May 22, 2014

My Bradley Method Birth Story

This post is totally personal and totally long... 

One week ago today, a little miracle came into my life. I couldn't be happier to say that on May 15th at 10:19pm, my precious son, Christian Sutton Sinclair came into this world at 7lbs 13 oz and 21 inches long. I am so drunk in love and am convinced that there is nothing better in this whole wide world than being a mama. I cry everyday thanking God for this amazing gift.

I've shared much of my pregnancy with all of you and I know many of you are curious to hear my birth story. Early on in my pregnancy I posted about 3 Reasons Why I want a Natural Birth. After 43 hours of labor (most of it being back labor), I delivered Christian at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach without any medication. 

43 hours. For real?! For real. I wrote every detail I could remember so that I never forget these magical days. I figured I'd share them with you. I remember reading someone else's birth story before my delivery and I found it so encouraging. I hope this does the same for you. 

Wednesday, 3:30 am

I awoke feeling a sensation all over my body. Call me crazy but it was kind of an orgasmic feeling... I had my first contraction shortly after. It didn't hurt but was like a wave that came over my body. I like to explain it like when you're swimming in the ocean and you see a large wave approaching in the distance. You find yourself exhilarated and slightly panicked to swim with all your might as you barely make it under the wave and out the other side. My first few hours of contractions felt much like this. Sometimes it was like the wave was catching my feet and almost pulling me under...

I decided not to wake Chad until he started stirring in bed around 7:30am. As soon as he popped open his eyes I said to him "Babe, today is the day." We were so giddy! We ate some breakfast, watched some TV with me on the birthing ball. We decided to get back in bed and suddenly things started getting more intense and I started to feel painful spasms in my back. Laying down was not an option. With each contraction Chad had to massage and put pressure on my lower back... I was not expecting that. It got to the point where I couldn't speak through contractions and I said lets get ready to go to the hospital. I took a shower and even blow dried my hair a little bit, again breathing through contractions and calling out to Chad to massage my aching back. 

Wednesday, 12:00pm (hospital)

By the time we got to the hospital I was in a lot of pain. My breathing was all over the place and I looked at the nurse and said "I'm having a baby." I remember looking at the other women waiting to be seen thinking "Wow, I must be a lot further along than them because they don't look like they're in pain at all." 

When I got into the room, a nurse came by to check me and she said I was only 1 centimeter dilated. She continued to go on about the heat and how sometimes we "think" we are in labor but I'm probably just "dehydrated". Ummm... what?! I remember saying "Okay but then why is my back spasming and hurting so badly?" It really was unlike any other pain I've experienced. She said that the baby might be facing the wrong way (hard skull against my spine vs hard skull pressing on and opening the cervix) Knowing that I wanted an unmedicated birth (thanks to my birth plan), she helped me with my breathing and encouraged me to go home and come back. Chad and I couldn't have agreed more. I barely remember driving to my chiropractor for an adjustment and stopping for food on our way home where I had to wait in the car with "spa" music on and the seat heater... this was the best position for the pain so far.  

Wednesday Afternoon (Home)

When we got home, the situation remained much the same. Every 3-5 minutes I was having contractions that were about one minute. It's amazing how time goes by when you're laboring. Hours feel like minutes. We spent the day trying different laboring positions like squatting, all fours, birthing ball etc. The only position that was bearable was sitting in an upright position. 

Chad made me drink water and made me dinner but I couldn't eat. I remember spitting up a bite as I felt a contraction coming on.  Honestly, this part of the day was all kind of hazy as I was in my meditative, zombie, riding the "waves" zone. Still my back was my biggest complaint, with each contraction Chad had to put pressure on my bulging spine. Next thing I knew, I was in our rocker in the nursery where I remained for the rest of the night. Sitting upright, rocking through contractions and reclining to  sleep for who knows how long in between. The worst of them were when Chad dosed off on the floor next to me and I'd have to yell at him to wake up because... "MY BACK!" 

All throughout the night, I remembered one of my favorite mantras from our birthing classes: "this is good, these are strong contractions because I am a strong woman and I am having a strong baby" Chad helped me remember too. Sometimes I felt half asleep, rocking through contractions... 

Thursday, 8am (Hospital)

I knew I could have waited longer, but at that point it had been so long I just wanted to know my progression. If there wasn't any, I needed the option of relief! This time as we arrived at the hospital, I remained in my "zone" as I closed my eyes and had Chad push me in a wheel chair to the same place we arrived less than 24 hours ago. As the nurse checked me, I was so relieved to hear 7 cm! Yes! I was almost there... or so I thought. 

As we walked to our delivery room, I had to fall into Chad several times in the hallways. It was hard to block out the passers by but I had to focus on my breathing and relaxing so that I wouldn't freak out... my back felt like it was going to explode. 

When we got to our delivery room Chad dimmed the lights and set up some of the stuff we brought, like candles. I immediately set the bed upright and dropped the legs so I was in a seated position -- this remained my favorite for the next several hours. We tried different positions, took a shower, and Chad made sure I stayed hydrated and went to the restroom every hour. I remember the most uncomfortable part was having to wear the fetal heart monitor strap around my belly. We kept pulling it off despite the wishes of our doctor.

My nurse and Chad kept telling me how amazing I was doing and at that point I knew there was no way I was going to get the epidural.

8:00 pm

Again, time stopped and before I knew it, a new nurse named Sandy entered the room and introduced herself as my delivery nurse. Knowing that we wanted an unmedicated birth, Sandy told us that she used to be a Lamaze Coach (a natural birth technique) and I immediately trusted her. However, she also came with bad news, saying that I was still only 7 cm dilated. Oh geez.

She put me in some new positions and asked if  I'd be willing to have a doctor break my bag of waters. Knowing that might just be the ticket to getting things to the next level, I agreed. Chad nearly died when the doctor who came in was a man. Ha!

Breaking the bag of waters was such a relief. I couldn't believe how much water there was! If you have to even guess whether yours has broken, it hasn't... you'll know!

From there things progressed... quickly. The next hour was a daze but I remember walking around the room in a zombie like trance. Chad says I was on my feet for the entire hour. During this time I remember saying things like "I can't" and "I'm scared." I remember thinking "screw this, I now know why people don't have kids. I'm never doing this again. I'm adopting my next kid." 

Little did I know during this time that the baby's heart rate was slowing down. I had to breath in while holding an oxygen mask. It actually became a great tool for me to focus on. Chad told me later that he was afraid I was going to have to get a cesarean because during contractions the baby wasn't doing well. I remember knowing innately that everything was okay. I was never scared for my baby's safety.

Suddenly I had the overwhelming desire to push! I told my delivery nurse but she said you can't push yet because you're not fully dilated. "But I have to!" I remember yelling. She checked me and whoa... in only an hour I went from 7cm to 10cm. She called the doctor. As the desire to push became stronger and stronger, my nurse told me I had to wait for the doctor... "Are you f**ing kidding me?"

I stared at her dead in the eyes and said, "You and me. We can do this." Her response, "We probably could. but we have to wait." She gave me a breathing technique to subside my desire to push. This was by far the hardest part of the two days. After telling my body to "open" for the last who knows how many hours, I had to do the opposite. "Where's the f**ing doctor?!" I screamed. 

Despite the way that I thought I would want to deliver (squatting), I found myself trusting my nurse when she told me to lie back with my legs in stirrups. I remember asking that the back of the chair be raised so I was in more of a seated position.... and finally that doctor decided to show up. It was time for me to let my body do what it needed to do to get that baby out!

During all of my Bradley Method classes, we would watch videos and this was the part I was most nervous about...the "ring of fire." Interestingly enough, this was by far the most exciting part of labor for me! It was empowering to push with all my might and feel my body take over. It hurt, but my mind was in a different place... I was an animal. A couple of times the care givers (who were tracking my contractions) would urge me to push and I would say "No I'm not feeling this one." Then a more powerful contraction would come and I had the energy to push that much harder. At one point, they convinced me to lower the back of my bed and again, despite what I had initially learned (use gravity to help get the baby out), I went with it. I just wanted this baby out! 

Each pushing sensation became more intense and the doctor kept saying "Wow, look at all that hair!" She asked if I wanted a mirror and I was like "Uh, no. Definitely not." She said touch your baby's head. So I reached down and felt his squishy hair. It was as soft as a pillow. It made me much more motivated to push... his little head was getting squished! After about 20 minutes of pushing, I remember hearing "Look at your baby." As I looked down, I saw the most beautiful boy in the world...

(there's a whole head of dark hair under that hat!)
Christian Sutton is one week old today and is perfectly healthy. We have had no problems nursing, he's been alert between feedings and naps since birth, and I even get around 6 hours of sleep a night. As hoped, I am recovering quickly. It's been hard to tell myself to "slow down." We've gone on several walks around the neighborhood and look forward to going shoe shopping over the weekend... I'm in a wedding on the 31st! 

I couldn't be happier with my birthing experience. I am so thankful to my husband for his support and for Nicole Green, our Bradley Method birth coach at The Birth School. Also a big thanks to my delivery nurse, Sandra Jones. I could not have done it without them. 

Call me crazy, but I'm actually excited for my next birth experience. It was an agonizing, exhilarating adventure. I couldn't imagine not feeling all those sensations... my body is pretty dang amazing!

Coming soon:
 I'm baring my postpartum body (eeeeek!) and sharing my tips and tricks to get myself in a bikini this summer!

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