First, let me apologize for the lack of pictures to break this up, but since we hired a birth photographer (who was AMAZING – check it out here), we didn’t take any pictures and I haven’t gotten Chantel’s back yet.
I’ve been contemplating Kara’s birth story. My hang-up has not been with the details; it is the “where do I begin?” Do I begin the story with the days and days of braxton hicks contractions that were always 4 to 10 minutes apart, but never actually doing anything? Or I start on Earth Day, when all signs of imminent labor completely disappeared? Or do I start the next morning, when I awoke to signs of cervical change? Or wait, should I start when contractions started? Then again…I could go on and on here. The beginning of this story is the hard part.
Well, yes, I awoke Friday morning the 23rd to signs of cervical change, but no contractions. This morning was followed by 3 to 4 days of various labor signs that never culminated into anything, but left me worried that my uterus was getting over-worked even before labor started. I went for a couple of walks, did squatting, and awaited a contraction, come on, give me one. Around lunchtime, I did get a few contractions and more signs of cervical change, then it got confusing again. Wait, was that a contraction? Hm, not sure, maybe. Did it go all the way around? Maybe. Maybe not.
Around 3pm, I called Justin, who was on the range, and told him that I thought it would be a good idea if he came home, we got things loaded up and headed South to the hotel. In retrospect, I’m glad we did it that way because by the time we actually got to the hotel, it was 5 hours after that initial phone call. I was exhausted, stressed and praying that real labor would continue to hold off until I could get some rest. My phone was blowing up because I had announced that we were heading South and I was having contractions. How far apart? Are you still having them? Any idea when you’re going to the hospital? I announced to my best friend that I thought I might have stalled labor by 2 days! Everyone was excited and ready to get this moving and by this time, I just wanted bed and to stop feeling like I was the center of attention and everyone was waiting on me. Oh boy, did I make that even worse!
The kids stayed in a room next door with my mom and Justin and I crashed at between 9 and 10pm. I started waking up at about 1am with contractions. I would think, “I need to time that.” Then I’d fall back asleep. I woke up a little before 3am with regular contractions 3 minutes apart. I monitored them for about 20 minutes before I woke Justin up and told him that he should call his dad because it would take them more than an hour to get there and if I was having them every 3 minutes laying in my bed completely asleep, what would happen when I got up? I also called my birth photographer because I knew it would take her a while to get child care lined up and things in order.
We got up, showered, went to get breakfast and by 6am, they were still every 2-3 minutes and though they weren’t intense, I was having to stop walking and talking. We woke the kids up and realized pretty soon there after that the contractions were tapering off. Justin and I went for a walk and they continued to taper off, as we were walking, to about every 8 minutes and lacking in intensity. Justin’s dad, stepmom and little sister came to the hotel and by then, I wasn’t really even having contractions. I would have one here and there and could walk and talk through them. Talk about drawing attention to yourself…for nothing at all. The strangest thing though was that when I’d lay down, they’d get closer together and more intense.
His dad and family decided to head back home and we went garage sale-ing. By 11:30am, the contractions were back and they weren’t lacking in intensity. We picked up lunch and headed back to the hotel. By this time, it was around 1pm. Mom and the kids went swimming, while Justin and I took a very short rest, trying to determine if this was really the real thing this time! About 15-20 minutes later, we decided to head to the hospital.
I knew I was getting there early, but I hadn’t registered yet and I didn’t want to be stuck in the birth admission room in active labor like last time. Contractions were 3 minutes apart or less and they were lasting a long time, but I knew that I wasn’t dilated to 5 yet. For me, 5 is transition and everyone needs to be in place because I’m delivering very soon. I know this about myself.
I don’t want to sound arrogant or prideful, but I’m extremely aware of my body and know well how my body births babies.
We got to the admission room at 2pm. We came in, they put the monitor on me to monitor contractions and I went 20 minutes without one sitting on the bed. As soon as I got up, they were back-to-back and intense. I was dilated to 3-4, 80% effaced and –2 station. Dilation, I expected that. Effaced, ok. The station was a surprise to me! While the nurse was monitoring me, I asked for some water and she told me that I could have ice chips but that if I was in active labor, they wouldn’t let me have anything. I laughed and said, “oh yes they will!” When she returned, she brought ice with water and said she snuck me some. ha! This nurse was very hot and cold. She was fine one minute and being weird another. She just knew I was going to be a problem.
The nurse went to call my doctor, who does not allow others to attend his births and who is 100% on board with my birth plan. She returned to tell me that my doctor was out of town and Dr. Kendil would be attending. Who is Dr. Kendil? Is she natural birth minded? The nurse didn’t know. I fretted for a minute, then let it go. This doctor said that she wanted me monitored for another hour before she made a decision about giving me a room. I didn’t see a problem with this as I knew I wasn’t in active labor yet and really, I wasn’t going to let myself get there until they gave me a room, but I’d do my best to show them signs of progress, so that they would give me a room.
She came back at about 3pm, saw that I was contracting more (only when standing, I might add) and called the doctor. She came back into the entry-way of the room with the phone to her ear and asked if I was planning to have an epidural. I told her no that I would not be having any interventions whatsoever. She relayed that to the doctor and told me that the doctor required a saline IV. I told her no. She handed me the phone. The doctor told me how she required that I have one in the same way that a seat belt is necessary because if I hemorrhage after birth, my veins will collapse and they won’t be able to get it in. I very nicely, very calmly explained to her that this was my 4th natural birth. I’ve had 100% complication-free pregnancies and births and am certain that my body can birth this baby naturally without interventions as well. She began to get a bit hostile and told me that she didn’t know who would attend my birth then. I told her that was fine, she could find someone else, or someone at the hospital could catch, I was ok with that, but I would not be getting an IV. I explained that Dr. Jensen was ok with that and she let me know that she was not Dr. Jensen. I stuck my ground without ever being rude or mean and she told me that I would have to sign a non-consent form and I agreed to do that.
At 4pm, I got a room! Turns out the hot and cold nurse was my nurse for the birth. I’m not so sure she was happy about that. She asked for my birth plan. I assured her that it wasn’t crazy; it basically said to just leave me alone. I joked and tried to make her more comfortable and told her that it was going to be easy and she didn’t need to worry. We went over a few things in the birth plan and she said that she was fine with all of that as long as I would allow her to monitor the baby every 30 minutes. I told her that was perfectly fine and she seemed to relax after that.
Sometimes those of us that are natural birthers come in so dead-set on our own ways that we alienate the doctors and nurses. That is not my intention. I know they feel better if they can monitor the baby. My midwife monitored the baby. As long as it isn’t tying me down to the bed and isn’t constant, I have no problem with that!
The nurses had paperwork for me and questions to ask and all of that. I sat in the bed, laughing, joking, answering questions and texting my sister. Finally, the questions seemed to die down and I asked if she was done. At 4:15, I told the nurse that I was going to get in the bath and when I got out, we were going to have a baby. Remember, I’m currently dilated to 3-4, 80% effaced and –2 station.
I went to the bath for about 45 minutes. I love the bath when I’m in labor! Not only does it make the contractions feel better, but it passes time without me having to do much and it gives me time to focus my mind in. I sat with Justin and talked about how I needed that time to get up the courage and determination to finish it. I really just wanted to sit in that bath and let it take all the time in the world and not face the hard part. I knew that I had to though and stepping out of that bath was the moment it all started. As long as I stalled in the bath, I wasn’t facing what was to come. I also determined while I was in there that that was my time. I knew my photographer was sitting out there and our families were waiting. That was my moment to let them all wait while I mustered all the courage I could find. Justin talked me through all of it and finally, I stood, dried off and put my robe on. My trusty robe.
As I left the bathroom, the nurse came in. She checked my dilation and I could have told her that I was at a 4-5. Transition was NEAR! She left and returned to tell me that she’d called the doctor and the doctor was on the way, so that she wouldn’t miss the birth. This was big to me! Never had they listened to me so well! I told them transition was at 5 and they listened!
I chatted for a minute then took to lowering the bed and getting on my knees. Things were heating up and I crossed over into active labor at around 5pm. The doctor was there within 10 minutes. She walked in during a contraction and saw me breathing, though not audibly, as I’m very quiet in birth. She came over and rubbed my back (ewwww) and said, “Oh poor girl” as if I were experiencing something that she found totally unnecessary. She continued to talk, loudly, about the soft hymns playing and yada yada yada. She pulled my chart and started asking about if the baby had flipped because it was footling breach. WHAT? I never heard that from anyone, if it were true, I certainly didn’t know it! The nurse told her that she felt fontanel. Of course, the doctor did not believe her. I was contracting and not able to talk much.
I will tell you that in the previous 3 births pushing came so quickly that no one ever had a chance to check to see if I was dilated to 10. The latest I’ve ever been checked was at a 7. The doctor said, “can I check to see where you are?” I was there and I knew it. She checked and sure thing, I was at a 10! I’ve always wondered if I pushed through a 9 or not quite there or whatever, so that was uncomfortable but kind of cool!
I’m not quite sure what she expected to happen from there, but she went back to her chair and I went back to the foot of the bed and at the end of the next contraction, I couldn’t not bear down and began to vocalize. Justin came in close as he knew what was happening, the photographer later said she knew I was pushing, but the doctor and the nurse apparently hadn’t a clue! As the contraction ended, I said something like, “It’s time.” I paid no attention to what the others were doing and when the next contraction hit, I pushed, felt the bag pop slightly, heard the doctor say “there’s the bag”, then heard the photographer say, “BABY’S HEAD”. Ha – all of which i knew. The doctor, with one boot cover on and no gloves dove half way across the room to catch my daughter as she slid easily into this world at 5:27pm, roughly about 15-20 minutes after the doctor’s arrival.
She was covered with thick vernix on her back and head and it took several attempts at clearing her throat to remove the mucous, which I’m certain actually took several days to clear. She nursed like a champ right away though!
Kara Lilliann weighed 7lbs 4.8ozs and measured 18 1/2 inches – my smallest baby!
Overall, I was impressed with the staff. They did not agree with my way of birthing, but they respected and honored my every wish. I handed out 1 birth plan and, by word of mouth, every person I encountered throughout our entire stay honored it. And, my nurse openly admitted that it was a very easy birth and expressed that shw wished all non-medicated moms birthed like that.
I requested limited postpartum visits and only necessary ones. Every 4 hours, my nurse would come in to handle everything she needed and the other necessary visitors followed directly behind her.
Twenty-four hours after her arrival, we left the hospital and drove a sleeping baby 1 1/2 hours home to join our family!
Yes, this beautiful child has a lasting and beautiful mark on her forehead! They say it will disappear as she gets older, only to return as she gets angry or upset. I’m certain that she will love the fact that she’ll never be able to hide her emotions!
I am one blessed mama!