Wednesday, March 31, 2010

budgie's birth story

I've sat down to write this post at least three times, but, unsurprisingly, there always seems to be something else to do these days other than blog. Natalie has been keeping us very busy, despite sleeping about 95% of the time. I'll try to keep everyone up to date with all of her developments, milestones, and adorableness regularly as Mike and I continue to get our feet wet as parents.

In the baby-blog world, the "birth story post" is one of those essentials, it seems. While I was pregnant I would pore over other women's stories and marvel at how unbelievable it felt to be so close to joining their ranks. Mostly I found some comfort in their experiences, and it gave me some insight into what to expect. Little did I know, there is truly no fully explaining the physical and emotional roller coaster of the labor and delivery process, and you just don't know what to expect until you're in it. This post is my best attempt at sharing that roller coaster ride and documenting how our little budgie came into the world.

My labor started with pretty regular contractions two days before Natalie was born; at about 6 o'clock on Wednesday I began having contractions every 5 - 30 minutes that ranged in intensity but never fully went away throughout the night or next day. On Thursday morning I passed my mucus plug and continued to have some bloody show periodically throughout the day. When I shared the news with my parents they became very excited and immediately hopped in the car to come keep me company while Mike was at work. We spent the day resting and crossing our fingers that this was really IT! That afternoon Mikey and I headed to my scheduled appointment with our midwife, where we had a sonogram to check on MooHoo's status in utero (she was doing just fine!) and then I was hooked up to a fetal monitor to track my contractions. Predictably, my contractions slowed down as soon as I was being monitored. My midwife checked to see what progress I had made, and found that I was between 1 and 2cm dilated, and my cervix was continuing to become very soft and thin. Her opinion was that I could transition into more consistent early labor within minutes, hours, or days... it was just a matter of waiting. To be on the safe side, she scheduled me for an inducement the following week, and said she expected to see us before then! We left the office feeling pretty elated that our long wait was so close to its end, and Mike called in to work to begin his paternity leave in anticipation of our little bundle's birth.

Just a few hours later, my contractions moved to a whole new level and began feeling much stronger. Mike continued timing them and we were pretty shocked to discover that they were only 3 - 4 minutes apart! We timed them for an hour to make sure this was the real thing, and then gave a call to the hospital to say we were on our way! The on-call doctor said we could probably wait at home for a while longer, but something told me this was the real deal, so we threw our bags in the car and zipped on over to the birthing unit. The ride over was perhaps the most anxious I have ever been, imagining what was to come. We got to the hospital at 9:30, and the nurses put us in a delivery room and had me change into one of those adorable butt-baring johnnies before sending me on a few laps around the unit to keep things moving. I was told not to get my hopes up because this was probably not the real thing, but it was good we'd come in anyway... well, when I was hooked up to the monitor my contractions remained strong and were only 2 minutes apart, and the nurse discovered that I was now 3 cm dilated. Yup, my instincts were right--this was it!! The nurse called my midwife, who said she was on her way (despite it being her night off... I love her!). It was then a bit of a waiting game as my contractions continued to get stronger and closer together.

This is me, super excited to have been formally admitted to the unit at 11:30pm on Thursday the 25th:

(I have to say, it's super weird to see myself looking soooo massively pregnant... just 6 days later, and my body is slowly getting back to "normal." Anything compared to the above picture seems pretty awesome these days.)

So the next several hours went something like this:
* 12am: Throw up all of my supper
* 12:30am: My midwife arrives, and breaks my water. It feels weirdddd.
* 1am: Contractions move to anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute apart, and I start using my hypnobirth breathing techniques in earnest
* 2am: Pelvic exam reveals I am 8cm dilated!
* 2:30am: Need to move to new breathing techniques to get through contractions that are slightly blowing my mind with how strong they are. (At this point, and throughout all of my labor, I fell madly in love with the nurses who were assisting me; they literally breathed through every single contraction with me, told me new ways to distract myself, and never stopped calling me amazing. I could not have gotten through it without them.)
* 3am: Start to feel the urge to push. Am told that I still have 1cm to go, and to hold back.
* 3:15am: Beg to push. Am told to hold back.
* 3:30am: Start to say that maybe the drugs wouldn't have been such a bad idea after all...
* 3:45am: Can't stop myself from pushing even though I have been given explicit instruction not to
* 4am: My midwife gives me the okay to push, hoping it will force me to dilate that last half centimeter
* 4:30 - 7:30am: Push, push, push. Lying down, standing up, squatting, legs up on the birthing bar, using a sheet for leverage, clinging to Mikey, and on and on. This was definitely the most exhausting part of labor, but I was surprised to find it the most comfortable. It was such a relief to push, it felt so much better than breathing through the contractions. At first things seemed to be progressing beautifully, but around 6am the baby stopped moving down and her heart rate dropped and wouldn't come back up. I was put on oxygen and told to breathe through a couple of contractions to get my strength up and try to bring the baby's heart rate back up. Nothing seemed to do the trick, and I could start to sense the nurses and my midwife becoming concerned.
* 7:30am: My midwife gently tells me that it's time to move to another plan, and says that with our permission she is going to call down to the OR and schedule a c-section. Mike begins to cry. We ask a few questions about what this will mean for my recovery and for the success of things like bonding and breast feeding before giving the okay.
* 7:30 - 8am: Doctors, anesthesiologists, and nurses move quickly in and out of labor and delivery, asking me to sign paperwork, prepping me for surgery, and describing the procedure. My contractions continue to be one on top of the other, and the only comfort I can find is to push through them, which is futile at this point and requires that the baby and I be closely monitored to make sure that I'm not putting her into a further state of distress.
* 8am: I'm wheeled into the operating room and given a spinal regional epidural amid a flurry of activity. Mike is allowed into the operating room once I've been medicated, and he and my midwife stay by my head as the procedure commences.
* 8:32am: Natalie Iris Flagg enters the world, covered in meconium and aspirating, making her first cry sound like a horrible choking screech. She is quickly moved to a warming bassinet to be suctioned, cleaned, checked over by her pediatrician, and wrapped up like a baby burrito before being handed to Mike.
* 8:40am: I finally get a look at my baby girl. Mike is weeping. I am shaking. Natalie is looking around and generally being adorable.
* 9:15am: I'm finally stitched up, and wheeled into a recovery room. Mike begins calling our parents to tell them the good news, and I get 45 minutes of snuggle time with my baby. One of the amazing nurses from labor and delivery accompanied me through surgery and recovery, and knew how important breastfeeding was to me so she helped Natalie to latch on and nurse while I was being monitored and medicated in recovery, which I think has been a huge part of why Natalie has been such a successful eater.

* 9:45am: I'm brought back to the room on the OB unit that Mikey, Natalie, and I will be calling home for the next 3 days.
* 9:45am Friday - 12:30pm Monday: Kissing Natalie. Rocking Natalie. Feeding Natalie. Changing Natalie. Not caring in the least that I am tired, sore, leaking like a sieve, and unable to sit/stand/walk/bend/do anything without assistance. Totally worth it.

This is a very long post, I know. But it can't be complete without devoting some serious time to praising Mikey for everything he did to make my labor, delivery, and recovery as comfortable as possible. He breathed through every contraction with me, held his breath through every push, kept me cool with a damp washcloth, caught my vomit in a bucket, helped me to the bathroom, and generally cheered me on with incredible enthusiasm all through the night of my labor. He has since become a world class dad, writing down every feeding and diaper change, rocking Natalie to sleep, singing to her to stop her from crying, reading her a bedtime story every night, and generally just going completely ga-ga with lovey-dovey eyes every time she is within his line of vision. He has been the perfect partner, which I suppose is no surprise. I am feeling so lucky and in love and overwhelmingly happy, and my tear ducts have been in overdrive for days thanks to our little budgie and my wonderful husband.

Thanks to everyone who has sent kind words and positive thoughts our way. It's been a wild 9+ months of waiting, but every discomfort and challenge has been more than worth it. I hope you've enjoyed reading our ramblings and following along with us on this adventure; stay tuned for lots more as we try to figure out this parenting business and struggle to do anything other than sit and stare at our baby girl. I'll have new pictures up soon!


  1. OMG I was sooo excited when I saw you posted this :)!!! You really are soo amazing...first off that you really were doing it "drug free"..I only lasted to 8cm before I needed relief. And to have been laboring that long and have the strength to push that long, and then you had to have surgeory, this is one adventure you and Mike will never forget!! We are all so proud of you, you did such a great job!! Continue feeling better and kiss that lil munchkin for us!!

  2. This story is truly amazing! What an incredible journey you 3 have been on. I am so happy for your family and find that MY tear ducts have been in overdrive just thinking about beautiful, gorgeous, incredible Natalie and the unbelievable amount of love that you can see pouring out of each picture and post. Thank you for keeping us all so involved throughout the whole process - love you!

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