December 1, 2014

Liam's birth story


My labor story is finally up! I actually wrote the whole thing in Catalan a month and a half ago, and I think the Catalan version is way better. I found it somehow difficult to translate it into English hence I kept procrastinating. I hope I didn't make up too many terms and you guys will be able to enjoy Liam's birth story. Here we go!

1. August 27th at night in the pool during contractions
2. August 28th, 11:45AM, Liam is born
3. August 28th afternoon in our hospital room
4. August 29th, 2PM, we arrive home. Liam is 1 day old

On August 26th, 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant, I decided it was time to try to induce labor naturally: long walks, chocolate, spicy food and sex. It obviously worked wonders, because on August 27th at 3AM, I went into labor. I was sound asleep when I was woken up by the need to go to the toilet. Nothing new, you may think, since having to pee two or three times per night during pregnancy is totally normal. But it was not the same, it was more like a need to poo. I went to the toilet but nothing happened, so I went back to bed, only to find myself in the toilet 15 minutes later again. I thought it was a bit weird and I knew the urge to poo was a labor symptom, but at that moment I didn't put two together. Back to bed, at approximately 3:30AM, I felt my first labor contraction. I knew it was not like the Braxton contractions I had been feeling on the last few days, but I didn't want to get too excited just in case. Ten minutes later I had another contraction, and my excitement was pretty high by then. Some more minutes later came the third contraction and I had barely any doubt: I was in labor!!!! I woke the hubby up and said the sentence I had been wanting to say the most for the past few days: Liam is coming!!!

Truth be told, I still wasn't 100% sure that was it, but I was pretty sure. I think J didn't really believe it either when I woke him up, but after a while and seeing how my contractions kept coming, we both knew. We hugged and I remember feeling ecstatic. I dreaded an induction, since it would have been a dead sentence to my idea of having a natural labor, so going into labor naturally was the best news ever.

We stayed in bed for a while, and eventually I went to get my fitness ball and put it in our bedroom next to our bed. As contractions kept getting stronger, I spent some minutes on bed, which was the most comfortable for being able to rest in between contractions, and on the ball, which was the most comfortable for the pain.

Around 7ish in the morning I decided it was time for breakfast, and I ate something while sitting on the ball, way better than sitting on a chair! I spent the rest of the morning either resting on bed or on the ball, until 11AM when I got hungry and ate a bowl of pasta. In one of the many books I read during pregnancy on natural childbirth, the author recommended eating pasta when labor started, because carbohydrates give fuel to the body for a long time, which is exactly what's needed for a natural childbirth, seeing how it can be as energy consuming as running a marathon. A while after lunch, I really felt like taking a bath, so I prepared the bathtub and enjoyed a while in the water. The hot water was SO good at reducing the pain of contractions. I went back to bed and managed a light sleep for a couple hours until 3PM, when the contractions didn't allow me to rest anymore. I ate something else, and back to the same: ball, bathtub, and walking on the hallway. Walking is such a pain reliever too!

At 6PM, I decided it was time to go to the hospital. You're supposed to have 3 contractions every 10 minutes for 1 or 2 hours before going to the hospital, and I had one every 5-6 minutes, but after 15 hours I thought it was about time. We left home at 6:30PM and arrived to the hospital at 7. I wasn't even sure whether I was 3cm dilated, which is the minimum you need to be so that they take you in at the hospital, otherwise they send you back home. We arrived to the hospital and J and I went in immediately, not knowing that was the last time I was gonna see my parents, who accompanied us to the hospital, until after giving birth. The hospital made me so nervous I started shaking. In that state, my body was obviously secreting adrenaline, and my contractions stopped completely. They checked my contractions and I just had two contractions in 20 minutes.

Then they got me checked for dilation with a pelvic exam. It was the first time ever I had a pelvic exam performed, since I always rejected them during pregnancy. It wasn't painful as I thought it would be. In fact I didn't feel anything. What I didn't like was both midwives performed a pelvic exam, which was obviously unnecessary. Having so many pelvic exams during my labor process was one of the worst things I remember from the whole thing.

It turns out I was 4cm dilated, so even though I barely had any contractions at that moment, they decided to keep me. I was relieved because even though I loved being home, once I decided to go to the hospital I just really didn't want to go back! It was time to remove the earrings and rings, in case I needed a C-section. Unfortunately, my hands were so swollen there was just no way to take out both my engagement and my wedding ring. We tried in every possible way, and it just couldn't be done. I obviously didn't want them to cut them, so I begged them to just leave them like that and cut them only if I really ended up needing a C-section. Luckily they agreed and I kept my rings, because I would have been really upset had they cut them, and seriously, do you think this is what a woman in labor should be thinking about?!

Once this was settled, I had to deal with having an intravenous line placed in my arm. One of the reasons I wanted a natural childbirth was that I HATE needles, and now I had to have that crazy big needle on my arm for the whole time OMG >.< I really didn't want one, but it was hospital routine and there was nothing to be done against it.

As soon as we arrived to the delivery rooms, I asked whether the pool room was available. I knew there was only one, so I had been worrying a bit about it being occupied. Well, bad news... it was! But on the other hand, the midwives told me that woman had been there since the morning, so she would probably be finishing anytime soon. I was placed in a regular delivery room, just with a bed and a ball, and I spent some hours there with the amazing help of my husband, who kept massaging my lower back, and a hot water bag that did wonders in helping me coping with pain as well. 

Around 10:30PM, they told me the pool room was now free and clean for me to go. Yay!! Before going, though, the midwife performed another pelvic exam. I specifically told her I didn't want one, but she said it was necessary to know how I was doing before going inside the pool. I was 6cm dilated. We went to the birthing pool room and the midwife helped me get into the pool immediately. In fact, I still didn't feel like going inside, but before I knew it I was already in. Contractions were way more bearable in the pool, and the room was absolutely gorgeous, I was delighted! I kept eating energy bars and drinking plenty of water and juice to keep up with the effort. The first thing I disliked about the room was the fact that they had lost the wireless fetal monitor to use in the tub and I had to get out of the pool every 45-60 minutes to check the baby's heart rate with the regular monitor. Seriously?!

Around midnight, I had another pelvic exam (sooo fed up with those already!!) and I was 7cm dilated. At that point I was SO sleepy, sleep was all I wanted to do. In fact, I fell asleep several times in between contractions in the pool. I think my relaxation was not how a 7cm dilated woman is supposed to feel, but I think my body was trying to give me just what I wanted: a break. Human body is so intelligent after all! But the hospital has a routine to follow, and it's not particularly a patient one, so a couple hours later, after another pelvic exam (aaaarrrrgggg!!), my midwife told me I was still 7cm and started talking about breaking my waters artificially, saying it would speed up labor. I told her no way, I wanted a natural birth and that was the absolute opposite. An hour later, there was another pelvic exam and pressure to break my waters once again. I was getting way too angry with that impatient midwife. It's impossible for a woman to give birth in these circumstances, stressed out and scared that someone will break her waters. Sometime between 4 and 5AM, Laura (the impatient midwife) told me breaking my waters was now or never, like an ultimatum. I should have said "never, and leave me alone". But somehow I finally gave in and got my membranes stripped. It was the saddest moment of my whole labor. Feeling how that warm water, my baby's world, came out of me because someone broke the bag, and then seeing the bed all wet and stained with blood, it was heart breaking. After this moment, my labor work stopped completely. It's what doctors call "Failure to Progress". And seriously, it's no wonder. With this scenario how could one's labor not stop? Women are supposed to give birth in a relaxed environment, free from fear, pressure, or stress. This conditions were obviously not met at the hospital.

Later on, I got another pelvic exam and the midwife told me I was going from bad to worse, and was now back to 6cm. I was really angry by then, she was the one who practically forced me to break my bag claiming that it would speed up labor, and all it did to me was stop my labor process completely. She told me that at this point she recommended getting Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) to increase contractions and, of course, epidural anesthesia together with that. She said that was my best option if I didn't want the morning shift to bring me in for a C-section. After hearing this I got even angrier. I wouldn't have a C-section unless I wanted to, and if I really ended up needing one, the main reason would be the artificial water break she performed on me.

The hubby and I discussed the whole thing and around 7AM we left the pool room and went to a regular delivery room (the one I had been in when I first arrived), to proceed with Pitocin and epidural. Bye bye to my longed natural childbirth. I knew it was not my fault though, but rather the lack of a good environment at the hospital. I have no doubt at all I could have birthed this baby without drugs, that's how it has always been done after all, right?

Around 8AM everything was ready: intravenous synthetic oxytocin and epidural analgesia. I was left alone with the hubby for an hour and when they came to see how I was doing (hello, pelvic exam), I was just the same. Liam had fallen asleep with the epidural (I did, too!), and we hadn't moved forward at all. The midwife from the morning shift, Maria, who was really nice, told me to keep changing position every now and then, left side, right side... to see if Liam started moving downwards with my movement. They also increased the Pitocin. After a while my left side started hurting like nobody's business. It was the most painful moment of the whole labor process. Synthetic oxytocin makes really painful contractions, nothing like my natural contractions, it was just unbearable!!! They called the anesthesiologist to put more anesthesia, and the time it took for him to arrive and for the drug to take effect was like the worst thing ever.

After a while I started feeling better and dozed off for a couple hours. Then the midwives came in again and I got checked for the last time. I was fully dilated and Liam was practically out! I put my hand in my vagina and was able to touch his head, it was such a blissful moment. I was crying with absolute joy and excitement, I had just touched my son for the very first time!! We set everything for delivery: my legs were placed up in lithotomy, but I didn't have to be lying down, my back was up, as if I were sitting. I removed my clothes and stood completely naked for the arrival of my baby.

The epidural prevented me from feeling pain, but I was still able to feel the contractions, which saved me from having to rely on the midwives about when to push. I pushed about 4 or 5 times, and in 15 minutes, at 11:45AM on August 28th, my precious baby boy was born with no nuchal cord, with lovely skin, and crying loudly. 

I felt how his body slipped out of me, and he landed in a towel the midwife had prepared for that purpose. I immediately got him and placed him on my chest, skin to skin, not to be separated again. I had asked for them not to clamp the umbilical cord until it stopped pulsing, it's an important thing for the baby's wellbeing, and for the hubby to cut it when the moment was right. I got more Pitocin to help me deliver the placenta, and it came out pretty fast. Maria told me it was a gorgeous placenta :D thank you very much!

Liam latched on my breast immediately and definitely like a pro. He was weighed right next to me (3,350 grams), and J held him a moment. Those were the only seconds he was not with me. Apart from that, we were skin to skin for the whole time, in the delivery room where we stayed for an hour, and for several more hours up in the hospital room, until we finally decided to get him dressed at 5PM. They only took Liam away for 2 minutes for the pediatrician to see him. That was it. He was never separated from me again in the 24 hours we stayed in the hospital. The following morning at noon we were discharged and we went home.  

This is the birth story of my first son, Liam. It was not the natural labor I wanted, but all went well and I'm happy with the result. My son was able to come out of me through my vagina, with no episiotomy, forceps, vacuum and the kind. I just got a tiny tear that required three stitches. Liam was perfect when he was born, and he still is. My life has changed for so much better :)


7 comments:

  1. what a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing something so personal!
    Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins

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  2. waiting for the story of conceiving your son. is there anything intimate you wouldn't put up on the internet? i feel like you share so much with other's that there's nothing intimate between you and your husband. what's the point anyway? why would anyone want to read about your vaginal exams? beauty of the birth should be between close people, not with everyone - those photos are too intimate to share with random strangers on the internet.

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    1. There are a lot of intimate things I don't put on the internet, indeed. However, it was extremely useful for me to prepare for my labor to read lots of childbirth stories during my pregnancy. I hope this story can help other women as well, and this is the point of sharing my experience. This is the reason why some women may be interested in reading about my vaginal exams, since you ask.

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    2. and that's why you had to put a picture of you naked in a bathtub or naked with your son covered in all that liquids? let's say someone will actually really make use of all your vaginal exams, but what's with all the photos? I came across your blog and instagram and you wrote about your period being late etc. and I'm not the only person who thinks you share way too many details, but on the other hand why would you care about my opinion? that's just FYI

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  3. If you dont agree with something on a personal blog of someone, nobody forces you to read it :). Besides she is not showing anything outrageous on those photos. I on the other hand do not see anything wrong with the pictures or detailed desriptions. I am terrified of labour and seeing these pictures and reading Olivia's story is great for me. Thank you for sharing these information with us :)

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  4. Thank you for your beautiful birth story! The way you described it helped take away some of anxiety and prepare me for the realities of each moment in the birthing process.. Anyone who is embarrassed to read or see these pictures or hear about your vaginal exams or period is immature and I hope you didn't take his words to heart (surely that would be a man afraid of the word vagina!). I thought it was all beautiful and lovely.

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Thank you for your comments! I truly appreciate them!

xx Olivia