aoinoue: (Parenting - Geekling)
[personal profile] aoinoue
This birth went very differently than Chester’s, in almost all positive ways. For those that don’t know, I switched doctors at 22 weeks to a practice that, in addition to many OBs had two midwives on staff. If you were determined to be low risk, you had the option of delivering at the Alternative Birth Center at the local hospital. The ABC does not use IVs during labor, they allow you to eat and drink at will, and they do not practice external fetal monitoring (they user periodic Doppler readings to check fetal heart rate). They also have birth tubs available in each room (although you’re not allowed to give birth or push in them) and queen-sized beds. The ABC does also have the benefit of being in the hospital, so if anything were to go wrong, they had access to all of the necessary equipment and personnel just down the hall.

This was my goal – a natural birth in a setting that would provide for it with staff that was used to dealing with natural births – and after many months of obstacles (gestational diabetes, baby being a bit larger for her gestational age (likely due to the discrepancy between doctor and mom’s due dates), and my alleged clotting disorders), I was able to have the birth I wanted at the ABC.

I had my very first contraction at 4:45 am on Friday, November 20th. I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for nearly two weeks by then, but these really felt different.

They were coming about every ten minutes, and after three or so, [personal profile] anthogna said “I think this is it” and I agreed. We let the contractions continue or so for an hour at the ten minute mark before we got out of bed and decided to start making the necessary phone calls. We called Chester’s nanny and asked her to come over early, and we both sent our bosses the necessary emails letting them know we wouldn’t be in the office that day. While writing my emails, I could tell the contractions were picking up and were now coming every five minutes, so I called our midwife and the hospital to let them know we were on our way.

I decided to take a shower to help with the pain, plus I needed to wash my hair anyway. I had about four more contractions in the shower before deciding I should probably get out. I had a small breakfast of orange juice and a piece of dry toast once the nanny arrived and Anthogna and I left for the hospital.

Unfortunately, this meant we left at 7:40 or so, which meant we hit rush hour traffic on the expressway. It only took us twenty or so minutes to get there, though. Anthogna dropped me off at the front door and parked the car while I waited. We headed on up to the ABC and checked in with nurse and picked a room (all three rooms were available, so we got our choice of rooms). By this time it was about 8:15 or so and I was having contractions every 3-4 minutes and they were very strong by this point. The nurse did a cervical exam to determine if the midwife needed to come right away or if she had a bit more time, and it turned out I was already at 6 cm with my water still intact, so the midwife needed to come now. This was also extremely relieving to me, as I was already past the point where I was considering an epidural with Chester (at 4 cm) during his induction, so I knew I could do the rest without meds.

Another nurse came in shortly after that and asked if I would mind a nursing student attending the birth, to which I readily consented. I think it’s great that they were trying to expose the nursing students to natural childbirth and to let them know that it doesn’t always have to go the way it goes in standard hospital births.

I had a few more contractions while Anthogna applied counter-pressure to my hips (I ended up losing my breakfast too) before I decided to get back in the shower while Anthogna filled up the tub in the room. I hung out in the shower for a while through more contractions and then opted to switch to the tub. The tub was really a miracle worker, especially while it was still filling. During each contraction, I put my lower back under the running water and it really helped with the pain. Eventually, though we had to turn the water off because the tub was full. I relaxed in the water in the minute and a half or so in between the contractions, and then during the contractions had Anthogna lean over the side of the tub and put his weight on my hips while I leaned over the side of the tub onto the windowsill. We did this for a while until I started to feel like I was overheating and I opted to get out of the tub. Unfortunately, the nursing student arrived right as I was standing up to get out of the tub (stark naked). I was embarrassed for about five seconds before I remembered she was going to watch me give birth, so being naked was probably the least of my problems.

I really felt like I had to go to the bathroom too, so I headed into the bathroom where I had a few contractions on the toilet. The nurse came in to do a Doppler reading on Shelby (she’d been doing this periodically throughout the labor at this point) and said “You look a little pushy”. I commented that it didn’t feel like Shelby was on my perineum (when baby is on the perineum is generally when you start pushing), so I didn’t think I was quite to that point yet, but she called the midwife anyway. The midwife came in and watched me have another contraction and said “Yeah, you definitely look pushy, you should probably get off of the toilet and onto the bed.” I figured she was probably right. :o)

The midwife set up a peanut shaped birthing ball (we had avoided the birthing ball thus far based on our last experience, which made me believe that birthing balls were in fact invented by Satan) on the bed and told me to rest my torso on it while hanging out on my knees. I got into the position, and realized rather quickly that I was definitely going to be pushing in that position.

The nurse and Anthogna continued to put counter-pressure on my hips as Shelby moved ever downward, while the midwife applied warm compresses to my perineum (which felt great!). After three or four solid pushes, I felt a big gush and realized my water had broken. Anthogna claims it sounded a lot like water balloon popping.

I ended up pushing only over eight or so contractions, and I have to say that mother-directed pushing (i.e. pushing when I felt the urge) is INFINITELY better than purple-faced provider-directed pushing. It was much less tiring and clearly more effective. The on my knees and resting my torso on the birthing ball position was also *much* more comfortable than being on my back.

Finally, on the last pushing contraction the midwife said that Shelby needed to be born now (apparently her head was already out and the midwife was ready to assist in birthing the shoulders) so I gave it one last big push and at 11:14 am Shelby was born! The midwife brought her below me and handed her to me. She was crying healthily, which was such a relief after Chester (no nuchal chord, yay!), and very, very gooey. I set her on the bed so they clamped her cord, and Anthogna cut it, then wrapped her up in warm blankets and handed her to Anthogna so I could get re-positioned for delivery of the afterbirth.

After I delivered the afterbirth, I ended up needing some stitches again (I tore along the scar I had from the tear I incurred during Chester’s birth), but at least the lidocaine actually worked this time. While we were waiting for the lidocaine to take effect, the nurse weighed her and she came in at a whopping 10 lbs, 4 oz! I was absolutely shocked – I knew she’d be bigger, but I didn’t think she’d be that big! The midwife commented that although they don’t recommend having12 lb babies, I probably wouldn’t have had any trouble delivering one.

The midwife finished my stitches and Anthogna brought Shelby to me and we cuddled on the bed for a while before Shelby began nursing.

We actually only stayed in the hospital overnight, and we were released at 2:00 or so on Saturday. The queen size bed provided by the ABC was also awesome. Cuddling with Anthogna for the first time in months was fabulous. :o)

We’ve been home for nearly a week now, and Chester is adjusting (I think anyway) to having a little sister. We’ve been lucky thus far though, there has always been at least one adult around to pay attention to him while the other pays attention to Shelby. I will be very sad when Anthogna returns to work next week. I also miss sleeping, but that’s part of having a newborn – at least now we know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

All in all, I absolutely loved delivering at the ABC. It was exactly the kind of birth experience I wanted and I am very grateful that I was able to deliver there.
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