See, I am all for home births for moms who desire them (I don't think they are for me, but think they are a great thing)! I am also all for medical interventions when they are warranted (for the safety- real safety- of the mom and/or baby). I like a middle ground. I believe that a woman's body was made to carry and deliver babies and should be allowed to do it naturally if it is safe for mom and baby and is something that the mom desires. I also believe that, often, having one medical intervention starts a domino effect where more medical interventions start to happen...
Jameson's birth story really started at my 38 week appointment. My doctor had been great throughout my pregnancy, though I wasn't a fan of her attitude when I talked about my desires for a natural birth. For example, when I told her that I wanted to do it without an epidural, her response was "You know it will hurt, right? There's no need to be a hero". I had taken multiple human/child development classes in college and was aware of the risks from an epidural. I was okay with getting one if I found it necessary. After all, I had never experienced labor before so I wasn't so arrogant as to believe that I knew at that time what I would really want. But overall, she was a great doctor. I emphasize "doctor" because she takes a 100% medical approach, which is clearly not in line with my approach to childbirth. Considering that I had zero risk factors and had been having an uneventful, healthy pregnancy, there was no need for any medical interventions at that point.
Anyway, back to the 38 week appointment. Since I had been checked at 36 and 37 weeks, I knew what to expect. It isn't super comfortable, but it also isn't incredibly uncomfortable. This time was different. I could tell she was in deeper (sorry, TMI) and there was a little pain. After she got done, she simply informed me that I was at 1 cm and she stripped my membranes (medical intervention #1). I had no idea what she was talking about, and she just explained that it pushes the water sac away from the cervix to allow hormones to get to the cervix and help it to soften and dilate. I didn't see any concern to this, so just said "okay!" and went on my merry way.
Since I was 2 weeks late when I was born, I had no plans of seeing my little boy anytime soon. That is why I was shocked the next morning when I sat town on the toilet (again, sorry, TMI) and realized that my water had broken. One of my favorite memories from this experience was telling Shaun (we were supposed to carpool to work that morning) "Honey, it's time to get up! We are going to be late... or my water just broke". It was 6:05 am. My hubby, usually the cool headed of the two of us, was running franctically around the house, getting everything together (even though I already had a hospital bag put together), calling our moms, and basically freaking out. When I told him that I wanted to grab a bowl of cereal (I knew they wouldn't let me eat once I got there!) he started flipping out even more. To be clear, I wasn't even having contractions yet.
Once we got to the hospital the nurses were wonderful. They weighed me in and then got me set up in the room. They checked to make sure my water broke which I thought was funny since my pants were soaked when I walked in. They were actually laughing about it too, but informed us that it was required. They let me know that I was still at 1 cm.
After they got me hooked up to the monitors and IV they could see that Jameson was doing great and that I was not yet having measurable contractions, though I was starting to feel semi regular pressure. They let me know that they were going to call my doctor and find out what she wanted to do. When they returned they said that she wanted to get me started on a pitocin drip since my contractions weren't starting on their own. She said that since I was positive for the group B strep I needed to have him out in 12 hours from the time the water broke, so it was best to start the pitocin than to risk the c-section. I happily consented thinking I was doing what was best for my baby (intervention #2).
Once the drip was started, I very quickly went from no pain to excruciating contractions that would last about a minute with only about 20 seconds of rest inbetween. When I say quick, I mean that I had only about 3-4 contractions that I could talk through before I got to needing to lay down and grip my hubby's hand for the duration of each one.
Over the lunch period one of the on-call doctors came in and I found out that I was at a 2. A two! After about 5 hours of these insane contractions I had hardly changed at all. I knew that the reason was the fact that the contractions were so strong that I couldn't relax through them. After talking to hubby, we decided that the best move was to start the epidural. At this point I was terrified that I was looking at 6-7 hours more of those contractions only to end up with a c-section. I was sad, but grateful once the epidural got started (intervention #3).
That's when it got scary. Not two (painless) contractions later my monitors started going off. This didn't alarm me too much since Jameson had been moving around all morning and constantly set it off. But when the nurse laid me down, called in another nurse, and put an oxygen mask on me, I knew it was bad. I was getting so scared. The nurses were wonderful. They started turning me from side to side, reassuring me the whole time. Finally we got his heartrate back up, but they had the mask on for a little while longer. I would later find out that my mom who had gone to the bathroom learned that an doctor was on his way to my room for an emergency c-section when Jameson decided to chill out! (Thank you momma for knowing not to tell me that until days later!)
The rest of my labor was uneventful. I had a lot of family in the room while I was laboring (I know that some moms would hate this, but I loved it!) We all watched the contraction monitor and cheered when they got really high. I did have a brief time when the epidural wore off in one spot and I went back into pain where I didn't think the cheering was so funny, but was all better when the anesthesiologist rolled me around to fix it (she was also amazing! I was very lucky to have such an amazing hospital staff!) I was tied to the bed for the rest of the labor with an internal monitor set up (intervention #4) and a catheter (intervention #5) since I couldn't even feel my legs let alone walk on them. As bummed as I was to turn to an epidural, there were some great memories. I will never forget how mad Shaun's grandma, who had delivered four children with no pain meds, was getting when I was laughing through such huge contractions. One not-so-good memory was shortly after Jameson's heartrate came up and one of the nurses commented on why she didn't know why my pitocin was up so high and got permission to turn it down (too little, too late!)
A little before 6pm the nurse checked me and said I was ready to start pushing. Everyone was kicked out of the room with the exception of hubby and Kym, my friend for whom I was her core mom for nursing school. My doctor only allowed two people in the room and, although Kym wasn't supposed to count since she was a nursing student, my doctor wouldn't allow my mom to stay in the room, which really bummed me out. But, again, I didn't really think I had a choice, so I let it go.
During my pushing they were constantly adjusting my pitocin. I, of course, didn't really know if this was normal, so I went with it. (I would later learn that my doctor had four of her patients deliver one right after the other in perfect sync. That was just lucky, right???) Once my doctor got in the room and the pushing really started, I just couldn't get the hang of it and was getting really frustrated. I couldn't feel anything, so I had nothing to push against. My doctor was really starting to make me angry as she pushed against and told me to push against her hand. Really, you mean that thing I can't feel? Sure! With each contraction only I was only getting one good push. My doctor starting threatening the vacuum if I couldn't start pushing right, and even had a nurse get it ready for her. This made me even madder since it was NOT motivation issue. I wanted him out! I wanted to see my baby already! I was doing the best I could!
Now, I should probably take a break to let you know a few things. First, when my doctor first came in the room, one of my nurses commented to her "stripping membranes at 38 weeks, huh?". Which I thought was just awesome. Sure, it was a little unprofessional on her part, but it was sort of my first glimpse on just how out of my control this experience had gotten. Also, I need to tell you about my wonderful (non-doctor) support staff I had in this room. My nurses were wonderful. They all were helpful and encouraging me. I know they see births everyday, but they truly made me feel like mine was special. Kym was also amazing. She is now in OB, and I am so happy about this. At the time she was early in nursing school and hadn't even done her OB rotation yet, and she was amazing. She had just the right balance of babying me and pushing me at the same time. As somebody who is normally a somewhat quiet person, it was sort of entertaining for me to really see her in her element (love ya, Kym)! And the hubby. He was just as scared as me, but was a trooper throughout the whole thing. Even with his hand probably still throbbing from before I got the epidural, he was by me the whole time- even when a nurse had him hold my leg, something that he wasn't stoked about.
Back to the pushing... I was working so hard that I had started to close my eyes each time I pushed. So when Kym and Shaun starting yelling "look down! He's here!" I was a little confused (still couldn't feel a darn thing!!!!). I looked down, and there he was. My little gooey covered, cone headed slime ball was here (affectionate, huh? Anyone who has ever seen a birth gonna argue this?????). And... bliss.
See? Bliss and goo.
They say it takes some moms weeks to grow an attachment to their child. Not me. I was instantly in love. The second that they moved him to the light table I was freaking out. I wanted him back! They put an oxygen mask on him (which freaked me out even though I knew it is routine). They asked me his name- Jameson Robert. And it suited him. He was perfect. He was beautiful. The nurses all told me that he was one of the cuter babies they had ever seen (yes, I know they tell this to everyone, but it still meant the world to me).
After an unsuccessful first attempt at breastfeeding, I was cleaned up my family came in. First our parents. They were naturals. Jameson made them each a grandparent and it was instant. Jameson has always been a charmer. :)
I love this picture of my dad. A carpenter/pig farmer with his heart completing melting for his first grandchild
As the rest of the family began to trickle in (I think that the final count was 19 people in the waiting room), the room was filled. My new night nurse (Jameson was born at 6:13pm) came over to ask if I needed an excuse to kick people out. I quickly said no. This was exactly what I wanted. Everyone that would be so important in Jameson's life getting to meet him instantly. I was tired, still numb, and looked like a train wreak, but I loved every minute.
The waiting room
After the family left, they got me up from the bed and moved to our room for the rest of the hospital stay. The nurse took Jameson for his first bath while we had some pizza (I was STARVING!!!!!). I missed him. I thought I was ridiculous, but I actually missed him. It was maybe 15 minutes and I was dying to see him again!
The nurse came back in and said that I need to trying peeing. And this actually led to one of my favorite memories I had ever had.
Don't stop reading, it isn't gross...
The nurse said that I needed to hand baby over to daddy. Shaun sat down in the window seat with our son and I witnessed something amazing- the making of a daddy. I saw a smile on his face that I had never witnessed in our 9 year relationship- it was pure love. Sure, I saw love when he looked at me. But the love I saw on his face when he looked at and held our son was breathtaking. I felt so blessed for God to have sent such an amazing man to be the father of my child.
This wasn't even taken at "the moment" and you can see how happy he is
What would follow wasn't so precious. I was in intense pain for a few weeks. Because I hadn't pushed properly I had a lot of trauma in my lady areas. I eventually had to be cut off percocet. I had a host of issues for about 10 months following his birth. And it wasn't just me- we had a lot of breastfeeding struggles off the bat. I would later realize that the stripping of my membranes caused him to come out before he was ready. He wasn't ready to breastfeed. I was lucky to have an amazing lactation consultant work with us for several hours and got him to nurse and ended up having a very successful 14 months of breastfeeding. Jameson was also so jaundiced that he had to be readmitted when he was just a few days old. After researching I would learn that this was also because he wasn't ready.
In the end, I got an amazing little boy. But this experience taught me that just because someone is a good doctor that doesn't make them a good doctor for me. If you are a high risk pregnancy or prefer a very medically guided labor, my doctor would have been perfect for you. That just wasn't me. We learned a lot, and would later apply that to our next baby...
All my pain was worth it...
But that is another, probably equally ridiculously long story...