Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Birth Story #5 - Alexander - a difficult labor

When I became pregnant again after the elevator birth, I knew we had some things to think about.  Much as I enjoyed the non-intervention, I did NOT wish to have another baby in the elevator, or anywhere else that babies aren't normally born.  (Wal Mart, for example.)

I seriously considered home birth.  I've gone into that before (see here), so I won't rehash all the reasons I still chose to have a hospital birth.  They were, in this case, largely financial - my health coverage at the time covered a hospital birth 100%, and a home birth was not covered at all.

So, I went back to the same midwife I'd had for Jonathan.  We then had an unfortunate hitch, when about halfway through my pregnancy, she relocated her practice about 40 minutes away, up the canyon, instead of being practically next door.  We had to decide whether to find a new midwife at this point, or face the drive, knowing that my labors can move fast.

Trust is so important in a caregiver.  I trusted my midwife, I knew her, and I was worried to transfer care to someone who may push a more managerial approach to making sure my birth happened in the right place.  I was not willing to induce or undergo other interventions to try to time my birth.  So, we stuck with her, and made plans to zip up the canyon at the first sign of labor.  I can't tell you how many people suggested I camp out in the hospital parking lot!

Well, one evening I began to think I was in labor.  I was having mild, irregular contractions, and I felt awful.  I had made Garlic Salted Chicken, and I pulled it out of the oven and left it on the counter for the kids to help themselves while I laid down.  I still found my labor signs confusing - as I've said before, I feel laborish for the whole last month, so labor is often hard to identify when it does come on.

In the end that night we decided we had better head up to the hospital and see what was up.  We left around 6 pm.  We made it to the hospital, past the elevators, and into the room...and it turns out, I was indeed in active labor.  Given my history, they scrambled around getting everything ready.  We all thought we'd see the baby in an hour or two...but hour after hour ticked by, and not much was happening.

I would have some strong contractions, and then they would just disappear.  I slept a good portion of the night, and in the morning, nothing had really changed.  The weird on-again, off-again contractions continued.  The baby was completely descended, with all the discomfort that brings.  I was terribly nauseated, and in the bathroom almost constantly.

And here, we made what I consider to easily be the biggest birthing mistake we have ever made.  We allowed the midwife to break my water, around 11am.  She thought it would stimulate a more effective labor, and probably end in a quick delivery.

It did not.

I learned later that I had many symptoms of posterior labor (back labor), but no one recognized them, probably because I did not have the characteristic back pain.  I did have the very slow labor, the irregular ineffective contractions.  Baby was backwards and also positioned poorly, with his head tilted back a bit.  Breaking my water, in this case, was a very bad choice that could have had serious results.

Anyway, it had no effect at all on my contractions.  I walked the hospital for hours, painfully aware of the fact that with my membranes ruptured, we were now "on the clock."  Later that afternoon, I sat on the bed and cried after refusing Pitocin.  I was told that if I didn't get the Pitocin soon, I was risking a C-section when the time ran out.  I bitterly regretted allowing my water to be broken.  I realized that we had put Alex and myself at some risk, for no good reason.

So, I walked.  I pumped. And finally, in a very merciful answer to prayer, I began to have stronger contractions that didn't fizzle out.  After that, it was a couple more hours till Alex was born.

Let me just say - posterior birth is hard.  It's really hard.  One would think that by the time you are on your fifth natural birth, you would pretty much know what it feels like...but a poorly positioned, posterior birth is a whole different ball game.  It felt like something was wrong; it hurt a lot more.  It took a long time, too.  When little Alex finally made his appearance, it was a full 24 hours after labor began.  His poor little face was all bruised from his awkward passage; I was battered and exhausted.  It took me much longer to recover from that birth than from any other, too.

So I walked away with a couple of lessons:
  • Never let anyone break my water again.  I'm not saying everyone should follow this rule, but it is my rule, now, and it will take a lot of convincing to change it.
  • I'm never having another posterior baby.  Never.  And my saying so will make it happen. ;-)
Xander-zoodle.  Worth every minute of a hard labor!

All the birth stories...
Birth Story #6 - Abigail
Birth Story #5 - Alex
Birth Story #4 - Jonathan
Birth Story #3 - Rebecca
Birth Story #2 - Anna
Birth Story #1: Erin

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