March 19, 2014

The Birth Story of Makenna Rose

I know it is customary to document and share one's birth experience soon after it's happened. But...(gasp!) much as I love to write and document things, I had yet to do this. At this point, I'm writing this out for the benefit of my own memory and sharing it with you in the hopes that some of you might be interested in hearing it.

That being said, I promise not to share anything too graphic! I firmly believe that some details should be left out. If you really want to know something, ask me directly.


On the bitterly cold Sunday of February 10th, 2013, I was five days away from Makenna's official due date. The doctor had predicted she'd be late and I was delighted. My to-do lists were endless and we hadn't even been in our new home for three weeks.

Yet that morning, I started to feel tiny trickles. They happened maybe once or twice an hour and were very minimal. I knew that it could be my water, but I kept thinking it might subside.

These continued the entire day until eventually I called my doctor to ask if I needed to go to the hospital. She wasn't too concerned and said I could come into the office first thing in the morning so she could check if it was amniotic fluid. She instructed me that if I started to have any "gushing," that I would need to go that night.

So Matt and I sat down and watched the two hour episode of Downton Abbey. All the while, I was having relatively painless, yet regular, contractions. I was really feeling that something was happening but I still felt hesitant, not having gone through this all before.

Well, not too long after getting into bed, there became no doubt that my water had broken and it was time to go. We finished gathering our things and at around 12:30 am, we began the 25 minute drive to the hospital.

Once checked in and examined, the resident quickly confirmed that my water had broken. She said the big question would be whether the doctor would consider my water as having "broken" when the trickling started Sunday morning, or when the gushing started late Sunday night. That would determine when and if I would need to be induced. And to my utter disappointment, I was only dilated one centimeter at that point.

By the time the nurses were finished and my IV port put in (which took FIVE tries and FOUR different nurses), it was after 2 am. Matt and I decided to wait until early morning to let our families know we were checked into the hospital since nothing would be happening for a while.

Matt fell asleep, but I could not. I knew how desperately I would need sleep to have strength for the next day, but the anticipation of it all kept me from getting any sleep at all. I was devastated to be going into the Big Day having gotten zero sleep.

Then it turned out my doctor was not on call that day but the other in the practice. He was very nice but, of course, I was hoping for my doctor. He determined that we would consider my water "broken" as of Sunday morning when the trickles started and since they only allow 24 hours to see if things progress on their own (and clearly they weren't), I needed to be induced. They started administering pitocin just before 8 am.

Every woman has her birth plan but we all know that we can never predict what will happen during the delivery. I was hoping to utilize my room's bath tub with jacuzzi jets during labor, but since my water had broken, submersion in water wasn't an option for me anymore. If I hadn't needed the pitocin, they would have allowed me to sit under the warm shower stream, but with the monitors and IV, that was also no longer an option.

My birth plan had been to go as natural as possible. This decision did not come out the belief that epidurals are harmful to babies or mothers; I have sound faith in modern medicine. I also did not feel swayed now that natural birth is becoming more popular. It was simply something I felt I wanted to do, but more importantly, strongly felt that I could do.

Yet I knew I likely wouldn't make it through a natural birth if I didn't equip myself with some tools. We read The Husband Coached Childbirth and Hypnobirthing (which sounds much more New Age than it actually is) and I found parts of both books extremely helpful. I practiced my birthing position, I practiced my breathing and relaxation methods every night before I fell asleep, and I even practiced pushing.

{Before you scroll to the end, I will tell you I did not have an epidural! It's a choice I am very pleased with.}

The pitocin was not working on me. After many hours of hard contractions, at around 1:30 pm, the doctor checked me again and I still was barely dilated past a one. At this point I started to panic a little. I couldn't believe the pain I was experiencing was yielding no progress below! At that moment, the epidural was quite attractive but I wasn't quite ready to ask for it.

I knew that there were pain medications that could be administered during labor. I asked the nurse what I could have and she suggested morphine. She explained that women like it because it makes one feel...well, drugged-up, and therefore relaxed enough to rest and sometimes even sleep.

SLEEP! That's all she had to say! I was so exhausted beyond what I knew could be physically possible and I was terrified I'd be too tired when it came time to push, and who knew how long that would be?

Right away she got me the morphine, had me lay down, and close my eyes. I sent Matt to visit with our parents and eat some lunch. The morphine did take the edge off of the contractions just enough that during the period of one hour, I was able to sleep some. I would drift off between contractions and wake when one started, but they were lessened enough that I could lie still and breathe through them. During that hour, my body relaxed enough that I dilated to a three.

The next three hours were intense {to say the least!} but since I was finally progressing, that gave me the confidence to endure. Matt was a great help and encourager. I needed the encouragement, too. They added a couple of internal monitors in the afternoon and that just made things all the more uncomfortable for me. Sitting on the medicine ball or rocking chair was awkward, so I basically either stood, leaned over the bed, or laid on the bed.

And then, yes! I was at an eight! And suddenly I was feeling the urge to push.

For all the reading I did, chatting with other women, and our birthing class, I never once heard it mentioned how extremely difficult it is to fight the urge to push. How did I not know about this?! The contractions now felt totally different--still painful, but seemingly ten thousand times more difficult with fighting the urge to push. And there were a few contractions where, no matter how hard I tried, I just could not fight the urge and I ended up pushing a little.

Finally, in utter exasperation, I told Matt to call the nurses and resident back. He said, "They said they'd be back to check you soon." This was this one moment I snapped at him. I said, "You call them RIGHT NOW and tell them I cannot not push anymore!!!" {Thankfully, only about ten or fifteen minutes had transpired since they last checked me, when I was dilated to eight centimeters.}

They rushed back in and as my instincts told me, I was fully dilated. It was time to push and I was very ready and excited!

Pushing was by far my favorite part of the process. It was a major pain-reliever during contractions. I also think I was an effective pusher, probably due to the practicing I did at home. With each push, I felt really encouraged as my doctor, resident, and nurses all told me how great I was doing and to continue doing it just how I was.

Once Makenna's head became visible, I will never forget my doctor exclaiming, "Whoa! She's got a lot of hair!!" He asked if I wanted to reach down and feel, but I said, "No, thanks." {I didn't use a mirror either--I just really didn't want to know what was going on down there!}

I also remember my doctor counting, "One, two," after I had pushed her head out. I later learned that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice, but thankfully it wasn't tight at all causing any problems.

My doctor had told me that for a first-time mom, the average push time was 1 hour and 10 minutes. But after a little less than 30 minutes, I did my final push, using every single last ounce of energy I could muster, and our beautiful, tiny, Makenna Rose was born into this world at 7:11 pm.

I didn't make the 100% natural birth like I had hoped, but I was still happy that I chose to forgo the epidural. As much as it was the most painful thing I've ever endured, I'm actually glad I felt all that I did. And next time around, I plan to forgo the epidural again {though I am really hoping it will be a faster labor/delivery and that pitocin will not be needed}.

I do remember saying to Matt later that evening, "Well I can tell you I'm not doing that again anytime soon!"

It was all worth it, of course. And although it was far from what I had planned, I love our birth story because it is uniquely ours--the one that brought us our precious, irreplaceable Makenna Rose.

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