28 July 2007

Hey! I'm not pregnant anymore!!

Please enjoy this 'guest post' - a summary of our natural birth experience written by my dear, wonderfully supportive, didn't-miss-a-minute-of-the-action husband...

Oh!! If you're a first time expectant mom, or gross out easily, you may not want to read this...you've been warned..


Sunday, July 22nd 2007:
My wife and I didn’t have any plans, so we decided to sleep in and lazily hang out around the house. In my normal fashion, I crankily laid in bed while she got up and shuffled around the house. Around 10AM she came into the bedroom and had a short conversation with me. It went something like this:

Her: ”It’s time to get up.”
Me: ”Go away, I’m sleeping…”
H: ”Come on, you really need to get up now.”
M: ”Leave me alone, I’ll get up when I’m ready.”
H: ”Well, I either pee’d myself, or my water just broke.”
M: ”I’m awake! I’m awake! I’m awake!”

Indeed, her water broke sometime around 10:00 AM. Soon afterwards, moderate contractions started to appear. Knowing that pre-labor can sometimes take days, she took a long hot shower while I cooked up some pancakes and sausage. After finishing breakfast, we noticed that her contractions were about 4 – 5 minutes apart and lasting at least 60 seconds. This is when I called the midwife and informed her of our situation. She told me to finish up breakfast, pack up the car, and then head over to the birthing center.

On the car ride to the birthing center (read: not hospital), her contractions were starting to get noticeably more intense. We arrived at 2:30PM where the midwife immediately got us comfortable and laid us down on the bed in the birthing room. By 3PM, the labor contractions were in full swing. It took us a few hours to find a good “routine” that helped us deal with the labor pains, especially in the new environment.

After laboring in pain on the bed for ~6 hours, we “thought” we were getting close to transformation (the pushing stage) since her dilation was at 9.5 cm (10 cm is fully dilated.) This is when we decided to give the hot tub a try. The tub was amazing. It took sooo much pressure away from my wife and her back. Unfortunately, it also slowed down the contractions. When she first got into the tub, contractions were about 3 – 4 minutes apart. After one hour in the tub, they had spaced out to 10 – 15 minutes. Another two hours in the tub, they were 20 – 30 minutes apart. The contractions were still VERY intense, but they weren’t as frequent anymore.

(Transitioning into) Monday, July 23rd 2007:
She tried to push during some of the contractions while in the tub, but they were no longer close enough. The midwife suggested that we use this temporary lapse in frequent contractions to “recharge” ourselves. My wife was actually able to get a few naps between some of the contractions.

Somewhere around midnight, we made the decision to go back onto the bed. Almost immediately, the contractions came back at a frequency of every 3 minutes or so. We did this for 3 hours, until I put my wife BACK into the tub. Sure enough, just as before, the tub had TOO GOOD of a relaxing effect and her contractions initially spaced out to 20 – 30 minutes. However, 4 hours in the tub later, the frequency finally picked itself back up to 4 – 5 minutes.

She tried a few pushes in the tub again, but the midwife suggested she get out and try to use the “birthing stool” aka: the metal frame of torturous death. She tried to push for an hour while sitting on the MFofTD, but little to no progress while being made. Since we had both been awake for almost 24 hours at this point, the mid wife suggested we use the next few hours to try and sleep. This would hopefully “recharge” us enough to start the pushing process with more effect.

Sure, this might have sounded like a good idea, but the only thing comparable to sleeping with contractions ever 3 – 4 minutes is being NEXT to someone who is trying to sleep with contractions every 3 – 4 minutes. Needless to say, neither one of us got any sleep. The next 8… long… painful hours were spent coping with these contractions. She was told to try pushing whenever she felt the peak of a contraction, but according to wifey, everything felt like one long continuous contraction. Shitty.

At 4PM, the midwife decided “it was time” and she was going to get this baby, even if she had to reach in there and pull her out by her ears. During the pushing phase, I noticed three main “stages” of positions that the baby was in:

Stage I: the baby’s head passes the pubic bone and is just barely visible
Stage II: the baby’s head crowns and the entire head is exposed
Stage III: the remainder of the baby (shoulders, torso, legs, etc…) is pushed out

Stage “I” was by far, the biggest hurdle for my wife to clear. It took her from 4PM until 6:30’ish to clear the pubic bone. There was some serious pushing that she had to do. On her right hand, there are some rather impressive bruises from squeezing the posts on the headboard ever so tightly. Once the babies head had cleared the pubic bone, the midwives (there were two of them working with us by this point) were excited to show me the progress. I’m glad my wife couldn’t see this because my first reaction was: “That’s it? All that fucking pushing and that’s only as far as this thing has come out?” Of course, I didn’t say this to her. My ‘softened’ statement was: “Wow, you are SOOO close! Just a few more pushes and we’re home free!” …which was 100% bullshit.

Stage “II” came shortly after Stage ”I” but she R-E-A-L-L-Y had to work for it. This is when her facial expressions transformed from that sweet and innocent wife of mine to something akin to “God of Hell Fire.” It still took almost an hour for the head to crown / clear, but this was a lot less (time wise) than it took to originally clear the pubic bone.

The crowning of the head is a pretty phucked up thing to watch. I supposedly saw this once before while I watched my brother being born back in 1992… but I didn’t remember what the actual crowning looked like. Knowing what I know now, I intentionally erased that image from mind some 15 years ago (i.e. It’s not pleasant.) Anyway, the crowning is when the head has passed the “half-way” point and the rest of the head suddenly slides out. I use the word “half-way” loosely because the crowning point is not necessarily at the widest part of the head. Ya see, a babies head is very soft since the skull is still in a few smaller pieces. This causes the babies head to compress, a lot, so it can fit out of the birth canal (the vajay-jay).

Once the baby passed the crowning point, the head expanded to THREE TIMES its previous size! It almost looked like a balloon that immediately was filled with helium. I couldn’t believe something that huge came out of a hole that small. Another thing that freaked me out a little was the color. Since the baby wasn’t breathing on her own yet (normal) her entire head was purple. I thought to myself: ”Great, my wife just gave birth to a smurf.”

Once the head was fully exposed, it was time to push the rest of the baby out (Stage III). After clearing Stage II, my wife was almost completely out of energy. I remember her asking the midwife: ”Will the rest of the body be that difficult to push out as well?” The midwife just smiled and told her to keep pushing. ONE PUSH later, the rest of the baby just slid right out. Narrow girl shoulders FTW!

My immediate reaction was: ”OMG, what is that multi-colored slime covered thing?” Then about a millisecond later, I realized it was my own flesh and blood. Another millisecond later, I busted out in tears as I welcomed my little girl to her new world. As Jay once said best of Silent Bob: ”Lunch-Box here was sobbing like a bitch with a skinned knee.” It was 7:20 PM on Monday July 23rd of 2007.

At this point in most birth stories, people finish up with ”and they lived happily ever after.” However, such was not the case with us. The real excitement was just about to begin. With the baby happily lying on my wife’s chest, it was time for the afterbirth. After one more final push, the placenta slid out like a greasy 20oz prime cut rib-eye steak. No big deal, everything looked great. At this point in the evening, the midwives told my wife, ”Everything is great, you just need to stop bleeding now… OK, stop bleeding… anytime now… stop the bleeding… you’re not stopping… really, you need to stop bleeding… this isn’t good, you need to stop right now…”

Obviously my wife couldn’t do anything about the bleeding and the midwives were just trying to subconsciously persuade her to stop bleeding. I’m glad I only saw the upper half of the action because that was a bloody enough show for me. The next few things that happened were kind of a blur, but I do remember my wife handing me the baby and hearing the midwife say “…get ready to dial 9-1-1!”

One of the midwives tried to locate the cause of the bleeding by reaching completely inside my wife and pulling out CLUMPS of blood clots. That was a sight I could have gone my entire life without ever seeing. The blood was still POURING out of her though, and there was obviously a larger clot that was still inside her. The bleeding needed to be stopped or else she was going to be transferred to the Emergency Room at the closest hospital (~5 minutes away).

A little know “natural” method of slowing blood loss is to ingest oxytocin. A good source of oxytocin is the placenta… and hey, whatever was good for the baby should be good enough for mama, right? So, in a final natural attempt to save my wife’s life, one of the midwife’s cut off a piece of the placenta, gave it to my wife and said: “Chew on this… chew on this as your life depends on it!” Being the ultimate trooper she is, my wife chewed on her own baby's placenta… for three seconds at which point she gagged and spit the piece right back out. It took everything I had to hold down lunch.

Finally, just seconds before the assistant was going to dial 9-1-1, the midwife pulled out a H-U-G-E blood clot approximately the size of a softball. Shortly after the blood clot was removed from the uterus, the blood faucet slowly started to stop bleeding but not after my wife lost over a QUART of blood in the process. Yes, a QUART. Not a pint, but a QUART. Four Cups!!! Everybody was a mess. It looked like the set of a B-rate horror movie from the 1970’s.

My wife and I took a few hours to regroup before we left for home. Since she had lost a large amount of blood, my wife wasn’t able to walk on her own power. The midwives offered us the room for the night (again) but we were REALLY tired of being at the birth center. We wanted to go home. I grabbed one of the rolling office chairs from behind the work desk and wheeled her out to the car while the doula grabbed the baby in her car carrier.

After a short stop at McDonalds to get Mamma a celebratory chocolate shake, we were home. It was 11:58 PM on Monday July 23rd 2007. Even after all the delays, confusion, and scares, we are still glad that we were able to have the birth “our” way: 100% natural.

We were now home. The entire family, all three of us.

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