Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Labor Story with Van: Getting There (Part 1 of 2)

I'd like to begin my labor and delivery story with a disclaimer: events are described from my limited perspective and may not be consistent with reality in terms of the nitty-gritty details. As labor progressed, I increasingly drew more inward to collect myself and became less aware of what was really going on around me.

Following is my rendition of the story of Van's birth and my labor leading up to it. This time I got the experience that I wanted--no pitocin, which enabled me to forgo the epidural as well. I had an amazing support system present, including our moms, my sister, my close friend Sara, and of course BJ. I also got the amazing blessing of having Melissa as my labor and delivery nurse for the third time. Melissa has been with me as I have labored with all three of my children, and wouldn't you know that she was on the schedule for December 17th. I knew it too, because she and I had messaged on Facebook the night before and she told me to go into labor because she was working the next day. =)

On the evening of Monday, December 16, I wasn't tired. We got the boys to bed, BJ went to bed, and I showered and found myself really not wanting to get into bed. Instead I opened to page 1 of J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, a book I gave up on after that night because it just wasn't good, and read until about page 50 before deciding to turn in. At 12:55AM I laid down, and at 1:00AM on the dot Silas came into the bedroom crying from leg aches. I got out of bed, set him up on a pallet on the floor beside me, rubbed his feet for him, and gave him ibuprofen. Ten minutes later he was fast asleep and I was lying in bed again. At 1:13AM I felt my first contraction. I knew it was a real one and not a Braxton-Hicks, but I had already felt several real ones over the previous several days and not had any consistency with them. Nine minutes later I felt another, and then I drifted off to sleep.

At 2:03AM my eyes flew open with the pain of another contraction. I knew in the moment that I opened my eyes that this was it--Van was going to come in the next 24 hours. I waited in anticipation, and sure enough felt another stronger contraction nine minutes later. After a few of these, the time between decreased to seven minutes, then five minutes. In the meantime, I was way too excited to sleep so I browsed the internet on my phone. My friend Melissa Goss-Jentz is a very good writer and has created a hilarious and insightful blog that I enjoy reading. Previously she had given birth to her son Jannik in her very own bathroom and had recounted the tale in three separate posts that I will re-post here (Contraction, Transition, and Expulsion). For the pure sake of solidarity and encouragement, I read all three posts again and felt invigorated by this friend of mine who had given birth naturally. Foregoing the epidural has long been a dream of mine. At first the primary motivation was to keep meds from entering the baby's system and live the process of laboring and birthing as it was meant to be naturally; however, my labor experiences with Silas and George both required the use of pitocin, which is infamous for intensifying the labor experience and causing unnaturally long contractions. Having had the pitocin twice, I also had an epidural twice because I couldn't handle the pain of labor contractions hyped-up on pitocin. What I learned from epidurals is that, for me, they relieve the immediate pain of the contractions and birth itself, but I pay for it in the six weeks following. Both times I experienced intense feelings of pressure and pain at the site of the injection for approximately six weeks. Both times I feared the pain would never go away, and it truly was at a scale that impacted my ability to lift, jog, and just plain move around. It really helped me to read Melissa's story of Jannik's birth because it made a natural birth seem attainable to me. Throughout the labor process I periodically thought of Melissa and remembered that if she could do it, I could do it too. I kept telling myself that if I could just make it through the relatively few hours of painful labor, I would be home-free without epidural pain for the next six weeks. Even at that, though, I entered the hospital uncommitted, telling my nurse Melissa upon arrival that I was not closed to the idea of an epidural and would just "see how it goes."

I got out of bed at 3AM after briefly informing BJ that I was in labor. I told him to go back to sleep, that the pain wasn't bad and I was going to labor by myself for awhile from our house. Anyone that knows BJ knows that going back to sleep was not a problem for him. This was fine because I knew I would need him later and he may as well be rested. And so I got up and piddled around and did what any normal girl in labor does: finished packing, painted my nails, ate some fruit, took a few showers, Facebook messaged Melissa and told her I would be in that day and to save a spot on her patient load for me, and began getting a little giddy. I was going to meet my boy TODAY! Hooray! I texted my mom at 5:30 because I knew she would be awakening soon, and she called me right away. We talked for about ten minutes and then I got on the phone with my best friend Sommer, who was on her commute to work on the East Coast. Contractions at that point were four minutes apart and intensifying; although I could fairly easily focus on conversation still at that point during a contraction, it was becoming difficult to talk through them so as I felt them coming on I would tell Sommer to update me on something in HER life. At 6:15AM I thought it wise to go ahead and get BJ up. I knew we shouldn't wait too long to get to the hospital because I was Group B Strep positive, which would require administration of antibiotics before Van was born, and I didn't want to wait too long. I also didn't want my water to break at home. I had that experience with Silas and we had a mess to clean up afterward!

BJ got up, got our stuff loaded into the van, and we woke up our boys. The plan was to all drive to the hospital where BJ's parents would meet us. Terry would take the boys back to their house with him and Susan would stay with BJ and me in the hospital room. We left for the hospital at 7:20AM and arrived just before 8:00. My mom also arrived at the hospital at the same time as us. I immediately saw Melissa's smiling face as my mom and I walked on to the unit. I filled out some brief paperwork, was shown into my room, dressed into my fashionable backless gown, and got in the bed and waited to be told what to do next. I was totally under control at that point, laughing and joking with my family, and I expected a long road ahead that day. After all, I kept thinking, I'm only in the very early stages of labor; things will get a lot crazier than this. And they did...
Read part 2 here.

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