birth story: aspen luella

I admit, it has been two and a half years since Aspen was born, so I did have to go back through some old emails to see what I wrote about her birth back then to prepare for this post.

With Aspen, David and I took the 12 week Bradley Method courses for husband coached natural childbirth. We felt so prepared for delivery, and thought we would know exactly what to do at each stage and what to expect with labor, even with variations in labor.

from week 39 to my due date, my step-mom was in town from Oregon hoping to be there for my daughters birth. We spent all week walking, hiking south mountain, eating spicy food and pineapple, you name it. On October 15th, my due date, I finally resorted to using castor oil as a last ditch effort to start up labor before my mom left on the 16th. Sadly, while I did have some contractions, they went away after about an hour or two and I made the dreaded trip to the airport the next day, bawling all the way home.

For the next few days I spent my time laying around completely depressed. Since I had gone past my due date and wasn’t considering induction, my doctor scheduled a non-stress test (NST) for Friday morning, which was 40w 6d into my pregnancy. I had started having contractions a little before the appointment and during the test, but it was very early labor. The ultrasound portion of the test showed that my fluid levels were very low, but it was safe enough to continue the pregnancy through the weekend and I’d need to come in Monday for another NST. The ultrasound also showed that Aspen was posterior, aka sunnyside up, which means she is facing forward with her spine against my spine (ideally baby’s face should be toward mom’s spine).

I went home and laid around awhile longer. I think I took a nap, but would wake up to time contractions, they were about fifteen minutes apart and I was doing a good job of keeping everyone updated. My bff Becki was so excited, we decided to get together and do some last minute activities to get things moving. We went and got pedicures, and my contractions were getting more uncomfortable, but mostly just on my tailbone to sit down. After pedicures we went to Sonic to pick up snacks. While in the drive through, I took off my seatbelt and leaned against the dashboard, trying to relieve some of the pain on my lower back from sitting. All I knew was I needed out of this car and this sitting position asap.

When we got home I ate but I soon got nauseous from the thought of eating anymore. We pulled out the exercise ball and I switched around from laying on it while on my knees, being on all fours rocking, and resting on the edge of the couch. Not much helped with the pain in my spine, which I can best describe as someone taking a sledge hammer to your lower back, and then it continuing to radiate out after each hit. At 11pm my contractions had been five minutes apart for two hours, I was feeling pretty confident since they were completely following the timeline we had learned about, and we went to the hospital.

My doctor was on call, so when he heard I was there he offered to come in and check me instead of the triage nurses. I had high hopes, but when he came in, I was only 1cm. I think he may have stripped my membranes at this point, and went back out to deliver someone else’s baby. The nurse came and asked if we wanted to walk around or go home, and we decided to go home. I was so confused though, this was when I was told I should go to the hospital, so we asked the nurse when to come back and she told us when contractions are three minutes apart.

We went home and I sent David to bed so he would be well rested for the next trip to the hospital. My contractions kicked up to three minutes apart soon after returning home. I wanted to make sure it was for real this time, so I tested out showers, baths, more time on the ball and all fours and nothing slowed the contractions or even helped with the pain anymore so after several hours, at about 4am we went back to the hospital.

I was STILL 1cm dilated. I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the feeling of hopelessness until this very second. I stared at the nurse blankly for what felt like five minutes. OB triage nurses are saints for the insane in-labor women they deal with every day. I’m sure she wanted to tell me to suck it up and get out, there was nothing she could do for me and sitting there crying wasn’t going to change that. Instead, she politely told me I could stay and walk around or she could give me some oral pain medication and I could go home and try to rest. I told her I didn’t know what to do and may have been a little rude to her, I didn’t want to go home. She very matter of factly repeated my options, which didn’t include staying in triage. She left me alone and after crying for a minute I collected myself, agreed to the pain meds and went home.

The medicine slowed the contractions back to 12 minutes for awhile, which allowed me to doze off every now and then between contractions. I tried more baths and showers and everything else I had tried all night. David also helped push on my back or hips during the contractions but soon any touch during a contraction became too much to bear. I felt like my body wasn’t working the way it was supposed to, my labor wasn’t following anything I had learned about, even with variations in labor, our classes didn’t over close together contractions for hours on end that didn’t help with progression. I was now 41 weeks, had been having back labor for over 24 hours, and feelt like there wasn’t any way I could do it on my own.

At 11am I called my doctor and asked to be added to the induction list that day. He talked to me for awhile about it to make sure that’s what I really wanted and then agreed to add me. I felt a little better after that, knowing there was some sort of end in sight. David picked up some soup for me to eat, which I really couldn’t do and we waited. At 1pm I got the call that I could come in, so we got everything together and went to the hospital.

We checked in around 2pm, I had to stop several times during the questions because of contractions, I’m not sure the girl there was used to an induction patient being in labor. We went up to L&D, they put me in a room, I changed and the nurses asked if I knew what my doctor had planned for induction. I had no idea, but I told them if pitocin was going to be used I wanted to get the epidural. They called my doctor, and since I was now agreeing to the epidural he said to go ahead and give it to me and let me rest for a couple hours before starting and induction procedures. After I had received a bag of fluids,  I was waiting on the anesthesiologist and worried once I got the epidural I wouldn’t feel anything and would pee everywhere. I asked the nurse if I could use the bathroom, and she said yes. I went, and as soon as I was done I noticed some things going on that didn’t belong and thought my water broke. I asked the nurse to check me, thinking maybe if I had made enough progress I’d be close and wouldn’t need the epidural. She checked, confirming my water had broke but I was only 3-4cm. I then had a very long ,very intense contraction, and decided to go ahead with the epidural.

After the epi, everything was so much more pleasant. I could tell I was having contractions but there was no pain in my back. I wasn’t able to rest really, my family started showing up, but that was ok. After a couple hours they checked me again and I was still 4cm, but my contractions had picked up so that was ok. An hour later they checked again and nothing had changed so they called the doctor. He told them to use the peanut shaped ball (the size of a regular exercise ball) between my knees and have me lie for awhile on each side then check again instead of starting pitocin. It was around 5:45 or so, and they gave me close to an hour on each side. My family and I all stared guessing times Aspen would arrive and how big she’d be. I think I guessed she’d be born at 10:30pm, and the nurse jumped in saying there was NO WAY this baby was coming before midnight. I started shivering quite a bit and feeling nauseous, but figured that was just side effects from the medicine. They came back to take the ball away and check me again close to 8pm, and the nurse explained if I wasn’t at least 6cm by now, they would start pitocin. We were all downright shocked when she checked and I was 10 cm and ready to push. Then I thew up. All the shivering and nausea had been signs of transition, one of the most intense and important stages of labor, and I didn’t even notice!

We called my mom, two sisters, mother in law and best friend back into the room for the birth, and my sister called my other mom and sisters in Oregon on skype to watch. The nurses and my doctor prepped everything, I started pushing and not ten minutes later Aspen was born: Saturday, October 22, at 8:27pm. She had a tiny little cry and was tiny herself, they let David cut her umbilical cord right away because it wasn’t long enough for her to reach me, then laid her on my chest. It was 36 hours total, but I was so happy to meet and hold this sweet little 6lb 3oz angel.

I’ll talk about recovery, my thoughts on childbirth education, nursing the second time around, and differences in labor later when I share Everett’s story.

Hospital images taken by my friend Becki, edited by me 2.5 years ago before I knew what I was doing. Final newborn image by Kristen Self Photography.                   IMG_2603 IMG_2633 IMG_2638bw IMG_2641 IMG_2651IMG_2649  IMG_2671 IMG_2681bw IMG_2707 IMG_2711 IMG_2724 IMG_2727 IMG_2732bw IMG_2735 IMG_2740bw IMG_2741 IMG_2758bw 10

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