Monday, April 6, 2009

A Birth Story

It was a normal Saturday in every way. We relaxed, we listened to music and the news, we caught up on laundry and errands, and played lots of trains, puzzles, and block towers. Having worked very hard all weekend finishing projects on our house, we all took a three hour nap in the afternoon. 

Once Luke was in bed Mark went out to buy snacks for a movie night. When he returned at 10pm my contractions started. I sat in our leather recliner with a bowl of Lays and became excited at every contraction wondering if "this was it," all the while expecting them to fizzle out. After two hours, still relaxed but getting regular contractions I told Mark that "maybe we should get our bags packed...just in case." 

Within a half hour contractions that I could sit and eat through became contractions I had to breathe through. I called the hospital and told them I would be in that night but that I was going to labor at home as long as I could explaining my reluctance, "getting to the hospital won't make things go any faster." At five minutes apart, we should have left for the hospital then and there. Me, having a previous labor of 21 hours was in total, complete denial that at five minutes apart my contractions were making any progress. 

Trying to keep my mind occupied between contractions I emptied and filled the dishwasher, cleaned the counter tops and dining room table, and moved clothes from the washing machine to the dryer. Mark finished packing our bags and started picking up Luke's toys scattered around the house. 

Starting to get intense, I decided to take a shower and wash my hair before heading to the hospital. Breathing through contractions shifted into moaning through contractions and the occasional expletive. Mark, getting concerned, moved all the bags into the car and gathered a sleeping Luke into the car. The next fifteen minutes were a blur as I attempted to get dressed between contractions, now coming two minutes apart. I made it somehow into the car at 1:44am and Mark started our race to the hospital. 

At my my ignorant insistence I told Mark not to speed, that we weren't in a race, but he, hearing the pain in my voice pushed our minivan as fast as it could go and drove 90 mph the entire length of our typical 40 minute drive to the hospital. Mark called the hospital to tell them we were on the way, and we dropped Luke off at my mom's; two miles away from the hospital. 

By the time we parked at the ER doors I could not move from my seat. My contractions did not seem to give me a break and while I didn't recognize it at the time, I was completely in an altered state of mind to the point of delusion and couldn't explain the pain I was experiencing and the correlation to the progress of my labor. Mark ran our bags inside and came back for me with a wheelchair. The small movement of getting out of the car and into the wheelchair, I believe, dilated me fully, and Mark raced me through the ER and to the doors of OB. 

The OB nurse asked me to gown, and not able to give her any indication of the intensity of my contractions, left Mark and I alone in our room while I tried to stand from the wheelchair and dress. While attempting to do this my water burst and I let out a scream. The nurse rushed to our room and her and Mark helped me to the bed. As soon as I reached the bed I let out another scream, the nurse looked down, grabbed her phone and called, "I need a nurse and a doctor-STAT." She asked Mark for help with one hand on the baby's emerging head and the other opening drawers, Mark ran out the hall for the baby warmer. 
Completely unaware of what was going on, my only instincts were to react to the pain and sensations I was feeling. Once Mark returned with the baby warmer he told me he saw the baby's head. Another nurse arrived, and the baby was out. From the time we got to our room to the time Paul was in my arms less than five minutes had passed. A doctor arrived a half hour later, as the baby came out so quickly I needed quite a bit of repair. 

We are so thankful to have such a happy ending to our story, and now at home we feel so blessed to have two beautiful, healthy boys. Putting Paul's birth story into words has not been as difficult as I expected, but at the time it frightened us terribly. Days later the memory of the rush, chaos, intensity and uncertainty haunted us in a way that unless you've gone through it, I don't think you could understand. Many hugs and tears later, we're recovered. 

If I learned anything from this experience, it's that a woman in labor is not logical and cannot be trusted. For me, my denial of what was going on pervaded every ounce of common sense that I had, because I knew better, and I still insisted that I was an exception to the rules. 

After a week I am happy to report that while Paul came out like a lion, he's as peaceful as a lamb. 


Fuzzy said...

Wow. You are my hero. I am so amazed that you were able to do all that withoutany medication. I hurry off to the hospital so I CAN have it. I am so glad you shared your story with us. What an amazing birth! Hope you are healing well.

Sarah said...

Mallory - This is awesome!! You should have a homebirth next time . . . you'd like it very much.

Catherine said...

Wow! That is crazy! So glad to hear you are resting comfortably now and Paul is a peaceful baby!

Mark - way to drive like a champ. Maybe Tom's need for speed will come in handy one day.

Monica said...

Oh my! What an amazing story, Mal! I totally relate to being so sure that labor will always take forever. I had 36+ hour labor with Tori so I was sure that I would be experiencing 5 minute contractions for hours and hours with little progress each time. Thankfully I was saved from my putting it to the test with Quinn because I had an appointment when I was 6 days overdue and was in very early labor. They went ahead and gave me the lowest petocin to get things really rolling and seven hours later I had a baby. I would have never guessed it would be that fast! I know that is normal for many, but I was positive that I would never be one of them! Left on my own I am quite sure I would have held off until I was in a very similar situation. It's a good reminder for next time around. :)

By the way Mama, you're a champ! Way to take that labor time down from 21 hours to like 4 or so...Nice! Next time I'm sure the hospital will come a bit sooner on the itinerary, since you could be looking at like a half hour. :)

I'm so glad that everything worked out, that you were able to get there in time and that everyone is healthy and well. And a calm baby too! Very good! God bless your beautiful family!

Mallory said...

Thanks, everyone. I hope all your husband's get a chance to drive like maniacs in the future ;)

Sarah--I think homebirth is awesome and beautiful, but I'm not sure it's for me/us. I am very pleased with our hospital and doctor, so I don't feel the "need" to birth at home. With Paul's birth I was very very sore for a few days afterward and really appreciated the nursing care that was provided, and I've always wondered how that works with homebirth?? I needed a lot of help just taking care of myself for a couple days, let alone a newborn. I'm interested if you'd like to share.

Abby said...

I vote you keep birthing at the hospital because we mom/baby nurses love mamas (and families) like you and yours. :) Job well done, Mal!