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  • Writer's pictureKatie Hallum

Second Birth Story

My second child just turned 2! I don't know where the years are going but I traditionally read through my baby's birth story on birthdays. What a happy day this was in the midst of the chaos of the Covid pandemic!

Sweet boy, your due date was Sunday, June 7, 2020. That date came and went with no sign of you. We waited impatiently all week. On Thursday, June 11, 2020, I had a follow up appointment at Kaiser. The dr. I saw was extremely pushy and abrasive and not encouraging about waiting for you to arrive on your own. I went home with an 8 am induction scheduled for Saturday and in tears. Your dad and I talked through all our options and spoke to several friends in the medical field as well as our doula. They all gave us great advice and I felt more at peace about the induction.

On Friday, we went to Kaiser again for my Covid test. It was a drive thru screening and the drs. were so kind and encouraging. The test was uncomfortable in my nose but not bad at all [*little did I know this would be one of MANY tests over the next several years!]. They were surprised that the dr. had ordered the test with less than 24 hours to go and hoped they could get it processed fast enough.

At 2:40 am Saturday, June 13, I woke up with a bad stomach ache but it was constant, not coming and going contractions. I wandered around the house and laid on the couch for awhile to see if I could figure out a pattern. I thought maybe I was feeling a pattern of peaking and subsiding so I decided to get back in bed and just time things and wait. I didn't want to wake your dad yet in case I was wrong. As soon as I laid back in bed, a huge gush of water started. I woke up Ryan and went to the toilet and I swear water came out for minutes and minutes. It was such a strange feeling. Ryan called labor and delivery and we saw that the amniotic fluid was very gray - we were both concerned about meconium. We called my parents to come be with your sister. They arrived 20 minutes later (after your dad called in a panic wondering where they were!) I spent a moment praying over my sleeping 2 year old and crying. We were so excited to meet you but I knew the change was going to be a lot for your big sis. We got in the car and headed to the hospital.

When we arrived around 3:40, there was no one there but they still wouldn't let Ryan in due to the Covid policies. I took the elevator alone and checked in. My fear of getting stuck in the elevator during a contraction did not happen so that was a huge relief! I was placed in triage and they examined me and determined I was 4 cm, 80% effaced and my water had broken. The drs. didn't seem concerned at all when I checked in about the color of my waters or meconium. They also immediately mentioned Pitocin and I told them I'd rather wait. They said they could give me 6 hours to see what happened. I also told them about my Covid test on Friday but they said it wouldn't be back yet so I'd have to do it again. Thankfully, they checked my chart and amazingly it had been put in at 1 am so I was clear for Ryan to come in at 4:30 am.

We got moved to a room and settled in. We had the lights dimmed and battery powered candles. I was worried about getting fatigued since I'd been down this path of ruptured waters before, so I got in the bed with the peanut ball and labored there for at least an hour, switching sides. It was actually very calming in this position, just alone with your dad.

Contractions were 4-6 min apart at this point. I decided I needed to get up and move and that really ramped them up and they started grouping together. I felt really out of my element around this time because I felt like things were intense but I was nervous that it was going to get much worse and I just had no frame of reference for the amount of pain that was to come. This made me downplay my pain scale when the nurses would ask because I didn't want to max myself out too quickly. That was silly! When they last asked me my pain scale I said 6-7 but I think I was definitely more at an 8-9.

Around 8 am, the nurses came in for the shift change. They were asking me all these questions and I was in a very uncomfortable position on the bed. The contractions were ramping up and I didn't feel like I could walk and sway anymore. I was trying to find a good new position - thought I'd try leaning over the back of the bed but it didn't work - and I was working through several close together contractions. Now I realize as I was answering their stupid questions, I was probably going through transition. I was very intentional about trying to go to the bathroom every hour since our doula had said a full bladder would make contractions worse. So after they left, I told Ryan I needed to use the bathroom again. Our new nurse said she would check on us in 45 min. It was hard to switch positions now because the contractions were coming so fast and furious.

I made it to the bathroom and there was so much pressure. I realized in my head, "I might feel baby's head soon with the amount of pressure I am feeling," but I was so convinced it couldn't be this fast I just thought I wasn't coping well. I told Ryan to text a close friend for coping mechanisms for no break between contractions. He texted at 8:30 am. I was so scared and felt like I could not do this much longer. Ryan asked if I wanted to skype for support and I could barely say no, I just needed his hand to support me. Ryan texted at 8:32 that I was on the toilet. I told him I needed an epidural because I could not do this. In my head again, I kept hearing that when women say they can't do it, they are close. But I was so convinced we couldn't be close, I didn't believe it. Ryan tried to talk me down from an epidural because he knew I didn't want one so he suggested we wait until the nurse checked on us in 45 min. I knew I could not do this for another 45 min. I said no, I need to be checked NOW so I have a frame of reference for how long I have. Ryan called the nurse and she came in pretty quickly. When she saw me on the toilet, she said we need to get you off now if you are feeling any pressure. Ryan tried to wait for a break in the contractions but the contractions wouldn't let up. Ryan had to hoist me up and over to the bed. The nurse called for the dr and the rest of her team at 8:40 and I heard her say, we are about to deliver here. The team swooped in and everyone was running around frantically. They had all been prepping to go into a cesarean so they had to reorient themselves. Ryan stayed so calm as everyone was frantically trying to get set up. The obstetrician was so calm throughout as well. He just stood back as the nurses flew around and gowned up. The dr. checked me and I was a 9. Ryan was so encouraged to hear that - I was just in shock and so much pain. The contractions weren't stopping and I told them, I have to push NOW. The dr. said I shouldn't because my cervix was still there but he said he would check me again while he inserted a fetal monitor because the wireless monitor was showing baby's heart rate at 80 and he didn't think baby liked what was happening. I had a fleeting thought I was heading for an emergency cesarean. He checked again and said, you are at a 10 in 1 minute's time and the heart rate shows 120...if you need to push, push! So I started pushing (or more accurately, I didn't try to stop! My body had been pushing really ever since the toilet) And the dr. and nurses were all manipulating baby and the dr. just kept saying, keep pushing keep pushing, there was absolutely no relief and no end to the contractions and pressure. I was screaming through the pain at this point and didn't feel like I could push or keep going at all. I was so very calm up until getting back on the bed and dr. checking that point, it just was so so so hard. Then all of a sudden baby came out and Ryan announced he was a boy! The immediate relief I felt was amazing. Turns out Wesley had his hand by his face so he kind of got stuck and that's why they were all manipulating everything and dr. was having me push so hard. Dr. came at 8:40 and Wesley was born at 8:46! It was absolute madness! From the toilet at 8:32 to baby in my arms just 14 minutes later with less than 6 min of pushing!

It was all a whirlwind! I have now given birth twice and attended 2 births (*as of June 2020) and let me say, every birth is drastically different and miraculous.

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