Monday, September 20, 2010

A Birth Story - Lass's Arrival

I know that I always like to hear about other people's experiences in the childbirth process. Here is the story of Lass's birth:

On Monday, August 23 I started having strong regular contractions at around 5:30 pm. I began timing them at about 6 while we were eating dinner on the deck. I knew the contractions felt strong and different from those I had had previously (I had to stop and breathe through them as they got stronger) and was pretty sure labor had started. I gave Miss a bath and put her to bed. When the contractions continued to get stronger during this time, I told my hubby to get our things in the car, I called our babysitter and the on-call nurse, and we left for the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, I was monitored for a bit to make sure I was really in labor and we finally got into our room around 9:30 pm. Here I am in the triage room still:

In our room at about 11 pm:

We got a big yoga ball and I sat on that for a little while and then we went out to walk around the hallways. My contractions were definitely stronger and closer together when we walked the halls, but I was more comfortable when I was sitting on the ball, so we alternated these two things for a while. When I had a contraction, I faced my hubby and put my hands around his neck and kind of “danced” with him and breathed through the contraction. After a while I tried lying on my side and trying to get some rest, as it was getting really late and I was very tired. I continued to alternate resting and walking for a few hours. Then I got into the tub for about an hour and a half or so in the very early morning. The nurse said that the on-call doctor would probably want to break my water around 7 or so in the morning to get things moving, so at that point I decided to try to stay in bed and get as much rest as possible for the last few hours, since I figured I would not get much rest after my water was broken. Through all of this, my hubby was great, reminding me to breathe slowly through the contractions and relax.

Some time in the wee hours of the morning:

The on call doctor came in and broke my water at about 7:30 am (I think). At that point I was only 4 cm dilated. Of course, once my water was broken my contractions became much stronger. My hubby really had to help me get through them at this point. I got back into the tub for a while and sat on the ball some more. I started to feel a little unsure that I would be able to continue without pain relief. I think I said to my hubby a few times something like, “I don’t think I can do this.” He continually encouraged me and told me that I could do it. It was probably around 10 am when the nurse offered to check my cervix to see how far I had progressed. We agreed, hoping I had made progress and it would help me to feel more certain that I could proceed without medication. When the nurse checked me she said I was almost 7 cm, which really helped me to get my “second wind” and I again felt certain I could do it. A while later the nurse checked me again and said I was 8, almost 9 cm, with just a bit of cervix left. Around that time I started really feeling the urge to push with each contraction, though I couldn’t push because I wasn’t completely dilated. The nurse suggested I try getting on my hands and knees or lying in the “recovery position” (on my side with top leg forward) to help get my cervix to dilate the rest of the way. The “recovery position” was very uncomfortable and made my contractions more painful, so I spent quite a while on my hands and knees. I was so tired I almost dozed off and face-planted several times while in that position. The urge to push continued to get stronger, and I would say this was the worst part of my labor, needing to push but not being able to. I think this went on for at least 45 minutes or so. The nurse checked my cervix a couple of times with minimal change. Finally she said she could check with the doctor about whether she could stretch my cervix enough to allow me to push, and she called the on-call doctor (my doc was on vacation). The on call doc happened to be the doctor I had seen the previous day for my appointment, so I was familiar with her, which was nice. She came in and said that she would be able to stretch my cervix enough that I could start to push, so I did. It took a few tries to get into the right position and push the right way, but I got it pretty quickly and seemed to be making good progress. I got great feedback from the doctor and from my hubby that I was doing a great job, which really helped. I was so tired I was dozing off in between contractions. I pushed for about an hour and a half, according to my hubby, though it didn't really seem that long to me (maybe because I was sleeping between contractions??). Finally:

As soon as she was born, the doctor placed Lass on my chest, which was amazing. It was the best feeling ever. Unfortunately, she was not breathing very well right away and she wasn't really crying, so I didn't get to hold her for long, but the few moments I did were the best.

They had to take her and do lots of suctioning to help improve her color and get her breathing better. She did start to look better pretty quickly and she started crying more, which was good.

Man, she looks huge in these photos.

They ended up needing to take her to the nursery for monitoring for a few hours, but she turned out to be just fine and was back in the room with us after about two hours.

I've written a dissertation and earned a PhD. I've written a book. I've worked in various prisons with dangerous criminals. I have trained for and run two marathons. Going through 20 hours of labor and giving birth to a nearly 10 and a half pound baby without any pain medication was by far the hardest thing I've ever done. I could not have done it without the help of my husband. No way. It was an incredible experience to go through with him, and I am so glad I got the opportunity have that and that our girl was healthy and perfect.


  1. Such a beautiful birth story! Thanks for sharing it. Good for you to stick with your plan.

  2. Oh, Ames. This just made my heart swell with love and pride for you and Ben! And your story tells us that's pretty much how best to live our lives. When the going gets tough, be patient, think it through--and if you have a great partner (as you do)--together you can get through anything and everything--even miracles!