Friday, May 16, 2014

Lucky, A Birth Story In Two Parts

There is a long debate on the benefits and risks of medication for pain management while in labor and the complications or interventions it requires.  Having had two very different births and done a large amount of research on the topic for each one (because medical knowledge evolves as new studies and options come available) I wanted to share my experiences and my thoughts on each method I experienced.

Just under three years ago my first son was born.  The pregnancy was a big surprise as I was on birth control and not showing signs until a regular doctor's visit to discuss the stress at work and my history of ulcers which revealed a positive pregnancy test in my blood panel even though I had not tested positive via pee-stick.

Pressed for time to get the first ultrasounds and tests done, I contacted a local OB at the closest hospital with a birthing center and learned my first hard lesson..."not all doctors like having involved fathers with lots of questions".  She would ignore him or answer in a sarcastic tone, and seemed put-out when he insisted on staying in the room to hold my hand as the did the highly uncomfortable first ultrasound with that horrible wand.

Just before my 20 week ultrasound we moved from New York back up to Maine, meaning I was able to transfer to the care of the OBGYN who had treated me for some long standing issues and knew my history already.  Here we were able to ask any question, get an honest answer, and feel confident that our baby was getting the quality of care we felt was deserved.

By the time our little boy was born, I was forty-one weeks and three days and so uncomfortable just trying to walk that the thought of it often made me cry a little.  When my ultrasound that week showed our son was still not yet 7lbs and there was some possible issue of being restricted because I had failed to gain any weight for the last six weeks of my pregnancy we agreed that it was time to accept that all the natural labor inducing tricks and home-remedy methods were pointless.  My doctor and I discussed the least invasive of ways to induce and arranged for me to be induced the following evening.

At 6:10pm the following evening they placed the first round of cervical ripening product (Cervadil) and my husband and I settled into our respective beds in the room in L&D.  Poor kind hubby, he had to sleep on the stiffly overstuffed couch while I was relatively more comfortable in my post on the hospital bed.

Unfortunately, my pushing for minimally invasive efforts to start things meant I went from only 1cm to 1.5cm in the course of the night.  By 8:30 the next morning I was bargaining for one more try with a cervical ripeness aid rather than something more drastic.  Thankfully they listened and with this round my body finally began to respond, getting the hint and moving into early labor without much issue.  I bounced on the yoga ball, walked around with my husband, and eventually sunk into the glory of the birth tub when the harsher contractions kicked in just after my water broke.

By 8:00 that night I was clearly going to have a baby soon and we made sure to call family and update them before people went off to bed.  Shortly after 9pm all three attending doctors were busy in deliveries in other rooms and the intern on her first night in L&D offered to check and see how things were looking before I hopped back into the tub for a bit more relief.  She declared I was about 7cm and most likely would hit transition soon.

For some reason I had it in my head that going to the bathroom would be a good idea before it was time to push.  I still don't know if perhaps it was some cruel trick of my body to mess with my plans, but I am once again so thankful my husband was standing just outside the bathroom door and quick enough with his reflexes that a dive to keep me and the baby from hitting the floor was not a futile effort on his part.  I remember crouching on the tile floor, looking up at the nurse who asked what was wrong and in a not-so-calm-voice tell her "I'm holding my baby's head!"

It was blur after that... they must have rushed me to the bed because I remember vaguely the effort to lift myself onto the birth bed and holding my husband's hand. I remember the nurse holding my leg for me and telling me to breathe, then her panic as I started to faint with the first push.  But somehow he took only three pushes and one pause as they moved his shoulders, coming out quiet but flailing and going straight to his father's waiting arms.  

Small, skinny, and having huge feet and wide eyes... my little man was perfect from his first breath. He's an amazing child, full of smiles and so bouncy and bright. When he began crawling, then walking well ahead of the normal timeline his father and I thought we had beaten the odds so perfectly.  We had faced a long battle just getting through my health problems and his pregnancy had come as a shock after so many years being told I was going to face a battle just trying to conceive.  And yet, there he was, perfect and giggly and bright as the sun in the sky after a long labor and un-medicated birth.

My recovery was a walk in the park, literally. Once we were released from the hospital after an extra day of watching because he was under weight and not latching correctly to breastfeed, I was walking almost every day.  Eventually I had to admit breastfeeding was not working because of sharp pains and bleeding from the breast, but until then I did my best and even after I investigated our options to find the healthiest, most natural choice for our baby.

Tomorrow I will share the full story of my second child's medically assisted birth and how it compares to my natural labor and birth of our first baby.  I want to do this with a clear head so that you can all see the difference and how each has merit.

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