Monday, June 17, 2013

Follow-up: 10 Things About Childbirth

Here are 10 things I learned about childbirth. 

1.  A friend congratulated me on the "baby explosion."  There was, quite literally, an explosion in the moment of childbirth.  It's really a very messy experience.  

2. There are a lot of bodily fluids you may not be aware of.  I think I counted at least 8 of them which have become a part of my life since the onset of labor, previously unknown to me.  

3. If you ever want to get stitches in your va-jay-jay . . . don't.  It's just not as fun as it sounds.  

4. Sometimes, your boobs feel like they are full of rocks.  And other times, they leak like crazy.  But at least you have a nice rack. 

5.  Natural childbirth (by the way, did yinz know I did this thing without drugs??) is cool, because you can impress people the day after just by walking around and not being a  drugged-up zombie.  
6.  Natural childbirth is not cool, because IT HURTS LIKE BLOODY HELL. But whatever.  It's possible.  If you like pain.  And bragging rights.  

7. After labor, a cherry Italian ice might taste really, really, REALLY good.  

8.  The first poop after delivery isn't as bad as everyone says.  But it will feel like an accomplishment.  And stool softener is a beautiful thing.  

9. This is actual advice: eat something before you go to the hospital.  You need your strength, and you won't be allowed anything to eat or drink (ice chips only) during labor.  

10.  It's all worth it. 

I feel like through the whole experience, I've learned to have greater respect for this body of mine.  I've spent the better part of my 28 years hating it for various reasons, and only in the past couple of years or so have I even begun to accept that it is a strong and good body, capable of doing lots of things.  Childbirth has made me even more aware of this fact.  

Since I had only a vague idea that I wanted to go natural "as long as I could stand it," I was surprised to learn that my breaking point came very near the end, anyway.  And had I known that fact, I certainly could have withstood the pain.  Knowing that the end is near makes all the difference, when you're talking about pain.  
It turns out that my ability exceeded my will-- something that I'm very sure is true of a lot of things in my life.  I came out of my childbirth experience feeling like I'm much, much stronger than I ever thought. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

THREE Happy, Crazy Richardsons

OR: How I Somewhat Accidentally Had a Natural Birth in Five Hours 

Okay, this is a LOOOOOOOOOONG post.

Early morning on Tuesday, June 11 (a week before his due date), we welcomed Miles Takeo Richardson into the world.

Our birth story really begins on Friday (June 7).  That was my last day of work at the after-school program, and I was so excited that I'd made it to the end of the year without having had him.  I was convinced (by early signs of progress, as well as a gut feeling) that Nugget would be coming early, so after work on Friday, both Andy and I felt hopeful that he would make his debut sometime during the weekend.

So, on Friday, Andy's office closed early, and he came over to celebrate the last day of work with my kiddos, and help out with our ice cream sundae party, as well as to be there, with the car, "just in case." I had been having frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions (also called practice contractions--a mild tightening sensation in my belly), and we were totally unsure what labor would look like, so we'd been taking a lot of "just in case" precautions.  After that, we celebrated a Pizza Friday at Cici's Pizza (no shame, y'all), because our childbirth teacher told us to eat lots of carbs when we thought labor was coming.  We went for a long walk at a park, looping around a lake, during which time I felt more Braxton-Hicks contractions.  Strangely, though, they were growing stronger, and coming at regular intervals.  We took a few extra laps around the lake, just to see what was happening.  The contractions kept coming, so we were convinced this was IT.

Unfortunately, as soon as we stopped walking, the contractions stopped.  False Alarm #1.

On Saturday, we decided to celebrate Andy's birthday.  Being the crazy human that I am (perhaps also trying once again to jump-start labor), I agreed to go kayaking with him, and for another walk (maybe this time??) around White Rock Lake.

(I realize that sounds crazy, but let me assure you that this was actually the least insane of the drafted "Andy's birthday weekend" plans, which included participating in a 5k an hour away from the hospital / our home.)

Long story short, we kayaked, we walked, we picnicked with our good friend Tiffany, we came home, we met up with our dear friends Scott & Vanessa, and came home totally pooped (at least, I was!), and still: no baby.  Maybe he was too comfy in there.

Sunday morning (Andyface's actual birthday) was False Alarm #2, Wherein Rachel Imagined Her Water Had Broken.  Turns out it was just a little bit of urinary incontinence!  Ohhh, third trimester!  You think you're so cute.  Other than that, Sunday was largely uneventful as far as pregnancy goes.  We did go to Andy's mom's place to celebrate his birthday.

While there, we watched The Life of Pi.  Good flick, if you haven't seen it.

Nothing really happened on Monday, except that (after such a busy weekend) I was really tired and slept a lot.  I also cleaned a bathroom, which felt like it should have deserved a medal.

This brings us to Tuesday morning, and to the

If you don't want to hear the gory details of our childbirth story, just skip to the end with the cute pictures of our little Nugget.

We had a cute baby.

As far as my "birth plan" goes, there really wasn't one, except the vague goal to go natural as long as I could stand it--at least until I was dilated to 6cm?  It seemed reasonable to me.  I wanted to have the freedom to walk around, bounce on the ball, take a shower . . . NOT be chained to the bed with the epidural and the catheter.

So, Monday night about midnight, I got up to pee (as per usual, since Nugget's head was smushing my bladder), and noticed one of the signs of labor there in my underpants.  I told Andy when I got back in bed, and he (still mostly asleep) said, "RICHARD PARKER," rolled over, and went back to bed.

At 1:30, I awoke to a gush of fluid: water broken.  Game ON.  Knowing we would probably have hours and hours until things really started going, we took the opportunity to finish straightening up the house, switch out the laundry, feed the kitties, take a shower . . . 

We were at the hospital about 2:30. It took a while to check in, do paperwork, and get things going in triage, but we determined that, YES, my water had broken, and I was dilated to 4cm upon arrival.  This was really going down.  By about 3:30 we were in our Labor / Delivery / Recovery room, where we met Shannon, our incredibly awesome nurse.  She introduced herself, and said, "I've already delivered two babies so far today, and my shift ends at 7.  So, you could be my third!" Ha, ha!  Everyone had a good chuckle, since we knew the likelihood of this was slim as it was a first baby and we would more likely be in there for 12-1350 more hours before a baby came.

By this time, my contractions were starting to get a little closer together, and picking up in strength, too.  

"What is the maximum acceptable level of pain for you, on a scale of 1-10?" asked Shannon.  Eight? 
"And where are you now, on a scale of 1-10?" Five? Six? I have no idea.  There have not been that many occasions in my life wherein I have experienced my "maximum acceptable level of pain," thankfully.

So, Shannon left, assuring us that she would be nearby, monitoring us from the nurse's station, and if we needed anything, we should buzz.  We were waiting to hear back from the OB to see if she thought it would be okay for me to walk around, since there were some medical concerns.  I'd told myself that I wanted to wait and see if that were a possibility before asking for the epidural, but suddenly, I was in a great amount of pain.

Actually, the pain itself wasn't the worst part.  I felt nauseous, clammy, light-headed, and my pulse was racing.  It was altogether unpleasant.  In between contractions, I told Andy I was ready for the epidural.  Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist was helping someone else down the hall, so I had to sit through a few more contractions without, while Shannon assured me that "relief is on the way."  She went to go check something outside of the room, and came back a few moments later, walking quickly, and asking (with a certain urgency in her voice) if I'd felt compelled to push.  Baby had come off of the fetal monitor, and she suspected that it was because he'd already moved down and was getting ready to go.

She checked me again.
9+ cm.

I could still get the epidural for pushing purposes, or I could just get to it and have the baby.  "I just want to get this baby out," I said.

The anesthesiologist walked in.  "She's at a 9 right now, so we're just gonna have this baby," said Shannon.  The anesthesiologist, looking somewhat shell-shocked, replied, "Well . . . I don't blame you!" and left.  Game on.  Really, really, ON.

The OB still hadn't arrived.  I heard Shannon on the phone, "Yeah, we're not messing around in here.  She's at a 9, and we're about to have this baby.  How long does it take Dr. Pero to get here?" She was so decisive.  It was awesome.  She left again, in a flurry, trying to get everything ready in case the baby came before the OB arrived.  At this point, I was feeling the urge to push.  Andy said later he was scared that he'd have to catch the baby by himself.

Shannon came back in.  "Try not to push--just blow it out.  Dr. Pero's on her way."  Easier said than done.

I started to push.

Shannon was a great coach, giving me feedback as to what was moving Baby along, and helping me to see the light at the end.  "He's right there!  I can see his head."

32 minutes (or so) later, Dr. Pero was putting on her gloves, and 4 minutes later, Nugget was born.

Five hours of labor, and 36 minutes of pushing.

My next baby may just fall right out.

What a chunk. 

Love at first sight.  

For Dad, too. 

I can claim the cheeks and the Asian-y eyes, but the rest is a mystery to me.