Expecting our Little Brother in November!

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Emily's Birth Story: Guest Post

I love that in the time I've been NOT blogging, my family has come together to make sure I have some new posts--hehe.

But seriously I am THRILLED to present the birth story of my cousin. As she will tell, she planned a natural hospital birth, and ended up getting her wish, though not quite in the way she'd planned! She was induced the day before her due date for low fluid, but even with an induction and pitocin, she was able to have a natural, vaginal birth!

I think part of why she was able to handle pitocin contractions so well was that she REALLY did her homework--took both a Bradley course and a Hypnobirthing course, and practiced relaxation exercises nightly.

I can't say enough for the power of taking REAL (non-hospital) birth classes--it is essential if you are planning a natural birth. PREPARED childbirth is completely different from UNPREPARED childbirth . . . and if you want to have a natural birth in a hospital, it is a must.

Another really smart move on her part was hiring a doula. I would never attempt to birth in a hospital without a doula. Doulas GREATLY reduce the odds of medication use, c-sections, and a host of other interventions.

Wow I practically got a mini-blog post in with my intro here! But with no further ado, the birth story of Ava Rose!

The third trimester of my pregnancy was surprisingly good. I had hyped myself up to be totally miserable, and even until the last few days I was just waiting for the misery to begin. I didn’t think it could be so easy. Granted, putting on underwear and bending over got to be pretty difficult, but I was still able to take 4 yoga classes a week (obviously with a lot of modifications) and I was still sleeping through the night with no problem (obviously with a lot of bathroom breaks haha). The back pain I had in the end of the first/beginning of the second trimester had disappeared and I was fine! I had heartburn, but it was totally manageable. Little biscuit was kicking up a storm, but I loved the reminder that she was doing well in there. :)

We were super prepared, having taken a Bradley course as well as a Hypnobirthing class – I was determined to do this as naturally as possible and to labor at home as long as possible, especially since apparently I have white coat syndrome. I dutifully listened to my hypno-relaxation CD every night and visualized how I wanted my birth to go. I was nervous about the pain, but I hoped I would be able to handle it as well as my cousin Adrienne and my friend Diane who both had given birth recently.

I had been having sonograms and fetal monitoring every appointment because my blood pressure was high at every appointment, due to a case of white coat syndrome. I monitored my BP myself at home and it was always completely fine, so my doctor did believe that it was WCS, but he said better safe than sorry in terms of knowing if everything was going ok in there and I didn’t mind seeing her so often, that’s for sure! But he had been saying that he wouldn’t let me go much past my due date, even though there really wasn’t a real issue, and I wasn’t looking forward to arguing with him about induction (which I REALLY wanted to avoid, since I had learned that being induced almost always inevitably leads to more interventions, i.e. an epidural and/or c-section). I had my 39/40 week appointment on Wednesday, June 8, 2 days before my due date. Two weeks before, my doctor had said my amniotic fluid level was getting rather low, at 8.5, but the next week it was 10 so I wasn’t worried. But unfortunately at my appointment on June 8 the sono tech said my fluid level was 5.5, and my doctor said that was dangerously low and he wanted to induce. I was to go home and finish packing, eat dinner, then make my way to the hospital. Unfortunately I am rather cowed by doctors and so didn’t put up much of a fight, even though he had told me the week before that AFL levels can fluctuate greatly even from one moment to another if the baby changes position. After we left the office I called my doula to let her know what was going on and she suggested taking a bath, and asking for a repeat sono when we got to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 10:00 PM and we filled out paper work and answered the same questions a few times. They were all confused that I was asking for a repeat sono, and the intern who came in to see me said that she would call my doc to see if he would be ok with that since she didn’t feel comfortable just doing it since that would indicate she was questioning his diagnosis. Ok, fine. Why would he refuse, since a sono is so quick and easy? When she finally came back she said that he didn’t want her to do one – we had enough information to make an informed decision. We were rather shocked, what was the point in refusing us? I called my doula and we spoke about it a little. We finally decided that Trevor would talk to my doctor directly since I’m not very good at sticking up for myself. It was already 1:00AM at this point and I was hungry – but of course they don’t let you eat in the hospital! My doctor called and Trevor spoke with him for a while – telling him that while we know it won’t change his recommendation, it might change our decision to go forward with the induction. He FINALLY agreed. This was really not the way I had imagined things going, so I was sad and disappointed, tired and hungry. We got the repeat sono, the levels still looked low, so we decided to proceed. Of course, even though we had arrived at the hospital to be induced, no one had put in the orders for the Cervadil (medication that goes on the cervix to try to stimulate labor that way). It was 4:00AM before I even received the medication! Definitely not the way I had hoped things would go.

The Cervadil is a 12 hour dose, meaning that it sits in there for 12 hours and hopefully produces some reaction and after that they would start me on Pitocin. I appreciated that my doctor didn’t start right in with the Pitocin, but was trying to start things a little more gently (the Cervadil helps to soften and dilate the cervix, hopefully causing labor to start more or less on its own, whereas Pitocin actually makes your uterus contract, resulting in stronger, longer, more painful contractions). During the 12 hours I tried to sleep as much as possible, and Trevor and I hung out watching Seinfeld on the iPad that we had put on there for my labor. I was starting to have some regular contractions, but they were hardly noticeable. By 4:00PM I was still only 1.5cm dilated and 50% effaced. Blargh. Cue the Pitocin. They reassured me they start with a low dose and increase it periodically so you only have as strong a dose as produces a reaction. They started me at 10 (whatever measurement that would be) and I think I ended somewhere around 20-25. My doctor let me know that he’d be back in a couple hours to check on my, and to probably break my water. I was a little against this, but by this point I’d already been in the hospital for 20 hours and I was hungry, tired, sick of all the crazy monitors and wires, and ready to get this over with (even though we’d learned in class that ideally you should avoid having your water broken artificially). I looked at it as the lesser of most of the interventions I’d already received, since this does have to happen anyway, and there was a good chance that it would really get things moving.

At 9:00PM I had only dilated maybe another cm. In all honestly, having my water broken was probably the most painful part of my birth. I think my husband got pretty concerned for me, my mom told me that he wasn’t prepared at all for my reaction. It was mostly because I was dilated so little and cripes, my doctor has huge hands (he’s a big guy!). With that over, things did start to move more quickly. My parents had been driving all day and arrived soon after my water was broken. Mom didn’t want to come inside since she knew she’d hate to see her little girl on all the monitors and in pain. They went back to the house to get some sleep. My doula had arrived right after my water was broken (she was there earlier in the day but I told her she could go home and put her kids to bed, etc., since nothing was happening yet). I tried to stand/sit on the birth ball for a while, but it was hard with all the wires, plus I was required to wear compression stockings since my mother had had a blood clot after my brother was born. I’m not sure they could have packed any more wires onto me! Going to the bathroom was such a process, but I had to pee so often and sitting on the toilet was where I was happiest. Things were definitely getting more painful, and the nurse wanted me to change positions on the bed, so she had me lay on my side. NOPE. That was the only time I said that I didn’t think I could do it, because it definitely was painful and I still wasn’t that far into active labor. I knew if I had to lie like that, things would go downhill fast. Luckily my nurse, Elaine, was willing to work with me. We figured out how it was possible to keep me connected to the fetal monitor while sitting on the toilet. I probably was in there for over an hour, some of that time Elaine had to actually sit on the floor and hold the monitor in place so that it would work. This was really a turning point, and I was able to focus totally on relaxing the muscles and opening up. The pain was much more manageable when I was able to totally open up and relax through it, which is what we learned in all our classes but I found very hard on the bed or standing. What also helped was what my friend Diane told me – the contractions don’t last that, usually only about a minute, so you only have to get through that and you’ll have some relief for a little while.

This whole time I was able to really relax and almost sleep between contractions. Time seemed to pass faster than I thought, which my hypnobirthing teacher had said can happen when you’re “in the zone”, as I think of it. Trevor said it looked like I was almost in a trance – I understand now what our Bradley teacher meant about being more “inside” than focused on the outside. Elaine finally had me get back in the bed after maybe an hour and a half on the toilet and I believe at this point I got checked and was at 5cm. I was happy to hear this because that was a lot of movement in that short time I was on the toilet. From that point it seemed to go by in a total haze. I can remember moaning quietly through the later contractions, and maybe squirming a little. I was most comfortable on my back on the bed, which I didn’t expect because we learned laying on your back is not the best position, but it seemed to work for me.

It took probably around 2 hours to reach the point where I felt like I needed to push. I sort of was doubting myself, and I remember saying to my doula “I think I need to push” and she told me that was fine. Our nurse Elaine was on her break and would be coming back soon, so we decided to wait to tell anyone until she came back. I was not able to stop little pushes that my body was doing by itself and again doula Robin told me it was fine and to even make some grunting pushing noises if I needed to. Elaine came back with my doctor who checked me and said “Are you ready to have a baby?” - YES.

On the first push he was already able to see her head, which I felt was encouraging! He stayed with me through the first 2 contractions and then said “I’m going to let Elaine work with you for a little while” and he went to have a coffee or something, which I thought was a little strange! But after one more contraction and the 2 pushes that went with it, she went to go get him since obviously I was pushing pretty effectively! Everyone laughed when I said “I’m starting to sweat, can I put my hair up?” – which I did but then asked if it looked ok. I knew that I was soon going to be in a lot of pictures, so, ever conscious of how I look in pictures, I needed to know I wasn’t going to regret them haha. The next contraction and she was crowning, which was a little uncomfortable since I wasn’t able to get her head out in those 2 pushes. The doctor asked if I wanted to touch her head, which I said no to – I was uncomfortable and didn’t want to move haha. But he said “wow look at all that hair, it’s a girl right? We can give her a little curl” and played with her hair while she was crowning – I appreciated the comic relief. He prepared me for the next contraction by saying “Ok Emily, this is the part that’s going to hurt but you can’t stop, just push through it”. The next 2 pushes and her head was out! Honestly it didn’t hurt as much as I expected it to, as having your skin tear sounds pretty awful. One more push and she was born!! Ava Rose Burton entered the world at 5:38am on June 10, 2011, on her due date. They wrapped her in a blanket and put her on my chest, where she cried her little heart out. Trevor cut the cord, they wiped her up a little and then put her right on my chest to stay warm. We cuddled for a little bit and then I tried to feed her. She latched on right away, which was great! All the while, I delivered the placenta, and got stitched up (uncomfortable!). I can push out a baby no problem apparently, but I reverted to my old squeamish ways when he was checking and stitching haha. My parents were there waiting outside, so they got to come in right away after I was cleaned up. It was also wonderful that the hospital never insisted that she go to the nursery – they did her first bath in the room (which had a warmer if it was needed), they let me nurse her while she got the vitamin K shot to help comfort her, let me keep feed and bond with her before the eye ointment was applied, and let me keep her temp up with skin-to-skin contact. I was just really happy that she never had to leave me.

I was almost embarrassed that no less than 4 nurses came in to tell me what a wonderful job I’d done and to ask how I was able to handle it so well; one even stopped my parents in the hall to tell them how amazed they were at how well I did. I think I was mostly lucky in that I don’t think my body reacted as strongly as others to the Pitocin. I handled the contractions as well as I could and tried to relax as much as possible, keeping in mind what we learned in our birth classes and that really helped me as well. I won’t say that hypnobirthing was completely responsible for how well I handled the pain, but I know it definitely helped to train my body to relax to the CD every night before bed. I think all the yoga I did helped as well. In the end I knew it was necessary pain, which I think makes all the difference. My body just knew what to do and I was along for the ride! I also don’t think it hurt that I was completely exhausted so my body kind of shut down between the contractions to conserve the energy I had left – we were in the hospital around 32 hours before she was born, without any food and only ice chips as a “drink”.

When all was said and done, our experience ended up being perfect. While it got off to a rocky start, I couldn’t be happier with how Ava came into the world!


laurengould said...

Wow! I am so happy to hear the full detailed story!!!!

I am also really happy for you that you had so much support from Trevor and your doula so you could do your birth as much of how you imagined as possible.

I can't believe they didn't allow food to a pregnant lady!!! That seems crazy, though probably towards the end food was the last thing on your mind, lol!

Congrats again Emily, I can't wait to see her again!

Anonymous said...

"-it is essential if you are planned a natural birth. PREPARED childbirth is completely different from UNPREPARED childbirth"

I just have one question for you Adrienne. How in the heck would you know the difference between a prepared birth and an unprepared birth? You have only had ONE child you have no other reference to compare to. Just as you have no reference to give advice on breastfeeding twins, you have never done it so you don't really KNOW, you THINK you know what it's like but you don't know for certain.

I think if you want to give advice you should stick to giving advice on things you know about(ie breastfeeding your ONE child, water birth, etc.)

justadrienne said...

I know because I do a lot of research on birth, and have read many many birth stories, many of which were written by women who have experienced both and shared their experiences with it. Of course you can NEVER know what someone else really feels/thinks/experiences. Even two natural births can be completely totally different! Why should I pretend to know anything about anything then?

And as I said in the very beginning of my twin breastfeeding article, I obviously do not have twins, but I know a heck of a lot about breastfeeding, and I watched my sister-in-law breastfeed her twins--this is the context from which I write. If you aren't interested in my understanding, don't read my blog. I don't think I should have to explain at the beginning of every blog entry that I am only talking from my OWN understanding, my OWN situation, my OWN experience. I'm certain it varies greatly from others' experiences, because no two experiences/people/situations are the same.

How do male OB's pretend to know anything about birth? Because they study. Some people might feel like that's not enough, and want to see a female OB or midwife with a child who has BEEN THERE . . . while others feel confident in what the doctor learned in school.

But, who are you, anonymous? If you believe what you are saying, why are you anonymous? I might be a know-it-all or talk out of my ass sometimes, but I own what I say. Why don't you?

DNineMoons said...

Haha Laur, it's funny but I remember my stomach growling in between my pushing contractions LOL. My first question after I was holding her is "I can eat now RIGHT?".

Thanks for posting this my cousin! I wish I had been able to do it sooner since I'm sure I forgot some details I would have shared, but better late than never!

I'm also certain that being prepared helped me have the birth I wanted, especially working on relaxation so much before the birth. But also like I said, I think I was lucky as well. In any case I appreciate all your advice cousin, because I know you do tons of research! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

First all I'm anonymous because I don't have an account and have no desire to make one. My name is Dawn and I have read your blog a few times because I found it through someone else's blog. But yeah you hit the nail on the head when you said you act like a "know-it all"

Second I think it's a tad bit crazy that you are comparing your "internet" studying/reading to the study's of a doctor who spends YEARS studying, practicing and taking medical licensing exams, perfecting his skill. Those are not the same things AT all.

justadrienne said...

Okay Dawn, I have an entire post dedicated to you and the FACT that I am a know-it-all, tune in tomorrow. But we're done here, this post was about Emily, not me (or you).

Mama Hypno said...

Thank you Adrienne for posting Emily's and Trevor's birth story of Ava Rose for your readers. They were a wonderful couple to have the honor of sharing the HypnoBirthing® technique with in class. And they certainly don't make them any cuter than Ava Rose. Wonderful that they connected with Robin too. Especially in a hospital setting, I highly recommend additional experienced support people as in a doula.

One small and important request if you would...please revise your mention of Hypnobabies whereas Emily & Trevor studied HypnoBirthing® and not Hypnobabies.

They are two different programs. HypnoBirthing® is a registered trademark, taught in 34 countries and just celebrated it's 20th year as a calm, peaceful birthing method. Hypnobabies claims pain-free births which is NOT something HypnoBirthing® claims.

I hope you can do that so correct information is provided. Thank you and enjoy your newest niece!

justadrienne said...

Done, thanks for the correction! I was aware of the difference but not which one they were using (apparently)! ;-)

Megan said...

What a great story, Emily!

Adrienne, I have very much been enjoying your blog since I came across it from Emily's Facebook.

While support is essential to NCB, I disagree that classes and doulas - as beneficial as they are - are necessary. I went 16 hours before an epidural with my first, who was then born 4 hours later after many, many hours of being stuck at 3-4cm. 2 years and 8 months later, I had a med-free (minus penicillin for GBS), 1h45m active labor with my second.

I was too exhausted and riddled with anxiety (which was unrelated to the birth, I have a history of anxiety issues) the first time to go any further than I had, and the second time I was just determined to get her out! But I did not practice any specific techniques, did not take any classes (minus the hospital class with my first - which was invaluable as it helped me recognize the signs of preterm labor when I went into it at 25 weeks - otherwise I would never have known), did not hire a doula - I couldn't afford the classes or the doula either time. I did plenty of reading about NCB and birth in general, and had worked on some relaxation through my months of daily contractions at home, but that was it.

I didn't have the NCB the first time, but I do not think it would have turned out differently had I taken classes or hired a doula. I had spent 2 weeks on strict bedrest, 8 weeks on modified bedrest, had contractions day in and day out from 25 weeks until I delivered at 36 weeks, was on diabetes medication for months, and was utterly spent by the time it labor came around. Do I wish I had had the NCB? Of course I do, after having experienced one the following time, but it is what it is and in the end I learned from it.

I had a similar pregnancy with my second but was able to be slightly more active during pregnancy (only 6 weeks of bedrest, 1 strict and 5 modified), and above all else, I had been through childbirth before and knew more of what to expect. My husband was great the second time (not so great the first time!), I had a wonderful nurse and had a midwife attend my birth even though I was a high-risk OB patient, because my nurse knew I wanted the NCB. If anything, it was a much more frenzied, fly by the seat of my pants type of labor.

I want to caution you against using such absolute terms when talking about childbirth preparation. I know this is not your intention, but you may inadvertently discourage women, like myself, who absolutely do not have the means to pay for Bradley or Hypnobirthing classes, cannot afford a doula, and are going to have to rely on themselves and their partner to achieve a NCB. Maybe your next post could include links to NCB resources that do not require hiring an outside support person.

Aletta said...

No offense, since I was actually going to take, um, one of those classes before I give birth again (but not I'm confused and don't even know which)... but, that little R-circle she's got going next to HypnoBirthing comes off as really annoying and pretentious and is biasing me against it. Funny, since I was initially biased by the name, but then became convinced it was worth trying, and now I'm wierded out all over again. I think they've got some serious marketing challenges to overcome.

justadrienne said...

LOL Aletta!!

justadrienne said...

Megan--I didn't think I had spoken in such definite terms but I think I see what you mean. I said for a natural birth in a hospital, PREPARATION is a must. I didn't say birth classes were the only method of preparation. I think you did a great job preparing for your birth!

And obviously, sometimes the ideal situation isn't attainable. Some people can't even afford to have a hospital birth at all. And some can't afford to have a home birth. It's unfortunately that finances can make decisions for us, sometimes.

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