Parker Sophia Sevel’s Birth Story—Sunday, October 17, 2010
Parker’s due date was October 8th, 2010. I had a feeling the entire pregnancy that she would arrive fashionably late so while I was disappointed that our baby girl wasn’t born on her due date, I wasn’t surprised. I was very anxious to get things moving naturally though since I was worried about being induced. My induction date was set for Tuesday, October 19th when I would be 41 weeks 4 days pregnant. The midwives were fine with me continuing the pregnancy to 42 weeks, but unfortunately there was not a midwife on call to deliver Parker after 41 weeks 4 days—I would have to use an OB in the practice instead. So I was faced with a dilemma; schedule an induction earlier than 42 weeks with the midwives or schedule an induction at 42 weeks with an OB. I choose the earlier induction date since having a midwife was so important to me. I tried not to let the evection date worry me but used it to motivate me to try every old wives tale out there to get this little girl out.
I ate a ton of spicy food. A ton. Kris and I went out to a Thai restaurant on my due date and I ordered my meal as spicy as they could make it. All that did was make my eyes water, my mouth burn, and gave me a stomach ache which of course I thought could possibly be the beginning of labor. Not so. I walked around the subdivision every day, twice a day. I met one neighbor a few cul-de-sacs over who said that a lot of people were talking about me and wondering when I was going to have this baby. I drank Red Raspberry Leaf tea. I ate pineapple. I envisioned Parker being born and let her know it was okay to come and meet us. Nothing was working.
On the afternoon of Thursday, October 14th, I had a midwife appointment. I spoke with my favorite midwife, Joanne, about my concerns over the looming induction date and had her strip my membranes to see if that would jump start my labor. While she was doing the procedure she let me know that I was about 1 to 2 centimeters dilated and very, very thinned out. She said that Parker would be coming very soon, but hoped that she would wait until Sunday when she was on call to deliver. I was sure that stripping my membranes would work immediately and I anxiously awaited my first contraction but nothing happened. I woke up on the 15th and Kris and I talked about how we were sure that today was the big day. The 15th is a lucky number for us—we adopted Sydney on September 15th, closed on our first house on May 15th, and were married on August 15th. I was a bit bummed as I went to bed that night with still no signs of labor. I woke up on the 16th feeling fine like every other day. I went about my normal routine and even helped Kris out in the basement like a badass overdue pregnant chick. I seriously was using power tools to drill screws into the drywall. What a site that must have been! I did that for a couple hours and got a good workout in from all the up and down movement but still no contractions.
We settled down on the couch around 7:00pm to watch the OSU/Wisconsin football game and at 8:00pm I felt what I thought was a contraction. My lower stomach felt crampy but I wasn’t sure if it was just gas or the real thing. I told Kris and we brought up the Contraction Master on the internet to start timing them just in case. I was shocked to see that they were coming about seven to ten minutes apart and lasting around one minute each. Yahoo! It looked like I was going to be able to avoid an induction! I was absolutely thrilled but still wasn’t sure if this was really the beginning of labor or if the contractions were just a tease and would pass. I could tell that Kris was excited and he said that he was going to get the remaining items ready to pack in our hospital bag, but I told him not to just yet since I didn’t want to jinx it.
The contractions picked up in frequency around 10:30pm but were still manageable. I was still able to work through them just by sitting on the couch, closing my eyes, and focusing on relaxation breathing and positive imagery. Somewhere around this time I lost my mucus plug (gross) and had a teeny tiny bit of bloody show. By this point I was pretty sure that I was in actual labor so I jumped in the shower so that I would look somewhat presentable at the hospital. Ha, little did I know that being freshly showered would be the least of my concerns in just a few hours. I dried my hair, put on some makeup (yes, seriously) and decided to lay down in the bed to try and get some shut eye for what would probably be a long night. Once I laid down there was a nineteen minute gap in between my contractions and since I didn’t want labor to stall, I got up out of the bed and started moving around. I think that’s what my body needed because the contractions really picked up at that point and were coming pretty regularly about five minutes apart.
By this time the contractions were painful—they radiated throughout my stomach and my lower back and the only way I could work through them was to be on my hands and knees with Kris putting intense pressure on my back. It was comical to Kris and I that this was the position I needed to labor in. Well, not comical at the time but was after the fact. We took Hypnobirthing classes and the “polar bear” laboring position just looked so silly to us and yep, that’s the only thing that worked for me. I never thought that I would be a loud laboring lady but I had to moan through each contraction. All the breathing techniques I learned were out the window by now. Trying to relax and focus on anything but the pain was impossible. The only thing I could concentrate on was moaning to get through the contraction. I even had a mix of classical music and the Rainbow Relaxation CD on in the background but that didn’t help at all.
Kris had been asking me since about 11:00pm if he should call the midwife to let her know that I was in labor. Since I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible I kept telling him no. Around 3:00am though the contractions were getting even more intense and I felt like I was losing total control of my body. I wasn’t really doubting my decision to go natural though at this point because the only thing in my mind was moaning through each contraction, keeping my jaw and hands loose, and having Kris tell me how long the contraction lasted and how far apart it was from the last one. I finally agreed to have Kris call the midwife and after she asked him a few questions—how far apart my contractions were, did I have an intense bloody show—and after she talked to me for a minute she said that I should stay at home for a while longer and get into the tub. So into the tub I went.
I planned to labor in water (at home and at the hospital in the Jacuzzi tub) since I’ve heard how relaxing it can be but for some reason I hadn’t up until that point. Well that’s probably because my body knew that I would hate it and blocked the whole bath idea from my mind. That’s right, I hated the tub. I felt like I couldn’t manage the contractions at all and had to pull myself out of the water when one came to get through it. I still can’t believe that tub didn’t relax me like all the birth stories I’ve heard. It just goes to show how different labor is for every woman. I’m not sure how long I stayed in the tub but by the time I got out my contractions were consistently two to three minutes apart. I still wonder if my contractions were coming faster at this point due to the tub or just because my body was progressing as it should be. I was really out of touch with my body when I got out of the tub. The pain from the contractions was unbearable and was radiating throughout my back so badly that it masked the pain I was feeling in my abdomen. I started to panic and told Kris that I couldn’t do it, I needed the epidural right now.
Another contraction hit and then I started to puke all over our bedroom. And yes, it’s carpeted, not wood floors like the rest of our house. I knew that I was in transition at this point and I told Kris that we had to leave for the hospital immediately. He ran around trying to get the last few items packed and got Sydney outside for a quick walk while I tried to manage through the contractions by myself and do the impossible—get dressed. I could drag my body around on the floor but I could not stand up to put on clothes. I remember thinking that I would have to go to the hospital naked, just wrapped up in a towel, but I somehow managed to get dressed.
Everything was sort of foggy at this point. We got into the car around 4:30am and as soon as Kris backed out of the garage another contraction hit. Kris was on the phone with the midwife telling her that we were on our way and I swung the door open of the car and hopped down onto the driveway so that I could get through the contraction on my hands and knees. When it was over I got back into the car for what I knew would be the longest ten minute drive of my life. I told Kris to hurry and while he probably was, it definitely wasn’t the driving 70mph in a 30mph zone that I wanted him to do ;) I had about five contractions on the way to the hospital and it sucked being stuck upright in the car seat. It also sucked when we hit a red light and Kris didn’t run it, but I guess that’s for the best because we did pass a cop right before getting to the hospital. I couldn’t imagine how I would have reacted if we got pulled over.
After hours of driving…oh wait, it just felt like hours…we pulled into the hospital. As is normal when we go anywhere, I overpacked. Kris did his best to grab everything so he only had to make one trip but ran out of hands after a suitcase, a backpack, three pillows, and a makeup bag (yes, I brought makeup with me, ha!). As he is struggling not to drop everything, I have another contraction in the parking lot and hit the ground like I had been doing. I look back to see why Kris isn’t rubbing my back and all I see is him juggling all my stuff. In retrospect this was really funny, but not at the time when all I needed was a firm back rub!
We checked in at the front desk which was painless thanks to pre-registration and then another contraction hit which of course brought me to my knees. The check-in lady asked if I needed a wheelchair but I declined. I would have fallen out of that thing once another contraction came! We arrived at the labor and delivery unit around 5:00am and the nurses must have been able to see the pain on my face because they buzzed us right into triage. Kris briefed them on what was going on for the last nine hours or so while a nurse led me to the bathroom to pee in a cup and asked me if I was a victim of abuse. I’m assuming this is a standard question but really? I feel like I’m dying and you’re asking me if I’m an abuse victim? Thankfully I’m not, so I took the pee cup, had another painful contraction on the floor, did my thing, and stumbled out of the bathroom.
The nurse that was going to be with me during delivery led me into the triage room and had me get undressed and get into the hospital gown. I remember stripping off my clothes as fast as I could and being confused that the gown didn’t really close in the back. I apparently was worried about my entire underwear-less backside being exposed to the world but that modesty was short lived as you’ll soon find out. The nurse came back in and checked me and I was at a glorious 7cm! I felt a small hint of relief at this point. I was worried that I would only be a few centimeters dilated and would ask for the epidural but knowing that I only had 3cm left to go gave me hope that the pain was almost over and I would get to meet Parker soon.
Kris gave the nurse my birth plan at that point and I was happily surprised that she took interest in it and read all two pages of it. The nurse led us down to the delivery room and I had another contraction. I was working through it on the floor with my open back hospital gown exposing my bare backside to anyone and everyone behind me. I don’t know if anyone was actually there for the show, but there could have been a whole crowd and I wouldn’t have cared. Once we got in the room I labored some more on the floor while the nurse filled up the Jacuzzi tub. Why I decided to try the tub again I don’t know. I guess that it was in my head that the tub was going to be huge but it was just a normal soaking tub size. I got in and once again it was a horrible mistake. I couldn’t manage a contraction while in the water and immediately got out.
By this time my midwife, Louanne, showed up. She looked at me and said that it was time to get checked because it looked like I was ready to push. I remember thinking that it couldn’t be time to push already—I had just got to the hospital! I somehow got onto the bed and someone checked me (I can’t remember if it was the nurse or Louanne since everything was fuzzy at this point) and I was at 9.5 centimeters and was told that it was time to start pushing. I was ready for this part because I’ve heard some ladies say that pushing was an easier part of the whole labor process because you’re finally able to relieve the pressure feeling. Oh what a lie that turned out to be.
Pushing was so incredibly painful that I can’t even begin to describe it in words. I never had the urge to push but just started to since Louanne told me to and I couldn’t think for myself at that moment. I wonder if it would have been easier if I waited until my body felt the urge. I started off in the bed on my hands and knees and. I tried that for a couple contractions I was crying and screaming in pain. Louanne told me to lay on my back and it took me forever to flip my body around. I’m not sure why she told me to go into that position. I’m assuming it’s because I had lost all control of my body at that point and wasn’t effectively pushing. During this point Kris asked Louanne if she was familiar with my birth plan and she rattled everything off. Most of the plan was over with at this point (no IV, no epi, etc) but she knew about everything else too, like the immediate skin to skin and delaying all procedures for a few hours.
With each contraction I was told to push. Pure agony. I was still screaming with pain. The birth breathing that I learned about in Hypnobirthing never even crossed my mind. I was told to hold my legs back and instead of yelling, redirect that pain into my pushing efforts. Still no baby. Louanne told me that the head was right there and that Parker had hair which is the one superficial thing that I wanted but at that moment I couldn’t care about whether she was bald or had a full head of beautiful hair. I asked Louanne, more like begged her, to tell me when this would all be over. She said that if she had done an episiotomy then Parker would have been out three contractions ago. Three contractions ago?! That’s all I needed to hear. I had in my birth plan that I wanted to tear naturally but at that moment when I heard that with one cut and one push she would be out I didn’t care about that part of the plan. Louanne did the episiotomy and the sick thing is that it didn’t hurt. Having someone cut my flesh with no drugs did not hurt. That’s how much pain I was in.
Another contraction started and I was told to push with all my might and that Parker would be born. I pushed for what seemed like an eternity, was asked if I wanted to catch her (I declined since I couldn’t focus on anything but pushing) and out she came. It was the single most amazing moment of my life. She was beautiful. Her little body was placed right on my chest and I was in awe that she was here. I was still in shock from the labor experience so that made the moment even more intense. Kris was right by my side with tears in his eyes. Our family was finally together.