I've been wanting to write about the birth and the preceding days, but, oh boy, a little one makes it really hard to do much of anything! He doesn't like to be put down, which means that one of us holds him most of the time. This is blissful.. but of course doesn't let you do much of anything. But Rafi is sleeping on his papa's knee so I thought I''d steal a few moments.
I'll start by saying that we had the most wonderful and joyful birth - and every time I think about it I feel close to tears. The days preceding the big day, though, were very hard. As I wrote last weekend, I went to the L&D last Saturday when I was experiencing contractions every four minutes. They came with such regularity and with such intense back pain that i thought it wise to go in. But, as we know, these pressure waves were doing very little... As we left I joked to the nurse (who turned out to be the wonderful and lovely Megan) that we'd no doubt be back a few times for false alarms - and said 'see you tomorrow'.
Another sleepless night Saturday, and the back pain was getting ever more intense. It was a real misery fest. I called the on-call Dr. again on Sunday and explained the symptoms... she suggested that I go in again to the L&D for some pain relief just so that I could sleep. Feeling like a bit of a wimp I said I'd duke it out at home. I spent the most beautifully sunny day (the first in months, it seemed) in front of the TV, trying for any relief on the birthing ball. The back pain was so horrible that I was close to being sick. The Dr. thought that this might be prodromal back labor, which brings about its own special brand of misery... Thinking that it would peter our at any moment, though, I sat with it all day - the pain getting evermore intense. At 10pm I went to bed only to find myself withering, quite literally, in agony. And so I called the poor on call Dr. again.. I was thankful that it was someone else because I'd been hassling the other Dr. (who was very kind to me) all weekend.
Explaining the pain to this Dr. she too directed me to the L&D just so that I could get comfortable. And so close to midnight last Sunday back we were with Megan at the L&D. This time i was not really contracting... and was just dealing with the searing pain. The plan was to give me a shot of morphine and sleeping aid since I was on day three of no sleep. I sent Rich home thinking that I would be asleep and comfortable in no time, and whilst I felt horrible giving my poor little poppet narcotics, it felt as though I had no choice whatsoever. The pain, at this point, felt completely unmanageable.
At 1am the nurses gave me the shots and I waited and waited and waited for relief... Oh, imagine my dismay when the medicine took not the edge of the pain. By the time Megan came into the room I was once again withering on the bed on all fours wondering how on earth I'd get through this.
I can't overstate how much Megan and another nurse Moira helped me that night. They advocated me in every way, keeping the Dr. informed and describing what was happening. In the wee hours they brought in a sonographer from the main hospital and at 4am they were checking my kidneys. Unfortunately lying on the table was excruciating and I found myself - AGAIN! - on all fours, on the floor, vomiting from the pain. Megan and Moira were right there with me, rubbing my back and comforting me in any way that they could. It was the most intense pain I have ever felt... Frankly the next few hours are a blur, but I spoke to the Dr. on the phone who advised me that something was awry with my kidneys. They're still not sure of the etiology - though it might have been the poppet sitting on my renal tubing, or, according to the urologist, it might have been a hormone provoked pregnancy kidney condition... The Dr. also said that the only real way to address this was for the baby to come - and to come soon.
I felt relief run through me, but also dread as I saw in my future a series of interventions.. and, really, what about my natural, gentle, hypnobabies childbirth?
As Monday progressed, though, I began to care less about the experience of birth. Megan and Moira were replaced with the most lovely, lovely nurse Christina, and all day she was with me, trying to help me get through the pain. Rich walked in around 9am expecting to be picking me up - but instead I was on the floor - again - virtually wailing in agony. At this point I was not caring too much about our birth plan.. and I was ready for them to knock me out! But, by 7pm the pain was somewhat under control. Deb had talked to the anaesthesiologist about a possible epidural given everything - but they said that this wouldn't help with the kidney pain. I was feeling quite scared at this point, and skeptical that I could get through the birth unmedicated. But with the pain somewhat managed the natural birth we waned somehow again seemed possible, so I told Deb that I would labor for as long as possible with no meds.. after all, I wanted very much to use the hypnobabies strategies I'd been working on - and I wanted to wear my specially purchased Binsi birthing skirt :)
That night I was given a cervical ripener in preparation for the pitocin. I was dreading the pitocin, but also increasingly excited that I'd be meeting our little guy sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday! That night Megan stayed with me for most of the wee hours, kindly rubbing my sore legs, keeping me company, helping me with all the preparations. The plan was for Deb to come around 11am on Tuesday morning to perhaps break my waters - and then to start the pitocin. Rich popped home to take the puppies to doggy camp for the upcoming days, and when he returned Deb arrived to see where we were. I'd been having contractions, but they were so light I didn't give them much thought. Much to my delight, though, I was 4cms dilated and 50% effaced! Yes, I was in labor... Deb finished breaking my waters and we predicted that the baby might arrive that day... though I'm not sure how confident people really were :)
Rich and spent some time chatting, and the lovely Christina and a nurse in training joined us. CC visited us around noonish just as the contractions were getting a little more difficult. I'm sure I must have looked a sight as I was still leaking amniotic fluid everywhere as I used the birthing ball!! When CC left Rich and I walked up and down the hallways, me stopping every time a pressure wave came, using the walls, rails, and Rich for support. We found Christina and I said that the waves were getting very intense and very close together... Since I'd only been in labor a couple of hours it didn't seem likely that I'd progressed very far.. but within half an hour I was unable to walk down the hall and we all went back to the room. Waves were very close together - less than a minute apart - and they were so intense that I put my hypnobabies CD on each time one would start. I can't express enough how supportive and wonderful Rich, Christina and Melissa (the student nurse) were. They took care of many of the preferences that I'd asked for.. the soft lighting, the lightness of spirit and humor in the room, as well as the ongoing loving support by all.
Things were moving so quickly! Around 2:45ish I said to Christina that I felt as though I needed to push... of course it was hard to take me seriously given that I'd only been in labor for a few hours, but I felt so sure that I was going through the transition stage. Whilst these waves were very intense, though, I managed - much to my shock - to stay focused on the hypnobabies strategies, and I think I was quite calm (though people who were there please feel free to disagree!). Still, Christina said she'd check me.. and she said, almost in a whisper to Melissa, 'there's no cervix left'. Yes, I was fully dilated!! They called Deb!
By this point I was in the tub, breathing through the waves, and not really knowing what to do in terms of pushing. Deb arrived and all these wonderful women offered encouragement and instruction on what to do. Frankly, I couldn't get the hang of the pushing business, and I was feeling quite exhausted. The preceding nights of no sleep were perhaps catching up with me. Indeed I even fell asleep during a wave whilst in the tub, and I woke up after a couple of seconds saying 'budget'! I had dreamt, in that very short time, that Rich was working for Deb, and that she'd asked him to sort out the budget! I took the time to explain this before the next wave :)
The tub was so soothing and I didn't want to get out, but Deb isn't able to catch babies in the tub so they encouraged me to get out. I have to admit that I took my time, trying for more time in the peaceful water! After a while they managed to coax me out and I started to push - though not before I asked them to cover me since I hadn't totally lost all sense of modesty... I managed to find some focus and listen to what they were telling me to do. It seems as though I'd been a bit dainty in the tub. They really do mean BEAR down when they say it. This was by far the most difficult part for me, perhaps because I hadn't gotten to that part in my hypnobabies instruction! Still, it was a short time - perhaps an hour or so of total pushing - when Deb said I could turn and feel the poppet's head. What an amazing experience. Before too long I could feel that ring of fire.. and there he was. Unfortunately he came out with his hand on his head... so use your imagination to think about the implications.
The next few moments are quite a blur - but I remember Rich cutting the umbilical cord and then him being placed on my chest. It was sheer bliss. Rich played our birthing song (It's a wonderful World) and we spent some time basking in the euphoria of bringing a little person into the world. It was simply the most wondrous experience of my life. Eventually Rafi was taken by the nurse to get checked over and then he was returned and we snuggled and cuddled him, not quite believing what had happened.
Th birth could not have gone any more beautifully (though Megan, the other nurse, wasn't there). It was peaceful and serene and the amazing women helping me left me feeling overwhelmed with gratitude.
Thank you to everyone. I have some pictures to post of the day, too, but I'm attempting to put together a movie-picture montage.. lets see how that goes. I have to say that I had no idea how intense a newborn can be!