Background: I spend a lot of time mulling over the amazing information on kmom’s Plus Size Pregnancy site. Today I was drawn to the “Emotional Homework” suggestions found under Increasing the Odds for a Safe and Successful VBA2+C. I started tearing up and getting a lump in my throat . . . not that it takes much to touch my poor lil feelings these days.
Try ‘rebirthing’ your cesarean births - Although it is often a very emotional exercise, many women find it particularly helpful to recall every detail of their cesarean births, and then later re-script the labor and birth so that it goes the way they would have wanted it to go. Start by recalling (either verbally or by writing it down) every sensory detail of a prior birth. [ . . . ] Then, when you feel ready, re-script and re-experience the labor and birth the way you would LIKE it to have gone. Change whatever needs changing, as small or as big as needs be. Concentrate particularly on healing things with your child, having the wonderful birth and nurturing time afterwards that so many of us grieve missing. Write out the storyline of the changed birth so you will have it and review it as needed.
My 2004 birth story (the hind-sight is 20-20 version) is here. I will say that re-reading my surgical report and going over it with my midwife recently was quite illuminating, and that makes this re-birth process a bit easier on my left brain though my right brain is in agony right now.
Deep breath. [Contraction] Ppphhhhhhhhh . . . here we go.
I went to my 40 week pre-natal appointment with my CNM a day after my guess date passed. I was a bit disappointed that nothing was going on – very little effacement or dilation, but also wasn’t terribly surprised since I had learned that many first time moms go into their 41st week before natural labor sets in. All of our family had been in town for Christmas, but the brothers and sisters had to head back out to jobs and school and stuff. It was just us, our dog, and both sets of parents left in town at this point. Still we’d both had enough family time, so after a good lunch at one of our favorite burrito places, DH and I left for home ALONE to just chillax. I think I spent most of the afternoon on the couch sleeping through movies. DH was gaming on-line.
Later in the day I started getting really sick. I guess it could have been as early as 6:30pm or as late as 8:30pm, but regardless, I was a sick puppy. My blood pressure runs a bit low, so vomiting + being on the toilet = passing out for me. It was a fun game to see if I could finish my business before falling to the floor. So, I was in and out of bed and the bathroom. There wasn’t much DH could do for me, and I was so sick that I wasn’t staying remotely hydrated. And I was contracting (though I hardly even remember that detail).
DH insisted on calling our midwife, and of course she just advised that he do his best to get me hydrated and not to worry about the contractions, because of course, there’s no way that I’d be in labor! That made sense to me. I certainly didn’t feel like I was in labor. I felt sick as a dog, and I was getting sicker and sicker. After a few more hours of this, DH called the midwife back saying that even if I wasn’t in labor, he was worried about how dehydrated I had become. (We’re both professional singers, so we’re very conscious about hydration.)
This was after midnight. He’s scurrying around the house trying to figure out what to put in our hospital bag, and I’m thinking that he’s nuts for trying to take me out of the house in this condition. I remember not wanting to leave the house. No, no, no – this is just NOT right. And how the hell am I supposed to get to the car without passing out, pooping myself, or vomiting everywhere? Hmmm?? And once I’m in the car, how the hell am I supposed to ride in the car without pooping or vomiting everywhere? Hmmmmmmm??? Oddly enough (thought I get it now), I stopped getting sick. I became more aware of the contractions, I guess, but I was more curious about why I had suddenly stopped getting sick!
We arrived at the hospital a few minutes later. The intake gal wasn’t the slightest bit concerned about me . . . taking her sweet ass time while I’m contracting away and wondering when the next wave of sickness would take over my body. I didn’t think I could get to L&D on my own, so once DH got back from parking the car, I think he wheeled me away to L&D. I was kind of excited in a way!
Get to L&D. Everyone is in slow motion. They knew that I was on my way, but yeah yeah . . . 1st time mom thinks she’s in labor, yeah right. They didn’t have a proper L&D room ready for me, so they put me somewhere else for my initial assessment. It didn’t bother me any. I was just trying to manage contractions. So blah blah whatever questions that I couldn’t focus on but DH was mostly able to answer. Taking their sweet ass time. They check my cervix and holy moly SHE’S 9 CM DILATED!!! GET HER MIDWIFE HERE STAT!!! All hell breaks loose. It was comical. They readied a L&D room and transferred me.
So here we go!!! We get set up in our room and our midwife arrives looking a bit sheepish since she insisted TWICE to my DH that I was NOT in labor. After confirming that I was 9cm dilated, she offered to break my water to help move things along faster. I knew that she was just trying to help since I was so sick, but DH reminded her that we were not interested in any unnecessary interventions. He asked again about my dehydration, and they said the quickest way to remedy this was IV fluids. It sounded like a good choice even though I was bummed to be connected to tubing that could restrict my movement.
At some point the labor nurse noticed fluid coming out of me. I think she thought that was amniotic fluid, but no . . . ick, it was from uhhhhmmmmm, somewhere else in the vicinity. I was a bit embarrassed that I was having diarrhea everywhere, but I knew that in order to bring this baby down, I needed to move and change positions. For some reason, it seemed logical that I would turn my butt to the room and sort of drape myself over the back of the elevated head of the bed. That was just a great position for me, even though I was making such a mess. Thank God for chux pads, people!!! Anyway, from this position, I was able to sway my hips and bounce like a maniac and still ‘rest’ my head. Upright positions definitely felt the best and seemed the most productive.
I didn’t ever really ‘hit the wall’ like I had expected because obviously I transitioned either at home or in the car when I was still so sick. Once I got to the hospital, I was still having diarrhea, but I stopped vomiting thankfully!! I started feeling pushy, so my midwife examined me again and encouraged me to push. However, she had me on my side for pushing and was having me push for counts of 10. This was horrible. They had to give me oxygen, and the position was excruciatingly painful. My contractions were one on top of the other even though the stupid monitor was telling them that my contractions were ending. I hated that damned machine. I wasn’t making progress. I was getting tired. I was frustrated. I was sick. I was contracting and grunting and moaning and getting nowhere fast. My midwife estimated that the baby was stuck at 0 position and not tolerating pushing particularly well.
DH & I thought back on our childbirth education series. We knew something had to change. So, I got back into that other strange position of draping myself over the top/back part of the bed and pushed in that position. The counting to 10 was driving me crazy, and I yelled for everyone to stop. I just decided to push whenever for however long and see what that did. I felt my baby girl making her way down. Eventually, that is. My midwife wanted me to lie down so she could check the baby’s position, but I didn’t see how I could possibly do that, so she contorted herself and checked me and found that I was +1 or +2 . . . can’t remember. Aha, progress! That was all I needed to invigorate me.
I do remember wondering when pushing would end. I thought I recalled reading that 1.5 hours was fairly standard, but I had been pushing for twice as long at least. However, I was surviving (I think thanks to that bag of fluids), and the baby was now doing better with the pushing. Hooray! What seemed like an eternity later . . . eventually resulted in me feeling like my vagina was on fire and going to explode. Baby was crowning!! My midwife applied counter pressure to the perineum so I wouldn’t tear and encouraged me to ‘go easy’ with the pushing if possible. Eventually I couldn’t resist any longer, plus I was tired of the out and in game that the baby was playing. I pushed really hard – I think I was on all 4s at this point – and her head came out. Relief. It feels so much better once the head is out, I can’t even tell you. A couple more pushes and the shoulders and body were out, and my sticky gooey baby was in my arms.
Many women feel like birthing their babies was a transformative experience. I am one of those women. I felt like, if I can do that, I can do anything.