Fiala’s birth story (plus more pictures, because I can’t resist posting ’em)
First, many thanks to my husband, who, upon hearing that one of my goals for today was to go to Target, said, “Let me go tonight. Make your list, and I’ll take one or two of the boys.” Which, frees up time for blogging! 😀
I’m keeping a phrase in mind — “modest goals.” I tend to try to do too much, too soon, and really, that isn’t wise. Yesterday, other than Fiala’s first trip to the pediatrician’s office, I had the lone goal of cleaning out the microwave. I got the inside done, but not the outside. 🙂 I didn’t even have to make dinner! Blessedly, dear friends from church are all pitching in and have brought/are bringing dinner every night for a week. I really had no expectation of that, because we grow increasingly more difficult to cook for. It was bad enough being gluten-free, but now that two of my kids have to be 100% dairy-free, that really limits the options. I pulled a bunch of recipes from All Recipes to give folks some ideas of what to make, and it’s been really, really lovely, truly a HUGE blessing to have safe, tasty, homemade food from people who love us, and whom we love.
Anyways… Here’s the story. It’s not… intimately graphic, but it is descriptively graphic, blood & guts type, so if you’ve not delivered a baby, you’ll probably not want to read. Just scroll down and look at the cute pics. 😉
On Tuesday, 10/21, I had a doctor’s appointment early in the morning. He checked me, said I was dilated to 4 cm, and said that in his opinion, I was in early labor. I was skeptical, because I’d been having contractions for nearly two weeks that didn’t produce anything. But, he said, “Go home, call your husband, get your childcare in order, and take a walk.” So, I did. We were going to do school, but instead, we all walked to the park, which was nice for a change. And, sure enough, the contractions started coming almost-regularly, about 4-7 minutes apart. My hubby came home around lunch time, which enabled me to just keep walking, just keep walking, just keep walking. By the afternoon, the contractions were down to two minutes apart. I talked with my mom (who would be staying with my kids), and decided that the whole thing was serious enough for her to come over, which she did, about 5:00 p.m. She was quite insistent that I go to the hospital. However, I remained skeptical about the whole thing because, even though I was dilated to at least 4 cm, and my contractions were — at most — five minutes apart, even when resting, they didn’t hurt at all. In my history with the four other kids, I have waited until things start to get painful, as to me, that’s the real onset of labor. However, my mom (and partially myself) was concerned that, especially since this was my fifth child, that if I waited until things started hurting, I’d end up birthing on the kitchen floor. 🙂 After dinner, my husband and I put our 2yo, Audrey, to bed, and took one more walk, then headed out for the hospital. We arrived there about 8:00.
It was my concern that, once we got to the hospital, everything would shut down, and I’d just have to go home. And, sure enough, there I was in OB triage, hooked up to the monitor to assess my contractions, and they slowed down to almost nothing — about one every 10-12 minutes. But, the nurse checked me, and I was dilated to 5 cm. So… guess what she suggested? “Take a walk.” Thus began the first of HOURS of trips around all the corridors of the hospital’s second floor. That first walk did produce something though — it kicked the contractions back into almost-high gear. After 45 minutes of walking with my dear husband, the nurse checked me again; I was dilated to 6 cm. We went back out walking. The second walk produced something else: pain. That was actually encouraging to me, because it meant that, in all likelihood, this was real labor, and I’d really have a baby, sometime in the near future. It was about 10 p.m. at that point, and the contractions were now fairly intense, but still somewhat sporadic, every 2-7 minutes apart. The nurse called my doctor, who advised that I be admitted. I was; he came and checked me, confirming the nurse’s assessment.
Since things weren’t mega-consistent, I still harbored some concern that everything would grind to a halt, and I’d go home. The nurse didn’t think that was likely: “He’s not going to send you home dilated to six.”
I’m rather anti-inducement. Totally anti-inducement, actually, and for a few reasons: First, and simplest, is that it limits your options. If the doctor breaks your water, and you’re in the hospital, you then get confined to bed, which means you can’t walk around, and there’s NO way they’ll send you home if the labor stalls out. (Whereas, if labor stalls out because the baby just isn’t ready, if your water is intact, you can go home and just wait for the right time.) If you are “simply” being induced with pitocin, it makes contractions VERY painful because there is no “building” to pitocin-induced contractions — they just peak immediately — PLUS, your body doesn’t release the endorphins that bring physical peace to a laboring mother and a sense of re-charging, which is what happens during naturally-produced oxytocin-triggered “normal” contractions. So, with pitocin-induced contractions, it becomes a near-certainty that you’ll have to get pain meds, which I have always avoided, for safety reasons both for me and for my baby. Also, the induction + pitocin + pain meds very often = a Caesarean-section delivery. In other words, in my mind, induction means that you’re trying to MAKE the baby come out, instead of her coming out when the time is right. I want the time to be right. Plus, for me, after the water is broken, it hurts nonstop. When I’m not contracting, it simply stings like the dickens; there’s no respite. I’d rather have labor be slower but more manageable, thankyouverymuch.
Anyways, after more walking, my doctor checked me at about 11:30 p.m. I was at 7 cm. From our previous conversations, he knew how I felt about any induction method, including breaking my water, so he didn’t even suggest it — just sent me out for more walking. So, my dear hubby and I continued to roam the halls, becoming well-acquainted with each corridor, each nurses’ station, the nursery where it always breaks my heart to see brand new, bundled-up babies under warmers, instead of in their mothers’ arms… By then, about midnight, the contractions were REALLY hard, and more regular, but still varying between 2-4 minutes apart. Each time one would come, I would have to stop walking and chatting, hold Martin’s arm, lean hard against him, and breathe through it.
Our hourly pattern became about 45 minutes of walking, then 15 minutes in bed hooked up to the external monitors that gauged the contractions and the baby’s heartbeat.
The nurse checked me internally again at about 2:30 a.m. I was still at 7 cm.
She checked me again at 4:30 a.m. I was still at 7 cm. She advised me to let her call in my doctor, saying, “I am convinced if you would have let him break your water the first time he checked you, you’d be nursing your baby right now. For the second time.” I told her, noncomittally, that I would talk with my hubby and we’d pray about it, and I’d let her know.
Martin was actually pro-water-breaking. His reasoning (and it did make sense) was that my doctor went off-call at 7 a.m. I really wanted HIM to be the doctor who delivered Fiala, not some random guy who happened to be on call. Martin’s concern was that if they didn’t break my water, things wouldn’t progress quickly enough, and I’d be having that stranger-doctor deliver her. My doctor knew my medical concerns, and I had developed trust with him, and I knew that our goals were the same for the actual delivery — no tearing, no episiotomy, as natural as possible.
I was really conflicted. Before we even went into the hospital, during one of my many walking trips around the neighborhood, I felt very strongly like God was telling me that I needed to trust my husband’s judgement, and allow myself to lean on him, both literally and figuratively, because during times of pain, I tend to isolate, shutting out even my husband. I didn’t want to do that. But, neither did I want to have my water broken. We prayed together, and afterwards, I said, “Will you give me until 5:30? If nothing has happened by then, let’s call in the doctor, and I’ll let him break my water.”
Honestly, though everyone else was anxious for the baby to come, I wasn’t particularly. I wasn’t physically exhausted, even though I had surely walked at least seven or ten miles in the previous 24 hours, and had been contracting hard and painfully for more than six hours. I still felt like she should/would come when the time was right, and even though I wanted my own doctor to deliver her, I felt like God would just make it all right if some other doctor did the duty.
At 5:15, the nurse came in again to check on our decision just as I was getting up for a potty break. When I was in the bathroom, I just started praying simply, “Jesus, please either break my water, or send me into transition.” Historically, once I go into transition, the baby comes really fast; I knew everyone’s questions as to me progressing would be answered if I got to that point. And, just like that I had four — BAM!! — huge contractions, right in a row. I knew it was transition, because it hurt really badly, and I started shaking. However, in the very brief breaks between contractions, I couldn’t help but grinning, because Jesus answered my prayer. Still, because of the contractions, it took me a good 15 minutes to go to the bathroom. I came out, grinning, and said, “I’m in transition.” The nurse, given my expression, looked very doubtful, but I said, “You can call the doctor” so those are the orders she gave.
That was at 5:31 by the big clock on the wall.
My doctor was there by 5:34.
As soon as I came out of the bathroom, I had gotten back into bed, and they hooked me back up to the monitors, which I started trying to take off, right away. I don’t know what it is, but during transition and afterwards, I just don’t want anything to touch my belly; it is beyond annoying, and only adds to my discomfort. I could hear Martin laughing, and trying to explain to the nurses and doctor how it was a good sign that I didn’t want the monitors on.
At that point, it felt like time went really, really, really slowly. Part of it is a blur, and part of it I remember distinctly. I kept, as I always do, my eyes clamped closed tightly; I always feel a need to concentrate completely, and I can’t keep them open, even though I realized, hazily, that with them closed, I couldn’t pull Fiala out with my last contraction, as my doctor had promised, and as I had been so looking forward to…
I remember begging for the monitors to be removed, and the doc gave the order for the nurses to do so.
I remember being surprised that they hadn’t broken the bottom part of the birthing bed off.
I remember them telling me to pull back on my knees, and I just couldn’t do it.
I remember my doctor telling me I could push, but for some reason, even though I had the urge, I kept breathing/humming through the pushes, so it wasn’t having full effect.
I remember it started stinging really badly, so my water must have broken, and I could feel Fiala in the birthing canal, which gave me immense hope, and I said twice, “She’s coming!”
I remember my doctor saying, “OK. Hold your breath and bear down hard.” For some reason, that cut through the fog, and I did it.
One push and her head came out. Martin told me later that the cord was wrapped around her neck, but the doc was able to get a little slack, and with the next push just looped his pinkie around the cord and flipped it over her head.
Second push and she was out, up to her chest.
Third push, and she was out all the way.
I looked up, and by the clock on the wall, it was 5:43, just nine minutes after my doctor had arrived. Nine, slow-motion minutes. Nine very difficult, very focused, very painful minutes. But, still, only nine minutes. Nine minutes and three pushes.
I asked for her immediately, and the doc handed dear little Fiala to me, while he had Martin cut the cord, which I guess was really, really long.
At that point, I started bleeding quite badly. The doc asked for a shot of something which went in my thigh, but that didn’t do the trick. So, they hooked up my hep lock to the I.V. and pumped in some pitocin on a drip. The nurse was very apologetic, “I know you don’t want any I.V. drugs…” and I almost laughed. I so didn’t care about pitocin after the fact, and I knew I was bleeding badly; it was necessary.
Also, some time around there — I don’t remember if it was before or after the I.V. — my doc started fishing around inside my uterus, and that hurt so badly, I started getting mad. I don’t remember a doctor doing that before, and I was wondering if it was necessary. But, Martin said that he got out three large pieces of placenta membrane, each a good six inches long or longer. And, he broke up clots so that the blood didn’t get backed up inside the uterus. I know the nurses were concerned about the amount of blood I was losing; they were weighing what I’d lost, and I could hear them reporting to each other. But, either the doctor’s efforts, or the pitocin, or the healing hand of God, or a combination of those, finally took effect, and I stopped gushing blood.
She was born at 5:43 by the clock on the wall, which by our mobile phones, was the right time. However, the “official” time is kept track of by the hospital’s computers, which are apparently five minutes behind real time. So, her official time of birth was 5:48 a.m. She was 8 lbs 13 oz, 20 1/4″ long.
All told, it was close 20 hours in labor, though only 7 hours 48 minutes of it was painful. Still, though, that’s my longest labor. Going by the amount of time it hurt, Wesley was previously my longest at 5 1/2 hours. The other three were about 3 or 3 1/2 hours.
My many thanks to all of you for your prayers, congratulatory comments, and general encouragement. Sorry this took so long to post!! I didn’t even check e-mail — a week’s worth — until yesterday.
Will try to post part 2 tomorrow, more about my dear baby herself. 🙂