Friday, April 30, 2010

The Birth of Alex Moses

It was early, very early - 12:36am to be exact. I woke to dreams of contractions yet again, but for some odd reason the annoying cramping stayed with me into the foggy haze of reality. I decided I must be dreaming but as I laid there trying to get comfortable the nagging cramping returned. I decided that since there was no way I would find a comfortable position that would allow me to go back to sleep I would stare at the clock and see if there was any regularity to these cramps. Sure enough, the cramps would return about every 10 minutes or so. At around 1:30 I decided I just couldn't lay in bed any longer. So, I got up and read, check e-mail and face book and otherwise tried to entertain myself. Half hoping the cramps would go away, and half hoping I was in labor, just so I could be done with it.

At 2:00am, the cramps were getting pretty strong, enough that I was pretty sure I was entering the realm of early labor. I decided some company would be nice, so I woke Kyle, who bless his heart began packing a bag just in case. I had some bloody show so we decided to call the midwife just to give her an FYI, and find out when she would like me to come in should the contractions progress. Since we live a good hour+ drive from the hospital the recommendation was that we head in when the contractions where about 7-8 minutes apart. Everyone including us thought this labor could go faster than my labor with Colton, which was a total of 16 hours.

Sure enough, even after a bath the cramps where stronger and coming about every 6-7 minutes. It was now close to 4:30am, so we woke Colton, started the truck and made two quick phone calls to our parents to let them know that we were headed into the hospital.

It was different driving to Helena in the pre-dawn light, I remember the sky being crystal clear with diamond stars shining so brightly, I remember thinking "what a beautiful night to be born." The sun was just starting to light the sky as we came over the pass. My contractions surprisingly began to fluctuate between every 10 minutes and every 7-8 minutes. Kyle and I looked at each other nervously wondering if we had jumped the gun a bit, but the contractions where still coming, so we continued on. Thanks to the early hour it took us just an hour to reach the hospital. We went in and they whisked us up to the Labor and delivery wing. Hooked me to the monitor and we waited. My contractions had slowed to ever 8-10 minutes. The nurse checked me and I was still only dilated to 2 1/2-3cm. The same as I had been all week. They decided that maybe a walk would help things progress. Which timed out about right as Kyle and Colton where hungry. So, we walked down to the cafeteria, Colton and Kyle got a bite to eat, and I walked, and walked and walked. So, long as I was moving the contractions would come about every 5-6 minutes. After an hour we headed up the the labor and delivery wing again to see if I had made any progress.

Just like earlier, if I laid down my contractions would slow to about every 10 minutes. I had dilated another 1/2 cm. But not enough for them to want to admit me. So, the discussion was whether I be released or I could stay, but I would probably need to walk a whole lot more to progress and I was already getting tired. My other option was to have the midwife come down and break my water and see if that got things going.

I knew I didn't want my water broken so early, that would put me on the clock for delivering in the next 12-24 hours and who knows what host of interventions I could face. I didn't want to stay in the little exam room, I just didn't feel comfortable. My gut told me I needed to get something to eat and I needed to get comfortable. The trouble with leaving was where would we go? We had no friends in Helena, and home was a good hour away. Kyle was also getting tired, after all we had been up all night pretty much. We decided to see leave and see if just getting out of the hospital would help. I was starving so, we went and got something to eat. I thought if we could find a nice park I could try and get some sleep in the truck. Colton slept for about 20 minutes, but he was the only one who got rest. Kyle and I just could not get comfortable. We talked about getting a hotel but, the cost alone made us wary. We did not want to spend $100.00 just for a couple of hours, then of course it could be all night, who knew? I had already been in labor for 11 hours, much longer than either of us expected I would be. We decided that since I had made some progress walking we would go to a store and I would walk. We chose Murdocks, because Colton loved it and he would easily be entertained by their toy isle.

I walked around the store, but I just couldn't get comfortable. What can I say, I had a hard time with the store clerks asking me repeatedly if they could help me find something. Of course I'm sure I looked lost as I wandered up and down pretty much every isle. Kyle stayed with Colton in the toy section. I didn't want to share with them that I was in labor, and risk them following me with a bucket and mop or asking us to leave.

I finally told Kyle, that I really needed to get comfortable. We decided that even a few hours of sleep would do us all good. So to the Super 8 we went. Kyle went in to reserve a room, I was worried about the cost if he let them know I was in labor. But amazingly they charged us about 1/2 price because I was in labor. What a blessing.

The time spent on the hotel was the best $50 I think we have ever spent. Kyle got to cat nap, Colton got a solid 2 hour nap, and I was finally able to get comfortable. I cat napped between contractions. They pretty much remained about 10 minutes apart, but each time I dozed it felt more like an hour between them. I was quickly getting recharged. I also, took time to do some hip opening stretches, anything I could do to encourage the baby to move down. Kyle rubbed my back and legs. We cuddled and waited. Every once in a while Colton would come up and encourage me saying, " Your doing a good job Mommy." After every contraction it seemed like I had to pee. Finally, I prayed. It was a simple prayer: "Lord I believe you can move mountains, and I believe you can move this labor along." I went back to sleep. A few minutes later I had a really strong contraction. I immediately got up to use the bathroom. As I stood up my water began to leak. I rushed to the toilet, there was no doubt my water had broken. We were on our way. I told Kyle to get things ready. Almost immediately the contractions really started coming. They had gone from every 10 minutes to every 1-2 minutes and were increasing in intensity. We called the midwife and let them know we where headed back to the hospital. I think I had 3 or 4 contractions just on the short drive to the hospital.

Kyle dropped me off at the door. I went in to re-register. They where very quick and efficient. Kyle and Colton met me in the registration room. And soon we were taken to the 4th floor labor and delivery wing. Me having contractions every few minutes on the way.

The birthing room was lovely, spacious with a private bath and a big beautiful tub. The nurses tossed me a gown and in between contractions I changed. They hooked me to the monitor, and checked me. I was still only dilated to 4 1/2 cm. But my contractions were strong and regular. The baby's heart beat was steady as well. They would have liked to monitor me longer, but I had to pee, not to mention laying on my back was making the contractions extremely painful.

I kept thinking about that tub. I wanted to wait until the contractions were unbearable before I got into my only source of pain relief. But the contractions were so intense and so close together I decided it must be time. The room seemed extremely warm to me, I remember the simple hospital gown felt suffocating, my wedding ring and necklace I was sure were strangling me. So off everything came. Forget modesty, forget what anyone else would say. It was like I was in another world. Far removed from reality, all I could do was move with the contractions. Moan and groan, and try to welcome them.

Meanwhile, Kyle my beloved labor partner was pulling double duty. I had no real concept of this but he was wrangling Colton, getting him set up with a movie. Reassuring him that Mommy was o.k., and running back to me every time I called so that he could apply counter pressure to my lower back with his lovely large warm hands. At one point during a brief break from a contraction I heard Colton call; "Daddy I need you!", then a contraction came and I called; "Kyle I need you!", he came back to the tub and applied pressure to my aching back. Just as Colton called again; "Daddy I need you!", He left to tend Colton. But no sooner I was calling for him again. Kyle said in a kindly way; "I've never felt so needed in my life!" This statement made me laugh, which made me relax. Every once in a while Colton would pop in to the bathroom, and ask if I was having a hard time. Or he would tell me I was doing a good job. Once he made the suggestion that I should "MOO" something I had read about, and he liked the idea of.

In the tub each contraction intensified, I swayed in the water on my hands and knees with either Kyle or one of the nurses applying pressure to my lower back. I could hardly grasp the breaks in between. It seemed as one would leave, another was coming right on it's heels. I was so thankful for the research I had done over the past months. I'm sure the coping techniques I learned from Ina May Gaskins book, where primarily responsible for hanging on to my senses enough to cope with the intensity of this labor. I drew off the stories of women in labor before me. I tried to welcome each contraction, I wished it goodbye as it went. I felt my self open up more and more. I wished Alex to come on down, I repeated the mantra, "I'm going to get huge" to keep me from fearing I would tear. Kyle even reminded me of this when I was extra tense, he encouraged me to relax my face when my brow would furrow. He would tell me I could do this, that I had done it before. He was my anchor. Holding me steady. He kept me from being swept away by the intensity of the contraction.

Pretty soon the tub was too hot for me. I climbed out, and sat on the toilet. The thought of sitting was unbearable, but so was standing. The nurses gave me a cold wash cloth for my neck. I could feel Alex coming down along my tail bone. As I approached transition the contractions suddenly got easier to cope with. I no longer felt the need to moan. I just breathed. As the contractions intensified I reached deeper with my breath, and as I exhaled I allowed the release. Much like you would doing a difficult yoga pose. The nurse commented on my ability to control my breathing. That simple word of encouragement made me feel like I could do this all night. (Though I'm glad I didn't have to.)

Before I knew it I could feel stinging at my cervix, I knew Alex was ready to be born. I called for someone to get my midwife Carol. She came quickly and recommended we move over to the bed. I was so close to delivering, I could barely walk, Kyle and Carol had to support me as I moved to the bed. As I walked to the bed, I told Colton that Alex would be here soon. He grinned and went back to watching his movie. Once again, I labored on my hands and knees. It was unbearable to think of sitting or laying down. I could feel Alex coming, but I never made the conscious effort to push. I just felt him moving down, I felt my body pushing, I tried to just let it do its job. I breathed.

Carol thought maybe the baby could have big shoulders. she suggested I roll over and sit in a kind of squatted position. For a moment I thought, "How am I supposed to do that?", but I changed my thought right away to: "sure I can do that." Kyle supported my back so I could be as upright as possible. The nurses supported my knees hugging them toward my chest.

It was much easier, for my body to push in this postition and Alex came very quickly once I changed. Almost as soon as I flipped over his head was out. My body gave one more push and the rest of him slipped out.

Alex was here! He was beautiful too. dark hair, pink skin, and did he ever smell good, brand new and sweet. He hollered about the transition from womb to world. Carol handed him to me. He had a pretty short cord, so it was hard to get him to my chest. He quieted quickly after he was in my arms. We waited for the cord to stop pulsating, which happened a lot faster than I thought it would. Kyle opted to not cut the cord. Carol offered me the privilege which I gladly accepted. It was rather tricky to cut the thick slippery cord with my left hand but I managed.

I held Alex taking in every inch of him. He was so much smaller than Colton had been. But he was amazing and perfect. The nurses dried him off in my arms. No one took him from me. Pretty soon the placenta came. I was so pleased to not have any bleeding and no tears. No drugs of any kind were needed during my labor. It was wonderful. I felt like I could do anything. Kyle kissed and hugged me. I'm sure he was as proud and happy as me. Colton also was all grins. I couldn't pay attention to it at the time. But Kyle told me that Colton watched the whole birth with a huge smile on his face. Though he did not want to come over and see Alex right away. I imagine because he was still a little messy. (Colton doesn't even like the calves when they are brand new. He won't get close to them until they are clean and dry.) He said he would see him after his bath.

Alex soon was looking for my breast. He latched on easily and had his first meal. When I was finally ready, I handed Alex to Kyle. Then we let the nurses clean him up. They applied the antibiotic ointment to his eyes, and gave him a vitamin K shot. I opted not to have him get the Hep B shot. They gave him a bath, and I also slipped blissfully into a nice warm bath.
Alex weighed in at 7lbs. 12oz. and 20inches long. My labor was just over 20 hours.

As a family we stayed in the hospital room. Colton was in love with his new brother kissing him gently and examining his fingers and impossibly long toes. We all enjoyed the next two days of close bonding. I really enjoyed snuggling both my boys in the hospital bed. Though Colton would finally take it over.

Alex is a champion nurser. He nursed almost non stop the first 24 hours. We snuggled together that night. No one asked me to put him down. I have to give Carol, and my nurses credit for the amazing birth experience. I know without their support for my wanting to have a natural labor and birth it would not have been near as good an experience. I feel so blessed to have had such a beautiful time.

1 comment:

  1. I'm like bawling. I could NEVER have done natural labor. I ended up having a C-section because I was so weak...but what a beautiful story! And what a beautiful family.