Moira’s Birth Story

Brenda, Walt, and baby Moira post delivery

NOTE: I wrote this birth story on the night that I gave birth to Moira, my first born.  I didn’t want to forget anything and I put a lot of details in for my own sake.  I chose not to edit it down here, so it is quite long.

MOIRA PEPPER’S BIRTH STORY, SEPTEMBER 2016

It all started at Sarah Lynn’s Sunday noon prenatal yoga class.  I was 41+1 and ready to meet baby girl, but she wasn’t yet showing signs that she wanted to come out.  Sometime during the end of class (guessing around 12:45pm) I touched my abdomen and noticed it was firm like a Braxton Hicks contraction. Then during savasana I opted to stay sitting upright and hold my belly and I felt another tightening of my uterus beneath my hands.  I left class and kept feeling my belly to see if another would happen, and it did. First they were 20 mins apart. I could only tell if it was happening if I physically put my hands on my belly, there was no other sensation from the hardening.  They soon were 13 mins apart and consistent. This went on all day and eventually I stopped paying attention so I could go about my day and evening. By bedtime I was paying attention again and they were about 10 mins apart. I tried to sleep but decided to read a breastfeeding book because I felt time was running out to brush up.  

At about 12:45am I noticed sensation very much like mild menstrual cramps in the low front side of my uterus. This was now the new signal that I was having a contraction. I stayed awake to time them and they were consistently 10 mins apart. I decided to get some rest and was able to easily sleep thru it. I slept until 10am and woke to go to my OB appt, contractions feeling the same but now more like 8 minutes apart.  I was hoping I would have progressed from the prior week, but nope. Still a “tight 2cm” and 70% effaced, she was at a negative 2 station. Doc swept my membranes for the second time in 6 days. I asked if I still had to go to the non-stress test (NST) and amniotic fluid ultrasound scheduled for that day and she said yes. So off I went to get lunch (pulled pork burrito from Williard’s!) and then to next appt. NST showed my contractions every 7-8 minutes on the read out.  That was exciting. MFM doc said he didn’t think I’d make it to my scheduled induction that was 3 nights away. He was right.

I was super tired so I decided to go home and take a nap.  Already at 24 hours of very mild labor and it was consistent, so I knew it was going to get real sometime soon.  But then I decided to instead get a last minute mani/pedi because who knows when that would happen again once she was born.  My technician was so sweet and gave me extra leg massage and let me stay in the massage chair as she did mani as well. It was heavenly.  

I went home and still meaning to rest instead went bonkers cleaning the house. I decided I couldn’t stand it even though it wasn’t that bad.  I was disinfecting and vacuuming and swiffering and laundering for hours. Walt tried to get me to stop but instead gave in and helped. Finally around 10pm I decided it was good enough and I should rest in case contractions got real soon, and I wanted to snuggle with Tennant (my dog).  He must’ve sensed something bc he was looking at me worried and like he wanted me to stop and just snuggle most of the night. I imagine he could smell the hormone shift that was taking place.

So I went to pee and as I relaxed on the toilet, I peed and then had my first “real” contraction that felt pretty uncomfortable and almost painful.  I went to snuggle on couch with Tennant and started to time them again and they kept up that same uncomfortable/sorta painful feeling for the whole time we watched Jimmy Fallon.  I got up and started squatting into them and taking deep breaths even though they weren’t terribly painful yet. They were about 6 mins apart until midnight. I thought to myself, hmm maybe I can try to get a quick nap in even though they were getting really uncomfortable. I got in bed with Walt and after first contraction, I thought  “this is stupid, how could I possibly sleep thru this?”  So I waited until the next one and that one hurt like hell lying still on my side in bed that I nearly threw myself out of the bed but couldn’t because it was so painful. So I got up and told Walt to stay and sleep.

I went to hang out with Shannon (my sister who lived in the lower level of our house at the time) and kept timing them. By 1am they were 5ish minutes apart, but they were short contractions, about 35 seconds each. Suddenly they jumped to 3 mins apart for 30 seconds just after 1 and stayed consistent for about 45 mins – the app was signalling to get to the hospital because they were under 5 mins.  I was texting with both Amy and Tori all night and here is where Tori told me to call the doctor bc that sounded like quick progression. I said I wasn’t supposed to call until 5-1-1. She said “don’t be the woman that gets caught up on numbers, just call and see what the doc says.” I called my mom and she agreed that I needed to call. I felt almost silly calling because even though they were closer together, they were short and felt relatively easy even though they were painful. Because of my GBS positive status I thought I should at least ask the doc on call.  So I called at 1:30am and Dr. Winterling called me back within a minute of me giving my info to the nurse. She asked me a bunch of questions and finally said yes, I should go in and the worst that would happen is they would send me back home for a bit. Shannon went to wake Walt and I decided to take a quick rinse off in the shower as they packed the car. I thought to myself “if this is labor, I got this!” Ha.

Sitting in the car for 3 contractions during the 10 min drive around 2am was not fun, I had to grab the “oh shit bar” as Walt calls it and he had to push into my back as I pushed back into his hand because it felt awful to sit back and I liked the counterpressure.  Up until now I was taking all my contractions squatting at home and making deep guttural sounds hoping that would open my cervix and help me progress faster. I felt confident declining the epidural because I felt I was handling it well and I really wanted an unmedicated birth.  

We got into triage and I kept squatting and the nurse checked me and said I was 4cm and “very stretchy” – which was nice to hear after being a “tight 2” for over a week according to Dr. McClendon. Her head was also so low that the nurse was shocked, she had to reach around to get my cervix since it was still posterior.  I actually had a contraction while she was still checking my cervix and weirdly enough it helped for her to leave her hand there, was less intense, especially because I was lying back on the bed and I much preferred to be squatting down and forward – almost like I was about to go into a crow pose. I joked she should just leave her hand there all night and we had a good laugh. She also said I had a “bulging bag” meaning the water bag was hanging a little out of the cervix, so it was likely to break on it’s own soon from the pressure. The nurse called Dr. Winterling and came back and said I was to be admitted now.  She tried to get an IV into my left wrist, but my vein kept rolling. She said they were thin veins and the L&D nurse would try once we changed rooms.

The walk to the L&D room was hard because I could now feel her head putting a lot more pressure since she had dropped all the way down.  Once we got there the new nurse, Melissa, tried again for a vein – no luck. She said she’d call the magic vein nurse in next. I needed to get my IV of antibiotics for the GBS so we had to get it in ASAP.  The magic vein nurse had to put the IV on the top of my left hand.  It was annoying but not as painful as they made it sound like it would be.  Melissa hooked me up to fetal HR monitors, which I wasn’t keen on but she said Doctor wanting me on “constant monitoring.” I tried to protest. But I was still able to stand up and walk around and squat near the bed. I tried sitting on a birthing ball and hated it. 

At this point because of her head position I found it easier to raise the bed up high and lean over it when I got a contraction and Shannon and Walt would intensely rub my back for counter pressure. That made a huge difference.  I kept making insanely deep low register sounds, even mooing and roaring and super weird sounds. Lots of deep humming. I just kept thinking “keep face relaxed, use lower register to open pelvic floor” so I could progress as quickly as possible since the contractions were very intense now.  At first I felt like a normal person during my rest periods while I was home and only in the last few home contractions did I start to feel a little “pukey” right after, then it would quickly go away. By this point I was feeling pukey during the entire rest period and burping up a lot of pulled pork burrito – what was yum was now gross!  I kept saying I just “felt pukey, but not like I will actually throw up.”

At one point I kept feeling like I had to poop with every contraction so I wanted her to check my progress.  It was 4:45am. I was essentially in a wide kneed child’s pose on the bed facing the reclined side with pillows at this point managing the contractions because standing up made my knees tired. She asked me to flip over and lie back with feet in bound angle pose – which I really didn’t want to – but this is how she needed to check my cervix. Walt helped me flip and she checked me and said I was 6cm and had some bloody show which was good – I was hoping for a bit more after the 2+ hours of much more intense labor, but I turned it around in my head as good progress regardless.  Right after she was done I was still lying back and got an insane contraction – they felt MUCH worse when I was sitting and reclining instead of leaning forward and bending knees out into a squat – and I grabbed Walt and Shannon’s arms so forcefully since they couldn’t rub my back for this one. It hurt SO BADLY and then I felt my water break, a HUGE gush into the diaper like pad they had me in and then I said “I need to puke” and asked them to sit me up.

Once I was up I kept feeling water leaking out, such a weird feeling and then I said it again because no one was getting me a tub to spit into, so I put my hand over my mouth and puked into my mouth, and then another one came up and I couldn’t hold it in, so my mouth involuntarily opened and I puked all over my hand, all over the edge of the bed, my own foot (sock) which was bent up on the bed still and projectiled all over the floor at the foot of the bed.  It was super nasty, I could see chunks of my lunch from nearly 15 hours earlier still – cheese and such. The nurse handled it so well as I apologized and she reassuringly said “it’s all part of labor!” I did feel a little better but then the thought crept into my head that “oh shit, my water is broken so now contractions are gonna hurt so much worse and they already suck so much, how will I handle this??” The nurse cleaned up the puke and I stayed seated at edge of bed with my left knee bent and that foot on the bed and right leg was dangling off the side. Contractions came on strong and I didn’t want to get up to manage them from standing or leaning over bed anymore, my legs were tired and I didn’t have the willpower to make myself turn back around and try kneeling on the bed again. I leaned forward into every contraction and dug my fists into the mattress as Walt and Shannon rubbed my back powerfully. These hurt A LOT more than before, but I was noticing that it hurt more in the first few seconds and then became mostly bearable again if I kept breathing and using deep sounds.  The first few seconds were making me want to scream or hyperventilate so they had to often remind me to breathe at the beginning of them.

The nurse was in front of me trying to adjust the fetal HR monitor because when I leaned forward she lost a good signal for her HR. I was over wearing the damn thing so even though I liked her very much as a nurse, I kinda ignored what she was doing and didn’t try to make her job any easier. She tried for a long while, maybe 30 mins of constantly readjusting as I kept leaning forward. This is when I had many thoughts of “I can’t do this anymore” or “NEVER AGAIN” and I said “Ouch, I want to cry.” My sister told me to just cry but I couldn’t get any tears out. I said I couldn’t do it anymore quite a few times, almost hoping they would like “ok, let’s get you some drugs” even though I didn’t want them, but Walt and Shannon and the nurse all said I was doing great and yes I can do it. I wasn’t getting any rest because I just felt so nauseous now between contractions and I felt so awful and wanted it to end.  If I had a break to collect myself, maybe I would’ve felt a little better about the temporary pain of contracting.

Finally the nurse said I had to get up because she really needed to get the baby’s HR on the monitor.  I tried to plead not to, but eventually they got me up and I felt ok once I stood. She fixed the monitor and then when I had another contraction I said that I felt like she was about the fall out, that I could feel her head coming thru my cervix and I really wanted to push her out right then.  She said don’t push and told me I had to lie down for another check, which I didn’t want to lie but I wanted to know my progress.

I got into the bed and kept groaning and rolling my head towards Walt and she exclaimed “OK, we are at 10cm!” I felt a rush of joy wash over me because if I wasn’t much more progressed than last time I don’t think I could’ve gone on without meds, it was too much pressure and excruciating along with seriously nasty nausea that was deteriorating my willpower to push for an all natural labor and delivery.  I looked at the clock and exclaimed “wow, I went from 6cm to 10cm in 45 minutes!” and the nurse said I did REALLY well. I remember turning my head towards Walt on my left and smiling to myself a few times that I made it to full dilation and she was going to come out soon!

The nurse said she was already crowning (so I wasn’t wrong, she WAS inside my cervix!) so I had to roll onto my side for a bit and not to push. I was like WTF and practically cried that I couldn’t just go for it. I asked Walt to get my Bath & Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint lotion out so I could smell it to help me relax as I prepped for pushing.  My sister rubbed it all over my back and the scent was so nice. I had a little break from contractions after making it thru transition, it was such a nice relief and the smell helped break the nausea some. I was holding my legs together and begged the nurse to push so she said “ok we can push now” even though doc wasn’t in room yet, so I rolled onto my back and saw carts and other nurses rolling into the room and then saw Dr. Winterling gearing up. I remember thinking “OMG I’m about to push her out, this is really happening. I’m about to meet her!”

They set up the bed and I was already lying back, so they had me hold my thighs and draw my knees close to my armpits and Walt and Shannon each held one calf/foot.  The nurse coached me on how to push once the contraction started and then I went for the first push, which was great because I didn’t really feel the contraction and got to feel like I was doing something besides managing the pain.  It didn’t hurt really, just felt intense and powerful. The nurse noticed I was blowing air out and making some sounds, as well as pushing my feet into their hands, so she coached me to hold my breath to hold the power, make NO sound, don’t push my legs, and to push into my very bottom like I’m pooping.  I did that and they cheered me, which was encouraging.  Then during a break I said I felt like my butt was going to fall out and they both said “GOOD, that’s exactly what we want.” So I focused all my attention on the pooping feeling and relaxing my face and holding my breath and not pushing with my legs. It took intense focus. Dr. Winterling and Melissa’s cheers were so enthusiastic and encouraging, it really helped me to stay the course.  

I pushed thru a few contractions and her crown was out of my vagina at this point and then Dr. Winterling kept asking the other nurse in the room for more gel and I felt her massaging fast circles around to stretch the skin. I was really complaining now during the break that it really hurt and the pressure was so intense and she said she was trying to get her thru the skin without it tearing so to listen to her if she says stop pushing.  They asked me to push again thru a long contraction and no luck, she wasn’t coming out and it hurt so so badly. Finally Dr. said that the only thing holding her in was my skin and that her HR was dropping so she really needed to make a tiny cut in order to get her out. I was in so much pain and was ready to meet her so I said YES! – she cut it and it didn’t hurt all that much, the pressure from her head was much worse. On the next contraction they said to take a deep breath and push hard and she came out ALL AT ONCE. Head, shoulders, feet – just felt like she spilled out at 5:58am.  I didn’t even notice her in my pelvis or birth canal, that didn’t hurt at all.

The pain was gone, and there she was.  Dr. Winterling was cradling her and apparently the cord was around her neck, which I didn’t notice, (she later told me that), and she was checking her out quickly. I looked at Walt and we locked eyes in awe and then looked back to her.  I had asked for her to be put on me for immediate skin to skin once I delivered so they put her on my naked belly (I had taken off the gown right before pushing because I was so hot and wanted no barrier to skin to skin) and the nurse started wiping her off as I put my hands on her and tried to take her face in.  I couldn’t believe she was here and she was ours.

Dr. Winterling was about to clamp the cord and my nurse said “wait, she wants delayed cord clamping” and Doc said “it is delayed, it’s been a minute” and I said “I want to wait until the cord stops pulsing” – so they did.  And then they asked Walt if he wanted to cut it and he did, I somehow didn’t see this happen. She was on me and then the placenta got delivered within what felt like minutes. Next she numbed me and stitched me and said that it was going to heal really well.  She told me afterwards that it was the right thing to do because I was going to tear up near my clitoris and that would be a much more painful rip and a really horrible recovery, so that made me feel even better about it all.

I asked nurse about the Apgar score and she said she was a 9 and a 9.  That was awesome!

We did one full hour of skin to skin and it was amazing.  Her body temp was a bit low so we were under blankets. I was shivering fiercely all over for about 45 mins which the nurse said was from hormones (rush of oxytocin!) and totally normal.  Moira looked me in the eyes which was incredible. And she did the boob crawl and at first was just mouthing all around my chest. She eventually figured it out and got a really good latch and a few good suckles as the nurse coached me on how to position her and hold her and my breast to squeeze some colostrum for her.  

I felt greedy after the hour and said we should weigh her now and let Walt hold her.  She weighed in at 7 lbs 4 oz and they put her under the lights because her temp was still a bit low.  Walt stayed with her at the lights in the room the whole time and finally got to pick her up after awhile.  By 8am they got us ready to move to the recovery room. Once in there Moira was amazing and nursed for nearly 45 mins straight, latching onto each boob like a pro.  I’m so glad I read that breastfeeding book while I was contracting at home because it helped a lot!

Because my labor at the hospital was so short and it took so long to get the IV, I wasn’t able to get a full dose of the GBS antibiotics. This meant we had to stay at the hospital longer so the pediatricians could observe Moira and make sure she didn’t get sick.

Day 1 was a lot of adrenaline.  She was wide awake all morning as were we.  I hadn’t slept at all since the morning before and neither had Shannon. Walt had a 2 hour nap before we left for hospital.  After her big nursing session she fell asleep and then so did we for about an hour and 45 mins. Walt kept waking up worried she wasn’t breathing and had to keep checking.  It was cute. I slept hard but then once I woke up I couldn’t get another nap in. We ate, we nursed a little more, she napped for 2.5 hours on my chest skin to skin, and then she nursed again and this time was really suckling hard and my nipples got sore and one bled a wee bit.  She seemed to really want to nurse a lot, it seemed for comfort more because she sucked her hand a lot too.

Finally it was time to sleep at night after dinner and guests had left.  Moira was fussy and kept wanting the boob until finally she fell asleep and Walt put her into the bassinet around 11pm or so. He laid down and fell asleep, I think I feel asleep for maybe 30 minutes but then woke up and wasn’t able to fall back asleep.  I kept replaying her birth story in my mind and wanting to not forget anything before writing it down, so finally I got up and got out Walt’s laptop. And here I am finishing it now at 2:38am. Time to get Moira up for another feeding! I still feel very alert, so hopefully I will nap after this feeding and Walt can hang with her if she decides to stay awake since he’s been sleeping for over 3 hours.  🙂 What a crazy and beautiful day!

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