…The Labor & Delivery Story!

(Skip if you don’t like information overshare, because why not share all of it??)

before

Before

Let’s just preface this by saying that it was never my intention to go “all natural” with my delivery.  I grew up with two anesthesiologists whose life work I have the utmost respect for, and I also know my personal pain threshold and wanted to respect what was going to make me happiest during the process.  I did want to experience labor to as far a point as I could stand, and then have the comfort of knowing that relief was an epidural away.  Mission accomplished.

Another note:  My OB, whose conservative approach to making sure my pregnancy went smoothly had served me VERY well up to that point, wanted an induction scheduled before too many days went by post-due-date because of the velamentous insertion of my umbilical cord to the placenta.  So, she scheduled an induction for Monday, August 17, five days after Junior’s due date.

And so it begins:

Despite many requests put to friends & family for happy thoughts for a drug-free start to labor, a couple of rounds of acupuncture induction and days of increased-but-not-regular contractions, Mr. Social, my belly & I checked into CPMC’s California Campus at 10:00 PM on Sunday, August 16.  We were taken upstairs and given this SWEET labor room (twice the size of the one we had seen on the tour).  Our nurse, Page, settled us in and the attending OB came and stuck a tiny misoprostol pill up-on-in-me to begin softening my apparently bullet-proof cervix.  Because of the velamentous insertion, my Doc wanted me on a monitor through the whole labor & delivery, so I was strapped to that as well.  Mr. Social & I settled in to watch our Netflix DVD of Battlestar Galatica, which happened to be the darker-than-usual, also longer-than-usual Battlestar Galactica: Razor.  This proved a bit much, and about 20 minutes into it we shut off the lights and settled in for the night, assuming that the misoprostol would do its thing and the Pitocin would be started in the morning.

About 20 minutes later, I felt a sudden gush, and oops, broken water!  We called Page, who confirmed that’s what it was and assured us that this was normal.  She left, and about 5 minutes later the contractions started.  And started good…  (It was about midnight by this time.)  I got out of bed and rocked, and breathed, and leaked, and oops, was that a huge blood clot that just landed on the floor?  Page!!  She called the attending OB, who saw by Junior’s heart rate that all was OK.  So, I rocked, breathed, clutched Mr. Social in the “Slow Dance” manoeuvre, and bled.  At that point, Page had gotten someone else to cover her other ladies, and she stayed with us, replacing pads & towels under me on the floor, and getting me a telemetry monitor so that I could move around.  She saw that Mr. Social & I had a groove going, so she left us be and checked in periodically but stayed in the room, bless her.  I sat on the toilet, I sat in the rocking chair, I tried leaning over the bed, I stood and rocked, I sat and rolled on the birthing ball.  I hee-hawed, I moaned, Mr. Social made sure I didn’t get all crazy-eyed and panicky by making me “look to him in his eyeball” (and only cracked up once at my askew eyebrows…).

Let me tell you about these contractions.  Were they typical of early labor: sporadic and tolerable?  No, they were not.  Were they typical of active labor: longer, stronger & closer together, lasting around 1 minute with about 5 minutes in-between?  No, they were not.  They were more like I would imagine transition phase contractions to be – less than one minute in-between and about 1.5 minutes long.  In fact, the monitor print-out showed something that looked like Twin Peaks here in San Francisco – a rise to start the contraction, a peak, a drop of about halfway, then another rise to another peak.  The drop down to the bottom would barely touch and then start to rise again.  I guess the benefit of experiencing this sort of contraction at the beginning of labor is that you’re not exhausted!

After about 3 and a half hours of this, I decided that it was time for some epidural action.  I asked Page to let the anesthesiologist know, and she came back to tell me that he had a few ladies in front of me (busy night!) and would be about 45 minutes.  As my mom always says, you can endure most anything as long as you know there’s an end in sight, so at 4:20 AM the needle went in and I was able to relax enough to get some sleep.  I think that some nurses came in periodically to check the status of my dilation, but it’s all a blur…  I also seem to recall that around 7AM my OB had the anesthesiologist give my epidural a boost to help relax my pelvic floor due to some slow progress.  All I remember is at about 9:00 I was at 9 cm. and the nurse who had taken over from Page, Ann, said that I would probably start pushing at around 10:00.  We called my parents and they made their way to the hospital, arriving just as I was all stirruped-up.  (Side note – I had asked my dad to be photo-documentarian throughout their visit, including the labor & delivery.  I decided to drop any boundaries/skeevishness I may have had concerning my dad taking pictures of the, um, delivery region… and I am SO glad that I did.  Although the photos may not be for public consumption, they are very special and I am so glad that I have them.  Thanks, dad!)

during2

During…

I am now going to say something that I’m sure few of you have heard before:  The pushing was so excellent.  Mr. Social had one leg, my mom had the other, and Ann was busy doing her thing in the middle.  Mr. Social was looking at the monitor and would tell me when a contraction was about to start, I would push for 3 rounds of 10 seconds each, and then I got to relax.  Mom & husband & nurse chatted between contractions while I rested, and it was all so great and chill.  I feel so lucky to have been well-rested and pain-free, so that I could concentrate on the task at hand and not be crazy exhausted weird eyebrow lady.  After almost 2 hours of pushing, Ann called my OB and reported that things were a little stuck; the doc ordered another boost to the epidural to relax my muscles some more and that seemed to do the trick.  Junior was also turned sideways (instead of the ideal face-down, his face was turned to one side) and we tried pushing with me lying on my left side to see if we could turn him, to no avail.  My OB came in and decided that she would try getting him out with the vacuum thingie.  And that’s all she wrote!  He came right on out after about a minute of her working on him.

And here’s the magic.  I found that I was so focused on the task at hand, had been so focused for days/weeks leading up to the event on not being pregnant anymore, that I had lost focus of the result (ie, the baby!).  All of a sudden, my OB said to me in a very stern/urgent voice, “Saskia!  Reach down and pull this baby to you!”  And I found myself holding this solid, real, healthy, amazing baby boy.  He was slippery and bloody, and he was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  I lost pretty much everything else in the room.  I had to pull my eyes away from him and make sure that his father was sharing in this incredible moment.  The rest is all scooping and stitching and the staff staring in awe at my placenta and its funky cord attachment (apparently it was the longest stretch of unprotected blood vessel that my OB had ever seen… yay me!) and all I could think of was the incredible thing we had just been through, my new family and I.

after

After!

Acknowledgements:

Mr. Social kept saying what a great job I had done, and every time I would say “but I had so much help!”.  This holds true for my entire pregnancy, up to & including the labor & delivery.

The AMAZING Caylie See at Acupuncture Kitchen helped us to conceive by helping me pinpoint my ovulation, and then supported me throughout the pregnancy with bi-weekly acupuncture sessions.

I truly believe that fate led me to Dr. Laurie Green (after it pushed me away from my OB/GYN of 8 years…).  She is businesslike and caring at the same time, and as it turns out totally respected (and maybe even feared?) at CPMC.  As I mentioned, her conservative approach (no traveling, weekly non-stress tests for the last 7 weeks, lots of monitoring, the scheduled induction…) served us all so well, and I am so grateful for what she helped us to bring into the world.

My parents.  Being an only child, they could have been nagging me for years to give them a grandchild, but that’s not their style.  When we told them that there was one on the way, they were nothing but supportive in every way.  It was so great to know that I had caring parents plus medical professionals (in one tidy package!) on my side, to chat with during the ups & downs of pregnancy, and also to know that they would be there for me when the time came.  It helped to know that my father specialized in monitoring during his career, and my mother at one point specialized in neonatal anesthesiology.  What more could a girl ask for??

Pretty much everyone else I came in contact with – everyone was so supportive and happy, even when I felt I was doing nothing but bitching about minor aches & pains.  Thank you all.

Lil Social started his life surrounded by love and support, and I know he will continue to be.

With all my love & gratitude!

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