Monday, April 06, 2009


I wrote these notes a day or so after we got home from the hospital as a family of 3. I have added to it over the past few days. It was been unbelievable to recall all the details of the day Sacha was born. As I kept writing I remembered more and more. So this is a little long. But I'm glad I finally have it up here.

The tale of labour is long (both in story terms and in terms of time), but I feel that I have to get some details down whole they are still fresh in my mind...

- On Friday I went for my NST and fluid check as planned. Everything was the same as on Tuesday, but my doctor still thought it would be best to deliver sooner rather than later.

- My doctor was in the hospital on Friday and after meeting with her (unscheduled, and right away), she took us by the hand to the birthing centre. We were standing at the nurses’ station in L&D. My doctor told me the following story: A woman at my stage of pregnancy was in the very same situation the previous Friday afternoon. She decided not to be induced that day, but to wait for another NST on Sunday in order to make her decision. When the woman came in on Sunday (and I quote) “her baby was dead”. This was obviously very upsetting to me, and it did the trick. To this day I feel like I was emotionally blackmailed into being induced on the hospital’s schedule.

-We decided to start the induction process with a catheter. It was inserted, and we were sent home until it fell out.

- At home I rested (and did some work), and 3.5 hours later it fell out (meaning I was at 3cm dilation). I called the hospital and was told to return. We got there at 6pm. I called my doula (Rivka) and she told me she would arrive at 11pm, unless she heard otherwise from me (it would be hard to contact her as Shabbat had started and the only means of communication would be me calling and leaving a message that she could hear on her answering machine as I left it.)

- After I was checked (and confirmed at 3cm), I realized I was having fairly regular, but mild contractions on my own. I asked the resident if perhaps I could just see what happens, and she agreed. A whole kerfuffle erupted because I was booked for an induction. One of the nurses (I'm not sure if she was the head nurse or not), came barging in telling me basically that my doctor and I had already put them out because we were requesting an induction heading into the weekend. I will, at some point, write an entire post about this, but this morning I just don't have it in me. (Obviously I didn’t ever write an entire post about this!) I was told I would have to sign all types of forms and legal crap if I now chose not to do as I has discussed with my physician. Needless to say, I chose to start the Pitocin. Man, that was horrible. Again, not another highlight in the story of the birth of my wonderful baby! I shudder at it now… the nurses yelling, be crying, my husband trying to calm me down. The confusion, the emotion, the fear: my baby might die if I don’t do as they say! Oy vey.

- The Pitocin was administered, and elevated appropriately, and my contractions were getting stronger, but bearable. I didn't want to lay down as I knew that perhaps I would be on my back for a long period of time later on. I was happy when my doula and her student arrived at 11, the entire experience changed. I recounted what happened earlier, and she helped me set my mind to continue most positively from here on in.

- Sometime around midnight another check revealed that I was at 4.5cm. A little progress, but not much...

- Encouraged, I laboured on (while The C caught some z's). My doula provided all the support I possibly could have dreamed of and more. There are not enough amazing words for me to say about her and her practices. She helped me through 14 hours of Pitocin-induced, pain-med-free overnight labour before I started crying about the pain.

- I now know that I was experiencing some very severe back labour. My back was raw from all the rubbing. I remember labouring mostly on the birthing ball, which was amazing. I was able to squat and ride out the contractions with my head down, a position that seemed to work for me. My labour through the night was very quiet and calm. The lights were low, there were few interruptions from medical staff, and my music choices were playing in the background keeping my mind busy between contractions. This is still surprising to me today as I am definitely the calm, quiet type. I always pictured my labour to be loud with lots of swearing.

- At 8am, when I was still 5cm dilated I made the choice to call for an epidural. I didn't freak out about this choice. With the help of my doula and The C I felt I was making the best choice for me, the baby and a safe, vaginal delivery.

- At 9am the anaesthetist showed up.
(Up until here is all I ever jotted down about my birth story. The rest of it has been in my head for an entire year. I will attempt to get it out.)

- The anaesthetist was a card. It turns out that we grew up a few streets from each other and were both surprised that we had never met before. He was truly amazing. He kept me occupied talking about my tattoo and the various tattoos that he sees while doing his job. I was scared as shit to be getting the epidural, but I have to give this guy kudos for making it as enjoyable as possible.

- The epidural took well, thank goodness. The best part of this was that I got pain relief but I never entirely lost all feeling in my legs. (Though I certainly couldn’t have gotten up for a walk.) Two things surprised me: how uncomfortable the catheter was and how disgusting it felt when they broke my water. Ew is all I can think of now… sitting in the warm puddle of fluid.

- My doula thought it best that I take this time to rest. She too went home for some sleep, but told me shoe would be back the second I needed her (she lives about a 5 minute walk from the hospital.) Finally I at around 11 I was able to drift off to sleep. Though my sleep was fitful at best, at 2:30pm or so I woke up feeling seriously refreshed. (I laugh now: little did I know that this would be my last good chunk of sleep for weeks and months to come!)

- I don’t remember much about the what happened for the next 2 hours. I know the resident (who I did NOT take a liking too, he was very rough) came to check me and I wasn’t dilated much more… maybe 6cm. It was almost 24 hours and it seemed like nothing was happening.

- The dreaded words went through my head: 'c-section'. When I asked the nurse, she conceded that given what was going one this was a possibility at this point. Not only was nothing happening, it certainly wasn’t going the way that I had hoped. I had wanted a medication-free, monitor-free, tube-free birth. I pretty much knew I could kiss that goodbye when I chose the induction (er, was scared into the induction), but now I was becoming a classic induction case that was going to end in the operating room.

- Still, though, with each contraction I continued my visualization of my cervix opening.

- At around 4pm my doula returned. Have I mentioned that I love her? Have I? We caught up on what was going on, and she assured me that we weren’t at the point of a c-section yet. She would continue to labour with me as long as I needed, and not allow any crazy hospital timing get in my way of a vaginal birth.

- About a half an hour later I started to feel something different. All of a sudden it seemed like something was happening. When I described it to my doula she told me that it seemed like I was getting ready to push. I don’t remember if the doctor came in or if we called her, but I was checked and it was confirmed that in this short time I had dilated completely.

- At the time, I honestly thought it was a miracle. I remember Rivka turning to me and saying 'Well you are going to have tour Shabbat baby after all.'

- The next two hours happened very fast and in slow motion at the same time. There was another woman pushing at this time, and every time she pushed she made these horrible loud moans and screams that echoed terribly down the hallway. It was most awful to listen to knowing that I was going to be pushing in just a few minutes. Also, it seemed to me that she was pushing forever. We found out that this woman was delivering a breech baby vaginally. (Oy vey!) This worked in my favour as it meant that all the nurses, the doctor and the residents were in her room to help or to witness this once in their lifetime opportunity.

- My room was quiet and peaceful, and I was ready to push my baby into the world.

- Again, I surprised myself. I thought I would be a loud, screaming, swearing pusher. Not to sound all froo froo on you, but it was like an aura of serenity passed over me. Each time it came to push I just did what I had to do. Granted there was plenty of grunting going on, but it was calm grunting!

- After the first few pushes (lasting about half an hour), I realized this was going to take a while. My labour was took it’s sweet time, and so it seemed it was going to be with the pushing. I really felt like I needed to know how long the pushing was going to take. Of course no one could tell me! But my husband was on one side and my doula on the other, and I felt like I had all the support in the world. One push at a time, Rivka told me.

- Between each contraction I tried to recoup my energy. I was hot and itchy beyond belief. I can still picture myself lying on the bed sweaty and naked and scratching, scratching, scratching at my chest. About an hour into pushing we heard the breech baby in the other room being born. (If there was one thing that I would recommend to the hospital- aside from better bedside manner from the nurse who I had to deal with when I came in- it would be thicker, more sound-proof walls. There is nothing as unnerving as hearing another woman labouring knowing that that will be you in the next hour or so!)

- At last, after an hour and a bit of pushing, the baby’s head was starting to crown. I swear I have never seen my husband so excited. He kept going down to the foot of the bed to have a look! There were mirrors on the ceiling in my room so that I could see what was going on, but I was too scared to look. There are times that I wish that I had, but I know that I could have, I would have at the time. If there is another baby, I certainly will think about looking at this miraculous moment!

- And so, at an hour and a half of pushing, my baby was ready to be born. As everyone and his uncle was still attending to the breech baby, there had been no one in my room for over an hour, and no one there to catch the baby! (A doula isn’t legally allowed to catch a baby.) Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to be able to have my calm surroundings without doctors and nurses rushing in and out and shoving their hands hither and nither. But, it was time for a doctor now…

- Rivka instructed my husband to press the button to call the nurse. (Quite calmly, I recall, though now I know that she was literally getting into position to catch this baby. He took his time in coming, but was ready in an instant! I do remember her taking out some rubber gloves.) Which button did my husband push? The code blue button. Boy did that get people into our room fast. Of course within a second everyone realized there was no code, but they did realize there was a baby about to be born! There wasn’t even time to get the bed prepped and just a second to put the plastic stuff that they put out.

- Then, in one push, out came my son’s head. And one more push, the rest of his body.

- Exactly as I wanted, my baby was placed immediately on my chest. He was a little bloody, but surprisingly clean. He was crying a little high pitched cry, a little annoyed to be removed from his warm and cozy womb.

- His crying didn’t last long, though. He had better things to attend to. He had people to see, places to look at. He was so alert, lifting his head and peering around at everything with his huge eyes. This guy was certainly ready to meet the world.

- Surprisingly, I didn’t cry. I just kept looking at the baby in my arms and saying “Oh my god, oh my god”. I think I was in disbelief that I had actually gotten pregnant, carried my baby safely to term (and 11 days past!), and made it through labour. And there I was, holding my baby.

- My husband kept kissing me, and stroking the baby. He was in complete awe of the little creature.

- We tried putting the baby to the breast, and we had a little success. He was definitely rooting, looking around for his source of nourishment.

- All the while, I was instructed to push to deliver the placenta, and I was being stitched up in the two places that I tore on my labia (thank goodness there was no episiotomy, I kept thinking). One thing I remember vividly is how much the injection of local aesthetic that they had to use to numb we for the stitches hurt.

- The hour or so after the birth was such a flurry of activity. When the cord stopped pulsing, my husband cut it. The baby was weighed, cleaned up, and checked out. He was pronounced perfect. All the while I was being cleaned and I somehow got into a hospital gown.

- The baby was put back in my arms, and my parents and grandmother came in to see us. I look back at those pictures now I think I look amazingly good for someone who just went through 26 hours of labour.

- A few minutes later I was rolled into the post-partum ward. It was about 9 o’clock at night. If I thought I had had sleepless night before the baby was born…

- The rest, as they say, is history.