Monday, May 2, 2011

Jane's Birth Story

Five years ago I had the most beautiful baby in the world. I wrote her birth story a week after she was born so I wouldn't forget. I've never shared it to this point but given the business I'm in, I figured I may as well!


Written May 9th, 2006:

Jane was due on May 6th, 2006. Her birth story starts May 1st- a Monday night. After a long day of work at KSL, I spent the evening and night power washing the garage, driveway, Denali, and anything else that might have a spec of dust on it. Talk about nesting! I knew from the appt. with Dr. Chambers that we had that morning that I was 3 ¼ cm dilated and had a ‘bump’ or ‘ridge’ which I took as being 80% effaced. She said for us to call her on Wednesday if we’d like to be induced; that she was off the next day on Tuesday. She said I’d probably need about 2 hours of the pitocin to get me going. I didn't want to get induced at all unless there was a medical need for it. I just really wanted to go into labor on my own. I was planning and had prepared to go natural. I just decided to be patient and wait it out; and either go to work or make a long relaxing day at home getting light projects done. I woke up around 2 or 3 am and couldn’t sleep as usual; I was hungry so got up to have a bowl of cereal. I ended up watching about an hour of scrapbooking shows On Demand and didn’t really have any contractions; just contemplated whether or not I should go to work in the morning.

So around 6:30 am or so I woke up and had a contraction or two. They had more of a ‘pull’ to them. After three or four contractions that seemed pretty consistent and to no provoking; I started to write them down. I had several more that were 10 minutes apart. By 8am they were still coming but I still wasn’t sure if anything was going on or not. So I decided to wait to leave for work until I was sure I wasn’t in labor. I left messages for Chris and Tami and just decided to keep writing them down and wait it out. So they started to come 6 minutes apart pretty consistently. Eric took the boys to school and came back home to get ready for work himself. Tuesday is usually his day off but since baby would be here soon he decided to go in at least for a while. By 8:30am my handwriting of the time got much worse. While Eric was gone, I managed to scrub the shower, both counters and sinks in the bathroom and kitchen, even cleaned the toilets. During contractions I’d just stop and breathe through it or even just try to continue what I was doing to see if I would distract myself. I continued in ‘putter’ mode until Eric was in the shower saying he was going to head up to the office. At that time I got a contraction that brought me to my knees in the bathroom. I remember saying, “Eric, I am DEFINITELY in labor.”

At that point, they were coming on faster and faster, sometimes even only 1 ½ minutes apart. So I decided to get in the bath with lavender and see if they would calm down a little and maybe they would even stop; as they had in the past. The bath did space them out a little; put them down to about 4 minutes apart but they didn’t go away. It was amazing how much different the pain was in the water. Something about it takes the edge off. So I decided to get all ready and did my makeup as I sat in the bath. I also kept writing down the time of my contractions and would look on my cell for the time. Eric in the meantime realized that this was business, so he went outside for a while to let Comanche (the dog) out and water the plants that might be forgotten if I was in the hospital. He was like, “I have to go outside -should I leave you alone?”  I said I’d be fine, which I was but went through many hard contractions in the bath. It gave me time to do my yoga breathing and get into the zone and practice making my body completely limp to relax through the contractions and let them open up and do the work necessary. I got a text from Todd at my work around 10:30am asking if this was the day. I said, “yep, I think this is B-day, headed to the hospital soon; 3 minutes apart and they freakin hurt!” For some reason I was pretty calm about the whole thing and just very calmly kept getting myself ready and packing for the hospital. I remember asking Eric about 11am if we should be calling people to let them know I’m in labor. Like Dr. Chambers who was off for the day; Kathleen Richardson - neighbor and previous lay midwife who's attended hundreds of births who was going to act as my doula, and his mom and my mom. I think he called my mom and his mom to just let them know that we were going to the hospital and we’d call them when we got settled and were sure that this was going to happen today. He called Kathleen around 11:30.

The contractions kept coming and getting stronger and closer together. I got in a really bad mood trying to get my iPod (which I didn’t even get a second to turn on) all updated. It got to the point that if Eric talked to me during a contraction it would really tick me off and break my concentration. I was suddenly very grumpy. They really, really took concentration to relax at this point. We packed up a few remaining things while Audria got Brandon home from kindergarten. They went into Easton’s room and just played video games. I remember one contraction put me on to the floor and really killed. I told Eric we better get going while they are 2-4 minutes apart; because I knew they would only get worse and I needed to get comfortable, and in the zone. We said bye to Audria (who got all emotional which made me emotional) and I got emotional saying bye to sweet Brandon. This was the last time he'd be my youngest child. Going out to the car I got a contraction that hurt so bad all I could do was push my head against the car and bend down. After that one, I wanted to walk all around my garden and memorize which flowers would be in bloom on her birthday from now on. It's May in Utah and gorgeous and I'm a gardener! Eric at that point said, “JANA GET IN THE CAR”. Sometimes I’m stupid.

About 12:15 we left the house for the hospital. On the drive over we were fairly relaxed, I reveled in my ability to labor at home for so long with such task-oriented focus. (silly me) I was very happy that my driveway was spotless, my car was spotless, my garage was spotless, my bathrooms were spotless, the kids were in school, I slept the night before (for the most part, anyway), that it was Eric’s day off and the kids were settled, and it was a gorgeous, sunny spring day. And we very calmly spent the morning finishing last minute details and had time to pack everything and be prepared. Reveling didn’t last long with another contraction on the way. I reminded Eric that his wife was in labor and that meant he could drive a little faster than normal and even break a traffic rule or two. At that time, a very slow construction truck pulled right in front of us on our street and proceeded to go very slow the whole way out. Grrrrr, just my luck. I was flipping through the radio stations on the dial trying to find KSL (the radio station I worked at) hoping that would be distracting to the pain. Well, the next contraction came on right and I found myself saying TURN OFF KSL! Grumpy in pain, I tell you!

Right then, we turn left and BUMP BUMP! The entrances to the hospital could not be worse!! I couldn’t believe how bad it hurt to go over those bumps! We pulled right up front and it felt so weird finally walking in the hospital that you toured and wondered when it would be your day. I was very proud of baby Jane because this was HER day…the day she chose when she was ready.

We got up to the nurses station and I said with confidence, “I’m in labor”….so they walked me into the prep room, where I needed to be monitored to see if I was "really was" in labor. They asked for a urine sample and I was in the middle of that when they said they were moving me into a labor room. Guess they realized I was right. Turns out it was the room I originally saw upon my tour – the one with the fake windows. It was nice though, but RIGHT by the nurses station which lended itself to a lot of distracting noises. So I got up, went into the room and was brought right to my knees with a killer contraction. I just knelt on the side of the bed until it passed and my nurse came in to introduce herself. I changed into the gown, got on the bed with the monitors and started answering all of the nurses questions. When I got a contraction, I did well doing my yoga breath to get through them. The nurse checked me and I was 5 centimeters! It was then that I knew we weren’t going anywhere. I answered a slew of questions about my health and pregnancy while she entered it all in the computer. She was a nice nurse and I liked her. I could hear baby’s heartbeat through the monitor and that was reassuring to hear it. After the nurse was done, this nurses assistant came in to set up the delivery tray. I was very surprised they were doing that already. I looked at the myriad of scissors perfectly lined up on the tray. They should never let a woman in active labor see that many cutting devices. I told her she can go ahead and put the scissors away. She said they needed them for the umbilical cord too. This nurse bugged me. I wanted her out of the room fast. A couple contractions later and after draping a sterile sheet over all of the medical equipment, she left and I laid the warning on Eric that she comes in no more.

Everything from here is slightly a blur.. I remember getting up to go to the bathroom and having a killer contraction on the way. Then getting up and seeing Kathleen Richardson walk in. Immediately she meant business and took over. Sit here, try this, do this. It was great surrendering the ‘do this’ to someone who knew the pain and knew how to help manage it. All I had to do was breathe, relax, and say “yeah that worked’ or  ‘harder’.  This was my first experience with a doula and I am a BIG believer if you are trying to go natural.

I was getting very frustrated because hospital personnel kept coming in the room, asking questions like, “Are you giving the baby a Hep A upon birth?” “Can you sign these registration papers?”, “I am a phlebotomist and need to take your blood”…that’s not a pleasant request of a woman in active labor. But instead of complaining I sat on the chair and looked away. After that, I wanted to sit up in the bed, get in a zone, and have no distractions. I told Eric and the nurse no more unnecessary people in the room. From here, all I remember is seeing Eric on my right and Kathleen on my left and yoga breathing to relax my body during contractions. It was going well. Yeah it hurt, bad. But I could manage it and even work with it to help it do its job. Every once in a while Kathleen would put a certain kind of aromatherapy essential oil into my nose and would have me breathe. That helped to concentrate on the smell and let it do what I needed help with at the time from energy, focus, etc. Throughout this time I had an apple juice I would sip on to keep hydrated. Contrary to what I originally thought, I actually liked the monitors on, because when the contractions go so intense, they would peak sooner and sometimes the monitor would pick up on it faster. It gave something for Eric and Kathleen to look at and they would know when to be ready for the next contraction as I felt it come on and I sometimes wouldn’t need to say anything. This helped me with concentration and keeping my body limp during the peaks of the pain and not to fight the pain. I told Eric he better call my mom and his mom to let them know this was the real deal.

The nurse came in and said that Dr. Chambers was taking a shower because she was cleaning her house but she would be on her way and that she would check me when she got here. Pretty cool on her day off! When Eric left to call it seemed like forever  - two contractions without him there felt a lot worse when he was there. From here I made the mistake of wanting to get up to go to the bathroom again. That means unhooking all the monitors, getting gel all over your gown and risking a contraction out of the zone. But I did it and the contraction that ensued in the bathroom was about as bad as anything. And walking back I realized I still had on my bra and tank top underneath my gown and just as they were helping me get them off, another contraction came and all I could do was squat again up against the bed and OUCH what a mistake. I just wanted back in the bed. I remember saying something like ‘these hurt like hell’ and at that point I had officially sworn in front of Kathleen? Although I really was describing ‘hell’ as a place which makes it a noun, right? This contraction also officially kicked off "the moan". My throaty yoga breathing went from a normal ‘exhale through the nose with your throat’ to ‘exhale and make a small groan with your throat’ to ‘exhale and growl like a wolf’. None of those cut it anymore so moaning ensued. Sometimes I was too high pitched so Kathleen helped me moan lower.

After getting back in bed, hooking the monitors up wrong and trying to figure them out, it gets me out of the zone a bit. I kept thinking it would be really nice to be in that hot jacuzzi bath but Eric needed to clean it first (It was clean but I'm a germ freak) and my contractions were SO close that I worried about going to all the trouble and getting too far out of the zone with him doing that. Also by the time I got in, I would worry about having to get out and walk back to the bed risking a killer contraction along the way or even being naked in front of a bunch of people and not being able to put lotion on after. Contractions blurred from one to the next as I sat as still as I could to focus through the pain. I don’t quite remember when my mom and Eric’s mom arrived, other than it was at the height of my pain and I don’t even think I said hi to them, I just kept in my zone. I think Pam came first and jumped right in with rubbing my feet or whatever Kathleen said to do. I think Dr. Chambers came next. I was 8 CM!!! I was happy I had made it that far without even an IV.  She left the room and happily told the nurse, "she’s 8 CM!" seemingly with surprise at my progression.

Somewhere in between all that, someone turned the lights down making the room darker and it even felt like the evening to me. For all I knew, it was. I asked someone what time it was and they said ‘2pm’. I didn’t put two and two together at that point that we had only been in that room since 12:30! Lots of painful contractions blur together and Dr. Chambers walks in and says she wants to break my water. I was not happy about that and pleaded no because of how painful contractions get afterward...I had been there, done that with Brandon's birth. She said at this point being so far along it doesn’t matter and it would help with the delivery. She went in to check me again and she thought I was a 9 but turns out I was still an 8. She said baby’s head was way down and she would just put a small leak in the bag. She opened the ‘crochet hook’ with her teeth and sticking that thing up there. I just remember it didn’t feel very good. I felt a little pop and the warm leaking fluid. Not much, as she said until……….a contraction. Now it was business. Every contraction was a GUSH of hot sticky fluid. Somewhere in between my mom showed up and somehow I think I was 9 ½ CM at this time. Maybe not. But she noticed that I was pretty out of it but as soon as she realized I had no IV, no pit, no epidural or anything, she seemed pretty surprised. I don’t think I said hello, not that I wasn’t thinking it, I just couldn’t say it.

Contractions now gave very little in-between breaks and also peaked from the beginning, making moaning for one minute every other minute a must. The moaning. I felt bad for making so much noise. I probably scared the hell out of any other laboring woman entering the hospital, or scaring any poor girl getting a tour. This is when I realized that I really shouldn’t have labored in the room right by the nurses station. I’m a vocal person, I can’t expect anything different in the most intense experience of my life, right? I thought I was going to throw up and Eric quickly pulled out a bed pan but the desire passed with another contraction. The deep cleansing breath afterward was more necessary than ever and I started to realize that I really wanted that freaking epidural. Not too much, just take the freaking edge off please. I remember hearing ‘he, he, hooooo’ which I swore to Eric we could not do this time. But in my vulnerable state I tried it and for some reason it helped. I realized that at this far dilated, the only way out was to push and I knew how long my previous pushing episodes had been. No way did I want to deal with contractions this painful for that much longer and have to have energy to push and then feel that unknown feeling, too. Freak, what have I done? What was I thinking?

The medal for this natural crap better be big and I better get it fast! 

I think now in between contractions were spent telling Eric that I was very serious, I really wanted that freaking epidural and that I just don’t want to handle that amount of pain for that long. My other two labors I pushed for hours! My intellect really knew that I couldn’t get it, and I really didn’t want it (yes, I did) but just the act of saying it made me feel less trapped. Then the shaking. I read in a book that shaking during transition was normal, also phrases like "you did this to me" or "I’ll never do this again" or "give me drugs, now" were normal, too…so I didn’t feel too bad asking, and at least I wasn’t being mean to Eric. Someone was putting a cold washcloth on my face and forehead..probably Pam. I liked it because I was hot and sweating. Dr. Chambers said that I would be pushing before long and she checked me at 9 ½ CM. OUCH. She said to bare down a little with the contractions but that didn’t provide the relief and didn’t feel good. I tried that with the next two and it was very discouraging because I had read so many times that pushing helped the pain. Well, this ticked me off that I wasn’t experiencing that. Now I really, really wanted the freaking epidural.

Then comes the next contraction. Started with a fury but suddenly it MADE me push. Actually baring down is a better word. I didn’t want to push…I didn’t want to split in two! The next little bit all blurs together with phrases like, 1,2,3,4,5, wait deep breath and hold it! Don’t fight it, grab behind your legs! (I couldn’t even feel my legs my stomach was in a death grip from hell!) I couldn’t really hear the Dr. because it seemed like everyone was talking to me at once. Small feelings of encouragement ensued upon them moving the bed down, putting pans below me. Encouragement and then absolute terror that I actually had to push this thing out with nothing. Boy that was a real smart idea. Who am I, the president of the Drug Free Childbirth Association? Even SHE wants drugs at this point!

I pulled my legs back but just kept rubbing up against them, seemingly to fight it. But boy when I did push against it, really it was almost a break in itself. It really did feel good to push. But so scary. And the ring of fire. The most intense, burning, tight, pressure, stretching feeling you can imagine. Little did I know that my baby’s head was right there. I assumed in this short 10-15 minutes that there were hours left. I opened my eyes and saw my mom in front of me holding her thumbs up and saying, "she’s right there, almost done!" I had no idea I was that close. That gave me renewed energy and thinking, how the hell did this happen so fast! Dr. Chambers was doing the massage with lots of gel while I’m moaning like a wolf (OWIE) and somehow in the moaning and pushing and stretching and tightness and burning I hear that her head is out! The shoulder freaking killed and at that point I was probably screaming but that’s a blur, too. At the time of this major recalibration in my mind of what pain really was, it was also the most beautiful sensation I could ever imagine feeling. The gush and sense of incredible relief once that shoulder rounds the corner is unreal. I looked down and saw this perfect outline of a blue infant laying on a table. I kept asking, is she ok? Is she breathing? And being pissed that no one seemed to be aspirating her or getting her to breathe. Eric was saying, she’s fine, her chest is moving and then I hear “resuscitation, please”. In comes a nurse and my baby disappears on to a high table and all the attention shifted over there. I sat there in a pile of blood with a cord hanging out of me. Dr. Chambers says here comes your placenta, you need to push again. She told Pam to push on the top of my uterus which she did. That push sucked and hurt and reminded me of the original pain albeit only 45 seconds to a minute ago. Then plop, down it goes with another feeling of release and relief. I was fascinated by the placenta and really wanted to look at it and the cord and pay some kind of tribute to them but literally it was swept away in a bucket faster than anything. It was purple and looked smaller and rounder than my other ones. Dr. Chambers came back over to me and was looking at the perenium and then I hear the good news, “no repair needed, no tearing at all!” Now that, THAT was a great thing to hear after all that! That is exactly what I wanted.

Then I hear 7 lbs, 6 oz, 20 inches long!

I was proud of that, too! Then frustration. I want my baby! Give me my baby, why can’t I have my baby! “We’re just getting her stabilized and all of the procedures done”.  I became increasingly frustrated yet tried to be patient a little longer. Then I look up, and see a nurse trying to get a t-shirt on my baby! My dream of the baby plopping out, getting aspirated and handed to me for the elation was already taken away but don’t freaking GET HER DRESSED before her mother holds her and feels her precious skin! Details again blurry but some militant mean nurse that I wanted to disappear came over to me, got in my face and very rudely explained something I really didn’t want to listen to about policies and procedures. All I know is soon after I had my sweet baby jane in my arms finally. Her little face was so swollen and she was so cute and innocent and funny looking at the same time. I cried at how amazing she was just looking up at me and being frustrated that the moment was almost taken away from me. There is no better moment on earth than finally feeling the skin of your baby with no thick barrier between you. Finally seeing the face and body that grew and lived inside of you for so long. Finally feeling the real outline of that ‘bum bum’ and those precious feet and heels that you feel on the top of your belly for months. Finally seeing that wonderful angel hair and wondering how hair even grows in water inside your body. Finally having the reassurance that they have eyes and ears and 10 fingers and toes. And the blank but meaningful, innocent stare into your eyes your baby gives you as they desperately try to focus their eyes and blink to look into yours. Wow, baby Jane is here! Wait, what time was she born? 2:48pm! So strange, Easton was born at 2:42pm and Brandon at 9:48pm! And those two times I frequently mess up thinking Easton was 2:48pm.

Wow. Elation. Shock. Did I really do that? Is it really over? Did Baby Jane really do this on her time when she was ready on her very own day? May 2nd is a great day for a Birthday! Did I really go into labor on my own and was I really only in the delivery room for just over 2 hours? Were all the hormones aligned perfectly in my body and hers to make the labor as fast and unaided as it was? Does my baby seriously have the best head of black hair ever? Did I really push that baby out natural with no cuts or rips? Was I the loudest laboring woman ever in history at Cottonwood? Do I seriously not have an IV hooked into my arm? Can I really move every part of my body without a problem right now? Am I really not going to feel sorry for anyone who whines about pain again? Did my yoga training really aid in relaxing my body enough to stand the pain? Did I seriously consider going to work today? Was I seriously worried about an iPod less than 3 hours before giving birth? Am I the new president of the Drug Free Childbirth Association? When is my medal going to arrive? Did I really powerwash my freaking driveway last night? Do I really have the most beautiful baby ever?