Harvest Moon (A Labor Story)

h1 September 30th, 2008

Alright, here it is people, the nitty gritty, blow by blow of the hours leading up to the birth of our beautiful baby boy. Proceed with caution – there may be more information than you want. 

40 weeks & 3 days pregnant

I really needed to get out of the house, so when we were invited to hang out at the beach while our friends surfed, I jumped all over it. We packed up a quick lunch, took the dog and spread a blanket on the sand. It was so relaxing and I’m glad we did it. It was there that via my Facebook iPhone app. I found out our friends John & Angel had their baby that morning. I was initially pretty jealous because that was her due date and I had already gone well past mine. It wasn’t fair. I was ready to no longer be pregnant, and most of all I was ready to meet my baby.

40 weeks & 4 days pregnant

I woke up with the feeling that the baby was coming soon. That afternoon I had some contractions, and previously they had only been in the evening – a sign? I must admit the last month I was taking everything as a sign of early labor. I needed to meet Maddox. I needed to know he was healthy and real. I was concerned that I had made up the entire pregnancy. I wasn’t going to fully believe any of it until I saw that baby come out.

The contractions continued into the evening. It was starting to look like it might actually happen! At this point the timing was all over the place and the intensity of varying strengths ranging from “I think that was one.” to “oh, here is another one.”. About a third of the time I thought it was wishful thinking that they were contractions at all. As a precaution, it seemed like  a good idea to go to sleep (after watching the new episide of True Blood) in case I was awakened in the early am hours with actual contractions. I had it my head that early labor starts in the wee hours of morning.

I thought the possibility of it being real was enough to at least warrant an alert phone call to my parents down in LA. My mother was certain it would all go down by morning as a result of the full moon influence. 

Instead of staying up for the new episode of Entourage, it was off to bed. At this point I was still having non-regular contrations about 20 min apart. The idea is that we would go to the hospital at 5-1-1 or 5-1-2 ( 5 min apart – duration 1 min – lasting 1 or 2 hrs). And that it would be about 12 hours of gently ramping up early labor in which we would gather our things, take a bath, and get the dog settled. We climbed into bed, but every time I had a contraction I would jump up and run to the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet was the only position I could find that made the contractions bearable. Eventually after running down the hall from bed to bathroom several times, I decided to just set up camp in the livingroom (which is just off the bathroom). We put sheets on the couch, moved the coffee coffee table so Dallas could lay on the floor next to me, and got the Puke bucket ready to go (contractions are nauseating).

I felt a litle moisture so I went to the bathroom to check it out, I bent over to pull down my pajama bottoms and WHISH! My water broke, sending a gush of fluid all over myself, my jammies, and the bathroom floor. It all became official at that moment – I was having a baby today. Game on!  (I think it was pretty official for dallas as well, now that he was mopping up amniotic fluid from our bathroom floor!)

We decided it was time to call our doula and advise her of our progress. About an hour went by and the baby had pretty much stopped moving which freaked us out, so we called the hospital and they asked us to come in. So we collected our pre-packed bags loaded up the car and headed over to UCSF Medical Center.

40 weeks & 5 days pregnant

It was a nice time of day to have to deal with parking and getting into the hospital. I didn’t want to leave Dallas’ side so instead of letting him drop me off we parked at a meter which didn’t begin until 9 am. So he had plenty of time to come down to feed the meter if for some reason I ended up staying.

We went all the way up to the 15th floor to Labor & Delivery. Again this would have taken forever if it was midday, instead within minutes we were being ushered to a small monitoring room where a nurse who had been eating microwave popcorn promptly put external monitors on my belly and immediately our minds were put at ease when we heard the strong heartbeat of the baby.

From there the exam progressed pausing every 5-10 min to ride out a contraction. I was only dilated 1 cm and my contractions were still not super close together, so they asked if I’d prefer to go home or be admitted. Before the option of going home was even cleared with the Attending, Dallas and I decided it would just be easier to stay rather than come back in an hour (by this point my contractions were about 5 min apart and moving didn’t sound fun). By the time the nurse came back she had come to the same conclusion. So I was admitted and moved to one of the giant sized LD Rooms – #4.

They set me all up – gown, IV, bed, and a huge water cup with a lid and straw. Next order of business was getting the nitrous oxide mask. I had been looking forward to it for a long time as, according to my birth plan, it was to be my only medical pain management – and I had pain that I was ready to manage ASAP.

The room had a wall of large windows that curved around and had spectacular views of San Francisco, reaching from the downtown high rises all the way over to crissy field and the bay. Pretty impressive really.

This is where it all starts getting pretty blurry for me. I’ll write what I can, but there are gaps for sure.

About 4 am they checked me and I was only 1 cm dilated. I remember being shocked. All that pain, all that time had gone by, and for what? At this point, I had started to let down my guard against interventions and accepted the Pitocin. The goal was to “Make the contractions count”. Meaning they would be stronger and longer so as to open the cervix. They were much stronger, and much longer, and now they came so frequently that often there was no break between them. The hours from here until I began pushing were excruciating. I mean it, they were really really painful, difficult, and painful. I have no idea how I actually made it out of there alive. I guess I’m stronger than I thought. The end goal was of having a baby, and doing it without a caesarian. Beside that, I figured I would accept things as they came and just do my best to push through.

They had a cool contraction monitor where I could see the duration and intensity of my contractions. I became addicted to watching it. Mostly because I had to focus on something. About 3 hours later I was dilated to 6 cm.

At some point I asked for the Fentaynl. Although it wasn’t in my birth plan, I really feel okay with how the whole labor progressed in terms of the medical interventions. I wasn’t planning on having interventions beside the nitrous – But honestly, I am really proud of myself and I believe I made the right choices for myself at every juncture. Just writing this story and remembering that night has me all emotional and almost in tears. It was insanely intense. It was life changing in so many ways.

Dallas was absoulutly amazing. He stood by my side all night long – holding me, looking into my eyes with a calming influence, feeding me ice chips, and basically being a loving husband. I couldn’t have made it through that labor without him.

For hours I was up and down from the bed, to the toilet, to the bathtub – just trying to find a position in which to better manage the pain. The Fentaynl really helped me to relax between contractions. Infact I was able to fall asleep between them – for seconds at at a time before the next one would hit. Dallas said I would doze off, then another one would come and I would get into position and just deal with the pain, then doze off for another 30 seconds before the next. He said it was almost like I was a different person, just in my own world of pain and concentration. I must say I felt pretty tough. I knew I was doing pretty well with how much it hurt, and I really am still proud of myself. 😎

Contractions continued thought the night until 11 am at which time I felt like I had been begging to push for quite some time. Contractions are no fun and there is not much to do with the pain beside ride it out. Pushing is no fun either, but at least it allowed me to do something with the pain and give me a focus. Also it was a chance to make actual progress toward getting this baby out. So at about 11 am I got the go ahead to start pushing!

After pushing for 4 hours with no baby the midwife came to my bedside. She was concerned that I would not be able to keep going like this for much longer. I had already missed an entire night of sleep, I was getting low on pushing energy, and the baby’s heart could only be expected to come back strong so many times. “This was it.”, I thought. “This is where she is going to tell me it’s time for a c-section.”

She broke the news to me slowly, and gently – prefaced it with “I know you really didn’t want any interventions, but…”.

We both knew it was time to take another path. Strangely enough, I was ready. I really didn’t know what else I could do to get this baby out. I was pushing my hardest through every miserable contraction. I had been giving it my all for hours now and not enough was happening. I was ready to do what needed to be done. It was time to put aside my intervention reservations and predudices and just do whatever I needed to for the baby. All I cared about was him. Also I fully trusted my midwife. I freely put myself in her hands.

“We are going to need to do an assisted vaginal delivery, using a vacume or forceps.” said my midwife. I was thrilled! It hadn’t occured to me that there was an option other than cutting my abdomen open and pulling out baby.

A special set of doctors were called in to asess the situation and determine which method to employ. It was explained to me that vacume was easier on mom, but no so much on baby, and that forceps were best for baby but not so great for mom. They determined that forceps were the best tool for the job and the prep began. Pediatrics was called in so they could take care of baby the moment he was out. Anestesia was called in to administer an epidural (a must for the craziness which was about to ensue). At this point the room was pretty darn full. I’d say there were about 18 or so people in there with me – 3 students in to watch and learn, at least one nurse that was just in to gawk (as far as I could tell), midwife, 3 pediatricians, the anesthesiologist, my nurse (who was AMAZING), the complicated birth doctor and the resident with her, my doula, Dallas, and a couple others for good luck.

Once I had the epidural in and going, things were way less painful. Also the drugs made me a little loopy so all of my stress and hesitation flew out the window. 

The forceps looked like a couple of giant serving spoons. At this point they had my legs up in stirrups and I was the center of attention. It might have been a more uncomfortable feeling having all those people staring between my legs, had I not been so tired, drugged up, and just plain ready for this baby to come out. I tried to watch what they were doing, but my belly was so darn big I couldn’t see a thing! They inserted the forceps one at a time with much pushing, tugging and finagling. Eventually they had both in and the pushing and pulling began. I was coached on when to push and for how long. And at the same time I was pushing, the doctors took turns pulling. I could see their faces were strained and they were pulling with all of their might. It was crazy to see them pulling so hard knowing it was my baby’s head they were pulling on. Madness. I couldn’t really feel if I was pushing or not, but I seemed to be getting the right reactions from everybody every time I pushed, so I assume I was doing what they wanted. At some point someone pointed out that I was getting an episiotomy. I went into this pregnancy very anti-episiotomy, but when it all hits the fan, you just gotta do what you gotta do. After about a half hour of pushing there he was! From between my legs emerged a wet, wrinkled, naked baby! I fully expected to cry (like I do at that moment on ALL television births), but I didn’t. I think I was just too tired, and too drugged to muster up the tears. Now all I cared about was hearing him cry for the first time and the voices to tell me he was healthy. Both of which happened moments later.

8lb 4oz

53.5 cm

Born Sept 15, 2008 3:04 pm

They whisked him off to get cleaned up and checked over. I knew going into the forceps delivery that I wouldn’t get to hold him right away because it was imperative that he get checked out asap after such an ordeal. Dallas stayed with him the entire time he was being looked over which made me feel a lot better about letting him go. Things I learned afterward… He was having a little trouble with the transition to breathing air (wheezing, which cleared up in a day or so), his left arm wasn’t as responsive as his right when he came out (found out at his first ped appt that he broke his clavicle, which is not super uncommon and will heal on its own).

I was tied to the delivery bed for a while as they stitched me up. After Maddox was cleaned and given the initial once over, he was given to me naked (wearing a diaper actually because he peed already once) to put on my chest and have our first skin on skin session. It was perfect. I couldn’t really see him because of how I was on the bed, so my first memories of him are all touch – mostly the curve of his leg and bum and the feel of his warm skin against mine. All I wanted to do was curl up in him. The rest of the world fell away and it was just us – me, dallas, and our perfect little baby, maddox.



9 comments to “Harvest Moon (A Labor Story)”

  1. This is my favorite story of the year! Congratulations my dear 🙂 I can’t wait to meet him!

  2. Wow – You are so brave. My birth was a cakewalk in comparison. And my god you look great after having pushed for four and a half hours! I can’t believe how cute Maddox is; I can’t wait to meet him.

  3. Thanks! Apparently March Pisces were the most influenced by this Sept 15 harvest moon, and I am a March Pisces. Maddox couldn’t resist the power of the moon. ah, astrology! 😎

  4. omg vida. that was amazing. i feel like i got to experience the whole thing with you. you are such a super trooper and you made the cutest little baby! i’m so happy for you and dallas and tell maddax i’ll be seeing him on friday!

  5. I can’t believe you actually remember all of these details! Thank for taking the time to write about all of it…can’t wait ti meet maddox!

  6. I’m in tears reading this. Congratulations again! Love to all 3 of you. Well done again, Mum!

  7. Thank you for sharing this with experience with everyone! I am so happy to hear how Maddox made it into this world. I hope that I can meet him soon.

    Congratulations to you both.

  8. I am totally crying reading this. So intense and beautiful sweetie. I’m so happy for you and proud of you for getting through this. I’m so sorry it was so painful. Love you so much!!!!!!!

  9. I came across your blog because I am searching for a rug for our nursery.

    And, I can’t even thank you enough for your beautiful and honest story. I am 31 weeks tomorrow – and very excited about meeting my son – hopefully around December 30th.

    I hope all is well with you and your 7 year old. 🙂