February 25, 2007

The Birth of Izzy


Izzy’s birth story starts on December 4th, when I was 38 weeks pregnant and I was sent to the ultrasound department because my fundal height was measuring a bit on the low side. My fluid level around Izzy was down to 2.7, 5 is considered low. They wanted to send me up for an induction immediately.

I have reservations regarding inductions as the hormones used for inductions may be associated with autism. (Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin which is a "love" hormone. Apparently autistic kids are deficient in oxytocin. Autism also seems to be more prevalent in children born from inductions.) Partner that with my own iffy reactions to anesthesia- both general and local, and I was afraid of the hormones, and the possible spiral of intervention.

So I asked the simple question "Would it be dangerous for me to go home and come back tomorrow for another ultrasound?" The doctor had me take a non-stress test to see how the baby was doing, and he was kicking up a storm and his heartbeat sounded great. So they let me go, and I went back the next day. They still wanted to induce me. I asked if I could again go home and drink a lot of water and come back in two days. So I did that, and the next measurement was 7.2!

They wanted to keep an eye on me for the rest of the pregnancy. So I came back for another ultrasound, and it was up to 9.  Since at this point I was very close to my due date they started bringing up the idea of an induction AGAIN; they didn’t want to let me go over 41 weeks. Since 9 was in the safety zone, I didn’t have to restrict my physical activity anymore the way I had been. (I had been restricting my physical activity, taking an easily digestible form of iron in the form of blackstrap molasses to help my placenta out, and I had been laying on my left side as much as possible, as well as cutting out all caffeine and cutting back on the salt. All in an attempt to help my body build up the fluids since they said that drinking water seldom ever helped anyone. I was the first they saw that it helped!)

So my husband and I took a walk home from the hospital (we live in NYC). It was a 2.5 mile walk. By the time we got home it was 7PM and I was having semi regular contractions.

At 1AM we went to Labor and Delivery to get checked because my contractions were becoming quite painful and were regular and lasting for longer and longer. I was still only 1cm dilated 50% effaced. They sent me home. But before I went, they checked my water levels again! 10! They said to come back when I wasn’t smiling so much. 😛

I spent the rest of the night trying to sleep. At first my husband would rub my lower back for contractions. That helped for a while. But soon I had to jump out of bed for every contraction and lean against the door frame and rock from leg to leg. That turned out to be the best method of pain relief throughout the whole labor.

Throughout the day I had a couple of glasses of wine (as suggested by the labor and delivery nurses when we called in.) and took a 30 minute lukewarm bath to help with the contractions. Rocking in the water helped, as the waves of the water breaking on my back/belly seemed to move opposite of the contractions and wash some of the pain away. The wine and the water actually made about two hours of labor when I was about 5cm dilated into a state of bliss.

At around 6PM we were off to the hospital again.

We entered via the emergency room entrance and walked to the elevators. I had two contractions on the way to the elevators, and one in the elevator, and another two on the way to labor and delivery triage. Every time someone saw me, they offered a wheelchair- but I didn’t want to sit down. The idea of it sounded painful. Walking and moving helped the pain tremendously.

This time around, triage was so full that there were three people waiting in the waiting room when we got there. I was further along than any of them. I leaned up against the wall and made my labor sounds (think a cow in heat, mooing and groaning) and rocked from leg to leg while perched on the balls of my feet with my legs spread out. My husband rubbed my lower back in firm downward motions, and between these two things it felt like the baby was being moved down by our efforts.

At one point I suddenly got the urge to push and squatted down. Horrified by my reaction I said "err. I think I need to push." These were the magic words. They got me out of triage and into a labor and delivery room quickly.

The urge to push turned out to just be my mucus plug releasing. I was now 7cm dilated and they weren’t sending me anywhere.

They kept trying to get me to lay down on the bed for a 20 minute session of fetal monitoring. By the time I got admitted into a room I was 7cm dilated and rapidly progressing. (It ended up taking about 45 minutes to go from 7-10cm, when it usually takes about 1 hour per cm for a first birth.) I refused to lay down and kept swaying, which I think brought the baby on faster!

At one point the fetal monitors fell off, and we re-attached them. But at that point the "baby’s heart" started acting funny and going UP during a contraction (instead of down) and then DOWN after a contraction. So they started crying "fetal distress". I got the whole "DEAD BABY IF YOU DO NOT LAY DOWN NOW!" speech.

I lay down so that they could check my dilation again, and the doctor said something about 10cm, and broke my water. Apparently I was fully dilated and I was supposed to start pushing. They broke the bed down and all of a sudden about 10 more people rushed into the room with all sorts of emergency equiptment and baby-warming beds. Pediatricians, another nurse, another doctor, a nurse for the baby, etc. Bedlam.

I remember telling myself "The bastards are going to push for a c-section even though I’m 10cm dilated," and I was determined to help Izzy out as fast as he could come.

They put in an internal fetal monitor and then realized that the machine in the room didn’t have a connection for it! Poor little guy was born with a scab on his head from the stupid thing.

I knew it was just a bad monitor connection because it had been perfectly fine up until the monitor fell off, and Izzy was still fighting with every contraction- he hated the contractions. So I asked them to move the monitor to the other side because I had an anterior placenta and the doctors at the fetal monitoring unit that I went to for a few non-stress tests always had better luck on the other side. They ignored me.

After about 45 minutes of rather ineffective pushing (I wasn’t ready to push yet and needed a slight rest, but they kept insisting on 3 pushes per contraction. They also insisted that I push on my back) his head started crowning. I faked a bunch of pushes to allow myself to recover and to allow his head to gradually stretch out the opening a bit so it wouldn’t tear (the doctors were trying to pull the opening larger and it hurt like the dickens. It hurt more than transition! Ugh!)  At one point I felt the upper part of the opening begin to feel like it was going to tear, and I reached down and applied pressure to it. As I reached down, I felt his little head full of hair, and that gave me the energy to give the only three effective pushes that I had.. With that, the little bean was born. APGARs 9/9.5. He had been fine the entire time. They had been listening to MY heart rate!

But because of the fetal monitor hooey, he spent the first 5 minutes of his life being checked extensively by a pediatrician instead of in my arms.

Our introduction to breastfeeding was also sort of shakey. They encouraged me to stick him onto the breast immediately rather than letting him familiarize himself with it and naturally try to latch on. This resulted in a screaming festival on his part. I stopped forcing him, and had a miserable 30 hours or so in the hospital before discharge.. He wouldn’t latch and wasn’t filling enough diapers, so I was concerned I was starving him. At one point I almost gave him formula, but he didn’t seem dehydrated and I didn’t want to sabotage the breastfeeding relationship. So I waited.


At home, when both of us relaxed, he immediately latched on and has been exclusively breastfed for the full 2 1/2 months of his life.

Lil is a 26 year old Mom to Izzy, her first child.  She is a programmer and does freelance work from home, so she gets to spend her days with the little one while working.  Lil, her husband, and Izzy live in NYC with their three dogs. 

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