Special K was born 1 day before her expected due date on April 20, 2002 at 7:15am.
At birth, Special K was 7lb 1 oz and 20 inches long w/a head of 32.5cm. She had Apgar scores of 9/9. She nursed shortly after birth and has been a breastfeeding champ ever since. C and I are absolutely thrilled with our #1, albeit somewhat dazed.
You can check out her "designer salon" hair of black w/frosted highlights.
I had the unmedicated childbirth I wanted and it was overall a very positive experience. My bag of waters didn’t break until after I was fully dilated. And C basically helped break the baby’s fall out of me, because she was born with no hospital staff present.
On the afternoon of April 19, I started having contractions. I’d been having contractions off and on for the past couple weeks, so I didn’t dare believe anything was really happening. C and I walked a few blocks to have dinner at 5:30pm with a couple who already has 1 child, and is expecting another in November. Walking there stimulated more contractions too strong to continue walking while they were happening. We timed them for a bit and they were about 6-7 minutes apart. Though this had happened before for several nights running, so we weren't quite ready to believe that this was really it. However the contractions got more uncomfortable through dinner, and we were going to back to our friends' place at 6:30pm, but decided instead to head home.
I felt like walking so we walked a few blocks to the library to return some books then went home again. In retrospect I’d never had contractions where I had to stop and focus on relaxing in order to make them manageable, but doing this made them quite manageable. I had no other visible signs though and I didn’t want to be disappointed.
When we got home, we decided it was time to pack for going to the hospital. I said I didn't know if it was the real thing, but at least it would give me something to do. We kept a log of the contractions from about 7:00pm to about 11:00pm as they gradually decreased to under about 5 minutes apart. I’d had contractions 5 minutes apart before, so I was waiting for that 4-1-1, which is when my OB had said to go to the hospital.
After we finished packing, we watched a episode of "Charmed" (on our Tivo) where Phoebe discovers she is pregnant. We had to pause the show frequently for contractions that were just over 5 minutes apart. After the show was over at 11pm, we decided to call the hospital to ask them if we should consider going in. After a bit of phone tag, we finally talked to the OB on call at 11:30pm. He said that since it was a first-time birth, we should wait two hours.
I wanted to lie down and sleep. However I couldn’t sleep through the contractions and they were more painful lying down, but if I sat on the birthing ball it somehow eased the pain. The contractions came in waves that built up, and somehow the ball applied the right sort of pressure that helped me ride the peak. C was absolutely wonderful in helping me focus on each contraction, and rubbing my back. Massaging the small of my back also helped ease the pain. However there was no bloody show, no water breaking, no nothing, so I still wasn’t sure this was it.
Finally at 11:42pm, I had a tiny amount of blood, but then nothing. So I laboured on. At 1:25am, I started to drip blood, so I agreed to go to the hospital. We live only 10 minutes away from the hospital, but we had to stop and I had to get out of the car for each contraction, because I couldn’t deal with them sitting down. This made for a long car trip. A 10 minute car ride stretched into 35 minutes.
To my delight, when I got to the hospital at 2:10am, I was already 4-5 dilated and fully effaced. The nurses strapped me up to the monitors and insisted I lie in bed for 20 minutes. They became concerned, because although the baby’s heartbeat was strong and steady, it didn't accelerate to my contractions at all. I really didn’t feel anything was wrong. I have a disability that causes me to jerk from time to time and I figured that the baby just thought contractions was just another type of jerking.
My parents arrived at around 2:30am and it was very soothing to have my mother there. Even though she did seem a bit worried, I felt reassured by her presence that everything was okay. My dad tried asking me a few questions, didn’t get much of a response and finally left the room to go read. Eventually at around 5am, he went back to my house.
The nurses said I was dehydrated, which was true, and asked me if I’d get an IV. I refused and said I’d drink more water. Drinking definitely helped my labour progress. The contractions got closer together and I felt that the pain was becoming unmanageable lying there, so I got up from the bed. I sat on the birthing ball and the monitor kept slipping off as I shifted position. The nurses tried to get me to lie on my side in the bed, because they were still concerned about the baby. They said it was better for the baby, so I tried it. The pain was unbearable doing that and I could only endure it for 2 contractions before I got up again. The baby’s heartbeat didn’t change while I was lying on the bed anyway. I wanted to go soak in the tub, but they wanted to still monitor me. I had to go to the bathroom anyway, so I took off the monitors and sat on the toilet for a bit. It didn’t feel as good as the birthing ball.
At around 4am, I was 6+ cm dilated. The nurses were still concerned about the baby’s heartbeat, and I was tired. So I tried lying on my side between contractions and then getting up on the bed on all fours during contractions. That seemed to work, so I laboured until I felt the urge to push at around 6am. The nurse checked me, but unfortunately the contractions were about 2 minutes apart, and so it was during a contraction. At first she said I was fully dilated and then she had me do 1 push and decided I was only 8cm dilated.
Transition was really awful. I think the only thing that got me through it was taking one contraction at a time and knowing that it’d be over soon. I’d feel a dilation contraction,which I could deal with, and then I’d feel this overwhelming urge to push. For the first couple contractions, I couldn’t quite figure out how not to push, and so I did anyway, and felt an intense burning and bruising sensation that told me pushing was in fact the wrong thing to do. I also absolutely refused to let the nurses draw my blood for the cord blood during transition. What a ridiculous notion that I could hold still for that long!
In retrospect, I think resisted the urge to push for too long, because after a while I stopped feeling the dilating contractions and just the overwhelming urge to push. I had to push something and so I pushed out my stomach contents. After about 3 of these, I tried a tiny push and felt no burning, so I decided that I wanted to be checked. And to my delight at 6:20am I was checked again and found fully dilated.
Pushing felt so good after resisting it. The nurses wanted me to lie back so they could check my pushing. Well, I pushed with the same force that I pushed squatting, but gravity was working against me, so I didn’t push very effectively. I never did get the hang of holding my breath for the count of 10.-- It made me feel light-headed. However I did push with the force they wanted and it was pretty hard work. It felt very uncomfortable, so they got me a squatting bar and wanted me to lean up against that.
My bag of water started bulging out of me like a balloon and finally burst at 6:35am. I said I wanted to squat and squatted on the bed. The nurses asked if they could hook up an internal monitor to the baby. My bag of waters had broken anyway, and they were still concerned about the baby’s heartbeat, so I said okay.
I pushed without holding my breath, but silently focusing my muscles on pushing the baby down. My OB had told me that pushing was like having a big bowel movement. I pushed like that and it doesn't look like much from the outside. I don't hold my breath or tighten my face. The pushing is all "down there". The nurses decided that the baby wasn’t coming anytime soon, because “I wasn’t pushing properly”. And their shift ended at 7am, so they left the room.
In retrospect if I’d pushed with the same force I had before rather than the extra force I’d using lying on the bed, I’d have been better off, but I didn’t know any better. Anyway, I was making visible progress and C was encouraging me. I pushed through two more contractions, and saw the baby’s head. It was so thrilling! I reached down and touched it. I felt the ring of fire, so I tried not to push for a contraction.
Then I pushed through another contraction, and all of a sudden –- whoosh! The baby just slipped out. C was behind me and stuck his arm out to break the baby’s fall, fortunately to the bed. I heard loud lusty crying and I knew the baby was fine. I couldn’t turn around and see her because the umbilical cord was still attached. The nurses rushed in, and declared the time of birth to be 7:15am. They cut the cord and did their checks and her Apgar scores were 9/9, which is about as good as they get.
She came out so fast that I had 2nd degree tearing. I was on such an endorphin rush that I didn’t feel anything but pure pleasure. I had to lie in the bed for the OB to collect Kerensa’s cord blood, which was a little tedious, because it had to be done before the placenta could come out. After that was all over, the OB gave me a local anesthetic and stitched me up.
Finally I got to see my baby. I was prepared for a cone head, a bruised face, baldness or something, but she looked like her photo -- a little doll with a full round cap of "designer salon" hair of black w/frosted highlights. I thought she was so perfect that I couldn’t quite believe she was actually my baby.
I tried to breastfeed her, but I wasn’t good at positioning her, and she was very intent on looking at me and everyone else. She was incredibly alert. She had come out screaming and now she was in full blown explore the world.
I tried to breastfeed a second time later in the maternity ward with the help of a nurse, and she latched on well and sucked strongly, and has done so ever since.
So you might ask if I’d ever give birth in a hospital again? You bet. I basically got the birth experience I wanted and I really appreciated the nurses afterwards. I was so focused on giving birth the way I wanted that I could have been in a room anywhere. I can’t imagine cleaning up all that mess at my house. If I’m not at my house, I might as well be at the best place to handle emergencies. IME in a hospital, you do have to be assertive and stick to what you want. Legally they cannot make you do anything without your consent. And that was never a problem for me.
And afterwards, it was nice to be taken care of. I was totally wiped out and still making a total mess. The nurses cleaned up after me, and the bed was adjustable, which made it much easier to find a comfortable position. They provided me with maternity supplies that I hadn’t thought of but needed like a donut. We also had an infinite supply of clean clothes and linens as C and I got the hang of feeding our baby, changing her diaper, etc. I also received 3 meals a day, which reminded us to eat. We could call on nurses for help at any time. And we did a couple times.
Special K stayed with us in my room the whole time, though we took a 2-hour break from her on the first day, so we could sleep. We had advice from people who have handled literally thousands of babies. We had the reassurance that our baby was perfectly healthy, as they checked her all the time. She has a bit of jaundice, but the pediatrician told us what to look for and it seems nothing to worry about. C said “it’d been a lot harder if we’d had to come in parenthood cold”. And I think even for subsequent children, I’d want a little pampering for both me and C afterwards – childbirth is of course very hard work.