doctor waited patiently for my placenta to deliver on its own. I appreciated this since many doctors will begin immediately pulling on the umbilical cord to deliver the placenta and I wasn’t in the mood to hemorrhage.
After about 15-20 minutes I let them weigh her and wipe her off a little bit while I was getting one very tiny superficial tear repaired and my doctor made a quick uterine sweep to ensure my placenta was completely out and wouldn’t be causing me any issues later.
Keira was born at 11:17 am (after 1 push and 2 coughs) weighing 7lbs 13 oz, 20 inches long. She. Is. Perfect.
They handed her back to me within 10 minutes and I began to nurse her and PRAISE the Lord for He is good, she nurses like a mega-champ. We had 2 hours to ourselves in that room and I was so thankful for it. Matt left after he knew I was started nursing and he went to get Leah. It was important to us that she was the first person, aside from ourselves, to hold her baby sister. I have been worried about how Leah would react but you guys…YOU GUYS…This:
I absolutely loved my birth. It was everything I could have hoped for. I am a little over a day and a half post-delivery and I’m feeling sore and swollen, but also SO amazing. I feel proud of my birth, proud of my baby, and most of all, proud of my family. We’re a family of four now. It sounds crazy to say it or type it, but I guess it’s official now and we’ll have to get used to it.
At this point after birth with my first daughter I was terrified. I felt so unsure of myself and my ability to be a parent. This time, however, I’m excited. I know there will be struggles, I’m not naive, but I am so excited for all the good things that I know are coming for our family. Motherhood is amazing, and I’m so glad to be adding a beautiful new addition to our family.