Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jack's birth story


John Paul Alcott (Jack)
9lbs 5oz

I've been dying for the opportunity to sit down and write out Jack's birth story. Honestly, I started this post weeks ago, opened it a half dozen times, only to abandon it as my little guys called out their needs. So if it feels a bit choppy, I apologize.

Our sweet second (as we came to call him throughout the pregnancy) was due on December 7th, 2010. Throughout the pregnancy I expected to gestate past my due date. I was induced during Teddy's pregnancy 7 days past my due date, so I assumed more than likely I'd go past it again. According to medical standards anything up to 3 weeks prior to and 2 weeks after the due date is considered both full-term and within the normal time to deliver baby. At my 38 week appointment however, I was already 3 centimeters dilated, which signified to both my doctor and doula that I could go at anytime. I agreed. By the time I was 3 centimeters with Teddy, my water had broken, I had intense contractions, and was definitely in full labor. Week 38 passed though and at my 39th week appointment I was 3 1/2 centimeters. Still few contractions and not many other signs of labor, but at this point both doctor and doula recommended that Ryan stay home and not return to work in Grand Forks. At my 40 week appointment I was 4 centimeters dilated. We were all very surprised labor hadn't started. Ryan was ready to spring into action whenever duty called, my doula and our families were all waiting, but still no babe. I too began to feel anxious at 40 weeks because my doctor began to talk about the dreaded "I" word...induction. My goal throughout the pregnancy was to have a completely natural, drug-free birth and I knew that desire would be compromised if I had to be induced. I also desperately longed for the experience of "going into labor." Again with Theodore, I ended up being induced so I never got that feeling like "Oh my goodness, I think this is it! Honey, I think it's time." It might sound silly, but after nine months of pregnancy (really ten months!) I felt like I'd been denied an ensy teensy bit of the experience by not allowing my body to go into labor on its own. After all, my body was created with the ability to do that, why not let it? Another week passed. I went in for my 41 week appointment knowing full well my doc would press for an induction. She'd said at my 40 week appointment that allowing me to continue the pregnancy anytime after 41 weeks and 3 days would be in violation of her best judgement. So at my 41 week appointment I set up an induction to happen in 3 days time (all the while praying I wouldn't need it and I'd go into labor on my own before hand). AND praise the Lord, I did just that!

That evening after I got home from my appointment, I started to feel pretty crampy. I'd had cramps though consistently since about 37 weeks, so initially I didn't get overly excited. However around 9pm it became clear I was having steady, constant contractions. My doctor had advised me to come into the hospital when they were about 5 minutes apart. Mine started out timing about 7 minutes apart. I cleaned the house and did a few things to get ready for hospital, then called my doula. She said if I lie down for a bit they may spread out enough to get a little sleep. I tried that and sure enough they did. I certainly didn't sleep well, but they spaced out enough to fall into a sort of half sleep for a couple hours. As soon as I stood on my feet though they were back to about 7 minutes apart. By 9am I was contracting strong and steady at 4 -5 minutes apart, we went to the hospital and our doula met us there. Upon arrival at 10am I was 4 1/2 centimeters dilated with contractions about 4 minutes apart. I requested and received an amazing labor room, complete with a beautiful view of the snowy woods and a huge bathroom (like seriously HUGE) with an enormous bathtub to labor in and a shower. We didn't waste a lot of time in the room though, but rather spent the better part of the early afternoon walking around the hospital in an attempt to get the contractions to pick up in intensity. We would walk, stretch, stop, have a contraction, repeat. I found I very much liked laboring on my feet, so the walking in and of itself was comforting. It had it's own rhythm. My doctor checked me around noon only to find I'd made little progression and was at about 5 centimeters. He suggested breaking my water as a way to speed up the contractions. We decided to try a few other techniques before doing that, so I spent the next hour on the birthing ball gently bouncing, trying to bring baby down. In general, I found the birthing ball to be pretty uncomfortable, but tried to stick with it as I hoped it was pain with a purpose. After that I hopped in the shower, hoping the water on my chest would create stimulation to intensify the contractions. Nursing baby after birth naturally creates this reaction to help contract the uterus back down to size. The water stim actually worked a little too well and I ended up with constant contraction that wouldn't go away at all. So out of the shower. At 2:30 the doctor checked my progress again, and we learned I was only at about 5 1/2 centimeters. I decided to go ahead and let him break my water. At this point I was starting to feel the effects of very little sleep the night before and the prospect of laboring into night number 2 didn't seem like the best thing for me or baby. I was also concerned that if I allowed myself to get too tired, my hope to labor pain medication free may become less likely. After the doctor broke my water, we hit the halls once again for more walking. My contractions intensified enough to the point that I was having to stop and hang onto Ry's shoulders during each one. We returned to the room a bit later and I continued to labor simply standing up next to the bed. At this point my contractions were probably only a minute or two apart and quite strong. I was very uncomfortable, but also pleased to know baby was going to come soon. My doula suggested I get in the bathtub, assuring me I'd feel much better once I was submersed in the water. I got in the water and immediately felt crazy-intense pressure, like baby was going to come out. I only lasted in there for 3 contractions, and then got out and into a hands and knees position on the bed. It was a position I'd studied during pregnancy (I broke my tailbone during Teddy's labor and hands and knees was supposed to take pressure off the tailbone) and I quickly found it to be beneficial. I labored through 8 and 9 centimeters (a very difficult part of labor) on hands and knees. When I was 10 centimeters, I did end up flipping onto my back to push. I've heard women say that when it's time to push it actually feels kind of good, sort of like a relief to finally be able to push with the contractions. I've never had that feeling, but I will say it was a relief to be to that point in the labor. The transition phase was difficult and I was happy to move on. It's also exciting when the baby's nurse arrives and the newborn equipment is rolled in, you know you're going to meet your little one soon. I had little knowledge of time while I pushed, but was later told it took about a half hour to get Jack out (it took 3 hours with Theodore). I remember looking around at the faces watching, helping, and coaching while I pushed and thinking it's nice they are here, but only I can bring this baby into the world, it's all up to me. There's not a thing any of them can do now except wait for me to do my job. It was both very scary and a little empowering. But we did it. Sweet, quiet, beautiful John Paul was born at 6:49pm....approximately 22 hours after steady contractions began and 9 hours after arriving at the hospital. I can't tell you the happiness that washes over your entire soul when they place your new baby on your chest for the first time. Such peace. He's here. He's fine. We did it. And it was beautiful and perfect.

I remember Jack's labor and birth so well. That day is vivid and alive in my mind. I was present, aware, and with my baby boy. It was awesome. We'd prayed every night for an incredible birth day and it was just that. I am filled with thanks.

1 comment:

  1. You did an amazing job Katie! I'm so happy that you got the birth that you hoped for! Being able to give birth is such a gift. Being able to do it naturally without medication is actually a more peaceful process than most people would think. You get those breaks between contractions and you have the knowledge and feelings of what is going on in your body. I wish I could have seen little Jack be born. He is soooo special and cute!