Monday, June 11, 2018

Colton’s Birth Story

It’s about time I wrote this up. But before I get to the actual birth story, let’s back up, since that helps set the tone.

A few weeks into finding out I was pregnant, I decided I wanted to pursue a water birth, and since water births aren’t allowed in NYS hospitals, the birth center was going to be my best option. The first time I met Dr Katharine Morrison, I was SO impressed by her and her philosophy. After my anatomy scan, I made the decision to switch my OB care to the Buffalo Birthing Center. Everyone here is absolutely amazing and treats their patients like they are their only patients.

We had centering OB appointments every two weeks. We still got our individual check ups, but we also had group appointments that had a certain topic each week. Even as a Mom with two other children, this was so beneficial for me and I learned so much! And met some AMAZING women who will now be lifelong friends because of the connections we all made with each other.

Throughout most of my pregnancy, I was low-risk. I saw the chiropractor regularly which kept me sane and kept my back happy. At 28 weeks, I started having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions and Katherine wrote me down at work to part-time for risk of pre-term labor. Other than that annoyance, I felt relatively fine! I was active and hardly gained weight and the weight I did gain, was totally up front!

At my 35 week appointment, Katharine, sent me for pre-eclampsia blood work because at that point, my blood pressure had been slowly rising over the weeks and my feet were increasingly becoming more and more swollen. The good news was that my blood work came back perfect. But she wanted me to monitor my BP at home and to text her every couple days what it was so we could keep an eye on it. And at that point she decided she would like to see me for weekly appointments instead of every other week centering appointments.

Then again at 37 weeks, she did follow up blood work again and all of my numbers looked wonderful again, so I just kept checking the BP at home.

During all of this time, I was experiencing on and off prodromal labor. I would have contractions most evenings that would linger and not go away, then they would always die off when I went to bed. Sometimes they were just annoying and other times I thought it could possibly be pre-labor. They were never painful. Which is exactly how my labor with Remi started.

At 39w3d on May 2nd, I started having lots of contractions that morning, and they were coming consistent and happening about every 10 minutes. Then they would die off, then pick right back up. I had an OB appointment that night and they told me to bring my bags just in case it was the real deal. Of course, it was not, and Katharine decided to do a cervical check and she estimated I was at about 2 cm and 40% effaced. This was my first cervical check and only done to see if I was in labor or close to it.

Prodromal labor is a serious mind-fuck, every time the contractions start, you really think they could be the start of labor, then they die off. This was happening sometimes multiple times a day, and happening just about every single night. I began to question whether I would even know if I was in labor because I was just used to having contractions all the time.

At 40w3d on May 9, I had an OB appointment that morning, BP wasn’t great, but overall it was a great appointment and she sent me for another round of bloodwork (which came back wonderful again). She also put a call in to Children’s to setup for the  following day for a Non-stress test since I was now over 40w. At every appointment, she made sure I was not having headaches or blurry vision, which I was not.

Well wouldn’t you know that that night overnight, I experienced the worst headache I had had probably all pregnancy and no matter what I did, it would not go away. And my BP shot up higher than it had ever been to at 154/96. I texted Katharine and she told me to meet her right at the office that morning. While at that appointment, Katharine did another cervical check where I was still about 2 cm and around 60% effaced and my blood pressure wasn’t getting any better. At that point, Katharine decided that I was too high of a risk to deliver at the birth center and would need to be medically induced at the hospital. I was now one of the less than 10% of women at the birthing center that had to be transferred to the hospital. Something I never expected. Gestational hypertension was rearing its head and we needed to get the baby out of me.

This was literally my worst fear the entire pregnancy that I wouldn’t be able to deliver at the birth center. It was my dream to birth here. I wanted the natural birth, possibly birth in the water, and take my baby home with me within hours of giving birth. And suddenly that all felt like it was thrown out the window. Of course there was a lot of crying that morning at that appointment and I told Katharine that my biggest fear of going to the hospital was feeling like I couldn’t “do it” (as in have a natural birth because in the past at the hospital I had epidurals) and Katharine reminded me that the difference this time was that I was going to have HER there with me. And that was a nice reassurance. With both Hank & Remi’s births, I didn’t know a single person in the delivery room (besides my husband of course) and I got the OB on staff to deliver them, so I was lacking in the support department with the OB not knowing me and what I put out to achieve months prior. And by having Katharine there with me, she knew exactly what I wanted. I didn’t even have a birth plan written up like I did with Hank and Remi.

So Katharine told us to arrive at the hospital between 3-3:30 pm. We of course had to stop for some food at Qdoba on the way up!! We got there and they immediately hooked me up to a monitor which showed I was having contractions (which I knew, they were the same prodromal contractions I’d been having for weeks on and off) and I honestly wasn’t phased by them because I was just SO used to them!! As they were getting ready to place an IV, Katharine arrived and put a kabosh to that since she didn’t deem it necessary, YAY for not being tied down by that thing. And put in an immediate request for wireless monitors so I could move around as needed.

Since I had a “favorable cervix,” Katharine decided to use cervidil to get things going. She said generally if there is already a lot of effacement, it’ll just be the push the body needs to get into full blown labor and that it should only take 4-6 hours to get things going. So at 5:45 pm, the cervidil was placed on my cervix and the wireless monitors were also placed. I ordered some food and put it in the fridge in case I needed something substantial as labor progressed. At this point my contractions were about 5 minutes apart but like I said before, they were the same old contractions I was used to. So I decided to rest the best I could since I figured labor should be starting soon.

At 12:45 am, Katharine came in the room and I told her what my status was and she decided to do a cervical check because she thought I would’ve been in labor by then. Much to all of our surprise, I was STILL at 2 cm and about 60% effaced. Katharine was fully convinced that that cervidil was a dud (or in her words “lacked juice”). So she decided to pull that one and put in an order for another cervidil.

She placed the second dose of cervidil at 1:15 am and at that point, I decided to sleep some more. Really hoping this time that labor was pending. At 3:30 am, I woke up feeling a LOT of pressure and the need to poop. As soon as I got up out of bed, I noticed that my contractions were coming every 2 minutes and lasting 1 minute. I was like woah! How much of that was I sleeping through?! THAT just goes to shows how used to the contractions I had gotten haha!!

At 3:35 am, I shot Katharine a text (she was down the hall), and I said “Think this cervidil is working. Contractions getting strong and about 2 min apart it seems” and at 3:52 am I sent another text that said “Wanna come down here?” to Katharine. In the meantime, at 3:45 am, I called my doula, Savannah, and asked her to come to the hospital and I also texted my photographer, Lisa, to update her of what was going on and she decided she would head in to the hospital.

As the minutes went on, I realized that this was the real deal and that I was actually in labor YAY!! At 4:10 am, I decided to get in the tub and labor in there (in the 40 minutes or so prior to this, I was mainly walking around laboring and leaning on a counter when I would get a strong contraction). At this point while I was climbing into the tub, I still would not call them “painful” but present, strong and consistent. At 4:15 am while I was laboring in the tub, Katharine pulled out the cervidil and ripped off the wireless monitors. When she pulled out the cervidil, I’m sure she knew where I was at (cm & effacement) but didn’t say a word, and I am SO glad because honestly being told I was only 2 cm at 12:45 was a bit draining thinking it would be a LONG time before I would have a baby.

I labored in the tub for probably the next 20 minutes or so; getting a stronger urge to push with each contraction. At one point I screamed “I CAN’T DO THIS!!” and Katharine said in her sweet, reassuring voice, “but you ARE doing it,” which was exactly what I needed to hear. And at that moment I thought back to a conversation I had had months prior with my photographer and friend, Lisa, who said that at every birth she’s witnessed where a Mom has said she couldn’t do it, she was in transition. In between a couple of my contractions, I asked Casey to snap some pics of me in the tub, in case Lisa didn’t make it in time. At this point, I KNEW we were close to delivering a baby. Also while I was in the tub, Savannah arrived and immediately started rubbing my lower back as I was having lower back pains. And her and Casey made sure I stayed hydrated in between contractions as I was doing A LOT of work and really out of breath. At about 4:30ish, Katharine decided I should get out of the tub as the baby’s head wasn’t coming down with the contractions and would go up a little after each push. We assume that my water broke at some point while I was in the tub because I never felt or saw it breaking.

She suggested I try the birth stool. Oh the birth stool. The stool that I looked at and thought who the hell would want to give birth on this thing. HAHAHA!!! And let me tell you, getting out of that tub WHILE contracting with a baby’s crowning head was one of the hardest things ever that morning! At 4:40 am I was on this stool and with each contraction, I was pushing with all my might. It was SO amazing pushing when my body felt the need and not being coached to do so. At 4:42 am, Katharine informed me that the top of Colton’s head was out to about the top of his eyebrows and I was able to feel his full head of hair. And she said with the next contraction our goal was to get his head out. Lisa arrived somewhere around this time. (Sorry for downplaying labor, Lisa! Haha!!). And Casey told her she might want to get her camera out because a baby was coming haha!! But she did one better and decided to video the contraction that would be the one that allowed me to push my baby out. At 4:44 am, with the next contraction I pushed with all my might and not only did his head come out, but so did the rest of his body. The kid literally popped right out in that one push like a wrecking ball!! Colton finally decided he was ready to meet us at 4:45 am on Friday May 11, 2018.

I now made THE longest walk of my life with a baby in my arms and a cord between my legs from the bathroom to the hospital bed. As I laid down, upon quick inspection, Katharine suspected a second degree laceration. They checked his APGAR and wiped him up while he was doing skin to skin with me. At 5:10 am, the cord stopped pulsating and I cut the cord. It was SO cool. I’m so glad I got to experience that. For about the next 1.5 hours, Colton stayed on my skin just cuddling and nursing. It was so amazing being able to hold my baby for 2 hours before anyone else touched him.

While I was holding him, I pushed out the placenta, which to be honest, was WEIRD haha!! It felt nothing like I thought it would feel pushing it out. And as he was skin to skin, Katharine decided it was time to inspect the tears and repair the damage that a 14.5 inch head caused. She determined I had a FOURTH degree tear that needed to be repaired. Casey gladly went and got the room Tim Hortons haha!! (And brought me back the best bagel of my life). Before she would sew me up she gave me two lidocaine shots to numb the area, and let me tell you, those HURT!! And she spent easily the next hour sewing me up.

I finally agreed to give the staff my baby so we could do an official weigh in. Everyone was making guesses, most of us in the 8 lb area. One of the baby nurses said when she first walked in the room that he looked like a 10 lb baby, and I was like NO WAY! Haha!! Well sure enough, the moment arrived, she set him on the scale and everyone just started laughing and exclaiming he weighed 9 lb 14.8 oz!! 1 oz away from 10 lb! I still am in AWE that I labored and pushed out an almost 10 lb baby with a 14.5 inch head vaginally without a SINGLE pain med!

Let me tell you, short labors are extremely intense, just like everyone had told me who had short labors. But I will still chose that any day if given the choice over a longer labor! I “joked” that I was going to end up with a car birth (Remi’s labor was much shorter than Hank’s by hours) & now I seriously think it could’ve been a possibility if I were to go into labor spontaneously!! Thank goodness that didn’t happen!!

I may not have been able to have the EXACT birth I wanted at the Birth Center, but I still got the birth I wanted and dreamed of for 9 long months! I DID IT! I FREAKING DID IT!! I may have had to use every intervention under the sun to get pregnant with my babies, but man did I know how to carry them and birth them!! My body was MADE to birth a baby, and birth a baby is exactly what I did. And I would do it again in a heartbeat! It was the most amazing birth experience one could ask for. I had the best support system around!

Welcome to the world, Colton Cash Astry.

Shout out to Dorky Stork Photography for the awesome pictures!