Cassidy’s Birth Story

Well, there I was finishing up the last day of my 38th week of pregnancy on Tuesday night.  And I was ready to have this baby.  I went for walk with my husband after dinner, and I asked him to come with me to my midwife appointment the next day.  I also planned on bringing my hospital bag just in case.  The hospital where my midwives deliver is 30 to 40 minutes from our house but only 5 to 10 minutes from my OB office. 

I woke up on Wednesday morning (August 1st) around 4 am for my usual trip to the bathroom. I had slept for about 3 1/2 hours.  My back and abdomen started aching horribly and non-stop.  Then on top of that I started feeling waves of extra pain.  They kind of felt like contractions, but it was hard to tell for sure.  They were really inconsistent in frequency and duration, and I didn’t want to get overly optimistic when it could have just been extreme intestinal cramps.  The constant ache had stopped by 8 a.m., but I felt a little worried that more might be going on then I realized and that any minute I might start having bearing down pains and end up unintentionally giving birth at home.

So, I decided to go on in to my OB office early to have then check me out.  Thankfully my mother-in-law was already scheduled off work, so we just had to go knock on her door to tell her what was going on and leave.  I had my husband run me by McDonald’s for a sweet tea on the way; it’s kind of my trying to get through the day on less than 4 hours of sleep ritual, especially when I’m in labor.  I also got two hash browns, but I only had the appetite for one.

When I got to the office they put me on the monitor for about 30-40 minutes.  I had about three good contractions while I sat there, and when Patti, the midwife in the office at the time, checked me I was at six centimeters.  She sent me on to the hospital where the midwife on-call, Lee, would meet me.  Each of the three midwives has caught a baby for me before, and Lee had caught my last one.

It didn’t take long for us to get to the hospital, but I noticed that my contractions weren’t coming as regularly as they had been.  By the time the they checked me in and poked and prodded me (IV lock and blood draw), my labor had completely stalled just like with my fourth daughter.  For the next hour and a half I only had two or three contractions.  I tried walking and dancing and doing squats to no avail.

So, Lee and I decided to try a little pitocin to get things going again, like we did with #4.  While we waited for that to kick in a bit, my husband and I tried to get some sleep.  He had been up most of the night listening to me breathe through my pains and dealing with our four-year-old who doesn’t sleep well at night.

At first I didn’t feel the contractions start back up even though they were registering on the monitor.  Then I started having to deep breathe my way through them again.  The pain started to get a little more intense, and I started to get that slightly panicky feeling.  I started singing a few of the verses and the chorus of “How Can I Keep From Singing?” in my mind during contractions.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,

A fountain ever springing.

All things are mine since I am His.

How can I keep from singing?

That verse especially helped me focus on peace instead of fear.  I knew that being afraid would just make things more painful and possibly be counter-productive physically.

When Lee checked me again I was still only about six centimeters, but the contractions were definitely more intense and coming about every two minutes.  Since my last baby was born two years ago, the hospital had added a new wing which included the new maternity floor.  Each labor and delivery room now had a birthing tub, which I asked about using.

The hot water felt good, but it didn’t relieve the pain quite as much as I expected.  But it also could have been that the pain got a lot more intense once I got in.  (It’s like the old question about why so much bad stuff still happens if you have a guardian angel looking out for you.  Answer:  just imagine how much worse things would be if your guardian angel wasn’t on the job.)  The pain probably would have been even worse if I wasn’t in the tub.

I was only in the tub for about 30 minutes; the water never had a chance to get cold.  But I transitioned completely during that short time.  I started feeling the desire to not resist pushing, even though I knew that it wouldn’t be smart to actively push until I was fully dilated.  I went from just blowing air out to making deep guttural noises with each contraction.  And I really started to get that panicky feeling.  I wish the tub had some bars to hold onto during contractions, but I think one of the perks of the tub was being able to lift my butt up in the water, kind of like a crab crawl position, during some of the contractions without gravity adding extra pressure.

Finally, Lee told me I had to get out of the tub.  I really did not want to do this, even though she had warned me that she would get mean if I didn’t get out when she told me.  I got on my knees and leaned over the side of the tub during a contraction.  Lee was like, “As soon as this contraction is over, you have to get out.”  I said, “I don’t want to.”  Lee was adamant, “You can not have the baby in that tub.”  My reply:  “Why not?”

I barely made it to the bed in an all-fours position.  Lee raised the head of the bed up as high as it would go and suggested that I hang over the top of it.  That actually worked really well.  I would start each contraction at the top of the bed, and then start bearing down the bed as I pushed.  I’ll be honest and admit that by that point I was squeezing and even biting the top of the mattress and being very loud.

I remember Lee checking me once and saying I had an anterior lip (basically a little section of my cervix was kind of in the way).  Then I vaguely remember her moving it over.  Then she said that the only thing stopping the baby from coming out was the water bag, which still had not broken.  She went into break it; she wasn’t sure she had done it but I could feel that she had and hollered for her to get the probe out.  Almost immediately, I was pushing out the baby.  At one point, I started to move back to my pre-contraction starting position, and Lee and my husband started yelling “Don’t do that!  Just  stay down and push!”  And then she was out!  It was 5:04 p.m.

They had to help me roll over onto my back amidst the tangle of the baby, the umbilical cord, and my IV tubes.  It was a few minutes later that I noticed that I had actually pulled my IV lock out of my hand.  Lee started to panic a bit about that.  She had been really concerned about the possibility of my hemorrhaging after delivery due to a post-partum complication I had 8 weeks after my previous child was born.  She had counted on a continuous drip of pitocin after labor to help my uterus contract faster.  So until they could get a nurse to insert a new IV lock into my hand, Lee administered a fast dose of cytotec, which is like extra-strength pitocin except they don’t insert it through an IV or give it to you orally (ugh!).

The next forty-five minutes were just as miserable as labor.  I was so cold and tired and my legs were shaking, but they were trying to administer the cytotec and they kept pushing on my uterus really hard.  Then I needed one stitch and the anesthetic shot didn’t seem to be working.  I just wanted everyone to let me put down my legs, bring me warm blankets, give me my baby, and leave me alone.  I had tried to hold her as much as I could while they worked on me, but it was getting so painful that I had the nurses take her to wipe her down and diaper her.

Finally, they were finished with me, and I snuggled up with Cassidy Veronica and let her start nursing.  She weighed 6 pounds and 12 ounces and measured 20 inches long.  While my husband left to go get the rest of the family at home, I devoured a cold turkey sandwich and french fries like a wild animal.  Then the nurse helped me get cleaned up in preparation for the arrival of the family and my eventual move to the post-partum section.

I could hear my party coming down the hall, and before I knew it my bed was crowded with four big girls who just couldn’t stop touching and fawning over their new baby sister, especially Sabrina (2).  My husband commented on what a large family we were in the room:  three grandparents, two parents, and five kids.  The nurses had to interrupt and kick everyone out temporarily while they moved me to my regular room.  I was tucked in my new bed when everyone was allowed back.  Sabrina looked at me happily and then got this perplexed look when she realized I didn’t have the baby in my arms.  Then she saw Cassidy lying in the bassinet and forgot about me for awhile

They couldn’t stay long because it was getting late.  Katie (4) got upset when she realized that I wouldn’t be coming home that night.  The other three girls just wanted the baby to come home as soon as possible.  As they left a nurse commented about how the girls would be too wound up to go to sleep that night, I just laughed and said, “Well, it’s not my problem!”

And so I began my roughly 40-hour vacation.  As usual, the nurses poked and prodded me all through the first night.  But once I got my IV out the next morning and was able to take a shower, I was able to just relax and enjoy quiet time with Cassidy (except for when the family came for another manic visit).

Overall I’ve been recovering pretty well.  I was up and around well by the next morning.  I took my Motrin pretty consistently for the first 24 hours, but now I’m just taking it as a I feel like it for general muscle ache.  My milk came in really gradually this time which has made things a lot less painful, but it still hurts a lot when Cassidy first latches on. I know that will pass, as it always does.

The girls adore their baby sister, and I have to be really careful that they don’t maul her with affection.  It is an adjustment for everyone, though.  Right now I’m just trying to get/keep everyone back on our feeding and sleep schedules and then get as much rest as I can (sleeping or relaxing on the couch) while I have a lot of help.

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