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Sunday, April 1, 2012

a birth story - Wendi Sherwood

Birth story from fellow momma on the blog, Wendi Sherwood, about her cute son Henry (LOVE that name!)!

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?

This is the story of my son's birth.
I remember after my son was here and all 4 of his grandparents came in to meet their new grandson, the first thing I said was "you all better like this kid! you're not getting another one!" The previous 28 hours were the most painful, confusing, surprising and beautiful hours of my life.

On Friday, February 28th at 6:26 a.m. my water broke. I was in bed. I was really surprised. I said out loud "Holy shit! My water just broke!" It felt like a balloon popped in my vagina, graphic maybe, but that is what it felt like. I had seen my OB just 18 hours before and I was 1 cm dilated and not effaced at all. His words were "it will be a while now." What a LIAR!

My wonderful husband has so many qualities I love, but waking him up is a terrible process and even after he is physically awake he needs like another hour to comprehend anything. This being my first child I was convinced that the baby was going to be born soon (Few hours at tops, right? HA!) So, after waking him up and telling him my water broke, he jumps out of bed (completely confused) and stands at the foot of the bed...looking at me. "Should we go to the hospital?" he says. "No, I am going to call the doctor" I answer, after all I need to tell him what a liar he is. I thought I could have a couple weeks before I had to push this kid out. I am only 37 weeks, 5 days. Don't get me wrong I want to meet our son more than anything. I just really wasn't looking forward to the most painful thing I would ever experience happening today. The doc asked me to come to the office within 2 hours. I took a few deep breaths, and agreed. I was not having contractions, and was in no pain. I hopped into the shower, grabbed my packed suitcase, had a small breakfast and my husband (now, finally awake) drove me to the doc's office.

After being seen the doc advised me to do some walking, eat a little and then call him if I started having contractions and he would decide if I should go the hospital at that point. It was the end of February so taking a walk around the block wasn't really an option, he recommended the mall. That sounded like a terrible idea. Just what I want to do, walk around with the world's biggest incontinence pad in the world's largest underwear in the world's largest maternity sweatpants pants doubled over in pain.

Instead my husband and I went to Target, which I considered to be more hot mess friendly. We wandered around for a while, picked up some last minute baby gear and then went and got some lunch. After lunch, I still wasn't in any pain. It was around 1 p.m. I called and told him I wasn't in any pain. Stupidly, because I had never been in labor before, I had convinced myself that I indeed WAS in labor and it just wasn't hurting. Looking back, that makes me laugh so hard. What a newbie!

He said to come back to the office around 6 p.m. if I didn't start having any painful contractions before them. 6 p.m. would put me about 12 hours out from my water breaking and he didn't want me to be walking around and active much longer than that because of the danger of infection. If nothing had happened by 6 p.m., he told me, they would admit me and start a Pitocin induction. I was convinced -- in all my rose colored dreams, that I would start contracting anytime and the baby would be here soon.

Waiting, waiting, waiting
The next few hours passed really quickly. My husband and I went home, let our dogs out, I rested, walked a bit, double checked my suitcase, double checked the nursery all the while not having any pain. Finally 6 p.m. rolled around, as we drove to the doctor's office I was convinced that when I got there he'd check me, I'd be at 8 cm, 100% effaced, drive quickly to the delivery room and pop this kid out. I decided I would be eating my chicken sandwich by 9 p.m. I actually worked at the hospital I delivered at, so I had picked out my after labor meal on one of the many trips I made to the cafeteria, waddling around with a handful of cookies and a milkshake.

Scared or Denial?
Right now you're probably thinking "Is she insane? Delusional? Did she take a birth class? Ever watched one of those TLC shows?" Here is the thing: I am a nurse, and although I am certainly not a genius, I can keep up. I did take birth class, and I learned a ton of really helpful stuff. I took it all in, even the graphic stuff. But as smart and informed as I was, my sense of denial of the pain and chaos was greater.

Over the last 9 months every man, woman and kid told me about their birth story, their wife's story, their mother's story, funny part was they were all terrifying. Honest, maybe, but terrifying. One of the Occupational Therapists I worked with told me how after receiving Stadol she went all Incredible Hulk, ripped her gown off, her IV out, pushed her sister to the ground and started running toward the elevators because as she put it "I couldn't do it anymore! I was going to die! I thought if I escaped it would stop!" Yikes. I am convinced that these scary stories only added to my denial.

I was certainly not afraid of the pain. At 26, I had had cancer 3 times. I had had brain surgery to remove a brain tumor, I had only my left ovary still, and had tumors removed from both the left ovary and uterus. I had been told I might never even be able to conceive. I had survived all that and had dealt with a great deal of physical pain in my life. I was just convinced that my labor would be easy, peaceful, quiet, lovely. There is this great scene from the show Scrubs where Zach Braff's girlfriend is in labor and she says she wants labor to feel like passing a rainbow. That's what I thought I would do, pass a rainbow.
Instead it was about to get real, homes.

About to Get Real
When the doc checked me around 6 p.m. I was still at 1 cm, not effaced at all. Seriously? How can this be happening? What the frick? I actually remember asking him to check again, like he could have been wrong. I mean, come on man, throw me a bone. Nope, he was right the first time. Off to the hospital for Pitocin it was.

Fast forward to 3 a.m. I am dying. I am seriously considering what my friend the Occupational Therapist said, and dashing towards the elevator. That baby can just stay in there and someday while I am completely out cold, he can come out. Until then if this pain doesn't stop, I may not survive.

Brain surgery, sprain surgery, this hurt much worse. I had decided months ago that I would try to do this whole labor affair without pain medication, but now, at 3 a.m. writhing in pain, with all the Hulk-ish thoughts I asked for an epidural. STAT, please.

When the anesthesialogist finally did arrive (which seemed like 6 hours later) 20 minutes later I sat up like a good patient and prayed for this to happen quickly. I would be napping in an hour he said. Well, he was wrong. He got the epidural going and I laid back down. I was still in a lot of pain. He insisted that if I wait 20 minutes I will have relief. I waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing. I felt exactly the same. Same pain, still thinking of my escape options. My nurse called him back, he gave me more medicine but again I waited and waited and no relief. He came back again and told me something I had heard before; redheads have a very high tolerance to anesthesia, and he couldn't give me more. My blood pressure and heart rate were already dangerously low. I had to deal with it, make it through. Survive. Sounds pretty dramatic, right. Maybe, but I am allowed.

Survival Mode
At 7 a.m. the shifts change at the hospital. I got a new nurse who turned out to be my angel. She sat me up, held my hand, reassured me that this baby was coming, and it was going to be the best thing that I ever had done in my life. She told me I could do it, that I was tough and that I was someone's mother.

I sat in the rocking chair, the birthing ball. I hummed, groaned, cursed and stomped. I chewed ice. I repeated "you can do this, you were made to do this" in my head with every contraction. I squeezed by husband hand as hard as I could. Finally the nurse said I was at 10 cm, full effaced, time to push. I loved pushing. I could see the end and I wanted to get there. I pushed for 21 minutes.

At 9:38 a.m. Henry Allen Sherwood was born. He was the most lovely thing I had ever seen. My heart sang. 7 pounds 4 ounces of pure red headed perfection! My water had broken 28 hours before. Pitocin was started 14 hours ago. And here he was, my son. Finally!

I was a liar too by the way (just like my "not for a while now" OB and my "just give it 20 minutes anesthesiologist), not only did I give the grandparents another grandkid, I gave them 2 more in just 2 years. I figured why not?

I always tell friends that pregnancy and labor are like this:
You are giant, and pregnant and swollen and just want to go into labor. Then you go into labor, and you think "WTF was I thinking! I'll just stay pregnant, thank you!" Then you have the baby, and you've never knew you could love somebody you just met so much, so you think "that wasn't so bad!" so you do it again, and in my case, again. And I am not done yet.

Now back to the questions:
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 3 days worth of clothes for myself, and 3 days for the baby. I wasn't sure how long we'd be there, but I planned for 2 nights, 3 days. I packed all my favorite body products. I knew from working at the hospital that they only have a few products and they all stink. I wanted my own shampoo, and lotion, elastics and lip balm. I packed my cell phone, my camera. I get overstimulated easily so I didn't plan on watching or listening to anything during labor. I brought my own pads for after labor, the same ones I used when my water broke. They were actually incontinence pads, but they were much more comfy and stayed stuck to the ice packs better after labor. I also brought a couple blankets and an outfit for the newborn pictures they take in the hospital. I brought my own pillow.

3. What was the best part about your hospital stay (besides meeting your little one of course)?
I hate being in the hospital. I hate being a patient, so the best part for me was going home.

4. What was the worst part about your hospital stay (besides the labor of course)?
I didn't have the best nurse the first night. I feel like I would have had a better labor experience, and possibly even a shorter labor if my first nurse had been as good as my second. It is hard to see those things while you are in the moment, and because I had never been in labor before, and because I was in so much pain, I had no clarity to see this until too late. Luckily, this never happened with the next 2 labors, my nurses were wonderful.

5. What is your advice for new parents for surviving the hospital stay and making it more comfortable?
Be your own advocate, and use your husband (or whomever else will be there with you) to make sure you get what you want. Communicate with your partner clearly before labor, talk about what you want and don't want long before it actually happens. You'll be too busy to think about those things in the moment.

Labor and birth are important and personal, and you want it to be they way you want it. Remember that you are the patient, so that means you are the decision maker, and use that power to get what you want from this experience. The nurses and doctors are their to help, not hinder. Use them as a resource, ask questions, let them help. Also, try and rest as much as you can while you have experts around.

6. How soon after you got home after the hospital stay did you feel back to *slightly normal*?
I was really lucky to have a long, but natural vaginal birth. I didn't even have any tearing, so physically I felt fine just a few hours after labor. I was astonished by how good I felt so soon.

Emotionally, was a bit harder. After we got home my husband was able to stay home for 2 solid weeks. That was a big help. When he went back to work it was a bit tougher. Our son had some feeding issues, and was colicky. It was a rough time. I think everyone feels that way at some point when they are home in those first few weeks with their first child. I had a very good friend who was a SAHM and she came to visit, and when the weather warmed up we went to the park. We just talked and visited but I cherished those visits, even if they were only once a week. I encourage new mama's to get a plan to socialize even before the baby is here. If people offer to cook, or clean LET THEM! Also, if you aren't feeling up to company or need rest, tell people no.

I resigned from my job 12 weeks after Henry was born to stay home full time. I am very fortunate to be able to do that. I went back to work at 8 weeks; just to work out my notice. I found out that I was pregnant again when Henry was 10 months old. I remember feeling like it was too soon and that I had just gotten the hang of having one baby. So, it took a while for me to feel normal again. Being pregnant while having a little one running around was super tough, but that's for another story. :)

THANK YOU, WENDI! What a beautiful, raw, totally REAL and inspiring birth story. Thank you for sharing.

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