Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Awesome Birth Of Barrett Allan

It's been a while since I posted anything to my blog. What can I say, I've been busy... growing a kid. Here is the story of the day he was born:

I woke up Friday morning (8/20/2010) at about 6am after a terrible, insomnia filled, night’s sleep to find that my water had ruptured. Oh dear.

How did I know my water broke? Well, my jammies were quite a bit wetter than normal AND there was a 6-inch diameter wet spot on the sheet. Gross. Damn – really wish I had put that waterproof mattress pad on the bed! Plus, when I got up, there was a little “woosh” of fluid down there and I could feel stuff running down my leg. Double gross. I was 37 weeks and 3 days along in my pregnancy… so although I was full term I had ZERO expectation of going into labor that day. (First baby, so I was expecting him to come late.)

I was partly SUPER excited, but also a bit bummed. Baby still looked so high in my belly and I hadn’t experienced so much as a Braxton Hicks contraction yet. I was certain that my water had ruptured before it was really “supposed” to and that I would end up needing an induction, which I REALLY did not want. Plus… I didn’t feel quite ready to be done being pregnant yet. I felt like I was just getting “good” at it. AND I wanted more time to practice my hypnobirthing skills (which I had TOTALLY been procrastinating doing) and I wanted to go to a few more prenatal yoga classes, the nursery was a mess, and Kyle and I still had a TON of errands to get done before baby’s arrival. Now all those things simply wouldn’t happen. :( It was definitely a bittersweet feeling. I secretly hoped my water bag would somehow repair itself and I could go on being pregnant for another week or so.

The funny thing is that one of my first thoughts was “OMG – I can’t wait to tell the girls on the bump that my water broke!" It's crazy how close you can become to online friends. I actually told a whole group of virtual friends that baby was on his way before I even told Kyle! (In my defense, it was super early on his day off and he was sleeping so soundly, I didn't want to disturb him just yet.)

Anyway, I decided not to call the hospital right away. I had tested negative for GSB and nothing had been in the baby cave for quite some time – so I was confident that my risk of infection was low even with my bag of waters open. I REALLY didn’t want the hospital to start any sort of “clock” just yet. I eventually woke Kyle up and told him the news (oh the expression on his face!!!!! PRICELESS! I wish I had video-taped it!) We decided to wait until that evening to call the hospital to see if we could get labor started on our own.

The first thing I did was take a LONG shower. I shaved. I washed my hair, TWICE. Mostly I just tried to get really clean before what I assumed would be a VERY long day (maybe even a long weekend!) When I got out of the shower there was another woosh of fluid that ran down my leg. So I got back in the shower, rinsed off, and then got back out. And then another woosh. Well – THAT was getting old quickly. I got back in the shower and then got out again and this time immediately stuffed a towel between my legs – which caught a third woosh of fluid. Ha! Not gonna run down my leg THIS time! :)

I then put on some granny undies, a SUPER maxi-pad, and stuck a washcloth between my legs and got dressed. Kyle and I ate a big breakfast of scrambled eggs and fruit and then proceeded to talk about what we should do to get my labor going. We decided that we may as well get some of those errands done so we walked to the grocery store (where I proceeded to pick up some adult diapers, because the washcloth was NOT cutting it any longer! I soaked through it, the pad, and the jeans I was wearing - luckily they were dark and you couldn't see the wet spot… p.s. in my opinion adult diapers are an absolute MUST. I don’t think I would have made it through labor without them!) and then we walked to our favorite coffee shop (where I got TWO donuts) and then we tidied up the house and tried to make SOME order out of the chaos that was the unfinished nursery. And then we went out to lunch. By about 2pm or so there was still no sign of labor. :( Although I did notice that I was STARVING… which I took to be a promising sign. It was like my body was getting ready for a marathon and was trying to carbo load or something.

Kyle’s mom recommended that we try getting in the car and driving over some bumpy railroad tracks (apparently that’s what got her labor going with him.) So we decided to run a few more errands in the car. We didn’t have a video camera yet – so we went to Best Buy to pick one up. And then we went by my office to pick up some things that I had left there (I was still three days away from starting maternity leave so I hadn’t exactly packed all my stuff up yet) When I got there my co-workers asked if I had time to eat some cake (they hadn’t gotten me a surprise happy maternity leave cake before they even knew that my water had broken – So sweet!!!) So Kyle and I sat around with my co-workers chatting and eating cake. I think my co-workers were pretty surprised at how mellow I was considering I was supposed to be in labor any moment. While we sat there I noticed a couple moments of slight uncomfortable-ness.

Was THIS the start of labor???

By this time it was about 4:30pm and I decided we should get going because we still wanted to drop some stuff off at UPS and maybe make one more grocery store run. After the UPS stop I was still feeling pretty good. I told Kyle I really wanted to go the grocery store, but he thought maybe we should just go home as it sounded like labor could pick up at any moment and we still wanted to clean the house a bit more before things got crazy. I told him he was a fuddy-duddy but agreed to just go home.

By the time we got home (about 5 minutes later) things had indeed picked up. In fact, it was sort of like I fell off a cliff. Kyle wanted to install the car seat in the car and I was going to just hang out with him while he did it. But first I had to pee. My intention was to pee and then come back outside to help with the car seat. I came in the house, went to the bathroom, and then noticed that the moments of uncomfortable-ness were happening more and more often. I realized I wasn't going to make it back outside.

I decided labor might finally be starting for real (hooray!) and I remember thinking that whatever the heck I was feeling (which, by the way, felt NOTHING like what I expected contractions to feel like) felt uncomfortable. Not painful. Not scary. Not bad. Not a lot of pressure. Not even “intense”. Just really uncomfortable. My body could totally tolerate the feeling, but I was definitely thinking, “Man, I would prefer to not be feeling so uncomfortable right now!” If anyone has ever done the Thai Goddess position in yoga class I would say it’s a LOT like that feeling. You definitely want it end, but while you’re in the position you don’t feel like you are going to die or anything. You just accept that it is what it is and look forward to it being over because it feels so nice when you are done. Anyway, so I posted a note on the bump about my labor maybe starting. The time of the posting was 5pm. Another bumpie (Hi Carriebrad!!) asked me if the contractions were timeable yet and I thought, “Good question”… so I fired up one of those online contraction timing things. Well, it was a bit tough to tell when exactly each contraction started and stopped but I did my best at timing them. I timed about 4 of them and according to the website the contractions were coming every 2 ½ minutes and they were lasting 1 – 1 ½ minutes each. “Well that can’t be right.” I thought to myself, “I’m obviously timing them wrong b/c I’ve only been in labor for like 15 minutes and it’s supposed to take a lot longer for contractions to be that close together.” Also – it was getting harder and harder to operate the computer so I decided to just sit on the couch for a little and wait for Kyle to finish up with the car seat.

Sitting on the couch turned into standing next to the couch with my body bent forward and my hands leaning on the couch armrest… sort of like a standing version of being on all fours (my thinking was: if labor was indeed starting I wanted to make sure baby had the best chance of being in the proper anterior position... I considered doing cat-cow but standing felt better). The uncomfortable-ness was happening more frequently and I remember thinking, “Ok, I think this is definitely labor.” I could feel it in my lower abdomen, my pelvic floor, and my tailbone. I was really expecting sharp, shooting pain (a friend once described labor as feeling like someone was cutting you open from the inside with a thousand knives!) but it was nothing like that. I was also expecting a clear start and stop to each contraction… but that didn’t really happen either. They sort of faded in and out rather than starting and stopping. And the best part was as soon as a contraction faded it was GONE. Totally and completely GONE. Like gone to the point that I was having trouble remembering exactly what it felt like when it was there. Almost as if it had never been there to begin with. It was SO WEIRD. I’d be all like, “wait, where did it go!? How am I going to describe labor to my friends if the contractions keep disappearing before I get a chance to fully wrap my head around what they feel like!?”

So Kyle finally finished with the car seat and came inside and I asked him to time the contractions for me. He also timed them at 2 and half minutes apart lasting over a minute. It was then that I got a little nervous and decided I should call the hospital and at least let them know that I would be coming in soon. I tried to downplay the situation so that I could labor at home a bit longer. I told them hat I was having contractions “a few” minutes apart and that they were lasting about a minute and that I *THOUGHT* my water had MAYBE broken. (I still didn’t want to give them a reason to start the “clock” just in case my labor decided to die back down.) They told me I should probably come in. I told them that I still needed to pack a bag and that I would be in in an hour or two. They seemed ok with that. Cool. Then I called my doula and updated her on my status. She asked if I thought she should come over and I told her that I was probably ok for now. (I was still in denial that labor was moving as fast as it was and I figured that I was handling the situation fine enough by myself… I was a bit afraid that introducing a new person – even just my doula – to the labor environment might somehow mess things up. Looking back, I think I would have labored much better with my doula present (because I honestly wasn’t NEARLY as relaxed as I really should have been)… but at the time my thinking was, “well, it’s not broken, let’s not fix it.” So I told the doula that I would call her back when I was ready for her to come over.

Before I got off the phone with her she did tell me something that DEFINITELY helped get me through. I told her labor was in full swing and that contractions were getting really strong. She said, “Great! The good news is that they won’t get any stronger, they’ll just come more often.”

Wait. What??? Seriously? They’re not going to get any stronger??? But I’m handling them. Quite well, if I do say so myself. So, if I can handle THESE… and they’re not going to get any stronger… that means that I can handle ALL of them!

This was the BEST news I had heard all day. I remember thinking, “IS THIS ALL YOU GOT, LABOR!?!?! BRING IT ON!!!!!!” Knowing that I had already survived the full strength of a contraction gave me all the motivation I needed to carry on.

So carry on I did. I found myself saying things in my head like, “It is what it is. Just accept it. Every contraction brings the baby closer. Every contraction means my baby WANTS to be born. I can do this. I can do this for my baby. I love my baby. This is for him. I LOVE YOU, BABY!” It worked really well for a while. And the contractions did come closer and closer together, but they really didn’t get any worse… It was great!

Until, of course, I realized that I was laboring directly on top of my brand new, expensive, living room rug. Gah. Contractions were coming fast and by this time each one made me feel like I REALLY had to pee and maybe poop. The contractions were coming so close together that I didn’t have time in between them to use the bathroom. And I suddenly became TERRIFIED that I would pee all over my new rug. This was BAD NEWS. Suddenly my contractions felt worse. THE DOULA LIED!!!! I thought to myself. They DO get stronger!!! I still didn’t feel like I wanted an epidural (it wasn’t a sharp or ouchie feeling) but suddenly I DESPERATELY wanted a catheter. I would have given my ARM for a catheter. (Weird, right?) I found myself fighting the contractions because I was afraid they’d make me pee. (If I hadn’t been wearing an adult diaper I probably wouldn’t have been able to make it… knowing that even if I did pee I at least had SOME protection helped a ton.) It started to get pretty awful. Fighting a contraction – for any reason (fear of pain, fear of peeing on the carpet) – is just terrible. It was like my brain and my body were enemies and I was trapped in the middle. I think THIS is what gives labor its bad name of being torture. It’s not the labor itself that is necessarily so bad – it’s the fighting the labor that makes it hell. If I could give anyone advice it would be to NOT FIGHT. Just accept it, surrender to it, and allow things to move forward.

Note: at some point in all this laboring (I don’t remember when) I got REALLY hot. Like DRIPPING with sweat hot. And I got shaky. And I felt like I was going to throw up. And I remember thinking…. "WTF – I’m not supposed to feel like this until I get to transition!" (It never even OCCURRED to me that I was IN transition! Duh!) I managed to strip down out of my clothes until I was wearing nothing but a bra, a tank top, an adult diaper, and socks. I was DEAD SEXY writhing around my living room terrified I might pee on my new rug.

So anyway, I finally realized that things might go better if I simply moved OFF the rug. But the thing is, the spaces between contractions were like CANDY. They were the most wonderfully amazing spaces of time I had ever experienced. They were down right euphoric. (It’s like that old saying – Why do you keep hitting yourself with a hammer? Because it feels SO GOOD when I stop.) And they were short. WAY too short. It was all but impossible to bring myself to waste even a few seconds of one moving from the rug to anywhere else in the house. Finally, I realized that it was my fear of ruining the rug that was causing me to fight the contractions and that THAT was what was making them seem so bad. I HAD to move if I was going to get through it. So I made up my mind that during the next break between contractions I would move myself to the bathroom. (I also decided to grab a banana b/c I figured as long as I was moving I should grab a snack.)

The contraction ended and I took a deep breath and moved as fast as humanly possible to grab my banana (which was just a few feet away) and get to the bathroom. Note: I wasn't hungry AT ALL... but figured I would need the energy and if worse came to worst, I wouldn't mind throwing up a banana. I managed to make it the 8 or 9 steps to the bathroom and sit down on the toilet just in time to deal with the next contraction. It was difficult to manage, but it was CERTAINLY better than it had been in the living room. Thank goodness! It was about this time that I started to realize that we really needed to go to the hospital. Labor was obviously not slowing down and I had absolutely no concept of time but I felt like I had accomplished my goal of “laboring at home for as long as possible.” (Note: it was 6:30pm at this point, so it had been about an hour and a half. Another note: I think for my next pregnancy instead of laboring “as long as possible” at home, a better goal would be "labor at home till you get to transition". Because for me “as long as possible” almost had me delivering the kid on the toilet!). I told Kyle to call the doula and tell her to meet us at the hospital. He did and she said ok, and she also asked to speak with me. I REALLY didn’t feel like speaking to anyone, but finally agreed. I told her contractions were coming fast and that they had been getting painful and that I had to go to the hospital. She said, “Ok, I’ll meet you there – but first I want to talk you through your next contraction so I can help you with this pain you think you’re feeling.”

Woah. I don't know if she meant to phrase it that way, but as soon as she said, “pain you THINK you are feeling” it was like a little bell dinged inside my head. I suddenly remembered the whole mind-body connection thing I’d learned about in hypnobirthing. I remembered how powerful my brain was in determining what my body felt. I was suddenly totally receptive to the idea that the next contraction would be more manageable than the last. My doula had me breathe slowly with her during my next contraction and she told me to focus not just on the break that came AFTER the contraction, but also on the second half of the contraction. The half that led into the break. (By this point, contractions had a more definite start to them, but the stop was still a bit fuzzy. Combining the break between contractions with the second (less intense) half of the contraction made the breaks seem longer, which was nice.) We breathed together for a contraction and it was TOTALLY TOTALLY manageable. It was down right pleasant. (Well almost) Damn. I really should have had her come over to the house like an hour ago. Oh well.

So there I was laboring on the toilet. Kyle, meanwhile was frantically running around the house trying to get stuff ready for the hospital and generally stay out of my way. He had tried to help me with my contractions a bit – but trying to explain exactly what I wanted from him (“massage me here, less pressure, more pressure, higher, lower, etc.”) was worse than just dealing with the contractions on my own. So I shooed him away.

By about 7-ish my body started involuntarily trying to push the baby out... right there on the toilet. (You know how your stomach spasms when you throw up and you have no control over it… well it was sort of like that, but in the other direction.) The contractions slowed down quite a bit and I was able to catch my breath between them a bit more. I remembered that my hypnobirthing teacher called this period of slow down "Rest-and-be-thankful". And I WAS thankful. I had a few moments of clarity that I used to yell from the bathroom, “We really need to go. RIGHT NOW!” I instructed Kyle to grab me a dress from the dryer and some slip on shoes. (I had originally planned to just go the hospital in a bathrobe, but I was WAY too hot to even consider putting on a robe. The dress in the dryer was the first thing I could think of that I knew the EXACT location of. I really wanted to give Kyle SPECIFIC instructions so we wouldn’t waste any time.) Breathing out long and hard and making a low groan noise as my uterus contracted actually felt pretty good. Was much easier than trying to get through the earlier contractions.

We made it into the car and to the hospital. (Luckily it’s only a few miles away.) I had my eyes closed the entire time… and my body continued to try to push the baby out on it’s own. I prayed and prayed that my little guy would hang on for just a few more minutes. PLEASE don’t be born in the car little baby, I begged.

We got to the hospital at 7:30-something, parked illegally, and then all we had to do was make it to the L&D floor. Which, mind you, is not close to the entrance to the hospital. Walking at a normal speed it probably takes a good 5 minutes to make the walk. In my condition it took at least 15 minutes. I had to really focus on EVERY step. And a few times I had to pause to let my body push. (While keeping my legs closed so I wouldn’t actually push the baby out!) At least two people offered to get me a wheel chair but I declined. (Looking back, I totally regret this. I think I was just being stubborn. I wanted to do it all on my own, but really I should have just accepted the darn wheelchair!)

Anyway – so we made it to the L&D floor and we walked up to the nurses’ station and I gave them my name (still with my eyes closed). The nurse asked if I could give her a urine sample. I shook my head no, opened one eye, and managed to get the words “I’m pushing” out of my mouth. She asked what I meant by that and I remember thinking, “What do you think I mean???” Just then another contraction came and my entire body started to bear down. “Oh no!!” She said. “Don’t do that. Not here. Don’t push yet. Breathe through it.” (As if I had ANY choice in the matter.) The on-call doc came over and said I needed to be checked before they could admit me. The nurse assigned to me said, “Ummmm, she’s pushing, we need to get her to a room” but the doc insisted so we went to triage. They examined me for roughly 8 seconds. Pretty much as soon as they lifted my dress up and cut my disposable adult diaper off, the doc pronounced me 10 centimeters, +1 station. So they wheeled me to a L&D room. (Note, my nurse later told me that she knew the baby would come fast because she saw my "brown show" when she cut my diaper off. Apparently I pooped myself on the way to the hospital... Lovely. Yet another reason to wear a diaper!)

Once in the L&D room, they made me transfer from the gurney to the bed (which was TOUGH!) and then they made a few quick adjustments on the bed. And then about 8 people crowded around my vagina (it’s a teaching hospital, so I was prepared for an audience) and then the doc said, “Ok, we’re all set to go, whenever you’re ready you can push.” And I remember thinking, “In case you haven’t noticed, it’s not exactly ME who’s pushing… it’s my uterus… but it’s nice to know you’ve given it the go ahead because YOU’RE ready.” I also remember thinking “WOAH, this baby is really coming! Like right now! Crazy!!!! I thought it would take A LOT longer!” (Yep – even then I was STILL in denial about how fast my labor was going!)

My doula arrived at the hospital just then (She almost missed the birth! I totally should have called her earlier.) She sat down next to me and whispered in my ear to breath down and out. (Which was MUCH nicer to hear than the PUSH PUSH PUSH that everyone else in the room was chanting.) I LOVED having her soft voice in my ear and it definitely helped me focus. With the second surge I heard Kyle say, “He’s crowning!” And I thought, “YAY!” I really wanted to make sure I didn’t tear so I tried as hard as I could to just let my uterus do all the work and not force any extra pushes. This meant lying still between surges with baby’s head just sort of chillin half in and half out – which actually didn’t feel half bad. The doc kept telling me to push and I kept saying, “No! Not yet. Not right now.” (I really wanted to say – “look buddy, my body knows what it’s doing and it doesn’t need any coaching from you… leave me alone! Sheesh.”) And then the next surge would come and I would let out a big, low “uuuuhhhhhhhhh” noise as I tried to keep my jaw loose and just breath out and down with the contraction. With each surge baby’s head would move out a bit more. And everyone kept saying, “It’s ok, this is the ring of fire, you’re doing fine – just push the baby out” And I remember thinking, “Huh – ring of fire isn’t so bad… I can’t believe I’m almost done.” And then I yelled out loud, “Please don’t cut me!!!” And the doc sorta laughed and said, “don’t worry, I won’t, you don’t need any help from me, you’re doing fine.”


A couple surges later baby’s head was all the way out and I remember thinking “Yay! We’re cheek to cheek!” (His cute baby face cheeks to my less cute butt cheeks.) I felt them check for the cord around his neck (which was NOT comfy! I was thinking, "HEY! Get your fingers out of there, I’m stretched to the max already!”) His neck was free and clear of the cord and with the next surge I could feel his shoulders start to come out and the nurse said, “If you push right now, this baby will be out.” And I thought, “Ok, fine. I’ll push.” So I gave one really big, super hard push and I could feel everything really stretch out down there and it felt super crazy but guess it gave my uterus the little extra oomph it needed because, sure enough, with that push baby came out!!! It felt INCREDIBLE. ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. Baby was all soft and slippery and his body just slid right out and it felt SO GOOD. I could feel my body be all like "ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Sweet, sweet relief!!!" :) I remember thinking: "WE MADE IT!!!"

We had checked in at the nurses’ station sometime between 7:45 and 7:50pm… Barrett Allan was born at 8:06pm. Wow! He was born completely drug and intervention free, I only "pushed" about 5 or 6 times in the L&D room, and I didn't tear at all. Thank goodness. (Although I did get a couple "skid marks" near the baby cave in the process... just not on my perineum, thankfully. They were tiny, but they made peeing sting like the dickens for several days post partum. Boo.)

They immediately put him, all slimy, on my chest (right on top of my bra, doh... and I remember thinking, can someone get this damn bra off me! Luckily my doula was on it and managed to get it off ASAP.) I snuggled my son for a minute and then I exclaimed, “THAT WAS AWESOME!!!” which made everyone laugh. (I guess it’s not a typical thing they hear women shout out.) I was absolutely WIRED! SO much adrenaline pumping through my body. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing and talking. I kept saying how great I felt and how I couldn’t wait to do it again with my next baby. (Ha ha.) We sat there for a couple minutes and Barrett was SO ALERT and SO CALM. He was just STARING so intently at everything. It felt like he was looking directly at my soul. Then the doctor clamped the cord so Kyle could cut it. (It splattered all over him – gross.) Then my placenta came out (piece of cake) and then it was all over.

Everyone left the room except Kyle, my doula, and my nurse, who was busying herself with disposing of my placenta. (Which, p.s., I asked to see before she tossed it out… and it was SO COOL looking. All big and thick and juicy. Like a huge steak! Much more substantial that I thought it would have been.) We hung out, took pictures, I breastfed, and we relived all the moments of the day until about 9pm when Kyle finally decided he should go re-park the car in a legal spot. When he got back, my doula decided to take off. (Probably the shortest day’s work she’s ever had! Totally my fault.) Then it was just me and Kyle and Barrett for another hour or so. :) Then the nurse came back and asked if we were ready to have Barrett weighed and if it was ok to give him the vitamin K shot and the eye stuff. Kyle brought him over to the scale, and then Barrett got his shot and the eye goop. They asked if we wanted to circumcise him and we decided, sort of spur of the moment, not to. Then Kyle went with him to the nursery where he got measured and checked out and given a general thumbs up while I ate some thai food that we had had delivered to the room. (Hospital room food delivery is the BEST freakin idea ever! Every restaurant should do this. Kyle gave the delivery guy a huge tip.)

Before I knew it it was 11:30pm and I had been moved to my recovery room and my perfect little son was all swaddled up in a clear Tupperware looking thing next to me and my hubby was there telling me how awesome I was. :) It was such an incredible day and I was still feeling so euphoric and alive from the delivery that I didn’t sleep a wink. I just stared at my perfect son all night long watching him sleep and listening to him breathe.


Love him

Baby Barrett 001