Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Birth Story: What went right, what went wrong

It happened! My little angel, Eleni Shea Nash (Eleni meaning "light" in Greek [rhymes with Melanie]), came into this world at 7:24am on Sunday December 20th. 20 in long, 7 lbs 3 oz, she's my perfect little gem.

However, her arrival was not as I had planned. 

 Labor started for me Thursday night at 7pm. I had contractions going every 7-10 minutes throughout the night and they were intense enough that I couldn't seep through them. This night was similar to my false labor two weeks prior. I got up and danced around the whole night, trying to doze off in between contractions. The next morning, though I hadn't slept, I felt pretty good about myself for making it through 12 hours. I thought surely I was at least halfway done with my labor. My contractions continued the whole day every 10 minutes, but they were slightly less intense so I was able to socialize and walk around. That night around 5pm, they became pretty strong. We were at a wedding rehearsal and I was trying hard to not focus on my contractions and socialize, but of course every 7 minutes had to get up and lay against my husband for comfort while swaying my hips. I was not looking forward to a second night of  no sleep. We went home that night, and by 9pm my contractions had me buckling over for each one. We put on a movie and I would breath deeply through my contractions, swaying my hips while bending over my bed. I was trying to remain calm and keep centered, so after each contraction I would pat myself on the back or high five my husband just to keep positive.

Now, my contractions weren't felt in the uterus. They were the crampy back labor ones that started in the back and shot around forward to my pelvis. At the height of each one, I would get shooting sharp pains down the sides of my lower back and legs. They...were...horrible. 6am the next morning I was starting to moan loudly through my contractions and couldn't focus on anything but trying not to pass out from the pain. I tried all kinds of movement: the ball, yoga, steps, walking, bath, shower, swaying hips, blow dryer on my back, etc,   and ended up just buckling over for each one because nothing gave an ounce of relief and took more effort and energy than I had left. My contractions had come 3-4 minutes apart for about three hours, and I was to the point that I was pre-crying when I looked at the clock knowing that another one was coming on. I'd slowly stand up from the bed, look at my husband, start crying, and buckle over breathing slow and deep while moaning as I felt the contraction come on. I wanted to labor as much as I could at home, and I thought surely this was as long as I needed to labor. I honestly just wanted to feel the urge to push before I went in because we live a mere minute away from the hospital, but I was dying. I thought i was going to faint from contractions.

We went in to the hospital where they monitored me, and my contractions had distanced to 6-7 minutes apart. I was checked for dilation...... TWO CENTIMETERS! Talk about loss of hope. They let me walk around for an hour and checked me again: still 2cm but slightly more effaced. When the nurse came in and told me they were sending me home, I started bawling. First of all, I never wanted to be that person who went in falsely. Secondly, I was soooo tired and knew I couldn't do any more time laboring without sleep. We went home to labor more. The contractions got stronger and to the point that I kept saying I wanted to die and it wasn't worth it anymore. I used all the dramatics I could think of in between contractions: asking God to save me, praying for death, etc. Let's just say no sleep and such intense contractions made for quite the show. After another 8 hours or so, I was yelling through my contractions. For some reason yelling through them gave me a burst of energy to not pass out, otherwise I was starting to black out slightly with each contraction. Back pain had not gone away between contractions, and I really wanted to just die. That evening around 6pm, I told my husband I had to go in and get pain meds, whatever they would give me. I needed to rest or else I would pass out and probably kill baby and myself when it came time to push. We went in, and it was still the day staff so I got to be checked by newer, nicer nurses. They humored me slightly more, checked me and I was 3cm (still horrible news) and let me walk around for a bit (aka: go out of the room to moan leaning against the wall). Checked me again, was still 3cm but fully effaced. At that point the nurses from the early morning before were back and were slightly less tolerant of my being back at only 3cm. I said I just needed pain meds to help me through and she called my doctor who said he would rather not give me anything and wanted to send me home. Again, I started bawling and was like "I will kill myself, I will die if you send me home". So the doc agreed to give me pain meds as long as I stayed over night to be monitored.

He came in about twenty minutes later to situate me and check me himself. This doctor is incredibly short, my appointments with him lasted no more than 5 minutes ever, ultrasound included. So he walked in, sat down and said "rough night?", reached to check my dilation, said "She's having this baby tonight, hand me a needle", and broke my water. I was still getting incredibly light headed during contractions and felt like I was in a dream state (nightmare state?) so what he said was not registering with me. All of the sudden I felt like I was sitting in a hot tub as warm water just flowed out of my body. I looked at my husband with worry and excitement. The doctor said I was 5cm, not 3, and was fully effaced so I would be dilating fast. I didn't know how excited to be, super excited to be taken seriously (all of the sudden the nurses treated me 100% differently attending to my every need), but incredibly worried that I wouldnt be able to push. He came back in after reading my birth plan and laughing (mockingly) asked "So you want a natural birth, eh?". After feeling scoffed at for the past two days, the slight mocking tone coming from him did me in. I already was questioning whether or not I would have the energy to give birth, as i was blacking out from mere contractions, and at that point I was ready for relief and just to have the staff on my side. I told him I wanted an epidural. Well, turns out I got an epidural at 9cm. Of course he checked me after giving me the epi, but maybe it was all good timing because my birth did not go the way I thought....

Because I had an epi, they said they were going to let me rest and wait until the baby needed to come out before I was to start pushing. We waited from 10pm to 4am, and although I wasn't yelling through pain, I did not sleep. I couldn't believe what was happening. One moment I'm being told I'm silly and I'm not really in labor, and the next I'm being told I'm having that baby right then and there. By 4am, my body was burning off the epi medicine, but perfectly so. I was able to move around and could feel my contractions, but my down-under region was just pressure. I felt in control of my body and was happy to know that I would be able be in control of my pushing. I started pushing a little after 4am and pushed for 2 1/2 hours. They had me stop at the absolute worst time, right when I completely felt my horrid contractions and had the huge urge to push, so they could call the doctor to come for delivery. I had to sit awkwardly as the baby had come down enough to create intense pressure to where I couldn't close my legs. Doc came in, robed up, and sat down right in front of me. With no words to me the nurses go "I think he wants you to push on contractions now...." So I pushed on every contraction, only to be told abruptly after running completely out of air "keep pushing, your contraction is still going". No other words, I finally had to ask them to tell me when to stop pushing because once I started I couldn't feel my contraction end, and I was soooo exhausted (the position I liked best was like the craziest workout ever...I am still sore in my back and arms from it). Once baby's head started crowning I saw the doc shake his head and push her back in. I kept pushing her out, and he would shake his head and push her back in. Finally he said "You are really tight. You're going to tear up the ying yang. I should probably do an episiotomy." I didn't want one and got really scared because I was not prepared for all these interventions. I really thought I was going to have that birth that people made me think I wanted. He shrugged and had them pour oil on me each time she crowned and he would push her back in. It was so stressful knowing I was going to be mutilated down below. He got out the knife but I could tell he was trying to take my desire into consideration. He grabbed it and almost cut me, but shook his head and put it back. I felt the ring of fire and knew this was the time her head was going to come all the way out, as I saw he was no longer pushing her back in. They poured oil on me, and with one more push and I saw them pull a body from me. The little body looked exactly like my newborn photos. My body felt instant relief and I wanted to pass out but I started bawling and saying "she looks just like me!" over and over. I was just weeping with disbelief at the fact that it was all over. I was so exhausted it still felt like a dream. This dream was interrupted as I felt a huge sharp sting and looked down to see the doc giving me stitches on my tears. I tried soooo hard not to shut my legs in response and so I turned my gaze back at my little angel who was getting her lungs cleared out. She started screaming and I started bawling all over and lost focus on the pain of the stitches.

I was told that I tore basically everywhere and was going to have a really painful recovery. But to pacify this news they brought me my baby and placed her on me. I realized that she didn't look exactly like me. She had my lips, but these long beautiful eyelashes and an eyeshape I didn't really recognize. It was so crazy to think that this human being is mine.

All in all, I actually realize my birth process isn't what was most important. No, I didn't get my all natural, beautifully handled, amazingly perfect birth. But I was prepared enough to know that things like emergency c-sections or what not could happen, so I didn't get my hopes TOO high. I also did what I felt I had to do, and I'm sooooo happy to have birthed my beautiful child that I now see no difference in the way a child was birthed. Even though I went through a really intense and long labor, I don't value the process any higher or lesser than someone who labored only 8 hours, had an all natural water birth with delivery performed by her husband, or someone who went in for a planned c-section. No one should feel any higher or lesser about their process, and I think there's a big culture growing that gives that stigma and pressure to have the perfect experience. You're all heroes in my book.


My belly shrunk down in three days and now is back to "normal". My skin is a little loose and I'm excited to start back my exercise routine. After my birth though, my body feels like it went through the worst possible trauma. The way I braced my body for the 3 hours of pushing made my arms, back, neck, and legs sooooooo sore. I was wobbling around wearing grandma pads and panties, and I felt super sluggish. So this whole last week I just relished laying around with my baby. Breastfeeding has been quite the pain, as I didn't realize how painful engorged boobs and constant leaking would be. Still not thrilled about being a constant milk production (I feel super unattractive...) so if you have any pointers, I'd be happy to hear them!

****I gained between 28-30 pounds this pregnancy. Most the weight came on my last 3 weeks. I wanted to be around 25 lbs, but seeing that I was healthy and able to avoid stretch marks during my pregnancy makes me pretty content with that number. I will not weigh myself until 4 weeks postpartum, and that will be my starting point of weight loss :) After what my body went through, I'm more than happy to be completely realistic and give it time to heal. I have been doing my kegels and pelvic floor exercises (immediately after birth! Don't take this for granted!), and will start slowly incorporating more exercises this week (only ones that don't cause any discomfort!).

**********Update: I struggled with PSD (pubic symphysis disorder) during pregnancy, and birth made it much worse! I can't get up from the ground using one leg, any sort of lunge movement is extremely painful, as well as walking. This apparently will heal with time as the hormones release from my body, but for now, I will not be doing any exercise or walking that makes it uncomfortable. Going to be content with my momma body for now!

***********I have been wearing corsets and spanks this week to help my body go back to shape, and I think it has helped my uterus shrink and abs heal.

My baby Eleni :)


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