Gwendolyn’s Birth Story

Gwendolyn's Birth Story

Gwendolyn’s birth story has to go back to Gus’s birth as and introduction. I know most people think that the more babies you have, the faster it goes. To some extent that is true. Depending on the size and position of the baby, the births can be much faster. Once labor finally kicked in fully with my seventh baby, she was born in under two hours. But the more babies I had, the harder it was for my body to stay in labor. My contractions would space out too far, stalling labor.

With Gus’s birth, my labor had started and stopped two nights in a row and had begun again the third evening. My body was finally able to stay in labor, but it was one of my most painful labors and my longest pushing time. I was so exhausted from not sleeping for the previous two nights that I really had no coping skills left to deal with the pain.

I knew I didn’t want to go through anything like that again. Gus had been born at home, like most of my other kids, but we decided that baby #10 would be born in a hospital. In a hospital if I stalled out, they could augment my labor before I hit the point of complete exhaustion like I had with Gus.

So I saw my OB/GYN through the pregnancy and everything went pretty well. Because of my age, they began to do weekly ultrasounds and non-stress tests at 35 weeks. At the first one of those appointments, we discovered that the baby was transverse (lying sideways) and had way too much fluid.

I’ve never had anything but an “All systems go!” kind of appointment, so this was a big surprise. I worried a little, since there were some risks involved, like cord prolapse if my water broke. Then I researched c-sections a little bit.

We decided to try to turn the baby, so I went in the following weekend. I had an epidural – my first ever – for that procedure. She turned just fine when the doctor moved her, but then about two hours later she turned right back to her old position. At my next appointment, she was breech and there was still too much fluid. So we went ahead and scheduled a cesarean.

I was mildly disappointed at the prospect of a c-section. But really, I have had 9 variations of lovely natural births, in the hospital, at home, in the water, on the floor, couch and bed. I wasn’t all that attached to the actual event of how birth happened this time. The only part that made me nervous was the recovery time afterwards in our chaotic household. I wasn’t sure how I could get the rest I would need after a major surgery.

At 38 weeks I visited a friend who is a chiropractor. She had adjusted me when my labor was stalled out with Gus and it seemed to get things moving. She didn’t do any special tricks, just a regular back adjustment to help me be more comfortable. Before I left her house, we could see the baby moving all over the place. Big movements, swishing across my belly.

The next day, Jay and I took the kids to the mall to look for school shoes. It was a long walk, and by the end I could tell the baby was riding much lower than she had been, but I couldn’t tell what part was so low.

Two days later, on Tuesday, I had my weekly ultrasound again. Low and behold she was head down and well engaged. We cancelled the c-section appointment and my doctor warned me that I needed to come right in if my water broke because of the extra fluid. I laughed and told him that my water had only broken on its own once and even then it was when I was fully dilated. He told me that with the extra fluid it was much more likely to happen this time.

Sure enough, that night as I was drifting off to sleep I felt a little tiny gush. I waddled off the the bathroom to see what was going on but after a few minutes nothing else had happened so I went back to bed. A few minutes later I was dozing off again when I felt a definite POP and a big gush. I jumped up and ran to the tile floor like you have never seen a 9 month pregnant woman jump and run before. I only got a little bit on the bed. But now I was sure. My water had broken. My poor husband had gotten very little sleep the last couple days, so I decided to let him keep sleeping while I gathered up my stuff for the hospital. I waddled around the room with a towel between my legs while I packed my bag. Contractions started within about 10 minutes of my water fully breaking and they were pretty serious right from the start. For extra fun, I had a giant gush of water with each contraction.

Once I was sure there was nothing else I could do, I woke Jay up. I sat on my towel on the edge of the bed and whispered, “Jay?”

“Huh? What?” he said still half asleep. And then I think he realized what was going on before I even told him that my water had broken. He jumped up right away and began running around, asking what I needed help with and had I called the doctor yet?

No, I had forgotten that part. So I called him while Jay got dressed and took my stuff out to the car. Ben, our 18 year old, was awake, and he helped by lining the front passenger seat with a trash bag and towels.

Soon enough, we were on our way. One of our worries about the hospital we had chosen was the distance. It could be 45 minutes to an hour drive in traffic. But this was the middle of the night and there was no traffic to speak of. We made it in about 25 minutes. During the ride, my contractions had really taken off. I couldn’t talk through them any more and with each one there was a huge gush of fluid. The baby was moving plenty, so we felt like she was doing fine.

Once we arrived at the hospital, we checked in at the E.R, and were whisked up to labor and delivery right away. My doctor had called ahead and I was able to bypass triage. They took me to a Labor, Delivery, Recovery  room and a nurse helped me change. My pajamas were wet all the way down to my ankles and I was glad to be in some dry clothes. I got settled in the bed and the nurse checked me and hooked me up to a monitor. I don’t even remember how far I was dilated. It was less than I thought I would be based on the pain, but it was enough that I felt like my body was doing its job.

The nurse asked if I wanted an epidural. This was something I had thought long and hard about during this pregnancy. For my 10th birth, I decided that I very definitely wanted pain relief. I told her yes and she went off to get to work on that. For the next hour I did my best to breathe and relax through some pretty tough contractions. Jay was right by my side, calming me and talking me through. We’ve done this enough times that his touch is an instant cue to my body to relax.

The anesthesiologist came in sooner than I expected and put the epidural in. It was a pretty uncomfortable process, but it didn’t last too long. Over the next few minutes I became much more comfortable. I have to say, that as far as epidurals go, mine was perfect. I could still feel when contractions were happening, but they didn’t take my breath away, and it relaxed my body enough that the rest of my labor went pretty quickly.

As I got cozy, I put a movie on and Jay laid down on the couch to catch a quick nap. (With my full encouragement! I knew he would be up for a long time after this, especially since we were laboring all night.) I alternately watched “Ender’s Game” and dozed a bit. At one point the nurse came in the check on us and said she was a little concerned that my contractions were too far apart. This was the same thing I had experienced many times before. I told her I had kind of expected that to happen. She suggested that we watch it for a little longer and see if I made progress. If not, then they would start some pitocin. It turned out that we never needed it.

After a while, my contractions changed a bit. They weren’t super painful, but they were kind of taking my breath away. I had to breathe slowly and deeply with each one. This change in my breathing was enough to wake Jay up and he came and stood beside me. The nurse also noticed the change in my contractions on the monitor and came in to check on me.

Sure enough, it was time! She fetched the doctor and they began to set up for the birth. It was hard to believe it had gone that quickly! Because of the epidural, I had been able to labor the baby down most of the way. Pushing with the epidural was a new sensation. I had no control over my legs, so Jay and the nurse had to hold them up for me, but the baby was low enough that I didn’t have any trouble knowing where to push.

She was out in under 15 minutes of pushing. Gwendolyn was born at 4:25am on July 15. My water had broken at around 11pm. She was the most vernix covered baby I have ever seen. She looked like she was covered with a layer of frosting, almost completely white. Gwendolyn nursed vigorously right away. They didn’t take her to examine her fully or measure her for almost an hour. She just stayed right on my chest. She looked so tiny to us, but when they weighed her she was 8 pounds, 1 ounce, and she was 20 inches long.

I hadn’t been looking to have a magical, natural birth this time around, especially when we were so sure I would end up having a c-section. But this birth was everything I could have hoped for. I loved my hospital and doctor, I felt secure and cared for every step of the way. Jay was by my side. Our baby was born fairly quickly and was completely healthy.

Comments

  1. I love a good birth story! Thanks for sharing all the details — it’s such a special time when you get to meet a new little one for the first time. 🙂

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