The past month's been a rollercoaster to say the least and having a baby is truly life changing. Today I'm excited to share Adeline's birth story with you. I remember when I was pregnant, all I did was read birth stories to mentally prepare. People will say you can't compare too much or expect yours to be the same experience. Which is true, so I would suggest the same if you're obsessively reading stories like I did, haha! But I did enjoy hearing other peoples' stories, so I'm sharing mine.
Giving birth was one of the hardest and emotional things I went through, second to postpartum recovery (more on this on another blogpost). Looking back, I would say my labor experience ended up being good considering how I started emotionally. I'm so glad I had a safe and uncomplicated vaginal delivery with a healthy baby girl. In the end, that really is what matters.
Let me just start by sharing what my ideal birth "plan" was. What I really wanted was to labor at home as long as I could. The only medication I was open to was the Epidural and even then, I wanted to wait it out. My husband I took labor/delivery classes that emphasize natural pain management and I've talked to several other moms that gave birth naturally, so I wanted to give natural birth a try. At least go as long as I could.
But I say "plan" because in my case, everything went out the door.
On September 29th, we went in for what we thought was our normal weekly doctor's appointment. At the end of our appointment, he told us that I had high blood pressure (for the 2nd week in a row) and protein in my urine. I didn't know what that meant. But turns out that could mean I have preeclampsia, and the doctor seemed concerned enough to send me to the hospital next door to get checked and monitored for the next 2-3 hours. When you have preeclampsia, there is a possibility for the mom to get seizures and pose risks for both the baby and mom. The only way to fix this is to deliver the baby. The worst part of that appointment was that he uttered the words I didn't want to hear would happen. He told me "if your numbers don't improve or stay the same, we would induce you tonight." Induce? My heart dropped because I REALLY wanted to at least start labor naturally. I knew what that meant - getting Pitocin to speed up the process and I really didn't want Pitocin. We headed over to Hoag next door and on the way there I started sobbing. I was scared. My husband tried to calm me down and reminded me to breathe since we were getting monitored for my blood pressure.
We arrived at Hoag at around 11am. After monitoring me for 2 hours, at 1pm, I was diagnosed with mild preeclampsia. I was told I would get induced that evening as soon as a delivery room opens up. They then hooked me up to an IV (which was annoying because it makes you less mobile). From 1-5:30pm, we waited. For 4 hours I laid there feeling mentally unprepared and like I couldn't/didn't want to do this yet. My mind went back and forth between "why's this happening? I don't want this" and "everything happens for a reason. It'll be okay." But overall, I wasn't in a good mental state at this point.
At 5:30pm, a delivery room opened up. They checked my cervix and I was 2cm dilated. We immediately started the induction process with Cytotec (a drug to soften the cervix) and they said they would check back at 9:30pm to see how dilated I was. I had contractions but they were light. Hopeful that my contractions would progress more after the Cytotec so I wouldn't need Pitocin, I did whatever I could in the room to speed it up naturally. Took walks, sat and rocked on a yoga ball, stretched and moved my hips, etc. But when they checked me at 9:30pm, I was still at only 2cm. My heart dropped again, knowing that we'd be starting Pitocin. Which they did.
Once I got the Pitocin, my contractions started to get more intense. I had to concentrate more and breathe through them with the help of my husband coaching me. This continued until 12:30am. When they checked me at 12:30am, I was 3cm dilated. I was happy to hear that. But then my nurse told me she was going to need to break my water now to "speed up the process" so if I wanted to get the epidural, now would be a good time. I was caught off guard. Now they were going to break my water too? I tried to be strong and ask if it was necessary. The nurse said it was to help speed the process and suggested I get the epidural because breaking the water would feel really intense. I felt somewhat cornered. I wish I was stronger but felt vulnerable considering I had preeclampsia. That was the bigger concern. My contractions were getting stronger and I felt mentally unstable, so I agreed to get the epidural.
Side note: you're probably wondering what do contractions feel like? It feels like really deeeeep pressure pains. The good news is the actual painful part of a contraction is a few seconds when it's at its peak. At the beginning of the contraction, you feel it come on gradually. I don't know if you'd call it "pain" but it's definitely uncomfortable. But when the contraction is at its peak, it almost feels like a Charley Horse in your lower abdomen. It does hurt and you need to breathe through them. DEEP breaths and have your husband or whoever is your "coach" to remind you and actually do them with you. Then you feel the pain subsiding and gone after. It's like a wave. I read a lot about how to get through contractions, and it's true that it's a mental battle as much as it's physical. When you're going through a contraction, you can't let the contraction get stronger than your mind. You have to focus, accept it, and breathe into the pain. Keeping in mind some affirmations helped too. I really liked this one - "the power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you." I can probably go on and on, but that's in a nutshell what contractions feel like, and how you get through them.
Ok, back to the story!
The epidural only took about 20 minutes but it felt like forever because I was having more intense contractions at the same time and had to wait in between contractions to administer the epidural. I remember it pinching and hurting for a split second, but overall it was uncomfortable. I was leaning on my husband, breathing deeply and heavily until it was over. Right after it was done, I started shaking uncontrollably. Must of been the hormones and adrenaline. They called it the "mama shakes" and is completely normal for it to happen.
I remember getting the epidural was the turning point during my labor.
From there, it was smooth sailing. Up until that point, my mind felt all over the place but once I got the epidural, I felt SO much better not only physically, but mentally too. I was able to relax. The irony is that during my pregnancy, I was so iffy about getting the epidural. But it ended being the one and only thing that helped me relax and push me through the rest of labor.
At 2:30am, I was 6cm dilated.
6:00 am, 10cm!
By 7am, I was pushing. I only pushed for about a total of 20-25 minutes and all the nurses were so surprised at how well and how fast I did. I even surprised myself haha. Especially because they warned us it might take awhile since this was my first time. What I found interesting is that the epidural will take away the pain of the contractions, but you can still feel the pressure from it. This pressure helps you to know when to push. Funny story: the nurses had to tell me to stop pushing during my 2nd "practice" push so they can call my doctor. She was coming out! We waited about 20 minutes for my doctor to arrive and my legs were still up on the stirrups and everything exposed haha. Modesty really goes out the window.
And on September 30th, 2017, 7:47am, Adeline was born!
I can't exactly describe what the feeling was like when she was put on my chest. There was a huge sense of relief, love, and joy. But also this feeling like... "here we go..!" Feelings of doubt and insecurity of being a new parent rushed over me, but equally an excitement of being a mom to this girl. That really is a blessing, and gift from God.
My labor experience wasn't what I intended/wanted but I had to trust my doctors, nurses and ultimately God, that whatever happened was for a good reason. It's been one month since, and I still can't believe I did it...give birth! Haha. All this time I was worried about how I was going to do it, but our bodies really do know what to do. This experience taught me that nothing's in your control and that you have to trust the process. You have to keep an open mind going into it. I'm so thankful for a safe delivery of our girl.
Welcome to the world, Adeline Airi Viray!