Sunday, August 16, 2009

Grey's Birth Story

***Fair Warning - This is long and may contain some details you think fall in the too much information category.***

It's difficult to know where to start. I guess I'll start a couple weeks ago when I decided I wanted to have an unmedicated birth. When I had Sam, I had the mindset of, "I'd like to see what contractions feel like and then see how far I can make it without an epidural." (I now know this is setting yourself up to have epidural - not that that's a bad thing, it's just a classic thought process). I tossed around the unmedicated idea a bit while I was pregnant this time but Bob wasn't on board at all. So I pretty much stopped thinking about it seriously. Then a couple of my friends, Courtney and Lindsay, went unmedicated and it got me thinking about it again.

Lindsay used a doula, our friend Rachel (this is a link to her version of the birth story). This seemed to me to be the way to go. My thinking was that since Bob wasn't really on board with the whole idea - doesn't like to see me in pain (what husband likes to see his wife in pain?!), has a needle/hospital phobia and just really enjoyed Sam's birth since there was no, in his words, "weeping or gnashing of teeth", we could both use the help of a doula. I knew I needed a coach and Rachel is extremely well-informed, experienced and knows what to expect so she could help Bob coach me too. I don't know that I would've been successful without her.

Rachel actually contacted me after Lindsay's birth and just said she wanted to put a bug in my ear that she'd be willing to help me if I was interested in going unmedicated and that I could totally do it. She came over to talk to us about a week later, got me real excited about going natural and put Bob's mind at ease. My big hang up was that I wanted Bob to enjoy the experience. Think of it this way, the wife gets the privilege of being pregnant, feeling the baby move and then actually delivering. The husband gets to be a part of all that, just in an external way so the delivery is a big deal to him, at least to Bob. I wanted him to be comfortable with the decision and I truly wanted it to be joint decision between the two of us.

So, to wrap all that soon as he was assured that Rachel would be able to get childcare (for her 3 kids!), Bob was on board with it. At that point, I started doing a lot more reading - The Bradley Method book and other stuff on the internet. I just tried to inform myself as much as possible as to what I could expect and what would actually be happening with my body. This was so helpful because I could invision what was happening and it helped me to relax with my contractions instead of tense up and fight the pain. All that actually helped lessen the pain/discomfort.

Let's go back to Wednesday, August 5th, the Wednesday before Grey was born. Sam, my mom, my friend Ashley, her son and I were in entering the Splash Beach parking lot. I remember telling Ashley and my mom that I thought I just had a for real contraction. Throughout the rest of the day, I maybe had 6 or 7 contractions that felt similar to that first one - which really just felt like a really strong Braxton Hicks. On to Thursday, again, throughout the day I had maybe 8-10 contractions. While I was cooking dinner, I started noticing that they were pretty regular and just felt like a very strong tightening in my lower abdomen. I could definitely continue what I was doing and I wouldn't say they hurt, they just felt like pretty strong cramping. After dinner, sometime around 6:30/7:00 p.m., I laid down on the couch and paid attention to timing the contractions. I also wanted to see if they would let up. They didn't. They were coming about 7 minutes apart and lasting around 45 seconds. Nothing too serious yet but I had a feeling this was the real deal. I can't tell you how pleased I was to go into labor on my own since I went 2 weeks over with Sam and was induced. It was cool to know that my body did, in fact, know what to do!

I texted Rachel and just gave her a heads up. She assured me that she thought this was it even though I admitted I was a little apprehensive to try to go to sleep for fear that I'd wake up the next morning (or one of 6 times during the night to go to the bathroom) and realize the contractions had stopped.

I laid on the couch for about 2 hours and then we went up to bed around 10. I tried to go to sleep and did for maybe 10 minutes. The contractions had spread out to about 10 minutes apart, with some a little closer, some a little further. I couldn't really tell at this point that they were getting more intense. Honestly, they really didn't hurt at this point, I was just so excited about what was going to happen that I couldn't go to sleep. Think night before Christmas.

So I just laid in bed and rested for a while. I also went in Sam's room and rocked with him in his chair for a little while. I've got a vivid memory of snuggling him and having a couple contractions, all the while thinking things would never be the same and that my time with just Sam was quickly coming to an end. It was a little bittersweet but I'm glad I had those few minutes to snuggle with him.

I talked to Rachel a little later and told her I thought I might need to go in to the hospital to get checked out because I was having a little more bleeding than I expected. (Sorry if that's too much info). She told me she thought it was probably all normal but it was obviously up to me if I wanted to go in. I was expecting to labor at home for as long as possible so I didn't want to drive the 40 minutes to the hospital to just turn around and come back buuuut, I also didn't want to make a selfish decision in case something was wrong. After some discussion with Rachel, I woke up Bob and told him what was going on. We decided we would go to the hospital and depending on how things looked, we'd just come back home.

I got our bags together and Bob called my parents. We ended up meeting them about halfway between our house and their's to give them Sam. Then, we headed to the hospital. I was uncomfortable in the car but not having to work through contractions. It was about 3:45 a.m. when we got to the hospital. They got us in a triage room where the nurse checked me and told me I was at 3 centimeters, 70% effaced, -2. What great news since the Tuesday before, I was only at 1 centimeter. I felt like I had gotten 2 free centimeters since I hadn't really been working yet. I also thought, "great, just 7 to go!" Rachel arrived about 15 minutes later and I am so glad she was there. She was a great advocate for us with the nurse and doctor. The nurse assured us that the bleeding I was seeing was normal and nothing to worry about. She did want us to stick around to see the doctor. In fact, when I told her I wasn't sure I was staying, she kept saying, "well, we'll see what the doctor says." The whole time I was thinking, "I don't know that I care what the doc says. I don't want to get stuck here and have you guys decide to speed me up with Pitocin!"

Anyway, while we (Bob, Rachel and I) were discussing whether or not to go home, I was getting stuck 3 times to get a Hep-lok and the nurse was observing my strip, the doc came in...this was about 6:30 a.m. He checked me and said I was at 5 1/2 centimeters, 80%, -1.

Again, you can imagine how psyched I was at again, getting 2 - 2 1/2 free centimeters! I was concentrating through contractions while we were in the triage room but they seemed to have spaced out a little. I believe they were about 4-5 minutes apart. So...intensity picked up a little and although they probably weren't spacing out, for some reason they seemed like it to me. Of course I was thinking, "great, only about 4 more centimeters to go and really just 2 until I'm in transition and things start moving fast!"

After that news from the doc, we decided to stay at the hospital and get settled in a room. Rachel had me doing high knee lifts as I walked back and forth between her and Bob, ending with a squat whenever I got to one of them. The point of this was really just to move the baby down - which in turn, helps you dilate quicker. Contractions were coming about every 2-3 minutes at this point and when they did, I just leaned over the birthing ball and relaxed as best I could. After 3 hours of so, I got checked again and was at 6 centimeters, 90%, 0. Looking back, I'm surprised this didn't discourage me since I hadn't dilated further but I did know stuff was happening since Grey was moving down and changing station. I just focused on that being what would cause me to dilate more.

We headed out to walk the halls. Contractions were coming about every 2-3 minutes still and when I did have a contraction, I would lean against Bob who was leaning against the wall. Next thing I know, we hear a big splash and my flip-flops are soaked. That's right, my water broke right in the hall. I wish I had a picture of Bob's face. It was a mixture of shock and horror, followed quickly with a smile and, "that was the coolest thing I've ever seen!!" And yes...there's a picture.

We headed back to the room and I just kind of leaned over the back of the bed for a while. The contractions were definitely stronger after my water broke and continued to get more intense and closer together! I remember Rachel telling me, at one point, that the contractions wouldn't get stronger, just closer together. That was very reassuring. It's amazing how much my memory has faded already. I don't know if that's a good thing or not ;). The most of what I remember during this time, which ended up being transition, was that I was completely inwardly focused during contractions. I concentrated very hard on breathing slowly and just trying to relax. Bob and Rachel took care of getting cold rags on my neck and head and massage my lower back with tennis balls. It's crazy how much those two simple things helped!

I know I sat on the toilet for a little while and realized I was beginning to feel some pressure. How exciting! Rachel told me I could bear down with the pressure. This was a huge relief because I realized I'd been tightening some muscles trying to fight the pressure. Once I knew I could bear down, not push, but let go of the pressure, things felt a lot better. There were also a few contractions where I felt my body convulse, sort of like when you're throwing up. Nice picture, right? But it was an involuntary convulsion during the contraction...not something that hurt, just an interesting thing to note.

I never thought, "ok, I do want an epidural, get me the epidural!" I just remember thinking, and probably saying, "I don't wanna do this a whole lot longer. I'm ready to be done." After about 45 minutes, I got checked again and was at 9 1/2 centimeters, 100%, -1. They told me I could start pushing which was great news!

Rachel and Bob were helping to hold my knees back while I pushed and in between contractions, they pushed my shoulders down and helped me to relax my legs on the bed. It's funny but when you're uncomfortable, or in pain, you know how you don't really want to move for fear that moving will put you in a more uncomfortable/painful position? That's exactly how I was feeling. I knew I could handle it where I was but I didn't want to move in between contractions. Luckily, my two coaches knew better!

I realized pretty quickly the way I was going to have to push to get Grey out. I can really only describe it as pushing lower than I started out pushing. Well that and pushing with everything I had. It was pretty exhausting! I think I pushed about 3 times with each contraction. Rachel and our nurse, Jada, were so encouraging. I could tell when I pushed better, it really made a difference by the way they responded. I started feeling some stinging/burning pain during all this and was apprehensive to push like I knew I had to because I knew I was getting ready to feel some sharp pain. I quickly reminded myself that this was how the baby was coming out, no matter what and I just had to power through. So I did.

I was fairly unaware of where everyone was in the room and who was doing what. I was just concentrating on pushing. I knew my doctor wasn't in there when Grey's head came out because there was quite a bit of discussion about Jada catching him. Honestly, I thought the doc got in to catch Grey when he came all the way out, but who knows. Bob says he can't really remember either. Either way, out he came and they put him right up on my chest. I remember saying, "oh, I'm glad that's over!"

The strangest feeling was realizing after all that work, there was a new little person laying on my chest. I think I had been so focused on the labor and getting through that, that I wasn't focused on getting a baby at the end. How crazy is that?! Anyway, I ended up cutting the cord too which was cool. (Maybe we'll get Bob to cut it with the next one...but probably not).

Here I am celebrating with the most appropriate drink. (Please excuse my crazy hair..and the crazy expression).

I still don't think I've really processed everything. I'm very glad I was able to go into labor on my own and have an unmedicated birth. It's really an experience that I wanted to have. Call me crazy. Would I do it again? Probably so...but thankfully I don't have to make that decision anytime soon!


Camille said...

Wow, I am so impressed with you! What a great story, and no matter what you say you look amazing in the Mr. Pibb shot! You truly have a "natural" glow.

Congrats again to you, Bob, and Sam!

Ann Marie said...

What a great story! Rachels version was interesting to read from her side of things too!
The coolest part had to be cutting the cord! How special!
By the way, you looked great this morning at church! :) congrats Bob, Greta and big brother Sam!

Lauren said...

Beautiful! I love your story - thank you for sharing. It's so encouraging. Congrats again! Hope you all are doing well as you adjust to a new level of crazy in your home. ;)

Shellym said... made me cry!! I'm so proud of you. I don't think that I could do it. BTW--you looked beautiful Sunday morning!

Laura said...

You rock G!

Amanda Baca said...

Greta-yea!! I'm so proud of you! I would have encouraged you/prayed for you if I knew you were wanting a natural birth! :) Didn't God design our bodies to do amazing things!? I think there's just something incredible about fully trusting God for the strength to birth naturally and being fully there/aware of it all. And encouraging doulas and husbands are a must too-along with The Bradely Method!

I hope you are feeling well and enjoying your sweet newborn. (Love the name!) The part about rocking just Sam for the last time got me (umm tearing up again!) We obviously want more but the thought of Blaise not being our little baby any more is bittersweet like you said!

Thanks for sharing your birth story!

Rachel Garcia said...

love.this.birth!!! Girl.. you are amazing. I love, love, love hearing a birth story from the mom herself! It is so much more fascinating because you are the one experiencing the miracle!

for the record, Jada did catch Grey. Dr. E walked in right as his body came out, but it was Jada that put him on your chest. Dr. E was in there but didn't have gloves on in time.. but he did step in right after Grey was on your chest. Dr. E was the one who massaged the cord..

And I will say, for Bob to have been so "unsure" before our meeting, he was such a great coach! He knew exactly what you needed to hear and when you needed to hear it. You guys make a great team!

I especially love hearing you tell it because you get to tell the world that they CAN in fact, trust God, their bodies and get through one contraction at a time. As I have said, and will be my mantra for life: Natural Childbirth is 85% mental preparation. You fear what you don't know. And fear is not from the Lord. A well informed momma on the subject of her body, and labor, will be amazed at what she CAN in fact handle and push through (pun intended).

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to witness this miracle for your family. Grey is such a precious little man! May the Lord draw him to Himself at an early age!

Lindsay said...

Great story, Greta! The part about you rocking Sam made me cry.

melissa richie said...

Once again, I think we are leaving comments on each others blogs simultaneously :)

I am so glad you shared the whole story. I bet it was hard to remember all the details you included - everything is such a blur anyway.

You look great and I am very proud of Bob, too. I'd love to get a post from his perspective :)

melissa richie said...

Oh, and I agree with everyone else. The part about rocking Sam made me cry. Geez.

Alicia said...

Very awesome story! Congrats, again!

Courtney said...

awesome story. i am so proud of you, and you should be proud of you too!! a natural birth is such a precious experience. you look like a champion with your mr. pibb! makes me want a dr. pepper really badly...

it sounds like having a doula is the way to go! i love that she was able to be your advocate with the drs and bob was able to focus on you. a team effort! i too would love to hear bob's side of the story!

i can't wait to see that baby boy!

Rachel said...

Congrats! And great job on the pictures! I never REALLY believed that water could break like that... :)

Kristina said...

i am not joking you can bet I will contact you with advice when I´m pregnant which your kids will be probably teenagers by then, but I will contact you to help me because I want to do it the same way as you did!! super and congrats! felicidades

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing! I'm expecting # 3 and have talked with Rachel. And you look beautiful in that last picture! And I had to post anon. because no one knows were preggers yet!

LeslieB. said...

God knows, if I ever do it, I'll be drinking a Mr. Pibb afterwards, too. That was a great story, Greta! You're a beautiful mother :) To think, my last clear memories of you are of playing on the swingset in your front yard in Cedar Creek.

swonderful said...

what a beautiful story mama! i love reading natural birth in the hospital stories and knowing there are nice supportive hospitals out there. thank you for sharing your story!