Friday, June 28, 2013

Bryson: A Birth Story

It's over a month late (I can't believe six weeks have passed already). But when you're a mother of two under the age of two, time seems to pass a little differently. So, without much further ado, this is my birth story (starring Bryson Allen).

After what seemed to be an eternally long pregnancy, my body finally began to labor two days after my due date. To begin, I had awakened in the wee hours of that morning feeling just a little bit wet. My water had broken during the middle of the night in my pregnancy with Emma, but then I was certain that my water had broken. This time, I wasn't sure. There was such a small amount and at 40 weeks pregnant, the bladder is compressed between the baby's head and the pubic bones, I honestly thought perhaps I'd just wet myself slightly. So I got up and cleaned up and went back to sleep. 

I repeated this process when I woke two hours later.  At that point, I was fairly certain that my water had broken, but I wanted to rest for as long as I could since it was still night and I wasn't feeling contractions. I had checked the fluid, which was clear, didn't have a bad odor and was only a small amount. Laying back down, I decided to count kicks to be sure the baby was moving normally. If everything seemed fine, I was going to wait to wake Derek until the morning. I laid back down, put my hands on my belly and had a massive contraction that I was forced to breathe through. As soon as it was over, I woke Derek.

I called my mom, who would be staying with Emma while we were in the hospital. Since she lives 45 minutes away, we decided to rest until she arrived. After laying in the dark for about 15 minutes, Derek whispered, "Are you sleeping?" I admitted that I was just staring at the dark ceiling. My mind was too preoccupied to shut down enough to sleep. He said the same, so we got up. He double checked the car seat, and we loaded up the hospital bag and tidied the house. I called our hospital midwife as soon as my mom reached our house and described my labor up to that point. I had begun having contractions but they were about 10 minutes apart and not strong. She recommended that I continue to labor at home until I'd progressed.

After eating a light breakfast of plain oatmeal and raisins, I paced around the house, bounced and swiveled on my exercise ball, and tried to stay in motion as much as I could. Labor progressed slowly. After lunch, we strapped Emma into the jogging stroller and took a walk around our neighborhood - we even hit up two garage sales! By the time we made it back to our house, my contractions were around four minutes apart and one minute long. I called our midwife and she suggested we come to the hospital.

I was admitted into Triage, and Derek walked the halls with me as I sipped ice water and waited for our water birth suite to be prepared. When the room was ready, I got into the tub and stayed in the soothing water as my labor continued. Wow! Water really does help with pain management and relief. The environment made a big difference! The lights were turned down low, and soft music played in the background. The midwife-on-call and nurse checked in periodically, monitored the baby's heartbeat, and were very helpful with words of encouragement and guidance for changing positions and breathing. Everyone who attended the birth showed the utmost respect as I endured each contraction.

My invaluable partner through all this was my husband, Derek. He was a true blessing as moral and spiritual support during labor as well as the entire pregnancy. I cannot discount his helpfulness with physical support - lower back rubbing, a strong hand to hold (even during "rest" times), careful to aide me in finding and settling into the most comfortable positions possible. The support he was able to give me as my husband, partner, father to our children, and best friend, was a blessing beyond words. I'm pleased that I was able to labor through the births of both our children without drugs but I would not have been able to do it without him.

The birthing tub was so relaxing that my labor slowed and my contractions decreased, so I climbed out of the tub to walk the halls again for the next hour or so. Soon my contractions were again strong, to the point that I could not talk and had to concentrate on breathing until one had passed, and I began to feel a low pressure building. 

I got back in the tub, and continued to shift positions in the water. Suddenly changes started to happen rapidly. I felt the urge to push, but had to wait through two very close contractions before I could speak aloud to tell the nurse. Very soon the room was full of people and my midwife was there to check the position of the baby. She told me that I could push whenever I felt the urge, and for as long or short as I felt comfortable. 

As with my labor with Emma, the urge to push was so intense that when it came, the pushing was basically involuntary. I had torn badly with Emma and had spoken about this concern with our midwife earlier, so as I was pushing, she coached me to pause at different moments in my pushing, and worked to apply counter-pressure so that I could stretch instead of tearing. I moaned and cried out as his head crowned, and the midwife said, "Here come his shoulders!"

Bryson was born surprisingly quickly. I reached down and lifted him up onto my chest, bringing his face up to the surface but letting him remain in the warm water. After his umbilical cord stopped pulsing, it was cut and I lifted him up out of the water and held him close to my chest and neck. We were both tired, but here he was!! Beautiful and big. Bryson weighed 8 pounds and 0 ounces and was born at 11:36 p.m.

Derek stayed with Bryson as the nurses examined him and I climbed out of the tub onto a bed to expel the placenta and receive a few stitches. In the end, I did tear slightly and got three stitches that were really more cosmetic than medically necessary. But the recovery - both immediately after labor and through the last six weeks - was remarkably better than my first time. 

When Bryson and I had both been examined, Derek brought him over to nurse. We were able to get a good latch from the beginning. He breastfeeds very well and is growing rapidly (He was 10 pounds 10 ounces at his one-month checkup)! 

The next morning, we welcomed visitors at the hospital - including Emma. She brought cupcakes that we'd baked and decorated earlier in the week, and celebrated Bryson's 1-day birthday. We sang Happy Birthday and had Emma "help" Bryson open a few of the gifts brought by visitors. She also got to open her big sister gift bag we'd gotten ready, with a new BIG SISTER shirt, coloring books, stickers, bubbles, a few board books, a soft ball, and a few snacks and "quiet time" activities for her to do at the hospital. We were able to share cupcakes with all of our family and friends who visited, as well as the nurses. 

The next day, we brought Bryson home from the hospital. The past month has been filled with joy and the making of wonderful memories - as well as all the naps we can manage!!

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