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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Birth Story 5(Jennifer & Ravyn)

Ok, here goes our third day of birth stories celebrating "Empowered Birth Week" and Labor day. Keep in mind some of these stories are happy, some are sad, some are typical and some are intense. Please use tact when commenting. 

This story comes from Jennifer of the birth of Ravyn:

After several false starts, Ravyn’s birth began quietly on the morning of Tuesday, June 8th – at 40 weeks +5 days. I was at home resting, having just completed a week working half days. Simon was at school and Chris was at work an hour away (right near our selected hospital).

I felt good and was anxious to get the show on the road, but I also wanted my body to be ready for what was ahead. I did not try castor oil, go out of my way to eat particular foods, take super-long walks, or ride on bumpy roads, etc. like I did with my first birth. I believe those “interventions” may have led to some of the complications I experienced. My wish was to birth her in the water so I took pains to be patient (I AM NOT A PATIENT PERSON).

I think I was in denial after so many disappointing trips to the hospital/midwives over the previous 6 weeks. So when I began having noticeable periods of abdominal tightening (“surges”) around 10am, I just lay down and made sure I was snacking, drinking fluids and resting per the midwives’ recommendations. I was posting in a chatroom for expectant moms and noted every time I experienced a surge (something like: ***another one***). My online buddies did the record-keeping for me. After a short while, one mentioned that my surges were regular and close together. She directed me to an online timer where I could simply click when the surge began and when it ended. The website would keep track, calculate the length and frequency of the surges. It could even print out a log if I needed it to bring to the hospital.

After seeing that most of the surges were two and three minutes apart (yikes!), I texted Chris to come home from work (did I mention he works an hour away?). He called me right back and I gave him the lowdown. He left work then and was home by 12:30. We spent some time discussing whether to head right out or take our time and see whether this particular episode was the real deal. We decided to have a quick bite to eat, call the people who needed to know, and then take off. We were on the road by 1pm.

First stop was the YMCA to pick up Simon. By then, he was an expert in trips to the hospital to check on the baby, poor kid. He’d even spent a late night/early morning sleeping in an observation room while I was monitored in the next bed. But he was excited that he might get to meet his baby sister soon. Normally the trip takes about 70min. We must have met every slow driver in the two-lane, undivided highway over there. And the school buses. And a senior citizen transport van doing 30 in the 45mph zone. We made it there in about 80 minutes only to be stopped within 2 miles of the midwives’ office by a freight train in our path. Between surges, I helped Chris navigate around the train so we could keep driving.

Granny and Grandad met us there to help with Simon. After a quick exam, I was placed on the monitor for the requisite 20 minutes. Ravyn performed beautifully and midwife Cindy confirmed that she was indeed making her entrance soon. It was up to us whether we wanted to be admitted or wait awhile to see if things sped up. We asked Cindy to call over to the Birth Center to see whether a room was available, and more specifically, the water birthing room (there is only one). In fact, the entire BirthCenter was occupied, with the exception of the water birthing room. We asked them to hold that room for us, said our goodnites to Simon, Granny and Grandad and headed over right away.

Getting settled in the hospital was much calmer the second time around. We were alone-- save for the hospital staff--so there was little hustle and bustle. This was good for me as I was Hypnobirthing and wanted to ‘stay in the zone’. I took my shoes off, got into more comfortable clothes, turned the lights out and put my birthing music on. We made sure we let every hospital staff member know that we were Hypnobirthing, wanted little to no interventions and as much privacy as they could afford us. The staff was VERY accommodating.

My very awesome nurse, Cara, let me know that since it was close to 5pm, I could order dinner. She mentioned I should try the seven grain rolls with whatever I wanted to eat…they’re DELICIOUS! I was hungry, but wanted to avoid anything too heavy since my stomach was unreliable during Simon’s birth. I decided on a Grilled Chicken Salad and Chris made a quick trip down to the cafeteria to get something for himself.

After eating, Cara encouraged me to walk and remain up on my feet as much as I was comfortable. She needed to checkRavyn’s heartrate with the dopplar every 20 minutes or so and she would chase us down wherever we were, not to worry. We walked the halls of the birth center, talking and laughing. We peeked through the window at the one or two babies in the nursery (most were with their moms). After an hour or so we came back to the room and I took a long hot shower. Things were still moving but I knew from Simon’s birth that we hadn’t really ramped up yet. I could still walk and talk through most of the surges.

Around 6pm Cindy came to check on how we were doing. She had another mom birthing at the same time so she was in for the long haul and planning on bouncing back and forth. She examined me and let me know that we still had a way to go. She offered to break the bag of water to speed things up or allow things to proceed on their own. We decided to wait until the next exam. In the meantime, I bounced and rocked on the birthing ball, did some more laps around the Birth Center, had a snack (Italian Ice!!) and took another hot shower. Things were intensifying but still not INTENSE. When Cindy checked me again at 8pm, we made the decision to go ahead with AROM and get things moving.

Afterward, Cindy made sure that I remained active walking the halls. It didn’t take long for the surges to pick up in intensity. I couldn’t go more than 20ft without a surge. We would stop, I would rest my head on Chris’ shoulder and we would sway together, just like I did when Simon was coming. I took another long hot shower. And then I requested that the staff ready the birthing tub. I was eager for the relief I knew it would provide.

And it did! The tub was filled and ready around 10pm. Chris and I got in and instantly I felt that deepening level of relaxation Hypnobirthing teaches about. I went with it and leaned against Chris while my body worked for me and Ravyn. We turned the volume up on the birthing music and I “zoned out”. I always hoped that I would be like one of those amazing women who can “breathe the baby down”, not making much noise at all. Yeah, not so much. Mind you, I wasn’t screaming (unlike my neighbor when Simon was born!), but I was definitely vocalizing as Ravyn made her way out into the world.

Cindy had been checking off and on throughout my time in the tub to see how Ravyn was moving down and using the dopplar to confirm she was tolerating well. She didn’t leave once I entered the water (bless her!). I was able to chat a little between surges and everyone (there were two nurses in addition to Cindy) would whisper whenever I closed my eyes. I told Cindy that I felt the urge to push but I was concerned that my body wasn’t ready yet. This part of Simon’s birth was protracted; I ended up pushing for three hours. Cindy encouraged me to do whatever felt right and I was surprised when Ravyn moved down a bunch when I did give it a try.

Cara had to leave at 11pm to get rest before attending another birth the next day. I was sad to see her go but she left me in the capable hands of my midwife Cindy and two other nurses. Later I learned that there were lots of nurses who wanted in on my waterbirth. Apparently the tub doesn’t get much use, even when couples prepare for it.

I had by this point lost all concept of what time things happened, probably what order as well. I know I spent a lot of time moving around in the tub (it’s huge!), changing from a reclined position to hanging over the side to squatting with the assistance of a bar. Even in the water, it was awkward and uncomfortable to change position but doing so was essential to keeping my focus. At one point I got overheated and felt sick to my stomach. I wanted out of the tub and told everyone I was done in there. Cindy reassured me and told me I was close to birthing Ravyn, there was no need for me to get out. She would arrive very soon. The nurses came over with cold cloths and helped me cool down enough so that I could regroup.

By now the surges were coming frequently enough that there was no talking between them, save for the preparation by the nurses. It was around 11:45pm. I know because I had a fleeting thought that Ravyn could be born before midnight. All of a sudden Cara walked back into the room (now you see why she is awesome!). She was on her way out and one of the nurses told her I was close to delivering. 

If things were quiet in the room before, they all of a sudden got silent in the moments before midnight. Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, looks and whispers had been exchanged over my head. While Ravyn was doing well and I was coping with delivery, we were very close to a precipice—her shoulder was stuck. Cindy told me she was going to “try something” by lifting my lower half out of the water on the next surge. She did and all I remember is that it didn’t feel so great. It was over quickly though and I was back in the water. I still didn't know what was happening or that anything had been amiss.

Once Cindy performed the maneuver, things progressed quickly. In three or four more surges, our baby girl entered the water. Her cord was wrapped around her a couple of times so Cindy helped to untangle it and in the process she rotated and bobbed to the surface face up. She didn't cry or even whimper. Chris and I scooped her up and were surprised to see just how big she was! We spent a few minutes in the tub cuddling our bundle and marveling in the beauty of what had just happened. Cara took pictures then of the three of us; some of the best pictures we have!

The nurses helped me get out of the tub, dry off and get into a nice warm bed with Ravyn. In the hours following, we nursed and washed and weighed her. We even tried to guess her weight; Cindy commented that she was most certainly over 8 pounds, which made me think of my sister Meaghan's birth weight. Thats what I guessed and I was dead on! ‡We moved to a smaller room and slept for a few hours before letting everyone know she had arrived.

Ravyn Calliope was born at 12:13am on June 9, 2010.
She weighed 8 pounds 13 ounces and measured 20.5 inches.

I am so happy to be celebrating our one year breastfeeding goal! I do not have an expectations for the coming year regarding nursing except to say that I am open to whatever my little girl would like.