Monday, February 27, 2012

Introducing Mary Clare! (Birth Story)

Well, we are happy and proud to say that our little girl is finally here! Her arrival was much different than I had anticipated, but Mary came naturally, when she was meant to arrive, so I can't complain! (Although, I'm sure I did plenty of complaining in the weeks before her arrival because the last few weeks were so uncomfortable!). So here is the birth story of our 3rd child and 1st daughter, Mary Clare.

To my surprise, I made it to my 39 week OB appointment on January 19th.  I was convinced throughout my pregnancy that this baby was going to be at least two weeks early, as Damien was 10 days early, and Blaise was 12 days early.  So, at my appointment on Thursday, January 19th, I had my doctor check my progress to see if this baby showed any signs of coming any time soon.  It turned out that I was 4-5 cm dilated, about 90% effaced, and the baby was extremely low, at +2 station.  Our doctor expected our baby to arrive within 24 hours, and he instructed me to go to the hospital if I had any sign of consistent contractions, given my history.  Of course, a snow storm was predicted the next day, so we were a little worried that the baby could come too fast for me to make it to the hospital! (I was in labor with Blaise only 3 hours, and he arrived after less than an hour at the hospital). Therefore, my mom offered to stay with us until the baby arrived, so there would be no extra time needed for her to drive over to watch the boys when I went in labor. It turns out, there didn't need to be any rush, though.

I made it to my due date on January 21st with no consistent contractions.  I was getting pretty frustrated because I was sooo ready for this baby to arrive! Finally, around 5:45 on Sunday morning (the 22nd), I started to get contractions about 3-5 minutes apart.  We subsequently got my bag, said good-bye to my mom, and left the house pretty quickly, just in case this baby wanted to make a fast arrival.  We arrived at the hospital at 6:30, where they checked me in and the resident checked my progress. At this point I was 5cm dilated and 0 station, which means the baby's head was higher up than it had been in the clinic. Due to my dilation and constant contractions, they did admit me, but cautioned that if things didn't progress, I could be sent home (which was a huge fear of mine!).  My doctor arrived not long after my admission, and stayed on the labor and delivery unit for the duration of my labor (very rare nowadays).

I lucked out that my nurse, Angel, was awesome in accepting and supporting my desire for a natural birth.  I refused to be hooked up to the monitors (I only had the contraction monitor in triage and allowed my nurse to check the baby's heart rate and my vital signs once an hour) and requested not to be asked about pain. This is also what I did in my previous births, and it works well for me. I know that childbirth involves pain, but I don't need to be reminded of it every hour. I don't like having any medical interventions during labor, as I know from my labor and delivery semester in school and reading that one intervention usually starts a "cascade of interventions" with unwanted outcomes. Andy and I spent pretty much my entire labor walking the halls in order to get things progressing, as I know lying on my back is the absolute worst position to be in while laboring/birthing a baby. I am good proof of this fact, as my contractions would slow down or even stop if I laid down on the bed.

At 10:00 the resident came to check me again. I had progressed to 6cm!  Unfortunately, this is not good enough according to medical books (you are "supposed" to dilate 1cm an hour), so I was encouraged to have my water broken.  I decided that even though I wasn't progressing as quickly as the doctor wanted, I was progressing, so I refused an artificial rupture of membranes, and told him I would like to keep walking and see what happens.

The resident returned at 12:15 for another check. At this point I was 8cm and 100% effaced! The resident was satisfied at this point and stated that my progression was "textbook".  So, I kept walking.

1:00--another check. 9 cm! At this point my doctor discussed breaking my water, as it would surely speed things up.  I decided to keep going. At this point, my doctor and nurse hung out with Andy and me in our room, and we were able to have a nice conversation (standing up, of course!). My doctor told me to tell him to be quiet at any time I needed to concentrate during a contraction, but I told him, "you do your thing, and I'll do mine". So every time a contraction came (maybe every 2 minutes? I tried not to focus on contractions...), I just walked over to the window sill and leaned over to bear through the contraction.  After the contraction, I'd walk back and join the conversation.

Well, somewhere in the 2:00 hour, I started to get the urge to push.  Sure enough, when they checked me I was 10cm, however, I still had 3 lips of cervix left (left, right, and anterior).  At this point, I was lying in the bed, as my body was beginning to push, and my legs were tired.  My nurse had me lie on my left side through a couple on contractions, which removed the left lip.  I then laid on my right side through pushing and contractions to remove the right lip.  I went up on my hands and knees and leaned on a birthing ball to try and remove the anterior lip through several contractions. Unfortunately, no matter what I tried, that anterior lip would not budge.  At this time, labor was very intense, as I was pushing and things were burning quite a bit.  The resident and doctor again offered to break my water, as that would release the prostaglandins necessary to get that little piece of cervix out of the way.  Ultimately, I agreed since I figured there were not many more interventions possible (I was already 10cm), and my water was broken at 3:05.

Having my water broken did the trick! At 3:20pm, Andy announced "It's a girl!", and Mary was laid in my arms for the first time.

Mary Clare was 8lbs, 8oz and 19 inches long, making her the smallest of my children, even though she was born about two weeks after my boys!

Mary, getting her footprints!

My first photo with my daughter.

Mary is wearing the same going-home outfit I wore 28 years ago.

Finally home with the family! Damien, Blaise, Daddy, and Mary.