Codie’s birth story

Hi! This is long. Whoops. If you’re not into melodramatic sobbing and labor carnage, please enjoy the GIFs and the TL;DR version down at the bottom. (But you really should read the whole thing.)

Pre-labor

At 4 a.m. Sunday, June 22, eight days after my estimated due date, I laid in bed and cried because I was a failure and I was never going to go into labor.

Each passing day seemed to increase my likelihood of another c-section. I didn’t want to spend an extra night in the hospital away from Kenzie, and I really didn’t want to spend an extra month recovering. (Others may recover from c-sections more quickly than I did, but I had a deep ache in my gut for what seemed like E-VER.) With a prior section, my doctor wouldn’t induce, so my only hope was to go into labor on my own.

Well-meaning friends and family called and texted. Baby yet? Any signs? Told me they’d had c-sections and were grateful for them. That baby would come when she was ready. That their mom gave birth at 43 weeks! And everything turned out just fine!

Every day we said, today, SURELY.

shirley

We came up with outings and activities to entertain the toddler. We went to every park and splash pad in a 20 mile radius, and on that Sunday the 22nd we drove across town to a county fair. I figured the farther away I was from my hospital, the more likely I’d be to go into labor and have to give birth in a first aid tent or poultry barn.

I tried so hard to go into labor.

push it

I had been having mild, irregular contractions for days that would go on for an hour or more and then just fizzle out. I had been drinking that godawful raspberry leaf tea since week 32 or 33. Taking daily walks of 2-3 miles. Rolling and bouncing on an exercise ball. Eating all the spicy foods I could stomach. I even tried castor oil at 41 weeks. (Just in case anyone out there is not well-versed in the old-timey labor induction tricks, the idea behind castor oil is that it helps you shit by causing contractions of the smooth muscles of your bowels. Since the uterus is also a smooth muscle, it can cause contractions there as well. But if your body is not READY to go into labor, all that turbulence will just make you shit your brains out for nothing. Naturally, the result for me was nothing.)

splatter zone

I had an appointment for a non-stress test and ultrasound Monday, June 23 at 9 a.m. and I knew we’d have the c-section talk again. I was running out of time, so on Sunday night I decided to try the castor oil again. But I didn’t have any of the GI ‘effects’ I’d had the first time I took it, so I don’t really think it made a difference.

Early, early labor

I had a few contractions while watching TV and they became more regular as we were getting ready for bed. Probably every 10 minutes. I decided to stay up and start timing them if for no other reason than I had installed a fun contraction timer app on my phone and I’d be pissed if I never got to use it. #priorities

I bounced on the exercise ball and read a book on my Kindle, and quickly the contractions increased to 4-5 minutes apart and then 2-3 minutes. At first they were very mild and I could bounce through them, but within a couple of hours I was getting down on all fours to breathe. (I thought at the time these were pretty strong contractions. LOLOLOL. I had no fucking clue.) Just after midnight, I got in the shower and husband spoke with the on-call doctor. Then we were off to the hospital.

I made it up to L&D, signed some papers I didn’t even read (while on all fours) and then got fisted by a nurse in a chilly triage room. I was only 2 cm dilated but 80% effaced so, not too shabby. The nurse said ordinarily they’d give a person the option of staying or going home, but since I was a week late and a VBAC, the on-call doctor asked me to stay until my own doctor came on at 8 a.m.

At 2 a.m. or so, I was checked into a LDRP room and spent the next five hours chatting with my husband, listening to music and having contractions on an exercise ball.

When my doctor came in and checked me, I was happy to learn I’d progressed to 4 cm. But around 9:00 a.m. I noticed the contractions had started to fizzle. They got farther and farther apart and finally just stopped. Again, ordinary protocol would be to just go on home. But at 41 weeks, 2 days, time wasn’t on my side. My doctor gave me the okay to get off the monitors and traipse around the L&D floor for a while to try to move things along. If that didn’t work, he said, he could break my water and give me a very small amount of pitocin.

We did laps for 30 minutes, and of course nothing happened.

I guess breaking a 41-week-old half-empty bag of water is a lot harder than breaking a 40-week-old full bag of water because he had a hell of a time doing it. It hurt like fuck and the sheets were spattered with blood afterward (PICTURE IT); and it was all for naught. An hour later, still no contractions.

Really, real labor

As scared as I was of pitocin (see: Kenzie’s birth story), it seemed like my last chance, so I agreed to do it. They assured me it would be a very small dose, nowhere near what I’d had last time. And although everyone was nice enough to never say the word c-section, I knew that’s what it would come to if the pit didn’t work.

Holy fuck, did it work.

giphy

Within an hour, I was having the worst contractions of my life. Every other contraction I’d had until then was just a tease, a tickle. I tried to relax as best I could to let the contractions do their job, but after a couple of hours I started panicking every time another one would come on, and instead of breathing through them I was fighting against them. My nurse stayed in there with us and at one point I looked at her and my husband and I said, “I don’t think I can do this.”

They had explicit instructions not to talk to me about epidurals until I brought it up myself, so they just exchanged a glance and didn’t say anything. I had no desire whatsoever to go med-free through the entire birth, but I wanted to at least get over that 5 cm hump.

I asked her how much longer this could possibly go on and she said as long as an hour per centimeter, or more. I did the math and then said fuck it (and expected the pain to somehow miraculously go away that minute). My nurse got shit into action fast, but I still had to work through another dozen or so contractions before I was pain-free.

When the anesthesiologist came in (probably not even 10 minutes later), I was on the bed, naked from the waist down, on all fours, squeezing my husband’s hands to a pulp and making animal noises.

Thirty minutes later I was telling everyone how much I loved them.

6cd5fe41fce52f6e_drugs.xxxlarge

I had actually made it to a solid 7 cm before the epidural and things progressed quickly after that. The only snag here was when I began feeling the contractions again on my right side. Mildly at first, and then just as hard as before. They re-dosed the juice to my spine and when the nurse checked me again at around 9 p.m., I was at 10 cm and the head was waaay down at a -2 station which is med lingo for “practically falling out.” I looked at my husband and squeezed his hand and cried some more because we were so close to finally meeting our new baby friend.

Delivery

At 9:44 p.m., Codie shot out of me in six pushes like a bloody, 6-pound, 12-ounce cannonball.

birth

You guys…IT WAS SO AWESOME.

I’d asked for a mirror so I could watch the carnage and what I remember most vividly is when the top of the head was just beginning to poke out, the skin of her scalp was all loose (kind of like a big, hairy testicle). I later realized it was because those soft spots were allowing the skull plates to flex inward. Science! I’ll never forget the sight of that wrinkly little head. It was incredible. After her head came out, the rest of her just kind of tumbled out behind it and she started screaming almost immediately. The first thing they did was lay her on my chest. Cue: More sobbing.

Afterbirth

So I know everybody has their own ideal for giving birth and some people believe that feeling all the pain allows them to participate more fully in the experience, and that’s fine. Not judging. (For once!) But for me, it was absolutely because of the epidural that I was able to soak in and enjoy all of the fine details of the delivery without the distraction of terror and agonizing pain. I feel so lucky that everything turned out the way it did. I got the labor and delivery I wanted, and most importantly I got another sweet baby who is healthy and perfect. (Albeit a little dry and flaky from being in there for so damn long.)

I’ve also got a bunch of stitches to help me remember it all. Having your baby shoot out of you is nice but it does have some drawbacks; namely, not allowing your skin to gradually stretch out before the baby comes through. I tore in four places, and while none of them were 3rd-degree, a couple were what my doctor referred to as “unique.” (I’m still afraid to look.) They hurt like fuck, but I think in the long run I’ll still prefer them to the c-section.

TL;DR

I went into labor. Labor stopped. Labor started again. Labor sucks. Epidurals are awesome. I pushed out a baby and it was funsies.

2014-06-24 09.27.25Fin.

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27 thoughts on “Codie’s birth story

  1. You VBAC’d the shit out of that birth! Congrats!! I’m so glad things went well.

    I also thought having the mirror there was cool. Which surprised me.

    • Thank you! I don’t know if I would have wanted it if I could feel what was going on down there, but again, being numb made it less scary for me!

  2. I am a sucker for an intense birth story. Congrats on getting your VBAC and shooting Codie out like a champ.

    I’m kinda mad I was never offered a mirror. It might have been because I was clenching with my eyes closed each time (especially the last time), but I can only imagine how bizarre and crazy it looks. Lol to testicle.

    Hmmmmm to tearing in 4 places. You need to look because I didn’t even know that was possible (and yes, I did look at my tears and then I felt bad for my husband).

  3. It is pretty cool to see that baby emerge. My last two didn’t have the water broken…it looks like a head floating in a water balloon. I can’t believe you took castor oil twice. You can stand a spoon up in that shit. You didn’t even try the BJ did you?

    I am so glad she’s here and safely and everyone is healthy and happy. Babies are awesome 🙂

    • Thanks, friend. 🙂
      It was truly vile but I don’t think I took enough for it to work. I wouldn’t do it again! (I mean the castor oil of course. =P )

  4. I don’t even have kids…still a sucker for birth stories, and happy you didn’t have to have a section you didn’t want. And I stand by original opinion that you had a heck of a cute baby.

  5. I’m hopefully getting ready to have a vba2c soon. I’m so glad you got your birth. Wish me luck! I love your blog. Having my baby in Carmel.

  6. I loved reading this! I had a section with Patsy because she was breech and VBACS are not real popular here in Illinois. I really want to try for one when the time comes for #2 so I was happy to hear about your experience, as you always keep it real here! Congrats on a wonderfully beautiful baby girl! Did you husband bring his baseball mitt for catching, just in case?

    • Haha! Nope, he’d have wanted to catch it in his ball cap like a boss anyway. With a beer in the other hand.
      I read somewhere that about 40% of hospitals still don’t allow VBACs, so I think I was lucky in that regard, and also that my doctor was willing to try everything possible to help make it happen. He later told me he was so glad I waited! But I think it kind of just comes down to luck. My only advice is to talk to your doctor about it early and make sure he’s supportive of your wishes. (Duh, kind of, but that’s all I got.)

  7. I gotta admit, I checked IG and Feedly specifically for updates but tried my hardest not to leave any kind of “baby yet?” comments because I didn’t want to be that person.

    I almost clapped when I saw your update. Your enthusiasm is rubbing off and you didn’t let down. Glad you were able to have the birth you hoped for and your new baby friend is here and super cute. Also, I’m totally curious about VBACs since I’d never read a VBAC birth story. I think most I read are from the first time moms.

    • Haha, thank you! And I’m sure I’ve been that person before. It’s hard not to.

      And thanks for reading it! I probably wouldn’t have written a novel if it had been the same story as last time.

  8. Yay for VBAC! Great story. You are a champ.

    I also said the words “I don’t think I can do this.” Multiple times.

    • Wise words. Its so scary to know there’s NOTHING you can do. I remember also saying “I can’t do one more contraction!” Like that would make the epidural happen faster.

  9. I am never having a baby again, because I sealed up the singles bar where the sperms and ovaries were trying to get together for pornographic fun, but if I did, I would either (a) do a scheduled c-section because I hated labor and at least the c-section involved drugs or (b) start an epidural at approximately 36 weeks, just to make sure there was no pain.

    Congrats on your new baby friend! Adorbs!

  10. The epidural is the greatest thing ever.

    Congrats! I’m sorry you had the worst contractions of your life – I had those when my water broke and I went from 1-6cm in an hour. It was hell on wheels until the Holy Epidural.

    And LOL to “unique” places. I hope they heal in the most boring and un-unique way possible.

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