Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Baby Girl: A Birth Story

Claire Marie Havrilla 

It was Friday March 5th, and I was at my desk after lunch when my boss stops by my office. He asks, “You are due this weekend, right?” – I said yes and he smiled saying, “Take the rest of the afternoon off and go get some rest.” I gather my things and add, “If I am not here on Monday, do not worry. No news is good news and George will call when we have something to share.”

The weekend was ahead of us. I was feeling pretty confident. We completed the Bradley program several weeks earlier and felt good about the pregnancy and how I was feeling. We were not anxious and carried on as usual.

In the very late hours of Saturday and early morning hours of Sunday I started waking-up repetitively and needing to go to the bathroom over and over again. I would wake, look at the clock and see only an hour had passed since the last bathroom trip. Oh well…

Since we went to Mass on Saturday I woke late on Sunday for breakfast. Around 10:30 – 11am, I shared with George that “something” is happening. Besides feeling her move from time to time… I never felt anything more during the pregnancy, so this was different. Something was “washing” over me about twice an hour. I would say to George, “There it is again, something is happening.” We learned in Bradley classes that you should try and get some sleep when labor begins. Do not get excited and start cleaning or calling friends and family. The road ahead of us could be long. I needed rest and headed back to the bedroom after breakfast and TOOK A 4 HOUR NAP!!!

It is now early evening and George starts to time the contractions. Complete with stopwatch around his neck… a true coach! My contractions are very mild and about every 20 or so minutes. We made dinner, ate – gonna need my strength – and finished packing hospital bag. George printed extra copies of birth plan and started to feel very anxious. I on the other hand feel very matter of fact as I am packing my new “cute” hospital bag.

Around 8:30pm, we decided to start our 2010 Lenten activity by listening to Dr. Brant Pitre CD on Prayer. While we listen, I downloaded a couple free iphone apps on timing contractions – they are coming around 10 mins apart, but not regular. I tell George, “Oh I think this is really it, things are starting to take shape here.” He smiles and tells me to relax.

We decided to both go to bed around 10pm. However, I’m too excited now and stay up to time contractions on my iphone in the dark. Contractions are less than 10 mins apart. It’s getting closer. I am wide AWAKE!

I wake George at 1:30AM with contractions less than 5 mins apart – however, still not regular in length. I got a little freaked out. They were 5 mins apart and it was 1:30 IN THE MORNING. What is a new mama to do? Well, I should have relaxed. Still wasn’t time yet.

George takes a shower and has oatmeal breakfast – he will need his strength, this is the last time he has time to take care of anything for himself.

I get in the shower to relax… when is the right time to go to the hospital? When should we call friends and family? We always heard not to call them too early… what is too early? The shower was very relaxing… I should have just stayed right there.

About an hour later we decided to go to the hospital. Contractions are not regular, but they are freaking me out a little because they are 3 to 5 mins apart. However, they are not consistent.

George followed our “preplanned” route to the hospital avoiding neighborhood bumps and the awful road of Hillside! Who wants to be on that road and contracting? Not me!

George is thrilled! This was the ideal time to go to the hospital – 3AM, on a Monday; no one was on the road. Total stress free for him!

I sat in the back of the Matrix and would tell George when a contraction was too much to continue down the road. He would pull over and try to pull off into a parking lot – I suggested that he just stop the car in the middle of the road… really, at 3AM who was behind us on the street… JUST STOP THE CAR!

I-40 at 3AM was a breeze for George, calm papa driving mama to the hospital… and a breeze for me, no more bumps.

We arrived at BSA and sat in the car for 15 mins. Is it time to go in or not? Is this really it? Should we call people? This is crazy, its 3AM! What should we do?

During this time, while I am contracting, and it’s a little frightening… I could still talk to George and walk into the hospital… we should have known it was still too early.

We walk into the ER. Nurse asks what seems to be the problem, “Just in labor and the front door is locked, how do we get upstairs?” – nurse replies that I didn’t even look pregnant. I think the night shift may have been a little sleepy.

We are wheeled around to the back elevator and head up to labor and delivery. Is this really it?

Arrive at L&D desk and they show me into the triage room. As George is helping me change into a gown in the bathroom… the nurse opens up his folder, that he left on the table, and finds…. THE. BIRTH. PLAN!!!! Oh yes, this couple just walked into a hospital in Amarillo Texas with a birth plan. One that, given mom and baby are safe, lists “Please Do:” and “No, Thank You:”…. I am certain they thought I seen one too many TLC’s Baby Story!

When George and I come out of the bathroom, the nurse has brought the charge nurse into the room and they are both standing there. The charge nurse asks, “We found your birth plan, is your doctor aware of this? We say yes and Dr. C is fully supportive of our wishes. Oh course I did not watch TLC to get my birth plan organized. George and I took over 20 hours of Bradley instructed birth classes and were well prepared for this birth.

I sit down on bed and start 45 mins of monitoring – they check me and say, “You are at 2cm.” I say or think something about making a mistake and that we should go home. I am disappointed. We are not supposed to come to the hospital this early! What are we doing here? It’s still too early.

Nurse comes back and says Dr. C would like for me to walk the hospital floor for 2 hours and be checked by the same nurse before 7. Sounds reasonable, we head off to tour the hospital. It is now raining outside and George runs to the car to put some things away… he comes back to find me asleep on the lobby couch. All I wanted to do was sleep!!!! I would have camped on the floor if he had let me.

We head up the stairs and find the cafeteria – OH. GROSS. Nothing like early morning eggs to throw a laboring mama into being nauseous! Lets get away from here. We find a hallway filled with BSA heritage items. It was like walking down a museum hall on the history of BSA. Kept us busy for a little while…. reading, contracting, walking, reading, contracting, walking… We started to develop a rhythm and a path – past the board of directors’ pictures, across the artifacts and circle around by the staircase… oh that staircase was a sweet spot. It felt so good to lean over it, making my laboring sounds and feel the cool breeze coming up from downstairs! We walked from the stairwell to the end of the hallway and would repeat – all with George’s encouragement… otherwise I would have napped right there at the top of the stairs, all I wanted to do was sleep. 

The two hours goes by really fast for me… very slow for George.

At 6:45AM – we head back to L&D, check me, I am at a 3cm. I say, “We are out of here, I want to go home”. Nurse calls Dr. C and he wants to talk with me. They patch him into the phone by the bed, I tell him I want to go home, he is encouraging and says, “I bet you’ll have this baby soon and I’ll see ya around lunch.” – I think I apologized for waking him up. He said not to worry, I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last.

We head out to the car. Its now about 8AM – the hospital lobby is very very busy – it also seemed really loud. But I guess since I was in labor, all my senses were heightened. George goes to get the car and I run into someone from church. To this day, when I see her I always remember this moment and smile. She came up to me and asked how I was doing… I shared that I was in labor and not ready just yet, so we were heading back home.  She smiled and said, “It would be soon and everything was going to be OK.” George pulled up and we headed home.

George is now driving in a full on rainstorm with a traffic filled on I-40… very different from 5 hours earlier. But we are going home; baby is not ready yet… the hospital is not where I need to be.

8:30AM – Get home and I immediately get into bed. George and I talk about if he should go into work or stay with me. For a brief moment I encourage him to maybe go in… then we reconsider. While it’s not time, it is more serious than things were at 1AM. He stays and continues to time contractions.

Because of the Bradley birth classes we took via Donna Ryan in the DFW area – I was 100% confident. I would have stayed at the hospital if we did not have the education of Bradley. Being at home was soooooo comfortable… and once I settled in, I was able to SLEEP between contractions. Really, I actually took naps in-between contractions. Amazing!

George starts timing contractions again. I do not care to play with the iphone anymore. I start to lose the concept of time and just manage each contraction as it comes… I would wake from a mini nap and say “Time” – indicating to George one was coming on. At some point I get sick…. It was a little frightening because it was an uncontrollable throw-up that I could not catch my breath for. George helps me and I settle back down again.

I now have the urge to go to the bathroom. I need to have a BM. George remembers this is one of the signs and calls Donna in Fort Worth. While I am in the bathroom, a little unsure of this new sensation, George is on the phone with Donna. Things have changed. I can no longer talk during the contractions….nor stand. I walk back out to the bedroom and George wants me to lean on him for support and to keep moving. I am not able to do anything. I do not want to walk, talk, think, move…nothing!

We learned that you should try and keep moving to encourage the labor… but I am now at the point where he has to “talk me into doing things” – ah ha, time to go to the hospital!

We head back up to BSA at 1PM

L&D triage me again and check me, I. AM. AT. A 4!!!! WHAT? It’s still too early to be here… but mentally, I know I am done being at home.

While I am waiting for the nurse, I start to hold onto the bed rails when a contraction comes on. I still have that urge to go to the bathroom... so I need something to counter that pressure I am feeling. So pulling on the side of the bed helps.

A fabulous nurse is assigned to us, Brooke, and she totally understood our birth plan. She put my hep lock in and moved us to our room.  Apparently we ended up with some of my blood squirting out onto the floor.  Both George and Brooke played it cool, and I was none the wiser (in fact George wrote this part), because my husband knows I would freak out and then probably pass out while Brooke was just being professional. George changed into his bicycle scrubs and we settled in.

The room is dark. The nurse settles us in and heads off to get me some ice. I am relaxed and for the next few hours things pretty much feel the same…. I have the urge to go to the bathroom so I am in and out of there… nothing happens except the last time I go, I come out to announce that I have lost my mucus plug.

I progress along to a 6 and I think then an 8. Dr. C comes in after 4:30 and checks me saying things are going fine.

As each contraction washes over me I go from freezing to blazing hot – Brooke brings me this blanket that feels like it was in some type of oven… HEAVEN. I request George to turn the AC up and then to turn the AC down. This is cycling about every 3 to 5 mins.

Looking back now, I realize that this is the time when people normally call family and friends… maybe even do a little posting on facebook. Little do I know that people are actually looking for me. It’s Monday and I didn’t show up for work….so I am MIA. But the last time I could put two thoughts together was 3AM – so here we are at 3PM and I have no concept of anything outside of our little room.

Things begin to intensify… I go from hot to cold, cold to hot. I keep asking George to turn the AC on and to turn it off. I tell George I must be in transition. He says, “You are not in transition because you keep talking to me.” I do not find this helpful.
On a side note, George pointed out after Claire was born that he was not really turning the AC on and off because he was afraid he might break it, so he pretended to fulfill my request.  I later share with him that instead of saying “Turn the AC up, turn the AC down” I just pointed to make him think I am in transition.

At some point after 6PM I say, “Brooke, I’m gonna say something funny. It feels like my butt is gonna blow out and I might hurt myself.” Brooke says, “Well that means you can start pushing.” Now mind you I have felt this sensation since we came back to the hospital a second time. I just kept “taken it” if you will until I felt like I was gonna hurt myself. Could I have pushed sooner all along if I would have spoke up?

Its 6:15 and I start pushing. But wait! Where is the water that is supposed to break? I have not mentioned anything about my water breaking. My water is still 100% intact. I asked that it not be broken and here I start to push with the “comfort” of it still there.

During my pushing I asked that the perineum oil I brought be used. Again, both nurse and doctor are happy to fill this birthing plan request. Putting pressure where needed and massaging.

I remember a handful of long pushing sessions, Dr. C holding a towel up and saying, “When that water breaks it will hit the wall.”, Brooke encouraging me but not being a cheerleader and George filling me with confidence as he watched from my side with excitement. Saying all along, “Babe, you are really doing this! I can see the baby coming!”

At 6:45 Claire was born, and the sack of water broke as she came out. After checking her out for about just a minute, they gave her to me and I started to breastfeed her. I then said, “I am never going back to work!” Everyone in the room laughs and says that’s not what they normally hear. I guess since the decision to stay home with her was talked about so much, all of a sudden having her I found a release. It has always been a struggle on what I was going to do concerning work. I struggled in the months after she was born on what I wanted to do too. However, I am stepping out of the business world to take a few years off. She is only little and at home all day for so long, for our family it’s what will be best.

Dr. C continued to tend to me. I think I had a couple 2-degree tears. This is the first time I worried about not having an epidural. The entire labor and delivery has passed and this is my first time I actually worry that something may hurt really bad, stitching me up.  However, nothing hurt. It was about as painful as my trips to the dental office. Little prick here and there.

While Dr. C is stitching me up I ask, “Are you putting the melting stitches in so they go away like magic?” – the nurses, George and Dr. C laugh saying, “Yes the ones that dissolve.”

After everyone is done with their job and shift change takes place, we get the best compliment ever. The night charge nurse comes in and says, “You just gave Brooke the best day at work! She said your birth was amazing and you guys worked as a great team! So Thank YOU!” – WOW, we were just thankful to have such an amazing, kind and supportive nurse what was willing to work with my body and baby! Everyone won that night!

So here we sit on Claire’s birthday and I would go natural all over again. The education we received prepared us to understand the phases of birth that my body passed thru, which allowed us to be prepared and manage the birth along with my body. My cycles returned 3 months after she was born and everything has worked like clockwork since. We’ll see what the future holds! 


Karen said...

This is such a beautiful story! Thank you for posting. I love reading about other Bradley births. It's so encouraging for my upcoming one. :)

Melissa said...

That is awesome! I'm so glad you had such a good experience. Preparation is key and I'm going to pass your story onto other moms considering the Bradley classes.

Tricia said...

beautiful. story, you, and claire :)