Friday, August 12, 2011

How little S was born

I think I felt the baby moving earlier today, but I was almost asleep so maybe it was a dream. I just watched The Business of being Born, because it was on Netflix. Holy Hormones Batman, I almost cried every time a baby was born ("it's so beautiful!"). Good thing I'm by myself tonight. Anyway, it reminded me of how lucky I was with little S's birth and as it's mulling around in my head, I thought I would tell you a story. Because I think that everyone really really likes to tell scary birth stories, but normal ones? Not nearly as fun. Which gives women an unfortunately scewed view of childbirth.

Everyone told me that S would probably be late. First babies are always late, apparently. Something like 60% of babies are late. Then, why is the due date not later, I ask you? Anyway, she was due on our anniversary, and we politely requested that she not be strictly punctual. And as a rather largely pregnant one, I voted for early. She agreed.

The night before I went into labour was the big earthquake in Chile. Craig's family is in Chile and I phoned him at work.  First I made sure he figured out that I was NOT in labour, but had to tell him that his family was MIA as the earthquake had wiped out all communication. Eeeee. We found out that they were okay before S came along (barely), but we weren't able to contact them for a while. Very nerve wracking stuff.

The next night I went to bed at 11. I had had maybe...2 contractions and I was like "Meh, if I'm in labour I'll wake up". So then an hour later I woke up. I read online once that contractions feel like an impacted fart. If you don't know what I'm talking about, good for you. If you do know what I'm talking about, it's true. So I got up, made some toast with cheese (for energy!) and took a bath while calling Craig again ("no, this time I'm actually in labour!" "yes!" "Please come get me to the hospital!"). Craig works night shifts, if that didn't make sense. Then I called my midwife. There are actually three of them, they just take turns with the pager. I got to know all of them in my prenatal care. I said "I'm in labour! I'm in the bath! Should I come in now?" and she pretty much said "oh it'll probably be hours and hours still, but if it makes you happy, come in." It did, in fact, make me happy. I live 40 minutes from the town with the hospital, and babies come fast in my family. Craig got home, we ran around in circles for a couple minutes (okay no, I got out of the tub and got dressed) and then got in the car.

I didn't enjoy having contractions in the car. For the record (because they are super fun otherwise...). Also, we called my parents at some point.

I don't remember when we got to the hospital. Because it was two years ago. The nurses were all "oh, you're barely in labour, it'll be hours and hours still. I'm going off shift, but I'll probably be here to help when your baby comes, you know, tomorrow." To which I said "Feels like plenty of labour to me!" It might have been about this point that I started yelling a lot. Yelling was my preferred form of pain management. I found it surprisingly effective. Probably because I was so loud. The whole hospital (and doubtless most of the surrounding area) knew I was having a baby. I was okay with this, I liked the yelling. Also crushing Craig's hand (only hold two fingers, very important!). My midwife was...busy? I don't remember. I hung out with Craig, and the nurses (who were lovely) came in every now and then to make sure I was good. I liked telling them that I loved it. The one nurse was sure I wasn't really very far along, because no one says that they love it. Apparently sarcasm as pain management is not widely taught to nurses. I kept asking if I could go in the tub now? Please? And they told me that they didn't want to slow me down, so we would wait until I was really in labour. Moral of this story? Don't tell your nurse that you love contractions, or she will not fill the tub for you! Oh yes, our hospital has a tub built in the maternity wing (shared between two rooms). My hospital pretty much rocked.

Finally, they let me in the tub, yay! At this point (8ish in the morning?) my midwife had arrived. Craig was in the tub with me so that I could continue to crush his hand. My water broke and I went through transition in the tub. I liked the tub because it did help a lot with the pain, and I got a comfortable(ish?) position in there. They didn't want me to push in the tub. This was okay, because there wasn't anything really to hold onto, and I was quite tired (one hour of sleep...). I was kind of bummed though, because I did want to have the baby in the tub, but I trusted my midwife's judgment.

Okay so time out, by this point I was at 7 hours of labour. Wait, the math is wrong. I must have woken up later? I don't remember! I remember it as 8 hours total...this is what happens when you write your birth story a year and half later. Anyway, up to this point, even in transition, I did not regret the lack of drugs at all. I was always thinking "This is hard, but I can do more if I have to."

I hated pushing. This was my wall; this was where I just wanted to quit. But I couldn't because there was a baby lodged in my pelvis. She had hiccups at this point, by the way. Pushing! Horrible! They made me squat but I just wanted to lay down. Laying down is not the fastest way to have a baby. There might have been crying at this point. I pushed for an hour. Then, finally, baby! 10:30 AM. The midwife has me written down as 3.5 hours of actual labour.

I got to snuggle her right away, while they checked her out. Craig cut the cord. Blood everywhere! Seriously, he cut the cord and blood sprayed across my face. A charming moment for all. Apparently the cord had not quite finished pumping.

Then it took me an hour to get stitched up. I wish I was exaggerating. It fully sucked. I asked if I could have the epidural now? No. I had to be refrozen more than once, and she didn't tell me how many stitches I had. It took 6 weeks to heal. That was maybe the worst, because I was done! But had to lay there for another hour with my legs shaking from exhaustion.

When they finally sat me up and gave me back little S, my parent's came in (they had been around for a while, my dad had to leave for a bit...the yelling was rather traumatic) to meet her and I called the important people (except Craig's parents and brother...booo). I felt amazing. They aren't kidding about those natural birth hormones. The nurses kept telling me that I should try and sleep but I was on a crazy adrenaline rush. I grew a person, inside me, and then gave birth in eight hours with no medical interventions! So pretty much I was invincible. I actually had a couple nurses come in to tell me that I was awesome. Then we hung out and watched Canada win the Olympic gold in hockey. All the nurses were watching in the next room, it was pretty funny. My midwife checked on me during commercial breaks. We do indeed take our hockey rather seriously in Canada.

We stayed for a couple nights, until I had the breastfeeding down(ish, not an easy journey for us). The nurses were lovely and helpful, and I felt very supported. Still, it was great to go home where people don't keep waking you up to give you awful hospital food or sweep the floor or a million other things.

So, that was S's birth story. Nothing traumatic. Craig says it was the most intense day of his life. I agree. But for me, it was a rite of passage. Maybe I went in a girl and came out a woman? Maybe if I could handle that, I could handle anything motherhood threw at me? I only hope this little one has such a smooth entry to the world!