Our First Cave Baby: Bowen’s Birth Part II
On July 13 at 2:15am something amazing happened… my water broke! 🙂 Finally, after nearly giving up hope that a baby would ever come. After considering the possibility of being pregnant forever. The baby. Was. Coming. I gently woke Karl and softly alerted him to the possibility that we might have a baby that day. I think it took him a while to really understand. After all, it had been almost 3 weeks since my due date, and we had moved from “high alert” to “alert and hopeful” to “whatever… maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t”.
When I called my OB to let him know that my water broke, he replied with “Ok, see you at the hospital.” The hospital! Of course, thanks to my flawless coping mechanisms for stressful situations, I was a pregnant woman 3 weeks overdue and not in the least bit packed for a hospital stay. Karl and I spent the next 2 hours running around the house, stuffing things into bags and trying to make sure we didn’t forget anything. Thus far, my pressure waves (hypnobabies speak for “contractions”) really only felt like very mild menstrual cramps. It occurred to me that I might actually be able to do this.
One blessing that came from having the baby at HOAG was that we live two minutes from there. Literally. Two minutes. This was wonderful for someone like me who struggles with anxiety on the road. The baby had enough anxiety coming along with it, thank you very much! When we arrived around 4am, we were welcomed into the triage unit until a room could be secured. Our first nurse was very sweet, and didn’t even make fun of me for handing her a printout of my birth preferences. She noticed that we had taken hypnobabies classes and was familiar with the concept. She even knew all the special terms to use! So far I was impressed by the lack of evil hospital nurses trying to give me an epidural when I wasn’t looking.
A few hours passed and we moved to my labor and delivery room. Our new nurse was also very sweet, and had taken hypnobabies classes herself! Now my pressure waves were becoming more intense, but I was able to utilize some hypnobabies tools and rely on Karl for my “peace cue” to get me through. They even had a birthing ball to use! Although, now that I’ve been through it, I have no idea how a giant inflated ball was supposed to help me through the intense pressure I was experiencing. But it was nice that they had it. All I wanted to do was lay down, but the hospital beds were so darn high! “Hey, we know your uterus is trying to push something out of you, but I’m sure you can hoist your giant body up onto this hard surface to get some relief!” Not fun. It was so painful trying to climb onto the bed for some rest between contractions, that by the time I got there it was time to get up and walk off the next contraction. Also, the no eating rule is bogus. I was doing a lot of hard work! I needed fuel!
Our third and final nurse was just as sweet as the other two. She was kind and genuine, and wanted to do everything she could to make me comfortable while also making sure that Bowen was ok. They were having a hard time getting a good reading on his heartbeat, so I had to be strapped to a monitor constantly.
Very quickly, I began to notice my pressure waves becoming impossibly intense and never-ending. No breaks, just getting stronger and then not as strong, back and forth. I asked my nurse if this was normal, and she said that not only was it normal, but it was about to get worse! Worse?! You must be joking! Fortunately, she was mistaken. She was trying to warn me about “Transitional Labor” without realizing that I was right smack dab in the middle of it already.
Now, some women will go on and on about how beautiful it was to feel their bodies working towards the liberation of a new being from their womb. I’m sorry, fellow hypnos. Pain. That’s what it was. Pain. It hurt. A lot. I was now yelling my peace cues. Though, I have to say, if it weren’t for the tools I learned at hypnobabies, I don’t know if I would have made it through the pain. I know the goal is a pain-free, natural birth (and I might have had one if I had kept up my practice… what can I say, I slacked off after being so long overdue), but even though I wasn’t perfectly prepared, it still helped a lot! I was offered medicated pain relief many times, and Karl even reassured me that he was fine with whatever decision I made, but I continued to refuse it.
Now came the last phase. Karl asked the nurse how long she thought it would be, and if he should start calling family to come to the hospital. She told him it would be a while. And then she heard my cave-woman battle cry. “Maybe you should give them a call, after all…”
The nurse had tried to get in touch with my OB, but I overheard her tell another nurse that he wasn’t able to come. Wasn’t able to come? Not “he had a family emergency” or “someone else went into labor” but, eh, he just wasn’t going to make it. Wonderful.
So now, in comes the on-call laborist. I’m sure he’s a great guy. I’m also sure he’s a great guy who doesn’t have the time or patience for a birthing center outcast like me. At this point I have no idea where my birth preferences printout is, or if it even made it to the other nurses to give to the OB. I had a doula that I was supposed to call, but decided against it last minute (She was super sweet, but it was almost funny how impossible it was for us to communicate with each other successfully. It would’ve just added to the stress). It was now up to Karl and I to make sure the important things were taken care of despite the usual hospital delivery routine.
They said he wasn’t getting as much oxygen as they’d like, and asked if they could put me on oxygen. I said, sure! They said my blood sugar was low and asked if they could pump me up with a bit of sugar water. I’d prefer a donut, but why not! They said his heartbeat was lower than they’d like to see, but they couldn’t get a good reading and wanted to do internal monitoring. Um, no thanks! Again, no judgments, but this was not for me. I was in tune enough with my body to know that everything was fine, my baby was healthy, and I did not need a screw in my baby’s head to tell me that. He was already going to be born into a much more shocking and stressful world than I would have liked, and I wanted as little invasive intervention as possible. The laborist kept asking me if I would take full responsibility for anything that may happen as a result of refusing the internal monitoring. Between my battle cries I had to force out the words, “I… take… full… responsibility”. No, sir, I will not sue you, and I would appreciate you letting me have this baby now. I could tell Karl was a bit nervous about the heartbeat, but he supported me through every decision and trusted that I knew our baby was ok.
When it came time to push, I knew I had to compromise. My baby’s heartbeat was lower than ideal (but, in reality, it’s normal for a baby’s heart rate to lower during the stress of labor), poor Karl was nervous and the laborist was insisting that I “bare down” and push during my contractions. What I really wanted was to gently push between contractions. This is supposed to prevent… erm… damage to the affected area. But since he wasn’t being monitored, I knew I had to get him out as soon as I could so that he wasn’t under stress any longer than necessary.
So, I pushed.
And 8 hours and 15 minutes after my water broke, 42 weeks and 6 days after that first little spark ignited in my womb, I held a baby in my arms.
And now, some pictures… (Just in case you weren’t one of the many bombarded by them on Facebook. hehe)