Oh, and guess who rolled over yesterday! Dyllan's rollin, rollin, rollin ...
I’m sharing two birth stories with you (indulgent, but I think delivering a baby deserves some blog telling indulgence, yah?). For those looking for the abridged version (see, even Dyllan is yawning over the length of her birth story), skip to the ***. For those wondering about my choice for natural childbirth & her name choice, start here! For those who like picture books only, skim away only to land at the previous photo birth story!!
So, a little over a month ago, I gave birth to this lil' Baby Girl of ours, Dyllan. ..Dyllan - we may get confusion and weird reactions for using a boy name for a girl, but every time I say it, I love it. I hope she'll love it too. Wait, wait, I just fast forwarded way too far. Well, no, actually let's go back to the naming. We had all sorts of names in mind for months, though none of them were sticking – (at least not with mutual agreement) - the names were ever changing, but about 4-5 weeks before having Baby Dyllan, a Bob Dylan song popped on our music playlist in the background, and half way into the song, I kind of laughed as I asked Paul, 'What about the name Dylan? Is that crazy? - I kinda like it' ... and then Paul didn't react with shock or horror, so I took that as him adding it to his list of considerations, which apparently, he did. The fact that a Bob Dylan song inspired her name makes me laugh – like we are a bunch of hippies. It seemed to be one of the front runners as the due date approached, but we still didn't seem settled on anything name-wise. (We do like to wait until we see our babies to finalize a name). So, about 5 minutes after she was born, Paul & I checked in with each other to see if we had our name inklings upon us ... not yet (that felt a little scary). Then we checked in with each other another 10-15 minutes later & said we both had a name standing out to us. Paul made me name it first: 'Dyllan' I said. As I said it, I had a feeling he was thinking the same thing; and he was. The middle name, Julia, is Paul's mom's name, and we have known that we wanted to include her name for months already. I love the sentimentality, feminine & classic touch that Julia adds to the name Dyllan.
Okay, now let's rewind again. After having Taya and not being able to receive an epidural until dilated to almost a 10, it made me wonder if I could go all the way with no medication the next time around. (This does not mean that labor was easy, but I thought - I went that far, why couldn't I do that again?) So over time as I talked here and there to moms who have delivered naturally, I gained more curiosity and more confidence about the idea. The more I chatted here and there about other moms' natural birth experiences, the more I realized that if I really wanted to deliver this second baby naturally, I needed to have adequate preparation, mentally and physically, and I needed to make a decision. Basically I realized that if I was still fence sitting on the idea as I started labor, I would most likely opt for medicines. At the same time, planning on a natural labor scared me that I would feel guilt or disappointment if it didn't pan out (and I didn't believe I should feel those feelings). But on I went, deciding on a natural labor, and preparing myself for it. A one-time birth class that Paul & I took from a midwife at my OBGYN's office really sealed the deal too on my decision, and helped Paul to understand why I wanted to deliver naturally - which I was really grateful for. Among other feelings & reasons, learning that the U.S. has the 2nd highest newborn death rate of modern developed countries, and that interventions are known to contribute to this statistic (ie. you receive pitocin, you're more likely to receive an epidural, you receive an epidural, you're more likely to receive a C-Section, you receive a C-Section, you're increasing your overall risks for you and the baby) ... it made it hard not to want to deliver naturally ... I hope I'm not stirring up controversial feelings - I claim these feelings only as my own and can definitely understand other moms not feeling this way.
So I made my decisions; what did I do next to prepare? Well, a few people heard probably more than they ever wanted to about my preparations and thoughts on delivering Baby #2 naturally, but for the most part, I kept kind of quiet about it because I didn't want to be challenged against the idea over and over again, especially when I had a hard time explaining my desire for natural labor, and didn't want to get into debates about it. So, #1, I kept my mouth shut around lots of people. #2: I studied some hypnobirthing after looking into that vs. Bradley Method. The hypnobirthing method I studied was really just about physically relaxing yourself entirely and also about training your birth mentality to have confidence in your body's ability to birth and avoid fear and tensing up during labor. I wouldn't really consider it hypnosis at all. Anyway, step #3 for us was that we decided to find a doula, really just meaning, someone who is trained in being a support during labor (and leading up to it as well), and who could advocate for our natural birth approach/avoidance of medical interventions at the hospital so that we could focus on more important things like, well, having this baby. We were really grateful for our doula, Althea and would recommend her and the use of a doula to anyone. Doulas are thought to accentuate the dad's role too, and not take away from it. I definitely felt this was the case.
So, as my due date started approaching, and I was getting checked on my OBGYN appointments, I was dilated to a 1, 50% effaced, and the baby was head down, but posterior for multiple weeks right up past my due date. Posterior being like 180 Degrees rotated the wrong way/sunny side up. I tried to change the baby's position through chiropractic visits, a prenatal massage (these are both good things for induction even without a posterior baby) and daily time spent on my hands and knees, rocking, rotating, etc. I got a little drained near the end of even having to worry about the posterior position, but I kept trying to help her move. (The way I understand it, posterior is not so much really dangerous as it is known for causing longer, harder labors).
I kept having the feeling I might have this baby within the week before my due date (ha!), but what came up that week before my due date turned out to be another animal: I got sick - like a dog. For some reason a UTI (TMI??) turned into really bad chills/high fevers/sweats/below zero amounts of energy, etc. for me for the week of my due date. I started literally praying to have this baby late because I could not imagine even starting labor in this condition. My due date came and went. My sickness came and went (the went part was worth rejoicing for) - it had included a short trip to the hospital for IV/additional antibiotics. And before I knew it, I was having multiple non-stress tests done on the baby for being overdue!
***Three days past my due date, my OBGYN checked me and I had at least dilated to a 2 ½ and she reported I was looking much closer to having this baby, but at the same time, we discussed induction dates and worst case overdue scenarios. We scheduled for the Dr. to break my waters at over 2 weeks past my due date (Dr. Brass has a lot of natural patients come to her and is one to avoid inductions and C-Sections). I was relieved that she didn’t pressure me into an induction sooner than I wanted and yet also dreading the idea of waiting another 2 weeks to have this baby. I told Paul the induction date (July 28th, 1 day after Taya’s birthday) & he gasped, knowing how anxious, uncomfortable and stressed I was already becoming about having this baby soon. He encouraged me to ask for a sooner induction date & I did; bumped it up to July 23rd, still 13 days past my due date. That same Tuesday night, contractions woke me up around 2:45am. These hurt more than my previous Braxton Hicks contractions that had been hanging around for months already. I tried to sleep, but was anxious about them and they had enough edge to keep me awake, so I paid attention to their timing. Well after 2 ½ hours of contractions at 10 minutes apart, moving to 7-8 minutes apart and getting stronger, I decided I was probably in labor, and would do some activity to help things along. At 5am, had you peeked in my window (hope you weren't), you would have found me hugely pregnant, doing yoga to a youtube prenatal yoga video on my exercise/birthing ball. Yep. ..But then, at around 5:30, I realized my contractions were disappearing almost entirely. Wow, is false labor ever disappointing?! I had called my doula during the contractions too and described my pains and contractions, and she had agreed that I was probably starting labor. So when things just halted during my obnoxious act of yoga at 5:30am in the morning and no sleep, I just konked out in bed and hoped for more labor again soon. Well, Wednesday overnight at 2:45am, the contractions started again. This time, I wasn’t going to let them yank my chain so I tried my best to sleep through them, which I did off and on. I think these contractions stopped after 2 ½ hours this time. So by Thursday midday as I headed to my second non-stress test on the baby for being overdue, I just about cried on the phone to my dear friend, Jessica, who showed the perfect empathy I needed (thanks Jess) as I told of my roller coaster week. I went to work that day too, and had occasional contractions that were enough to make me stop and take deep breaths as I tried not to draw attention to myself. No consistency or high frequency though! At this point, I wasn’t going to believe Baby Dyllan had arrived until she was in my arms, or at least crowning in the delivery room! So the occasional and fairly painful contractions continued here and there; I left work at 5pm, drove to my brother’s house for my niece’s birthday party and complained once or twice during a contraction that it was kind of painful, but probably nothing big (sending cramps and shooting pains down my upper thighs – I don’t remember having those with Taya!) … Cancelled Taya’s 7pm swim lesson – too tired and no desire to rush home (glad I cancelled that!); arrived home at 8:30pm to Paul, a semi-clean house and bags that had been packed and ready for days now, breathed through contractions here and there as we put Taya to bed, but still did not take them seriously. Well, after 9pm, when I realized they had become more frequent, I decided to rest in our pool, but still thought of them as false labor, so as not to discourage myself if they halted again. That pool did wonders – (made me want to deliver a baby in water even more!!) – it relieved the pain so much that I would wonder if I was even having some of the contractions or not, now at 10 minutes apart – I would stand up out of the water and then feel every ounce of pain reel through my body. The difference in pain between fully submerged and getting out of the water was pretty shocking. I called my mom at 9:30pm and told her my status, but still played it down because I didn’t want to end up discouraged with false labor. I basically said ‘mmm, who knows?’, but she said she was going to pack the last of her things and be ready to drive over when I next called. Well, two hours later, when my contractions were 7-8 minutes apart, Paul was on the phone, asking my parents to come on over to stay the night with Taya. Midnight, my parents arrive – I’m still in my bathing suit from the pool, but at this point, kneeling on all fours in the shower. I’m pretty sure one of my parents took a picture of me like this : ) By this point, my contractions were approaching 3-5 minutes apart and every set of few minutes between body-stopping contractions felt like a gift of precious time that I had to use as effectively as possible – during one contraction I would mutter through breaths to Paul, ‘Get my clothes’, then getting ready for another break, I’d mutter ‘Have you called Althea? Is everything in the car?’ … Once Althea arrived to our house at 12:40am to follow us to the hospital (I had texted her at 9:45pm earlier with my status, downplaying it just like I did to my mom) … we were ready to head to the hospital. Like I said, I planned my use of each next break between contractions during every painful endurance of a contraction, so when Paul excitedly said ‘Alright, let’s go!’ right in the middle of one of my contractions, I grunted ‘Not now!!!’ … to which he sheepishly said ‘Oh, ok.’ Then as we got in the car and I had just shut the car door as another contraction came on, my dad followed us out and opened my door again and said, ‘Now, Breanne, what’s a doula again?’ – I desperately said something like ‘Go ask Mom Dad!’ (sorry Dad, but hey, it was funny timing, what can I say?) … Then it was a 15-20 minute ride to the hospital filled with intense contractions. I tried to breathe through them, unsuccessfully get my hypnobirthing tracks set up to listen to, and do a little make-up in between contractions – yep, make-up, why not?! You sound like an animal during labor, I don’t think you have to look like one too – hehe, I know this is impractical (call it a distraction method! ha) – don’t worry, I think I sweat it all off within a ½ hour anyway (oh, that’s a reason why not!). As we arrived around 1am and checked into Banner Gateway Hospital (loved this place!), I tried to answer check-in questions through reeling contractions, and then at one point said in a panic, ‘Something just came out of me!’ – well my water broke right there on their chair. Staff moved things along pretty quickly after that, checked me into triage where they found I was dilated to an 8, and moved me into delivery. We also met the on-call Dr. who would be taking my OBGYN’s place at this point. This was not the primary on-call dr. I had expected, and I had previously heard bad stories about my OBGYN’s 2nd on-call dr. My Dr., Dr. Brass is the only Dr. in her practice and is known for having patients who want to deliver naturally, for accommodating this significantly, and for making an effort to deliver the majority of her patients’ babies. I guess she happened to go out of town with her family earlier that day. This on-call Dr. read my birth plan once she arrived, (I had discussed this birth plan in depth with Dr. Brass and had tweaked it per our conversations, we were very much on the same page [literally, ha!]) – for some reason this Dr. aggressively took great issue with one of the items on my birth plan and wouldn’t let it go for a while. But finally she came around, relaxed, and then spent a good amount of time in labor and delivery with us. She also helped me to tear less through extensive massage too, so I appreciated that (tmi? hard to avoid in a birth story). She was a little aggressive at first and I was disappointed not to have my Dr. – and I think a couple of things would have gone differently if my Dr. were there, but in the end, it all panned out just fine.
Now, back to my lil Baby Dyllan. She continued to stay in posterior position – which kept me on my hands and knees to try and move her position through moving my positions – and eventually I ended up in kind of a stomach down/side-lying position to accommodate her position. Paul & Althea took turns applying major pressure to my tail bone area, which is known for hurting more with posterior position labor. And then came the pushing – or should I say, the ‘Stop Pushing!’. Now I know what the ‘uncontrollable urge to push’ means – it is literally uncontrollable. Well, I definitely got to that point, but because Dyllan was posterior and I wasn’t quite dilated to a 10 yet, the nurse & Dr. kept telling me to ‘Stop pushing!’ – this was by far the hardest part mentally and physically (I don’t even mean that pain-wise) – just that my body would start bearing down and pushing with each contraction and a terrible screeching noise would emerge from my lips, practically vibrating my head (this is bazaar hearing yourself vocalize like this) – it was very hard to get control of these contractions with a good breath, but eventually I got it (most of the time). Then as Dyllan’s head descended, the Dr. helped to rotate her by her head (insert exclamations here! A Dr.’s hand added to the circumference of my 9lb. 3oz., 22" long baby’s head inside of me?! – and this Dr. was not a small boned woman!) – but it was brief and I just wanted to meet my baby girl, so this was relatively manageable. I had heard before that the pushing phase isn’t quite as hard as the transition phase for a lot of women – and I found this to be true. It did hurt intensely, but it was brief and such an exciting point, knowing that I was so close to welcoming my daughter in my arms. After about a ½ hour-ish of pushing, Dyllan came out at 2:52am and was placed in my arms. I held her for a long time, and tried breastfeeding her right off, but she didn’t seem ready [skip this part of you want to continue the melting emotions of the birthing moment, ... but while nursing, for some reason my delivery nurse, who I loved during labor, started practically shouting at me like a drill sargeant 'Drop your elbow! Drop your elbow!' - the elbow supporting Dyllan's head - I was still dazed, but did know what I was doing & wasn't sure why her objection to my nursing hold - I humored her & found another way to hold Dyllan - it was unusual & humorously memorable]. After another 15 minutes of holding, Dyllan was ready to nurse . Paul and I took turns holding her and loving on her and soaking it all in. I can’t say I’ve had this one identifiable moment of life changing reflections right when holding my daughters for the first time – it is incredible, but both times I’ve been in such a daze from giving birth, that it takes me a few minutes and then the emotions of overwhelming love start to wash over me. Kissing Dyllan and telling her I’m her mama and that we have a loving home and an incredible big sister waiting for her stand out in my mind … embracing her both physically and emotionally – telling her how happy we are to bring her into this life and have her as part of our family – That is how I remember the feelings of Dyllan’s arrival.
And that is her birth story.