Thursday, May 7, 2009

Birthing- never what you expect

My littlest guy is fast approaching his 6 month mark. It's amazing how quickly time passes. Part of me wishes he could stay a baby forever, I just want to hold him and never let go. I've been thinking a lot about his birth and the birth of my other kids. 3 deliveries, 3 completely different experiences, same great outcome.

Pregnancy is a lot like an engagement and planning a wedding. You get sucked into this whole other world and everyone is telling what you should do. Information is flying and you start to loose perspective and develop outlandish ideas and fantasies about how your big day should be. When the day comes for your wedding or delivery you realize how you were caught up in the whole thing and how it has been glamorized and romanticized to a point that your expectations are out of reach. While my initial thoughts of how a delivery would progress have never matched up to reality, I have never been disappointed. I feel so bad for women who harbor negative feelings for their birth experience because they were not able to let go of the preconceived notions and just go with the flow.

My first delivery consisted of 15 hours of hard labor at home which started on my due date, followed by 8 more hours at the hospital with the help of an epidural, and ending with the manual extraction of the placenta. That delivery was all about endurance. I was completely exhausted and gratefully let my visiting mom take care of the baby while I slept my two days in the hospital away.

My second delivery consisted of 5 hours of hard labor at home at 40 weeks and 8 days, 1 hour in the hospital med free (not by choice but by necessity due to speed of delivery), and ending with a very painful unmedicated manual extraction of the placenta. That delivery was dominated by fear. Fear of the unknown and fear of the pain. I lost so much blood during the whole ordeal I ended up spending most of my stay in the hospital on the brink of unconsciousness. It may not had turned out the way I had planned but I was thrilled to have my perfect baby and grateful I had the experience of an unmedicated birth (though I never wanted to do it again) and the unpleasant details have long since been forgotten.

Number three was hands down my favorite birth experience. The little guy showed signs of imminent arrival at 38 weeks... 41 weeks came and the doc recommended an induction. The idea of an induction was very scary to me. I had read all the horror stories and had been sufficiently guilt-tripped into feeling like I was making a bad decision for my baby. The amount of guilt you become capable of as a mother is truly astounding.

After a lot of prayer we decided to go with our doctor's advice. By 9am the following day we were checked into the hospital. At 10am we were hooked up to an IV and they very slowly started pitocin.

Over the next 4 hours contractions started out painless and slowly grew in intensity. During that time hubby and I laughed and talked and chatted up our nurse. We had a view of the forest and watched tons of snow fall over the next few hours. I had been nervous about what pitocin induced contractions would feel like, but everything felt just like my spontaneous labors. It was actually a fun few hours.

By about 2pm contractions were painful enough that we were ready for the epi. Getting that thing placed is a bit nerve wracking but all went well and I was soon very comfy. At 3:30 my doc came by and checked me again... no change. He broke my water and cranked up the pit. We had been up since 4 am and were starting to feel it so we took a nice 2 hour nap. The nurse came in and asked if I was feeling any pressure. Nope.

I swear the second she walked out of the room I felt it. Still no pain but a sudden "I would love to get up and use the bathroom" feeling. The doc was right there so he checked me again. "Okay Mommy, please don't push, I'm going to get my scrubs on". We were ready to go.

5 minutes later we started pushing. I felt enough pressure to know what to do but never any pain. It was hard work and I struggled to keep my breathing even but I actually loved the pushing phase. My nurse and doc were so great and whispered words of encouragement. They just let me push when I felt the need and praised me with each contraction. After pushing through the first 2 contractions I felt in control and ready to make it happen... I took charge. With a prompt from the doc I looked down and saw my baby come into the world.

The immediate bond I felt as each baby lay on my chest those first few minutes after birth is beyond description. Each one was an amazing miracle sent just for us. Happy Mother's Day- remember that you already have the greatest gift in the world so spend your day enjoying them!

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