Friday, December 30, 2011

From Wombie to Roomie Part 2 - Nora Cate's Arrival

So here it is, the riveting conclusion to Nora Cate's birth. If you missed the first part, you can find it here.

I left off with Rob racing us to the hospital. Me propped up in the front seat talking through every contraction so that I wouldn't have the baby in the front seat. I was feeling a lot of pressure, more and more with each contraction, and panicked that we wouldn't make it to the hospital in time. It's a good thing we're only a few minutes from St. Mary's, we couldn't have made it any farther. My water broke about half way there. Luckily, the only pants I could find at home were Adidas nylon workout pants which were lined with sweat pant material.... no clean up required!

Rob swung into the Women's Pavilion turn around. He jumped out and grabbed the emergency phone. "My wife's having a baby NOW!" A nurse met us at the entrance with a wheel chair and told the nurse there was no way I could sit in it. I had a contraction and then made my way on foot to the elevator. 3 floors up I had another contraction just as the elevator doors opened. I was just sure the baby was going to come with that contraction and tried to do everything I could to keep her in.

Rob calls it my Monster Roar moment. I tell him I call that sound a Guttural Moan in birth classes so as not to scare the moms. Whatever you want to call it, I let it out just as the doors of the elevator opened on the LDR floor as 3 more nurses greeted us. "Oh great" I thought, "they're probably thinking I'm 2 cm dilated - in early labor - and a huge baby." Later, I also thought I must have scared the daylights out of any laboring woman within earshot. There were probably many pleas for epidurals after that from women on the floor. However, I must say that my groans weren't so much due to pain as they were pressure and trying to not push out a baby on the elevator. That wail did however, get me a room immediately - totally skipping triage. I walked off the elevator straight into the first room with an open door I saw, Room 14.

My pants however, never did quite make it as I lost them somewhere along the way. I got up on the bed and pleaded with the nurse to tell me I was a 10 and could push. She checked me at 3:50, and said I was 10cm, 100% effaced, and +1 station. I then asked who was going to catch the baby and Rob asked if that meant I could push. I knew my body was going to whether I joined it's efforts or not. But, it seemed like all the nurses stepped 5 ft back. One finally said, "I will if it comes to that." Nurse G had only caught 2 babies previously. In our haste we had only called our midwife, not the hospital to let them know we were on our way. So, unfortunately they had no idea who we were, they asked who I was, my social (which I remembered!) and if I was a patient there and who my doctor was. To them, we had just walked off the street.

I didn't know it at the time, but as I was getting off the elevator, Nurse G did a "round-up" sign with her hand calling all the nurses into our room, she knew our baby would be coming before our midwife would have a chance to arrive. Nurses flooded into our room for back-up for Nurse G.

It didn't seem like anyone was in the catching position though, and Rob told them that our first was born in about 10 minutes. I asked Nurse G if she had any techniques to help me not tear (because I tore so badly with Eli). She hemmed and hawed enough to make me a little nervous, so with the next contraction I wailed, "I Want Judi!" for the entire duration of the contraction. I was still refusing to forcefully push because Midwife Judi had not yet arrived and I didn't want Nora to be born too quickly. I asked the nurses if Judi was there, if she'd been called, where was she. Rob gave them a stern look and nodded his head yes, as if to say - "tell her she's coming".

Another nurse attempted to find Nora's heartbeat with the EFM sensors. I did not want to be touched; however, I was curious how baby girl was handling such an intense labor. The nurse never was able find a heartbeat. This made Rob and I very nervous. I kept asking if she was okay and don't remember ever being answered - which added to my uncertainty. But in my labor haze, I remembered being a doula for moms in labor when this was the case once the baby descended so far into the pelvis. I prayed this was the case with Nora.

I never did really push because I was afraid of tearing and wanted Judi to arrive so badly for the birth. I was uncertain of how hard to push because of the great intensity of the contractions. I was much less composed than with Elijah's birth and mostly hung on the railing of the bed groaning through contractions. I guess that's what happens when you labor for less than 2 hours and more or less are just along for the ride. Rob did an amazing job of telling me when he saw the head, when her head was born, her shoulders, etc. He was amazing for me - keeping me connected and knowing what was going on and what various sensations were.

Nora Catherine was born healthy, pink, and squalling at 3:56am into the arms of Nurse G. A full 6 minutes after arriving. Everyone was so relieved she was here and healthy. I think I squealed, "my baby, she's mine" as they placed her on my chest.

Nora Cate had been so low for so many weeks, that finally pushing her out was the biggest relief I've ever felt. I instantly felt not pregnant and like I could move again. Judi arrived during the short time between Nora's birth and the birth of the placenta. She almost made it from all the way across town. She stitched up my 2nd degree tear and made over how wonderful Nora was and scolded me for not calling her earlier. I jokingly asked for an epidural while she repaired my bottom and then said, "but seriously, can I get the epidural now?

Soon, I was set up in our room with orange juice, an ice pack, and some Motrin. I felt like a million bucks and was on cloud 9 with my little girl on my chest. Several nurses and staff came to visit and see who had caused so much commotion at 4am. And the nurses joked that they needed the excitement - it had been a little boring until we arrived. Rob and I were soon left on our own though to enjoy our new little one - who nursed like a champ from the beginning. I remember watching her in the early morning hours and thinking how beautiful she was - but how she looked nothing like Elijah. And how weird that was that we could make a completely different baby.

Several medical people have since instructed Rob that if we have more babies, he needs to take an emergency childbirth class because it's probable that my labors will be this quick in the future. And unfortunately, my personality is a bad match for this predicament. I seriously hate admitting I'm in labor and try to deny it for as long as possible. I also try to wait to go to the hospital for as long as possible. Luckily, this time, I did wake Rob up and we made it. But had we lived farther away or had I waited much longer to wake Rob we wouldn't have. I really dislike the idea of going to the hospital for false alarms and getting checked repeatedly, which may be what needs to happen next time so that we can be sure of our baby being born not in the car or at home without support.

Now, as a birth teacher, I would seriously be doing a disservice to not include the following information. (Though I totally get that this was an easy labor and I don't want it to sound at all like I'm complaining about the awesome birth that we got to experience with Nora. After all, we got a happy healthy baby at the end of not even 2 short hours - and I did not have to experience the exhaustion of a 24 hr + labor). I get that I'm lucky. But, first stage labor (basically what I skipped entirely) serves important roles for both mom and baby. Nora and I missed out on some of these benefits. Fast labor is NOT the goal of any birth.

Contractions are GOOD for baby. Nora did not have enough contractions to help clear her lungs of mucous. She had trouble clearing mucous for a couple days after birth. Thankfully, she was born breathing well - as contractions also help stimulate the lungs to begin breathing at birth. Secondly, she swallowed a good bit of blood during the birth process, from what I remember, this was because of the fast birth. It was quite alarming to watch her struggle to spit up what looked like chewing tobacco for the first few days after birth. She was also born with a few burst blood vessels in her eyes and a small heart murmur - all these can be normal newborn issues, but I can't help wonder/worry if perhaps they are due to the fast intense labor.

And, I'm not quite sure, but I'm afraid that some of the things we wanted for Nora's birth were not followed because hospital staff didn't have time to review our birth plan. I don't know if they were even able to review our chart before her birth! For instance , I think Nora's cord was cut before the placenta stopped pulsating, costing Nora about 6 months of iron stores for her blood.

First stage labor is also a time of hormonal, physical, and emotional changes in mom. I bruised and tore because of such a fast labor and birth. And while I'm happy with my birth experience with Nora and wouldn't trade it, I do miss having the chance to work with my labor. I had planned to spend labor with my family, taking Eli for walks, baking for the nurses station, taking a bath, and listening to music. While this may be overly romantic, I barely had time to wake up. Instead labor was fast, furious, and intense from the beginning. We didn't ease into anything. And I spent the duration of it wondering where I was in labor and what was going on -not having enough time to wrap my head around much of anything. I also didn't have the support of the birth team we'd assembled. Both our doula and midwife missed the birth due to no fault of their own. I'm so glad labor did begin when it did in the wee hours of the morning, because had it not, Rob might not have been home (what would I have done without him!) and we wouldn't have been able to make it to the hospital in any kind of traffic. He was much more clear on where I was in labor - had I been home by myself in the middle of the afternoon, I don't think I would have even called him.

Lastly, I must say I am very grateful for the care we received by all the nurses, doctors, and lactation consultant. They did such a great job. St. Mary's was a wonderful birth place and we'll go there again. I couldn't have asked for better care of me, Nora Cate, or Rob. They were all simply amazing.


  1. oh. my. GAH! this is unreal. i think the only thing harder than unmedicated (or pitocined) pushing contractions is trying to NOT push while feeling them try to kick your butt. i cant believe you were resisting the push while in a car, walking around, in an elevator, talking even slightly coherently.

    and i got chills when you mentioned what if this had happened when rob wasnt there. holy moly. i mean, you would have been amazing because you teach the very chapter i remember from our bradley classes about delivering at home or by yourself, but STILL!

    i cannot imagine you doing the monster roar ever, but if there was ever a situation where i could maybe see it, it's that one. i would PAY to see the drama of you hartleys getting off the elevator like that.

    i know exactly what you mean about hating false alarms and always erring on the side of being sure. but maybe next time, you should just go from the first contraction. apparently you have a very efficient cervix.

    then again, you are miss diversity when it comes to birthing scenarios and maybe next time you will have a long water birth at 38 week pregnant or something.

    i freaking LOVE this and love yall. nora is perfection and you are a rockstar. SUCH a perfect bradley teacher. cant wait to meet her in person and talk to you more about this stuff!

    longest comment ever.

  2. What a beautiful story!!! She is such a beautiful girl! Congratulations to the entire family. You're an amazing woman... and Rob has quite a sense about him. Well done :-) Holy cow! Have you thought about a home birth before? There's a big chance it could be a home birth anyways :-) Or yes, just rush to the hospital with the first contraction. Congratulations! I'm so happy for yall! And I appreciate the honesty... you have so much insight as a teacher and it's good to hear that early labor matters and there are important things going on. Thanks for sharing!!

  3. oh my goodness, girl. your story put me in a cold sweat. we, too, had a fast labor this time...not as fast as yours, but i started contractions at 2am and they were immediately 5 minutes apart and HARD. when we got to the hospital an hour later i was at 7cm and they were coming ever 2 minutes...the nurse said 'why did you wait so long?'...i said WE DIDNT!!!!!
    So happy for you and your beautiful bundle of joy!!!