Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Birth, Part 1

Our baby was born on September 6th at 10:56 p.m., but the story begins on September 4th. That night, in the middle of the night, I started to wake up with contractions and slept the rest of the night on the couch on and off, so that I could make myself comfortable in the middle of the contractions without bothering Francisco, who I knew would need his sleep so he could help me out for the really hard work to come (little did I know how good the advice of our birth classes was on this point).

I slept myself, with long interruptions. But from the get go, the contractions were very painful in my back. In fact, I experienced them almost exclusively as back pain. I think this happens for one in four births and means that the baby is posterior (coming out facing up, rather than facing down like he should), and back labor is generally longer than average. I remember wondering during those first contractions how this was early labor and not late labor, as it was quite painful--I wondered how the contractions could get even more painful than they already were.

The contractions got regular sometime late morning on September 5th. I wasn't even sure I was in labor as I was just feeling back pain, back pain that required me to focus on it on the birth ball or on my hands and knees or in some other laboring position. But we called the midwives and they said it was probably labor, that I should take some Tylenol for my back and a bath. I ate a meal that morning, as they recommended, to keep my strength up, but from that point on I wasn't too hungry for much. Francisco did some errands for me and beginning early that evening started to support me and try to make me as comfortable as possible--providing counterpressure on my back, walking with me, slow dancing--all the things that they taught us for early labor. Around 5 p.m. I noticed amniotic fluid leaking during my contractions. We were eager for the contractions to progress and get to the point when they were coming every 4 minutes, were one minute long, and had been like that for an hour. That is the magic point at which you can go to the birth center and at which things generally really get going. After walking for 45 minutes, and then sleeping for an hour (in between the contractions), we were at that point. It was 2 a.m. and we thought we were really getting to business.

We went to the birth center to meet the midwife and later learned that she thought that the contractions at that point were mild and we probably came in too early. I guess she's right--she knows what she's talking about, but the back pain never ever felt mild to me. Over the night we continued laboring together--Francisco supporting me excellently through each contraction. But from our arrival at the birth center, rather than continuing to ramp up, it seemed that the contractions were getting more and more infrequent. By the time it was morning, they were noticeably slowed and we started to worry: if I wasn't in active labor (contractions that were 2-3 minutes apart) by 5 p.m., I would have to leave the birth center and be induced at the hospital. This active labor goal seemed impossible to us--my body seemed to be slowing everything down rather than speeding everything up. And induction and our hoped-for natural birth seemed incredibly incompatible: I've heard laboring after being induced with pitocin is very painful.

Our sweet midwife, Jane, suggested that Francisco and I walk to a bagel place a couple of blocks from the birth center and have breakfast together, and then come back and have a rest, and then we would talk about our options for helping my body move along toward birth. At that point we were exhausted and unsure of ourselves and I broke down crying to Francisco as soon as we left the birth center. It seemed that my hope for our delivery was slipping away, and I was imagining a C-section. Even though I'm generally a worst-caser, before our labor slowed, I'd been optimistic that I would have a 16-hour labor or something like that, and that was turning out to be nowhere near the case.


Hannah said...

Ohhh! :( That sounds so tough! I'm so glad you had a midwife, though. If you had a regular OB, they may have called for an induction way before - which may have ended in a C-section considering the slow progress. (Maybe that's not fair to OBs...but I get the impression that they are not quite as patient as midwives...)

Looking forward to hearing about the rest of the story. I hope it has a happy ending! (which, of course, it does because I've seen the pictures of you and Baby Leopard :-) )

Emily Hale said...

Agreed--the midwives were very patient and ultimately knew the right tricks to get things moving,