Thursday, May 16, 2013

Supermom! How I birthed my baby -- Part 7

Today, in Part 7 of our birth stories series, Breanna Lien shares her tale of a birth plan gone awry. Follow Breanna on her blog, Bree, Babes and Beauty

I should begin by sharing the birth plan I had for as long as I can remember which was to have a midwife and all water births. I understood that when the time came I may not want to be in water for the entire process but I definitely wanted the option. My mom had both hospital and home births. Her favorite were her two water births and I wanted the same wonderful experience. I chose a midwife and a birth center and was convinced this first birth, though difficult, would be amazing. We studied, we had a plan and we were confident.

My mom was in town to help Kenny and I through our first time, which was a comfort, especially since I considered her a pro. I was so ready to have our baby and was not nervous about giving birth; rather incurring unforeseen medical expenses. I had an appointment the Wednesday after my due date (Sunday) and my mom was able to come to her first prenatal appointment as well as see the birth center and meet my midwives. I was dilated to 2cm and had been for a few weeks. I scheduled an appointment at the hospital for the following Monday (41weeks) to do a fetal stress test to ensure it was okay to continue waiting on baby. On the drive home I cried to my mom and everything I was feeling came to the surface. I absolutely wanted to meet my baby, but I didn't want to be induced. I knew my baby was fine and was upset because we could not afford another bill for a test or a hospital birth since we had to pay that out-of-pocket in conjunction with the birth center fee. I cried and cried. I wanted to be able to do this naturally. I wanted financial peace. I wanted the birth I always dreamed of and I wanted to have a beautiful experience I could be proud of. I worried if I acted irrationally during labor it would make me less of a woman. I wanted to be strong.

My mom comforted me in that moment. She shared her wisdom that your birth is your special birth and experience no matter how it happens. She told me I would do great. Every woman is different and that is okay. She told me even if I had to have my baby in the hospital it would be okay. Even if we had a huge bill, somehow it would be alright. No matter what, we would have our baby and all would be beautiful. God would take care of it all. She told me there is no wrong way, which helped me feel empowered and at peace with whatever was going to happen.

I never made it to that appointment. Friday night, after a couple days of early labor and a couple visits to the birth center my labor began. I had only slept four hours since Wednesday night, with my consistent early contractions keep me up but bringing on baby. At the birth center my husband, Kenny, and I tried to get some sleep before the big event. I let him and everyone sleep while I just let the contractions come in the large beautiful tub. Eventually I woke my husband and they called the nurse around 2 a.m. Finally the real thing was happening! Kenny stayed with me and during the time I spent in water, he lovingly told me, "You were made to give birth this way. You are so relaxed in there. You are doing great!" I was exhausted but felt empowered to do this.

A few hours later, I was in the tub and started thinking, “Okay, I think I’m done now. I can’t do this anymore.” I quietly told Kenny what I was thinking and with each contraction he told me, “You can do this.” I repeated back to him, “I can do this,” as the contractions came and I breathed through them.

At about 6 a.m., my midwife planned to take a nap to rest up for the big event. She asked if I wanted her to check me to see how far I had progressed before she went into the other room. My first answer was no, as I was certain I was only going to be dilated to 5cm and would be discouraged. Then I remembered how a little while before I had been feeling like I needed to quit. What if that was transition? I had her check me. Sure enough, I was dilated to 8. I was in transition. Just then my water broke. I had a renewed energy in that moment. I smiled when Kenny came back in the room after a quick rest and snack as I proudly told him my water broke. I started breathing her  down (though I didn’t know she was a ‘her’ yet) and intently working with my midwives. At around 8 a.m., I started pushing. I don’t remember much about the next six hours. Honestly, I don’t know how it lasted six hours. At 10 a.m., they saw the head and again there was renewed energy! Here comes my baby, I thought.

I should point out I always thought women were a bit dramatic when it came to labor. I still truly believe you can have a peaceful experience and that birth is beautiful. I would get so mad watching shows and movies where birth was a screaming, chaotic mess. I felt it scared women and I still feel that way somewhat, even though the last few hours of my experience put those movies to shame. At around noon I was sitting on a birth stool still trying to get this baby to crown with no luck. A nurse asked if I wanted to feel baby’s head and all I could feel was a soft spot the size of a nickel as I happened to look at the clock. It read a little after 12 p.m. In that moment, I lost it. I felt betrayed and lied to. These people had been telling me my baby was almost here for over four hours and she was nowhere close! I frantically told Kenny they were lying and didn’t know how I could keep going. He kept smiling at me, holding me and telling me I could. I was made for this. What I didn’t know was that he was silently looking to my mom that entire time to keep him encouraged so he wouldn’t lose it in front of me. This was the hardest thing he has done, too; just in a different way.

The next two hours passed quickly in my memory, but wore on forever in the moment. They were checking baby’s heart rate with every push. I knew that pushing too long could cause the heart rate to drop but I wanted to have her naturally so I would push as long as possible then take a huge breath before pushing again. When the contraction subsided I would take deep breaths too. Her heart rate stayed perfectly normal but my contractions started slowing. I had no idea anything could be wrong. At 1:30, my midwife informed me she was going to give me 30 minutes. I would have to give it my all and if we didn’t make significant progress we were going to have to go to the hospital where, depending on the OB's assessment, they would have to use the vacuum or perform a cesarean section. I was shocked, but I so trusted this woman with 30 years of experience and I knew she just wanted us to be safe. I gave it my all. I screamed and pushed with all my might, but we made absolutely no progress. I couldn’t get dressed, so they got me into a gown. Hair wet from the tub, barefoot, crying and pushing, we drove to the hospital. The car ride was agonizing but all I could hope for was to get there and have my baby. I was exhausted and hungry. I had barely been able to eat and hadn’t slept in over two days by this point. It didn’t matter anymore how I gave birth to her. I just wanted my baby in my arms.

My OB was amazing. She moved quickly as she explained everything that happened. At one look, she informed me I would need a c-section. She gently, but seriously, told me I need to try to stop pushing. All I really remember was a feeling of fear and desperation. I would do whatever was necessary at this point. I had done all my body could manage and then some.

When the anesthesia kicked in, I was so relieved I had to try really hard not to cry. Almost immediately, I was close to being myself again, chatting with the anesthesiologist as I waited for Kenny to get there. The doctor told me he was amazed I wasn’t asleep with everything I had been through. Kenny came in with tears in his eyes telling me how much he loved me and how proud he was. I made him save that talk for later because I didn’t want to cry during surgery while unable to feel what my body was doing so he just held my hand and stroked my hair. 

My midwife had told me it would feel uncomfortable when they pulled her out but I didn’t feel a thing. I looked up and realized the drape shielding my view was violently shaking and knew they must be getting her out. I heard the OB say, “Oh wow! This baby was never coming out any other way but this way.” It was 3:40 p.m., and I heard her cry for the first time. Kenny stood to see our baby. As he looked at me, tears started running down his face and he announced, “We have a girl. A beautiful baby girl.” I wanted to hold her but was unable to as they put me back together and cleaned her up.

Kenny walked over to where they were taking her measurements and swaddling her. We had decided on two names for both a boy and a girl but were waiting until we saw our child before choosing his or her name. It could be anyone in there and we wanted to pair the right name with the right person. I asked Kenny as he looked at her, “Who is she?” He turned with tears still in his eyes and said, “It’s Amelia. Amelia Rose.” Once she was all bundled up they gave her to Kenny and she didn’t leave his arms until I was in recovery and we were able to do skin to skin. It was there she latched for the first time to nurse and we were able to go to our room.

This was the birth I had never wanted, but this was the little girl I had always dreamed of. Recovering from a c-section is extremely difficult and I had never realized that. We had many tears and many struggles to get us to where we are. I had support from my family, husband and the staff at the hospital I never could have dreamed of. The nurses were amazing, the doctors equally amazing, the lactation consultants were everything I could have asked for, and they even had someone who was able to help us with requesting financial aid.

Days of early labor, 18 plus hours of real labor, 6 hours of pushing, an unplanned c-section, baby with a tongue tie and jaundice, a 5 day hospital stay and a bill we were never going to be able to pay off… but an unforgettable experience we were absolutely blessed by.

 A few months after the birth, we discovered the bill was completely taken care of and all we were responsible for was the OB and anesthesiologist. I was stunned. We have been exclusively breastfeeding for over 5 months now. Our little girl who was jaundiced with a tongue tie has had the tongue tie corrected and is now in the 90 something percentile for weight. Amelia (Millie as we call her now) is an amazing, thriving little girl. She is so bonded to her Daddy and I believe that is due to the c-section. Kenny was the one who soothed her, changed her, calmed her and held her when I wasn’t nursing. She had a bond with him from days old that even the pediatrician commented on as being something special and unusual for her age.

C-sections are never ideal in my opinion. Regardless, we were blessed through this one. I found out later she was stuck because her head was coming out wrong and she was too large for my body in the position she was in. No, it did not go anything like I planned but what I had to realize was if I had waited another day we both would have died. It was a long difficult recovery and for a while I doubted myself for not being able to do it the “right” way. That doubt was quite simply a lie. I was no less of a woman for needing a c-section and I’m so grateful I was surrounded by people who loved me enough to reassure me of that truth. Through this experience I have gained a wonderful breastfeeding relationship with my baby girl, my husband and I have grown immensely, both as individuals and as a couple, and now I can better encourage others who have had to stray from their original birth plan. There is no wrong way. There is only the way a child is born. No matter the means, birth is beautiful and something to be so very proud of.

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