Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gabriella's Birth Story {...almost 4 months later!}

First off, let me start by saying, this post is dedicated to all the amazing women who assured me that I would absolutely be able to have Gabriella naturally. Especially, our AMAZING Bradley Method instructor and friend, Deb Tighe. Without a doubt, she was an essential part to our preparation for a natural birth.

And, of course, none of this would have been possible without the amazing husband that God has blessed me with. The poor man rubbed my back from 4:30 AM till noon the day our baby girl was born. I wish I had taken a picture, his knuckles were completely rubbed raw!! We had searched high and low for a wooden massager he could use, but when we was ready to reach for it, I was in the middle of a contraction and told him, "Forget it! Use your hands!" and he never tried to grab it again... and lovingly, toughed through the pain and kept rubbing! 

Warning: As you know, I'm a talker.. and I'm not shy. So, please forgive all the words in this very long narrative. There will be lots of details and lots of information that most people don't need to know.... :) But here goes! 

Labor technically started Tuesday, January 31st at 2 PM, I didn't think anything of it since this wasn't the first time my Braxton-Hicks had settled into a pattern. They were about 20-30 mins apart, less than a minute long and consistent for a few hours. I text our birthing instructor, Deb, asking if maybe this was early labor. She said, yes and no, and told me to work hard to make them go away. I was advised to eat, drink, walk, shower and nap. Which I did. I had text hubby to give him an update, but being completely Bradley trained, he said, "Okay, sounds good, keep me posted" and finished the day out at work. We ended up going out to eat dinner at Cheddar's that night (Don't tell the doc, but I completely ditched my Gestational Diabetes diet that night!!) but I was feeling pretty queasy from the contractions so I only ordered soup and salad and barely ate anything. The waitress commented on how I looked like it could be any day now and I happily responded, "We think I might actually be in early labor right now!" We went home, watched some TV, timed a few more contractions, still less than a minute about 15-20 apart, so we got ready for bed and went to sleep.

The next morning, we woke up and Dave wanted to wait to go into work. I woke up still having contractions, but I had slept through the whole night, I was convinced they were still Braxton-Hicks and we had till the end of the week before she would arrive, but then again... maybe this was it! We ended up turning off the alarm clock and sleeping for another hour, then we woke up and Dave made me breakfast (like he did every morning since I got diagnosed with GD: 1/2 a cinnamon raisin english muffin with peanut butter, 1 fried egg, and 8 oz of milk) then we decided we'd take the doggie for a walk. We walked the "big loop" it was a beautiful day out. The sun was shining and it was pretty warm out. We had to stop a few times because my contractions were getting a little harder. The frequency of stops increased as we got closer to the house, Dave was questioning if he should go into work that afternoon like he planned. I assured him everything was just fine and that he only worked 15 mins from home and would be able to make it home before things progressed too far. So after a shower, I sent him off to work. I started cleaning up a little around the house and started working on our grocery list for the week. I never did time the contractions, just glanced at the clock, still less than a minute long about 15-20 mins apart. Dave's parents arrived that afternoon for a few doctors appointments in town and were planning on staying through Friday for some more appointments. I remember Dave's dad making the comment, "Why, wouldn't it be great if our granddaughter decided to arrive while we're here!" I brushed that comment off, "Well, we've had some regular contractions, but I'm sure we still have time! It'll probably be right after you are on the road home!!" That night we went to church and I remember telling people that I thought I might be in early labor, but I didn't think that it'd be till the end of the week before she arrived---boy, was I wrong!

We ended up going to bed like normal that night around 12, I woke up around 3:30 AM with lots of cramping. Again, I didn't think anything of it. I had been woken up by BH like this in the middle of the night. So I got up and went to the bathroom. When I got back, I laid down and tried to go back to sleep, a few minutes later, I was woken up by yet another really bad, crampy, contraction... I relaxed my way through contractions for another hour. At that point, they were getting really uncomfortable and I woke Dave up and asked him to help me through the contractions. So he started to rub my back like we had practiced. When they continued, he suggested we start timing them. So we downloaded a contraction timer (haha, yes, we waited until I was in labor to do this!) and started timing.... they were 6 mins apart, 1.5 mins long. Really? We laid in bed, half asleep, working through contractions for the next two hours. Around 6 AM, Dave suggested we take a shower and see if that helped with things. I ended up standing in the shower with the hot water and Dave massaging my low back for as long as we had hot water (which sadly, is only about 30 mins.) We got dressed and at this point, the contractions were even stronger. I wasn't shy about the moaning which I'm sure my in-laws could hear upstairs now. The contractions were now 3 mins apart and 1.5 mins long. I was just waiting for the contractions to come, I was finding myself falling over anything as soon as they started, a table, a chair, the couch, the birthing ball on the bed... The 5 mins it took Dave to get everything in the car was excruciating. I just wasn't able to handle the contractions on my own anymore. The last contraction I had before walking out the door my legs started shaking. I remember texting Deb, my birthing instructor: "Legs shaking ok?"... and I received the reply, "Yeah, I think you need to head to the hospital."

Despite being in labor, we still wanted to save money so we parked in the parking garage we knew we got free parking at... about a 15 min walk from the birthing center. I was stopping about every 5 feet for another contraction and we had medical students, residents, nurses all around us asking if I needed help or a wheelchair, I'd finish my contraction, turn around and say, "No, thanks!" and start walking as fast as I could again. We even ran into a couple ladies in white coats and asked them directions to the birthing center (I really don't worry about planning much, can you tell?) after getting directions, I overheard one say to the other, "... I guess I could have put two and two together." By the time we got up to the birthing center, I couldn't answer any of the questions the lady at the desk was asking me. I kept pointing to Dave and just signed where I needed. (Now, I DID read all these before labor!) I was in triage in minutes, they hooked me up to the monitors and my contractions had slowed down a little from all the excitement and adrenaline of getting to the hospital. I was able to joke a little between contractions with the triage nurse. I got checked by the resident and she said I was 6 cm, 75% effaced. (YES! I made it at home till transition!!!) After she got all my vitals and got my hep-lock in, I was getting ready to stand up and do a few contractions that way... I scooted to the end of the table and I felt water running down my legs and saw some fluid dribble onto the floor, "Um, I think my water just broke." From then, I was confined to the bed.... boo. Contractions were getting closer again, almost on top of each other, the moaning was non-stop... Dave was getting ready to reach for the back massager we brought, "Forget it!! Use your hands!!" I shouted. The nurse came in and said she knew I was going to go natural but the anesthesiologists were going to come around and meet me, they do this with all the patients. I nodded. The two doctors walked in, and started babbling on about how they're the anesthesiologists... I put my hand up as if saying stop and managed to blurt out, "In a contraction!" They stood their rather awkwardly for a few minutes and realized that my contractions were on top of each other (transition!!) and walked out of the room. At this point it was about 9:30 AM, they were prepping my labor room. Time goes by so quickly when you have contractions to relax through!

I finally got back into my labor room and I could barely walk from the wheelchair to the labor bed... My entire body was shaking and I had the chills (... still transition!) I think it was around 10:30 AM that I finally got into my labor room, we worked through a few more contractions and then I started feeling the urge to push. I got checked, 9 cm, 100% effaced... ALMOST THERE! I was laboring in every position possible, all fours, side lying, squatting.... Sadly, most of my favorite positions were no longer available to me with my water having broken. With all the moving, the fetal monitor kept slipping and one of the residents was suggesting to use an internal monitor and used the dreaded "C" word saying if we couldn't get a good reading on the baby's heartbeat, we'd have to do a c-section. If I wasn't in labor, I would have punched him! Luckily, the attending doctor walked in and said, "No, I think she's doing just fine." He had read my birth plan and was very supportive of it. The nurse was great too and was super diligent about moving the monitor with me as I moved. So, key point here, kids: Find a doctor that knows and supports your birth plan!! Labored some more, felt like I needed to push again... a different resident checked me, and said I was 7 cms... I was about to cry... I said, "What?! Wasn't I just 9... how am I going backwards?" I heard some shushed talking and the resident that checked me in triage and the first 9 cms checked me again, she said I was indeed still at 9, there was just a little lip that was there and I needed to wait a little longer. The two residents had noticed my membrane was still intact and then Mr. 7 cm/internal monitor/"c"-word resident brought up manually breaking the membranes. Girls, you will be VERY vulnerable when you are in labor. Having a good coach is essential! I asked the resident the pros and cons, and felt VERY put on the spot. The daddy-to-be, being completely Bradley trained, said, "Can we have a minute to think about it?" and, of course, the doctors were all, "Why, yes! Absolutely!" and hurried out. While going through some more contractions I asked Dave to call Deb to ask about breaking the membrane, at this point, I felt I needed to push so badly... so I started singing. Not pretty singing, but more like higher pitched sustained moaning. Deb told me later that while she was on the phone with Dave her kids heard the moaning and were very concerned... they thought I might be dying! ;) Deb told me she didn't see the point in breaking the membranes if my water had already broken (yeah, that's right! Bradley bag of steel!!!) and that it sounded like I was close. I felt I needed to push again, got checked one more time, this time there was no break in contractions so I got checked during a contraction, STILL 9 cms... POP! With the contraction, the membrane burst on its own... it sounded like a water balloon bursting. That solved the artificial membrane breaking situation! But we still had a lip hanging on... the nurse ended up saying to me after that last check, "Honey, I'm worried about an infection if they keep checking you. I want you to wait until the urge to push doesn't go away after the contraction, okay?" I was starting to feel really discouraged... I'd been at 9 cms for almost 45 mins now... and the dreaded thought popped into my head, "I don't know how much longer I can do this..." But I remembered the natural manta everyone had told me: when you feel like you can't do anymore, you're almost done!!

Five minutes later, I felt like I needed to push again, and this time the urge wasn't going away. The resident came back in to check me, "I need to push, and I accidentally pushed, but I wasn't trying to! I couldn't help it!!" She said, it was fine because the lip was gone, I was finally 10 cms!! I was given the go ahead to push, but because the baby was sunny-side up, they were going to let me labor down before pushing. Now, I've heard that having a baby sunny-side up is the most painful thing you can go through, I can honestly say, I NEVER felt pain the whole time I was in labor and delivery. So if you want a natural birth, you absolutely can! I pushed for a total of 1.5 hrs.... My awesome coach and nurse coached me through pushing and helped me figure out how I needed to push. During the pushing process, I was curious what my tummy felt like, so I reached down and felt it... it was so weird! I could feel the band of uterine muscles at the top and a flat emptiness to my belly where baby used to be! As the nurse prepped the room, Dave did something he never thought he would, he looked down and told me our little girl had a head full of hair and would say, "That was a good push! Do that again!!" Then we got to the point that the birth of head was imminent and I was told to hold it and the doctors were called in. Mr. 7 cm/internal monitor/"c"-word resident was the first one in the door. He stood at the foot of the bed and said, "This baby's not waiting..." and caught Gabriella as she slipped out at 1:34 PM. As soon as he caught her, the attending walked in. :) It was perfect. The baby got whisked away because she was covered in meconium, I delivered the afterbirth (which didn't hurt at all...), and got stitched up from some minor tears.

I got to "kangaroo" Gabriella for almost 7 hours before she had her first bath. I was just amazed at how alert she was looking at me with those beautiful eyes and how she kept wiggling her way to her food source and snuggled with me. It was amazing seeing my beautiful baby girl outside of my belly!

My birth experience was absolutely amazing. I'm so glad I had her naturally. I'm definitely hooked. I've decided I'm going to go through training to become either a doula or Bradley certified instructor once Gabriella's a little bit older. I would be so excited to help other women achieve the best birth possible! :)


  1. Saw this linked on Evidence-Based Birth. Big congratulations!! What a great natural birth. :)

  2. I'm all teary-eyed... Incredible story, thank you for sharing! (I, too, saw this linked from Evidence Based Birth).

  3. Great birth story! Very encouraging. Thanks a lot for sharing. :)

  4. Great birth story, sounds very similar to my first baby with the early labour that went for a couple of days.

    I wasn't made to stay on the bed once my waters broke though, so my active labour probably progressed a little quicker than yours. Also, they weren't into checking my dilation every five minutes to tell me if it was 'ok' to push - when it got to the point where I absolutely could not help it, I yelled out 'I have to push!' and the midwife said 'Just go with it!'. About five minutes later my boy was born.

    Thanks again for sharing. I have GDM and am hoping for the same kind of birth as with my first child.