Google Analytics (invisible)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Kessa’s birth story

I suppose I should start by telling you all that I was hoping for a natural childbirth. I know, I know, I’m crazy. I was really torn because I don’t really like drugs so much, but I was also scared to death of labor pain. My sister, Jalin, suggested HypnoBirthing (she had read the book and had gone natural for most) so after a lot of research, BJ and I ended up signing up for a class. We went with Launi Anderson in Orem (which was nice, because it was within walking distance of our condo. We really liked her, and really enjoyed the classes. I would recommend her. It was really informative in learning how the body actually works and why women feel pain during childbirth. It also helped me make decisions and write up a birth plan (I had never before considered writing a birth plan). It included things like, drug free, natural childbirth. No pitocin unless absolutely necessary. Intermittent monitoring so I can walk around. Stuff like that.

I should also warn you that I like to tell details. So, this is going to be detailed (although, I know I left some details out that I wanted to keep, but just couldn't fit in without making this an epic novel). This is going to be long. So, if you're faint of heart or easily bored, I wouldn't recommend you keep reading. For the rest of you, I'll add pictures so you don't get so bored.

So... onto the actual birth story.

Two weeks and one day before Kessa’s due date (Friday, June 5) I went in for my weekly exam with the midwives. I didn’t think anything of it; just a quick check, then back home to do some stuff before I picked up BJ at work and headed up to SLC for his cousin’s wedding dinner and reception.

Or, at least, that was the plan. Life had other plans, though. Abby, my midwife of the day (it’s a group of midwives and I met with whoever was working that day) first felt to make sure Kessa was still head down. She was. And like every other midwife for the past two or three weeks, commented on how incredibly low Kessa was. I had thought that was odd for a few weeks, since I couldn’t feel Kessa’s head. And everything I had heard of the baby dropping made it sound like I’d be carrying a bowling ball between my legs. But it didn’t. This would be the first of my many abnormalities (that I am very grateful for, mind you) in my labor with Kessa. Then she measured me. And measured me again. And again. She listened to the heartbeat. Then measured me again. Finally she let me in on her thoughts. “You haven’t grown in your past three visits. That isn’t normal.” [Enter a speck of fear] I’d like you to go down and get an ultrasound, just to make sure everything is ok. (Several times in here it was mentioned that my three visits were over 10 days, not the typical 14 days.)

The ultrasound was fun. The lady doing it was very nice and explained to me what everything was and why she was doing certain measurements. It was a lot more complex than the ultrasound I got at 20 weeks. She measured Kessa’s head (commenting on how small her head was, but owning that to the fact that Kessa’s head was so low, something that made her job very difficult), her tummy, her leg. She took pictures from all sorts of angles, then measured the amniotic fluid, running it through a rather complex logarithm, then sending me back to Abby’s exam room. Abby examined the report and told me that my placenta was starting to calcify (which is normal when you’re reaching the end of term, but my levels were more like what they’d typically see in someone overdue, not someone at 38 weeks) and my amniotic fluid was too low. It might be possible to send me home to drink a lot of water over the weekend (apparently the amount of water you drink can affect your amniotic fluid levels. Who knew? Pregnant women, take heed; drink lots of water.) but with something like this, she needed to consult with the doctor on duty. (The midwives team up with a group of three doctors for emergency situations. I guess I qualified.) While she was talking to him, she sent me in to have a stress test. Having no idea what a stress test was, I had to chuckle. Of course I was gonna be stressed! She just told me that my baby may be in danger! Turns out they weren’t measuring my stress levels though [smile], but rather, Kessa’s. Or rather, they measured her heart beats and my contractions.

Her heart beat was steady. Apparently steady enough that it worried them. (“We like to see some variance.”) So they gave me some juice to drink. Her heartbeat rose. Which apparently was good. I got sent back to Abby’s exam room where I waited and waited. I was dying to call BJ, but he was in a movie. (Yes, he and his coworkers got paid to go watch Star Trek.) I knew he would be just fine with being interrupted, but I didn’t really have anything conclusive to tell him yet, so I waited. I waited what seemed like forever, and it had to have been some length of time, because I had a janitor and another midwife step in to make sure I was supposed to be there and that Abby knew I was there. “Yup. She’s in talking to the doctor.”

Finally Abby came back to break the news. They were gonna induce me. That night. “It might be ok, but we’d rather be safe than sorry.”

I left their office in a daze, got in the car and called BJ. They had just gotten out of the theater and were on their way back to Mozy. I asked if I could just pick him up right then. He agreed. Knowing he’d take longer than I would to get there, I sat in the car and cried until I could calm down enough to drive safely. I prayed all the way to Mozy, trying to calm down and knowing that upping my stress levels wasn’t gonna help the baby. I broke the news to BJ. He held me while I cried again. Then we drove home.

On the way, I called my mom. The day before, James and Leigh (my eldest brother and his wife) had taken their kids up to my parents’ house in Idaho to spend a week. When my mom answer, I asked, “You don’t really want to spend a week with those kids, do you?” Then I told her the news. And cried again. Seriously. Being emotional in general topped pregnancy hormones, then getting the news that I was being induced two weeks early really was getting the better of me.

We got home and started packing. Luckily, I had written up a list of things to pack in my hospital bag a few weeks prior, but I had never gotten around to actually packing it. I mean, I still had two weeks! BJ and I packed, ate as much food as I could stomach (of lighter food. I think it was eggs, in fact) since I knew they wouldn’t let me eat at the hospital and I just don’t do well on an empty stomach. BJ called his parents to let them know. (His sister left to Ecuador that morning and his dad to Texas for a business convention.)

We arrived at the American Fork Hospital around 6:30 pm. They got me all checked in and got me all hooked up. I had a heplock (in case I needed an IV), and they put the baby monitor/contraction monitor on me. As long as I was on medication to induce me, I had to be on monitoring. (Which was really annoying, because I couldn’t really move much.) So by 7:45 pm, they finally gave me Cytotec, which is supposed to soften the cervix. Apparently at other hospitals they give it over and over again to induce labor, but at American Fork they give it every 4 hours, as needed... hoping that once the cervix softens, my body will kick in and take over, and viola! Natural childbirth is a possibility again!

The monitor showed me having contractions, quite frequently in fact (4-6 mins apart), but I couldn’t feel them at all. Finally at 8:45 I felt my first contraction. And it was mostly me thinking, “Hey, I think I felt something”, look over at the monitor, “Hey! That was a contraction!” BJ asked what it felt like and the best description I could give was that it felt like Kessa was pushing against the front of my pelvis. It was just sort of a ... pressure.

9:45 I got stats done. Oh, did I forget to mention that? I was a little bored, and I was the only one at work that knew how to do stats. I had been mostly done with them anyway, so I finished them while in labor. (Admittedly, I didn’t feel like I was in labor. I felt like I was laying on an uncomfortable hospital bed doing nothing. So all you people who got emails from me or chatted with me while I was in labor, it’s not as crazy as you thought it was. I was simply bored. Next time, maybe we’ll try to figure out how to bring our Wii. MarioKart while in labor. Awesome.)

10:45 we decided we were ready for bed. BJ’s bed was much more comfortable than mine, but I was attached to monitors, so I couldn’t go sleep with him.

11:45 they came in and checked me. I was 60-70% effaced and dilated to a 3. I was also having contractions every 2 minutes. They decided not to give me any more Cytotec; just to let my body take over. They also offered me some Ambien to help me sleep so I’d have more energy the next day to go through labor. I declined, because I was feeling pretty tired anyway. So I turned on the Rainbow Relaxation track on my iPod and prepared to sleep. I rarely made it all the way through that thing awake.

12:30 I was still awake, so I asked them for the Ambien, afraid that I’d be too tired to go natural if I didn’t get sleep. They told me that it would increase my chances for needing pitocin. (Sure, now they tell me.) So I declined again.

I finally got some sleep, though with that belly and that ridiculously uncomfortable bed, it wasn’t the greatest quality of sleep. At 4 am they came in and checked my cervix again. I was dilated to a 4 and 90% effaced. She scratched my membrane in the process. (The way she said it, it sounded like she did it on purpose... but I’m not sure.) My contractions were still 2 mins apart, so they decided to hold off on the pitocin some more.

I got some more sleep until 6 am when the nurse came in to tell me they were switching shifts and to wish me luck. BJ woke up then, too. I called Mom Lovell to tell her what was going on.

At 6:30 my new nurse came in. Her name was Carol and was really, really nice. She printed out Kessa’s wristband and wristbands for BJ and I to match. She wanted to start the pitocin then, but I asked her not to, if possible. I didn’t mind waiting. (I’m telling you, the contractions didn’t hurt.) She said she wouldn’t yet and would call the midwife to talk to her about it.

At 7 Carol brought in juice and crackers for BJ and and jello and a popsicle for me. I was starting to hate the clear liquid diet.

7:05 my mucus plug came out.

8 am: new midwife. Kathryn left and Claudia came on duty. She checked me again at 8:30 and I was still at 4 cm and 80% effaced. Wait... I came down 10%?! I asked Claudia and she checked again and said she was sure I was at 80%, but could see why someone else would have thought 90% [enter some medical mumbo jumbo here]. Seeing as how I had gone 4 hours without any progress, we started to discuss my options. This is where my birth plan really started to go down the tubes.

9:15 they stripped my membranes. Apparently it went really well and Claudia was pretty confident it’d do something. Nothing. In fact, my contractions were becoming less regular. At 12:15 pm they started me on Pitocin. The contractions came back up to 2 minute intervals, and were more intense. And by that, I mean I could feel every 2nd or 3rd one. And I still wouldn’t say they hurt per se. Rather, they felt a bit like menstrual cramps. Though, there were still many times that I only knew I was having a contraction because my hand happened to be on my tummy and I felt it harden, or I saw it on the monitor. I decided that if this was what labor felt like, women everywhere were pansies.

We spent our time playing SkipBo, on our laptops, walking around the hospital, and sneaking me food when the nurse wasn’t looking. (Only string cheese and yogurt. Calm down. I needed something to keep me from fainting.)

Around 5ish we started talking about our options again. I simply wasn’t making any progress. I was on the highest dose of Pitocin they wanted to give me and my contractions were slowing down again. My body simply didn’t want to be in labor. So, I could go home, drink lots of water and have my amniotic fluid levels tested again on Monday, or they could break my water. Seriously? I had been there for 22 hours and my tailbone was killing me (stupid uncomfortable bed) and now they were giving me the option to go home and drink lots of water? Blah. I really didn’t want to go home, but I also really was afraid of having them break my water. If they did that, there would be no turning back. Everything they had tried to induce me up to that point had failed. If this one failed, it was a guaranteed C-section. I called my sister, Jalin, and asked what she’d do. “Pop those membranes! Get that baby out of there!” Turns out, neither my mom nor Jalin had ever had their water break on their own. Apparently we Lovell girls have membranes made of leather. About that time my parents and James’ kids showed up. So they sat in there for a bit while we discussed, then my dad took the kids home and my mom stayed and talked it out with us.

Far too emotional, I agreed to have them break my water. Seriously, up to this point, I had done the entire hospital experience without tears or serious emotions. I had been happy and upbeat. (Except when they checked my cervix. That, my friends, is quite uncomfortable.) And here I was risking everything I had wanted to do when I started out. And I cried. Which made my midwife start to backpedal a bit. “Are you sure you want to do this? We don’t have to. Really, we don’t.” So I took some deep breaths, held BJ’s hand, and calmed down and told her to do it.

That’s a strange sensation, water gushing out of you. Tons. Of. Water. The first big wave came out. Claudia: “Huh. Well, that’s more than they said you had in you.” Second gush came out. Claudia: “Yup, that one, too.” And then there was a third gush. And then there were small gushes that continued over the next hour. I definitely had enough amniotic fluid. We finally learned that I had no reason to be there by removing all choice and requiring me to be there. Within minutes I had joined the Pansy Club. I went from thinking contractions were no big deal to realizing what labor was actually all about.

Earlier, in my boredom, I practiced my Balloon Breathing while watching the monitor. I would go a few contractions just breathing normally, then a few contractions Balloon Breathing. I found that Balloon Breathing really did cut my contractions in half. I’m glad I had convinced myself of the truth of that, because when those hard contractions suddenly hit, I knew I could cut the length of the pain in half. Perhaps not the intensity, but the length. It didn’t take me long of laying in bed to realize that I really didn’t want to be laying in bed. So I begged them to fill up the tub. We had read somewhere just days earlier to have the husband bring swimming trunks in case he wanted to get in the tub or shower with you, so we had. I’m very glad. That tub was too long for me, so I had to stretch my toes to reach the end to keep myself steady. Not a great way to relax. So BJ changed into his swimming trunks and sat behind me, propping me up, and pouring water onto my belly, since I couldn’t submerge it due to the fetal monitoring.

BJ sat there, talking into my ear, trying to help me relax. I remember him talking me through my relaxation place... a waterfall much like unto Ein Gedi. I also remember not really being there. The pain was too much. But I also realized that just the sound of his voice had become relaxing to me. Whenever he’d stop and talk to someone else and stop focusing 100% on me, I could feel the pain intensify. As soon as his attention came back to me, I could relax more and the pain would lessen to a more bearable state. Once I relaxed that first tiny bit, I could focus more on what he was saying. I remember him telling me to relax my feet, and I remember thinking, “THERE IS NO WAY I CAN RELAX ANY PART OF ME!” But I would focus all my attention on my feet and trying to relax them. And as soon as my feet would relax, it was a lot easier to get the rest of my body to relax. And then the contraction would subside and the pain would be temporarily gone. We repeated this process many, many times.

I remember telling BJ that I couldn’t do this. He pointed out that I was doing this.

After awhile, all I could thing of were pain medications. Something, anything, to take away the pain. So I asked Claudia if there was anything that would even just take the edge off. She checked me and I had dilated more and effaced a lot more (I don’t recall the actual numbers. I wasn’t really in a fit state to write them down, either) and she informed me that she thought the end was approaching fast and the only pain meds they could now give me were narcotics through my IV. I didn’t want narcotics. So I declined. Instead I asked her to lessen my pitocin levels. Launi (HypnoBirthing instructor) had explained to me how pitocin causes contractions which can either amplify your existing contractions or cause contractions between your contractions, giving you no breaks. Because of this, in my birth plan I had requested not being given pitocin, but if I had to, that they turn it off as soon as my own contractions kicked in. So I asked Claudia if she could turn off the pitocin. She wasn’t convinced that my body was really laboring enough by itself, but she wanted to abide by my birth plan as much as possible, so she agreed to give it a chance. We compromised and she lessened the pitocin level by half. That reduced the pain of the contractions just enough that I could handle them.

After awhile, my body didn’t want to be laying down anymore... not even in the tub. So I got on the birthing ball. Unfortunately, one thing we realized during the 22 hours of non-labor was that when I was sitting up, the baby’s vitals were a lot harder to get. If I was standing or laying down, it wasn’t a problem. So sitting on the birthing ball wasn’t cutting it for Claudia. She sat there next to me, trying to move the monitor by hand to find the heartbeat, but to no avail. She told me I had to either stand or lay down through at least a couple of contractions, to make sure the baby was ok. (They had to keep monitoring her as long as I was on the blasted pitocin.)

I tried standing, while BJ was supporting me, but 23 hours of being on a clear liquid diet didn’t allow that. I was far too shaky. So I laid back down on the bed. I can’t explain it to you, but my body did not want to be laying down. Up to this point, I would ask, “Could I please get in the tub/get on the birthing ball/switch positions” etc. Esp. while Claudia was trying to monitor me. The need to get off my back was so strong that I didn’t even have time to ask, I just flipped over onto my hands and knees. They raised the head of the bed so I was kneeling upright, facing the bed, and being supported by the head of the bed. BJ pushed on my tailbone to give counter pressure which was so nice. And for the next twenty minutes, I pushed.

The rest of it comes back to me in flashes. I remember thinking that surely her head was out. Claudia kept telling me that she could see her head, and in my mind, seeing her head was equivalent to her head being out. So why did they make me keep going and why did it continue to hurt so bad? I remember BJ telling me he could see her head. I remember calmly telling BJ that if he ever wanted any more kids, either we were adopting, or he was going through labor. I remember him leaning over my shoulder and telling me, “You’re gonna be a momma!” I remember chuckling a little and saying, “You’re gonna be a daddy!” And I remember that made him choke up and start to cry. I didn’t have the energy to cry. But I remember thinking it was cute that he was emotional about being a daddy. I remembering biting the bed. I remember crying out and thinking, “Huh. I know I’m not a screamer, but that was a lot closer to a scream than I thought I would ever do.”

And then she was out. 8:15 pm. I remember the relief. I remember trying to figure out how to get turned around without getting tangled in the umbilical cord so I could hold her. I remember her hand on her super purple face. I remember Claudia telling me she was born with her had on her face, so I tore. I remember the stitches. I didn’t like those. I remember just gazing into Kessa’s face and the wonder that a newborn baby instills. I remember her crying and instinctively I started shhh-ing her. It immediately calmed her down. Good to know. After 2 minutes, or was it 20? I remember Claudia urgently saying that they had to cut the cord. I looked up, slightly alarmed. We had agreed to delayed cord clamping. She wouldn’t cut the cord until the cord had stopped pulsing. It shouldn’t be an urgent thing. She just looked at me with a very determined look on her face and said, “The placenta is coming out. We have to cut it.” I decided that sounded reasonable and that I had no energy for split second decisions. It definitely hadn’t been the 30 seconds that most doctors do. BJ got to cut the cord.

I did it. Not medicine free, thanks to the "need" to be induced, but pain medicine free. And only two hours of actually feeling contractions. It's amazing how God works, too. I know it hurt. I remember really wanting pain meds. I remember telling BJ I didn't want to do it again. But to be honest, I can't even remember what the pain felt like. And looking back I think, "Oh, I could totally do that again." I think this is how women through time have been willing to have multiple children. He's a smart man, God is.

For awhile we just got to hold her and love her. After they had most everything cleaned up and my stitches in, they took her briefly to weigh her, etc. It took, maybe 5-10 minutes. Then they brought her back. And I got to hold her again.

Just before 2 hours were up, they told me they had to take her down to the nursery to give her a bath and do her PKU test. I sent BJ down with them to learn how to give her a bath, and because I didn’t want her to have to be alone. She needed her Daddy.

I remember them giving me my dinner. All day I had been begging for a turkey and swiss sandwich. I just wanted real food so badly. So for my dinner, they brought me turkey. There was no swiss, nor was it a sandwich (it was more a Thanksgiving dinner. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, etc.), but I had never tasted anything so good in my entire life.

I remember shaking so badly I could barely hold my fork. I remember my mom laughing at me because I was shaking so bad. I’ve never realized how wonderful heated blankets are. By the time they moved me to my recovery room, I think I had three heated blankets on me.

They brought Kessa back into me in the recovery room and I just held her all night long. There are many more stories that I could tell you from that point on, but that’s not really the birthing story, is it? And you’re all probably sick of me and my need for details. So, without further ado, and 12.5 weeks later, I present to you,

Kessalyn Elizabeth Homer
6 lbs., 15.5 oz.
18 inches


Launi said...

Ohhhh you guys! What a fabulous birth story. I was glad you gave so much detail. You did a fabulous job and she is just beautiful. I'm so pleased that you had Claudia with you too because she is wonderful and so supportive.

I'm proud of you both--no, I'm proud of all three of you. Kiss that sweet baby for me and know that you are an amazing HypnoBirthing family, and I'm honored to know you.

so much love,


PS I would love permission to put your story on my blog...if you'd like. Let me know what you think.

Tay said...

Beautiful. If I hadn't been experiencing Braxton Hicks for the previous two weeks, I might have considered going without an epidural. i was just so tired! And then after five hours of labor in the hospital I was starving. In fact, I was so hungry I was nauseous and threw up after I ate. Next time I will have food in there with me so I don't throw up again. I think it surprised the nurse that I would throw up after not eating. Maybe I'll have a couple bananas since they're easy to digest. :) sigh. That not eating was THE hardest part about labor and delivery. Truly.

Lindsay said...

Whew. I did it. I read the whole thing. :)

Both of my babies came on their own just over two weeks early, and, once contractions started in earnest, both were delivered incredibly quickly (almost too quickly with Caleb). After hearing stories like yours of women being in labor for 24 ish hours makes me feel sorta lucky that mine come the way they do. So, go you!

Veiltender said...

(This is Thora, not Avram, obviously)

That was a great story! I was worried in the middle that they would pressure you to have a C-section just to make it easier on them, or something. I'm glad you stuck it out without being forced with further medical interventions - I'm impressed. I think you're the first natural birth I've personally heard of with Pitocin. You gave birth in basically the same position I did with my girls - I couldn't stand lying down either.

(By the way, next time, feel free to sneak all the food you want. The reason they don't want you to eat is because if you get an epidural, it can make you nauseous, and throw up. If you're not planning on an epidural, eating can help you.)

Veiltender said...

Oh, Also I meant to say that both labors at a point I started telling Avram that I couldn't do this, and that we weren't going to have any more kids, and we weren't even going to have this kid, and I was done. And then it turned out I was in transition - sounds like you had the same experience.

Carly Jane said...

So fun to read! ... probably because I just went through labor and delivery myself :). I also went natural... but they did give me pitocen during my two hours of pushing. After about an hour of pushing and 16+ hours of no food, I was so weak and tired I was falling asleep between contractions. I just didn't have enough in me to push any harder... until they gave me pit and the contractions got a bit harder. Hooray for beautiful new babies!

ps. I tried using the tub... did NOT work for me. It was aweful, in fact. Did like the bouncy ball. Most of all I liked to be sitting up in the rocking chair they had in my room. They made me stay monitored... but at least I wasn't laying down!