Friday, April 01, 2011

A Birth Story

How did it get to be April Fool's Day?  Thankfully, I'm so out of it I haven't noticed it and so far have missed all the great pranks that people keep talking about.  

Since I have a few minutes while my child sleeps on my belly (slowly deflating, but still quite "bowl full of jello-licious" - that whole "you won't be able to get back into your pre-pregnancy clothes right away" is BULLSHIT, they should write "you'll be wearing your maternity clothes for WEEKS afterwards, lard butt, so don't even pretend you'll be wearing even 'comfy' clothes on the way home from the hospital, you'll be wearing whatever you wore IN"), I'm going to write up the birth story.  Apologies in advance for any dangling modifiers or odd word usage and/or order - I have a baby on my lap so I can't see the keyboard and my boobs are slowly becoming engorged... and that shit hurts, okay?

Friday, March 11th, 9:15 pm.  Week 38 + 6 days.  My water broke, right after we sat down for dinner.  That was a bit of a surprise.  I expected contractions FIRST.  But there were no contractions, other than the Braxton-Hicks that are completely normal, but not very helpful.  The midwife suggested that we try to get some sleep and talk again in the morning.  It was a pretty long night.  I kept waking up with more water gushing out and one or two big contractions that made me think that things were underway… but morning came and the Spawn was still snug in my belly.

We’ve called everyone on my side of the family - or at least tried, since my poor mother kept not being near a phone when something happened.  We called the DBs mom, who decided to come down and help out.

Looking back on this, the DB and I decided that next time, we are SO not calling anyone until things are much further along.  This is because...

Saturday, March 12th, week 39 - nothing happened.  We went to the midwife who suggested we go to the big hospital in Svendborg.  My dreams of a natural birth were slipping away.  I had to start active labor before the last ferry boat left or I was going to go to the hospital to get induced.  

So we waited all Saturday for contractions and they started at 7:30 or so in the evening and we figured she was on her way so we didn’t go to Svendborg, instead we went to the local hospital.  Ooooh, those were some good contractions.  They gave me some morphine to take the edge off the pain and it was so good I fell asleep and the contractions stopped.  Boy was the DB not impressed.

***Note: at this point in telling the story, many listeners have gotten very upset about the morphine.  While morphine has been known to slow down labor, it is still listed as a drug that can be used in labor, provided that the midwife or doctor doesn't think that birth will occur in the next 3 or 4 hours.  Maybe the midwife gave me to strong of a dose or maybe the labor was not nearly as active as we thought.  Maybe the morphine had something to do with aborting the labor or maybe it had nothing to do with it. Either way, morphine is still AWESOME and I highly recommend it... for pain.  But maybe not labor.  But for pain, oh heck yes!***

So the next morning, March 13th, week 39 + 1 day, we caught the ferry to Svendborg.  We got a ride in the ambulance, which was quite comfortable.  Once we arrived, things progressed pretty quickly.  Because the water had broken so long ago, I needed to have penicillin, so I was hooked up to a bag right away.  About half an hour later they asked if I had any allergies to medication... like, you know, penicillin.  We all had a good laugh about that one.

***Note: if you have an allergy to any medication, mention it up front when you go to a Danish doctor or hospital or maybe just have it tattooed on your arm, because in a slightly stressful situation, like where you go in to have a baby 48 hours after your water is broken on the same weekend that half of Denmark decides to have babies and every midwife is called in and there aren't enough assistants SHIT GETS CRAZY.***

Then they also needed to monitor the baby, so I had a big fat belly-band for her heart rate and one for the contractions.  Which weren’t happening.  I had visions of an upcoming C-section.  I really really wanted to get this baby out (SORRY MEN) vaginally.  But before they hooked me up to the “drip” - the drug that would induce contractions, the midwife asked if I’d like an enema.  

Now I'd read about the chances of me pooping during labor and it put me off.  Alas, I was already pregnant and you can't "tag back" pregnancy, so I was totally down for an enema anyway AND THEN I read a blog post just a few days before where women who had just given birth were discussing how awful that first poop was after labor and I thought, "if I can put that off as long as possible, I'll gladly shoot salt-water up my butt!"  Why, yes, kind midwife lady, I *will* take that enema!  Make mine a double!

That kick-started contractions.

Seriously.  I had a heck of a time getting off the toilet.  Mercy.

Over the next two hours I went from 1 to 3 centimeters dilated and it hurt so bad that I could only cry BETWEEN contractions.  I was trying to roll with the pain, but my god, that was just awful.  I moaned like Tarzan and sobbed like a baby.  I could barely breathe, so when the midwife looked at me, face full of concern, and asked if I wanted something stronger than the laughing gas (which was SO NOT WORKING) I said, YES!!

So I opted for the epidural.  I hadn’t wanted to do an epidural, I’d wanted to be all natural and glorious, but MY GOD THE PAIN!  They kept me on a low dose, so I could still get on my feet (this is because the baby was “sunny side up” instead of “over easy” and they wanted me on my hands and knees to encourage her to flip - but she didn’t, my stubborn girl) but it took the edge off.  I was able to stand on my own, I could feel my legs and my belly wasn't numb, so it wasn't that crazy.  Also, despite all the wires and tubes now running down into me, I was surprisingly mobile.  Even if it required two people to help me roll over by holding all the wires and tubes out of my way.

They also put me on the “drip” because this child needed to be OUT, I was still gushing water, so there was a desire to move things along before it got REALLY COMPLICATED.  Two hours later and I was at 7 centimeters and just a little while after that I got to 10 and entered Transition.

The midwife really wanted the Spawn to roll over, but she wasn't listening and the second time I was on my hands and knees I was screaming into the pillow with every fiber of my being and that was IT.  I rolled back over and between gasps told the midwife I was NOT going to do THAT AGAIN.  They could go on and cut the baby out of me, but I was NOT going to get in that position again.

Around about this time I have a hard time remembering what happened next.  I’m afraid the reason why was the pain.  It was terrifically awful.  The DB was a champ, he pitched in and helped in a way that I don’t think either of us really intended.  I had wanted him to hold my hand and say encouraging things while labor continued.  I really did not want him down there at the business end of things.  Something like that could be a bit traumatic and *I* didn't want to watch it happening, so why force him to watch it?

Oh well, I'm sure he's blocked it from his mind.  At least the really gruesome bits.

Anyway, as the pain progressed, DB held my right leg (you may hear me complain about this leg later in life, I think he wrenched it… it’s certainly not been the same since) and ran about getting me drinks of apple juice and water, and drying me off with a towel.  I think he grew two extra sets of arms to do all of this at once.  But it means he had a front row seat in the birth of our child.  

During the final stages, the midwife, the assistant midwife, and a doctor were all in the room with us.  As the DB pointed out later, it was a bit worrisome that a doctor was there.  The doc said "well, I don't really have anything better to do" but now that we know how many other women were giving birth that day, it suggests that there was some worry that I'd have to be rushed off for surgery.  

So there we were.  The assistant held my left leg, DB held my right, the midwife encouraged me, and the doctor was on stand-by.  And I pushed and pushed and screamed and screamed and then pushed some more.

I’m proud to say that I pushed her head out all on my own.  Then the doctor had to reach in and pull her the rest of the way out.  I think her shoulders had gotten stuck.  And although they say there is no such thing as a dry birth, because even if the water breaks in advance, the mother’s body continues to create amniotic fluid, I cry BULLSHIT!  It felt like she was covered in sandpaper.  The DB said the Spawn was pretty dry upon removal.  I barely remember a thing.  I think I glanced down once when they said the head was out, because I didn't believe it and I was determined to finish pushing out this child.  I saw her just after she was pulled out, before they hurried her over to the warming table to check her out.  The DB followed her, just as I'd asked him to do, but probably because he was so worried, and not because of any request of mine.  Despite being warned that babies are blue and often limp directly after birth, he did have a bit of a panic.  But then she grabbed on to his finger and let out a terrific yell.  And the DB cried.  I was mostly relieved.  I’d finally gotten her out, she was fine and the pain was finally OVER! 

She nursed almost immediately.  And pooped.  I had to get stitches because I did have some considerable tearing of my perineum.  I even tore my sphincter muscle slightly.  And why yes, that first poop after labor SUCKS, even with (SORRY EVERYONE) stool softeners.  

If we do this again, I'm opting for NOT having my water break two days in advance and for a doctor with smaller hands.  Sweet Jesus.

But as I look down at her, not quite three weeks old, sleeping on my chest, it was worth it.  She is just perfect.


  1. AWESOME story!!!
    So glad things ended up as they on the couch and her on your belly! :-)
    And I agree about the epi.. when you are in pain, all those lovely thoughts about natural birth go FLYING OUT THE WINDOW!

  2. Anonymous4:11 PM

    Yay for morphine.

    Did the docs/midwives have any explanation for why things took so long or was it "just one of those things"?

    I love birth stories! (Pls have another baby so I can read another one)

  3. Well done you... Re. the natural birth thing, let's just say I remember first time around writing a beautifully handwritten birth-plan and handing it to the midwife. It went out the window after around 3 hours, and I had drugs all the way through the remainder! Second time around the midwife looked at my notes and said, "second baby? No birth plan then!", she was right!... Emma

  4. Heather5:07 PM

    Oh lordie, the flashbacks lol And I had to go through it without any pain medication help, including through the vacuuming the boy out as he got stuck *sigh*

    But yes, afterwards it is rather nice having that little person there :)

  5. I say drugs all the way. I know a woman who did poop on the delivery table as she was giving birth. As my sister says, you lose all modesty when giving birth.


  6. I love your writing, even when it involves drugs'n'poop (a scary combo if ever there was one)

    Congratulations and again, beautiful name you picked for her!

    Hugs, Tine

  7. Anonymous9:40 PM

    Sounds like a very harrowing birth, with all the knobs on and buttons twizzled and the intensity notched up to maximum! In an ideal world malpractice suits would be easier to stage so things could improve more, but at the end of the day...

    .... you are a strong lassie and that means it didn't phase you one bit, and by the sound of it, you are a tiger mom who would walk across broken glass for the extra mile to be with your daughter!

    Our children: We don't care how they get here, we just have to be with them!

    Enjoy every minute darling, it's the happiest time in the world. Congrats again xxxxx 'babs' xxxxx

  8. Oh, my love...I read this through the tears and sniffles. I am so happy for you, that she is finally here and you are recovering and she is healthy. I cannot imagine the amount of pain you were in, love and you are so strong and amazing to have made it through something so exhausting.

    Thanks for blogging all the gory details. I needed to know and it was killing me trying to be patient, because, totally just gave birth and are a sleep deprived mom, but not knowing all that was really making me nuts. Having your best friend be a half a world away when she's having a baby totally sucks!

    Much love to you and Spawn and the DB. I've mentioned that the DB rocks and is totally my hero for being such an awesome husband, right?

  9. congratulations for your beautiful baby girl!!

  10. Congratulations to you both!

  11. Anonymous1:18 PM

    oh man, i am 35 weeks and till now on i blocked all the birth pain related thoughts from my mind but now you got me!
    congrats to you both! well done

  12. Congratulations! Good on ya for not sugar coating anything. Hope you get plenty of time to recover with your Spawn and DB.


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