Written April 17th, 2014.
The past few months have been uneventful on the “having a baby” front. I go in for my regular appointments (scheduled at the same intervals as in the US). I found out that the stick I have to pee on every appointment is to test for too much sugar in my urine. I always forget I will have to do this and pee before I leave the apartment. Appointments are not such a pain as they first were. A nurse checks my weight and blood pressure, then I get in to see the doc after 15 minutes or so. He asks how I am, he checks the baby’s heartbeat and measures my belly, and that’s it! Takes about five minutes. Then I pay S$85 (approx US$68). I really wish that if I felt fine, I could skip these appointments, but I know the hubs would not like that.
I am now 37 weeks along and I am super uncomfortable. My SI Joint Pain has gone away (thank God!) as has most of my pain from my bulging disc. But nights are hard. I wake up 5-10 times a night to pee, or just because my hips ache. Rolling over is SO DIFFICULT. And (TMI WARNING!!!) I have something called vulvar varicosities, the feeling of which was eloquently described by Akaufman83 on this site. “I feel like someone socked me in my cooter!” What can I say. It’s fun. :/ The heat here is really getting to me now, and it is very physically taxing to get around. I think I have just hit that truly hard part of pregnancy, where my body is pushed to the limit. I need to start taking it easier, as my extremities are feeling like they have no blood (slight tingling) and the doc said it is from exhaustion.
I have been doing ice cube training (puts you in pain and lets you test out coping methods) and working on relaxation methods to be able to handle the waves of contractions that will come with labor. I am well versed on all the positions that make laboring easier, and that help the baby to come out easily. I found out you really shouldn’t push the baby out, despite what the nurses say. The uterus will push it out with very little help from me. Though this takes longer, I will be less likely to tear “down there” if I let the baby crown for a long time, until my body is ready to release the baby. I am working on positive affirmations now to change my mindset of fear around labor and delivery. The US is great at making labor into a terrifying and traumatizing experience, and getting rid of the fear that has been in my mind all my life about giving birth is difficult. Luckily, I am surrounded by women from the UK who have done things naturally (it is very common there) and women from the US who have had great experiences. I need to hear as many positive stories as possible right now. (For more info about natural birthing, read Birthing From Within, Hypnobirthing, and anything by Ina May Gaskin, and watch Ricki Lake’s documentaries).
I am getting very excited to meet this little guy. I am convinced he and Kiddo 1 played together for the first time yesterday when she gave my belly a check up with her Hello Kitty doctor kit. He started kicking right where she was playing. :)
My mother-in-law will be coming to stay with us in a week and a half, and that is my light at the end of the tunnel right now. I am dying for the help right now! And then I am due about a week or so later. It can’t come soon enough!
Written May 18th, 2014.
And now it’s over. Labor, that is. BB (not his name) Jasensky was born on May 12, at 12:11pm. He was 55 cm and 4.3 kg (21.7 in and 9.5 lbs). Glad the doc told me he thought the baby was around 7.5 lbs a week before I had him, or I may have bailed on the natural labor. After two consecutive nights of very little sleep, I awoke at 2 am in pain, but I didn’t think it was labor. I was super annoyed at having my nights become even more painful than they had been, and being eight days overdue, I really was just SO DONE BEING PREGNANT. And then the pain started to become more regular, so I started trying some of the labor positions that manage pain, and started texting my mom back home as she was awake at that hour while the hubs and his parents were all asleep here.
It appears that the baby was waiting for his Grandpa Jasensky to arrive, as labor began on Grandpa’s first full night here. I am just so glad I didn’t have to wait the eleven days I had to wait for Kiddo 1. It was a very long road to get here, from the disabling SI Joint Pain I experienced, not being able to walk for a few months, not being able to pick up Kiddo 1 for the last eight months, moving to a new country amidst all this, then the bulging disc pain, the vulvar varicosities (which still keep me from laying down on my side, but at least I can lie and am comfortable on my back now), adjusting to the very hot and humid Singapore weather, and so on.
TMI WARNING! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK! And this post is super looooonnnnnggggg… but whatevs yo, I’m posting it anyway.
Back to the birth story…. Around 2:30 am, I woke up the hubs. There was a ton of mucus coming out of me, and I was now sure it was labor. I had heard baby #2 can come very quickly for some women, and I started to get anxious about getting settled in at the hospital. I had planned to labor at home for as long as I could, but only lasted an hour at most. We texted our doula, then put together the last few things for the hospital, got our bags, and got a taxi to the hospital.
Once there, they needed to monitor me in the hospital bed for 30 minutes to see where I was at. I was only dilated a centimeter or two. :( I wanted things to go fast! But I did learn through my reading that things do not progress in a straight line with labor, so that measurement really was no indication of what was to come. I HATED being in that hospital bed. My memories were still strong from the extremely painful labor pains I endured while stuck in a hospital bed during the birth of Kiddo 1. I just wanted out of that bed. BADLY.
We dimmed the lights, put on my relaxation music, and sprayed some aromatherapy spray I made. At some point, my water broke and I slowly leaked liquid for pretty much the rest of the experience. That is so hard to get used to! But the hospital had lots of towels… I just felt like such a liability, like a toddler walking around with an open cup of liquid, splashing it with every step. Clean up on aisle…everywhere.
As soon as I was permitted, I moved out of the bed to the birthing ball, a big exercise ball which we covered with a towel. The hubs rubbed my lower back intensely through the contractions and read from a “script” I had prepared. I actually didn’t think I was going to use it like a script–it was just a bunch of reminders I had jotted down to help me get through labor. It had my “happy place” imagery on it, affirmations about my strength and ability to birth naturally, reminders of how to get labor moving faster if it slowed down, etc. But when the hubs read the reminders to me, they just worked for getting me through the contraction. I am sure he hated it! Over and over, the same five sentences or so. I think they were something like the following:
- Feel the ground beneath your feet
- Don’t do anything extra
- Let your body do the work
The birthing ball was great, though all I did was sit on it and rock around. It let me roll forward and lean my head against the hubs’ shoulder behind me as he rubbed my back. The contractions were painful, but if I sensed it coming on I was able to “get on top of it” so to speak. People liken them to waves, and I think this is accurate. They slowly roll in, peak, then roll back out again. If I really relaxed and breathed before it started, I was a champion surfer and could ride that wave of pain without even wincing. But if I was distracted, it crashed over the top of me and was NOT FUN. For me, contractions hurt all through my belly, hips and radiated down through my thighs. It did help that I brought my teddy bear from my bed, and basically glued it to my nose for each contraction. The smell of home calmed me. Maybe with extra preparation (I only read the above books a few months before I delivered), I would have been able to turn off the pain as I have heard hypnobirthers are able to. Since I wasn’t, I coped as well as I could. I really thought I was going to try all sorts of labor positions, but as soon as I found something that worked well enough, I had no interest. Mostly because I didn’t want to be in the middle of trying to get settled in a new position when a contraction came on, as I would miss my shot at getting on top of that wave.
Once my doula arrived, she helped rotate with the hubs rubbing my back or reading the script. It was about that time that I requested an IV drip. I had vomited three times, which is not that unheard of. I could not even keep water down. Given the level of exhaustion I was experiencing in the weeks prior, and lack of sleep that very night, I was struggling. I had read that if you don’t have energy, your labor can stall and the hospital may push interventions on you to speed things up. I requested an IV drip to replenish my fluids and give me the energy I needed to finish the job.
The nurses checked me again and I was at 4 or 5 centimeters, so we decided to get into the tub to use the water to manage my pain. The water is also supposed to help your perineum to stretch for birthing the baby. I was supposed to be allowed to birth in the tub, but upon arrival at the hospital, they told me I had to have a meeting with the hospital staff to be permitted to do that. Oh well. But at least I could labor in the tub. The common wisdom is to wait to use the tub until the last half of labor, as It is most helpful then (or you get sick of being in the water forever). The tub was big, and the hubs put his bathing suit on and climbed in first and I sat in his lap. I wish it was more of a pool than a tub, would have been nice to have more room, but the warm water did the job well enough. The hubs rubbed my back and my doula held my hand and rubbed my arm, and they both talked me through the contractions. The water was nice because it helped me space out. I had mentioned earlier that I have had tingling in my arms and legs for weeks, and labor was no different. My arms and legs floated in the water, and I barely knew they were there anymore. At this point in labor, I was disappearing into “another place.” I was intensely focused with my eyes closed, trying to relax into oblivion. If a contraction wave caught me by surprise, my eyes would pop open and I would lash out wildly; almost took out the hubs a couple times… oops. I said over and over “I can’t do this,” and the hubs and my doula would remind me that I could do it, was in fact already doing it. It was so hard, but I am so glad I fought through it.
I went through the rest of labor in the tub, and attempted to stage a sit in in the tub to be allowed to give birth there, but those nurses weren’t having it. At least my doula had waved off the nurses for me so I could stay in the tub as long as I wanted. I am pretty sure I was able to feel the head just inside there at that point. So the hubs used all he had to haul me out of that tub and help me to the bed. I desperately wanted to deliver in a position other than lying down or sitting up, but the doc told me I would get the best push that way and I was just SO DONE with being in labor I didn’t care anymore about my perineum not tearing. I just wanted that baby out. I knew that I should just let the baby crown and be pushed out by the strength of my contractions, but the urge to push was just too strong. I had already been pushing while in the tub (and yes, the dreaded #2 happened in there, but I was so out of it I did not care), and because the doc was there I knew I was super close to being done. So I yelled at the baby to COME!!! and pushed like crazy. I did end up with a 1st degree tear, only 3 stitches needed, not so bad. The “ring of fire” was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be and only lasted a second. I won’t forget the initial relief of getting the head out, then hearing the doc say “broad shoulders….” I was momentarily crushed, as I knew it would not come easily. He had a hand trying to come out too with his shoulders. One more big push and OH THE RELIEF!!!! IT FELT AMAZING TO GET HIM OUT OF THERE!
The nurses were fantastic. They put him right on my chest, and cleaned him up while I held him. I apologized for yelling at them and offered them the Hershey’s Kisses we had brought as a thank you to the nurses. We tried to breastfeed but he wasn’t interested. Then they did all the little tests and whatever while the hubs stayed with him. Then they left us alone for a couple of blissful bonding hours. I was in heaven.
I was overjoyed at having completed my own personal marathon–10 hours of natural labor. It took hard work and preparation, but was worth it. I wanted to do a natural birth for a number of reasons:
- To feel connected to all the women in history who have done it this way
- To avoid the allergic reaction that I had to the epidural (or to something given to me at Kiddo 1’s birth)
- To achieve this physical feat (as I have zero interest in running a marathon)
- To feel empowered by this accomplishment
- To be able to heal up more quickly after the fact (this has been true, but could be attributed to this being my second time through it all)
- To allow all the chemical processes in my body to flow naturally from one to the next in the course of birth
All that said, I am done. I do not want to do this again. Two kids is enough for me, and if I want more, I will adopt. :)
A few odds and ends remembered from labor:
- I got very pissed off if anything distracted me from “the zone” I was in. This includes the hubs breathing, the hubs breathing in such a way that I construed it to be laughing (he says he was not, I was frankly out of my mind at the time, so he just had to go along with it), my doula’s watch (I demanded that she take it off), the nurses saying or doing anything (I ssshh’ed them A LOT), lights of any kind, changes to my music, or the hubs/doula not saying what I needed them to say.
- My poor hubs. I dictated what I wanted him to say, over and over again, and got very annoyed if he deviated. I squashed his hand, swiped at him, told him not to move, and basically ignored him a lot of the time. But I could not have done it without him. He was like my bedrock keeping me grounded, and my doula was like a bird carrying me through.
- I could not have done it without my doula. I knew from the birth of Kiddo 1 that I tended to reject the efforts of my hubs during labor; it just wasn’t the right fit. I have read that there is just something about birthing with another woman around that just works. Maybe it’s energy frequencies and all that. Who knows? All I know is I could not have done it without my doula. She home birthed her three kids and was so strong and confident; she was basically my external strength. I yelled her name so many times during labor, basically trying to communicate through that one word “How the f*** did you do this?!?!?!” and “Can I really do this?!?!?” She was great. She never wavered, never left my side, and walked me through all sorts of relaxing imagery. She reminded me that the stronger the contraction, the closer I was to done. That each one was bringing my baby closer to being born. That my body could do it, was already doing it. She encouraged me to imagine a flower opening up. She walked me through painting on a canvas with whatever color felt right for me at that moment. The painting imagery was my favorite and I made her walk me through that over and over and over. I loved blue and I loved yellow. It is very weird to write about it now, but in that state, it was so natural and really helped me weather the contractions.
- The end of giving birth really does feel like you are pooping the baby out. You don’t feel the pain there, but that is what the pushing is like.
- My entire belly tingled like it was asleep for the last hour of labor. It’s like it tightened up to push the baby down and out. Very weird feeling, especially with my arms and legs tingling too. All of it helped me to be mentally in the zone and not as aware of my body.
- Two of the three times I vomited occurred while I was also having a contraction. I could not breathe. The hubs asking me if I was okay made me insane as I clearly was not and could not get a breath to answer. It’s like having your entire body seize up and choke you. Horrible. I did not want any water or food or anything after that.
- Turns out they had a birthing chair/stool there I could have used for delivery instead of the bed. Wish I would have asked about that, but forgot. Supposed to be a great way to birth the baby if your doctor is willing (and mine was, I just forgot it was an option).