Thursday, September 17, 2015

9 Days Early - Labor and Birth

1:38 am Monday August 31st 2015, I wake up because I'm experiencing some serious cramping contractions. If you've never experienced contractions before let me try to explain the feeling. It's as if an alien is breaking through your midsection - which is seizing in red hot pain, while an alligator is chomping away on your pelvis, and from the waist down you can't move because of the muscle spasms - so you're pretty much paralyzed EXCEPT you feel everything - you're just paralyzed in the sense that you can't move at all and no matter what you try to ease the pain - nothing works and the pain doesn't ease. (And that description isn't even accurate in the pain you experience but it's the closest that I can even compare it to...) So yeah, that's what I woke up with...fun times - except in this instance I was SO EXCITED because it meant that I would not have to be induced!! It felt so wrong being so happy to be in that much pain!

I started timing contractions - which is not something I'd had to do before - so I don't even know if I was timing them correctly or not...but they were about 9 minutes apart - which in my counting meant I had 9 minutes to rest between contractions...and I knew right when they were coming - which was really nice too...you know Prepare for the pain! As time continued dwindling away I continued counting and thankfully the 9 minutes went down to 6 and then continued down to 5 and I thought "YAY! It's almost time to start the real counting!" and then it went back up to 9 minutes apart! During this time I was getting snacks and food together that the monkey could take with him when he went to my friend's house (since he has so many allergies I always pack food for him) and I was getting the last minute things together still - since I knew for sure we were going to be going to the hospital and having the baby!

But honestly people, do you know how disheartening it is to get those darn contractions down to 5 minutes apart only to have it go back up to 9?! It's VERY disheartening. Especially when the clock is working against you and it's now 4 am! But don't worry - from that point on the really bad contractions started - the ones where you can barely even focus on breathing because you are in so much pain...the ones where you have to press your head up against something hard just trying to focus on another part of your body...the ones where you have to yell at yourself internally "RELAX!! RELAX!! RELAX!!" because if you tense up it just makes it worse...yeah, those contractions - the real ones where you know that this baby is coming sooner than later but right now it's just a timing issue.

5 am and the contractions moved to 6-7 minutes apart and Rusty came downstairs to check and see how I was doing. Hell...I was in hell. (Now don't get all upset that he wasn't with me earlier, I told him to go to bed and I'd wake him up if I needed him. The one thing I didn't need was anyone else around while I was going through hell...or at least I didn't need him yet. Trust me, there comes a time where I did need him...or at least I needed his hands to squeeze all the blood out of his fingers, but that wasn't yet.)

6 am - guess who wakes up?! That's right the monkey! Bright-eyed and bushy tailed! We get him breakfast - and the contractions move to 4-5 minutes apart...still not close enough to call the labor ward and find out if we can come in...(remember it's 3 contractions within 10 min for 1 hr)...but these contractions are bad and as 7 am creeps closer they move to 3-4 minutes apart.

7 am I decide to call the hospital and let them know I'm now having contractions 3-4 minutes apart and ask if I should come in...they say "Not yet. You're scheduled to come in at 9 am, why don't you just wait until then unless you think you need to come in earlier." I hang up and tell Rusty "They said stay home till my appointment." And what does my not-so-laid-back husband say? He said "Call them up and be the rude American and tell them you are coming in!" I waited for 2 more contractions to come - because let's face it I wanted to make sure that they were going to stay closely spaced and not all of a sudden drop to 9 minutes apart again...after 2 in the space of 6 minutes I decide that Rusty is probably right and I need to call and beg/plead for them to let me come in. What do the midwives tell me when I call? They first ask "Have you had your breakfast yet?" Thinking that I can answer that question correctly I say "I had a few bites to eat about an hour ago but nothing since." To which the midwife responds with "You need to eat some breakfast first because you could be in for a long labor and you need to make sure you have enough energy and strength. After you eat your breakfast you can come on in." That's right - they told me to EAT, in the States eating is a BIG no-no. So I attempted to eat a banana as I dealt with contractions in the car on the way to the hospital (which was only about 5 minutes away - just over a mile) - where my friend was meeting us to pick up the monkey. Yeah, maybe 1/4 of the banana was eaten, because if you've ever tried to eat while in labor (aka your body being torn apart) it's not the easiest thing to do!

Rusty dropped me off at the front of the hospital and went to park the car and I thought I'd wait for him in the lobby...HA! HA! HA! I sat there through 2 contractions and then said "F this!" and started walking to the labor ward...that's right walking. You see, this is one area where I think the hospitals in the States might have it up on the hospitals in England - in the States you show up at the hospital in labor and there is someone to whisk you away in a wheelchair to labor and delivery. So basically you are a celebrity! In England (and really this is my only complaint) you show up at the hospital and you walk down the hall, up the stairs, and down a couple more halls to the labor ward...where you wait to be buzzed in and then they walk you down another hall to an empty room where you can then prepare to have a baby. (No "celebrity" status here.) I got to the top of the stairs when Rusty and the monkey joined me - because he wanted to make sure I got to the labor ward! Can I just say it was horrible! For instance if you think Hell is the worst place you can go, then where I was at was about 10 levels below Hell...and it might've felt this bad simply because I was walking to the labor ward - with contractions every 2 min. Yes, it is possible to walk through active labor contractions as you are transitioning...I don't recommend it because again - it's 10 levels below Hell, but it is possible.

We walked into the labor ward and there was no rush to greet the woman who walked in the door in extreme pain who was barely standing upright...the midwives just stayed where they were and said "Are you Melanie who just called?" To which I replied "uh-huh" because that was really all I could utter at that moment. One midwife took me down the hall to my room and she started to go through my papers as I struggled to breathe and take off my pants so that she could see how far along I was. Sometime during this Rusty was told the monkey couldn't stay in the room - which he (the monkey) was actually really sad about as he really wanted to see the birth and I think he thought he might get to since he went to the room with us - so Rusty took him downstairs to wait for my friend to arrive.

About 4 contractions later (so roughly 8 minutes) I looked at the midwife and said "I need to push!" And she said "Let's get you in the position you want to be in and you do what your body is telling you to do." So up onto the back of the bed I went and I squatted - because honestly if you're going to have a baby, and you have labor pains in your hips - the only position I have found to be the "least torturous" is to squat (TMI? Possibly but this is labor and birth so there is really no TMI in that case.) I was offered laughing gas - because that's one of the pain med's that is offered here - and before I was in the hospital I thought I would try it because as my midwife explained it to me "Laughing gas is like having a couple of glasses of wine - it relaxes you." and honestly that sounded GREAT! (I asked her if I could get some of it for during the pregnancy - because that would've been really helpful to deal with the food aversions and nausea...but she said no.) However at the point in which I got to the hospital the thought of having to breathe from a mask sounded horrible because it was taking everything in my to just take deep breaths...so no to the gas.

So there I was, squatting up against the back of the bed, grabbing onto the metal parts of the bed that I could hold onto, and attempting to squeeze the metal so hard that it would bend or be crushed - it really didn't matter which...but the metal wasn't budging and Rusty and his breakable hands were not in the room. I thought at one point "I can do this on my own...if he doesn't make it back in time, I can..." and then I attempted to squeeze the metal again. I will say squeezing metal is not very satisfying, especially when it doesn't bend...and it doesn't really take your mind off the pain because you are not causing it any pain. "WHERE IS RUSTY?!?!" was what I was internally screaming because I needed his hands to squeeze every ounce of blood out of... You see where metal is not satisfying, human flesh is, especially when what you are squeezing are the hands of the person who got you in this position. (Yes, I know it takes 2...but when only 1 person goes through 9 months of hell - pregnancy - and then that same person has to push a child through a really small opening - all that person can think is: HE DID THIS TO ME AND HE NEEDS TO FEEL A FRACTION OF THE PAIN!)

At some point Rusty came back, and I know it wasn't that long because I wasn't pushing for that long...but when in pain, a minute can feel like an hour. All that mattered was that when he came into the room he brought his hands with him! Thankfully he has strong hands and so no bones were broken...I might've felt bad if I had broken any bones in his hands...but at that moment all I was trying to do was transfer my pain to his hands because when they say "Ring of Fire" they truly do mean "RING OF FIRE"...and I couldn't handle being on fire in addition to all the other "labor pain"...luckily though the "ring of fire" is the last part - because when you get to that part it means you are evicting the baby!
8:23 am, less than 1 hr from when I arrived at the labor ward, I successfully evicted the alien occupant - who turns out wasn't an alien after all but was a human being weighing in at 6 lbs 3 oz with a head full of hair (which I knew because heartburn anyone?!). This baby had the longest fingers, toes, and feet that I'd seen in awhile, and it also happened to be a girl - because God has a sense of humor!
Thankfully with this birth I had no complications or major blood loss, which was unlike the monkey's birth. I also was able to give birth without millions of people walking in and out of the room - it was just Rusty, the midwife, and myself...who knew that a birthing experience could be somewhat "relaxed" and calm? Who knew that the woman giving birth could truly be in control of the entire experience? If I were to ever have another baby, and I could choose where to have it - I would choose England any day of the year...BUT I am done having kids, so I'm glad that I was able to have this experience.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

11 Days Early - Water Breaks (might be a little TMI if you've never given birth)

So if you've been following along then you know that on Sat Aug 29th 2015 we went to Cambridge but what you didn't necessarily know was that that night my water broke! Yeah, why my water breaks prior to being in actual labor I'll never understand - because as "exciting" as it is it's really not fun at all! You see when your water breaks you just start seeping liquid (TMI?) and there's absolutely nothing you can do because it doesn't stop until your baby is born. Now in the States that means you immediately go to the hospital and within the next 24 hrs you WILL have a baby, but here in England it means that as long as you and baby are okay and there are no signs of infection, you get to stay home and leak away until you are in full blown labor - which is actually super nice! Now you might think "How do you know if there are signs of infection?" to which the answer is quite easy - you call the labor ward at the hospital and they interrogate you for 10 min to find out how you are and what exactly is happening (all while you are busy packing your hospital bag that you have put off packing because you still have 9 days till you're due). After the phone call you hang up and tell your husband "Hey! We get to stay home until labor starts (3 contractions within a 10 min time period for 1 hr), they're sending a midwife over in the morning to check on me, and in the meantime I need some heavy duty pads/diapers otherwise I have to sit on the toilet all night." (again, TMI?) So then your husband gets the fun job of running out to the only store open at 10:55 pm on Saturday night - while you get the BRILLIANT idea of using your 3 1/2 yr old's unused Thomas the Train pull-ups (unused because he is totally potty trained and we still had some) while you wait for your husband to come home. This was also the point at which I called a new friend - who had said "If you need anything before your mom comes let me know." and I basically said "My water broke, but I'm not in labor - could you possibly take Owen when that does happen? I'll keep you posted." And being an amazing person she said yes and was then "on-call" all weekend for us! (Seriously though, she is an amazingly wonderful person, who did this for someone she had just met a couple of weeks before.)

But really people - we are a comedy routine over here. So here I was - leaking fluids with Thomas the Train pull-ups on, when my husband comes home with the only pads that the store had - which were not heavy duty (they didn't have them) and I said "Oh Thank you! I'm sure I'll be able to use them sometime but for now I've got some pull-ups on."  And honestly he had nothing to say - because really, what can you say to that?! After about an hour and he knew I wasn't going to immediately have a child he decided to go to bed - with my encouragement - and I decided I'd try to sleep too, but on the couch in my pull-up on top of a "pee-pad" (crib protector pad with an additional towel on top...you know so the couch wasn't going to get anything on it). But honestly, have you ever tried to sleep with liquid seeping out of you? Yeah, it's kinda impossible...so I didn't sleep. I walked (which is supposed to be good for getting labor going), and I wrote a couple blog posts, and then I fell asleep at 5 am...

The Monkey woke up at 6 am so that's when we all were awake! It was now Sunday Aug 30th, so 10 days early - and I was expecting the midwife at some point that morning, but it wasn't like I was stuck at home because when you're wearing pull-ups for 3 1/2 yr olds and leaking you really don't feel like going to the park and playing or going to the store and getting groceries or going sightseeing...really you don't feel like doing ANYTHING. So we had a lazy Sunday...did some laundry - because I wanted to do something!

Around noon the midwife came by (yep, here in the UK midwives make house calls - it's so nice! Seriously if you're going to have a baby you should come to the UK - it's so much more laid back and relaxed than in the States...sure they might angle more towards no drugs - but they do give you the option of laughing gas when you're in labor! And you can get drugs). Everything checked out as okay, but she made an appointment for Monday Aug 31st at 9 am to be induced. At that point Dr's in the states would be freaking out - because it would be over 24 hrs from when my water broke that the induction would start - so not an American thing to do. Having been induced with Owen (after nothing really happening except my water breaking 12 hrs earlier) I had been down this road before and I really DID NOT want to be induced...but I was prepared that it could happen - I just prayed hard that it wouldn't.

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the downstairs trying to get labor started while also watching Finding Nemo with the Monkey for the 1st time - it was a HUGE deal! He never sits still long enough for a movie - but he did for this one...and he ate his bowl of popcorn (which he also LOVES) The evening came and nothing was really different except I had a few small contractions - which gave me hope that something would happen before 9 am. So all Sunday night I walked around our downstairs - literally (and somehow my fitbit didn't register all my walking!). But there does come a time when you are just too exhausted to walk, and you remember the midwife saying "Walk but also get rest!" - so you then decide at midnight to sleep and see what happens naturally...