This wasn't in my Birth Plan!
Last Friday was our daughter’s 2nd birthday, which had me reminiscing over her birth. During my pregnancy I kept a journal called Love Letters for Baby Renteria. After baby Eisley was born, I made sure to write her birth story so I wouldn’t forget anything. Someday she will be able to read about her journey into this world! I’m sharing this with you as a raw, real-life birth experience and a reminder that no matter how many books you read, classes you take, or videos you watch online, your “birth plan” is just that…a PLAN, and not everything goes as planned.
|Still hiking mountains at 36 weeks pregnant!|
July 21, 2014-4:08am-We went to bed around 11:30pm last night after going to Gold’s Gym for some treadmill time. I was sleeping fairly well until I started dreaming that I was beginning to have contractions. In my dream, I thought, “Ohh, so this is what a contraction feels like.” It felt somewhat like period crams in the front lower abdominal area that wrapped around to my lower back and down into my thighs. I kept dreaming about it until I woke up to go pee. “Well, that was a pretty weird dream, because I am awake now but still feel those sensations.” I sat (rolled) up out of bed, drank some water, went pee, and then climbed back into bed. Everyone said if labor starts in the middle of the night, try to go back to sleep because you’ll need the energy later. I feel like I halfway fell back asleep, for maybe twenty minutes, but I was still conscious of the pressure sensations. I checked the time on my phone, 3:41am. I closed my eyes to sleep, felt two more surges, checked the time, 3:52am. Okay, my hospital book said to drink a glass of water, walk around, lie on your side, and see if the surges stop. I did all of those things, but they are continuing to happen. I just went pee again, with the light on this time, and noticed there was a little bit of bloody stuff in there too. Possibly my mucous plug? The past two day I’ve had a lot more discharge and it has been slightly blood tinged. Pretty sure that’s a sign of my cervix dilating and effacing.
Tom is asleep. I don’t want to wake him until I feel like it’s time for him to start massaging my lower back with the two tennis balls I tied in a tube sock. As I’m writing this (sitting on the hallway floor in my underwear), I keep wondering if these sensations are going to stop, as if maybe they’re Braxton Hicks? The other part of me is thinking, “This is the real thing. Labor is finally happening! Why don’t you stop writing and lay your ass back in bed for a while?”
5:44am-I’ve 100% been having contractions for the past two hours. I just got up out of bed. I am eating a banana and Greek yogurt with homemade red raspberry leaf tea. My hands are shaky and I feel a little bit feverish. I’m pretty cold and it’s nearly 75° in the house.
July 22, 2014- WELCOME TO THE WORLD EISLEY SAGE RENTERIA! WE ARE SO IN LOVE WITH YOU! Let me take it back to where I had left off…so, early Monday morning after eating a little food, I was feeling feverish. I started to grab last minute items for the hospital bag, fed the dogs an early breakfast, and told Tom he needed to do his college schoolwork as quickly as possible. I had all the intentions of taking a shower, but that went away soon enough. One contraction took me off guard with the tension and sensation so badly that I ran into the bathroom, sat on the floor, and began throwing up. It tasted like the banana and caramel Greek yogurt I had recently eaten, awesome! Tom was on the laptop in his office, so I brought my birth ball in there to join him. Not exactly sure how long I sat on the ball resting my arms on stacked pillows, but I began timing the contractions. Once they were five minutes apart for over an hour, I decided it was time to go to the hospital. Tome was running around the house making sure we had everything. Of course we waited this long to install the car seat even though we should’ve done it weeks ago! Traffic wasn’t bad and the Main Gate to get on base (Ft. Carson) was moving quickly. He drove straight to the Emergency Room entrance since it was closest to the Tower Elevators. I got out with just my purse and Tom left quickly to the Main parking lot because a hospital staff member said an ambulance needed to park there. A man let me through some doors and I had to ask another man where the Tower Elevators were. I felt so lost, but was just two minutes away from them. I went up to the third flood to the Mountain Post Birthing Center. Three ladies at the desk just stared without saying anything. “Hi, I’m pretty sure I am in labor!” I said. They had me fill out a slip of paper and sit in the waiting room. I sat there with my eyes closed, trying to do my Yogi breathing and stay relaxed. Tom walked in and wondered what was going on. Why was I sitting in an empty waiting room? Two nurses took my slip of paper and had us follow them into an exam room.
I changed into a gown, peed in a cup for a sample, and laid on the table for them to come back. It seemed like they were taking their sweet time. Once they returned, they hooked me up to a heart monitor, blood pressure cuff, and a fetal monitor that they connected around my belly. It was strapped pretty tightly and felt like it was squishing my uterus. Not a good feeling. Tom and I had to wait again, this time so they could monitor Eisley’s heart rate along with my contractions for twenty minutes. Tom was already texting our family members letting them know that I had gone into labor. My twenty minute test turned into over thirty minutes because they kept having trouble keeping the monitor in the correct spot, so they would have to start over. When they had enough information printed out on the sheet, it was time for the nurse to “check” me to see how dilated and effaced my cervix was. They called it cervical sweeping. Little did I know how dang uncomfortable it would feel, plus the stronger, more painful contractions that would follow. “Well, you have a nice, stretchy cervix,” she said, “but you’re only 4cm dilated and 75% effaced. We need you to go walk around or do something to pass an hour of time. If you dilate further to a 5 or 6, then we can admit you.” That was probably the worst news they could’ve told me! I thought for sure that I was closer than that!
Why do they tell you to go to the hospital when your contractions are five minutes apart for at least an hour straight? We walked around for about five minutes before I decided to go pass time in the waiting room instead. There was a long bench that Tom could sit on and I could lay down on my side with my head resting on his lap. There was a TV playing awful daytime drama shows questioning different men with paternity tests over a baby that didn’t resemble any of them.
“Give me a blue bag. Give me a blue bag now!” I demanded. He handed one to me just in time for me to bluuuuuuuuughhhhhhhhhh, puke. Did I mention that I puked in a trashcan in the exam room, and then a second time when they first gave me the blue barf bags? Poor Tom had to walk to the front desk of the birthing center to give them my blue bag full of stomach acid and other nasty stuff. It was only 9:15am and I already had four puke sessions down. My body was already feeling dehydrated and exhausted. Drinking water made me nauseous. The labor experience so far hadn’t been ANYTHING I had expected. Out of all the birth stories I read online, or videos I watched on YouTube, not a single one involved so much throw up! Since when did I have a sensitive stomach? None of this was in my detailed birth plan, ahhh! The bright side of being so tired was my ability to slightly fall asleep between contractions. It was a tiny bit awkward and funny when I looked up and saw a teenage girl sitting on the other end of the waiting room. She had headphones on and no, she wasn’t pregnant. I’m assuming her mother was having another child because a man came in and said, “They just gave her the epidural. She’s feeling much better now.”
When Tom woke me up to tell me it was 10:05am, I was pretty excited. The hour had passed! We went back to the exam room and they had to do the same routine as before. Twenty minutes of monitoring followed by some lovely cervical sweeping. Now, for the moment of truth…”Well, you’re still only 4cm dilated. This could be early labor, but it could also be false labor. This could go on for a few days before going into labor or it could even go away. We can’t really tell. Now, you have the option of actually walking the halls for another hour to see if it progresses, or you can go home.” NO! That is not what I wanted to hear! I was so let down. I couldn’t imagine going though this for multiple days. Are you kidding me? I made the decision to go home. I would be more comfortable and Tom could possibly work on that big Psychology paper that was due by midnight. Thank goodness our house is about a thirteen minute drive from the hospital. Sitting in the car while having contractions was extremely uncomfortable! I believe we got home at 11:00am. Too bad that our house doesn’t have air conditioning and it was already very hot outside. Our thermostat in the living room said 86°F. Not only was I dehydrated from throwing up so much, but I was sweating until my hair and clothes were soaked. Bad combo. We prepped the bed to be my labor throne. We propped up extra pillows, put a towel down in case my water broke, turned on some 432 hz meditation music, kept the extra blue bags within reach, laid a cold washcloth on my neck, and tucked a bag of frozen corn on my lower back. My hippie paradise blew out walking the hospital halls any day! Now it felt like a waiting game. I knew for a fact that I was in early labor; I didn’t care what those nurses told me.
|Laboring at home|
I was relaxed enough to fall asleep between contractions. Tom was able to do school work in his office. Every now and then he would wake me up to drink some water. I was slightly annoyed because I just wanted to sleep, but I know it was for the best and helped me attempt to re-hydrate. I started to lose track of time. I purposely didn’t look at the time so I wouldn’t become fixated on how fast or slow it was going. I did everything that I could to stay focused within myself. Luckily, just a couple days before, I had put together a Hypnobirthing playlist on my iPhone. My prenatal yoga instructor had made me a CD with birthing affirmations, two body scans, guided meditations, and relaxing music. I also downloaded a few of the Rainbow Relaxation meditations. A wonderful lady at our Unitarian church (Spiritual Center of the Rockies) is a hypnotherapist and made two 45 minute cds of guided meditations. One is the Power of Strength and the other is the Faculty of Power. Every now and then I’d have to run to the bathroom so I could throw up in the toilet. I wanted to save those bags for later. Tom upped his hydration game by giving me water with those Emergen-C packets. He would give me a new bag of frozen vegetables to put on my back once the others were thawed. He also would replace the washcloth to be cold again on my neck and head. What an awesome man. He truly did whatever he could to support me and make me feel better. Sometimes he would try to massage my back and I’d tell him to stop because for some reason, any touch felt uncomfortable to me. Eventually, the contractions became much stronger and seemed closer together. I decided to check things out with the stopwatch on my phone. Sure enough, they now were only three minutes apart and were lasting longer. Tom raw a warm bath for me to sit in. Too bad our tub is so small; the water only came up to the bottom of my belly. The point of the bath is to cover most of your belly to help relax the muscles. Tom grabbed a plastic pitcher to pour water on my belly for me. It actually felt much better being in the bath, but the pressure it put on my lower back was painful.
After twenty minutes or so, I was ready to lay back down on our bed. I dried off and put on some clean clothes. The sun was beginning to snuggle its way down to the mountains. I couldn’t believe it was almost sunset! It hadn’t seemed like that much time had passed. Contractions were growing in strength and discomfort. My mind started to wonder and doubt everything I had originally planned for a natural childbirth. “If early labor hurts this bad, I can’t even imagine what active labor will feel like! What about pushing? I don’t think I can do this. I think I was to get an epidural now. Those women must be crazy that don’t get epidurals” I thought to myself. There is one thing that I told myself throughout pregnancy: birth is not a competition. I’m not trying to prove how tough I am or put myself through something that I don’t want to happen. In the end, I need to do what I feel is best for me to safely and happily get my baby into my arms…even if that meant changing my birth plan.
I used the stopwatch to time my contractions again. They were only 2 ½ minutes apart. I got up and told Tom it was time to go. He questioned my decision, because if we got to the hospital and I wasn’t dilated 6cm, we would have to walk the halls or come back home again. I was sure it was time and I was sure he wasn’t moving fast enough. I waited while leaning on the car. He fed the dogs and put them in their kennels. He grabbed the last bag of frozen corn and my two “comfort” pillows. We were off towards base. It was annoying waiting in line at the gate because it seemed like they were moving in slow motion. Tom handed the guy our IDs to scan and said, “WE’RE IN LABOR” to hurry him up.
About two minutes later I was walking through the ER doors yet again. Somehow, this time I was actually in the Emergency waiting room and I didn’t know which hallway led to the Tower Elevators. I rushed up to the front window to ask the guy where I was supposed to go. He was taking his time to spin his desk chair around and ask me what I needed. I said, “I’m in LABOR! Where are the Birthing Center elevators?” He gave me directions and I was quickly on my way. I wondered what all of those people in the ER waiting room thought about seeing a woman in labor, wearing leggings and no bra. My hair had been soaked through with sweat from having a fever all day. I had a bag over my shoulder, pillow under my arm, and a bag of frozen corn stuck down the backside of my leggings to give relief to my lower back pain-due to Eisley’s head pushing on my spine. Her face was up towards my belly button, Sunny Side Up. I re-checked into the entry desk of the Ft. Carson Birthing Center. They put me in a liaison room to change into a hospital gown and wrap my belly tightly with the fetal monitoring belt. It was very uncomfortable and caused me to be in much more pain with each contraction! It was strange that with that machine attached to my, the waves and sounds would increase leading up to a contraction; so not only did I know when a contraction was coming, but they did too. Tom made it to the room after parking the car. I had to pee in a cup in a tiny bathroom. It shared a room on the other side and another pregnant lady came into the bathroom while Tom and I were in there! It was a big surprise and it seemed we startled her back into her own room. I was having a contraction and holding onto the metal toilet assistance bar and could’ve cared less.
We went back into the room so they could sweep my cervix. This time I surprisingly barely felt anything compared to the painful first time back at 4cm. The nurse said, “Oh, wow, you are at 8 or 9cm. You’re ready to have a baby!” Thank goodness! I had been praying and manifesting that I was dilated at least to 6cm. You start pushing at 10cm, I was SO CLOSE. They put us in the waiting area so they could get our actual Labor Room ready. The nurse asked if I had any special requests in my birth plan. I told her about experiencing the $30,000 brand new Jacuzzi to help relax. I was pre-approved, signed the release form, and had been dreaming about that water labor! She said, “It’s too late for that! You’re ready to have this baby! We need to get you in a room and this is a busy place tonight. Lots of babies being born!” I was shocked. What?! This was part of my birth plan! This was the only time I was going to be having a baby! I wanted to be in the warm water, floating and having pressure jets massaging my belly. Now I had to think of the various labor positions we learned from the birth class and my prenatal yoga classes. I wanted a birthing ball! I wanted a squatting bar! I wanted to listen to music with the lights down low! We got to our room. It was very nice; large with wood floors and nice furniture. A large bed with the baby bassinet cart there in the room. All of the baby’s tests, cleaning, and procedures would be done right there next to me. That made me very happy!
They gave me an IV for fluids since I had been throwing up with a fever all day. I was so dehydrated. I hadn’t eaten anything in nearly 17 hours. They also, sadly, had to give me at least 4 hours of antibiotics because I had tested positive for the B test. If not, the baby would have to be monitored at a different hospital for two days, and then we would both have to stay at Ft. Carson hospital an additional two days. How would I get the 4 hours of antibiotics if they said I was ready to have the baby?! A lady came in and introduced herself as my midwife for delivery, Lily. She was a sassy lady wearing high heels and a white doctor’s coat. She was very serious about catering to me. What did I want to do for pain relief? What was my birth plan? Did I want an epidural? Even though I was dilated to 9cm, she said, “If you want to get an epidural, we can get it for you! Whatever you want to feel more comfortable. You are doing great! I can’t believe how quiet and calm you are right now. You are handling the pain very well!” That gave me a slight boost of confidence. I was exhausted. I asked, “Well, doesn’t the epidural make me lose sensation or control in my legs? I don’t want that.” She said, “Yes, it usually does that.” Alright. So, I opted for a shot of a muscle relaxer in my IV. It wasn’t 100% medication-free labor like I had imagined in my plan, but neither was being sick all day and draining my energy. Pretty sure that I got sick at least 11 times. Within minutes, I felt so much better! The fluids and meds re-hydrated me and gave me a second wind. Weirdly, my contractions began to slow and actually became further apart. I was totally alright with this because I got to finally relax a little. I may have taken a few mini naps between the contractions.
|Hypnobirthing playlist with guided meditations|
Tom was on his phone communicating to our family and friends all of the labor updates. He turned on the flat screen TV to the History Channel for Pawn Stars. It looked like a Pawn Stars marathon, and I think that show is annoying! That is okay though, I was in my own zone. I had a pillow from home under my head and another one under my legs. I had a bag of frozen corn between my lower back and the bed. I played the Hillsong United song, Oceans (Where My Feet May Fail), on repeat for hours! Somehow, over FOUR HOURS had passed. Success! We got enough antibiotics! Now we continued to wait. Things started to feel different. I couldn’t explain it. Tom thought something was wrong with me, but it wasn’t; I was doing my yogi breathing. When exhaling, I let out a long “ahhhhhhhh.” We practiced it in the prenatal yoga classes. We called it, “breathing out the baby” when the baby was making their way down the birth canal. This is when women usually start pushing, but I wanted to try “breathing baby out” or the “no purple pushing face” methods. After some time, I told Tom I was ready to start pushing. I pressed the nurse button. Nobody came. Pressed again. Still, nobody. I told Tom to go out and find someone!
I was in a contraction when they all came back into my room: Tom, the nurse, Lily the midwife, and the baby specialist. I told them I was ready now. I wanted to get up so I could be in a squatting position. Lily said I didn’t need to do that. Laying on the bed would be easier…I didn’t want that though. They tilted the back of my bed to a higher angle. I handed the nurse the defrosted, soggy bag of corn from behind me. The nurse held my left leg, Tom held my right. I didn’t want him to be that up close and personal for such a view! I didn’t want to freak him our! Why was Pawn Stars still on the TV? The nurse told me to push. I started to push and did a loud, “ahhh!” while pushing as hard as I could. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. After the contraction was over, I laid my head back down, trying to relax. The nurse said to me, “You can’t push effectively if you’re making noises. Try to stay quiet and you’ll be able to push better and for longer.” Hmmm I had never heard of that before. I closed my eyes, listened to my music, nestling into my meditation zone until the next contraction came.
I felt the pressure surging and said, “It’s coming It’s almost here.” The nurse and Tom held onto my legs again while Lily the midwife was front and center. They would count to ten for me to continue pushing which was actually very helpful. When I was pregnant, I had read about “instinctively” knowing when to push and that it wasn’t necessary for someone to be counting for you. I viewed it as a coach. Besides the first contraction with pushing, the remaining ones were done quietly, nearly silently. I didn’t make any verbal sounds while pushing which really did seem to give me strength. The midwife said I was a wonderful pusher and that I was doing a great job. I thought about the various prenatal yoga poses and kegel exercises that I had practiced so much, in hopes of making the active labor pushing process easier. Sometimes between contractions I would do my “yogic” or “victorious” breathing. I kept repeating this: each time I exhaled, I focused on moving the breath downwards, through my birth canal, and assisting Eisley further on her journey.
The midwife said, “You’re crowning! We see her head! She’s got dark hair like her daddy!” I’m not exactly sure what I said, but I believe it was somewhere along the lines of, “Can we pull her out? Can’t you just pull her out?” The fact that I was crowning sort of freaked me out. I was so exhausted but felt proud of myself because that is supposed to be the most painful part of birth. I was so close! Lily said to give her one more strong push and Tom told me to, “Go hard!” which I did. AMAZING! YOU WERE BORN! I pushed you out in about 20 minutes, which seemed like time had stopped. Tom cut the umbilical cord. Eisley was born on July 22, 2014 at 1:20am weighing 6lbs 7oz and 19 3/4in long, after a good 22 ½ hours of labor!
|A moment before they took her away|
I had no concept of time. Why was it so quiet? Why did the specialty baby nurse take you to the side of our delivery room to work on her before giving her to me? Eisley came out quietly, not crying, but not breathing either. This was fairly common in Colorado due to the high elevation and thin air, but that didn’t lessen my panic. Tom was next to her and the midwife instructed me to push out the placenta. The nurse wrapped Eisley in a blanket and was hand-pumping oxygen through a mask over her face. They handed her to me for a quick photo then took her to the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery. The birthing center did not have a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, so if something serious was wrong, they would have to put her in an ambulance and drive 20 minutes to a different civilian hospital. In the delivery room, it was just the midwife and I. She told me that I did an amazing job and stayed very calm during the entire process. I maintained the pain well. It was fairly easy to push out the placenta, but now I felt much more pain after giving birth! I was physically and mentally drained. All I wanted was to hold her, skin-to-skin on my bare chest, and allow her to begin the nursing journey. The golden window for kangaroo time! What if my milk wouldn’t come in the same since we didn’t get that chance? What if our bond was affected without that opportunity? I hadn’t thought about any complications while I was pregnant, coming up with my “birth plan”.
|Tom with Eisley in the Neonatal Special Nursery|
Nearly an hour had passed. I was laying on the bed, alone in the delivery room. I had never experienced such loneliness before. I was in great discomfort. The nurse brought me a microwaved meal, but I had no appetite. I hadn’t eaten in nearly 22 hours. Tom wheeled baby Eisley into the room with the specialty nurse. She was swaddled and all cleaned up. They told me that she began breathing on her own by the time they made it to the special nursery, so they went ahead and took her measurements, tests, and footprints. With Tom and the two nurses next to me, I opened my gown and held her on me. I had been waiting for that magical moment. She was so tiny! I couldn’t believe she was finally in my arms after carrying her around in my belly the entire pregnancy. I couldn’t believe that I was actually a parent now. So many thoughts and emotions flooded me. The nurses were trying to tell me how to hold her and how to help her to latch on, but I had tuned them out. This was our time, finally. Healthy, safe, loved.
After Eisley nursed, they put her back in the bassinet. They moved her and Tom to our “recovery” room, while they finished up a few things with me. “All you have to do now is pee, and then I can let you go to your room,” the nurse told me. Seemed easy enough, until I scooted to move off of the bed. OUCH. Pain! I slowly waddled into the restroom which had a metal bar for me to grab. I plopped down peed away! It caused me more pain than anything else before. I was crying, full-fledged sobbing, my hands were shaking, and I felt a glimpse of self-doubt. How was the postpartum recovery process going to be? How long would it be this painful to simply go pee? When would I be healed? The nurse helped me up and walked me down the hall to my new room. We still had to wait for two other people to come talk to us before being left alone. They gave us such a long talk about shaken baby syndrome and the importance of putting the baby down if we ever feel angry or upset. Did they really have to do this talk at that very moment? It was nearly 3:15am and I was WORN OUT.
Tom had a small pull-out bed on the couch, well, the cushions came out at least. Eisley’s wheeled bassinet was parked next to me. I set my alarm to wake up in two hours, because sometimes right after birth, babies have to be woken up to be fed since they’re so exhausted from their journey through the birth canal and out into this loud, bright, crazy world. This also helped establish my breastmilk supply.
|Welcome to the world Eisley Sage!|
Anyways, all is well. Our family is finally united. I have evolved into a woman that I never knew existed. Eisley has fostered a love in me beyond my comprehension. She is the universe, a child of the cosmos, made up of energy and stardust. I promise to love her to the moon and back, for eternity.