Birth Story Week: Elena's Birth Story

Just got a call from my sister..."Anything happening?"


SO!  Let's continue with Birth Story Week!!  Lord knows I'm not going to be doing any "picking up" around here.  Even the kids are too scared to walk on the floor.  I actually installed an alarm system on the floor that alerts Jason at work to COME HOME and help me clean up!!!  We'll see how long the response time is :)

(Elena was due on February 20th according to the OB and his silly little sonogram.  However, I insisted that according to my NFP Chart, she was actually due on Monday, February 22nd, 2010.  I was so adamant that when I made the family Shutterfly calendar, I marked the 22nd as her ETA.  Take a wild guess when she arrived!!)

Elena's Birth Story: 
Born February 22nd, 2010, 8 lbs and 19.5 inches long

Elena's birth story is much longer than Leo's birth story. I wrote it right after her birth so I could remember everything that happened and learn from it. It wasn't the greatest experience. I decided to study and analyze what went wrong so that future births would be a more positive and exciting experience:

There are so few pictures of me pregnant with Elena!  But here are just a couple I scrounged up.

Pre-labor, also called "prodromal labor," consists of the early signs before labor starts. It is the body's preparation for real labor. 
Prodromal labor has been misnamed as “false labor." Prodromal labor begins much as traditional labor but does not progress to the birth of the baby. Not everyone feels this stage of labor, though it does always occur. However, this does not mean that every woman will experience every symptom. The term is used to describe a cluster of physical changes that may take place in a pregnant woman before she goes into "real" labor, such as an increase in blood volume (sometimes resulting in edema), Braxton Hicks contractions, the presence of colostrum in the breasts, and the dislodging of the mucous plug that has sealed the cervix during the pregnancy.

On Wednesday February 17, I woke up at midnight with pain and contractions.  I immediately came downstairs, used the bathroom and started to gauge the contractions. At this point, Leo was 20 months old and I was very nervous about getting my mom up to our house in time for us to travel to the hospital before the rush hour traffic started. We had recently moved a half hour further away from the hospital I wanted to deliver at and the drive would be over an hour.  We decided to try and avoid traffic and called my mom to come at 3:30 am. We left around 5:00 and the rush hour traffic was already thick!  Contractions started to get less intense while I was sitting in the car so I started to get anxious. Did I just waste my middle of the night call to my mom for nothing????  

We arrived at the hospital and walked the main lobby downstairs from 5:45 to 7:00 am. My sister-in-law was working and we called her to come say hi and get a few minutes of a distraction.  I was getting bored and tired and was ready to get into a room and have the baby already.  I was also feeling depressed and weirded out.  Things weren't progressing like they did with Leo and I was feeling discouraged.  We went up to labor and delivery (where 2 girls sat with their men and waited to be induced…does no one go into labor naturally anymore?!).  We were checked into triage…1.5 cms.  Blech.  We were told by Angel to walk the halls for 2 more hours before I could get rechecked. The hall is a U-shape and the delivery ward is fairly small.  We walked forEVER and the contractions became way more painful and I was feeling them mostly in my back.  The worst part about it was walking past rooms housing loud cheering and joy upon the birth of yet another baby...that wasn't mine...

Walking for 2 hours with a very tired Jason was painful, my feet and hips were in pain and we were beyond bored. What else was there to talk about? There was nothing to look and our conversation skills were seriously lacking.  It was probably the worst 2 hours of the pregnancy.  We were checked again by the midwife and told that I was only 1.5 cms still.  I was relieved to hear that my intuition was correct.  I was feeling weird because things were NOT progressing and it was actually prodromal labor.  I happily went home to sleep before we went to pick up Leo at my sisters' house.

He really missed us...


On Saturday night, I woke up at 3:30 in the morning with intense contractions every half-hour. Oh the fatigue was really getting to me!  I went downstairs and ate something to help me try to get back to sleep.  Jason and I decided to pack a bag to bring to Sunday family party night at my sisters' house so that we would be prepared if I went into labor.  I lost my mucous plug which I knew was a fantastic sign.  We hung out all day and I had random contractions every hour or so.  Around 6:00 or 6:30, contractions picked up a little (every 15-30 minutes and intense) and I was super nauseous, so I went downstairs to get some privacy and relax a bit.

We set up Leo's crib and put him to sleep.  Contractions were still pretty intense so I decided to try and get some sleep around 10:00 in the living room...directly in front of the wood stove.  It was intensely hot and I was sweating and uncomfortable. Also, my brother-in-law and brother (pictured right) were making fun of me and all the noises I was making...thanks for the support guys!  

By the way, if you ever find yourself in labor in a house where 8 people live upstairs, 1 lives on the main floor and another lives in the basement suite - RUN AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE!!!!! That many people around is not a very labor-friendly environment...

Could you labor peacefully with this many people???  Yeah...
I found another empty couch and fell asleep from 10:45 – 11:45 and woke up with an intensely painful contraction and had to run to the bathroom.  At that point, there was no way I could sleep through them and I didn't want to wake my mom up so I went upstairs to the couch to hang out.  Jason woke up right then and came to tell me he couldn't sleep either. The 4 feet of snow outside and the quiet house with 11 people trying to sleep in it were not working for either of us, so we decided on just heading to the hospital early.
We arrived at the hospital around 2:00 am (after Jason picked up a 5 hour energy and a 60 oz coffee!! Neither of which worked).  I was checked in triage and was a whopping 2 cms.  We were told to walk for an hour and get monitored again.  We went out front of the hospital and I walked as fast and hard as I could.  The contractions were definitely doing something this time around.  We got checked around 3:30 and I was a 4 so we got admitted to our room.  My midwife and nurse left and never returned until Jason searched the halls for them. I had almost no support and was in need of a LOT of hand-holding.  I kind of just wished I was home with Leo instead of at the hospital. I missed the little guy.

I labored in the room to some music while Jason rested. Since I wasn't able to labor at home, I was bored, unable to get comfortable and thinking WAY too much about everything. Not to mention my midwife was MIA the entire night. I told Jason to help me find out if I could get in the tub so he found my midwife and she checked me and gave me the go-ahead to get in the tub.  I got in the beautiful tub with Jacuzzi jets…sat back and relaxed.  After 10 minutes I had a contraction, then a milder contraction, until they stopped altogether.  The only way to start them up again was to get out of the water until the contraction hit and then sit back down in the water really quick to get the relief from the warm water.  It was very difficult to say the least to maneuver my larger than life body in the tub.  

Again – all alone in my own thoughts – not good.  I got out of the tub and told Jason to help me.  I started pacing again and he had no idea what to do that would help me. My midwife only came in when we walked the halls to find her.  Jason asked me if he could go get something to eat when the cafeteria opened. He was so thoughtful since I was nauseous and vomiting and thought he should eat in the cafeteria instead of bringing it to the room.  He also had to listen to me complain that if the nurse who bathed in raw onions came back in the room, I was going to high-tail it OUTTA there!!!  

But this was the pivotal moment in my labor: While he was gone, I thought of all the women I knew who had successful births with epidurals.  After listing them off over and over in my head, when Jason returned, I told him that I was seriously considering it.  He tried to think of things to help me get through without it but I wasn't having it at that point. It was much too late and my mind was made up.  I had been alone for so long that I was mentally and physically done at that point.  I was getting close to transition and could vividly remember the almost 2 hours of not-pushing/pushing with Leo and was getting anxious and doubting myself.  I told my midwife my thoughts about it considering my fatigue (up since 3:30 am on Sat night) and she suggested an IV of fluids (which was necessary to get an epi anyway).  I was 7 cms at that point.  Once the fluids started, I laid down to rest and labor slowed again.  Contractions were far apart and barely painful at all.  I told Jason I didn't know what to do – do we walk? Should I try and rest and enjoy the break?  What do we do? I should have started walking again but I was enjoying the pain-free break!!  My less-than-helpful midwife came in an hour later and I was still 7 cms so she suggested the epidural and pitocin.  Well...thanks for the support lady.  

At that point, I relented.  I did NOT want to get up and walk anymore!  I had been walking since 3 in the morning and it was already 8 am!  My bizarre anesthesiologist came in at 9. He was a tall Asian man who commented, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" (referring to the nasty smell of the epidural) and my immediate thoughts were, "Great! Now THIS is going to be what I remember most from Elena's birth!" He got the epi in quickly and it started working immediately.  My legs went numb and I sat back under blankets and watched TV with Jason.  The pitocin came after they confirmed that I wasn't progressing but I monitored the contractions to make sure never were back to back or too intense.  
Now here is why I will probably NEVER opt for the epidural again: I tried to lay back and go to sleep but I was dizzy and nauseous so I couldn’t relax enough to sleep.  Jason was able to relax a bit.  I sat there nauseous and dizzy just watching contractions and thinking about the rest of the labor until pushing would start.  I was getting very nervous but finally feeling relief from walking and contractions.  Meanwhile, I had spent the last 4 days preoccupied with occiput posterior labor after back labor on Wednesday night.  I was very worried that pushing with an epi would be impossible if she was upside down so I prayed a LOT.  

Does anyone else think it is magical that babies look in your eyes straight from birth?  Why not your neck?  Or your forehead?  Or your ear?  Magical I tell you!!!

All of a sudden at noon, I felt the pressure to bear down.  After 4 contractions with the intense pressure in my bum, we called the midwife into the room and she asked me to give her a practice push.  I felt Elena slide down FAST!  She told me to stop immediately and she got ready to deliver.  She told me to give her a push and I did – it moved Elena down and out so fast that it only took 3 pushes in one contraction to get her head out.  I slowed down when the midwife instructed to prevent tearing.  Then the second contraction took only 1 or 2 pushes to get her body out.  I couldn’t believe it!!  They let Elena sit on my chest and let Jason and I have a really decent bit of time with her before they bothered with weighing her and checking her apgars, etc.  

She looked just like my mother-in-law (translation: Jason, but a girl version)!  

8 lbs even and 19.5 inches long.  She started nursing and was a pro at it.  My biggest compliant was that my legs kept falling off the bed and I was too numb to bring them back up again. Every time I moved, my legs got closer to the edge and Jason had to come save them before they fell again. Oh - and the anesthesiologist forgot about me and didn't come to remove the epidural from my back until 6:30 pm...Elena was born at 12:00 pm!!!

I learned a lot about labor and delivery with Elena's birth. I will adapt and apply the following:

1) Preparation: Less worrying about the child that is already out (I was so preoccupied with Leo and who would watch him when I went into labor!) and more worrying about my own comfort in those first few hours of labor

2) Environment: I will not go to the hospital too early. The hospital room is cold and uncomfortable and I believe it contributed to my labor stalling out. I was in a bad place mentally because my surroundings were unfamiliar and I couldn't relax.

3) Support: One large check for the services of a doula during labor/delivery are sooooo worth it! Especially if your midwife is no good and unavailable. Jason and I were both so tired that we needed an extra cheerleader. I will always hire a doula in the future. My doula is booked and ready to go for this birth and I love her!!!

4) Relaxation: Walking during labor should only be done if it gives you relief - NOT to speed labor up. Just relax, rest your body and the baby will come. I overdid it and was too fatigued to relax with each contraction. The fatigue affected me mentally as well and I was unable to get excited about the birth.

I have two extremely different birthing experiences to draw from for this baby. I dream of a natural delivery again and I think we have isolated the problems from Elena's birth so that they never happen again! It helps that the midwife who attended her birth retired a month later ;)

But, I don't regret anything about the birth. It all had to happen in that order and I knew the epidural was the best decision for me at the time. We always said we would hire a doula if we needed one and after Elena's birth, the budget for "Doula" was bumped up to "Necessity" rather than "Luxury". (Already the birth of a girl has bankrupted us!! Oh boy...)

One of the most exciting things about Elena's birth was the excitement over introducing her to Leo. And he didn't disappoint!!!!

Telling his Oma about his new baby sister:

Further proof of the resemblance:

And it's a good thing I'm already pregnant - because these pictures are giving me MAJOR baby fever!!!

I can't wait to meet Gale 3.0!!!!!

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