Monday, September 14, 2009

hmm... the birth story

The long awaited birth story. Many find them gruesome, some think it's just cruel, some fascinating, some "amazing" and "miraculous" -- I am a mixture of all these things. I will tell you this. I SWORE after our birthing experience that I will NEVER LIE TO ANOTHER FELLOW WOMAN. Scouts honor, cross my heart and swear to die. So, here it goes. I am not sure why it has taken me this long to get this on the blog.

As many of you know we prepared for baby's arrival through a series of Hypnobirthing classes, books, and lots of reading the internet, watching natural births on the internet (I don't recommend that one - only b/c it led me to an internet spiral of watching baby circumcisions, over dramatized ones at that, and I am still shuddering).

One week overdue, I was still feeling really great to be honest. I was active, gardening that day, went for a hike / jog a few days prior, able to get up and down at ease (all relative) and still had no swelling. I was just really anxious to MEET HER! Mom and Jim were still in town and we were all staying busy "nesting" and waiting for her. On Saturday night, May 9th we had gone to Chico Hot Springs to soak in the natural waters and eat some spicy nachos. They were delicious - both of them. Pete and I retired that night to bed by 10 and at 11:00pm I grunted because I felt a little "trickle" on the sheets. I think my thought process was "*%$#, I am SO sick of peeing my pants... this is getting ridiculous!"

To the bathroom I go, not sure why I wouldn't have simply assumed my water was broken - I was 41 weeks pregnant and due any MINUTE! Anyhow, pregnant brain assesses the "liquid" and it wasn't quite urine (I will spare you the details).

I wake up Peter, we go over a few questions in our head. As much as I wanted to be at home right up until the baby crowned, then and only then would we casually drive to the hospital to have a pain free natural birth in the presence of doctors - we had a few more details to consider.

1) I tested positive for this cool thing they call "Group B Strep" which meant that I need to be on antibiotics at least 4 hours before she was delivered - so that changes the timeline a bit, but how long can we wait???
2) Because of the Placenta Previa scare (see previous post and miraculous placental movement) I was BIT concerned about the color of my "so called water" that I am assuming broke.
3) We are first timers at this and regardless of how much you prepare and tell yourself that you will be level headed - you are freaking excited and anxious and have NO IDEA what is about to happen.

So, we wait for an hour or so (now midnight or so), taking our time dragging bags to the big ol' diesel dodge ram (still not sure why THAT was the redneck vehicle we chose to arrive at the hospital in... ). We called the hospital just to see if it was water or if I really did pee myself again. I really really really wanted to stay home, but when qualified nurses and docs tell you they really need to see it themselves and I need to start the antibiotics that will ensure my baby won't catch a horrible disease as she passes through me --- you listen and go.

So, about midnight we arrive at Livingston Memorial - they prod, test urine and hook me up to some things to see if I am contracting at all -- Not real sure about the water breaking, no real contractions, but I am there... Admit me and just have the Doc (Dr. Coleman, the one we really really wanted to be on-call for our delivery) check in the morning. Since we have essentially been up since Saturday morning and it was now Sunday at 1am, we thought it good to just sleep.

I start having some "cramping" that felt just like a menstrual cramp about this time and they came pretty irregularly the entire night (morning). When the Doc arrived at 8am on Sunday (May 10th, also Mother's Day) he said I was in "pre-labor" and that I was still dilated to a 1 (that's 1cm). No baby coming out of that anytime soon.

We were told to WALK and walk and walk and walk as much as we wanted... wherever we wanted, all over town, the hospital, the trails at the River, whatever. Just come and check back in and they would take a look and see how I was progressing. I was happy about this.

Cramps were now about 10 minutes apart. Yay. They would change however and didn't stay real consistent. By NOON on Sunday we were still walking, the cramps or "surges" as we called them in Hypnobirthing were getting fairly more intense, I had to stop when walking when they came on now, but they were still not regular and get this... I was not dilated to a THREE! No baby coming out of that anytime soon. No sir.

We are now over 12 hours into "labor." I was really happy to just go slow and steady and keep at this rate. Eventually (next week) I would be at a ten and we could have the baby... Just keep walking. Because of our extensive walks, we had some nice visits with our friends that lived within a 5 square mile radius of the Hospital and the hatches we checked out on the Yellowstone were lovely.

Now, I am going to preface this with - Dr. Coleman was TOTALLY behind our natural birth plan and was very amazing at letting us "do our thing" and progress on our own. However, I knew that no matter how behind us he was, the dreaded "P" word was going to fly soon. Simply b/c I read enough to know that with the group b strep thing and the antibiotics and hospitals really don't want to let you go too long after your "water has broke," I knew it was coming. It did.

At 3:00pm I was given Pitocin. By 3:01 it was working. Very intense contractions immediately. I went from walking and talking and laughing to only talking and laughing and then quickly to only talking and eventually, I didn't speak. You can ask my husband for the details of what went on from 3:30pm - 10pm, but let's just say - I didn't speak ( I occasionally held up my hand in a stop sign position to get anyone talking to me to stop talking, or I would give a wimpy "thumbs up" to let them know I was not dead).

I chose to stay in the shower for this entire 6 plus hours. It was my happy place and the ONLY place where I could concentrate on my hypnobreathing and visualizations. There was something about the small confined white box with the hot water dripping down me. It worked. While the labor was very very difficult and the contractions with Pitocin are "AMPLIFIED" I was for the most part able to control my labor and advance pretty well. I dreaded the few times they took me out of the shower to do some monitoring or vitals. Moving when you find a comfortable position or focus is a very, very bad idea. When you lose your focus it feels a bit like you are a small child in a large shopping mall with a million people around yelling and you look up and can't find your mom. Panic, anxiety and pure fear come over you and you feel like you may never get back to your "safe happy place."

The few times I let my focus or breathing slip while I was in the shower was a result of letting my mind wander to thoughts of the hot water running out. I had decided that I would sue Livingston Memorial if it ran out of hot water. I was going to sue the nurses, the doctors, and the maintenance man if the hot water heater was too small and I was interrupted or taken out of my hot shower. Looking back - it might have been a bit irrational.

At 10pm I was starting to lose it. I had now been awake with no sleep (except for a few cat naps) since Saturday morning at 7am when I had woken. It was now almost MONDAY. I was one tired gal. Mentally I felt like I was hanging in there... Very determined to have this baby and very determined to not get any more drugs. I was bummed about the Pitocin but knew it was not the end of the world. I also knew that if my body started shutting down and getting too tired, then I was at a greater chance of not being fit to deliver the baby naturally and without a c-section and THAT WAS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN to me that day. I didn't feel like we needed to go there.

I was at the point where I physically wasn't handling the contractions anymore... Body was plum tired. We were at 24 hours of laboring at this point. Dr. Coleman strongly suggested some pain meds to help my body relax, to give me a break and see if that would dilate me more. After 6 hours on the crazy Pitocin with rocking contractions - I was still only dilated 7 cm. He said labor could continue for hours.

When you are convulsing and falling dead asleep (to the point of snoring) between your 3o second apart contractions the Epidural is sounding really good. So, we got the Epidural. Grant, the Anesthesiologist, the man of the hour, couldn't get there fast enough. Once you actually allow yourself to admit you are getting the drugs and make up your mind, you go all out and absolutely NEED them immediately. Once my mind allowed the Epidural I couldn't bear to "focus and breath" any more and I was pretty anxious (very large understatement) for GRANT and his needle.

He gave me the epidural. Within minutes Peter had his wife back. I was smiling, could focus, saw his face. I think I finally spoke a syllable again. My legs were like boat anchors and as Pete and the Doc chatted I almost fell off the table. Thank goodness Maria, the R.N was paying attention and caught me. We got teary eyed about how cool labor was, how amazing this was, how excited we were to meet her... I slept for about 2 hours. Fell right asleep. When I awoke at midnight I was dilated to 10cm! It was time to push. The Epidural just allowed my body to rest and relax enough to dilate further AND I got some beauty sleep for the final inning. I was looking rather haggard.

They were able to "undo" the epidural at that point so I could feel the pushing stuff and be a bit more aware of what was going on down there. It is very difficult to "push a baby out" with only muscle memory and no feeling. Especially since I had NO MEMORY in my muscles of this miraculous event. I could feel what was going on but a bit of the "edge" was taken off... It was quite ideal really.

We pushed for almost 2 hours. Peter and Dr. Coleman literally talked about fishing and hunting between every contraction. I at the time didn't mind it at all and was even taking part in the conversations. Later, Maria the R.N. said she thought it was hilarious and thought that most women would have slapped their husbands and kicked the Dr. if they had to hear about fish and elk while pushing...

At 1:51am on Monday May 11th Matine John Howell came into this world. She was absolutely perfect. I am so thankful to have experienced what I did. While everything didn't go perfectly according to my "birth plan" the outcome was all the same. We had a perfect, healthy, alert and calm baby girl in our arms.

Those first moments when you see, hear and hold your baby are too indescribable to even attempt to write. It was the most defining moment of my life - and always will be.


Ashlee , JT. Soph, Shiloh, and Baby Tollett said...

Hey Brooke,

Great labor/delivery sweet. I had a question for you. My husband and I were wondering what your elk hunting business actually looks like. Do you take clients out to hunt at the camp you set up...and if so what is the price range?

Just curious...oh and Addy has the same little "farming" dress that Matine has on in one of her pics. She's actually wearing it today! Love it! I'll leave you my email if you wish to use it:

Carissa said...

Thank you for sharing that Brooke! I LOVE hearing birth stories. Each and everyone is a miracle and so amazing to hear. I was cracking up because your experience with Matine was pretty much my exact experience with Easton. I was induced with pitocin at 0 cm and 0 dialated. Let's just put it this way...PITOCIN = EPIDURAL! I was exactly like you...noone could even speak around me and I would
"hold my hand up like a stop sign" whne they would! So funny! The anesthesiologist also couldn't get there fast enough when I finally decided to give in AND like you, once I got the epidural, my body relaxed and I dialted to a 10 in less than 2 hours. I did it naturally with Emerson because I had no pitocin and let me tell you, the worst thing I ever felt with her didn't compare to 1 contraction on pitocin. You go girl! You are amazing and beautiful on the inside and out...and I have NO doubt that the beautiful little girl you gave birth to will be as well!

lauren and brad said...

why are birth stories my very favorite kind of stories!?!?!

Absolutley beautiful!

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