Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Interventionalizin' Those Babies

Most of you, dear Readers, seemed quite interested in my earlier post about Hypnobabies, so I thought I'd check in and let you know how the whole beaaautiful birthing experience went down.

The natural childbirth people talk about what they call "birth interventions"-- things like induction, continuous fetal monitoring, pain medication, and episiotomies-- as though they were one of the seven plagues of Egypt. Everyone from the Bradley people to Ricky Lake have put their index fingers in an "x" and hissed at an IV bag full of Pitocin. The idea is that medical intervention should be avoided at all costs, as interventions can often lead to complications. Generally I agree with this attitude, which is why God struck me with my transverse baby.

When I went to see both my midwife, Susan Binegar-Rider, and obstetrician, Margaret Huggins, almost a week after my due date and little Liam had still not permanently turned into a head-down position, it became clear that at least a little intervening was inevitable. The "wait-and-see" policy I had previously adopted was beginning to seem less safe-- if I waited to see if Liam turned head down until I went into labor, I would risk uterine rupture or an umbilical cord prolapse. It took me a little while to adjust my thinking, but we ultimately decided that it would be best to schedule a version and, if the version was successful, induce labor while he still had his head down-- and if it wasn't successful, go ahead with a C-Section.

So Wednesday morning started out with a "version," performed--since my own Obstetrician was away on an emergency call--by Dr. Barbara Nelson of the Rosemark Women's Center. The nurses all told me that she was the best baby turner they'd ever seen, so I felt that it was serendipity that she was the one who was available to do the procedure. She was accompanied by an adorable male ultrasound technician who looked like he was perhaps from Pakistan, smelled deliciously foreign, and referred to me as "my friend." Anyway, after a few minutes of discomfort, Liam was turned into a more appropriate birthing position. High fives were exchanged all around, a nurse stabbed me with an IV (which thing made Abraham quite faint), and I was trotted down to a birthing room in a stylish moon-and-stars hospital gown.

After Lisa, the attending nurse, got us all hooked up with the Pitocin (intervention) and strapped me to a continuous fetal monitor (intervention), and Dr. Nelson had broken my water (uncomfortable intervention), Abe got out his book of fairy tales and read to me for a while. Lisa would occasionally come in and ask, "How are you feeling?" and when I said, "Great!" She'd say, "OK. Let's crank up that Pitocin a little." She seemed a little bit like a torturer : "Still feeling comfortable, hmm? Well, let's see how you do when I turn up your contractions to a 7!" So I sat there through several hours of increasingly strong contractions, focusing on relaxing through each one, and visuallizing the sensation as a warm yellow light moving through my back and abdomen. This worked very well-- so well, in fact, that after we put on a Hypnobabies CD, Abe even fell asleep while I labored. Loriann came in to visit during her lunch break and we had a nice chat between contractions, which were then about a minute long and a minute apart.

Shortly after Loriann left, however, the contractions started feeling less like a warm glowing light and more like a sharp searing burn. I decided I didn't really feel like suffering, so we called in the anesthesiologist (intervention), who injected me with a lovely formula of liquid sunshine while humming a happy ditty to himself. At that point, I was only dilated to a five, but within an hour, I could feel Liam moving into the birth canal. Things progressed pretty quickly from there. Because Liam's heart rate was dropping, I was hooked up to an internal fetal monitor (intervention) and injected with fake amniotic fluid (intervention). And at 3:52 PM, after three minutes of pushing, Mr. William James was born. With all those interventions, I reduced my birthing time from 45 hours (with Soren) to 6 1/2 (with Liam). It was glorious. "Night and day," said Dr. Huggins, of my two births. "Night and day."

And I'm not at all sorry that I spent all the time and money that I did on Hypnobabies. Well, actually, now that I write that, I realize that maybe I am a little sorry. That was a lot of time invested. But I do feel that the techniques I learned helped me through the first several hours of my labor in comfort, so it wasn't a complete waste. And I also genuinely believe that, had I been able to move around freely (I couldn't because of my IVs and continuous monitoring), I would have made it all the way without an epidural. Also, the relaxation techniques have helped me since having the baby, allowing me to fall asleep quickly when I have the opportunity (I'm generally not very good at falling asleep). And I did have a positive birthing experience, though I imagine it's not anything the Hypnobabies people would want to post with their testimonials.

So, in conclusion: I interventionalized this birth. And it was a good birth. But maybe next time I can go back to hypnotizin' that birth process. We'll see.


Kate said...

That is an awesome story! I'm so glad it turned out so well!

I've just been going through my own 2 birth stories as I get ready for the one coming up soon. I love reading them, and yours was inspiring, despite the interventions. Anyway, the problem isn't the interventions--they can be lifesavers and miracle workers, as in your case. It is the overuse of them. Unnecessary interventions are really the culprit everyone hisses at!

heidi said...

Oh, I'm so disappointed about the minimal use of hypnotherapy!

;) Actually I said that just to be a brat. Beautiful birth story! Relatively peaceful, it sounds. I also noticed the MANY comments on the previous hypno-post; and not a one from a man! Chauvinists. Thinking the birthin' is up to us!

Now, you did NOT just name your baby William James!!!! Nickname, Liam. Go-llee, (wanting to use stronger language but this is your blog), Rach, you do EVERYTHING cool before we can! I take back realizing it was okay you wrote what you did recently, about Liam being already "complete, whole, unique, just waiting to unfold." I AM mad at you for doing what I want to do before I do it!

Um... cheerfully angrily yours, h.

p.s. also noticed LOTS of comments after you posted pix of very pregnant you, about you looking hot. me, i'd print & frame that one!

Leamaster Family said...

Hey, I just found your blog linked from Ashley. I didn't know you were expecting. Congratulations, he is a cutie.

Steve & Margaret said...

oh you are so lucky rachel! I'm so glad you didn't have to do a c!

Holly said...

Yay! I'm glad the turning worked and that this birth was much shorter. Phew. Congratulations! You are woman!

And, er, your blog says you posted this on April 9th. Weird.

Jennifer said...

Glad all went well. Hooray for modern medicine and yes, I'd love to walk around and get more comfortable during contractions too. I don't know why they think that laying on your back with severe back labor is comfortable and natural....there's got to be a way to move about a littl emore even in a hspital. There is probably some lawsuit to blame for all of it anyway. oh, well.

now that you have two under your belt....are you gearing up for #3?!? :)

Lindy said...

Will you please write my blog for me? Reading yours is always such an utter joy for me. You capture emotion and nuances I can only notice and feel, not explain. Bravo.

And bravo to you doing what you needed to do to have the happiest and healthiest birth experience possible. It is so true that natural childbirth proponents look down their noses (to say the least) at interventions, but I say to heck with them.

Also, can I say how impressed I am with your posting? I have one newborn and no other children and am barely getting to the computer to check blogs right now. Family members are hounding me to post more pictures, but do you know how long that takes, People? Like five whole minutes I can't seem to muster right now. But look at you go with these long letters and everything. I'm so impressed.

Oh, and did I mention little Liam is freaking adorable?? Perhaps I skipped over that part to begin with because it's just too obvious. Congratulations.


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