This is the long version of Norah's birth story, with all the details (gory or not!) For the shorter version, click here, or for recomendations for maternity service providers in Northeast Indiana, click here)
I am pleased to announce the arrival of Norah Ann, born January 16, 2009 at 9:29 p.m. at DeKalb Memorial Hospital.
8lbs 10 oz.
22 inches long
Thursday morning (January 15th) I went into my midwife’s office for my weekly appointment and an internal exam. She found I was 1-2 cm dilated, 70% effaced, and said baby was at 0 station. I hadn’t been having much in the way of contractions and didn’t feel I’d be having the baby any time soon. My midwife agreed that I’d probably be pregnant somewhere around another week and sent me home with instructions to continue using the Evening Primrose Oil I’d been using. She said if I came back in another week with no more progress, we’d start looking into a few other tricks.
I went home and made bread and monster cookies with J, and finished up sewing the blanket I’d been working on for baby.
On Thursday night, D and I stayed up like normal to watch Grey’s and our Tivo’d CSI. We went to bed around 11, after watching a bit of the news that said we were getting record low temperatures. We both said we hoped I didn’t go into labor due to the weather being so miserable.
Around 2 a.m., I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. I was having bloody show, but the blood was really bright red and worried me, so I called L&D. They said this was normal and told me to go back to bed. I knew that bloody show usually meant a baby was coming in the next few days, so I started mentally planning everything I needed to get done the next day. About 10 minutes later I felt a period-type cramp, but didn’t pay much attention. I kept feeling the cramps about every ten minutes or so, so I started to wonder if I might be in labor. I decided to sleep in between cramps and see if they got closer together or just petered out.
Around 4:30 I was still having to cramps, so I woke D up and told him that I might be in labor. I told him to go back to sleep and I would wake him if it was the real thing. By 5, I was sure I was having contractions and they were coming about every 5-6 minutes. I decided to take a hot bath, thinking that if the contractions continued it was probably really labor, but if I wasn’t really in labor, the bath might make them stop. After a half hour I got out of the tub, definitely sure I was in labor. I woke D and told him I wanted to get things ready in case this turned out to be the real thing.
D woke up and immediately went into super-husband mode. He showered, dressed, turned on a heater in the garage, warmed up the car, threw clothes into a bag, and ate breakfast – all before 6:30. I had to send him out to turn off the car as I didn’t feel it was time to leave quite yet. We timed the contractions for awhile and at this point I was already feeling the back labor I was going to have. About this time we decided to watch an episode of LOST from our Season 3 DVD to pass the time. D knew it was real labor when Ben shot Locke and left him for dead and I didn’t even notice. We gave up on LOST and just focused on the contractions.
At 9:30, we called my midwife’s office and said I thought I was in labor. They said I should come into the office to get checked out. We packed up all our stuff and headed out a little after 10:00. Because we live in Fort Wayne and we were planning to deliver in DeKalb, we made sure to grab everything because we weren’t planning to make the hour-and-a-half round trip again before the baby was born.
About 11:30, my midwife did an internal exam and determined that I was definitely in labor, 3-4 cm dilated, 90% effaced, and baby was at +1 station. She told us we could go home, check into the hospital, or go out and about for awhile. We decided to go eat lunch and then see how I felt. We stopped at Dairy Queen briefly before realizing that the bathrooms were outside. The high for the day was -1 degree Fahrenheit and I was planning on being able to run to the bathroom during my contractions so as not to completely destroy Dairy Queen’s chances of patronage for the day, so this wasn’t going to work. We packed back up and went to the Wendy’s down the street which had a nice indoor bathroom. I could tell when a contraction was coming because my back would start to hurt first, so when my back started to hurt I went to the ladies’ room and hung out there until the contraction was over. I somehow managed to eat a spicy chicken sandwich, which was pretty darn good.
Once we finished eating, we decided to go to the dollar store and walk around. We figured the dollar store wouldn’t be too busy in the middle of a week day, and I didn’t want to be around a lot of people. We walked around for a little while, but I was having a contraction in every aisle, and I started getting tired of being in public. We decided to head to the hospital so that I could have some privacy.
We checked into the hospital around 2:00. When we got to our room, the nurse had already pulled our birth plan and contacted Donor Services for us (per our birth plan), so I was pretty impressed. We answered a bunch of medical questions and I was on a fetal monitor for about 20 minutes. We called Velma at this time and told her to come on up to the hospital. I also asked her to call Lisey and let her know I was in labor, and to text J, Jeana, Cuthbert, and Mia with our secret ‘H is in labor’ code, which was “ThunderCats are go!” I had every intention of having Velma contact them all again when I was ready for them to come to the hospital. However, by the time my labor progressed that far, I’d completely lost my social self and didn’t remember. So, that’s the last I sent as far as messages to friends and family.
Velma arrived at the hospital and her and D undertook the task of putting pressure on my lower back every time I had a contraction. This was the only thing that seemed to relieve my back labor, and I am eternally grateful that they were there to do this. It was also a good thing there were two of them because by the end of my labor they were both getting very tired and it was good that they were able to relieve one another. I labored on my hands and knees for awhile, and then the nurse asked if I would like to try the birth ball (per my birth plan). I decided to give it a try, but I didn’t really like it because when D and Velma would push on my back I felt like I was going to fall off the ball. We tried using the ball in several different locations (near the bed, against the wall, etc), but I never could get comfortable with it so I went back to being on my hands and knees in the bed.
Around 5:00, the contractions had started getting pretty long and the nurse asked if I would like to use the tub (again, per my birth plan). She said she would check me and if I was at least 4 cm I could get in the tub. She checked and said I was 5-6, and went to get everything ready. At that time she also called Donor Services, because they had asked her to call them when I was at 6 cm. I also decided to eat some yogurt right about then, which they let me take with me into the tub. I wasn’t really feeling hungry, but I thought I should probably eat while I was still able.
We got into the tub and hung out there for awhile. Velma got in with me and D stayed right by the side. It was a nice Jacuzzi tub with the fancy jets and everything. However, it wasn’t helping me as much as I thought it would. I think this is because of the back labor I was having. Once I was in the tub I felt like labor was getting fairly intense and a lot of details start to get fuzzy, so forgive me if I make a mistake or get things out of order. Stephanie (the midwife) came up at some point after her office hours were over and just sat with me for a long time. I’m honestly not sure how long it was, but I know that she was there from then on until the end of the delivery. During my entire time in the tub all I really remember was that I felt like I was bleeding a lot even though I wasn’t, and I was making very low moaning sounds in my throat to get through each contraction. A few times I started to feel panicky because the contractions were very long and I was worried about getting through the entire labor.
Somewhere around 7:00 (I think) I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement. Now I learned in my childbirth class that this meant I was probably getting ready to push, but for some reason I didn’t think it meant that I was really getting ready to push – I thought I just had to go to the bathroom. Not sure why I thought this applied to everyone except me, but I did, so I said I had to go and got out of the tub to sit on the toilet. I sat backwards on the toilet so that D & Velma could keep pushing on my back (for the record, I did not actually have to go to the bathroom – I was just getting ready to push). From here things are really fuzzy. I know at one point I started crying and D told me not to cry and I told him I was fine and that sometimes I just have to cry (which is true of me in general – sometimes I just have to cry to cope and it doesn’t necessarily mean things have gotten bad). At one point I also told D I hated him, but I don’t remember why. I think it was because I was hot and taking the towels off of me that had been put on me (when I said I was cold previously) and he said something about it. I’m not really sure. I’m also told that I started hyperventilating somewhere in there and Stephanie reminded me how to breathe, but I don’t remember that at all.
Eventually, I think I said that I felt like I needed to push, so Stephanie decided to check me. She said I was at 9 ½ and to go ahead and give a little push. I did, and my water broke. I’m not sure why, but this scared the crap out of me. I think I’d just forgotten that my water needed to break or just assumed it had broken when I was in the tub, so I wasn’t expecting it. I actually screamed a little when it broke because it startled me so much.
I think it was shortly after this Stephanie inserted the sterile water papules into my back. Like I said, things were a little fuzzy, so I’m not sure of the timing. Stephanie told me she had a trick she could use to get rid of the back labor that was “just water, not medicine”. At that point I figured if water was going to get rid of back labor, I’d take it however it came. She said it was going to hurt like “the mother of all bee stings” and went ahead and inserted them. The pain comparison was, sadly, the biggest understatement I have ever heard in my entire life. Stephanie and the nurse, Pam, inserted two sets of two needles and I screamed like someone was murdering me. It was, by far, the most painful part of my labor, but it made the back labor stop immediately. With the next contraction, it was gone.
Sterile water papules are just little tiny shots of sterile water inserted into the back just below the skin. Stephanie said they trick your brain into not feeling the back labor because having the water under the skin like that is so weird that your brain just can’t figure out what’s going on. Because it’s so confused, it can’t process the back pain at all anymore. Eventually the water soaks into your skin, so the pain relief is only there for an hour or two. This is why she waited until I was ready to push before she inserted them. There was no way I’d have ever let her do a second round if the first round had worn off. It seriously hurt that much.
After this, someone (who? I have no idea) helped me over to the bed where I was going to push Norah out. I was lying on my side for a little bit but I was having trouble getting situated enough to push effectively and I couldn’t figure out what to do with my leg. Someone put up a squatting bar above the bed for me to rest my foot on, but pushing on my side still wasn’t working. Stephanie said she had another trick (I reportedly asked her, skeptically, ‘It’s not like the last trick, is it?’) and asked me to lay flat on my back. She said if we couldn’t get baby to move past my hips, we’d move my hips up past baby. I think it’s important to mention this because part of the reason I chose to use a midwife was because I was afraid of being stuck pushing flat on my back, tied up to a monitor with an OB. But when Stephanie said to get on my back, I got on my back because I felt I could trust her. I wasn’t lying on my back to make the delivery easier on her; I was doing it because she thought it would get the baby out. I think that’s an important distinction. I pushed like that for a long time. I’m not actually sure how long – maybe an hour? Maybe a little more? Stephanie and Pam, the nurse, kept telling me I was almost there but I didn’t believe them. I knew pushing would take awhile, so I just kept right on not believing them for at least an hour. D & Velma did believe them, so when Stephanie had to leave the room for a few minutes to deal with another patient who had showed up at L&D, they kind of freaked out a little. I just kept right on pushing, figuring that she’d be back in plenty of time and that Pam had it under control. Stephanie came back and everything was fine.
Toward the end, I got up and kind of hung from the squatting bar to finish delivery. I was having a very hard time squatting at that point. My arms and legs were very tired from having labored on my hands and knees for an extended period of time, and I was having trouble using my legs to support me. As a result, I think most of my support came from my arms, which were very sore for the next 5-6 days. I saw Stephanie put on long gloves and a Dr. smock-thingy, and I knew we were getting close. She helped D to catch baby’s head as it came out, and then she turned the shoulders and pulled them out for D to catch. Once the baby was born, D put her on my belly right away. She was extremely blue and had the most horrible cone head I’ve ever seen, but she was the prettiest blue, cone head baby in the entire world, if you ask me.
I’m not sure how much time went by, but I heard Stephanie say that the placenta had detatched and she asked me to give a little push. The whole thing came out and she showed me which side had been against me and which side the baby had been on. D cut the cord a little earlier than we had planned because the baby looked good and we were hoping to donate the cord, cord blood, and placenta to Donor Services. Donor Services took it away to be shipped out Fed Ex (kind of weird to think of one of your body parts being shipped Fed Ex!) for cord blood and stem cell research and use.
After Norah was born I held her for a little while and then D went with her to the other side of the room to be checked out while I was stitched up. I had a second degree tear, which was rather unpleasant, but as of today (2 weeks and 3 days later) it’s pretty much healed up and I don’t even notice it was there. To be honest, the first 45 minutes or so after Norah was born are also kind of fuzzy. I felt very disoriented and confused. I knew who all the people around me were and I knew what was going on, but I felt like I couldn’t connect with anyone or really respond to anything very well. It was like viewing the world through a TV screen for awhile there. I also got very, very cold and shaky which kind of scared me. The nurse said it was because my body was still trying to warm the baby, but the baby wasn’t there anymore. I was able to nurse Norah about an hour after she was born (also in my birth plan), and she latched on great with the help of one of the nurses.
Overall, I would say I had a good birth experience. I could have done without the back labor but I guess there wasn’t a whole lot anyone could do about that. Stephanie thought the baby may have been posterior and causing the back labor, but it turned out she was positioned perfectly. It may just have been that she was big enough that she was going to put pressure on my tailbone no matter how she came out. I think the biggest keys to my good labor experience were staying active throughout my pregnancy, having good labor support people who took care of my immediate needs, and having a care provider that I could trust, who allowed me to labor how I needed to without intervening too much.
D, Norah, and I are all doing well at home as of the time of this post. I sure could use more sleep and at times I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to be doing with this baby, but overall things are looking good!