Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Tale of Two Childbirths

I was 27 and expecting my first child, a son. At the time I was super crunchy - a vegetarian planning to exclusively cloth diaper, exclusively breastfeed, birth at a birthing center with no anesthesia in the presence of every woman I knew. 

You read that right. About 30 women were invited to join me in the birthing room where I was all keyed up to give birth in a tub in front of everyone. 

Now, those who know me know how modest I am. I felt at the time that birth was a community experience, and the more people my baby was surrounded by at birth the better, because there would be more love to welcome him into the world. Mmmhmm.

So the day came a full 8 days past my due date. It was early November of 2014 and everyone in my circle was reeling in dismay from Obama's election. My contractions were finally 5 minutes apart lasting for 1 minute each and my mother in law rushed me to the birthing center. 

I walked in and expected to pop any minute. It was a bit of a shock to be informed that it would take 6-8 hours longer to have the kid! I was having back labor, which if you've never had it be sure to thank your lucky stars! It was the worst pain I'd ever experienced and I was only about 6cm dilated. 

The hubbs contacted everyone on my list and they all showed up. The men waited in the waiting room while all the women joined me in the birthing room which was pretty huge. 

One thing about natural birth is the noises the mother makes! I seriously didn't know I could produce such sounds. Agony expressed itself in torturous whale tones. Hubbs had to press hard on my lower back every contraction or I would lose it entirely. I was focused, I was in pain, I could do this. 

You know how "they" tell you to make a music playlist to play while in labor? Yeah, that's just dumb. I couldn't stand to hear any music. "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles was on the dumb playlist I made and couldn't tolerate, and at one point in the labor someone starting singing it.

One person sang, "Here comes the sun..."

And everyone else sang, "Dootndoodoo!"

I yelled, "STOP IT!!" almost losing my thin grasp of sanity. 

The time came to get in the tub. I love baths so I was really looking forward to the experience. Turns out the water can't be any hotter than lukewarm in order to not boil the baby. 

I was cold, wet, in pain, and still had a ways to go. Blah, blah, blah let's fast forward. 

Eli finally arrived! 7lbs 11oz. My sister says, "He looks like Obama." which earns her a smack from my mother. Lol. He did look like him, all grey with curly black hair. 

So they take the baby to the guys outside and it's time for me to pass the afterbirth. If your're squeamish go ahead and skip down to the next paragraph. JK, suck it up and just do it. Anyway, I couldn't push it out so they had me get up on my knees. That's when it just fell out with a meaty plat into the tub. Someone said, "It sounds like someone threw a meatloaf off a ten story building!" That was one of my favorite memories.

The midwives did all the things they do, we were cleared to go home and left just 4 hours after delivery. It was 3am and we were both dead tired. My labor had lasted a total of 24 hours and the hubbs had been an active part of everything. I was so afraid that he'd fall asleep at the wheel and we'd all die. 

Thankfully we made it home safely. What I took away from that first birth is that I'd NEVER do it again. It hurt so flipping much. I had no idea. I did cloth diaper for the first few months but eventually went to disposables. Thank God for disposable diapers! I did exclusively breastfeed for 9 months (and it took us 3 months to get nursing down.) Eli is now 5 1/2 years old and the most awesome kid ever! (I may be biased.)

Now for the second birth.

I was 32 and had said I would NEVER have another child for more than 4 years. Under pressure from the in-laws, parents, husband and son I finally said I'd do it BUT I must have a bigger car and an epidural. I did NOT want to feel that kind of pain again.

I still used a midwife but at the hospital. I still planned to exclusively breastfeed but I was going with disposable diapers from day one. I was excited to get the epidural and ride a wave of drugs through the worst of it. 

Bonnie, the daughter I was expecting, was a big baby. They didn't know how big but estimated about 9 lbs. I didn't sweat it though because I was getting drugs! They put the epidural in right away and it carried me though a restful night. 

The next day I wasn't progressing so they broke my water. I had so much of it! Bonnie was still floating around in fluid and not even making contact with the cervix! Then they started Pitocin and I laid back to wait. 

From the beginning I had my doubts that the epidural was doing its job. My legs were numb(ish) but more so on one side than the other and I could feel everything they did when they went to check me. My fears were realized when I noticed that I could feel absolutely everything all of a sudden. My contractions were coming hard now. I was 8cm dilated when they called the anesthesiologist back in.

He said it had wiggled out and put a new one in. I felt the tingles and thought all was well. That lasted about 5 minutes. The tingles went away and I could feel every single thing. It was too late, I was 10cm now and about to deliver. Bonnie was coming without my having pushed yet! The midwife was on her way.

Oh, and NICU was there because there was some stool in the amniotic fluid and they were worried that she'd aspirate it. No one told me until afterward that they were also there because they were afraid Bonnie would get stuck in my pelvic bone and they'd have to break her collar bone or she'd break her shoulder coming out. I'm glad they didn't tell me. 

I was freaking out! Seriously, I was on the verge of panic. I kept saying in my head over and over, "This was not the plan! I didn't want to do this again!" The pain was incredible but thankfully not back labor. This time only my husband, sister, mother in law, and mother were in the room with me along with all the nurses. 

I don't know how long I pushed, but when her head finally popped out the first thing she did was spit. That took care of the possible aspiration! Hooray! I can't tell you how relieved I was to get her out. Birth feels like someone is ripping you in half. It's horrible. Get the drugs.

She was 9lbs 13oz! I didn't tear or anything and that's a miracle. She didn't need any extra medical attention and when they laid her on my chest she popped her little head up and said, "Meh!"

We stayed at the hospital for 2 more nights and were more than ready to go after the first one. The atmosphere is different. Nurses came in and out, they poked and prodded us and told us what to do. If there was a way to get the drugs at a birthing center that would be ideal. It was nice to have all the free meals but if I'd known the drugs wouldn't have worked I'd have stuck with the birthing center. 

The first time I knew it would hurt but I didn't want medicines, had a gaggle of ladies in the room with me, and Eli was born exactly to plan.

The second time I KNEW it would hurt and I wanted drugs. Got 2 epidurals and ended up delivering without any drugs taking effect! Almost nothing went to plan with this last one. She was big for her age and so they had to keep taking her blood glucose every time I fed her which was stressful for us both. Needless to say she was perfect.

I paid about $500 less for the birthing center. 

The purpose of telling these stories is to make you laugh, cringe, and if you're expecting, to look forward to your big day. Know that the best laid plans may not work and do whatever you want to do! Don't let people bully or pressure you into something else. If you can learn from my experience then great! If not, then I hope I made you chuckle at my experience.

It's all worth it though. I couldn't be happier. 

And now that all that is over with, I'm working on book 3! I still plan to release it this year. It's a bit harder with two kids, but I'm just stubborn enough to make it work. 

Right now I'm crowdfunding to hire an editor to tighten up book 1. I'd love your support! The campaign begins 8/1/14 and ends 9/15/14. I'm trying to raise $7000 to pay for professional editing services. 

Check it out at Pubslush. Share, tweet, contribute. Spread the love! 

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