Saturday, August 17, 2013

Miriam Jane: A Birth Story

It feels like we waited a long time for this little girl to make her appearance but now she's here and I'm finally on the other side.  

And Miriam Jane was worth the wait...  

So for those who are interested in the details, here is the play-by-play of my drug-free induction...

First of all, going overdue isn't something I would wish on anyone.  The first few days aren't so bad but when you hit 41 weeks and Babycenter sends you your weekly email with facts about your "1 week old" and you are still huge and hot and NOT in labour...  It gets old pretty quick.

I had been having increasingly frequent and strong Braxton Hicks and my brain was in overdrive, constantly analyzing each one, thinking in vain that "that last one might've been a little stronger" and foolishly timing them on my iphone contraction timer...  Then Saturday morning I woke up with some crampy contractions and signs of early labour and I thought 'this is the day!'  But dinner time rolled around and nothing more had happened all day.  I was emotionally spent and very much over my high hopes of going into labour on my own like I did with Silas.  So, I called the midwife and confirmed that we were on the induction schedule for the next morning - which was 10 days past my due date.

We got to the hospital around 9 am on Sunday and spent the next couple of hours hooked up to the monitors in triage, getting an IV (I was GBS+ and needed antibiotics), and getting settled into our room.  Here I am at 41 weeks, 3 days.  The size of my belly (which measured 43 weeks by the end) made sense afterwards - I was still swollen with my 9 lb baby, a giant placenta and extra fluids...

We opted to just go ahead and break my water since I was 2 cm dilated and my cervix was favourable.  When I was 9 days overdue with Keziah we did the same thing - I was 2 cm dilated with a soft cervix - and she was born just over an hour after my membranes were ruptured.  Yes, it was fast and intense... but it was also effective!  With Silas, after my membranes fully ruptured he was also born in about an hour (though I was already having contractions beforehand).  So, when the midwife broke my water at 11:15, I fully expected we would have a baby by early afternoon.  

But an hour passed by... we did some laps around the maternity ward (listening to other women in obvious labour), bounced on the birthing ball aaaand... nothing was happening.  A few contractions here and there but definitely nothing to write home about.  I was pretty surprised that I wasn't in full-blown labour considering my past experiences.  Our midwife told us that oxytocin was an option but we would need a nurse in the room to monitor it, and at that moment there wasn't a nurse to spare.  So, in its place she suggested I try using the electric breast pump - which is a natural way to get your body to produce oxytocin.  I was just sitting around anyway, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to try.  She had me pump for 15 minutes and then take a 1/2 hour break before pumping again.  Every time I pumped I would start getting contractions, but when the 1/2 break was up they fizzled out a little bit.  So, I kept at it; 15 minutes on, 30-45 minutes off for about 4 cycles.  Around 3 pm I started getting regular and increasingly painful contractions every 3-5 minutes.  And as I was pumping the 4th time, I didn't even make it through the 15 minutes before quitting because the contractions were getting so intense and I was ready to be in a more comfortable position.  Throughout this process the midwife was also giving me blue cohosh pills - a homeopathic remedy that is also supposed to help labour along.  So this may have helped, though I'm certain it was the pumping more than anything that finally put me into full-blown labour.  

At about 6 pm, after I had been in active labour for 3 hours, the midwife decided to check me and I was about 5 cm dilated, stretching to 7.  I figured we were in the homestretch - as I remembered with both Keziah and Silas, once I hit 5-7 cm they were born within the next 20 minutes or so and with just a few pushes.  I figured with this being baby #4, she should literally fall right out of me.  Right?  

Wrong.  I spent the next hour and a half in the most painful labour that I can ever remember having.  Micah's labour was a little longer but I'd had some pain meds in my IV to take the edge off.  And the hard part of labour went quite fast with both Keziah and Silas, so this time the transition phase felt like it lasted FOREVER.   It seemed like the pushing wasn't productive and she just wasn't coming down.  At one point they could see the head and then I could literally feel her crawling right back in.  The midwife commented that she really didn't seem to want to come out!  Finally after several more contractions her head was out and that's when they saw the cord wrapped around her neck.  Tight.  This was all unbeknownst to me as I had my eyes closed and was in my own world of pain, but Erik said they pressed the code alarm button.  Once the rest of her was body was out, they saw that her uber-long cord was wrapped around her neck once, under her armpit, around her back and through her legs.  They placed her on my tummy but she was blue and unresponsive and was quickly whisked away to the warming table where they worked on her for a very silent minute and a half before we finally heard her start to cry.  

What a relief...  To hear her crying and to know that the hard work was over.  Erik told me later that this was the most intense birth experience for him as well.  He hadn't remembered seeing me in so much pain in my other labours (which confirmed to me how bad it really was!) and the long moments of waiting for her to cry filled him with dread.  We're both sooo glad that part is over!

The midwife commented right away about her size and guessed that she might be over 10 lbs!  When the scale said 9 lbs 4 oz she actually re-weighed her just to double-check :)  

So the fact that she was my biggest baby and the fact that the cord had her so entangled may have been the reasons why it took me so long to push her out.  The midwife commented that, had this been my first delivery, it may have even ended in a c-section.  Not only was the baby big and the cord super long, but the midwife said my placenta was also unusually large.  So big that she also weighed it (almost a 3 pounder!).

Miriam Jane was born at 7:30 pm, and shortly after we called and texted the family to let them know the good news and invite them to come meet our newest member!  I had a chance to give her a nice long feed first which was important because of my gestational diabetes.  We wanted to avoid her having a blood sugar crash so she was able to get a few calories into her before the midwife tested her sugars (which she passed).

The family showed up around 9 pm and the kids got to meet their brand new baby sister.
(We took pictures mostly with our iphones that evening so the quality isn't fantastic.)

Oldest and youngest:

Sisters :)

Big brother for the first time!

Can you believe I have FOUR kids??

Erik stayed with me the first night in the hospital and it was NOT restful.  First it was hard to settle down to sleep because of the excitement of the evening, and when we finally got tired enough, Miriam decided it was time to be awake.  I don't know how many times I fed her that first night but it was a lot.  Erik took a turn trying to settle her but we both lost a lot of sleep and were pretty exhausted the next day.

Monday morning it was time to give Miriam her first bath.  I loved how she watched Erik so intently the whole time.

The midwife checked up on us and told us that we could feel free to leave the hospital at any time, but we ended up staying most of the day so that several friends could come and visit.  Miriam was spoiled with lots of presents and I was spoiled with lots of candy and chocolate - from all those who celebrated with me that my gestational diabetes was no more!

 Finally at around 4 pm we were all packed up and ready to head home.

The kids had been anxiously awaiting our return and proceeded to fight over who would get to hold their baby sister.

He's one excited big brother!

After our first night in the hospital, I was nervous for how night 2 would go at home.  But Miriam has done amazingly well each night - sleeping a 4-5 hour stretch, eating and then going back down for another few hours until morning.  I couldn't ask for anything more.  Though I hesitate to get too excited as I know babies are notorious for turning the tables on their mamas.

The experience of having a midwife versus a doctor was a really positive one.  She was with us throughout most of the labour (partly because it was an induction) and Erik and I both felt the sense of connection you feel with anyone who goes through a major life event with you.  She has also done regular home visits since Miriam was born.  Miriam has hovered around the 9 lb mark since coming home from the hospital and will get weighed again on Monday.  She's a little bit jaundiced but is feeding really well and all of her bodily functions are working as they should!

My mom's plane flew in the same day we got home from the hospital and I've been enjoying the cooking and cleaning that has been happening while I tend to my newborn - not to mention the meals that have been coming from friends.  What a blessing!

I feel quite in love with this little pink bundle and am soaking in every newborn moment...

How am I going to keep myself from spoiling her rotten??