Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Alexander Daniel Kroboth
The Less-Insane-Than-Will's-Birth-Story Story

[Disclaimer: As before, if you aren't into stories that involve words like "cervix" go back to the cute pictures of the new baby.]

As you may know, I posted the story of Will's birth back when he was born in April 2006. It was a 4-day ordeal where he was forced to join us in the outside world at a small OB clinic in Tokyo. That's not to say that I didn't receive great care. I had a wonderful team of people helping me out, including a midwife, a doctor, and very nice nurses. (Oh, and Dan too, he went through the most stress during the experience, but was very helpful.) Everyone was with me through the whole experience, unlike most births these days where you see whichever nurse happens to be on duty and your doctor a few minutes before you deliver. Will's birth was difficult, but he and I were well taken care of.

This time around, we had a much easier experience. Basically we hung out at home for 5 hours of contractions and had a water birth with 15 minutes of pushing. All before Will woke up to start the day with a new baby brother.

Here is the breakdown:

2:00am - Wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Waking at this time wasn't anything abnormal since the baby was constantly pushing his head on my bladder. However, I couldn't get back to sleep because of contractions. Most contractions that I had been having over the last few days/weeks were very mild and caused very little discomfort even though some of them were consistently 5 minutes apart. However, these contractions were different. After about an hour of contractions that actually caused discomfort, I decided it was time to wake up Dan.

3:00am - Wake up Dan. Debate whether it is time to call our midwife, Mary Lou, or not. Decide that it is time to start timing contractions. Also, decided to take a shower to see if the warm water would calm the contractions down or not. It did not calm them down, but it felt good to get a shower.

3:40am - Call Mary Lou. As I have no trouble talking to her during a contraction, her recommendation is to give her a call when things are more active or when it would make me feel better that she were there.

Dan starts setting up birthing tub. It consists of a steel frame with a plastic shell and a disposable lining.

Hang out lying down on the bed we had set up in the living room, having annoyingly intense contractions. However, because it was so early in the morning and we went to bed late the night before, I was able to relax between contractions so much that I think I fell asleep a couple of times in between. The contractions were different than with Will's birth, probably because they were naturally occurring instead of forced into existence with pitocin. Last time I wanted to move around and spent most of my time burying my head in a beanbag chair with Dan pushing on my back. This time I didn't want anyone to touch me and I stayed as still as I could laying on the bed we set up in our living room, just dealing with the contractions on my own.

It didn't help that a few days earlier I had watched "A Baby Story" where the woman had a perfect epidural that basically stopped her from having any pain (at least on TV). So I was lying there thinking about epidurals and remembering the question that I got asked at one of the Japanese hospitals that I visited, "Do you want pain-free birth?" But then I remembered that every woman goes through this stage of labor where self-doubt sets in and if available, drugs will be taken. And, since I was giving birth at home and my pain relief options were limited, I reminded myself that the more intense the contractions, the more they were opening the cervix. Plus, I knew that soon I would be able to test the theory about how much relief the birthing tub actually provides.

4:45am - In between contractions, tell Dan to call Mary Lou.

5:00am - Call Lynn, a friend of mine who is training to be a doula. She didn't pick up her cell phone.

5:15am - Mary Lou and her assistant arrive.

6:00am - After watching me have a bunch of contractions, Mary Lou suggests a cervical exam to see how far along I am. I agree after some contractions subside and I am actually able to move into position. She checks and announces that I am 8 cm dilated. Since that is more than 5cm, the recommended number that you wait until getting into the tub, I immediately hop in.

The water feels great. Prior to getting in the tub, I was having both back pain and abdominal pain. The water helped with the back pain and nearly eliminated the abdominal pain. The tub was about half full at this point, so it sort of covered my giant stomach. Mary Lou had Dan go turn on some more water to get it closer to full. Dan did some running around dealing with hose issues, but was able to use his helpful engineering skills to actually produce more water.

6:00am - Have Dan call Lynn again, on her home phone number. She doesn't pick up. I guess Asha, her daughter who is Will's age, had messed up her phones.

It was hard to stay in place in the tub, although it was great to be able to move around in any way I wanted during contractions. The problem was that if I leaned up against the sides, I kept sliding around. And it kind of wore my arms out to put them up on the sides of the tub. So I told Dan that I needed him to get his swimsuit and join me. This worked much better as I sat in front of Dan, holding onto his legs. It also meant that I could use my hands to put pressure on my back. This was good because it meant I didn't have to try to tell Dan where I needed counter pressure during contractions.

6:30am - As it got closer to when Will wakes up, we decided that we should have someone come by to pick him up since we were kind of busy. Figuring that Darren is used to waking up early for work, we opted to wake him up early on a Saturday.

Mary Lou told me that given that I was so far along in the dilation process and that my cervix was very soft, that I could try pushing when I was ready. I wasn't ready right away, but eventually I tried some pushing. I remembered how it relieved a lot of pressure when I was pushing with Will, and this time it helped too. Then....

at 7:00am - My water broke. It was a weird popping feeling in the middle of a push. It actually surprised me and caused me to stop pushing for a second and laugh. But I kept going and as I got the hang of it, I started pushing harder. The process hurt a little bit, but this problem was solved by simply waiting for a contraction to push instead of pushing in between contractions. It was completely different than giving birth to Will with people telling me to push at specific times. I was able to figure it out for myself and push whenever I felt like it. This was very effective and the pushing stage didn't last too long. The only down side was that I pushed Alex's head about half way out, then left him there for a couple of minutes, causing a slight bruise on his eye lid.

7:14am - Alex is born!

I was shocked at how short the pushing stage was. Will wasn't even awake yet. Of course, this meant we had to call Darren and apologize for waking him up. He was nearly here. I think he actually arrived, but Dan met him outside and chatted or something, then sent him back home.

Will woke up at about 7:30 to meet his new brother. He seemed cool with it.

Dan called some people to announce the birth (we are sorry if we didn't call you, we were kind of tired). However, he did this prior to us weighing Alex. As we looked at him, we commented that he looked smaller than Will did at birth. However, then we weighed him. He weighed 10lbs 12 oz. The video of us weighing him is funny. We are all kind of shocked. He was half a pound heavier than Will. Now, you might wonder, wasn't Will 10 1/2lbs? Well, that's what we thought, but it turns out that when we converted 4.67kg to lbs, we ended up with the wrong result. It turns out that Will was actually only 10lbs 4 oz.

What about my recovery, you might ask? I am totally fine right now. I actually have to wait until Alex is 6 weeks old before I can leave him at the child watch at the YMCA so that I can exercise. Or maybe I will try some exercising in the evening when Dan can watch him, so that he doesn't have to be exposed to the concentrated extra germs. He's just getting over the cold that he caught from Dan/Will.

So far, I've lost 34lbs in the past 3 weeks. This is significant, but as I gained a total of 42lbs, I've still got 8lbs to go, plus some extra to get more in shape as I was about 20lbs "overweight" prior to being pregnant.

I only ended up with two small tears from the birth process. This was much better than with Will's birth, since I had at least 5 stitches back then and it took about 8 weeks to heal. The most painful thing that I experienced the next day was, oddly, sore arms. I guess all of the holding myself up on the sides of the tub stretched the muscles out a bit much.

Overall, for someone choosing birth options, I definitely recommend the option of giving birth at home. It was awesome that we didn't have the stress of figuring out when to go to the hospital. We didn't have to worry ahead of time about whether or not I would go into labor during rush hour. We didn't even have to disrupt Will's schedule or wake someone up super early when we needed to go to the hospital. My midwife came to me, even though it was kind of early in the morning for her. The lack of stress really helped my body to relax and deal with contractions naturally. I wouldn't recommend it without a birthing pool as it was amazing to relieve the intensity of the contractions.

Dan's level of stress was much lower during the home birth than during Will's birth. He would willingly do it again.


Angela said...

Very cool. Wish I had the option of doing it at home. :)

Jen said...

That's wonderful!! Glad you guys caught a break for the second time around and had such a low-stress experience.

Now, of course, I have questions! Where did you get your birth pool? How big is it? How long did it take to set up? Is there a website? :-)

Again, congrats!!!


LynnSofia said...

I can't believe I missed the birth! I'm still kicking myself.