Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Chase's Birth Story

After dealing with a bad doctor for almost 9 months, I was ready to have our baby and never deal with that doctor again. I was so excited that labor had started naturally and on its own, because that meant not being induced. During labor at home, I continued keeping our doula posted with the progress.

this was later in labor at at the hospital

{ this story is long, if you just want pictures scroll to the bottom }

With a natural birth as my goal, I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. The moment you get to the hospital, I feel there is a tendency for staff to put you on a clock. Since I tested positive for GBS (group beta strep), there was even more reason for doctors to have me on a clock. They like to see the baby delivered by 24 hours after your labor starts to reduce the risk of infection to mother and baby. My total labor lasted over 30 hours, so I was thankful we could stay at home for early labor.

We talked about doing something nice for for the nurses and doctors, so my mom was in the kitchen making cookies when I noticed my water break. It just had to happen at the most inopportune time. My husband began frantically packing the last items for our hospital bags and even packed them in the car. My doctor had insisted on heading to the hospital immediately if my water broke. I knew that wasn't always necessary, and I still wanted to labor at home to avoid being in the hospital for an extended time. Again, it took some convincing since my husband wanted to rush to the hospital, but my gut told me it was okay to labor at home. Our doula assured us that everything was going well and that the bleeding I noticed was just my cervix thinning. It was nice having someone with birth experience to help comfort and reassure us both.

Eventually contractions were close enough that I started thinking we should head to the hospital. Our doula thought we could stay at home longer, but something told me we should just go. So my husband drove us to the hospital. On the way I actually started thinking something might be wrong, because I continued to feel gushing (which was just more fluid from my water breaking). My husband drove like a mad man, but we made it to the hospital safely.

We had pre-registered at the hospital, so that saved us some paperwork. Upon arriving at the check-in counter, we informed them not to call my doctor and that we wanted a midwife. There were no midwives that evening, so they assigned me a female doctor that was on call. We were taken to a small room to be checked, and my contractions were strong enough where I was needing to focus on breathing through them. I tried my best to stay relaxed and calm, and my husband was a comforting presence.

The nurses monitored my contractions to see that baby was doing well, and that gave me such piece of mind to know that he was doing great through each contraction. I mentioned that I didn't want an IV, so they installed a heparin lock that would allow them to administer antibiotics to treat my group beta strep. They stuck me multiple times trying to get a good vein. I had bruises for weeks after that!

My progress was checked, and they informed me that I was 5cm dilated! I was pretty happy with that, because it meant I was fairly close to transition. They wheeled us up to the labor and delivery room, and then my mom and doula joined us again.

I felt so empowered not calling my doctor, and I knew it was the best decision. That choice was reaffirmed when we met the doctor who would deliver our baby. She was enthusiastic, encouraging, and supportive; she was everything my doctor hadn't been the past 9 months. I felt at ease with her, and I ended up having a really great nurse too! Things were going better than I had imagined.

The hospital has the anesthesiologist explain things as standard protocol, but they didn't push anything. I had my birth plan stating that I didn't want to be offered any pain medications unless I asked for it. An epidural wasn't even an option in my mind. I just wanted to breathe through my contractions and do my best to stay calm and relaxed. The nurses never once pushed the epidural, and I never really thought much about it.

Thankfully the labor and delivery rooms have lights on dimmers, so we were able to keep a relaxed environment. My nurse was so supportive of me wanting a natural birth, and I'm incredibly thankful for that. I didn't want to be hooked up to the monitors, and they couldn't get the wireless monitors to work. Since our baby looked great, they agreed to monitor me at intervals so I could move freely in between checks.

I labored in positions I had been using at home, and I even brought my own birth ball and blankets from home to make me feel more comfortable. Our doula, Alyssa, helped with different positions to help keep me calm and comfortable. Once I finally hit transition, the contractions finally started getting really strong and back to back. That was the most intense part of labor. I remember Alyssa suggesting I sit backwards on a chair and rest my arms and head on the chair back. I think being upright helped the baby descend, but by that point I don't remember too much about what anyone said. I definitely went into my own space once I hit transition. My husband was at my head keeping me calm and Alyssa rubbed my back and reminded me to breathe and stay in control.

Contractions at that point weren't like anything I ever expected. They were definitely wave-like, and I found the best thing was to just focus on "getting to the top of the hill" and then "ride it down". With each contraction I remember thinking to myself that it's like riding a bike or hiking a really steep hill, and once I got to the top I could just coast. I could tell once I'd hit the peak and it was a coast until the next contraction hit. Alyssa had some relaxing music playing, aromatherapy, and I had a rice pack that could be microwaved for pain relief.

Transition dilates you from 7-10 cm, and I was hoping to be close to 10cm and push our baby into the world. The doctor checked me, and I was at 9 cm. She told me that breaking my water would speed things up and help me fully dilate. Imagine my confusion when I realized my water had broke on Saturday afternoon. She told me that sometimes your bag of waters can re-seal itself, and she thought that's what happened. I said go ahead and break my water if that would help me dilate completely. I knew the pain would get more intense once she broke my water, and I had no idea it would happen so fast. She broke my water, and I immediately had a painful contraction that had me feeling a little nervous.

labor got tough after having my water broken

After having my water broken, I couldn't manage to move as freely as before. I laid in the bed on my side and tried to keep my breathing under control. I kept feeling the urge to bear down, but my nurse said my cervix wasn't fully dilated yet. I needed to control that urge to push. That was most definitely the hardest part of my labor. I was 9cm dilated, and I wanted push so badly. She told me that when I breathe, I should release my breath like I'm blowing out a candle. Boy did I blow out a lot of candles! At one point I thought I might lose control, but Alyssa was amazing at keeping me breathing. My nurse Janene just keep reminding me to "blow out candles". I'm so thankful for such a great support team. I held onto my husband's hand so tightly, and I tried my best to stay patient, in control, and not push. It was by far one of the hardest things to do.

It seemed like my contractions had spaced out, and I finally felt like I really had the urge to push again. I asked for the nurse to check me, and I'll never forget how I felt when she said I was 10cm. I just wanted to meet our baby!

I never thought pushing would take so long. I pushed for about an hour and a half before our little guy made his appearance. My doula reminded me not to try and push baby out quickly, because that's when you tear down there. Yikes! I took my time and allowed this to happen slowly. After pushing for so long, I started to wonder if this guy was ever going to make his exit. I was exhausted from having started labor on Saturday. Come Monday morning, I was wanting to meet our baby so badly.

Pushing with contractions didn't come easily at first. I wasn't pushing really effectively, but I finally got the hang of it. The doctor was incredibly patient with how long it was taking me to push. There came a point where I wondered if I was going to actually deliver a baby vaginally. The doctor eventually told me that "some one's getting tired, and it's not you". That made me worry that baby's heart rate wasn't holding up anymore, so I gave every push after that everything I had. I wasn't about to have a c-section after all of that hard work, and it seemed like just a couple more pushes and our baby arrived.

I remember wanting to hear him scream to know he was okay, but he didn't scream right away. Apparently the cord was around his neck, but it was no problem for the doctor to remove it right away. My husband cut the cord, and then they put our baby right on my chest.

finally in my arms

He was so incredibly pink and squishy and perfect! After a little time he let out the loudest screams as if to tell us he was fine and healthy. I remember looking at my husband with the most love that I'd ever felt. It was amazing to finally hold this tiny human that we created. The love is indescribable!

After spending some time holding baby skin to skin, the nurses did some other checks on him and finally weighed our little guy. When they said he came out weighing 8 lbs 15 ounces and 22 inches, my jaw just about hit the floor. He was quite the big boy! Since he was so big and had no vernix, they ended up doing some tests on him to make sure he didn't have diabetes. He was perfectly healthy, no diabetes. I guess he just cooked a little longer than normal.

tall boy... just like his daddy

Actually going through with a natural birth made me feel so empowered and strong. It felt as if I could conquer anything after that. I was so happy to finally hold our baby, and it was a relief to be done with labor. We did it! I spent every second of recovery just gazing at our perfect baby boy, Chase Daniel.

welcome to the world Chase Daniel, mommy and daddy love you

Thanks to Dr. Escobar, our nurse Janene, our doula Alyssa,
and my mom (grandma) for being a part of our baby's birth!

Monday, June 2, 2014

My Pre-Birth Story: Dealing with a Bad Doctor

My most recent blog posts never really shared everything that was happening with my pregnancy. Nothing really serious, or scary, happened throughout my pregnancy. I felt mostly healthy, and I took prenatal yoga classes throughout most of my pregnancy and up to 40 weeks. My husband and I wanted to educate ourselves as much as possible about birth, so we took an assortment of classes from learning about pregnancy and infant care to breastfeeding. The more we learned about the birth process, the more my thoughts on how I wanted to deliver a baby changed.

our little peanut

We were fairly new to the Orlando metro area when I became pregnant, so I had little direction when it came to choosing a doctor. My husband's coworkers wife had two little girls, so we asked for a reference. We attempted to interview the OB, but he skirted around quite a few of my questions. One of my biggest fears was ending in a c-section, so I wanted a good doctor who was less likely to intervene with surgery. The doctor's avoidance of my questions should have been the hugest red flags, but I wasn't sure where else to turn.

After my husband and I took a pregnancy preparation class, I leaned more towards having a natural birth. Week after week, the doctor tried telling us how important our baby was to him. However, my gut always told me this man didn't really have our best interests in mind. I noticed a huge change in my doctor's demeanor when I mentioned to him that I was interested in a natural birth. It was like a switch inside him went off, and he became less supportive and very negative. He never failed to plant seeds of fear in my mind that pregnancy could be a dangerous thing with dire consequences for me and the baby. No kidding! He mentioned cerebral palsy at least three times. I understood that anything can happen during labor, but good things can happen too. For me, the positives of a natural birth far outweighed the negatives. I didn't want to be scared to give birth.

24 weeks and can't wait to meet baby

My doctor classified me as high risk for some crazy reason. Early ultrasounds had discovered an ovarian cyst, but those can be fairly common during pregnancy. Mine was monitored throughout pregnancy to make sure it wasn't growing. It never really did grow. Thank goodness. However, my doctor never failed to mention all of the terrible things that could go wrong with that cyst. It could rupture. It could grow so big that it twists my fallopian tube causing great pain. The cyst could block the birth canal or uterus during labor. I wanted to rip my hair out after each monthly doctor visit. He was causing me more stress than I needed during pregnancy, and I desperately wanted a doctor who would be encouraging and supportive.

I continued going to prenatal yoga classes, and one day I decided to ask my instructor if she knew of a good doula in the area. Again, my gut instinct told me that I needed some help with my doctor/stressful situation. Imagine my reaction when my yoga instructor said that she's in fact a doula. Hallelujah! My husband was on board with hiring her, so we put down a retainer fee and began meeting with her in preparation of the birth of our baby.

Our doula, and my yoga instructor, Alyssa was very encouraging and helpful when it came to worries or concerns. I mentioned the problems with my doctor, and she suggested possibly switching doctors. At almost 30 weeks pregnant it seemed a little crazy, and I figured I could stick it out. Oh how I wish I had listened to her, and my gut, at that point.

Things only got worse with my doctor as the weeks progressed. I was getting closer to my due date, and the appointments were weekly instead of monthly. With each exam my doctor never failed to tell me that my "cervix is still thick and closed" and baby's "head was still high". Our doula, Alyssa, served as a great source of comfort and encouragement that things were progressing fine. She reminded me that plenty of mom's go into labor without many signs of impending labor. It was incredibly discouraging that week after week my cervix was thick and closed, and I showed no effacement or dilation. I did my best to relax and let go, but I was letting my doctor's words get into my head.

only a week or two left...

Seeing how my doctor reminded me weekly that baby's head was still high, I had asked him if going to the chiropractor would be good for hip alignment and allowing baby to drop. I didn't realize there was a great divide between medical doctors and chiropractors, because I figure the two really work together. Well, my doctor, for lack of better words, freaked out on me. He told me that going to see a chiropractor could be dangerous and put me on bed rest, hurt my hips, etc. Upon leaving the room, he mentioned that he hoped I didn't bring a witch doctor the next week. That comment was like the straw that broke the camels back for me. At first I was shocked he said that, and then I was just downright pissed that he was so disrespectful. Making a patient feel like a crazy person isn't good business. I fumed out of the office.

I lost all respect for my doctor with the way he decided to handle me after I decided to have a natural birth. It was almost as if he treated me like I was wasting his time. He kept trying to tell me that he only performed c-sections if there was a real emergency, and he wanted to make sure I knew he didn't make any more money off of a c-section (although a financial contract they had me sign stated otherwise). It was as if my doctor felt the need to prove that he wouldn't do anything shady. Guilty conscience maybe? It took everything in me not to yell at him, but I wanted to keep things fairly respectful from my end.

My mom arrived from Michigan to be there for our baby's birth. I told her about my doctor, and she said she could play the role of witch doctor at my 40 week appointment. She actually had some other choice words when I told her everything my doctor had been saying. I warned her to behave herself at my appointment, but I secretly wish she had told my doctor where to go.

my mom and I swimming at 40 weeks pregnant... come on baby!

During my 40 week appointment, my doctor mentioned wanting to induce at 41 weeks. I told him that I'd like to go until 42 weeks and that I understood the risks of going past my due date. I really didn't want to be induced. I asked if there was a possibility of being induced at 41 and a half weeks if I wasn't confident about going to 42 weeks, and he said that he could induce on 41 weeks or 42 weeks but not in between. It didn't "fit into his schedule". I almost lost it with that comment! He also mentioned that he would induce me using a drug, Misoprostol (or Cytotec), that isn't even FDA-approved for inducing labor. There are safer ways of being induced (like Cervadil for example), but they are slower working. I no longer wanted to work with a doctor that wanted to put me and our baby at risk of complications so that he could work at his convenience. That was when I decided to switch doctors.

At 40 weeks pregnant I went home from my doctor appointment and started calling obstetricians who might take me. I heard good things about one who was local, so I called them and sent in my medical records. They called back saying sorry it was too risky taking a new patient at 40 weeks. I cried. Again I tried a midwife who my doula suggested. Same story; too risky. Tears were shed, but I remembered I could always use the hospital's doctor on call.

40 weeks and ready to pop

My husband and I discussed our limited options. Stick with my doctor or have the hospital's doctor on call deliver our baby. I wasn't going to let my doctor near me or our baby, but my husband was nervous about working with a new doctor. I had made up my mind, and I just had to convince my husband to roll the dice with the doctor on call. It couldn't get much worse than my doctor.

We worked with our doula doing everything possible to induce labor naturally. I saw the chiropractor, got a massage, bounced on a stability ball, talking to our baby, took evening primrose oil capsules, drank red raspberry leaf tea, and I walked miles with my husband daily. I was desperate to go into labor naturally and never see my doctor again.

the nursery was just waiting for a baby...

Lo and behold, just a few days after that 40 week appointment (40 weeks + 4 days to be exact) I began seeing early signs of labor. It was incredibly encouraging to think my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to without medical interventions. I felt a new sense of hope that I could give birth naturally and I wouldn't have to deal with my doctor again.

I continued doing everything I could to induce labor naturally. My husband and I walked a ton, and during a walk I started feeling what I thought might be "real" contractions. They kept coming later in the day, so I wanted to keep walking for fear they might go away. My husband and I walked around the local mall, and I distracted myself by window shopping for baby clothes and eating macarons.

The contractions kept coming, and by the evening they were coming regularly and lasting for a minute. Needless to say, it was hard to get sleep that night. We did our best to get a little sleep before labor started getting more intense. I called our doula, and she suggested relaxing as much as possible before labor progressed much. We were going to have a baby!

It was so exciting to finally be in labor after all of the drama with my doctor. I could hardly believe we'd be meeting our baby soon after all the months of being pregnant. Part of me was really excited, and the other part was nervous that labor was happening!

{ to be continued.... }