Pop Culture Baby's Birth Story

Another Pop Culture star is born
 WARNINGAlthough I feel like the phrase "birth story" should serve as a warning that there's some serious TMI ahead [after all, is birth ever really pretty? No. It's pretty much always a little bit gross], I'm going to do the standard warning anyway. I realize only soon-to-be mothers, recent mothers, and birth story junkies care about the nitty gritty details. This is for them. If you're not into knowing that much about someone else's bodily functions or the details of contractions, effacement, and all that jazz, I'd suggest you skip this post altogether or just go straight to the pictures. It's gonna be long, y'all... and maybe a wee bit gory.

Let the story begin...

Dou Me, Baby

First, let me go way back. When I had Pop Culture Toddler, I enlisted the services of a doula for both during and after labor. Rhonda was invaluable. So I knew as soon as I got pregnant with Pop Culture Baby that I was going to go the doula route again. Rhonda had since retired from the baby doula game. I knew her daughter had stepped into her place, since one of my friends used Rhonda's daughter as her postpartum doula for her twins. I could have used her daughter. Instead, I decided to go the difficult route and get an out-of-state doula. Now, this wasn't something completely on a whim. Christi (or Diva Doula, as I now feel like calling her) is one of the moms from one of my WTE expecting boards. Her youngest daughter was born within days of PCT. She was even our board leader at some point and is currently one of the admins of our Facebook group. So while I didn't "know" her, I have known her for over three years. She had already served as the doula for some of the other November 2008 moms, and I wanted Diva Doula to "dou" me, too. As you can expect, Pop Culture Dad and pretty much everyone else thought I was crazy. But with Pop Culture Toddler, my midwives had predicted when I would go into labor, down to the weekend, and with a 13-hour labor the first time, I was feeling pretty confident about being able to get Diva Doula here in time.

Then of course came the GD diagnosis. Because I ended up on medication to control my blood sugar, my midwives told me that if I didn't have Pop Culture Baby early, as I did PCT, they were going to induce me at 39 weeks. Everyone, myself included was fairly confident, though, that I would go early again. Boy were we wrong. Apparently I controlled my sugars almost too well. So instead of growing a behemoth baby and ginormous placenta, I was forming a fairly regular placenta and (what was to me, anyway), a teeny baby. At my Level 2 ultrasound, PCB was measuring a few weeks behind, and was 18th percentile. PCB was predicted to be six pounds if I went full term. Because of the gestational diabetes, I had ultrasounds every three weeks. While my fundal height was always perfectly on track, the ultrasounds always showed a baby that was measuring a couple of weeks behind. Kind of weird considering that our 3D ultrasound revealed really chubby cheeks. *shrug*. So week by week, my confidence going into labor at 38 weeks again began to wane. And then...

Long Labor? False Labor? WTH Knows?

Ten days before my due date, I started having really regular contractions. They were frequent enough that I started timing them. First they were far apart. Then as the day went on, they sped up to 10 minutes apart, and then 8. I e-mailed Diva Doula and asked her for reassurance that I could have contractions 8 minutes apart for a number of days. Based on the ultrasound I had just the week before, PCB was still measuring small, though better than before (now 25th percentile), but PCB was just small enough that I wasn't exactly thrilled at the idea of going into labor early and having a teeny tiny little baby. Diva Doula told me to lie down on my left side for an hour or so, drink a lot of water and see if my contractions slowed down or stopped. They didn't. Then she told me to just say the word, and she would get on a plane; her hubby was getting ready to get her on a plane. We talked it through for a while and decided, just in case, to get her on a plane. If she was here for a couple of days, that was fine. Better than her missing the birth altogether.

Diva Doula came in, and I continued to have contractions. Then, at some point right before I went to bed, they disappeared, only to come back with a royal vengeance while I was sleeping. I was afraid I would go into labor in the wee hours of the morning; but at least Pop Culture Dad and Diva Doula were there. The next morning, I told Pop Culture Dad to go on to work, and I would call him if he needed to come home. By then, I had steady contractions 5 minutes apart. He later told me that he got ribbed all day for being at work while his wife was in labor. During the day, Diva Doula and I tried to help the labor along. We went geocaching. We drove around. We walked. At one point when we were walking around my neighborhood, the contractions got so bad I had trouble walking. We were actually getting close to the point where my midwives told me to call them back. But I didn't feel like I should go to the hospital yet. So we went back to the house where I decided to go relax in the tub... and the contractions disappeared again. WTH? Same pattern as the night before, my contractions got frequent, horrible and painful in the middle of the night, but no magic happened.

The next day was my midwife appointment. The midwife with whom we met, Mary, thought it was weird that I had contractions that steady and close that got stronger and then went nowhere, but it wasn't unheard of. She checked me, and it turned out I hadn't made any progress from the week before. I was still a fingertip dilated and about 60% effaced. So I basically had two days of contractions for nothing. At this point, I was days away from being 39 weeks. It was time to talk induction dates. Mary told me point-blank that, two days of false labor notwithstanding, Pop Culture Baby was not ready to go anywhere. An induction date at the early end of 39 weeks would not be a good idea. I began to get fearful that an induction date at any time would not be a good idea. But seeing as I only had a one week window in which to give birth (gee, thanks, GD), I picked my due date as my induction date. Might as well make it to 40 weeks, right? Mary agreed to give me Prepadil the next week to see if that helped move things along so I could avoid induction. It was a great start, but still pretty sucky. I went back to my car and cried. Hard. Diva Doula was such awesome support (a necessity when you feel like a complete tool, like I did). We went walking and geocaching some more, in hope of sparking more labor. Nada. That day, I decided the GD diet was off. Let me tell you, I really enjoyed my comfort-Frosty that day.

Diva Doula went home the next morning, and I went to the hospital for my Prepadil. Mary told me to go walking (preferably around a mall with a credit card) to see if I could get some contractions going. Nada. When I went in a few days later for my midwife appointment [now after a full week and a couple days of "false" labor, which felt pretty damn real], I was ready to tell them not to induce me at all. I was really afraid of being one of those ladies who has a horrible induction experience and ends up either having an awful, long labor or winding up getting a c-section. I had another ultrasound. Pop Culture Baby had a growth spurt, and was suddenly estimated at 50th percentile. Dawn, the midwife that day, checked me again. I had made a wee bit of progress, but not much. In fact, I had gone from 60% effaced to 50% effaced. WTF?? Dawn, however, was convinced that I was ready, and that an induction would go beautifully. As some added insurance, though, Dawn stripped my membranes and scheduled me for another Prepadil the next day. She warned me that the stripping may do nothing, or it could send me into labor. You just never know. Later that day, I was in the grocery store, having the worst contractions to date. I actually felt pretty good about going into labor. I had bloody show that night. The next morning, I ended up calling my midwives at 4 a.m. to see if I should even go in for the second dose of Prepadil, because I was having contractions 6 minutes apart. I was told that even if I ended up not going into labor, they could not administer Prepadil with my contractions that close together. So, basically, I just had to wait and see if I went into labor. This should be no surprise: I didn't.

Eviction Day

Diva Doula came back the next day. We basically snacked on labor cookies and got together snacks and everything I needed to go to the hospital. Diva Doula also taught Pop Culture Dad various pressure points and techniques to help me during labor. We talked about how my labor went with PCT, and for the first time ever, I realized that (save for my water breaking on its own), that I had made zero progress until I was given the dreaded pitocin monster. It was possible that I'm one of those unlucky ladies who will contract for days and days without any real progress, absent medical intervention.

The next day was eviction day. And, I won't lie: I was terrified. I had always planned on having a completely natural birth. Now, after more than a week of false labor, I knew I was going to get stuck with pitocin whether I liked it or not. And, let's face it, my confidence in my own ability to face pitocin without an epidural was very very low. I was also terrified, after having such a long period of unproductive labor, that I was going to end up either in labor for 24 hours or with a c-section... or worse, both.

My induction was scheduled for 7 a.m. on the 29th. Pop Culture Dad, Diva Doula and I left the house at the buttcrack of dawn and started heading (late) to the hospital, only to get a call as we were getting on the freeway that there were no beds available, so I'd have to call back in a few hours to see if I could come in. They ended up telling me to come to the hospital between 11 and 11:30. We got there at 11ish and had to wait a while. They hooked me up to the pit drip around 1. When I went in, I was 3 cm dilated and about 50% effaced. Pop Culture Baby was at a -3 station. So, yeah, not even close to anything happening.

Leaving for the hospital... again

A few hours went by, and the contractions were getting worse, but it still looked like I had a long time to go. Pop Culture Dad and Diva Doula were fantastically helping me manage my pain and sneaking me food and drinks. At 5:30 or so, I posted a message to the impatient mommies on our parenting group that the "aunties" were going to have to simmer down, because Pop Culture Baby wasn't making an appearance any time soon. The ladies were all on gender watch and tired of not knowing what kind of equipment PCB was bearing. Around 6 or 6:30 , my midwife checked me, and I was 100% effaced, but still only about 3 cm (but this time a "loose" 3 instead of a hard one) and at a -1. She asked if I wanted to have my water broken. We debated it for a while, especially the warning about how much it would suck. Eventually, in the interest of not being in labor all freaking night, I told her to go for it. Almost immediately after she broke my water, things really kicked into gear [shit got real, y'all!]. 

At some point around 7 p.m., I was just done. Diva Doula and PCD were absolutely fantastic, but I knew I had barely made any progress before all of the madness started, and I couldn't imagine being like that another four hours or whatever. So I started asking my midwife if it was too late to get an epi. She said "probably," and she and Diva Doula kept encouraging me to keep on, at least for a while. **WARNING WARNING HERE COMES THE TMI/YOU'LL-KNOW-TOO-MUCH-ABOUT-ME STUFF. LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU REALLY DON'T WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING** Then I had that "I need to poop" feeling -- not the "I feel like I need to poop, but it's really the baby pushing down" feeling -- a true, honest to goodness "guess I'm not backed up anymore" feeling. My midwife wanted to check me first to make sure I wasn't crowning, since "babies like to be born on toilets." I wasn't. I don't really remember this part at all, but Diva Doula informed me later that when my midwife checked me, I was 6 cm dilated. So I had made some progress, but I still had 4 freaking cm to go. I shuffled off to the restroom, only to find out once I got there that with the crazy contractions, I had trouble sitting down (and staying down) on my own. Pop Culture Dad and Diva Doula rushed in to help me. I "went," and then, all of the sudden, my ass was burning. Like, seriously burning. And I started thinking I was in that episode of "Bobby & Whitney" where Bobby had to help Whitney get out the stuck poop [hey, I warned you this would be TMI. If you're grossed out, your fault for not heeding my warnings]. So I'm complaining -- crying -- about my ass being broken, and my midwife, Debbie, checks me and says something like, "You know why? Cuz there's a head right there." Yeah, seriously. Classic. Debbie then flew into hyper mode and starts telling Pop Culture Dad and Diva Doula to hurry up and get me back to the bed before the baby falls out, and she's yelilng at the nurses to hurry up and get a table. I didn't want to move. I didn't have a choice. They carted me off to the bed, and got me back on it in a matter of seconds. Pretty much as soon as they got me on the bed (all of 10 seconds), I started pushing. Four big pushes in about 5 minutes or less, and Pop Culture Baby came sliding on out at 7:18 p.m.. As Diva Doula pointed out later, I went from 6 cm to 10 cm with a baby in my arms in less than 20 minutes -- that is intenseNo tearing this time, either. 

Thanks, Debbie!

Honestly, I had absolutely no idea what was going on at this point. Diva Doula had to fill me in on some of the finer details later. After PCB popped out (literally), Debbie held her up so we could see the gender. Even looking, I had no idea [I swear I know what the parts look like!]. I think I was just still surprised there was a baby there. I still didn't know if I had a son or a daughter until Pop Culture Dad announced, "It's a girl!". I vaguely remember saying at some point after my eyes focused and I noticed that there was in fact a baby there, "Oh! And she has some color! Yay!". I had another beautiful little girl. A 7 pound, 12 ounce, 20.5" little princess (who, other than her much smaller size, slightly darker skin and brown eyes, and fantastic dimples, is an exact replica of her big sister, who is a pretty close carbon copy of me).

One of the best parts came after we were released to my room. My mom and Pop Culture Toddler were already there waiting on us. When the nurse wheeled me in with Pop Culture Baby, PCT walked up to us and said, "Hi, [Baby]. I'm your big sister." Tears. Flowing.

Everybody Wants the Diva to Dou Them

I didn't go into a lot of details of how Diva Doula helped me before and during my labor. For one, it's hard to go into details after the fact. I just remember her there duing the labor, constantly moving and things to do to help out, and her encouraging me along the way. I vaguely remember the little pep talks. They're all fuzzy right now, but I remember at the time, they really helped get me through. To use one of her favorite phrases, Diva Doula (aka Mrs. Christi Mooney of Serenity Birth in GA) was just AWESOME SAUCE. There is absolutely no way I would have been able to do a pitocin-induced, pain medication-free birth without her support. And I probably would have lost my sanity before the main event, too. Remember pregnant ladies: Google is not your friend; but a good doula is.
In fact, Diva Doula was such awesome sauce that the midwife on-call the morning after I gave birth told me how much Debbie had bragged about her, and they wanted to know what service she was with and how to refer her to other clients. You can imagine their disappointment when I told them she's not local. Thanks to Christi's dou-ing, my midwives all gave me the "Rockstar" award for the week.

Diva Doula and Pop Culture Baby
First day home with my girls
Pop Culture Laboring?

I am sure someone has to wonder if I had any media going on during labor, especially considering I once claimed (okay, okay, last year) I'd love to have "Bohemian Rhapsody" playing in the background when I gave birth. We did not have the iPod going. Darn shame, too, considering the short amount of time I spent pushing actually would have left us with a little "Bohemian Rhapsody" left over -- not that anyone would have had time to cue the song up! I actually did get to follow through with my media birth plan, though. We watched Knocked Up for the first two hours of the induction. And, as I had planned a couple of months before, we got our NPH fix. I packed a few DVDs of How I Met Your Mother, but while I was having my awful, water-breaking-induced contractions, we were watching (Ha! "Watching") Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog. Good thing we brought our portable DVD player. The L&D room only had VCRs. Oh, how I wish I was kidding!

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