November 10, 2013 § 3 Comments
Internet, meet Henry Nichols Storch.
Henry was born 7 lbs 9.2 oz, Saturday November 2 at 3:11 am after a loooong labour.
On Halloween at 12:45 pm, I got a membrane sweep from my doctor. This is a more natural way of giving labour a kick start and works in half the attempted cases. By about 2:30 pm, I was having contractions and getting excited. Nick came home from work early and we started to prepare ourselves. By 10:00, Aimee (our doula) came over to assess the situation. The three of us ended up getting some sleep until about 5:00 am Friday when I decided the contractions were getting too regular and strong to stay home.
We arrived at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Hospital in a car service just as my doctor was walking up to the entrance. It was perfect timing, even though I was grimacing through another contraction while trying to say hi. I ended up in a triage room for a few hours because they were cleaning the delivery rooms and the fetal heart monitor kept falling off and losing Henry’s heartbeat so they had to start over each time. Those first hours, I actually could not lie down and wanted to keep moving, including walking the halls and stopping to do rocking squats against my IV pole when contractions would come up.
By the time I got to the delivery room, time pretty much meant nothing anymore and I had no interest in leaving the room. I’m proud to say that I stuck to my birth plan and did not use an epidural or any sort of pain killer, and so I was alternating between incredibly painful contractions and almost total clarity in between them. I managed to get through the pain with keep breathing, lots of sounding, back massage from Aimee and Nick, using a birth ball, and using the shower. I did opt for a few interventions though, including having my water broken and adding Pitocin (to speed up and intensify contractions) at the end because I had kind of stalled out by the time I was almost fully dilated.
Finally, after 35 hours of labour, of only eating ice chips and coconut water, and of asking Aimee just once to remind me why I was doing this without drugs, Henry finally happened. I cannot even describe the physical feeling, but I can say the bazillion contractions I had were much worse than the actual birth.
Henry was born with a full head of hair and very healthy. I was able to lie with him on me immediately while I was fixed up. I’ve been reading about the rush you get after an unmedicated birth and have been so curious about how I would experience it. After a long and painful labour, I should have been passing out with relief, but I was wired afterwards and even joking around with the nurses and doctors. Nick and I arranged for a private recovery room so that he could stay over with us. He fell asleep as I stayed up and took photos of Henry, called my parents and sister, and sat in disbelief at what I had just accomplished.
I have to say that first of all, my doctors and Beth Israel hospital were absolutely amazing. You hear about the majority of mothers-to-be just hoping that their doctor will be available the day they go into labour, but there’s no guarantee. I had both of my doctors I had been seeing for the past 9 months, plus a slew of incredible nurses and one super-tough midwife who came in at the end, took charge, and got Henry out. No one ever asked me if I wanted an epidural and they would first suggest natural ways of increasing contractions like nipple stimulation before suggesting something more intense. The nurses while I was in recovery were so helpful and involved. They helped me breast feed, brought us food and snacks all day, helped try to fix the crazy heat in our room, and more. Beth Israel was the first hospital in Manhattan to become “baby friendly” which means they heartily support breast feeding, delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin, and the baby sleeping in your room with you.
Secondly, I knew that hiring a doula would be worthwhile, but I’m not sure if I knew just how important Aimee’s role would be. I could not have managed a 35 hour unmedicated labour without her help. She anticipated everything Nick and I needed before we knew we needed it. She handled each obstacle with calm and unbiased opinions as they came up and was with us the entire time, minus a few short breaks to get her and Nick food. This quote sums up Aimee’s efforts perfectly:
“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” — Dr. John Kennell
Thirdly, Henry is now a week old and surviving this first week would have been much much harder without my Mom’s help. She has been here since Monday, cooking, coming to pediatrician appointments, cuddling Henry so I can sleep, and teaching us other newborn skills. I am so happy that I still have another week with her.
Lastly, Nick has been so amazing throughout the entire pregnancy, birth, and our first week of being parents. From running around to get birth certificates to try and get Henry’s passport ready for Christmas to changing diapers at all hours of the day, he is already a great dad.
[Find out more about hiring Aimee McCabe-Karr as a doula, prenatal yoga teacher, and other pregnancy and birth services here.]