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Monday, August 29, 2011

a birth story - Sarah Tibbetts

My very close friend, originally from UMaine graduate school, now a fellow school counselor, Sarah Tibbetts, is just plain awesome. I adore her and her son. My son and her son, Eli, are best buddies (as if we didn't plan it that way, right?!). They have almost as much fun as we have together. So glad she was willing to share her birth story of her 2 1/2 year old. Enjoy!

1.What happened the day your baby was born? Did your water break, and if so, where were you, how did that feel? Who took you to the hospital? What helped you during labor (ice chips? music? etc.)? Any funny or scary stories about the labor itself or the birth? How long was your labor, start to finish?
At my 37 week appointment I was 1.5 cm dilated and 70% effaced and the doctor said it “could be any day now.” We were so excited! After months of waiting and anticipation we would meet our little man soon! Or not. My last day of work was May 1, in anticipation of my May 11 due date. Well that time to prepare turned into a time to go crazy, as the due date came and went. You name the old wives tale or mythical labor inducing miracle I tried it! Long walk, car ride on a bumpy road, warm bath, sex, raspberry leaf tea, pedicures with emphasis on pressure points, spicy food, pineapple, Chinese food, greasy pizza, castor oil (yuck!). It was even a full moon! Nothing made a difference.

May 15 (4 days overdue) we had a non-stress test to check on the baby. One part of the test you are hooked up to a monitor to check the baby’s movement. Eli wasn’t moving enough, so they gave me orange juice to try to wake him up. When that didn’t make a difference they gave me ice cream. Well, he’s my child after all so that got him going! At this point (around noon) I was having a few contractions, which we were able to see on the monitor, but nothing major. I also had an ultrasound to check the amount of amniotic fluid and they estimated he was 9lbs 8oz! What were we waiting for?! Get him out!

I had a doctor's appointment after that test and I was 3cm and 80% effaced. The doctor “stirred things up,” which I think was code for stripping membranes. She also schedule as induction for 4 days later. She said as soon as the induction appointment is made women tend to go into labor, so we hoped that would be the case! As we were leaving the doctor's the contractions seemed to be getting more intense, but I was in denial for some reason. We had planned on going to Target after the appointment and Tim said we probably shouldn’t go since I was noticeably uncomfortable. I was so irritated and adamant about going (because I needed a new shower loofah!), but I came to my senses. We picked up Subway on the way home and by the time I got in the house I was extremely uncomfortable. An hour or so later we called the doctor and she said to go to the hospital. We were admitted at 6pm.

My pain management plan was to take things one at a time, starting with the least invasive method, and see how it went. I knew I needed something pretty soon, so I was given IV pain medication (I don’t remember the name.) I suppose it relieved the pain, but it made me feel so out of it. I couldn’t talk correctly and felt like I was on another planet. I remember my mother came into the room and I said something totally bizarre and was so embarrassed that I didn’t talk anymore until she left. So, the IV drugs were out.

Next I had an intrathecal injection, which worked great. It relived the pain, but I wasn’t hooked up to anything and was able to move around. I went into the tub for a while, which relived the pressure, but I just didn’t feel comfortable there. Another thing that I helped during labor was sucking on hard candy, like Jolly Ranchers. Bad news about the intrathecal is that it wears off after two hours. You are allowed to get two, so after the first one wore off I got another. Since it was the middle of the night at this point, they had to page the anesthesiologist each time, and it took a while for him to arrive. I remember watching the curtain near the door to my room anxiously waiting to see his shoes appear. I was able to sleep for a few hours during each intrathecal. Tim also slept in a chair in the labor room. The funniest part of my labor was when Tim woke up and said his back hurt from sleeping in the chair. I’m sorry for your back, but I have a person coming out of me!

I was hoping that the intrathcals would last through the labor and I could avoid needing an epidural. No such luck since the second one wore off before I was fully dilated. On to the epidural! I had been nervous about the process of getting an epidural, but I don’t remember any of it. I was just so excited to get relief!

They ended up breaking my water and giving me pitocin to move things along. The epidural stopped the pain in my belly, but I still had a ton of pain and pressure in my pelvis. My doctor’s shift ended and she could not stay because she had to go to a family engagement. Fortunately the doctor that came on was one that I knew and liked. Who am I kidding? A janitor could have delivered him at that point- I just wanted him out!!

I started pushing at 9:30 a.m. I was fired up and wanted this to happen! I tried pushing for longer than they said in each interval, but they told me not to. The next 3 hours are a blur. I remember a helpless, worried, teary look on Tim’s face at one point. It was the only time he cried through the process and he said he just didn’t know what to do or how to help. I just remember thinking “It will be over soon and I will meet my baby” over and over.

Around noon (24 hours in!) the doctor said we could try a bit more, but then I would have to have a C-section. I heard her call the OR to have them prep the room and I was so frustrated. 24 hours of labor and I did not want to wind up having a C-section. I had an episiotomy and as a last effort the doctor used the vacuum to try to help Eli along a bit. Tim said it was crazy to see how hard she was pulling on our poor baby’s head! It worked though and Eli was born at 12:36 p.m on May 16. Since I was in labor so long they had to take him right over to be checked out by the doctor, so Tim wasn’t able to cut the cord.

Meanwhile, I was surprised at how much delivering the placenta and being stitched up hurt. In my head once he was out it would be over, so I was not impressed with this part. Soon enough things were all set and I was able to hold my baby. It was so amazing! He was 8lbs 15oz and 22.5 inches long. Absolutely handsome (cone head and all) and wonderful !

2. What did you pack in your hospital bag? What did you forget to pack that you recommend pregnant moms to be pack in theirs?
I packed a lot of things I didn’t use! Obviously the camera was the most important thing to me. I definitely recommend hard candy. I didn’t bring a Boppy because the lactation consultant who taught our breastfeeding class didn’t recommend it. I wish I had because I never was able to get comfortable nursing there and loved the Bobby once we got home. We brought our baby book so they could put his footprints right in there. I lived in a hospital gown the entire time I was at the hospital. Looking back, I wish I had made a bit more effort to get dressed and make myself somewhat presentable. Eh, maybe next time!

3. What was the best part about your hospital stay (besides meeting your little one of course)?
The support of the my husband, family and friends. I love hearing stories of the stress and antics of my family and friends in the waiting room during my labor. My mother was so afraid she would miss it, my dad sat in nervous silence in the corner asking a select few questions and two of my best friends watched the door to my room like hawks (“They brought in a light!” To which my dad anxiously replied “Why do they need a light?!”) Tim was amazing through the entire process. So loving, kind, helpful (he changed every single diaper in the hospital and became a swaddling pro) and stoic (even when accompanying Eli to get circumcised- eek!).

4. What was the worst part about your hospital stay (besides the labor of course)?
The first night Eli slept great. The second night was a disaster! My milk hadn’t come in and he was hungry!! We were trying to feed, soothe him and kept turning away help and formula. After several hours a very nice nurse came in and kindly explained how Tim could give him some formula in a small cup to help fill him up. I had resisted formula before because I was so committed to nursing and didn’t want to give him a bottle. Once she explained the cup feeding we were more open to it. What really hit home is that she said she had never seen a baby over 8lbs leave the hospital without needed a least a little formula. Once we finally gave him some he slept well.

5. What is your advice for new parents for surviving the hospital stay and making it more comfortable?
I think the biggest thing is to ask any and every question you have. The doctors, nurses and lactation consultants are there to help. Use them! Even once you are home don’t be afraid to call and ask anything. Also make sure to check out what the hospital has to offer for amenities. Ours had a little snack room that we could access at any time, but we didn’t discover it until the last day! We had quite a few guests visit, but it never seemed to be a problem. I wouldn’t be afraid to make a guest wait if we were feeding or something. We didn’t send Eli to the nursery, but our hospital didn’t really offer to take him much.

6. How soon after you got home after the hospital stay did you feel back to *slightly normal*?

I had a 3rd degree tear/episiotomy so that was a quite the healing process. Since I was in labor so long I was extremely swollen from the fluids they gave me. I think it took at least a week to feel slightly normal, but it definitely took me 6 weeks to really start to feel normal again. We had some struggles with breastfeeding that made the first 6 weeks extra challenging.

7. What was it like the first moment you saw your baby or held your baby?

Overwhelming! Joy, relief, love, amazement, awe. Hard to believe you can meet someone for the first time and love him more than you have ever loved before.


  1. This is beautiful. I love Eli!

  2. this made me cry! being 39 weeks 5 days probably didn't help me to "keep it together" :)