Joaquin, (pronounced Wah-Keen)
A birth story.
Monday, April 6th, started out like any ordinary day. Santi and I left the house early and went to our mommy and me preschool class. By the end of class, around 11am, I mentioned to another mom that I thought I might be having contractions. We headed home for lunch. Abe and his friend were leaving as we arrived home. I mentioned to Abe that I felt a little crampy and was pretty sure I was in early labor. Not wanting to alarm anyone or get worked up over false labor I told them to go ahead and run their errands.
I paid close attention to the contractions for a few hours. They were inconsistent and weak. I was certain it was just Braxton Hicks. But by 3:30pm, things were picking up and I knew Joaquin was on his way. I sent a text to Abe's parents to head over so they could stay with Santi. When they arrived, we all went to dinner at Burger Lounge, which was tradition. My last meal before Santi was born, was also at Burger Lounge. After dinner, I gave Santi his bath, tucked him in bed and told him that Daddy and I were going to go to the hospital to get his baby brother. He was very excited to hear that the wait was over and that he would meet his baby brother soon.
I delivered at UCSD Hillcrest which is 30-40 minutes away from our house. On the drive, my contractions started getting more intense, closer together and down right scary! I kept thinking about all the conversations I've had recently with friends who have more than one child. Two of them shared their experience of barely getting to the hospital in time and how much faster the second baby arrives.
We arrived at 10:30pm. I didn't want an epidural right away, and i wasn't 5cm yet, so they wouldn't officially admit me. They set us up in a small standby room. I walked around as much as I could, but the contractions were SO PAINFUL I was afraid I was going to collapse. Abe was rubbing my back and doing everything he could to keep me comfortable. We were admitted at 12:30am.
I had the most amazing midwife coach me through contractions. She used a wave analogy to help me visualize the swell of the contraction. I used my breath to ride the wave and get back to a calm peaceful place.
My body is amazing. It's really good at growing babies and having uncomplicated births. Is labor painful and uncomfortable? Yes! Did I ask for an epidural? Yes!! The epidural was all set and in full glorious effect at 2:00am. Luckily, I was still able to feel everything I needed to feel and have control over my muscles. Pretty soon, the urge to push was undeniable. I used my breath, my power, my inner goddess, and encouragement from Abe and the midwife.
And just like that, with 5 solid pushes, Joaquin was born at 2:33am. Our world has gotten brighter, bigger and more full of love.
8lbs, 20.5inches. Full head of dark hair. Big round cheeks. Perfect in every way.
I knew for a few months that my doctors wanted my delivery be a scheduled induction. The process they explained was something like this: Cervidil for 12 hours, followed by Pitocin for up to 20 hours. No food or drinks, only ice chips. No getting out of bed, not even to use the bathroom. If the baby didn't come within 20 hours of Pitocin or if his heart rate dropped they would do a C-Section. I was not thrilled with this plan. But I didn't have much of a choice. All I could do was go with the flow, hope for the best and use the power of positive energy to get me through it.
So that's what I did. I excepted that the situation was beyond my control and at 12pm on 3/22 I checked in to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital with a hopeful heart and a smile on my face.
Nothing happened right away. I didn't even put on my hospital gown until 2pm. Abe took notes throughout the night which helped us remember the sequence of events. I'm so glad he did, otherwise the whole experience would be a big blur. This is from his timeline:
2:20pm- I was 1cm. This was great because it meant that my body had already started the labor process on its own. If my induction had stayed on the original day 3/26, I probably would have gone into labor on my own.
3:05pm- Cervidil was inserted. It would be left in for 12 hours as planned. Cervidil looks like a little shoe string. They insert it into the cervix and it secretes prostaglandins to help the cervix soften and dilate.
4:45pm- I started to feeling crampy. I later learned those "cramps" were actually contractions. I was allowed to get up and use the bathroom as often as I needed. I was so relieved to be able to get up and move around.
7:00pm- My contractions were irregular, coming about 3-6 minutes apart. At this point, I thought we might be able to have him by midnight and he and Abe could share a birthday. (Just like my mom and I) But the nurses let me know that the doctors would rather he come in the morning. I was afraid that not being able to eat or drink anything would make me feel weak. But honestly, I was not hungry and eating ice chips was plenty.
10:00pm- Painful contractions coming regularly convinced me that I should get some pain meds and potentially sleep so I'd have energy to deliver in the morning.
10:45pm- I was given a half dose of Nubain to help me sleep.
11:30pm- The second half of the dose was administered. They told me it would last 2-3 hours. The Nubain definitely helped me relax and made the contractions bearable, but I could not fall asleep. I shifted from side to side, listened to his beautiful heartbeat on the monitor and talked to him to prepare him for what was to come.
2:00am- On the dot, the meds wore off. From 2-3am, I breathed through contractions and listened to my iPod. The contractions were coming at a very consistent pace of 2 minutes apart.
3:00am- The nurse removed the Cervidil and checked my cervix, I was only 2-3cm. The contractions were VERY strong. Knowing that I had 7cm to go and feeling the unmedicated pain of consistent contractions I requested an epidural. The nurse said it could take an hour before the anesthesiologist was available to administer the epi.
3:20am- My water broke on its own. I was in A LOT of pain.
3:30am- The nurse checked me, 4cm.
3:45am- Insanely strong contractions 2 minutes apart. I'm dying for the epidural and the anesthesiologist is no where in sight. They strapped oxygen to my face and it made breathing very distracting. I reached into my deepest depths, trying everything I could think of to get through it. I remembered holding ice in my hand during our birthing class. I tried deep breathing and even howling. Abe squeezed my feet during contractions in an effort to displace the pain. Nothing worked, I was convinced I would die. The Doctor told us that when my water broke the cord got pinched and was causing additional pain.
4:00am- EPIDURAL, hallelujah! Seeing the anesthesiologist was like seeing an angel! But the 5 minutes it took for him to get set up felt endless. Luckily he was good at his job, sweet relief.
4:20am- The doctor checked me, 8cm dilated! But she told me that his heart rate was dropping and if that continued they would have to do a c-section. I told her no and I told Santi to get ready. We were going for it!
4:40am- It was like troops deploying, so much hustle and bustle, the doctors started yelling "GO, GO, GO..." they needed to move me to the delivery room. Abe scrambled to gather our things as we would not return to the labor room and we had to have all of our belongings with us. Once we were in the delivery room, Abe furiously tried calling our parents who where asleep just a few miles away. Unfortunately, our LA rental house has really bad reception and no ones phone could get service. So it was just me, Abe and 10 doctors.
4:50am- The doctor told me that his heart rate was dropping and my contractions were slowing down. They might need to use the vacuum. Instead, they started Pitocin, which helped my contractions pick back up and thanks to the Epidural I could not feel their strength. I said out loud, to my son, "Santiago, my love, you have 10 minutes, you need to be here by 5am or else they are coming in to get you." He is a great listener and very punctual.
4:57am- Santiago Banks Aguilar was born. Our lives are forever changed. We are madly in love.
Thursday, 3/22 12pm to Saturday, 3/24 10am
The day before a monumental day is almost as big as the big day itself.
When I found out on Tuesday that I'd be induced on Thursday, suddenly Wednesday became the most important day of my life.
Here's how I spent my day. (Which also happeneds to be Abe's Birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOVE!)
I started with an old fashioned glazed donut from Bobs at the LA Farmers Market. Followed by a blow-out, mani and pedi at the Paint Shop of Beverly Hills.
Then we made a last minute run to Babies R Us and I FINALLY got to use one of those "Expectant Mother" parking spots, score!
We did a little more shopping at the Grove and got Uggs for the whole family. How cute are Santi's!!
I double checked my hospital bag.
Then we ended our day at Burger Lounge (my fave!). My last supper consisted of a delicious turkey burger and fries. Simply perfect.
My doctors would be THRILLED if I said, "Hey guys, you know what? Let's just schedule me for a c-section at the doctors convenience and be done with it..."
That's not going to happen and here's why.
Like any mother-to-be, as soon as I got pregnant, I started researching everything about pregnancy, labor and delivery. This is my first baby and and I wanted to be as educated as possible. Of all the things I learned, the most impactful was that I should avoid a c-section if possible. I know that sounds strange. C-sections are so common now, they're routine. People schedule c-sections like they schedule hair appointments. But the truth is, it's major abdominal surgery.
In short, a c-section is when they cut through your lower abdominal wall and through your uterus to remove the baby. One out of three babies are delivered via c-section today, YIKES! But why is this percentage so high? Because it's very convenient for doctors, and some mothers, to know when the baby will be born.
So why am I so opposed?
- Hospitals are a business. Like any other business, time is money. Once you step into a hospital to deliver your baby, you are on their clock. If you take too much time, you will most likely have a c-section
- Baby does not experience a gradual "transition" from womb to world.
- Longer recovery for mom, usually 3 days postpartum in the hospital, restrictions on lifting including holding baby. For me, this could mean not getting to see or hold Santi until AFTER his surgery :(
- Mom cannot get skin to skin with baby immediately after birth.
- If mom wants to have other children, she will be classified as a VBAC, vaginal birth after cesarean, which is a riskier delivery. The scar tissue in the uterus could tear causing the uterus to rupture. Some hospitals even have a ban on VBAC's. Making another c-section you're only choice for delivery.
With induction day rapidly approaching I have to face the reality that I will most likely be the one in three that has a cesarean delivery. I'm the perfect candidate: my baby is high risk and he needs to be born at the doctors convenience. And not just one doctor, several teams of doctors.
I have let it be known that a c-section is my last resort. However, the ultimate goal here is to deliver a healthy baby. As a mom, I will do ANYTHING to make that happen.
All of the pregnancy books encourage you to write a "birth plan." Something that will outline exactly what you want to happen on the day you deliver. For example: Who's in the room, what music is playing, drugs or no drugs, mirror or no mirror, will dad cut the cord, how should they hand the baby to you, etc.
At this point I can't help but laugh at the thought of a birth going according to plan. Have you ever heard of a birth going according to plan? I have not. It is great in theory and it is wonderful to outline your "do's" and "don'ts," letting the doctors and you family know your wishes, but expect the opposite. It's hard for ME to say that because I am a true optimist but I'm also a realist.
My original birth plan would have looked something like this:
- deliver at the UCSD natural birth center with a midwife
- no drugs, no induction, no episiotomy, absolutely no C-section
- coconut water and other snacks to keep my energy up for labor
- freedom to walk around, use birth ball and the labor tub
- skin to skin contact immediately after he's born
Doesn't that sound lovely :)
I found out the details of the reality of my birthing situation this week.
It's pretty much the exact opposite.