Thursday, September 11, 2014

Along Came Desmond: Having a Natural Birth in a Hospital Setting

I've been absent for about two months on the blog and in related news, baby Desmond is now two months old. Are you picking up what I'm throwing down? Life has been super busy since this little guy came around but our hearts are full and we wouldn't want life any other way.

Speaking of having things our way, we did have the natural hospital birth we desired and it went just about as perfectly as it could. I think a few things certainly helped us to achieve our goal and I'll mention those approaches here in case you are also desiring a natural birth in a hospital setting.

As many of you know, I make HUGE babies. These huge babies of mine also tend to come early and Desmond was no exception. By 35 weeks I was dilated to 3cm and having daily (albeit inconsistent) contractions. While I was confident that this baby wasn't ready to budge anytime soon, my OB was very concerned that with our history of precipitous labor, we would have an accidental "car baby" and might run into some life threatening scenarios.

At 36 weeks I developed symptoms of pre-eclampsia and my OB's concerns continued to mount. To give you a clearer picture of just how concerned she was, she actually called me in the mornings from her personal cell phone just to check-in on me. With that in mind, I began a primrose oil regimen to help induce labor as we were fast approaching a medical decision: let the baby bake and risk potentially fatal complications and a guaranteed c-section or up the ante and move on from herbal remedies to manually augmenting labor. We decided that a membrane sweep was the least aggressive way to manually induce labor and while that did instantaneously accelerate my dilation from 3cm to 6cm, it still wasn't enough to get baby Desmond moving.

After spending a long evening in the hospital, we knew Desmond needed more time and that I needed to rest and eat a hamburger. The benefit to this preemptive hospital tour was that I was able to meet with the anesthesiologist and emphatically tell him that come Delivery Day, I did not want to see his pretty face. I may have also told him in no uncertain terms that once I go to my "Labor Zone" he would NOT want to see ME. That conversation went a long way to protecting our drug free zone once real labor set in and I highly recommend meeting with the anesthesiologist prior to labor if you can to avoid any offers of undesired pain management. So with that meeting out of the way and stern instructions from our OB to return should I even sneeze funny {she actually gave Michael a cord clamp just in case we didn't make it back in time} we packed up our bags and headed home for what was most likely our last night as a family of three.

We stopped for Indian food on our way home and I had so many consistent contractions that we almost headed right back to the hospital. I was determined to get some rest so we finished our meal and headed straight home. Once home those contractions ceased and we spent a great evening together attending to last minute preparations. I'll pause here to mention that eating Indian food certainly did seem to help move things along so when all else fails in a stalled labor-eat something spicy!

The next day we headed back to Dr. Pepperell's office and discussed the need for continued intervention. We settled on breaking my bag of waters as my blood pressure was becoming more and more elevated and I had considerable protein in my urine. Michael and I returned home, grabbed our bags and headed back to the hospital. This would actually be my third time checking into Labor & Delivery in the past week so I was starting to feel a bit like Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day but hey, at least our nurses knew us and gave us the best room in the house. Dr. Pepperell came in, reviewed our birth plan with us and got down to business. Unfortunately, my bag of waters was so thick she was unable to pick it open and did have to use an amnihook. An amnihook basically looks like a giant knitting needle-it looks intimidating but it didn't hurt at all. It was an odd sensation to not experience a spontaneous rupture of membranes like I had with Eli but it was clearly the safest way for us to usher our babe into this world.

L&D Check-in  Selfie

This is the part of the story where some people might start to hate me. That's okay, I would hate me a little too. If it makes you feel any better I did not have this experience with Eli's natural birth. Once my bag was broken, I continued to dilate. While I was having constant contractions, I could not feel a THING! I had mapped out pressure points like spleen six to stimulate contractions and while I couldn't feel them, it was very cool to see the monitors respond to my DIY acupressure.

At around 8cm I was still painless and I began thinking this whole experience was just a dream. Just for reference, 8cm is roughly the size of a donut so it was more than a little unsettling to me that I was that advanced into labor and completely without pain. I actually threw down a yoga mat and asked Michael to start playing some Mike Snow to try and accelerate this business of being born. I will say that very few moments are as etched into my memory as the look of shock from my Doctor and Nurse when they walked in to check on me and found me like this:

It wasn't until close to 10cm that things started "to get real". My floor yoga routine had helped baby descend but he was still in an occiput posterior position or in layman's terms, "sunny side up". This resulted in back labor for me and while my active pushing did not last longer than 15 mins at most-it was incredibly painful.

Michael was a true sport during this time. In between grunts and moans he was able to understand exactly what I needed and multi-tasked tremendously between providing emotional support, physical support, pain distraction techniques like applying ice and gauging exactly what music I needed to support the momentum of delivery. In hindsight, Michael was more present for me during Desmond's birth than he was at Eli's. In a birth center setting, all hands on deck are needed and Michael was actively participating in the delivery of Eli which left little time for him to support ME as I labored. Michael may not consider his part integral to the delivery of our son, but I do and I'll be forever grateful.

At exactly 8:56PM on June 26, 2014 our son Desmond Leรณn was born weighing in at a healthy 10 lbs 5 oz. I'll never forget the gasps that filled the room as our our Herculean baby was weighed and the numbers bounced off the scale like rapid fire. Desmond was predicted to be 8 lbs 11oz so this was a definite shock and surprise. Once Desmond was safely in my arms the rest of that night became a blur and even though the sleep deprivation continues we are absolutely head over heels, crazy in love with our precious son.

 *I need to state that our OB, Dr. Michelle Pepperell, is truly a class act. She put herself out there in trusting us to navigate our labor and delivery on our own terms and she never once resorted to scare tactics or manipulations. She did tell us that "in all my years of practice I have NEVER sent a woman dilated to 6cm home" before officially releasing us. She could have easily refused to release us and because insurance wont cover you if you leave against medical advice, we would have been forced financially into staying. So if you are considering having a baby and you live in North Texas-seriously look her up. She rocks and we will keep on having babies if she will keep on delivering them.

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