Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bee's Birth Story

Four weeks ago today, thing got more interesting. (Caution: Post contains bodily stuff.)

On Monday night, the eighth of November, as we were getting ready for bed, I was hit by a wave of emotion. Something told me that this was the last night I was going to be feeling little squirmy moves in my belly because the baby, who was due the day before, would be born the next day. I told Mr K, but he wasn't completely convinced as I had no symptoms of labor of any kind. We went to bed and had a pleasant and uneventful night of uninterrupted sleep.

I woke up around 9 in the morning the following day, a Tuesday. I let Mr K sleep in a little bit while I started my day. As I was walking into the kitchen to fix a cup of tea, I felt a small woosh. I stopped but didn't feel anything else, so I continued with the tea-making and then ran a bath. After another small woosh, I let Mr K know he might want to wake up and slowly start getting himself and his camera bag ready to go. I soaked for about 30 minutes as he got ready. Around 10:30 I did the thing I had been dreading the most: I called the hospital midwife and did my best, in French, to explain what was going on and get some guidance. She told me to grab my bag and head in for a “control.” At least, I thought she said to grab my bag, but I was so nervous, I wasn't completely sure, so I called a friend and had her call the hospital to make sure I understood everything. She was unable to get through on her first try, so we sat around the house and waited a few long minutes while she tried again. Soon enough, she called us back to say we had understood everything, so we grabbed our bags, I said goodbye to the kitties, and we headed out. I dropped off pre-written notes for our favorite neighbors to let them know we were hospital-bound.

On our way the the station, we realized it may be a while before our next meals, so we headed down to the grocery store to grab a couple sandwiches and cold drinks. We got to the bus stop and saw we had a few minutes before our bus arrived, so we popped into the station for a quick final pictures as a twosome in one of the photo booths. We caught our bus and I was still contraction-free, so the ride was uneventful. We arrived at the hospital around 11:30 and headed up to the third floor, where we checked in for our control. After just a short wait, we were shown back to an exam room staffed by a midwife (the same one who had taken my phone call) and a midwife-in-training. I laid on the table as they put the monitor for contractions and for the baby's heartbeat on my belly and we laid and watched the needles wiggle for the next 20 minutes – baby doing fine, zero contractions. The midwife sent Mr K down to get a card from admissions for me and for the baby and while he was gone, the midwife-in-training got to practice her needle work by getting my IV all set up and ready to go, should they need it later. I spent the next 36+ hours with that needle and the little gauze bracelet holding it in place. Once that was done, they got me back on my feet to head to my room, where lunch would be waiting for me.

I reached my room and settled in to eat. Lunch was a couple slices of roast beef in a brown gravy, a baked, stuffed tomato, some soup and some noodles – not bad at all for hospital food! I ate almost all of it, after offering to share with Mr K, who wasn't feeling much like eating. After I ate, the midwife suggested we go for a walk to pass the time and see if my contractions would start.

We headed up to the roof of the hospital around two in the afternoon. It was pretty cool outside at this point, but the fresh air felt good. The view was impressive – Fribourg in every direction. We could see Mr K's work building and our apartment building. We walked a few laps and I began to get some twinges in my back but nothing in my abdomen. Mr K thought they were contractions and suggested I start timing them, but I didn't think they were. We walked a bit more until I felt like I needed a break and then we headed back to my room so I could lay down for a few minutes before we tried walking some more. The back pain got worse and worse and I soon found myself climbing out of bed and leaning over when the pain came, with my legs and back straight and my chest and face pressed into the bed. I still didn't think the pain was contractions, though. Mr K finally called the midwife when I refused to and they brought the belly monitors back in to watch for another 20 minutes. The midwife checked me and I was about 4 cm dilated – it was around four in the afternoon at this point. The monitor showed a strong baby heartbeat still – as well as fairly strong contractions coming about 3 minutes apart. By this point I was soaked in sweat and a little bit shaky – I'm not sure why I still thought the pains weren't contractions... The midwife showed up and asked if I was okay to walk to the birthing room and I said I was, but about three steps later, as I was leaning against the wall, immobilized with pain, I realized walking wasn't an option and gratefully accepted the wheelchair she offered. The wheelchair ride itself is a complete blank in my memory.

When I opened my eyes, we had arrived at the birthing room (the one I had liked when I first saw it during our prenatal course) and the midwife was running a hot bath for me. All modesty gone, I stripped naked in the middle of the room and made a beeline for the bath. The midwife had added several oils to the water and it smelled amazing. Mr K handed me my apple juice, which I sipped as I soaked in the water. The contractions got worse and I spent nearly all my time with my eyes squeezed shut. The midwife showed Mr K how to grab my belly during the contractions and wiggle it gently from side to side – this really helped with the pain. I soaked in the tub for around an hour as we waited for the anesthetist to show up for my epidural. The midwife said there was an emergency somewhere but that he would arrive as soon as he could. After one particularly bad contraction, the midwife looked at me and asked if I had felt like I needed to push for that one – I did. She waited for the next break between contractions and had me get out of the tub. As I stood next to the tub, she got a bathrobe half on me before another one hit followed, immediately, by two more with almost no break between them. I clung to a rope hanging from the ceiling, trying to remember to breath as the midwife and Mr K dried me off. My memory blanked out again but the next thing I knew, I was laying in the bed, wondering how the pain could get worse. The midwife checked me again and found that, in less than 2 hours, I had gone from 4 cm to 9 cm and she got a little nervous. Typically, I think, that takes closer to five or more hours : this is why my pain was so bad.

About half an hour or so after I got out of the bath, the anesthetist arrived. It was such a relief to see him. He suggested Mr K go for a walk and have a smoke or something and come back in a few minutes as he got everything set up for my epidural. I rolled onto my side and got hit by another three really harsh and close together contractions. We waited for a break in the contractions, but none came, so the anesthetists quickly got the epidural in (around 6:15 pm) as I held as still as possible. He assured me I would feel better in a few minutes.

Around 7:30 I was feeling much better – the contractions still hurt, but not nearly as badly. The midwife came in to see if I was ready to push. I gave it a good try, but wasn't quite ready, so she told us they would be having their shift change soon and to just relax and breath for a bit before we would try again. At 8:30, the new doctor and new midwife showed up and we got ready to go again. The midwife instructed me wait for the next contraction to start and then to take a deep breath for a count of three, and then to hold my breath while pushing “like you need to use the bathroom.” I only had to wait about thirty seconds before the pain came again and I did what she said. About two seconds into my pushing, the midwife began chanting “Again again again,” so I exhaled quickly and inhaled again and got confused when she looked disappointed. After repeating this another couple times I realized she meant “keep pushing” when she said “again” so the next time I kept it up and she got even more excited. After a couple pushes, I was having a hard time telling if I was making any progress. The midwife asked if I would like to feel the baby's head and helped me to reach down to where just the top of it was visible. The minute I felt the baby's soft skin and wet hair, I completely lost it and burst into sobs. This was the moment that I finally finally finally realized we were about to have a baby – the whole pregnancy had felt unreal and it never completely hit me. My hysterical sobbing got Mr K going, so we both cried together for a minute. The midwife (who was maybe 5'3 and 120 pounds) told me to put my foot on her hip and to push as hard as I could for the next contraction. Though I was concerned I would knock her down, I listened and when the next contraction came, I dug in my toes and pushed as hard as I could. I felt a rush (but no pain) and the next thing I heard was the midwife saying “Take your baby take your baby” as the warm, wet, pink baby was placed on my belly, cord still attached. Hot towels appeared and the midwife began rubbing the baby down as she (though we didn't know yet whether she was a she or not) lay on my chest. “Breathe, baby, breathe.” she said as she dried the baby off. A split second later, a little cry came out of the baby and got louder. I finally asked if it was a girl or boy and we checked – girl! Bee arrived with a ton of bright blonde hair and lovely pink skin. She weighed 3570g (7lbs 14 oz) and 50.5cm (about 20 inches) long.

A bottle of bubbly water, some dinner, and a few stitches later, we were back in our room, blissful and ready to sleep. Happy four weeks, Baby Bee!