Real Birth, Not a Hollywood Version by Jennifer Heims

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My husband and I have come to the conclusion that we have watched too many movies on HBO and Showtime after we had actually experienced the birth of our daughter. We went through the birthing classes at the hospital before she was born (HIGHLY recommend to anyone expecting), so we knew the basics of where to go and such, but our actual birth was nothing like we expected.

I started having contractions on Thursday April 8 early in the morning, two days before my actual due date. I woke my husband and said he might just want to sit tight and not go to work as my contractions were about 15 minutes apart at that time. We were a bit nervous as our hospital of choice was almost an hour away. I had tested positive for Strep B and had instructions to get to the hospital as soon as possible after my water broke. When his alarm went off to get up for work my contractions had stopped, so off to work he went. My mom was paranoid that I was going to need to go to the hospital faster than hubby could get home so she came out to the house to sit with me just in case! Of course a watched pot never boils so all day nothing happened. Maybe a contraction or 2 every hour but nothing to warrant the trip to the hospital or phone call to hubby. At 4 p.m., my mom needed to get going and hubby was due to be home a little after 5 p.m. so I told her I would be fine for that short time.

I am pretty sure she wasn’t a mile down the road when all the sudden my contractions started up again. I called the doctor’s office just to be sure at what point I needed to head to the hospital if my water would happen not to break. The nurse that called me back (of course my doctor was out on vacation so they had to page the doctor on call at the hospital to make sure) said that either 1) when my water breaks or 2) when my contractions were 5-7 minutes apart. At that point I was having contractions about every 15-20 minutes.

I don’t think I was ever so happy to see my husband pull into our driveway as I was that day. Not that there was a whole lot he could do for me, but it was nice to know I wasn’t alone. My contractions were pretty regular all evening, nothing to get too excited about but we were pretty sure our little girl we had been so patiently (or maybe not so patiently) waiting for was about to join us.

I am a MAJOR planner so the unknown was the thing that bothered me the most about being pregnant, just that I couldn’t control every thing that was going to happen. The nursery had been painted before we had even gotten pregnant and shortly after that fateful positive sign came up on the pregnancy test, we went out and bought all of the furniture and finished decorating the room. So my pregnancy was pretty much stress free for the most part as far as getting ready for her went.

Anyway, back to the original story, we decided we were going to try to get some rest before things really got going. We laid down at 10 that night only for me to give up and go out to the living room to watch some TV so that hubby could get some sleep. By 1 in the morning, I had to wake him up as my contractions were coming pretty strong and getting closer and closer, they were anywhere from 3-7 minutes apart by this time. While I was getting ready to go, hubby was taking out the dog, starting the car and making sure we had everything we needed. It was April 9 and when he came back inside to help me to the car he informed me that it was snowing….in April, just my luck! Good thing it wasn’t snowing that bad, but it seemed like we hit every pot hole and red light on the way, I didn’t think we were ever going to get there.

By the time we arrived, I was already dilated to 6 centimeters so there was no going home (my biggest fear about going too early). They did some paperwork, hooked me up to some machines and then moved me to a birthing suite. When they say “suite” they are not kidding. There was a Jacuzzi tub, television, radio and a nurse at a push of a button away. Due to the Strep B they hooked me up to an IV right away, they tried to “push” it in, but it just caused a major burning sensation so they had to take the slow route, letting it drip in.

I didn’t have a specific birth plan written out, but knew that I wasn’t completely against the epidural, but that if all possible I wanted to birth her without it. I didn’t want to be confined to my hospital bed, I had a fear of not being able to feel my toes and had heard of many times women would get the epidural and then had to end up having a c-section due to the baby or even mother getting too stressed and needing to get the baby out NOW. So at this point hubby and I were just hanging out watching TV, breathing through contractions. We thought we would be nice to our family members that had been waiting on a phone call from us and wait until 6 in the morning to call them. After said phone calls had been made I was getting to the point that the pain of the contractions was getting pretty bad. Still not wanting the epidural I asked for the shot of pain medicine for my IV. Mind you it didn’t take the pain away, but it took the edge off, making the contractions bearable. Not sure if it was because of the shot, the nerves or a combination of the two but it wasn’t long before I was telling hubby to get me a bucket or something that my stomach needed to empty. How disappointed I was as I had not puked the whole time I was pregnant only to get to the last day (or so I hoped), but I did feel so much better afterwards.

Shortly after that the family members started rolling in. I am pretty sure my mom was dressed and out the door before we had hung up as she was one of the farthest away but the first one to arrive. Since we had to wait until the IV was done and got another one started before I was able to start pushing we let family members set in the room with us to keep us company. One of our main things that surprised us was that the nurses and doctors didn’t stay in the room with us, at that point they were just coming in every so often to check to see how far dilated I was and if I needed anything. I guess really there was nothing they could do for me and I certainly wasn’t the only woman on that floor having a baby.

By later in the afternoon I was moving right along, the pain was still manageable but I could tell the medicine was wearing off. They tell you that you are only allowed 3 of these shots and the longer you wait to get them the better they work. I was really hoping to just have one more to help me get through the actual birth. Little did I know that my darling child was going to have other plans, she must have been cozy because she was in no hurry. My water never did end up breaking on it’s own, they did that for me. By the time I had had my third bag in my IV, the doctor on call had arrived and wanted to start me on pitocin to get my contractions closer together so I could start pushing. The nurse said she would call the anesthesiologist to get my epidural going. I was a bit miffed that I had progressed all that way without the epidural only for them to think I needed it now, so of course I voiced my opinion to her. She told me that I would be better off with it, had the doctor on call and the doctor assisting her speak with me on why they all thought I would want it.

In the end I was glad I did get it as our daughter came out upside down and in no hurry. The epidural was not what I had expected either. We had talked about them in our birthing class so I knew how it would be done, but not how it would feel or how I would feel or not feel once it was done. Contrary to what I had thought I could still feel my toes the whole time and could feel pressure but nothing unbearable.

Once I had reached 10 centimeters, the Strep B medicine was all in me and the doctor was ready for me to start pushing and things progressed quite quickly. We were pretty surprised that hubby was never made to put on a gown. They didn’t even have the tray of equipment by me until she was already partly out and there were only 3 sometimes 4 nurses/doctors in the room at any given time from when I started pushing until she was out and we were moved to our recovery room. (This is where the too many movie watching comes in.) We thought they would make a big production of making everyone get into gowns, have big bright spot lights on me and tons of doctors/nurses in the room, none of which actually happened. Everyone was calm, relaxed but yet very professional.

I didn’t actually push long before our little Sydney Addison was born at 5:36 P.M. weighing in at 8 pounds 6 ounces and 20 ¾ inches long. Another surprise to us was that she wasn’t immediately whisked away from us, she was given to me to lay on my chest. We were told that skin-to-skin contact with the mother has been found to be the best thing for babies when they first come out, as long as there is no cause for concern for the babies health. They did end up taking her sooner than planned because she hadn’t cried yet. Her dad has had life long problems with his lungs so they wanted to check her just to be sure everything was ok. Once she checked out ok and had been somewhat cleaned up, they brought her right back to me.

I was also surprised at how quickly I was up and moving afterwards. The nurse that was assigned to me had come to introduce herself told me to call her when I was ready to get up and move around or to use the restroom and she would help me. I remember looking at her like “are you kidding, I just had a baby a little over two hours ago and you think I will want to get up and walk around?” Little did I know she was right! Now I didn’t want to jog the halls or do any jumping jacks, but by 9 or so that night I was ready to get up and take a small trip across the room. By Sunday morning we were pacing the room ready to begin our journey as new parents, but needed to wait until a full 48 hours had passed for the last check ups and shots for Sydney before she could be released to us.

It’s amazing what our bodies are able to do in order to birth a child. We were pleasantly surprised by our experience before during and after the birth of Sydney. I was so much that I am convinced that I will go back for another round in the not-so-far-away future. Hubby on the other hand may take some convincing!

He was good all the way up to the point of me trying to nurse. We had talked about it and even though there was a family history of the women not being able to nurse for one reason or another, we thought we would go ahead and try it. Everyone has their own opinions on breastfeeding, mostly either really good experiences or really bad. I can say it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done. In the first 6 days of her life, she lost over a pound of her precious little body weight. I still remember waking up one night to check on hubby with a crying baby to hear him telling her in a soothing voice that “she really is going to be an only child at this rate.”

At her first appointment with her pediatrician we came to the conclusion that my name would be added to the list of women in my family that just can’t do breastfeeding. I wasn’t producing enough to fulfill her needs. Unfortunately another trait she got from her father is a sensitive tummy so after 2 tries of formula and some “magic” drops we are finally on the right path. Now just to hit the lottery to pay for the expensive formula!

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