Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blooma Birth Story: Kara

Sometimes you just have to break the "rules of blogging." One of those supposed rules is to keep posts somewhat short. But you know what, I say bah! to rules of blogging. Sometimes stories are too important and too good to shorten. This birth story is one of those stories. It comes from a mama named Kara, about the birth of her daughter, Phoebe. It's open, honest, and raw with emotion. It gives an inside glimpse into Kara's labor, whether she's finding a way to move through moments of fear, or surprised at her ability to laugh at a joke while pushing. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Kara, and congratulations!


Alisa, Sarah & the women of Blooma


In Kara's words:

I know how important it was for me to read positive birth stories, especially ones with first-time moms, when I was pregnant so I'd thought I'd send you my story...

October 30, 2009 7:44 p.m.

She's here! Before too long goes by, I'm trying to write down the story of Phoebe's birth. It was so incredible in so many ways—and yet so perfectly uneventful and boring as births go, which I'm so thankful for. Blooma was such a place of sanity for me—I always left feeling confident, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the world!

During labor, I found myself repeating "I can do this!" over and over again as a sort of mantra, which really surprised me since I've never
been someone who found mantras especially helpful. As a Labor and Delivery RN, Blooma was also a place where I could actively focus on positive birth stories, and push out of my head some of the more challenging ones I'd seen at work.

On Thursday morning (Oct. 29th), I felt the first real sense of hope that I wasn't going to be pregnant forever (I was 41 and 2 days pregnant)—or at least wasn't going to have to be induced on Monday (which had been a tentative plan)—when I noticed that I had quite a bit of red "bloody show." I'd also had a couple of contractions the night before that had made me pay attention, but hadn't really affected my sleep. I let our midwife know later that morning, but kept the normal routine going. I went to yoga, where Sarah told me that she felt a lot of birth energy coming off of me and reassured me that it would be soon.

We went to bed both excited and disappointed that nothing had happened.

I'm calling the start of my real labor at 2 a.m. on Friday, October 30,
which brings my total length of labor about 16 hours long. I was able to rest through most of the contractions up until that point, when I woke Jim up and asked him to get the bed ready (put on the second set of sheets and waterproof cover) and to let him know things were heating up. After that, though, he went back to sleep since I was able to cope and still rest through some of the contractions and we both knew we should rest while we could.

At 6:30 that morning, I woke Jim up again to call in the troops as I felt things were really starting to get serious. I was still reluctant to consider myself in active labor, but was having to breath through them more and threw up once, so we called our midwife Kim, who canceled a postnatal trip to Wisconsin and told her we'd call her when we wanted her to come over. We also called my mom and sister in law, who we'd invited to attend the birth.

With the introduction of my support folk, I found my contractions slowed down to every 6-8 compared to 4-6 minutes, but their presence energized me and we had a good couple of hours talking. Things I found very helpful coping during these contractions were standing or kneeling and having Jim (or someone else) count during the worst of the contraction. It helped to focus on his voice and to know about when it was peaking. Although they weren't very frequent, they lasted at least a minute, usually closer to a minute and 45.

I finally went
upstairs around 11:45 a.m. to try to get my contractions closer together and to refocus myself a little. Meanwhile, Kim had encouraged us to fill up the tub, since it would take awhile and it would occupy Jim for a long time, which it did.

We finally had Kim come over to check on us at 12:30 p.m., where I was very pleased to find out I was 3-4 cm dilated, 80 percent effaced, zero station with a bulging bag of membranes. I had been worried I wasn't going to be at all dilated and would have to reframe my idea of labor if that was the case. I still knew it could be many hours before this baby came, so I encouraged Kim to leave, which she did—saying I could call her back whenever and she had to renew her tabs anyway, which we
all found pretty amusing.

Knowing I had made good progress gave me renewed energy and I spent an hour or two downstairs again with Amy and my mom, eating lightly on apples, a piece of cheese, and some popcorn. By 2:30 p.m. I was feeling less able to cope and more and more interested in the tub, so we
called Kim and asked her to return to check me again.

By this point, I'd started coping with my contractions by repeating, "I can do this" over and over again, which surprised me but again allowed me to focus on the words and not the pain. I also found it very soothing to have a view of the window and to watch the leaves blowing in the wind.
Kim arrived and checked me at 3:30 p.m., and Jim (and I) were so pleased to find out that I was 6-7 cms, able to be stretched to an 8, again with a bulging bag.

Kim called the secondary midwife, Gretchen, and her apprentice, Laura to get everyone here, and I quickly got into the
tub. The tub was wonderful! It didn't take away the contraction pain completely, but it was so relaxing, and it was such a relief to be allowed to float and rest my body. I got into the tub for 2 hours, getting out occasionally to use the bathroom, but eventually I got too hot and got out.

At 6:20 p.m., I hadn't changed my cervix, although the bag of waters was descending I asked to have my bag of waters broke, which Kim did, and it had clear fluid—this brought baby down to +1
station and made my cervix go to 8-9. The next part of my labor was pretty wild, as the pain got very intense, very quickly and my previous methods of coping were not working.

Things I remember from that hour are:

- Hitting the bed in frustration
- Pushing the ball, which I'd been leaning on, violently away and Jim pushing it back, which made me furious for some reason
- Telling Jim he needed to stop talking
- Feeling very trapped, but having nowhere to go

Poor Jim! He told me later that this part was the hardest because I was in so much pain, and he couldn't do anything. Quickly though, I felt like pushing but was very nervous about pushing too early. It became clear I was pushing, however (I also think I was saying out loud, "Don't push too soon.") and Amy went down to get the midwives who had stepped downstairs for a few minutes.

They had me get back in the tub at 7:20 p.m., where I almost immediately started pushing. On a side note, the midwives had ordered a pizza at about 6:45, which arrived at 7:25, perfectly timed that no one could touch it until
after the birth. The folks downstairs had joked that the baby would arrive before the pizza, and Kim commented that it would be fabulous if it did, since that meant I was so close.

I was oblivious to a lot
of what was going on at the time, but someone made a joke at one point during pushing, and I smiled (and Amy caught it on camera), which was incredible even to me at that point—in between contractions I could interact with people, but was so out of it during.

I pushed in a variety of positions: hands and knees, flipped over over
floating in my back, on just my knees holding the side of the tub. I know I made a lot of noise during this part of labor—the feelings were so overwhelming and I think I was also afraid it would last a long time and I didn't think I could handle it. Jim was right in front of me; I could see he'd been tearing up and that he was so excited we were at this point in labor. Kim was very soothing, reminding me to push in long, steady pushes and I remember her saying "It's not going to be a long pushing stage. You're pushing very well."

I also could feel the baby inside and between nearly every
contraction, I would check my progress. It was very surreal to feel her move down—I could tell she didn't have much hair!

At one point, near the end, Kim was providing counter pressure and I
felt an extremely painful movement down there and I snapped at Kim to "Stop it! What are you doing?" but it wasn't Kim, it was the baby internally. It happened again, and I yelled at her again, but she just calmly replied that she wasn't doing anything—it was the baby, which I didn't really believe at the time.

At around that point,
someone asked me a question, and my answer was, "No, I'm going to catch my baby" and I pushed her head out, paused while Kim checked for a cord, and then pushed her shoulders out.

Kim and I brought her up
together and it was such a relief to have her out! She had her cord wrapped around her back and then twice around her foot, like a little ballerina dancer. She had her eyes open and was pinking up great, but waited about 30 seconds to cry. I looked down and saw she was a girl and a cheer went up. Then, when she did give a nice, lusty cry, Amy burst into tears and jumped up and down. Jim was crying and so happy, and I was so proud and yet still shocked that I had done it. I kept repeating, "I did it!"

I stayed in the tub for a few more minutes, cooing over my lovely
daughter, with Jim at my side, and then after the cord had stopped pulsing, Jim cut it and I handed our new baby to him, while I got out and into the bed. Phoebe was born at 7:44 p.m., weighed 7 lbs 8 oz, 21 inches long.

Apgar scores were 9 at 1 minute and 10 at 5 minutes. I'm not sure how we ended up with a long, skinny baby when we are more like hobbits, but she's here, she's beautiful and she's ours.

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