Last pregnant photo - heading into the hospital
Summary of Noelle's birth: Long-term followers of this blog may recall Noelle's birth story. With Noelle, we took Bradley Method classes (husband-coached approach to child birth), hired a doula (labor support person w/out medical training (aka not a midwife)) and set out to have a natural childbirth. It didn't quite go that way! Several days (yes, days) of terrible back labor, one partially effective* epidural, and several minor medical interventions later we finally had Noelle in our arms. We were all relieved it was over and just glad everyone came out of it in good shape!
Goals for Cora's birth: Going into Cora's birth, we wavered a bit as to what we wanted. I wasn't pleased with the epidural I got w/ Noelle. Had it completely worked, I likely would have gone that route right away this time. We decided, however, to go for a natural birth again. Our main reasons for this were**:
- I was afraid of being 'trapped' in bed again, like w/ Noelle, but not having complete pain relief
- Recovery time is rumored to be better w/out an epidural (no swelling from excess IV fluids, no immobility, etc. etc.)
- It was a bucket list item for me; a challenge I wanted to take on.
Would I do a natural delivery again?: I am glad I did it with this birth and now have an example of what it's like. I was, I admit, partially just curious about the process. I'm still a little close to the event to say 'yes' sign me up again. It was, as is widely reported, very painful =) Only the last two hours, though, are in the 'I don't want to do that again any time soon' category. Everything before that was just really obnoxious, but not so bad I'd run away. An epidural is a very sane route, though, and I wouldn't be surprised to hypothetically find myself there in the future.
Since my delivery was natural and easy (key distinction) I had the benefit of a very very easy recovery. We (women) are clearly made to do this - I was showered, dressed in my own clothes and walking around more or less comfortably 2 hours after birth. The next morning I was carrying Noelle around the hospital courtyard and playing actively with her. That afternoon - less then 24 hours after delivery - I went home and have felt fine since.
So, pros and cons exist. As my experience with Noelle showed me, all that matters is that Mom and Baby make it out a-okay. The route to that end is just a combination of your luck that day and personal preference.
Meeting Mom - started out a little too blue!
Tipping the scales - 9 lbs 1.7 oz
Recovering with Dad - finally a little pink in the face
Comfortable at home =)
***** Stop here unless you're really interested in a play-by-play. No icky (or too icky) details are included, I promise =) *****
The Story: At 7am Monday morning I woke up and informed Alex he wouldn't be going to work that day. Effectively the 'honey, it's time' line so often delivered in movies =) Contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart and uncomfortable, but not breath-taking. We went through our normal morning routine with Noelle, dropped her at daycare and called our Doula, Ellen.
Ellen arrived around 9am and we all assessed the situation. We were trying to guess where I was at and how long labor would be (basically, impossible to do). The goal was to stay home as long as possible, but get to the hospital for at least the last 4-5 hours. This is because I was GBS positive; meaning the baby had a small chance of getting a group B strep infection from a vaginal delivery unless I received two doses of antibiotics, 4 hours apart, while in labor. The antibiotics null out this risk.
Fortunately, we were laboring during the day vs. the middle of the night. We called my OB and she graciously agreed to see us in her office before we headed over to the hospital. Around 11:30 am we headed to her office and she confirmed that yes, I was in active labor and was far enough to be admitted to the hospital. I still had some time, though, so we could take another hour or two before heading over if we wanted.
Since it was around lunch time, we decided to walk a few blocks to a local Whole Foods for Alex and Ellen to grab a quick bite. I had some soup, but wasn't up for much else =) Just before 1 pm we made our way back to the hospital.
My OB (who is awesome!) called ahead for me to be admitted so we could skip the triage step at the hospital. We were taken straight to a labor & delivery room.
We delivered at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, CA. Berkeley (being Berkeley) is very pro-natural everything, including birth. Fortunately for us, this means that several of the labor & delivery rooms have jacuzzi tubs. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a very busy day at Alta Bates and almost all rooms were filled, including those with tubs. Our nurse was thoughtful, though, and got us moved to a room with a tub around 2:30 pm when it became available.
A series of delays led to my antibiotic dose not making it through until around 3:30 pm. Once that was done, I headed into the tub around 4:00 pm. Ellen had come prepared with mood lighting (electric candles) and a back-up tub stopper - good thing since our tub wouldn't fill! Alex played some Enya on his iPad and we were all set for a relaxing bath - right. =)
I have heard/read other women extol the wonderful, soothing pain relief of laboring in a tub. I call foul. A contraction is a contraction, whether or not your wet/floating/doing a handstand. They hurt. That said, it sure is easier to relax between contractions when you're in a soothing tub, and I certainly found that helpful.
After an hour and a half of really hard labor in the tub, the nurses wanted to do a round of fetal monitoring. They were getting ready to get me out when, listening to me deal with particularly bad contraction (yeah, I wasn't all that quite - sorry!) they yelled out to the hall - 'tell them we're about to have a baby in room 23!'. Man, I was glad to hear that... and kudos to the nurses for being so good at reading a laboring woman.
They got me in bed and confirmed with a quick check (my first since entering the hospital - another reason why this place was awesome for a natural delivery) that yes, I was more or less ready to push. My OB made it over quickly and she, Alex and Ellen helped to direct the pushing stage. Only 30 minutes later, little Cora had arrived. All-in-all, it went about as smooth as I think it could have gone.
Cora was a little blue in color, but good enough that the nurses let her stay with me for the first hour and a half or so as we bonded and she pinked up. Then, they did the newborn checks, including weighing, while Alex helped me take a shower and get dressed. Then, we all headed up to our room to recover and bond together.
(I never did get that second dose of antibiotics. As it turns out, though, my water never broke; little Cora came out with the bag of waters around her and it only broke right at the end, when her head was already out. So, she was never exposed to the GBS. Happy coincidence!)
* Now that I've had a natural birth, I know that the epidural I had with Noelle was about 50% effective; likely as a result of poor placement. Better than nothing =)
** We definitely don't fall into the 'all natural all the way' mindset that's so popular now and especially here in Berkeley, CA. If you'd like the challenge, go for it. If you're wavering at all, I don't recommend it. A healthy baby is all we're after!
*** Time is relative, of course. I say 'just' because Noelle's was 58 hours, including 3 hours of pushing. No.Fun.