Friday, July 3, 2015

Jordi's Birth

Jordi's Birth

My story starts on December 31, 2010.  This was the day my husband and I had chosen to start started trying for our first baby (which is a not so subtle way of saying we were having lots and lots of sex).  At the time, we had aspirations of a home birth and I was reading every natural birth related post on Facebook.  We were the lucky ones who successfully conceived on the first try.  But around 6 weeks, I noticed bright red blood when I wiped.   For 3 days, when I would go to the bathroom, I would say a little prayer that there wouldn't be blood when I looked at the toilet paper. But that week, while at work, the cramping started and I lost my baby in the handicap stall at work.  I wasn't prepared for this. 

Two months later, my husband and I decided to try again. This time, I was 10 weeks when the spotting and cramping started. I didn't have a doctor or midwife yet, so I went to the emergency room to see if an ultrasound would tell me that everything was ok. They couldn't tell me much and I didn't know what to ask, but they thought it might have been a blighted ovum. 10 weeks of feeling sick and exhausted... Feeling totally pregnant... and there may not have even been an embryo. We left the hospital with no answers and feeling defeated.  As soon as I got out of the truck when I got home, I felt it. The gush of blood that told me that my fears were a reality. My husband was there this time to help clean me up as I had a complete breakdown.

During that second pregnancy, I started having sciatic nerve pain. It got increasingly worse until one day, in August 2011, something snapped. In a matter of 3 days, I was completely bedridden with the worst nerve pain I'd ever experienced. A trip to the doctor told me that I had ruptured my L5 S1 disc and it was pressing my sciatic nerve against my hip bone. I needed surgery. 

The surgery was a success! But this definitely put our baby making plans on hold.  I needed to give my back time to heal.  Finally, in May 2012, my doc gave me the all clear on baby making. And guess what... I was ovulating! 

We conceived on the first try again and by 8 weeks, we were visiting our new midwife, Rachel DeVaney.  Due to the issues with my back, I decided a hospital birth was the best option for me, but I wanted to give myself the best chance I had to have a natural, unmediated birth. I did some homework, and Rachel DeVaney at Women's Health Partners in Boca Raton, FL seemed to be the best fit for us.

At that first visit, we did an ultrasound, and I saw my baby's heart beating nice and strong on the monitor. It was the most beautiful thing in the world. There was my baby and it was alive and well. It took awhile, but eventually, I stopped looking for bright red blood every time I used the bathroom.

My pregnancy was going well, until about 28 weeks. 2 visits in a row, my blood pressure was high. I was put on modified bed rest and sent to see Dr. Lowe, a perinatologist. They ruled out preeclampsia, but I was diagnosed with pregnancy induced hypertension. From then on, I was seen every week, alternating between Rachel and Dr. Lowe. My blood pressure remained high, but stable and I was able to return to work.

We didn't want to know if we were having a boy or girl, but we knew that no matter what, the name would be Jordi Leigh. And let me tell you, Jordi was getting BIG! Although, this was no surprise to us. I'm 5'10" and my husband is 6'1". And both our moms had "big" babies. But I knew, between the big baby and the high blood pressure, I'd better start preparing myself for the idea of an induction. 

Me on my 30th birthday - about 30 weeks

By 36 weeks, my blood pressure started increasing and Dr. Lowe urged me to get an induction.  Dr. Lowe was suggesting that I induce at 37 weeks. I bargained with him: if I stopped working and go on modified bed rest, could I buy an extra week or two? Dr. Lowe was awesome (I was told many Peri's would never have let me go longer) but he listened to me and my body. When my BP was steadily rising to 140/90+, concerns of preeclampsia were getting real.   I was scheduled for an induction at 38 weeks 3 days. 

When I was researching for my birth, so much of what I read described an induction with pitocin as excruciating & unbearable. I was led to believe that an induction meant I needed an epidural. Which, in my head, would lead to a c-section. I was a hot mess. But I was inspired by a woman I work with who told me that she had an unmediated induction. I didn't know people did that! That night, I started reading birth stories of moms who had unmediated inductions with pitocin and I knew that I wanted to try.  

I went in for my induction on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 10am. My midwife gave me the choice of trying Cervidil or Cytotec.  She'd given me several days to consider this before going in for the induction.  I did some research and consulted with my doula and decided not to attempt the Cytotec.  There was just too much risk involved for my comfort (abnormally strong uterine contractions that can’t be “turned off” leading to risk of uterine rupture). They inserted the Cervidil at about noon and my midwife would be on call that night. I was 1 cm dilated when I arrived, but Jordi was high and my cervix was thick. That baby was nice and comfy in there and was not showing any signs of wanting to come out! 

Sitting in my hospital room; hopeful the Cervidil will do its thing

At midnight, I was 3 cm dilated, but Jordi was still high and my cervix was still thick. Through the night, they started me on a low dose of Pitocin to try to soften my cervix more. The next morning, I was still 3 cm and no progress on my cervix. Rachel decided to go ahead and increase the Pitocin by 2 ml/h to see if it would help kick my body into labor.  

By that evening (day 2), the Pitocin was up to almost their maximum dose, and I barely felt a thing. I was definitely not in labor.  After consulting with my midwife and the new on-call midwife (Terry DeFilippo), we decided it was time to shut off the Pitocin, unhook me from the monitors, let me shower, eat, and sleep and start over on Wednesday. After 2 days of only light snacking, that was the best Chinese food I have ever eaten in my entire life. 

That night, they inserted another Cervidil to let it work through the night.  If this didn't help, the only thing left to try was breaking my water and that scared the crap out of me. I feared a c-section...  I told my midwife that I was afraid of the 24 hour cut off.  I knew that breaking the water meant increasing the risk of infection, and so they don’t like to let you go past 24 hours past your water being broken. She comforted me by saying that so long as I am showing progress, they won't just toss me into the operating room when I hit the 24 hour mark.  My husband and I talked for awhile that night about the possibilities and the options.

The next morning, yep... Still 3 cm and still no progress on my cervix. After much discussion between myself, my husband, and the Midwife, we faced the fact that the only thing left to try was breaking my water. At 8:30am on January 23rd, they broke my water. Right away, I started to feel something. They gave me an hour to see what my body would do on its own and started the Pitocin at 9:30am.  I finally felt like I was starting to make a little progress (yay!). By early afternoon, the contractions were getting more intense and I knew I was (finally!) in labor. The nurse continued to increase my Pitocin by 2 ml/h every 30 minutes. I asked the nurse what the max was. She said that they can't go higher than 30 ml/h, but that they rarely go over 20 ml/h and that they will stop turning it up when the contractions get to be a steady 2 minutes apart and my body shows that it is moving along and will labor without the need to increase the Pitocin.

Around 1pm, I tried laying in the bed with my headphones on and listen to my Hypnobabies track. But I couldn’t do it.  I couldn't listen to the hypnosis tracks.  The voice on the recording was like nails on a chalkboard.   And I couldn’t lay down.  I felt stifled.   Instead, my husband turned on the birthing playlist he created for me.  He put it on the iPad so the sound filled the room and I didn't have it pumped directly into my ears. The music helped a lot. It provided comfort and background noise.

I sat on the Birthing ball and rocked my pelvis. My mother massaged my back as I sat forward against the bed. Continuing to urge little Jordi to make his/her way down. As the contractions got more intense and I needed to concentrate more, my parents left and my amazing doula (Lorel Hartley) arrived.  I had moved to the rocking chair and things were getting more uncomfortable, but I knew I couldn't lay down. 

My favorite spot to labor with my favorite Doula

Lorel asked if I wanted to get in the shower, but it just seemed like too much of a sensory overload and with the contractions getting more intense, it felt like too much.  However, I couldn’t say it in quite those words.  Instead it came out in grunts and a short “No.”  I kept changing positions every once in awhile (I really had no concept of time…) I went from sitting on the bed, to standing, to sitting in the rocking chair.  I liked the rocking chair best. I was getting incredibly swollen from the high blood pressure and 3 days of constant fluids being pumped into me via the IV. The swelling was so bad it was painful. My legs felt so stiff and I started getting pain in my legs and back as the baby moved further down. 

By 5pm, I was up to 22 ml/h and the contractions were quite intense. My regular nurse (who was wonderful!) was assisting in another birth, so I had a different nurse come in to check on me.  She tried to turn up my Pitocin to 24 ml/h, but I knew my midwife would be by soon to check my progress (I hadn't been checked since she broke my water 8.5 hours prior). I told her that I wanted to wait to be checked before they turned me up again.  The contractions were so strong that I couldn't imagine turning it up again. She seemed a little thrown off, but complied with my request. 

At about 5:30, the midwife came to check my progress.  She had 2 other births going on at another hospital down the road, so I hadn’t seen her since that morning.  In order for the midwife to check me,   I had to lay in the bed.  While laying down, I had a strong contraction come on and it was a long one!  It hit so hard, I started to dry heave.  But it was all worth it, because I got the good news.  Although I was still only 3cm dialated, I was fully effaced!  Hallelujah!  My cervix got the memo. 

I spent the next couple hours sitting in the rocking chair or standing while my husband and doula took turns supporting me.  I would squeeze the hell out of my husband’s hand through each contraction while trying to keep the rest of my body as relaxed as possible.  Between the contractions, I zoned out.  They were like mini naps.  I would relax and meditate (this is where the Hypnobabies practice came in handy) as much as I could to the point that I really felt like I was “gone” during those 2 minute rest periods.  My husband kept a watch on the monitor and would warn me when another contraction was coming.  I found myself moaning through each contraction.  It was very animalistic and it felt good to moan.  The lights were dim, the music was playing and it was just me, my husband, and my doula.

My Rock

I watched the clock intently, but had very little concept of time.  Time seemed to be extremely slow and crazy fast at the same time.  It must have seemed slow during a contraction and too fast during the rest periods.  I remember looking at the clock somewhere around 7:30 and thinking that if I wasn’t progressing, I didn’t know how much more I could take.  It was starting to become unbearable.  Since I had no idea how much I had progressed, I had no idea if I was even close to 10cm by that time.  I had been only 3cm just 2 hours earlier.  

Around 8pm, I was told that the new midwife on shift would be coming by to check me.  This is also when I realized my Mom wasn’t in the room.  Where is my mom??  She had been waiting in the waiting room and I hadn’t even realized she had come back to the hospital.  My doula suggested that I try to go to the bathroom before the midwife checks me.  She helped me into the bathroom and onto the toilet. The last time I did this, I had a contraction while standing and almost vomited into the sink.  This time, standing wasn’t so bad.  And it felt so good to sit on the toilet.  But I could feel the pressure and I felt like I really needed to poo!  In her very professional and supportive way, my doula said “You may not want to try because if you do, you may have the baby on the toilet.”
My mother helping me through intense labor

Reluctantly, I got up and went back into the room.  I stood up for awhile, waiting for the midwife.  I hugged my mom and hung over her shoulders while she supported me through my contractions.  (She later told me that it was difficult to watch her baby in pain, but that she knew what it was all for and that I would soon have my baby in my arms).  She told me, “Once it becomes unbearable, that’s when the baby comes.”  “This is bearable?” I asked with as much of a laugh as I could muster.

Finally, at about 8:30, the midwife came in to check me.  I laid down in the bed and awaited the news.  “It’s showtime!”  I was 10cm!  Things seemed to happen quickly at that point.  They broke down the bed and scrambled to get a bunch of baby birthing stuff (towels, lube, etc.).  We turned off the music and they turned on these big, bright spotlights.  It really did feel like Showtime!  I started pushing around 8:50 and Oh.  Em.  Gee.  That is exhausting.  The midwife laid me back.  My husband and mother supported my legs and I grabbed the back of my knees and pulled them up to my chest.  (The midwife described the position as a sideways squat.)  The first push, I shouted out.  My midwife told me not to shout, that it is releasing energy out the top, when it should all be focused on the bottom.  From then on, there was grunting, but no more shouting.  With each push, there was progress.  The midwife told me to push with the contractions, but I couldn’t feel them anymore.  So she told me just to push when I felt ready.  As I pushed, my birthing team could see the head.  As I took a break, the baby’s head would suck back up inside me, but the midwife assured me that with each push, I was making progress.  I pushed for about 30 minutes.  And finally, at 9:22pm on January 23, 2013, my baby came tumbling into this world.  

“It’s a boy!” my husband shouted.  They placed my son directly on my chest.  I just kept saying “My baby, my baby, my baby…”  He came out screaming, but quieted when they placed him on my chest and covered him with a blanket.  He was perfect.  

Fresh, brand new baby - looking out into this new world

When the cord stopped pulsing, my mother cut it.  I held onto my son as I birthed the placenta and my midwife stitched up my tear.  My midwife showed us the placenta; she showed us the sack my son lived in for 38 ½ weeks.  They took him briefly to wipe him down, weigh and measure him (9lbs 12oz, 21.5 inches), and returned him to me where he latched on and breastfed for the first of many times.  

Latched for the first time

I am very thankful that in spite of the challenges I faced, I was able to have my unmedicated, natural birth.  I am so thankful for my perinatologist, midwives, wonderful doula, supportive family and incredible husband.  They were all keys to my success. 

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