It has taken me a long time but I have finally completed part 2 of my journey to motherhood, Hazel's birth story. You can see part one of my journey here.
|Baby and I at 38 weeks|
Prepare yourselves... This is wordy and probably too detailed... Im a chronic oversharer...
Since I am a Doula, I always tell my clients; you need to have plans A, B and C. Plan A is your most desired plan, your dream birth. Plan B is your back-up plan, what happens if you have complications, what interventions you are comfortable with etc, and Plan C is the "C-section plan". I think its important that every woman know that a cesarean is a possibility no matter how slight, in every birth.
So, I should have been prepared for the unexpected, as often things don't go the way you would like during birth, and I thought I had surrendered my desires for a "perfect" birth, at least as good as it gets here where we have no midwives and few options for labouring women, but that's another story...
Things started getting cray at about 36 weeks pregnant. I didn't think things were 'quite right', I started to get the sneaking suspicion that baby was in the breech position... and when I say sneaking suspicion I mean I was 100% positive since I was getting some very lovely kicks to the bladder every few minutes... When I brought this up to my doctor he sent me for an ultrasound which confirmed at 37 weeks that the baby was indeed full breech.
I wallowed in disbelief and self pity for a few days. I couldn't believe that my body couldn't just work the way it was supposed to to get my baby in the right position. Having a breech baby this late in the game only happens in about 4% of pregnancies. Why me? Why me, who lives and breathes all things birth, why me who has stood beside many mothers labouring with no problems to bring their babies into the world, why couldn't I just have the birth I wanted?!!
|Upside down me... trying to turn that baby!|
After the wallowing, I launched into full attack mode. I couldn't give up, no matter how bleak the chances. I stood on my head for hours on end, even tried acupuncture. In the end I opted to have an External Cephalic Version, or ECV, done. It was a HUGE long shot, I was 38 weeks along at this point, had very low fluid and it was my first baby, all things riding against me. But, it worked! More about my ECV experience is here, in the post I wrote shortly after it was performed. I was black and blue for days, and I still have some stretch marks which I believe are perfectly proportioned to my Doctors hand, haha! BUT So so worth it!
After that whole debacle I ended up being a week overdue, but Hazel stayed head down! Praise the Lord! I enjoyed the wonders of "false labour" for 3 days prior to crying from the bathtub "we need to go to the hospital". On the way there I had so many conflicting emotions. Wondering which nurses would be on, which Doctor would be on call. Would they laugh at me, the Doula, arriving at the hospital only 3 cm dilated... would they send us home?
When we actually arrived I informed Bob that we "would not be needing the bag" and to leave it in the car "because they are going to send us home immediately"... truth be told I was scared. I knew something wasn't right, and it hadn't been right for the last 3 days.
My fears were confirmed when they hooked me up to the fetal heart monitor and discovered that Hazel's heart rate was dropping low... very very low after each contraction and taking much too long to get back up. They told us we would be having the baby as soon as possible.
I think after that point I never really "kicked into gear" I was so shocked that it was all happening, and the sound of Hazel's slowing heart beat was all but deafening. I don't think I ever truly got "in the zone" as I advise so many of my mama's. And I attribute this to much of my failure to progress.
They attached a scalp electrode onto Hazel's head which basically impeded any movement from me, and I truly could not focus on anything that I "knew" I should be doing to help myself progress and open up. I wished at that point that I had had a Doula. ((I was meant to have one but she ended up being sick!)) I know that I am biased, but a little plug here, you should have a Doula. Or at least have someone who is not so involved in your life, like a relative or husband is, because they are much more able to have some perspective when they see you in pain, and basically what we do is all to help you progress in labour. Its a good good thing.
I unceremoniously reached 9 cm, labouring through most of the morning, the heartbeat thundering in my ears, watching the monitor, reading the charts measuring my contractions... sometimes its bad to know too much... I was utterly exhausted. I remained at 9 cm for 4 hours. FOUR HOURS! I still can't believe they left me so long! At that point I was starting to realize that I needed to do something, I was begging for them to let me out of bed, to take the scalp monitor off, and let me walk!
But after all that time. The Doctor came in and said.... "either you have an epidural or you have a cesarean, right now, so decide". It was a no brainer for me. Though i had deeply desired to have a natural drug free labour and birth, I knew that the alternative was not where I wanted to go. Bless you mamas that have had to endure that heartache. So in went the epidural... and I will not lie to you, it was pretty dreamy! I progressed right along to 10 cm and bless them they did not top up my epidural, so by the time pushing came around I could actually lift my legs and feel what was happening down there, which was a really big thing to me!
When Hazel arrived into the world we were in awe. We didn't realize that she hadn't cried. I kept begging for them to give her to me. I wanted to keep the cord intact and have immediate skin to skin. But instead she was whisked to the other side of the room immediately, Peds was called and I waited, agonizing minutes to see my girl. When they gave her to me I was only able to hold her for a minute before she was taken again to the NICU.
After I spent the first hour of recovery without my baby I was wheeled out of the labour ward and taken to see my baby who was in an incubator with tubes and wires and monitor beeping and buzzing. I had no idea what was going on, all the while my unhelpful father in law was grilling me about when I was going to start breastfeeding her!
We learned that Hazel had "bi-lateral pneumothorax" which basically means that she had air or gas trapped outside of her chest cavity. Its not incredibly serious but she would need constant monitoring and oxygen for several days. It also made breastfeeding quite a challenge as she could not suck well, since breathing was difficult.
Everything was such a whirlwind. When I finally held my precious daughter I didn't even think of doing skin to skin, I was so out of it.
|Holding Hazel for the 2nd time|
Nothing about my experience with birth turned out to be as I expected. I spent the first 6 days of Hazel's life walking back and forth to the nursery every 3 hours to try to nurse her (there were a lot of ups and down, which you can read about in my breast feeding post). I wont deny that there were some definitely pros about Hazel being in the nursery. I would never say that if she had a more serious condition of course, but since we knew she was going to be just fine after a few days of oxygen it was certainly a bonus that they immediately put her on a 3 hour 'schedule' with nursing, which I had planned to do after a few weeks anyway, Im fairly convinced that is why she learned to sleep through the night so early. The nurses also constantly ordered me to sleep, which was good for me, but somehow I felt like I was failing as a mom because I wasn't with my daughter 24/7 for her first week of life.
For a while I agonized over the things I wished I could change about our whole birth experience, and Hazel's difficult first week. I thought about everything I could have done differently and everything that I could have changed. But after much prayer and petition to the Lord I have resigned myself to the fact that this was how Hazel came into the world. It cannot be changed. It is part of my life and part of our past. Recently I have become thankful for the many things that did go "right" in our experience.
Im thankful that Hazel was able to be turned
Im thankful that I did not have to have a cesarean
Im thankful that we were in a hospital where Hazel's lung condition was recognized and immediately treated
Im thankful I have a healthy child
It is so important to find healing from your birth experience, when things don't go according to plan. It's important to talk about it with trusted friends, with your husband with anyone that you feel you want to share with. I was thankful to have a close friend who is a labour and delivery nurse who I was able to debrief about my experience and talk about the things that could have and could not have been changed. Now that I am pregnant again, I have found it is important to also release myself from that experience as well. It will always be there in my past but I don't want to live in fear of it during this pregnancy. Writing it all out like this is a chance for me to let it all go. To release myself from it and trust that my next birth will be different.
Below is a video Bob took of Hazel and I on the first day she was without her oxygen and was able to come to my room.
My apologies for this being such a long post but I have decided to post is 'as is' without too much editing, I don't want to edit it down just because I think its too long. I promised myself that I would get this posted so here it is! If you are interested in more birth stories though you should definitely check out my friend Andrea's blog today, she has a "Birth Diaries" series happening and it is wonderful!