Tuesday, July 12, 2011

S is for Scout

Scout Ashland Zundel
Born June 3rd, 2011
5:32 pm
9 lbs. 20 1/2" long

May 21st came and went. So did May 28th, the one-week-late-marker. My dear friend, and planned doula, Deanna, came and went. As each of these days came and went, so, too, did my patience. I was content and happy, not to mention quite comfortable, but once I got beyond one week late, I got some serious ants in my pants. Emotions came and went with the wind, as I began to fear that I would be pregnant forever, and that I would be forced to give birth to a behemoth of a child. I was having a May baby! That was all I had considered. June hadn’t even entered my brain as a possibility. As I walked around town, people would inevitably ask, “When are you due?” I would smile and quickly reply, “11 days ago,” or, “12 days ago.” Discouraged, I would cry in the shower as I stared down at my ever-growing belly. A good old-fashioned pity party is what it was. Brett was absolutely wonderful through all of my emotions, serving as my calming and comforting presence. He let me cry when I needed, feeding me gentle and sweet reminders and encouragements all along the way. He was unwaveringly supportive and present, as he has always been. But the final days of my pregnancy, through every aspect of my delivery and post-partum are days that I will always remember, for my husband was, in the words of Feist, my moon, my man.

By my 42-week appointment, which was on Wednesday, June 1st, I was more than ready. The day prior was my meltdown day, and the day I embraced the fact that I was having a June Baby. From Wednesday on was my “let’s get down to business” attitude, which was certainly aided by the fact that my doctor and I decided that Friday would be the grand finale. If I didn’t go into labor by Friday morning, then we would take matters into our own hands and induce. Knowing that there was an end in sight helped my attitude. I was proactive in home-induction remedies, as I really, really wanted to go into labor without the help of Pitocin, but was also okay if my body never kicked it into laboring gear. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. I would meet my baby girl on Friday.

In all the ways that I was exceptionally excited to finally meet my little girl, I was also dealing with underlying fears and anxieties. I can control my body in everyday life, but the birth process is about letting go, getting out of the way and allowing the body to take over and do its thing. There’s no slowing labor down once it starts, and no real speeding it up when I deem it necessary, which are both terrifying thoughts for a semi-control freak like me. Brett gently reminded that I had been out of control throughout my entire pregnancy. This was so true! Why would I think that God would allow me, or TRUST me, to be in control of the crescendo of the whole life-giving process? In the weeks and days leading up to my delivery all I could do was pray, and ask God to protect me from debilitating fears. I know that when fear rules over me, I am worthless. I wanted no part of fear, no part of anxiety, for that communicates a complete lack of trust in my ever-faithful God. I repeatedly begged for the strength to stay rooted in my God’s truths and promises, to bask in his calming presence and comfort. As always, my God proved faithful and gracious.

Friday morning, June 3rd, came quite quickly once my attitude had shifted. I didn’t care that I was 13 days late, for I would finally be meeting my baby girl that day…hopefully. I awoke at 3 am, which was not uncommon for the latter stages of my pregnancy, and was accompanied by my good friends, Michael, Jim, Pam, Dwight, Kevin, and the whole gang. They were so good to me in the final days. During my wakeful hours I was definitely having contractions, which made me wonder if the Blue Cohosh or the Castor Oil had finally begun to work their magic. Then I fell asleep, and that was that. I awoke again at 6 am, slightly disappointed when I realized I hadn’t gone into labor, but would, in fact, be relying upon the previously scheduled induction to finally meet our Tiny One. At least I would be meeting her, though, which is the realization that quickly washed away any ounce of discouragement. Discouragement was quickly replaced with the nervous shakes, for I had no real grasp on what I was about to face—delivery, baby and otherwise.

Brett and I arrived at the hospital a little before 8 am, toting with us enough items to trick people into thinking that we were moving in. From the time we set foot in the hospital until we met our daughter, Brett never left my side. We checked into our room, and our doctor met us there at 8:30. Dr. Delgado checked to see what my progress was, and determined that I was about 70-80% effaced and 3-4 cm dilated. He decided that it would be best to start me on a very mild dose of Pitocin, though he predicted I probably wouldn’t need much before my body took over. Around 10 am, the same time that my nerves peaked in the form of uncontrollable shakes, the nurse administered the IV and began the Pitocin. At that point I was able to calm myself and embrace the fact that it was most certainly game time; there was no turning back, and no point in wasting energy shaking! I needed all the energy I could get.

My mom and Brett’s mom, Laura, were in the room off and on the rest of the day. My dad and step-mom, Laurie, dropped in for a quick visit shortly after I began the Pitocin, which is a good thing because had they shown up much later I doubt I would have remembered much of their visit. Contractions started getting longer, stronger, and closer together around 11 or 11:30 am, at which point I immediately understood the difference between labor contractions and Braxton Hicks. For the time being, however, I was able to really relax and breathe through my contractions. Mom and Laura were very encouraging and supportive as I started the laboring journey, and with a little help from Xanax later down road my mom was able to hang in there…just barely. In these early stages of labor we were allowed the necessary time to work out the kinks, explore laboring positions, and practice deep breathing, as well as give my body the opportunity to gear up. Brett was able to practice counter-pressure on my lower back, and I was able to use full sentences to tell him what felt good and what didn’t. This is a luxury we did not have later in the day.

Around 2 pm Brett, Laura, Mom and I went outside to the courtyard to walk, at which point I began to really FEEL my contractions. The four of us were making laps, and when the contraction would begin I’d wrap my arms around Brett’s shoulders and Mom would put counter-pressure on my back. After about 15 minutes I decided that I really wanted that time with Brett alone (I was still able to form complete sentences, mind you). I have no idea how long Brett and I stayed outside, for from that point forward begins the blurring process. Suddenly practice was over, and my contractions were the real deal. My animal instincts kicked in immediately. I didn’t care that I sounded like an injured cow moaning for a minute straight every 70 seconds, and I only slightly cared that the back of my gown kept gaping open, giving any onlookers a show. I was very present through my contractions, exceptionally focused, and the only place I wanted to be was resting my head on Brett’s chest, arms wrapped around his neck. It was the safest, most comforting place I could imagine. I didn’t care that I felt discomfort, for I truly loved being held by him in that moment.

We eventually made our way back into our room, though I honestly don’t remember walking back. I was most certainly in the zone. Prior to going into labor I feared that my eyes would be focused on the clock, and how long I had been in pain. In reality, I had no concept of time; I couldn’t care less what time it was. Time as I knew it was one minute long. It consisted of me climbing to the peak of thirty seconds, then descending the next thirty seconds back to a blurry existence. Many of the voices I heard became similar to the adults in Charlie Brown, but Brett’s voice came in loud and clear, as he counted out every single contraction. I feared, prior to going into labor, that I’d get to the point of giving up, wanting to quit, doubting that I could handle any more. Not once did I feel this. God was so faithful to keep me grounded, focused, and centered.

Around 3:30 pm my contractions became really intense. My modesty had gone flying out the window, and I was working through my contractions with a new intensity. I began to feel the overwhelming urge to push. Our nurse came in to check on me, and when I somehow managed to communicate (I’m not sure if I formulated a complete sentence or not) that I needed to push, she decided that it was time to check my dilation again. I had progressed from 4 cm to 7 cm in an hour and a half. Because of my progress it was finally time to move over to the tub, for I wanted to labor in the tub, and intended to have a water birth. My pre-labor modest self packed a bathing suit top, thinking that I’d want to cover my breasts while in the water. When in the throes of labor, however, there was no way I was about to waste any energy tying my bathing suit on just to cover up. I would’ve jetted across the hospital lobby buck naked at that moment if I had to.

Somehow I managed to walk (sprint) across the birth center hall to my new room, the room in which I’d deliver my baby. I hopped in the tub just in time to begin my new, more intense contractions. I don’t remember opening my eyes much from this point on, and my memories are all quite fragmented. I was hot…so, so hot. The ice water soaked rags that Brett faithfully covered my head with are in the archives of my brain. Heaven.

At 9 cm I began to feel the unbearable urge to push. My doctor, I was told, was on his way, and I needed to stop pushing since I wasn’t fully dilated. “Blow out candles on a birthday cake,” is what my nurse kept telling me. I dare to say that may have been the most intense part of my labor, resisting the insanely strong urge to push like a maniac. It was at this moment that I began to wish that time would speed. I momentarily had a lapse in thinking, and considered my options. Could I get an epidural, or could they just knock me out completely and surgically remove my baby? Then another contraction came whisking away said thoughts, and soon thereafter my doctor came into the room. I remember making eye contact with him, and imagine myself to have looked utterly helpless, silently communicating, “Help.” He promptly checked my dilation, and declared that I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing. Praise God! I began pushing with my next contraction, and realized I had no idea how to push. I began questioning if it was truly possible for me to push a whole baby out of my body. Was I honestly moving my baby?

After goodness knows how long of pushing in the tub, and not a lot of progress later, my doctor thought it would be best if I moved to the bed. Though I originally wanted a water birth, at that point my main objective was to get my baby out, and since my doctor thought I’d be more effective on the bed, I swiftly (and without modesty) hopped out of the tub and onto the bed (Well, I’m not sure how much hopping I was truly doing. It was more mental hopping.). Once on the bed I proceeded to push, still a bit unsure as to how to effectively push. I think what really helped properly communicate how to do so was when my doctor repeatedly said, “Push like you are taking the biggest poop of your life.” Ding, ding, ding! I got it. Finally, it made sense. And so I did. I pushed with understanding and conviction. I didn’t care what horrific noises escaped my mouth because I was on the home stretch. My baby was making her final descent, and it was up to me to get her out.

At 5:32 pm our sweet baby Scout Ashland came into the world. She was immediately placed on my chest, and all the intensity I had just experienced vanished, making way, instead, for the sweetest moment I’ve ever known. I looked up at Brett, who was completely glistening with sweat and tears and overcome with such joy, love, and adoration. He thanked me, declared his love, communicated how proud he was, and thanked me again and again between sobs. And there we marveled together at the sweet baby that we created, whom God perfectly knit together in my womb. Suddenly our world got a lot smaller.

1 comment:

  1. I love that last picture so much. Made me tear up at my desk at work! Last time I check your blog from work, friend. :) Thanks for sharing Scout's birth story. It is good reading for me as we prepare for our own journey. I am very curious what items you found useful in your 100 pound hospital bag. I'm packing my bags right now. Any suggestions? Love to that beautiful baby girl and you... so proud of you for pulling of a delivery without drugs. I don't plan to do the same but I've got lots of respect for ya! :)