Clarissa’s Birth Story

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For Clarissa’s first birthday, I decided to read what I wrote about her birth. I thought posting it might help pregnant moms know what to expect. Hopefully her story encourages someone.

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“You don’t get to choose your miracle.” Christine Caine

That seems to be what God has been teaching me this year. There have been several things I have prayed for that haven’t turned out the way I wanted them to. But God has been so faithful. I think that losing my job this year and being unemployed was really a good thing for us and for my faith in particular. I have seen God provide in ways that I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

I kept praying that God would give Tim a new job and we would move to Korea so we could pay off debt. But that hasn’t happened yet. Instead, we haven’t broken even all year and have needed help to pay the mortgage. But if I had been working, we would have just kept plugging along. Possibly getting into more debt, because I would have wanted all of the new and cute baby things. Instead, I had to keep praying and trust God. And, we have everything that we need for Clarissa and haven’t paid a dime for any of it. We have had help with a couple of mortgage payments, friends have given me free baby furniture, and I had a huge baby shower. All of those things wouldn’t have happened if I was working. And in the meantime, our marriage has never been stronger. I have a great relationship with my parents. And my network of people around me is changing.

Through Wave Women, I was fed spiritually in the spring. A friend even paid for me to go to the women’s conference where I heard Christine Caine for the first time and really started believing for miracles. And like I said, there have been plenty of miracles. They just aren’t ones I would have chosen for myself. But I’m not God and so I don’t get to choose. I am grateful for that.

In February, we read Supernatural Childbirth and believed it. Tim really believed for a pain free, complication free labor. I was ready at that point to move to Korea, even if it meant that I didn’t know anyone and we were on our own for this baby. I wanted to believe for a pain free labor with no complications too.

My contractions started on Saturday night. I don’t know what time exactly because it took me a while to figure out I was in labor. I kept feeling a lot of pressure and some pain, but it was mostly in my back so I didn’t think anything of it. Then, when I tried to go to bed, I realized that the pain was coming in regular intervals, so I googled it and discovered that I was in fact, in labor. I kept track of my contractions on and off Saturday night.

Tim went to church with his parents, which is another miracle. First of all, that he is enjoying a church. He likes the pastor and the music. And that he would go without me. I stayed home and took a warm bath and relaxed. I figured I shouldn’t go to church while I was in labor. But my contractions were all over the place. They weren’t awful. It was kind of like, I did normal stuff until a contraction hit and then it hurt for about a minute and I was done. I did laundry and dishes and all the normal stuff. We even walked Josie. But towards the evening, they started to get worse. Never progressed to five minutes apart though. I thought we were getting close, but after the second bath, they went back to ten minutes apart. So I tried getting some sleep.

Sunday night, I slept about four hours. But woke up and took a bath around 4:15 AM. After that, my contractions started getting more regular and intense. I sent Tim to work and then tried taking a nap. It didn’t really work because the contractions were so bad. I woke up for the appointment with mom and noticed that my underwear kept being wet but wasn’t sure if it was my water breaking or urine. I never saw a gush.

So we went to my regularly scheduled appointment and brought all of our hospital gear with us just in case. When they were doing my weight and stuff at the doctor’s office they asked how I was and I said, “I think I’m in labor.” The nurse looked at me like I was crazy at first and when I told her my contractions were six minutes apart and I might be leaking fluid she was mad and asked why I wasn’t at the hospital! So the midwife didn’t even see me. They just sent me to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, they didn’t know we were coming. And they looked at me like I was crazy. They told me to put a gown on and then they checked me in. My nurse did a swab to see that my water had in fact broken. It was about an hour before the doctor came to see me. I was about 2 cm dilated. They gave me an IV for fluids and my antibiotic (I had strep B). Then, they started talking about Pitocin because you have to deliver within 24 hours of your water breaking. I didn’t really want to do Pitocin, so they gave me an hour to see how far I would progress. But I didn’t so, then they started the Pitocin drip.

Then, I started to call people. I told Tim to work until 2, so that he would have enough time to be off until after Labor Day. But his boss sent him home about noon (and eventually gave him off all day Tuesday and a half day Wednesday plus his time off. He had to go in Wednesday to pick up baby gifts!).

The contractions weren’t awful at first. They were still in my back, but I could deal with them. But after the Pitocin, there wasn’t really a break. My back and thighs would hurt really bad for the contraction and then be dully aching when I wasn’t having a contraction. By the time Tim arrived between 2-3pm, I told him I thought I would probably need an epidural. He took one look at me and said, “Okay.” I was expecting him to fight me on it, but he didn’t.

By 4pm I was in so much pain that I considered calling my sister and mother in law and telling them not to come. My sister arrived about 4:30 and I was in a lot of pain. I was about 4 cm and I asked about an epidural. But the nurse said that if my contractions were all in my back, the epidural might not do anything because it only really helps front contractions (and I wasn’t having any). At that point, I was pretty discouraged and felt like a wimp. First of all, I felt like I should be able to handle the pain better. And then, I was frustrated that the epidural wouldn’t help. But at that point, I was so weak that my mom and Tim had to help me to the bathroom.

The nurse asked if I wanted to take Stadol. Mom hadn’t heard of it, but we knew I didn’t want Nubane. They don’t have that there anyway. So after a few minutes, we asked the nurse to leave so that we could discuss it. I had to ask her to leave multiple times. Tim googled it and we still weren’t that sure what we wanted to do. But eventually, we decided that I needed to do something or I might not make it to ten centimeters. So when she came back, we told her to do the Stadol.

It was like an out of body experience. Apparently it stays in your system for about an hour and a half and it is a narcotic. Almost immediately, I got really sleepy. So I think I slept for the first hour or so, but as it was wearing off, I kept going in and out. I remember seeing lots of cars and houses and then being aware that I had to pee and was in a lot of pain, trying to roll over, and then seeing my sister and being like, “why is she here? Where am I?” So I knew I was loopy. I kept feeling like I was going to fall out of bed. And then when a contraction hit and I closed my eyes, I thought I would fall asleep in addition to the falling. But I am grateful for the Stadol. I think that it helped me get a little sleep and it gave me some relief so that I could keep going.

After that wore off, I sat up and was in a lot of pain. So they asked again about the epidural. There were a lot of people in the room. The doctor and some nurses. They wanted a decision right then because the shift was about to change. I was so confused. Eventually, I told them that they needed to leave for a few minutes and let me think because I was still so loopy that I didn’t really know where I was. Thankfully, they left for a minute.

When they came back, I decided to get the epidural. But I was scared because I really didn’t have any control over my body during a contraction and I knew I was supposed to be really still while they put a needle in my back. They kicked everyone out of the room.

I told the anesthesiologist that he needed to wait until I had a contraction and then do it, because I could be still for about two minutes before it started up again. He told me I was just going to have to be still! They had me sit up and lean over a chair and my new nurse held me. I kept thinking I was going to fall out of bed. They probably thought I was crazy. But, the epidural worked! I started to feel numb! Which was great and kind of scary. My arms were getting weak at that point too and all I could really do is lay down. I couldn’t even help myself sit up. But then they checked me, and I was seven centimeters!

After that, I don’t remember everything that happened. I know that my family was kicked out and not allowed in for about an hour. I remember machines beeping and them putting oxygen over my face because Clarissa’s heart rate dropped. I couldn’t really see much because I was on my back with glasses and even then, the glasses were pushed up a bit due to the oxygen. At one point, everyone left the room. There was an emergency somewhere else I guess. And so I was laying there with my oxygen and my machines kept beeping.

Eventually, my mother in law came in wearing a mask. And then they told me I had to choose my five people (apparently they were supposed to ask me who they were when I got there, but didn’t. But it worked out, because it was different people than I thought would be there). I told them that either my father in law or my brother in law could come in because Mom, my sister , Tim, and his mom were the other four. Tim’s mom said she had to leave because she was having an asthma attack. So she hugged me and left.

So my brother in law came up with Mom, sister, and Tim. Then, we waited and hung out for a bit. It was frustrating not being able to sit up. My brother in law and Tim helped me do that. And then I threw up. So then, I wanted to be on my side, and they helped me do that and I threw up again. I threw up a Popsicle and then twice ice chips. So then I decided not to eat or drink anything else. They did give me nausea medicine too.

About 10:00, my nurse checked me and I was ten centimeters, so then she had to call the doctor to come back. I was thinking she could be born at my sister’s time of 10:52 pm. But the doctor didn’t come until about 10:30. When she came in, my brother in law and Tim left to go to the lobby. I was really glad that he was there to keep Tim company. We started pushing and the doctor said it would be a while so she left. The nurse was in charge of the pushing and my sister and Mom held my legs.

I pushed for a good hour and a half to two hours before the doctor came back. Pushing was interesting. I was supposed to push every time I felt a contraction. But with the epidural, I didn’t really feel much so they had to tell me when to push. Pushing was hard. You take one deep breath in and then out for ten. But the way the nurse counted, it was more like 12! “1, 2, 3, harder, 4, 5, 6, 7, keep going, 8, 9, 10.” The nurse kept saying, “I can see her head, we’re getting close.” But after a while I stopped believing her because it seemed like she said that for an hour. I did eventually think I was feeling pressure for contractions, like I had to poop. But now I think it was just Clarissa’s head. When she was much closer to crowning, the nurse went to get the doctor. The doctor came back. Then, I was thinking she just had to come before midnight to be born on her due date. And then after midnight, I was thinking, well Tim was born about 12:30 AM, maybe she’ll be born at his time. Eventually, they said she was crowning. Of course I didn’t believe them so they put a mirror up so I could see her hair. As she was coming out, I could hear and see a big pop, so I knew that I tore. And then Clarissa came out! It was 12:47 AM. She had the cord wrapped around her neck, but she wasn’t incredibly purple. They put her on me and she cried a bit. Then, they took her and put her in the warmer and cleaned her up, etc. I was frustrated because they cut the cord immediately, though Mom did get to cut it. I had wanted it to pulse for a while. And then I had wanted to do skin to skin, but it was a good half an hour at least before I got to hold her at all.

She pooped her meconium and threw up too. She was 7 pounds and 2 ounces. My sister took a ton of pictures, which was great because I couldn’t see much from where I was. I couldn’t sit up and it was hard to see with glasses because peripheral vision isn’t good. Eventually, they brought her over to me but I was afraid that I would drop her. My sister got to hold her too. Poor Tim and my brother in law had been in the waiting room, not knowing what was happening for about three hours.

Once they finished stitching me up, they helped me sit up and Tim came in and got to hold her. It took like an hour to get to that point. And then everyone left and it was just the three of us. I got to breastfeed her and talk to her. It was a sweet time.

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Even though it was not at all the experience I was expecting, or what I wanted, I am thankful that it was a supernatural experience. Really, it is a miracle that I didn’t end up with a c-section. Once your water breaks, you have 24 hours to get the baby out, and she was born three hours before that twenty four hour mark. And as traumatic as labor and the pushing was, there really should have been some kind of complication for both Clarissa and I. But we are both perfectly healthy. After three hours in the birth canal, her head should at least be cone shaped, and it’s not. I also know for next time to try different positions if I am having back labor. Part of the problem is that she was occiput posterior. She was backwards. If I had done some all fours, she may have turned. But I didn’t know that. The other issue is that it was hard to get up and walk around with all of the IVs. That is another miracle. I had several IVs in my arm the entire time and it did not bother Tim at all!

Clarissa is a healthy, laid back, and happy baby. Most of the nurses weren’t very nice and didn’t answer questions. They didn’t ask about pain medicine or explain things when they took Clarissa to do tests. They had me concerned at one point that something was wrong and they would have to keep her longer than me. But she ended up being fine. Actually, at one point, one of the nurses said that we were the only normal postpartum room. All of the other rooms had either a mom or baby with a complication of some sort. And though I felt defeated that I had pain meds during labor, mom said that I had one of the worst labors that she has ever seen (she is a retired labor and delivery nurse). So I don’t feel as bad now.

After we got home, I was reading a post on the Busy Mom on facebook that was really encouraging. It talks about it being 2013 and having the technology for pain relief. No one asks if you’re having a natural headache, but they ask about a natural labor. That is pretty funny. God has given the technology for pain relief. Clarissa and I are fine. Though I might want to try for a natural birth next time, I won’t feel like a failure if I end up with an epidural. I think I would just ask for it sooner next time and not do the Stadol! And I know that I wasn’t thrilled with my nurses at Maryview and the doctor doesn’t really do much in the delivery part, but stitch you up. So it’s more about the nurses than anything else. Next time, maybe I’ll try DePaul!

Who should be in the delivery room?

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One of the things I really had not thought about before my hospital tour was who would be in the delivery room.

When we toured the hospital, they informed us that we could have five people in the delivery room and unlimited visitors in the recovery room. Your hospital may have a different policy. Check into the policy before you start making your birth plan and getting excited about something.

So I chose five people. Honestly, the five that I chose initially were not the five that ended up being in the delivery room.

I encourage you to really think about who would be good for you. Don’t invite some one out of obligation or just because you are allowed a certain number. Only invite people that calm you and encourage you because labor can be a hard and stressful process.

Talk to your husband about expectations. Is he planning to stay for the delivery? Can he handle blood? Would having your mom or your sister there stress him out? Would having his mom there stress you out?

My mother in law visited for about five minutes during labor. My husband and brother in law were in the room for part of the labor. They left when it was time to push and didn’t come back until I was all stitched up about three and a half hours later. While I would have liked my husband there, he doesn’t do blood so I was thankful that Joe was there to wait with Tim. My mom and sister were with me the whole time (and even held my legs for three hours!).

You don’t have to decide in one day. Take some time to think about it. Who will encourage you when you need it? Who would be willing to hold your leg for three hours while you push?

What to bring to the hospital

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There are so many lists online to tell you what to bring to the hospital. You won’t use most of the items on those lists. These are the things that I actually used at the hospital.

nursing bra

two comfortable shirts

two comfortable pants or shorts

warm socks (if winter)

snacks for your partner or anyone who will be with you at the hospital

a going home outfit for baby

toothbrush

toothpaste

comb or brush

ponytail

shampoo

something to do during and/or after labor (ipod, kindle, smartphone, etc)

 

You don’t really need to bring:

underwear (sounds weird I know. But they will give you this mesh underware and a pads for the bleeding. You don’t need to bring your own)

meals for yourself (I have a special diet so I brought a ton of stuff to store in the refrigerator/freezer on the floor. But each day, they gave me a menu and I just noted that I needed a gluten free version, and they fed me very well all three meals each day)

a ton of clothes or diapers for baby

a baby blanket (unless it is winter and you will need one to cover the car seat)

towels for showering

pillows (Unless you are really picky about your pillows, they provide you with a few at the hospital)