When Cooper was born I didn’t post much to this here blog about his birth story. For the most part that was intentional. I tend to be very private in some ways and very open in other ways (don’t ask how I decide to categorize things, there isn’t much rhyme or reason) and at the time I felt weird about spouting off my birth story on the internet. I didn’t mind telling the story. It wasn’t that I felt sharing it would taint the intimacy of the experience or even gross people out, I guess I just figured most people didn’t want to hear about it, so I never brought it up unless someone asked me. However, I love reading other people’s birth stories and seeing how this common experience of becoming a mother can be so different for each new mom. A part of me always felt a bit hypocritical to hold back my own experience when I so eagerly wanted to hear about other people’s. As I make mention here and there about my experience with Cooper and expectations for this second baby, questions come up and so even though it is much belated, here is the story of how Cooper was born. It is long, but it will be PG and have cute pictures 🙂
The day Cooper was born I woke up around 2 or 2:30 feeling crampy. There were some signs that I was in labor, but mostly I just had this feeling that Cooper was coming. I hadn’t expected to go into labor that soon, but felt really calm about the whole thing. I’m not sure whether that was because I’d just finished a Hypnobirthing course or because Noel and I were both born a month early or because I just had a spiritual sense things would be okay or some combination thereof, but I wasn’t freaked out.
My goal was to have an unmedicated birth and to help accomplish this I’d been advised to labor at home as long as possible. I knew that first time labors could last quite awhile, so I tried to go back to sleep, but gave up because my mind was so awake. I reviewed some stuff on relaxation and visualization during childbirth, read blogs, googled signs of labor to validate my feelings, and warmed up a heating pad for my lower back which had begun to hurt. I periodically timed my contractions and clocked them at about 5-6 minutes apart. My water broke somewhere around 3:30 or 4am, but my contractions weren’t bothering me that much so I decided I wouldn’t wake Noel up until 6am because I wanted him to be fully rested so he could be a good labor coach (I’d also read up a lot on the Bradley Method and liked the idea of husband coached childbirth). I changed my clothes and
returned to the couch and resumed blog stalking.
At about 5am Noel stumbled out of the bedroom and asked if everything was alright. I asked how he felt about having our baby that day. It took awhile for that information to sink in, but once it did he frantically began packing our hospital bags. I told him that I wanted to wait until 8am when the clinic opened and be checked by them just to make sure I was actually in labor. I’d just known too many women who had been turned away by the hospital and didn’t want to be one of them. I also may have been experiencing some sort of denial at this point. Between 6 and 7 am Noel timed contractions (3-4 minutes apart) and tried to convince me that we needed to go to the hospital. The contractions were getting to be a bit intense and so I eventually agreed.
At the time we lived about 5 minutes away from the hospital, but the ride was still pretty horrible. Twice I made Noel stop the car to wait out contractions. We arrived at the hospital at 7:30am and went into the Women and Newborn wing, but then we had no idea where to go (I was going to call the hospital that day and schedule a tour). I sat down in a chair to wait out another contraction and a nurse who was finishing a shift asked if we needed help and directed us to take the elevator to the 2nd floor. Only when we hit the up button did we notice the tiny little plaque that said “Labor and Delivery – 2.” I had to lean against the wall as the woman at the check-in desk asked us a couple of questions. She then sent me through the doors to get checked and detained Noel for a second. I figured that she sent me in alone because she could sense how awful I felt, but after I’d gone she told Noel, “We usually have you fill out paperwork, but they’re probably just going to send you guys home.” Meanwhile, a nurse escorted me to a room, had me change into a gown, and asked me all sorts of ridiculous questions.
Nurse: What makes you think you’re in labor?
Me: I’ve had lots of contractions, my water broke.
Nurse: What makes you think your water broke?
Me: There was a gush of water . . . I had to change my pants.
Nurse: How big of a gush?
Me: I don’t know . . . I did change my clothes . . .
Nurse: If you had to measure it in a cup how much liquid would you say there was?
Me: Umm, I really have no idea. (Make mental note to keep measuring cup on hand next time I’m in labor.)
Finally the nurse checked me. I was at 9cm. The nurse got on the pager (“The 36 weeker is at a 9”) and machines started rolling in. They put me on an IV (I never made it to my Strep B test) and asked a million questions about whether I was an organ donor or had a living will. I calmly answered them in between contractions while Noel gave her dirty looks. A little bit after 8am they told me I could start pushing. Hypnobirthing is all about “breathing the baby down” so at first I just took deep breaths and gently willed the baby down the birth canal. After a few minutes the nurse told me, “You’re going to have to try harder. You aren’t pushing.” I was uncomfortable, didn’t feel like arguing, and had always kind of had my doubts about birthing a baby without pushing, so I started to push. I pushed for about 2 hours before Cooper crowned. In some ways it felt like an eternity, but in other ways the time flew by. They brought a mirror so I could see him crown. The feedback helped me see that the end was in sight.
Everything went pretty quick from there. Because Cooper was technically preterm they whisked him away and gave him a detailed once over before handing him to me. They briefly let me try to breastfeed, but it was rushed and unsuccessful since they wanted to take Cooper to the NICU “just to be safe.” After pricking him and prodding him they decided the only thing wrong with him was his low glucose levels (remember how he didn’t get to eat?) and tried to feed him a bottle, which he promptly spit up. Finally, they brought him to me and everyone felt much better about life. Well, until Noel started thinking about the final that he just missed and how he didn’t have a job, but that all worked itself out.
There are things that bug me about Cooper’s birth, but it wasn’t a traumatizing experience and I think everyone meant well. As a second time mom I feel more confident and plan on being more assertive about some things. Plus, I was very impressed by the hospital on our tour and have high hopes for their policies and procedures. Chances are this labor will be shorter (my total labor with Cooper was about 8 hours, 2 of which were pushing) and there’s a few more things we need to take into account with our traveling (longer drive, dropping Cooper off, etc). Because I don’t particularly want a home birth (just not my thing) or especially a side of the interstate birth, we’re going to keep the at home laboring to a minimal and head to the hospital as soon as things start moving along, just to be on the safe side.