Birthing Hunter

Birthing Hunter

“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

                                                                                                                   ― Rumi

On Wednesday – November 27th, 2013…

 SLEEPLESS  

I woke up around 2:30 am, alert, a little bit restless & unable to sleep anymore. I remained in bed, stretching out, doing child’s pose & generally anticipating when my husband’s alarm would go off around 4:30 so we could start getting ready & I would drive him to work.

During this time “relaxing” in bed I was also engaged in online dialogues with two close friends, one was in Colorado & the other in Bali at the time. They were soulful, sisterly dialogues which I will also always remember because they were meaningful but also because of what happened next.

My husband’s alarm went off as planned & I got up to start getting ready. I was nearing 41 weeks of pregnancy & later that morning I had an appointment with my doctor for a routine check up but also to possibly schedule an induction in the coming week as neither my doctor nor I had any interest in me going past 42 weeks. So there was a bit of excitement & nervousness about the impending appointment.

SIGNS

I felt the sudden need to go to the bathroom (# 2). But it just wasn’t happening.

What did happen while I was putzing around the bathroom, a bit discomforted that I could not “go,” was a light bloody show. I knew this as one of the signs of labor but that it could also be hours before anything really set off.

I notified my husband but proceeded with the morning as usual. Within minutes though, I was back in the bathroom, this time for more of that “show” accompanied by a light, steady trickle of my water breaking. This was rather quickly followed by my first contraction of the morning.

I had been feeling “false contractions” for weeks now. I liked those. They were only ever so slightly painful (if not at all) & had a kind of interesting, tingly sensation to me. For weeks now, I had also enjoyed them as signs that my body was doing what it needed to do & preparing.

But this contraction…wow. Not only wow, was it like a quick doozy of surging moderate pain, but it was followed pretty much immediately by another one!!! Exciting because unlike my false contractions, a pattern seemed to be readily apparent.

I could not even walk while these surges (contractions) were in effect. But in between them I made it to the bedroom to let my husband know that he definitely would not be going to work today! My contractions that morning basically started off at 20-30 seconds long & spaced 2-3 minutes apart.

We immediately started gearing up to go the hospital.

GO

By 5:30 am we were en route to the hospital with my “go bags” & a definite buzz that this was really happening.

Honolulu has some really awful traffic & this was one of our main anxieties about going into labor & getting to Tripler, the hospital where I would deliver. While it is just under 10 miles from our house, bad traffic could easily lead to a 45 minutes commute.

Fortunately, this hour of the morning was just before the very heavy morning rush, not to mention that the real thick traffic was moving in the opposite direction, towards the city. It was a beautiful relief to be able to get to the hospital in about 15 minutes.

WAIT

I was admitted to a screening room in Labor & Delivery where I waited to be checked for signs of labor. Labor & Delivery was very busy & there were a lot of women checked in to give birth, so criteria for admission to a room was basically that you showed signs of giving birth quite soon (for ex., 4 cm dilated would be automatic admission).

With contractions spaced out just a few minutes & now lasting from about 30-40 seconds, there was no way I was leaving the hospital to go back home & wait anything out if I was not admitted. I knew if this happened, we would spend as long as needed walking around the hospital grounds & even check into the military lodging right behind the hospital if necessary.

3 important facts were found at my screening:

1- My water had broke. The trickle continued as we sat there! Which of course the screening nurses were prepared for…

2- My cervix was completely effaced

3- Cervix was 1 cm dilated

Were it not for 1 & 2, I would not have been immediately admitted that morning. But the combination of these facts led to definite admission to a labor & delivery room!

Riding out a contraction in the screening room

 PAIN

At this point, the pain of the contractions was pretty difficult for me & to even walk through them was a challenge!

But of course, we made it upstairs to Labor & Delivery & got checked into a surprisingly spacious room & began to get situated. I got comfortable on the bed immediately & proceeded to just trying to breathe & ride out the contraction pains. It was around 8 am by the time we got settled in the room (exact time-line of the morning events blurs a bit for me!). The next two hours were devoted to getting checked out by the staff & breathing through the pain.

OPTIONS

By about 10 am, the anaesthesiologist & my delivery doctor were by my bedside to discuss “options” with me.

Tripler firmly encourages vaginal delivery & I was assured throughout my check ups & appointments that I would in no way be “rushed” through delivery.

But the combination of my cervix being totally effaced (baby’s head was dropped down very very low- ready to emerge!) & barely being dilated, led the medical team to wanting to give a kickstart to my contractions with the administering of pitocin.

I had of course been reading pregnancy & delivery books throughout my pregnancy, talking with others about their experiences, browsing through various forums about different routes & outcomes with delivery situations & of course meditating on how I wanted my pregnancy experience. I went in planning for a natural childbirth but with the flexibility to change my mind dependent on circumstances.

I admittedly had very mixed feelings about pitocin based on what I heard & was not shy to admit that I was scared to take it. I spelled it out for the delivery doctor & anaesthesiologist. I was scared that the pitocin would make the pain of my contractions so severe that I would need/want an epidural which would then leave me incapable of pushing which would then lead to an emergency c-section. I was not afraid of a c-section, but I was nervous about the course of my labor going that specific route needlessly if we could avoid it.

It probably helped tremendously that I really liked the bedside manner of my anaesthesiologist. She was very matter of fact & encouraging & dispelled some of my fear of epidurals. The epidural was starting to sound mighty attractive. As much as I wanted to be strong & simply deal with the contractions, I was not feeling very tolerant about the waves of pain & the prospect of them increasing (by a lot) with pitocin, definitely alarmed me.

The anaesthesiologist & my delivery doctor also were very convinced that due to my height & active nature, I would not need a c-section & that I would be able to push this baby out. I had a birth plan which did not include pitocin or an epidural, but I knew even writing it up that I was not particularly rigid about some points.  I went into labor & delivery with an open mind (for some things) & also interested in the path of least resistance. My main goal was having my baby, maintaining a flexible approach & not mulling over the pros & cons of options in the moment. So the pitocin & epidural were administered.

REST

My relatively sleepless night, the excitement of the morning, & perhaps the administering of the epidural led to me feeling completely wiped by about 11:00 am. I could not believe the effects of the epidural. I could see from the monitor that my contractions were in effect (stronger than before) but I could feel nothing. Not only that, I could sleep. And I did. For a couple of hours I was in & out of a deeply restful state. My husband was in the room all the while & the staff was extremely attentive. I felt safe & very grateful that this was all happening on this day.

FEAR & SOOTHING

By about 13:00 I was awake, a little drowsy but not needing or wanting any more sleep. I had dilated a bit more but at the going rate it looked like I would not be ready to give birth until around 17:00. 

When my husband & I looked at the monitor we saw that my contractions were scaling 3 times more than what they were when I checked in earlier that morning. I could not fathom what the pain of those contractions might feel like!!! I was blown away with the idea of it.

This led me to thinking of my baby. Of course I had been wondering from the get go how he was faring in there & that I would be able to “meet” him soon. I had some angst about him going into distress or in general something going wrong. The angst did not consume me, but of course I wanted an uncomplicated experience with a healthy baby emerging at the finish line!

Emotional from the day’s events, the hormones & probably numerous other factors, I began feeling real waves of sorrow & fear that my baby was having to ride out the severity of these contractions in utero, but that I was “escaping” them because I had taken the epidural. I felt significant guilt about this in the moment. My husband soothed me & all I could do was focus on calming myself & engaging in my own form of prayer.

 For about an hour, this went on & my husband also read a bit aloud to me from his current book of choice Soldiers & Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity. The content mostly escaped me but I enjoyed hearing him read the Greek names aloud & it was also simply “one of those moments” you know you will not forget.

IT’S TIME

By about 14:30 my delivery doctor came to check me & surprise!!! I was totally dilated!!!

I started crying. I was so excited & simultaneously nervous that this was really happening. In fact, I was a little shell shocked that it was finally happening! Our main nurse for the day started getting things ready & I started mentally preparing for an experience I had never had before & had no idea what to expect!

Because of the epidural, I was of course pretty numb from the waist down. Around 14:45 my main nurse of the day wanted to get me going on a few rounds of pushes so I would know what was in store. She & my husband had to each hold a leg while I pushed. Already in these “practice rounds” they could see baby’s tufts of hair!!!!

By 15:00, a whole delivery team was assembling around my bed. Tripler is also a learning institution so no doubt some of these individuals were also in training or a learning program alongside the core team which included my delivery doctor, main nurse, assistants & anaesthesiologist. The entire team was very vocal & encouraging through my rounds of pushes, coaching me through each round & I was extremely excited to push.

Despite not having much feeling in the lower half of my body, apparently I was pushing pretty well because things progressed somewhat quickly….

ARRIVAL

Hunter Logan emerged at 15:57 at 8 pounds, 4.5 ounces & 20.5 inches long!

He was put on my chest immediately for bonding. I was in a state of being totally awake, in a bit of disbelief that it had happened & so thoroughly overjoyed to see our son Hunter. That my husband was beside me for the entire experience (and assisting!) meant the world to me. I felt the surgings of a gratitude stronger than I have ever known which continue on … for what I anticipate will be a long time…

Hunter & I immediately after birth

Proud Papa

About 14 hours old!!!

Our Hunter!

Day after delivery

After a required 36 hours in Mother & Baby Ward,

waiting to get discharged to go home on November 29th, 2013

Tears of Joy

Time to go home!!!!!