Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Birth Story ~ Part III ~ The Contractions

Well here we are almost exactly a year after the contractions that brought Keenan into the world started and I’m finally sitting down to write this segment of the birth story. There are many things that I have forgotten about the delivery once it actually got rolling but the contractions will likely be burned into my memory forever. I remember saying beforehand that I was more afraid of the pain of getting an episiotme than I was afraid of the pain that accompanies the contractions. Well thankfully I didn’t actually get an episiotme but I did require several stitches which I didn’t feel one bit thanks to the help of a single needle of freezing. The contractions on the other hand were well they were hell on earth. This evening I was going over the notes Sean and Jess took while I was in labor. Jess had the brilliant idea of writing down all my contractions including the length of each contraction, the intensity of the contraction, the length of the rest period between contractions and all the other stuff I was doing like going to the bathroom or changing position. The log starts at 11:25 pm on Wednesday, May 10 and goes right through until the time of delivery the following afternoon. There are 4 full, double sided pages of notes and I think the process of keeping this log, Sean’s ability to take everything I said to him both good and bad, Jessyca’s fantastic coaching skills and our amazing midwife kept me from losing my sanity.

Here’s how it went down. Between 11:25 pm and 12:35 am not too much was going on. I was having contractions that were spaced fairly far apart with varying degrees of intensity but nothing too consistent. By 1:35 am the contractions were anywhere between 3 to 15 minutes apart and they lasted about 30 seconds to a minute and a half. At 2 am things really started to get consistent. I was having mild to medium intensity contractions every 1.5 to 3 minutes. After 2:30 am there was only 5 instances where I had greater than 2 minutes (but never more than 2.5) rest between contractions. It’s funny I look back at these notes now and I see that I was telling Jess at around 1:35 am the contractions were “strong”. They were a walk in the park compared to what was around the bend. Now I really know why they changed the system for judging figure skating! Around 3:50 am I was starting to get cramping in my lower pelvic area and my contractions were changing so that they were very strong and then they would just suddenly drop off. Pretty much up until this point we were being left alone to get through the early stages of labor. So it was just the 3 of us talking, breathing and keeping track of things on the log. There were two midwives on duty that were assigned to us and they’d pop in once and a while to check on us. It was really great to left alone like that. We had a pretty good system going and we were all in good spirits. If the doctor or midwives wanted to know how I was doing they would check in with Jess and her amazing log and that was that. Then I got a monster contraction that lasted 12 minutes. This seemed to be the turning point from pleasant to not so pleasant. Jess called the midwife and then the doctor came and examined me. I was 7 cm dialated and not looking too forward to many more 12 minute contractions let me tell you. From this point on all the contractions were strong. Stronger than the past “strong” contractions. I was doing a lot of creative breathing and starting to get very uncomfortable. The thought of water or food made me want to barf and I began seeing my hourly pee break as a vacation. Get the baby monitor off, remove myself from the situation, have a few minutes of just Sean and me time in the john, then get back out there and get back to work. I started thinking about the very near future and what kind of labor I was going to have. I knew I wasn’t even at the pushing stage yet but I was already starting to have significant pain. I thought back to the videos we watched in the prenatal classes which showed the soon to be moms mewing like kittens through the real productive contractions. I began hoping we were in a soundproof environment. I foresaw myself as a howler and not a dainty mewer. At 5:30 am I changed my position to upright with my legs crossed. It helped relieve my low pelvis cramping a bit. At 6 am I was 8 cm dialated, hooked up to the IV as I was getting dehydrated and the contractions were still strong lasting 20 seconds to a minute with 30 seconds to a 1.5 minutes rest between. At 7 am I had my blood pressure, temp and blood taken and when examined I was found to be 8-9 cm dialated. At 7:45 am I was examined by the doc who felt the baby’s head was starting to come down. He told us the baby would be born by 9 am. I was soooo relieved. I need to take a minute and describe what it was like to have those internal examinations. It hurt like a motherf**ker. It felt like the doctor was trying to rip my heart through my cervix. And every single time he examined me I felt like something was wrong. Actually no, I felt like he was “doing” something wrong. Nice to get that off my chest. At 8:20 am the nurses changed shift and Eriko Sato-san aka the best midwife in the whole world came to see me. Although she was in charge of a few other women she stayed with me nearly the whole time. In hindsight I wonder if she was called in as an extra and assigned to me. I’ll have to ask her next time we go to the hospital. Sato-san was amazing. She got right into the birth bed with me and put her right hand under my pelvis for nearly 4 hours. She said she could feel the baby that way. She talked me through many many very painful contractions. And then at 9 am I got the first sensation that I wanted to push. This is when the really strong contractions started and I fulfilled my destiny as a howler. Sean and Jess stopped writing in the contraction log at around 9:40 am as they were at my side and talking me through each contraction, reminding me to breathe and bringing me back down to earth. The pain was so friggin’ intense. With every contraction I would push 4 times really hard. Every time Sato-san asked me to push a fifth time. I couldn’t, it was too painful. After about an hour of these intense contractions and pain I felt myself cheating a little. Not pushing as hard as I could, trying to spare myself a bit of the pain. At 10 am the doc came back to examine me again. I was now very gun shy of his dialation examinations and had told Sean how I felt. I was also fairly disappointed that the baby had not been born by 9 am like he had sad. During his examination I kicked and screamed for him to stop. And I saw Sato give him a look of surprise. So here’s my theory. The doctor maintained up to now that my water hadn’t broken at home. I think every time he examined me to see how far I was dialated he try to “break” my water. I think that my water had indeed broken at home. I lost sooo much fluid that it couldn’t have been anything else. I think Keenan just acted as a plug and kept the rest behind him. Either way I was now 10 cm dialated and I made Sean promise me that man would conduct no more internal examinations. He was more than happy to oblige as I don’t think he could watch me go through that again. The next 2 hours were the worst and I realized I had to give up on my little cheating exercise. Hell I’d push 6 times with each contraction if Sato-san wanted me too. Turns out she did. I could focus on nothing else but the ebb and flow of each contraction and the “fuuu, fuuu” breathing sounds Sean, Jess and Sato-san were making with me. The very end of each contraction was the worst. The pain got so intense at the end I couldn’t breathe. If I couldn’t the baby couldn’t so every single time Jess calmly reminded me to breathe. Somewhere during the two hours of hell I changed my position to nearly flat on my back and it felt a million times better. The best part was I could put the grab bars to better use and all of a sudden it all started working. The pushing, the pulling the breathing, the “fuu fuu’ing”. Sato-san kept encouraging me to look down at my belly as she could see the baby moving but I just couldn’t break my concentration. I was getting exhausted. I had read about and met many women who had survived more than 24 hours of labor. Surely I could last. I could start to see the worry on Sean and Jess’s faces. Then just before noon Sato-san took a well deserved break (I learned later she went down the street to the daycare where her 9 month old son was to breast feed him). At noon the doctor came in said in Japanese to Jessyca that he was concerned I was getting too tired. So he suggested we consider other options like a picotin drip or a vacuum delivery. He also said at this point he was willing to let me carry on naturally if I wished. That was it for me. I went thru the whole f’n labor process totally naturally and now they’re talking drugs and mechanical delivery? Screw that. So I made the decision that with the next contractions I was going to push until this baby is out. Within minutes of him leaving the room I was calling for Sato-san as I could feel the baby’s head starting to come down. She was there in an instant and…the rest is part of the delivery story which I’ll write tomorrow.

Right now it’s 12:07 am and officially Keenan’s first birthday. He’s snoring quietly in his crib and has no idea what today means just yet. Presents, cake, decorations, balloons, candles, friends and lots of love and attention. I can’t remember being this excited for one of my own birthdays!

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