With the birth of BIT rapidly approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the Littlest Brewster came into the world. And I thought I’d share her birth story with all of you, since I know I’ll be telling you about BIT’s debut as well.
*Disclaimer: This is incredibly long! Consider yourselves forewarned…*
I was due Sunday, December 18th with LB. For weeks, I was convinced I’d have the baby early. The Littlest Brewster laughed at that, as my due date came and went. To keep my mind off being due and not being in labor, we actually brewed a batch of Due Date IPA that was delicious and came in extremely handy in those early weeks with a newborn…
At my 40w1d appointment (12/19), I decided to let the doctor strip my membranes in an attempt to jump start labor. Otherwise, we were going to be scheduled for an induction at 41 weeks. Holy moly, the membrane sweep was so incredibly painful! DB was holding my hand when the doc did it and he said I basically turned purple. This could be due to the fact that I was barely 1 cm dilated and Dr. Bernstein (my favorite doc in the whole practice) had his work cut out for him to actually perform the procedure. I worked a full day on December 20th, kind of disappointed that having gone through that was obviously for naught as I was still very, very pregnant.
On December 21st, around 3:30 am, I get up and move to the recliner because my back was really hurting. About 15 minutes later, I went to the bathroom and as I was walking back to the recliner, I felt a bit of a gush – and sure enough my undies were pretty wet. I wasn’t convinced it was amniotic fluid, so I just changed my underwear and got back in the recliner. But every time I move, I get another little spurt of fluid. So I go to change my underwear again and put on a pad. DB asks me what’s going on and I told him that I wasn’t sure if I had peed myself or if I was leaking fluid. I told him to keep sleeping and went back downstairs. Soon thereafter, I start feeling mild intermittent contractions, which is very exciting.
Around 5 am, I’m pretty sure that today’s the day and go upstairs to have one last snuggle with DB as a family of two. By 5:45, I give up trying to get any sleep at all and we both get up. (A decision that would later bite me in the butt…) At this point, I’m still NOT convinced that my water’s broken and plan on going to the OB’s office and getting a swab test. I was pretty sure that they’d tell me I was incontinent and I would head in to work. However, after sitting down in the kitchen for a bit, there was a huge gush when I stood up. That was enough to convince DB that my water had broken. I’m pretty sure he said, “You haven’t been incontinent this entire pregnancy. Why do you think it would suddenly start now?!?” in his attempt to convince me I was leaking amniotic fluid.
At this point, it’s 7:15 and my plan is still to go get swabbed, even though the office is 45 min away and DB thought I should trust myself that it’s amniotic fluid and just stay home. I’m sure that they will tell me I’m peeing myself and send me to work, so I put on my scrubs and prepare to leave. I talk Dr. Bernstein, who is convinced that it’s my water and says that he would like to see us in the hospital in 8 hours or so, especially if labor hasn’t truly established itself at that point. So I finally believe that this is it, today’s the day we’re (hopefully) going to meet our baby!
We call our parents, who are excited beyond belief. My mom and dad hop in the car immediately, even though we told them not to rush up as first babies take awhile. We also go ahead and let our doula Michelle know what’s going on and ask her to be at our house by 11:30, when my parents arrive.
From 7:30 to 11:30 or so, we putzed around the house – cleaned, showered, packed up our last minute items, went for a little walk. By 11:30, Michelle and my parents arrived (my parents brought Jersey Mike’s, which was great. However, I will forever associate the smell of those subs with being in labor). After we ate lunch, my mom, Michelle, and I went for another walk – these really seemed to help establish a more regular contraction pattern for me. Between walking, I bounced on my ball and chatted with Jason, Michelle, and my parents.
Around 2, Michelle and I went for a loooong walk around the neighborhood. We got back around 3, the time we had originally said we’d go to the hospital. My mom immediately started getting her things together to go, but I told her I wasn’t leaving yet. The DreadBrewer and I went upstairs to talk and he told me he’d had a stern talk with her because she’d been calling people and telling them I was having ineffective labor and that I needed to just go to the hospital and get pitocin. He told her that we had a plan and she could support it or not be there. I was SO proud of him! Unfortunately, just the stress of having her in the house, essentially staring at me and waiting for the baby immediately slowed down my contractions. Ultimately, around 4, I decided that we should go ahead and go to the hospital. At this point, my contractions were 5-7 min apart, and my water had been broken for 12 hours. (For those of you who don’t remember, in birth class they keep pounding into your head that you must deliver within 24 hours of your water breaking or dire things will happen to you and your baby.)
When we get to the hospital, DB, Michelle, and I go to triage. I am FINALLY convinced by the nurse that I’m leaking amniotic fluid and not urine. I get checked and I’m 1 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I almost cried when I heard this – I was 1 cm and 20% effaced at my appointment 2 days earlier. 12 hours of contractions for nothing but effacement?! Michelle and the nurse told me, repeatedly, that the cervix has to thin before it can open and this wasn’t the worst news ever. I decide to take it for what it is and move on and concentrate on the next steps. But I was seriously, seriously bummed.
Once we get to our room, I sent everyone but Michelle to the cafeteria for dinner and started walking laps around the floor. My contractions pick right back up – every 4 minutes or so for a minute at a time. They’re painful at this point, but not unbearable and I’m feeling pretty confident that I can do this naturally.
My buddy Cris comes around 8:30. She is a great buffer between me and my mom (who is driving me crazy by now) and has everyone laughing and gossiping between contractions. I REALLY have to concentrate on contractions at this point and have a tendency to repeat the F-bomb throughout the contraction. I tried TONS of different positions – swaying, on the birth ball, child’s pose in the bed – each one worked for awhile but not for extended periods. The best was leaning on DB and swaying while Michelle rubbed my hips.
By 9:30, I decide to get in the shower. I was kind of worried to “use up” all the good pain relief methods too early, but I needed to try something else. The DreadBrewer was great and used the nozzle on my back for at least 30 minutes – he never complained about being sore or tired or asked anyone else to do anything for me. In the shower, I started shaking really badly – which actually made me kind of excited as everything I had read said this usually happened near transition. A couple of times, I told him that I couldn’t do this anymore and he and Michelle would remind me that I WAS doing it. And I would regain my confidence and my focus and go to the next contraction (which were every 2-3 minutes now).
At 10:15, my nurse asked if she could check me and I said okay. Everyone but Jason and Michelle left the room. At this point, I had been having really strong, consistent contractions for hours and I really expected some progress. When she told me that I had progressed to 2 cm, I was devastated. I was exhausted. I had been up and contracting for 19 hours and I was spent. I looked at DB and I told him that I couldn’t do it anymore and I needed an epidural. I needed a break and I felt like I had hit a wall and there was no way I could do this for any longer. We had come up with a code word to use if I was serious and I used it. I looked at him and said… “cabbage.” (we wanted to make sure it was a word that wouldn’t come up in normal conversation.) And he was great about it and agreed that it would be a good idea. Michelle went out to let the nurse know to get things started. I felt so bad, though, about deciding to get the epi. I told DB that I felt like a failure and a disappointment and he was so awesome and told me, repeatedly, that he did not think I was a failure and that I was not disappointing him or anyone else. It took about an hour before everything was in place to get the epidural. The anesthesiologist came at 11:30 and kicked everyone out but one person – I asked DB if he minded if Cris stayed with me, since she’d had one before and could talk me through it and he was fine with that. It took two tries for the doctor to place the epi, and it was painful. Whoever says the epidural didn’t hurt at all is lying – it hurt. But it went away pretty quickly and wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. Within 10-15 minutes of having it placed, my pain was gone. Everyone came back in and we all settled in to get a little rest.
-Because of the epi, I had to be hooked up to a BP cuff and continuous external fetal monitoring, which wasn’t as obnoxious as I would have thought. Cris left shortly after it was placed and we all rested a bit. My nurse came to check me around 12:15 – I was absolutely amazed when she told me I was at 6 cm! I progressed 4 cm in under an hour! It seemed like I really just needed to relax and rest to dilate.
They checked me again around 2 and I was at 8 cm, but my contractions were starting to slow down and space out. Or so the monitor said, as I couldn’t really feel them. The nurse wanted to start pitocin at that point, but I asked her if we could wait awhile and discuss it. Jason and I had wanted to avoid pitocin if we could and Katie was fine with us waiting. Well, an hour later, now almost 24 hours after my water had broken, another nurse came in to see about starting the pitocin. Jason was finally barely dozing, so I talked it over with Michelle and decided that we should probably start a low dose. I felt like my contractions weren’t in a pattern that would be effective for pushing. I woke Jason up and let him know that I thought we should start the pit – one regret is that I wish I had discussed it with him, rather than informed him that that’s what I decided. But he was okay with it and we got the pitocin going.
Around 4:45, the nurse checks me and all I have left is a small lip of cervix. She says she’ll give me another 20 minutes or so to get it out of the way. In the meantime, she gets the room set up for delivery. At this point, I can’t believe that we will shortly meet our son or daughter.
By 5:10, I’m complete! They get me set up for a few practice pushes. My mom holds one leg and Michelle grabs the other. DB was down by the foot of the bed, watching things progress. I pushed through 3 or 4 contractions and the baby’s head is right there. Everyone kept telling me how much hair there was and how long it was. I had no idea if I was pushing effectively, since I couldn’t really feel anything, but I guess I was because the baby moved right down. They called Dr. Bernstein to come in and we got down to business. I pushed for another 3 or 4 contractions and the head popped out. I looked down and could see the baby’s head and I remember asking, “Why isn’t it crying? Is it okay?” Dr. Bernstein laughed and said the baby would cry once it was all the way out. The rest of the baby didn’t even wait for a contraction – the body honestly just slithered out. The doctor held Bertie up and DB looked and told me, “We have a girl!” She was born 12/22/11 at 5:45 am.
We delayed any newborn procedures for an hour, so it took awhile before we found out her weight. Everyone kept saying how big she was and I was curious to see what the final amount was. She was 9 lbs 3 ounces! The DreadBrewer was a big baby, so I knew she was going to be chunky, but I was surprised at just how big she was!
Ultimately, the whole experience was not what I had expected or planned for, but I think that it was what it needed to be. I’m glad that I tried to go naturally for as long as I could, even if it didn’t work out. I’m SO glad that the DreadBrewer was such an active part in the process – I can’t imagine a better or more supportive husband. I wish I had been more successful at keeping my mom from bothering me – I truly believe that a lot of my lack of progress was due to the stress of essentially being a watched pot with her constant comments about needing to just go ahead and get the epidural, get the pitocin. But she’s always gotten under my skin easily. And given the fact that she’s gone now, I am so, so glad that she was there for the birth. (Even if it was horrifically stressful having her there at the time.)
So there you have it – the Littlest Brewster’s birth story, in epic novel format. (I actually cut out about 1000 words from the original version I have on my computer. You’re welcome.) When the doctor told me that the second labor is typically half as long as the first, I was like, “Woot! 13 hours instead of 26!!”
Seriously though, there are a few things that I plan on doing differently with BIT’s labor that I think will make a difference. For one, nobody is coming to the hospital with me besides the DreadBrewer and Michelle. I’ve done the whole, “Let’s have a village attend your childbirth!” and I’m not doing it again. For another, I’m not having the doctor strip my membranes this time. I think (in addition to the stress of scrutiny) the fact that my water broke before I had actually started labor on my own SNAFU-ed things up a bit. And I’m going to try again to do it without meds, but I think I’ll be a little less likely to beat myself up if I end up with an epidural.
So, stay tuned for an update sometime in the next few weeks and we’ll see how Labor and Delivery, version 2.0 goes.