Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Birth Story: Scout Jocelyn

Photos by Kyle Smith

           Ever since I came home from the hospital I have been thinking about writing my birth story. I mostly wanted it for my own personal records so I could always remember the day that Scout entered our lives. When I was pregnant particularly towards the end of my pregnancy I loved reading my friend’s birth stories. They gave me a small glimpse into what it would be like to give birth to my baby. DISCLAIMER, this is a birth story so if you don’t want the nitty gritty details then I suggest you go back to the pictures:) So here is my story.
            At about 36 weeks I started preparing myself for the possibility that Scout could come at any time. The last bit of pregnancy is pretty rough. I felt that I was in a constant state of limbo. I was secretly hoping that Scout would come a bit early because I was DONE being pregnant, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up because most first time moms go past their due dates. Anyways as my due date approached I was super anxious hoping that Scout would decide to come soon! Well my due date came and went and needless to say I was kind of disappointed. Logan was on his spring break and he made it his mission to keep me very busy so I wouldn’t obsess over when the baby was coming. We went to the beach pretty much every day, laid by the pool, at spicy foods, went to the movies, and stayed up late talking.
            Well the day after my due date I went to the doctor at about 8:30am and she told me that I was dilated 3cm and was 90% effaced. But I was having NO contractions. I called my mom on my way home from the doctor’s office and she just decided that it was time to drive down to Irvine. I kept telling her that it could be another week, but she insisted that the baby was coming soon (I was hoping she was right). So I went home and laid my giant body on the couch.  At about 1pm I started having some cramps, which I had been having for weeks. To be honest I had no idea if they were contractions or if they were just the Braxton Hicks tricky pains. I started timing them just in case and after a few hours I noticed that they were coming every 20 minutes. Logan was home hanging out and I don’t think he thought it was the real deal. We kept making plans for the night and decided to go pick up a pizza and then go and see Cinderella (my choice of course.) We got in the car to grab the pizza and as we were going over a speed bump I had a contraction. It was NOT a good combination! It was at that point that Logan and I realized that this might kind of be the real thing. But don’t worry I still insisted that we get the pizzaJ When we got home I got comfortable and started using my hypnobirthing techniques to get through the pain of my contractions. We wanted to labor at home for as long as possible because it was more comfortable for both of us. To be honest my pain was INTENSE, but I was able to breathe through them and re-center myself after each of contraction. My mom and sister got to the house around 8pm and we laid around the living room talking about what the next couple of days would bring. By about 10pm my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. We all decided to go to bed and get as much sleep as we could since it was bound to be a long night. I don’t think my mom slept AT ALL. That could be attributed to the fact that Tani was snoring or that was anxiously waiting for us to come in the room and tell her it was time to goJ Logan and I went into the bedroom and laid in bed together. About every 10 minutes I would have a contraction and Logan and hold me as I breathed in and out. The pain was concentrated in my lower abdomen and it wrapped around to my lower back. I was so grateful to have Logan there with me. He was such a source of comfort and strength through the entire night. That pretty much continued on for the rest of the night and at about 4am my contractions were about 7 minutes apart and getting stronger. We decided to call the hospital and they told us that we could go ahead and come in and they would check me.  We then got up and took our time as we got dressed and ate some cereal and chatted in the still dark house. Logan loaded the car as Kimala and Tani and I grabbed our last minute things and then we headed to the hospital in Laguna Hills. I was experiencing a ton of emotions on the drive down. I was so excited that Scout was on her way, scared that this wasn’t the real thing and I would be sent home, and apprehensive to soon be responsible for a new baby. I remember looking over at Logan as he navigated his way down the 405 and was calmed down immediately, because I knew I would not be doing this by myself.
            We pulled up in from of the Women’s hospital and after pausing for a contraction in the parking lot we went upstairs and checked in. They took us into the triage room and checked me. I was dilated to 5cm and was 100% effaced. They then tracked my contractions and they were at a solid 9 minutes apart. I was so excited that I had progressed, but concerned that in 17 hours my contractions had not gotten closer than 9 minutes apart. They decided to admit me and then we headed upstairs. Kimala, Tani, Logan and I got my room all organized. When Dr. Mendelsohn came in she told me that we needed to get my contractions closer together because at the rate I was going we could be at this for days, which I knew that I could not take. We decided to take a couple of hours and try to close that gap a bit. So for two hours I walked, rocked, bounced and tried to stay as mobile as possible. I was still managing my pain well, but was concerned about how long I could endure. After 19 hours of labor my contractions were still 9 minutes apart and I was pretty discouraged. We then decided with Dr. Mendelsohn that it was time to break my water. She did warn me that if we did this my contractions would get stronger and closer together very quickly. Then the pulled out the water breaking stick (yes it’s pretty much just a long stick) and released the amniotic fluid from my Uterus. It pretty much just felt like I was peeing my pants. But holy cow it was PAINFUL!  
            Then ladies and gentlemen things got REAL! My contractions went from being 9 minutes apart to 1 minute apart almost immediately. I had decided early on in my pregnancy that along with Logan I also wanted my mom and my sister to be there for the birth. My philosophy was that I wanted to be surrounded by people that bring me comfort and make me feel loved. Logan was pretty much my birth coach through the whole thing, he was right there for me the entire time saying comforting things and holding me when the situation permitted. Then Kimala and Tani were doing EVERYTHING else. They were talking to the nurses, organizing the room, rubbing my back and feet and basically making me feel safe and secure. You would think that having three support people would be a crowd in a situation like this, but it was amazing to see all three of them work together to take care of me. They were all so respectful of each other and were filled with so much love for our family.  After it was all over our nurse Heather called us “a well oiled machine” and said she had never seen people work together like they did.           
            Sorry back to the story… After my contractions accelerated and got super painful I was constantly moving from position to position trying to relieve some of the pressure I was feeling. My pain scale pretty much shot through the roof and since my contractions were so close together I was having a difficult time grounding myself in between them. I couldn’t even talk myself down enough and as a result I was feeling super panicked. Logan was with me through every single contraction. He would hold me close and say positive affirmations over and over again trying to keep me calm. After about two hours of having contractions one minute apart I distinctly remember laying on the hospital bed and looking Logan in the eyes. As my contractions were coming on I just kept saying his name over and over again as I started to cry from the exhaustion. Logan’s strong expression melted away as he cried with me. He was truly experiencing my pain with me. As I looked up at everyone else in the room I noticed that they were all looking away in what I must assume was an attempt to give Logan and I some privacy for the intimate moment we were experiencing.
            At that point I realized how incredibly exhausted we both were and I decided that I needed to know how far along I was. I asked them to check me because I was feeling pretty lost and discouraged. They then told me that I was 7cm!!! Only 7cm!!! I was so incredibly disappointed… At that point the only thing to do was to keep on going. I continued to labor and at that point my contractions started to overlap so at times there was no time in between them. After another hour I looked up at Logan and said, “I need an epidural.” He then immediately said, “Ok!” and talked to the nurse to get the anesthesiologist on his way. I had naturally labored for over 20 hours and had dialted to a 7 and for me it was time to rest. I knew that I could not continue like that and have the energy to push out my baby. So the anesthesiologist came in after about 45 minutes and got started. My contractions were on top of each other so I just tried to stay focused on the fact that soon I would be experiencing some relief. I guess I signed a form and he read me the risks (which I do not remember at all).  As he was setting up be discovered that Logan was a medical student and had not yet chosen a specialty. He then took it upon himself to convince Logan that anesthesiology was the way to go. I remember sitting there bending over into Logan’s arms going through continuous contractions listening to their conversation and thinking to myself “Is this really happening? Get to work!!!” Eventually he got around to it. He had me bend over into Logan’s arms and administered the numbing agent for the epidural. I felt the initial poke, which hurt but then after that I didn’t feel much. After the epidural went into affect Logan and I both laid down together and took a little nap.
            We slept for about an hour and then I asked to be checked again and my nurse Heather looked up at me and with a smiled announced that I was at a 10 and now all we had to do was wait for the baby to drop down a bit more and then I could start pushing. As I was waiting for Scout to drop down I started feeling my contractions coming back. When I told Heather she said that they did not want to give me any more epidural because they wanted me to feel my contractions so I could push. Eventually I felt a little bit of pressure and decided that I wanted to start pushing, probably a little too early, but I was not going to wait for my contractions to get gnarly again! They got me all situated on the bed and after a few practice pushes we went to work. Logan was at my head staying close and encouraging me. Kimala was fanning me and wiping my forehead with a washcloth to keep me cool and Tani was down holding my leg. My nurse asked me if I wanted to use the mirror so I could see my progress and I said sure! I know it sounds gross, but it was awesome to see my own progress and I really believe it helped me get her out faster.
            After a few pushes my nurse realized that his was going a bit faster then she thought so she called Dr. Mendelsohn and told her to hurry over. As I kept pushing we starting being able to see Scout’s head. Everyone leaned down to check it out and we were all shocked when we saw that she had dark brown hair (we were convinced she was going to be a blonde). When my doctor got there she set up shop and I started pushing as hard as I could. After pushing for about 35 minutes Scout’s heart rate dropped. That was when Dr. Mendelsohn looked at me and said that I needed to get her out on the next push. I can honestly say I have never pushed so hard in my entire life, however it was not enough and that was when she gave me an episiotomy.  I have to give Dr. Mendelsohn credit she knew I  did not want one and she didn’t want to give me one either. But my skin was not stretching enough and there were no signs of tearing yet. After she did that Scout’s head came right out! She then asked me if I wanted to pull her out. I reached down and hooked my hands under her arms and pulled her up to my chest. She was so incredibly beautiful that Logan and I just cried as we looked at her face. Logan was showering me with kisses telling me what a great job I did as the staff bustled around putting towels on top of Scout and making sure she was breathing properly. We got to spend about an hour with her right on my chest before they took her to get measured and wrapped up. I distinctly remember looking around the room at Logan, Kimala, Tani and noticing that we were all crying. I was so grateful that I was surrounded by such love at that moment. I have never experienced such intense joy as I did at that point.
            I strongly believe that when it comes to pregnancy and delivery that every woman should have whatever experience she wants. I would not change anything about my birthing experience. I labored naturally until I was 7cm and my epidural gave me that much needed rest so that I have the energy and strength to bring Scout into the world. Having Kimala and Tani with me was such a special and sacred experience. They both brought something different to the experience and I could not have imagined doing it without them. And then there is my Logan… He was literally held me through every single contraction, comforted me when I said that I couldn’t do it anymore, repeated Scout’s name to me when I was feeling lost, and held my hand as we welcomed our daughter into the world. Logan is my everything and I could not have imagined having that experience with anyone else but him. March 25th was the most wonderful day of my entire life and I am so grateful that I have been giving the sacred opportunity to be Scout’s mother. It is by far the most important work that I will do on this earth and I pray everyday that she will somehow feel the enormous amount of love that I have for her.