My First Baby Turns 16 Today!

We are celebrating my oldest child's 16th birthday today. I wrote this account of his birth many years ago, and had it on a web site that I loved. The site shut down without warning, and all of my birth stories were gone. (I had not saved copies of them) I was really sad about this, but just last week I found out about a way that I could possibly find the site archives, and my husband helped me reclaim the birth stories I had written. I am SO thrilled to have these back. Now I can enjoy sharing these with you all, too. :)

My husband and I were married in August 1991 and were thrilled to become pregnant 3 months later. So many people had told us how important it was to wait awhile before having a child, but that just never rang true for us. We believed that children would be a blessing, and we were up for having 'em!

I had been interested in natural childbirth, water birth, and home birth for years. But we were new to our area and knew nobody, had no idea how to go about finding a caregiver who was of the same mind as we were, etc. My job had medical insurance that would pay for 100% of my pregnancy costs, so off we went to the only option that our HMO offered.

It was a group of 4 OBs and a midwife. I had high hopes that the midwife would be available for the birth, but alas, they only allowed her to be a glorified nurse there. She could do a pap smear and take blood pressure, but no births! Oh well.

The pregnancy went along happily and we looked forward to our baby so much. I made out a birth plan that I discussed with each doctor as I rotated through seeing each one of them as the weeks went by. Each doctor that I talked to made an effort to seem like they cared about my wishes, but they always had some sort of little excuse for why what I wanted might not be possible, but of course we could see how it was going at the time and maybe I could have my wishes respected. (example: I do not want an IV. Doctor's response: Being a first baby, your labor will probably be very long and since you will not be allowed to eat, we need to make sure you get nutrients, and that is what the IV has in it. We'll see how things are going at the time, though.)

When I finally went into labor it was at night after a huge storm. It was 6 days after my due date. I had noticeable contractions every 45 min. throughout the night, so I got to sleep in between them. By morning they had gotten to 30 min. apart. When Dave woke up I told him the news and we decided to get some house chores done and get things ready for going to the hospital later that day.

We did regular things, hung out laundry, checked the bags for the hospital, talked on the phone, and so on. By early afternoon my contractions were 5 min. apart, so I dutifully called the hospital, as we had been told to do. The nurse told me that if I continued to have contractions like that or closer for 2 hours to come on in. It had already been 2 hours, but I decided to wait 2 more. After that we went to the hospital, with me making sure to eat dinner before we got there. I didn't want to be starving all night!

Once we got to the hospital we walked in and I was in such a happy mood. Today was the day I was going to meet my baby! I cheerfully walked up to the nurses station and announced "Hi! I'm in labor!" She looked at me as if to say, "Yeah, sure you are." We got into one of the birthing rooms, I changed into a gown, and they put me on a monitor to see what kind of contractions I was having. Funny thing was, once I got in there I wasn't having any! The nurse checked my cervix and it was at 4cm as it had been the previous day at my doctor appt. After awhile on the monitor she said to me that I was not in real labor and to go home. (and I was told they could "tell" that I wasn't really in labor because I was too cheerful!) She explained that in order for contractions to be "real" that my tummy would be rock hard all the way to the top. She told me that I was probably dehydrated, so to drink a lot of water and try to get some rest. This was very puzzling to us since things had been going to perfectly at home! I felt embarrassed to have gone in there when I was all wrong about being in labor, and we left in a hurry.

Interestingly, by the time we got into our car in the hospital parking lot, I was having HARD contractions that were coming every 3 minutes!!! What was going on here?! Before I got to the hospital the contractions were manageable. When I got in there I had no contractions. And when I leave they are much harder and closer together.

My husband asked me if I wanted to go back into the hospital. " NO WAY!" was my answer. Although the nurses had been sort of nice, I felt like a fool and there was no way I was going back in there to be told once again that I was not in labor. So, we started to drive home. Hard contractions every 3 minutes. Of course, having to sit in the car didn't help things feel any better, either!

The nurse had given me a little packet with sleeping pills in it. She told me it would help me relax and get some rest for the night, and that I'd need my rest since my baby would likely be born in a few days. I gave serious thought to just tossing that packet out the car window, but didn't. I don't know why. I guess I was afraid I might regret it or something.

We decided to stop at the craft store on our way home. Since I apparently was not in real labor, I decided to get some cross stitch threads that I needed to complete a project I had been working on. This really cracks me up to think about. Here I was, obvious to anyone in the store who saw me go through a contraction, definitely in labor, but so shaken of my own ability to tell what was going on with my body that I was buying cross stitch thread!

When we got home we found out from some friends that my mom had called (our friends had been at our house washing dishes and trying to spruce things up for our return). My mom, sister, and grandmother had been on their way to visit us and were due in the next day. But when they called and found out that I had gone into the hospital they bumped up their plans and now expected to be at our place that night. Somehow having company that night did not sound good to me, but there was nothing I could do about that by then.

On we went into night, now contractions coming very 2 minutes. My poor sweet husband was sitting next to me reading our dumb birth book, saying to me "According to this you *must* be in real labor!" But I did NOT want to go back to that hospital and be treated like I was stupid. Finally I decided to call the hospital around 11pm. When I said who I was the phone was immediately given to the nurse I had seen earlier that day. (she was just about to leave her shift) She did not even listen to me when I told her that I was having hard contractions that were lasting one minute long and coming every 2 minutes. No sirree. All she had to say was "You were only dilated to 4 when you were in here earlier. You are NOT in real labor. Did you take the sleeping pills I gave you?" I told her I had not and she stressed the importance of me taking these pills and that it would make these pesky fake contractions go away and give me some rest. I was so upset when I got off the phone. I was tired and bewildered. I didn't want to take the pills, but if they were going to get me some relief and some rest, then I guess I better just take them. So I did.

Then I was treated to an even crazier labor. Almost completely asleep in between contractions. And then one would sneak up on me and I would get a very rude awakening. I had no way to cope with these contractions in any effective way. It was terrible.

Then I was going from hot to cold. One minute I was freezing, the next minute I was burning up. I was laying on my couch in front of the air conditioner, mostly naked under a sheet. I'd go from bundling up in the sheet and shivering, to throwing the sheet off of me to get cool. (I know now that I was in transition, but I sure didn't know it then!)

Things got even more interesting as my mom, sister, and grandmother arrived. The neighbors across the street were out of town and had agreed to let our guests stay in their home while they visited us. Dave went out to help them with their bags, and they asked if they could come in for a few minutes to say hi to me. I agreed, and that was a mistake! In they came while I was drugged out on these stupid pills, going through transition, etc. Did I mention that my grandmother had been a labor and delivery nurse a hundred years before this? :) Well, she pushed on my stomach a bit during a contraction (gee, thanks!) and I heard her say to the rest of the people in the room "It'll be at least 20 more hours." Luckily, I did not have the strength to hit her! :) 20 more hours of THIS?! I was going to die!

Then I started wanting to push. I had read about how your cervix can get swollen if you push before you are fully dilated, and I sure didn't want that! So, I fought my body's urge to push for over an hour. Then I decided, "Who cares?" and I just let my body push when I felt the urge. Boy, that sure felt better than fighting myself! Suddenly I felt my water break with a big pop, and I jumped off the couch, so happy to "really" be in labor! I ran to the bathroom to change into some clean underwear and clothing so we could go to the hospital. My grandmother was actually following behind me saying that she needed to smell my underwear (!!!!!!!) to see if it was really my water that had broken! (another person who didn't think I could really be having a baby! Was everyone BLIND?!) I tossed her my underwear and I heard her declare "Urine!" (Yeah, right! I think I can tell the difference, Gram!) We got out of the house in a hurry. I was glad to be out of there.

Dave made the drive to the hospital in record time. I just let my body push when it wanted to. I didn't have the strength to fight it any more. We parked in the parking lot, got out our stuff, and walked in. I had contractions in the parking lot, the halls, the elevator, etc. I just pushed with all of them.

We got to the maternity floor where finally *someone* could see that I was indeed looking like I might be in labor. (not so cheerful any more) Even so, the nurse who was helping me was reminding me that I had "only" been to 4cm earlier so I might still have a long way to go.... (Were these people insane? That was 10 hours ago! As if nothing can change in 10 hours!!!) I got into the bed and the nurse started to check for dilation. This funny look came over her face. She says "Are you feeling like you want to push?" I said, "Yeah. Like, for the past 2 hours!!!" Of course, his little head was already coming down the birth canal!

Amazing! A woman who is not in real labor with a baby coming out of her! And her tummy wasn't even hard during contractions!

Well, the room flew into high gear. Nurses running everywhere, the doctor being called, etc. It was interesting how GREAT I felt at that point. I could push! I really was not crazy! I *was* having a baby! I was even cheerful again!!! :) They had me in a sort of semi sitting, leaning back position. They told me not to push until the doctor got there. (yeah, right) I did my best (big mistake) to wait for him to walk in. "Fortunately" he was right down the hall, so it didn't take long. I had to fight off a nurse who was trying to force an IV on me. I looked up at the doctor and reminded him that I was about to have a baby so did NOT need any "nutrients" at this point. He told the nurse I did not have to have the IV.

I pushed and pushed and every time I stopped his little head would slide back inside me. After a few minutes I realized that the doctor was getting ready to do something. I asked what and he said an episiotomy. I asked if that was really needed and reminded him that I had wanted to avoid one. He said, "Well, you can sit here and keep trying to push this baby out for awhile, or you can have your baby out in about 5 minutes if I do this." At that point with all of the exhaustion and sleeping pills and everything, I did a dumb thing and agreed to the episiotomy. I wanted to have my baby!

(Not a single person offered to help me change positions to get my son out without being cut. I was in no state of mind to think of it myself. It's amazing how one little decision can have such a long-term effect on someone.)

The doctor did the episiotomy, and then out came my precious son! He looked so huge and sturdy to me! I held him right away and felt totally elated! I was high! I felt so powerful! He had been born 20 minutes after we walked in the door.

My son, 8lb. 1oz. 21 inches. 3:38am.
(I just loooove this photo: the first picture of me holding my first baby!)

Thankfully, this hospital was much better than most I have heard of. Nobody was snatching my baby away from me. My husband and I held him and took pictures and just enjoyed him. After a half an hour or so a very kind nurse came and respectfully asked if it would be alright for her to weigh our son and so on. We agreed and Dave went along for that. I got finished up with being stitched, and was taken to my room.

Once I got there a nurse came to help me. I was kind of shocked that she was going to supervise me on going to the bathroom, and that felt like quite an invasion. I was also unprepared for all the bleeding I did, and that was humiliating to do in front of someone I didn't even know and who was not going out of her way to make me feel at ease. Eventually I got into bed with a nice ice pack soothing my sore bottom and the nurse prepared to leave with a casual, "need anything else?" I said that yes, I would really like some water. She kind of looked annoyed that I did actually have something I needed, and looked around as if there was going to be a drink already made up for me. She found a cup and then poured water out of the pitcher that was already in the room! I do not know whose water that had been, but it did not feel too nice to get room temperature water in a dixie cup! When I said I wanted a drink of water, I meant I wanted a BIG DRINK of COLD water! Gee....I just had a baby here! I've been *working* people!!! I'm thirsty! But, the tiny little cup of room temp water was what I got. I don't think I got any cold water until my husband showed up awhile later and got it for me.

We roomed in with our baby and I did not leave him in the stupid plastic box they left for him. The nurses kept bringing sugar water in a bottle for him, and I kept ignoring them. One nurse asked why I wasn't using the bottles and I said it was to avoid nipple confusion, as I had read about in my book about breastfeeding. She gruffly told me there was no such thing as nipple confusion. Ha! I wasn't buying that! I did not give him any of their bottles.

My baby was very sleepy for a few days. Gee, do you think that had anything to do with the sleeping pills I was told to take? Breastfeeding was almost impossible since he would fall asleep whenever I held him. I asked a nurse for help and she watched over my shoulder as I tried to get Micah to latch on. She said, "yeah. Just keep doing that and eventually he'll get it." Boy! That was helpful. (not) So I worked and worked at helping my sleepy son to latch on. When I finally did get him latched I knew it was not quite right, but I wasn't going to take him off the breast once I had finally gotten him there! Later I was scolded by a nurse for allowing him to nurse for more than 5 minutes per side, since I would surely get a big blister from that.

I could go on with a lot more details, but I'll just say that eventually we got home and our little boy did get nursing. I nursed him until he was 3 1/2 years old. He was a happy little soul mate!

After our experience with a hospital birth, we vowed we would not have another. I would never again have an episiotomy, or be treated as if I did not know what my body was doing. Somehow we were going to find a way to have a birth where we were safe and respected! (and that's just what we did the next time around.....tune in next April for the second birth story! ;) )

1 comment:

Ultrasound_Shirts said...

Congratulations on the anniversary of your baby's birth! Sorry it wasn't what you planned. But good for you for sticking to your guns about your wishes. Best of luck in April!!!