I had your average, uncomplicated pregnancy. I was due on Friday, 9/23/11. That following Monday the 26th, I went into the OB’s office for an ultrasound and stress test. Stress test was first, baby was fine. We went up for the ultrasound and the tech was too quiet. I knew from her measurements my fluid was low. I was scheduled to have a follow up appointment with my OB 2 hours later. Well by the time I walked downstairs, they told me to go straight over to the OB’s office. My OB told me they needed to induce me because my fluid was low, it was measuring 4.2.
I went home, grabbed my hubby and hospital bag and off to Memorial we went. I arrived and was checked in at 2:30pm on 9/26/11. It took the nurses 3 tries to get an IV set up. At 5:15pm the on-call OB decided to show up. She checked me, I was 1cm dilated and not effaced at all. They told me to prepare for a long road. They inserted Cervadil and told me to rest up.
Around 8pm I was bored, and not feeling any contractions so I got in the tub. No jets, but it was relaxing. I figured it might help things along. They had pretty much left me alone. I had no meds going in and no fluids either. They let me have a liquid dinner tray around 9pm, yeah for Jell-o!
Around 10pm, I started feeling the contractions. They were not bad, just felt like moving menstrual cramps. The nurse came in to check me; I was 3cm and 50%. Things moved fast after that!
I wanted to go as pain med free as possible; I really did not want an epidural. Around midnight I asked for a Demeral shot. All that did was make me feel drunk in between contractions. At the same time, I started feeling like I needed to go #2. Honestly, sitting on the toilet was the most comfortable place to be! For the next couple of hours I was going back and forth to the bed and toilet. By 2am, my contractions were back to back. I could not get off the toilet. The nurses kept telling me they needed to check me and I told them to go away! Shane, my hubby, would just follow me back and forth and stand in front of me for support. I was addicted to his scent. I did not want him to touch me, just stand there so I could rest my head on his belly and smell him.
Around 3am, my body started pushing on its own. (I had no idea that is what was happening until after the fact.) I started moaning and my mom knew something was wrong. Yes, apparently I was trying to give birth on the toilet! The nurses kept asking if I wanted an epidural, I finally caved in. When the anesthesiologist got there I was, big shocker, on the toilet. The nurse came, took one look at me, and said they needed me on the bed immediately and that my body was pushing the baby out.
I refused to get off the toilet! My husband grabbed one arm, and my mother grabbed the other and they threw me on the bed. The anesthesiologist started the epidural. He got one third of the way done (only a partial shot and the tube set up, but nothing in it) and I had to lie down. The nurse checked me and yelled at the other nurse to call the OB.
After waiting and breathing through contractions for another 20 minutes, my OB showed up. She told me to push and two pushes later my 7 pound, 7 ounce 19.5” baby boy was born at 4:17am 9/27/11. The epidural did not kick in until the OB was stitching my 2nd degree tear. Moreover, I could still feel most of that. I felt fine afterwards, and Drako was perfect! No cone head or anything!
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Amanda and I were just babies (first grade) when we met and now we get to exchange our baby stories, I love it, and I love her story for how crazy strong she is (not necessarily the reasons she had to be strong). Amanda shared her birth story on her blog, Heart on My Sleeve, and here for my students with her permission. She shared it three years ago and it's still one I think of very often.
Sometime in mid-June 2009, my mom and I took a trip to my grandparents house in Merced. I was ready to pop, and didn't even know it! I spent all weekend swimming in their pool. I remember feeling completely weightless and carefree...I also remember how hard it was to get out! With the 30+ lbs of extra weight I was carrying around it was almost impossible to climb out of the comforting, cool water.
One night (I think it was a Saturday night) after a long swim, I went to the restroom and noticed spotting in my swimsuit. BIG red flag (literally). All during my pregnancy the doctor warned me about how important it was to inform them if I had any spotting. So here I was, 2 hours from my doctor's office and boyfriend, bleeding. I decided to wait until morning to see if anything changed and I decided not to tell my family. I knew my mom would have packed me up and sped to Salinas in the middle of the night. I did, however, call Jason. Or I tried to. It turns out he was at a friends house that didn't have cell service. After calling as many friends as numbers I knew, I finally tried some land lines and got through. He told me not to worry, and we should call the doctor on Monday. The next morning everything seemed normal.
On Monday, I went in to the doctor, who "checked my cervix". Nobody prepares you for this. I was so shocked as he basically pushed his whole hand into me. Thank god I had convinced my mom to come with me and hold my hand. It turns out that the spotting was indeed from my cervix, which was now 1cm dilated and 80% effaced. To me, that sounded like a baby would be popping out at any minute. According to him, I could go into labor that night, OR walk around for another month before going into actual labor. YIKES! My second trip to the restroom in the 10 minutes after getting home from the doctor, I noticed more spotting and what I understood to be, my mucous plug... Oh the beauties of childbirth.
After walking around for 2 1/2 weeks in slightly uncomfortable pre-labor, we went to Jason's parents house to celebrate his 29th birthday. Normally I am a very social person, and I was trying really hard to put on a smile and have a good time in the 90 degree summer heat with huge, swollen ankles, BUT I just couldn't do it! After 2 hours of sitting in a lawn chair with my feet propped up on a tree stump, I gave up. I leaned over to Jason and said, "I'm sorry , but I just can't hang anymore. I need to go home." At this point, I was a little disappointed in myself. I know how much Jason loves to celebrate his birthday, and all of his friends and family were there, but I was done. So he took me home, and went back to celebrate some more...without me. I was so excited to get back to our little house, in our air conditioned living room and prop myself up on our comfy couch. I tossed and turned all night long.
The next day went on as usual. It was Friday, July 3rd. Since Jason had been out late the night before, he decided to stay home that night. We watched movies and he made me a peanut butter and jelly quesadilla for dessert. I ended up falling asleep next to him on the couch. I woke up around 10pm to the sounds of the TV and the urge to go pee....again :/ But something was different, I had energy! I felt like I had gotten a full 8 hour night sleep. As I practically skipped into the bathroom, I noticed some tightening in my stomach. After I went to the bathroom, I felt like I was still leaking. When I wiped I noticed more bleeding and in my heart, I knew that I was in labor. I slowly walked back into the living room and Jason said, "Whats up, you have a really big smile on your face right now." "I think I'm in labor," I said. He jumped off the couch and wanted to get in the car and start our hour long drive to the hospital immediately. I convinced him to let me take a shower first, then I made him take a shower. During all of this, my contractions had become very obvious and very regular, but I still wasn't in any pain. We left our house around 11:30pm. I remember during the drive I was trying to time the contractions but every time I got them, I couldn't help but laugh. I was just so happy and excited. We called our parents and let them know that we were headed to the hospital. I called my mom and asked her if we could drop off Tucker for awhile. She of course caught on and insisted on coming with us. (I was going to beg her to anyway)
By the time we walked into the hospital, I wasn't laughing during contractions anymore. They weren't painful yet, but they were nothing close to funny. I remember putting on the gown, peeing (again) and getting weighed. I weighed in at 180lbs! As soon as I laid on the bed to have my cervix checked, the contractions came on full force. I was only 3cm dilated which was enough to get me admitted and a bed in labor and delivery. Unfortunately, there were forms to sign and it seemed like it took the nurses hours to get these forms ready. During this time, the contractions were increasing with pain and my mom, Jason, and I were in this small, dark room with a few nurses watching the tragedy of Michael Jackson on TV. I remember Jason whispering to me, "If they don't quit watching that TV we are going to pack you in the car and drive to CHOMP." I signed all of the forms, except for the form consenting to an epidural. I informed the nurse that at this point I could handle the pain and didn't need any medication.
Finally I got put into the room that I would later deliver my beautiful daughter in. Our first nurse was HORRIBLE. She took one look at me and rolled her eyes. I had tested positive for Group B strep and needed IV antibiotics to protect the baby during delivery. Apparently the nurse had little patience for this. She gave me the IV, then hooked in the antibiotics, cold. I immediately forgot about the painful contractions. My arm felt like the bones inside it were freezing and breaking apart! It was so painful and unbearable. I begged for some relief. My nurse offered little help. After some persisting on Jason's part, I was given a warm blanket to wrap my arm in, this offered just enough relief for the contraction pain to come through. At this point, I had to go to the bathroom (again). This REALLY irritated our nurse. Basically she told me that I couldn't get out of bed and I could just go in the bed, and that someone would clean it. No kidney dish, no bed pan...just sheet and mattress. Thanks. So after holding it as long as I could (which made the contractions 10x worse) I went, in the bed. Humiliating. That was the first time during labor that I started crying. They were more so tears of embarrassment, than of pain. Of course nurse number one didn't clean me, but sent someone else in to clean me and change the bedding with me in it, real nice. Lucky for me, it was time for a shift change and grumpy nurse number one was out. I labored for a little while longer, lying on my back in the bed with my mom and Jason holding my hands during the contractions.
Then I went into back labor. This is not fun. I had heard about it in childbirth classes [at the hospital], but I sort of ignored it. I guess I thought that I was going to have this wonderful, pain free, routine labor. I felt like every contraction was causing all of the muscles in my back to tighten. After what seemed like hours, I caved into to the epidural. Or so I thought.
I signed the papers and waited for the anesthesiologist. Every contraction seemed to get stronger and my cervix was dilating slower than expected. My nurse told me that it could be a long time before I got to push and she recommended that I get some pain relief so that I could rest before pushing. The Anesthesiologist came in and everyone had to leave. This was the second time that I cried during labor and these were tears of fear. How was I supposed to hold my composure, and stay completely still without having Jason there to talk me through it. He told me to be strong, and a nurse offered me her hand. I did the best that I could as he poked me twice and moved the catheter in and out a dozen or so times. After he left, a different nurse came in with a urinary catheter...I still haven't decided which one was worse. A few minutes later my nurse walked in and asked my if the pain was disappearing. I lied. I put on a smile and said that I felt much better. Jason came in and could tell that I was lying, but he didn't say anything.
I told that nurses that the urinary catheter felt like it was leaking and that the bed was getting wet. They checked me and said that my water had finally broke. After another hour, Jason told the nurse that I was still in pain and I couldn't hide it any longer. She got the anesthesiologist and he poked around some more and realized that the first epidural had come out and the medicine was dripping all over the bed. It turns out my water hadn't broke yet. Now my options were, let him try again or get a one time injection that lasts 2-4 hours. I went with the later and got immediate relief. My mom, Jason, and I tried to take a nap and enjoy the absence of my moaning and groaning.
About an hour later, the nurse came in to check me and told me it was time to push. With Jason holding one leg and my mom holding the other, I pushed for 3 hours. The doctor finally came it and said it was time for us to meet our baby. Hailey Lynn Baker was born on July 4, 2009 after 11 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing. This was the third time I cried during labor, and these were tears of joy.
If you would like to share a birth story please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm a country girl (I actually met a very pregnant Sam at a party in a barn) so of course I'm gonna love the story that starts with learning about birth through raising livestock in the FFA!
I finished my birth story finally! Thanks for the encouragement to get it done quickly. I hope that it will ease other's minds about a home birth. Let me know when you post it. I would like to see how people react or if they have any questions. ENJOY!
An Epic Birth Story
Going into labor, I really had no fears at all. I knew that I could do this—I have seen it multiple times before. I was in Future Farmers of America, so I watched and helped all of my animals give birth. I also took several reproduction courses in college and became AI (Artificially Inseminate) certified. Yes, labor looked difficult. Yes, it sometimes took a while, but nature always worked everything out in the end. A female’s body is built to do this. Just give it time and trust that everything will work out the way it is supposed to. This was my mentality as I had decided to have an unmedicated home birth. I hated the idea of hospitals—the germs, the number of people involved, the limited amount of things you can do or eat, the possibility of your baby being taken out of your sight, the push for drugs and vaccines, and even the screaming women in the rooms next to you. I did not want any of that. I wanted my birth to be private, comfortable, and as relaxing as labor could possibly be. After all, I learned in college that labor occurs quicker when the female is comfortable, well nourished, well rested, and has no predators nearby (luckily, humans are high up on the food chain!).
The contractions began irregularly the evening before my birth. My husband, Aaron, and I went on a 45 minute walk to see if it could help make the contractions more regular. It worked, putting them at about 10-15 minutes apart. The contractions did not really bother me. I still did housework as usual, but every now and then I would have to stop and allow my belly to ease up a bit. I ate a good dinner and went to bed early that night. I knew it was starting.
I woke up at 3:30am, not because of the contractions, but because I was starving again. My awesome husband cooked up a gourmet breakfast while I started some laundry (nesting was still kicking in!). I went back to bed after eating.
I woke up again around 8:00am. Hungry again, so I ate AGAIN. My body was definitely fueling up for the high endurance workout it was about to face. My contractions were now about 6 minutes apart. Still not close enough to call the midwife over, but I did call her to ask for a few pointers. She told me to get an acupressure massage. Sounded good to me! A massage while in labor? Sign me up! I called the masseuse and set an appointment for 1:00pm. Time to watch some cartoons to get my mind away. (Don’t judge. What else is funny on TV at 8:00am?)At 1:00, the masseuse came over and set up her table. I was extremely excited to get a massage. The contractions were still about 6 minutes apart and not bothering me a whole lot.
And so she started, but it was not the massage I was expecting. This massage HURT! Talk about really getting your mind off of your contractions! She hit all kinds of
pressure points, up and down my back and legs. She pressed them hard and for
what felt like forever. I endured the whole thing trusting my midwife’s knowledge and expertise. And it worked! By the time the massage was over at 3:00pm, my contractions were 3 minutes apart. These contractions were strong. These contractions were the real deal. Housework was not an option now.The midwife, Leslie, arrived. She wanted to check where I was, then go get some dinner and come back. Most first-time labors are long and slow anyway, so I was alright with that. She checked me. “You are a -1.” she said.
My jaw dropped. “We better head to the hospital then, if I haven’t even begun yet.” I responded.She just laughed and said “I am not going anywhere--he is already making his way down, you are at 6cm. On a scale of 4 being not descended at all, and -4 being completely out, you are a -1. You are surprisingly calm to be already this far into labor.” Well, that’s good to hear. I can do this. We are halfway there. Hopefully the second half is just as easy.
I was hungry again. I ate some grapes and chicken noodle soup as Aaron began filling the large inflatable tub in the middle of the living room. As soon as it was ready, I jumped in. The water was so nice. Warm, relaxing, and it eased a lot of pressure. The contractions were very strong by this point. So strong, that every muscle in my body was beginning to chime in and contract too. Aaron was rubbing my back and whispering little encouragements to me with every contraction. I constantly was changing positions to find the one that gave me the most relief. I flipped to hands and knees. I had the urge to push. “Is it okay to push? Is it too early?” I asked Leslie. I did not want to wear myself out too soon. She nodded and said that I would know when I was ready. I looked at the clock; it was close to 5pm.
The pushing began. Every muscle in my body squeezed with all of its strength. My arms, legs, abs, back, lungs, stomach, EVERYTHING pushed. My body was squeezing so tight that I began throwing up with every contraction. Luckily, sweet Leslie had a pan ready to catch it every time. After an hour of pushing, I told my midwife and husband that I was going to “rest this one out.” I was tired. Every muscle was sore
from all the exercise. I wanted a longer break than just 2 minutes. I felt the urge coming on to push. I tried with all of my might to not push, but to relax instead. My body still pushed regardless of what my mind wanted. That is the point when I knew I had no control what-so-ever. My body was in control—I was just along for the ride of a lifetime. Like when you see people getting shocked with those cardio arrest things. You lie there, get shocked, every muscle squeezes, and then go limp again. My body DID know what it was doing. I was hindering my labor by trying to control the pushes. I relaxed. The pain would come and go as endorphins filled me. It was like a natural high, everything a blur, my body tingling. I got into a squatting position, Aaron consistently rubbing my back and shoulders still as his arms wrapped around me. I buried my head into his chest. I didn’t cuss. I didn’t bite. I just groaned with every contraction. The groaning helped. It gave me some extra umph. 6:30pm. Another push, this time a pop, a burst. Did my uterus just explode? No, there isn’t enough pain to be that drastic. I felt a rush of fluid and realized that my water had just broke.
Why does it take so long for a baby to come down and out 4 inches? This is taking
FOREVER. These contractions are strong. I am exhausted.6:50pm. Another push, but this time it burned. I sucked in. Ahh, some relief. Another push—oh no, I can’t suck in and push! Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow! My midwife looked at me and said to breath long breaths out. Not to push down, but concentrate that energy and push up and out. It worked. I used the contraction to push a long breath out while allowing time for my baby’s head to stretch the last little bit. I reached down and felt his hair. My husband was ready to catch. The next urge was coming. I looked my husband in the eyes one last time. He gave me a kiss to the forehead which gave me the confidence and strength to give it all I had. The contraction was here. I pushed, his head was out. I was not stopping there. I had a little more and I did not want to drag this on for one more contraction. I pushed harder, he turned a quarter turn and was out. He began floating up between Aaron and I. We caught him and brought him up to the surface together. Our baby took his first breath. 6:55pm and we had done it. Epic Karl Magenheim had arrived!
We sat there together in the tub as a family, just staring into each other’s eyes. Our baby was so awake, so aware, so calm, and so happy to be held by the voices he had heard so often. He was strong, able to move his head some already, and looked just like his dad. We got out of the tub. Aaron took the baby while I went to shower up and crawl into bed. All of my muscles were sore. It was hard to stand.
After I got comfortable, the midwife brought me some food. I chowed down while she did the weigh in and measurements. He was 9lbs and 22.25 inches long. Everyone was in disbelief. I had just delivered a big baby and did not even tear. After I finished the plate full of food, Epic decided it was his turn. I allowed him to gather up his own strength to find his food. It was incredible to see him instinctively wiggle and squirm his way around to find my breast. I did not assist him as he found what he was looking for. He latched on and was eating like a champ after only being in this world 25 minutes! This is what nature intended. This is the birth that I had imagined. It was an Epic birth.
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Eric wanted to title this "Indiana Gentry and the Womb of Doom" but since he already got to name our baby Indiana, I'm going to at least draw the line at my uterus being referred to as the Womb of Doom.
Here is the story of how we met our third baby, Indy.
I wanted very much for this birth to begin spontaneously. Despite having gestational diabetes for the third time, it was completely diet controlled and my doctor, midwife, and I believed baby was not overly big and that we were both healthy. However, as 42 weeks came and went it looked like an induction may be the best option for me considering my medical history. We had a 9:00pm appointment for February 22nd, 42 weeks and 1 day, but Natividad Labor and Delivery called and said their rooms were full. They'd call us when they had space. We heard from them again just before midnight.
The first doctor we saw was a resident, Dr. Davis. She explained that she was a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) and I immediately felt more comfortable with her. I didn't know much about DO's, but I did know they were more hands on like a chiropractor or midwife. She was the first doctor to palpate my belly during my exam. She felt my head and throat and did a cervical check. I was 5cm dilated, 50% effaced, and baby was -1 to -2 station. Her recommendation was to start Pitocin at a low dose and I agreed, aby was too high to break my water.
I requested an anesthesiologist to place my IV since I am sensitive to blood and needles and needed someone who could be quick. A nurse anesthetist was sent in, not the same but whatever. The first thing she did was mock me for having tattoos but being sensitive over needles. Again, not the same... but whatever. I should have sent her out then but I didn't. She placed the IV and said, "see, it's ok to look" but I looked up at Eric instead and he shook his head no. She then realized that she needed to replace it, I started to feel dizzy and said I needed a break. She gripped my hand and started looking for a vein and I said no, I needed some time. She didn't let go right away, but eventually did, maybe irritated over the fact that she wasn't allowed to complete her challenge. Some medical professionals seem to forget we are people, not puzzles.
An hour later I was ready to try again with another nurse. She placed the IV quickly but it was excruciating. I started to feel like I was going to pass out and I told her to remove it. Eric and I decided to walk for a while so I could calm down.
Back in the room we met another doctor, a fellow, Dr. Rushton. She simply introduced herself as Jill, she was a very calm presence. She thought I was a little less dilated, 4cm. I told her we wanted to think about our options a little more. It had already been a long night so Eric and I rested a bit. I eventually got up to walk by myself while Eric slept. My nurse, Ruby, stopped me in the hall and said that we could just go ahead and break my water. I think she and the doctors knew that I was going to have a very hard time attempting an IV again.
My friend Anna arrived. She was interested in becoming a birth photographer and doula and my birth was going to be her first other than her own to attend. She was visiting family in Fresno and drove three hours in the middle of the night to be with me. It was wonderful to not only have a friend but someone else who loved birth with me.
Dr. Davis and Dr. Rushton came in a little after 7am. They discussed who was going to get to break my water, then Dr. Davis was called out so Dr. Rushton won. There was no big gush like I experienced in the past. Even when I stood there was only a small trickle. I'm not sure which happened next, if Anna and I started walking or if I took a nap, but both happened. I thought I had napped forever, but it was only around 30 minutes. Despite being exhausted I was anxious to get labor going. I knew a lot could go wrong between a rupture and birth.
I woke Eric and told him we needed to do this. Once we were walking contractions picked up immediately and were about 4-2 minutes apart. I hated the feeling of having my water broken. Compared to my first natural birth where my membrane remained intact for most of my labor, these contractions were much stronger and even between contractions my whole pelvis was achy and uncomfortable. Despite the intensity I was encouraged that it looked like I wouldn't need Pitocin. When contractions came I stopped and hung on Eric, it was the only place I could somewhat relax. I focused on trying to let my belly hang the way I did in our second birth but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't quite get to that level of relaxation.
About two hours in, around 11:00am, my body began to bear down at the peak of contractions. I told Anna and Eric and they both said I sounded like I was pushing. I had felt this before, twice, and both times I was complete. Could we be there already? I told our new nurse, Caren, and asked if I should get checked and she said she wanted to monitor the baby and my contractions first, we had agreed to monitor for 20 minutes of every hour.
The contractions on the monitor were irregular and didn't look strong, but they felt overwhelming. I couldn't lay down, all I could do was sit on the edge of the bed and hold onto Eric. By noon my contractions were no longer building and peaking. I would get a very short indication one was coming and no matter how much I relaxed or panted or fought it, my body bore down with more intensity than I had ever experienced in my life. And not once, but three, four times in one contraction in varied intervals. I tried to maintain control through vocalizations but my moans were lost and I began whimpering sometimes screaming in pain.
At noon I was checked. I had fully effaced but I was still only 5cm and baby was -2 station. I was devastated and confused. I was terrified of these contractions. They were unpredictable and unlike anything I had ever heard of. I didn't know what I could do other than to get out of my head and just figure out how to work with them as they came. This is the birth I was given and I was meant to do this.
I sat on the edge of the bed and tried to relax as deeply as I could using Eric as support. I was so tired that I could almost fall asleep between contractions. I tried to stay as out of it for the early part of each contraction and not respond to the urges, but I lost every single battle and my body would begin its frantic heaving. I thought maybe the shower might help relax my body. I got in and Eric held my hand from just outside. I panicked if he wasn't in arms reach. I was able to focus on the water and be calm a little longer into each contraction, but each one still ended in frantic pushing. I kept looking down expecting to see blood or something awful. I felt like my body and the baby were crushing each other. Occasionally something in my pelvis popped or cracked at the peak of a push, I was sure either baby or I would be horribly injured. Everything that happened built upon my fear. I know of so many variations in labor and this was nothing I had ever heard of. I don't remember when I started to let myself cry, I was just so scared.
Jill, my midwife, arrived while I was in the shower. I don't remember if I even said hi when I came out. My brother, Jon, and his fiance, Lauren, came in too. That morning Lauren had said she wasn't coming and I didn't think my brother would want to so I was surprised, but too out of it to address it. I guess Eric had texted them again. I tried some more positions: leaning on the ball, on my hands and knees, lying on my side. While on my side my hip popped loudly again, Eric heard it too. He said I looked terrified and asked what did that. It felt like I was breaking. I sat on the edge of the bed and held onto Eric. Sometimes I would try to lean onto the bed because I was just so tired, I wanted to sleep, but I would bolt up in pain even if there was no contraction. Jill tried to prop pillows for me but I had to keep my torso totally upright. I could stand or sit straight.
By 3:00pm I knew in my head something had to be terribly wrong. I asked to be checked again. I believe I was 6cm, but baby still hadn't come down at all. Baby was not descending despite the immense pressure my body was putting on it.
When I told Eric I couldn't do this he reminded me that I already was. He knew exactly what to say. He, Jill, and Anna reminded me to eat and drink, made position suggestions, encouraged me, working as a web to support me. But they didn't know what was happening inside me. I started telling them they were all wrong, I wasn't doing this, something was wrong. I was on my hands and knees crying and Eric got in my face. I said something had to happen, I'm scared, something about my body is not right and I can't stop it. I need something to stop it. I knew an epidural was an option to relax these urges so baby could come down, but that meant IV, a blood test, and an entire route I desperately didn't want to take.
Even when I was screaming not a single nurse or doctor suggested pain medications. I let myself say I needed an epidural... Eric asked if I was sure and the nurse reminded me it would be at least 30 minutes for the blood test to get back. I said no, I don't want it, I'd get back in the shower. Minutes in I realized there was no way around it though. We had to do something to stop what was happening. Eric got that this wasn't giving in, we needed to do this.
I asked for Fentanyl before the nurse started the IV. It worked. It made me dizzy, as I knew it would, but it helped me get through the blood draw and IV.
I don't know how he did it, but the anesthesiologist was able to place the epidural between contractions. Even through my fog I was worried about what would happen if I began bearing down with a needle navigating my spine. The nurse said it would take about three contractions for it to take full effect. By the fourth contraction I felt baby descend. It had only been about 20 minutes. I was still pushing a little with every contraction, but much less and it was easier to resist the urge.
I was checked, baby was 0 station and I was complete. I could push.
As baby descended some pretty worrisome heart decelerations came up on the monitor. Another DO, Dr. Zwolack, came in and explained to me what has happening, but I knew. He didn't want to say it and I didn't want him to, but I needed to push this baby out or we needed to do a cesarean section. The conversation was not a threat, I really felt like he wanted me to have the vaginal birth I wanted.
I was given oxygen and started pushing. Baby was not staying on the monitor so the doctor asked if he could put a monitor on the baby's head and I agreed. I tried a few pushes on my back and on my side. Dr. Zwolack wanted me to push only every other contraction so that the baby had more time to recover. This didn't last long and it was decided that I needed to push baby out.
The doctor left and I asked the nurse for the squat bar. I barely felt numb and had no problem supporting myself. One contraction and three pushes and I was able to push baby to a near crown. I'm not sure I could have effectively brought baby down lying on my back. Dr. Zwolack was immediately called back in.
The doctor checked again, and I believe the OB, Dr. Heiner, came in as well. Whoever checked me was impressed, none of us knew if I could bring this baby down or not. I got on the bar again and pushed the baby to a crown. I reached down and felt a soft squishy head, squishier than I expected. The OB said that a caput had formed, some swelling in the scalp from being pressed against my cervix.
From here everything, and everyone, moved quickly. Dr. Heiner said they would not use a vacuum. If nature could not bring this baby down they would not force it, and I understood completely. That meant I pushed this baby out or they would do a c-section. No pressure. Baby was having a hard time for a reason and we did not know what that reason was. As the room filled the doctor explained there would be more people in the room than previously expected because baby was struggling.
I sat back and pushed. There was so much excitement in Eric's voice as he told me I was doing it and the head was right there that I knew I must have been really doing it. There were lots of voices encouraging me and I needed every one of them. It did not feel like I could get baby out. I had to lay back all the way, not how I envisioned birthing this baby, but I wasn't being forced to do anything that I didn't think needed to happen. I think both doctors had their hands in me stretching and maneuvering. I heard Dr. Heiner say to someone he was going to drain my bladder to make more room and the birth fanatic in me though "That's so cool, I wish I could see!" though the woman with a baby head halfway out of her thought "Oh my god what???"
With every contraction I pushed until I thought I was going to pass out. While the image of the woman on her back with her feet in the air stirs many negative feelings in the natural birth community, I really needed someone pushing my legs back like that. This baby just felt so big. Dr. Heiner said he did not want to cut an episiotomy but he would numb my perineum just in case. No scissors necessary, finally the head was out.
I heard Dr. Heiner say to clamp the cord. I immediately knew this meant the baby had a very tight cord around its neck and it needed to be cut before the body could be born. As soon as I had the ok I began pushing as hard as I could. I wish I could have watched what was happening. One shoulder out, a doctor cursed, another shoulder, and I swear I pushed out every inch of that baby all the way to its toes. And at 6:48pm our baby was here! The emotional relief greatly outweighed the physical. Our baby was here.
I was anxious to see who we had, a little boy or little girl, but before I could look someone said baby was having difficulty breathing, but really, baby wasn't breathing at all. I think Eric and I saw at the same time just as the nurse lifted baby off my chest. Eric said "We have another son!" He didn't yell it, it was just to me and it was so sweet to hear his excitement.
The nurses resuscitate our son and when we finally got a glimpse our little boy was pink, but clearly struggling to breathe. My midwife called to me and reminded me to talk him and I did. His tummy was sucking in and he was wheezing loudly, it was nothing like when Milo had a little trouble breathing. The nurse said they might need to take him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. His first APGAR score was 2, which is very low. He finally cried, three times, and they decided to have me try skin to skin instead of taking him away.
His second APGAR was 8. It was a rough start but he was ok. I don't remember when they weighed him, before or after they gave him to me but when they did voices were raised in surprise and it took me a while to figure out what was happening... I think I may have been in the middle of pushing out the placenta. Eric finally told me, he weighed 11 pounds, 5 ounces! We were shocked! He was 21 3/4 inches with a 39 cm head and 39 cm chest. His head was the biggest our nurse had measured in 38 years. I didn't have any excessive bleeding, though I was given Pitocin right away, and had no tears! The placenta did not look aged by the way. I reminded the doctors that I wanted the placenta and I was told it had to go through pathology. I said we needed to get it home to clean because I was going to eat it. I suppose I forget how shocking fairly accepted behavior in the natural world is because the busy room froze. A nurse in the back said "What?!" I said I was going to have it encapsulated The looks of horror, disgust, and confusion were priceless.
We were still not decided on a name. I liked Everett, Eric liked Indiana... yes after Indiana Jones. I was holding my ground on Everett but I had that night alone with the baby to think about it. I really liked our tradition of Eric naming our sons, which is Biblical. Eric also was amazing during the birth. He loved and supported me so much, and he may not have pushed out this baby himself but I'm certain I wouldn't have had the strength or confidence to do it without him.
And honestly, if any baby deserved to be named Indiana, this one was it. We also kept our tradition of choosing a Hebrew middle name. Eric chose Jacob, which is also my grandmother's grandfather's name.
So this is where I have to process this birth. I believe every birth is a lesson, which is one of the many reasons I take issue with routinely medicating and detaching women from their births. We are meant to trust birth. We are meant to learn from birth. But I realize that when I say that part of me sets birth apart as an outside entity. I know that there were several hours where I had already decided something was wrong but I didn't want to disrupt the birth process. There was me, and there was the birth. I put my design over my intuition, which is really one of the most important aspects of our design! It's easy to tell a woman to trust herself but when it's you that is in a very scary place and no one can tell you what is happening because no one can feel what you are feeling it's not so clear. I still don't completely understand why my labor progressed the way it did, however after researching and talking to other birth professionals I believe I had a spastic lower uterine segment, which is rare. I still believe this birth was meant for me. I came away with a new found respect for a mother's ability to read her baby and her body. Before a monitor could confirm it I knew my body and baby were not working together.
I love natural birth. It never occurred to me that after experiencing a natural birth I'd then have a medicated one. If I did know that, I would assume that I'd mourn the birth I thought I would have... but I'm not. I support natural birth because it's what I believe is safest, but none of us, not even midwives, doulas, or childbirth educators, are guaranteed an uncomplicated birth. I'm going to be honest, it feels very weird to me that I can't say it was another natural birth, but that's just a title. It was a hard, complicated, scary day, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good birth. I had a lot to learn and it was crammed it into an intense 12 hour lesson. I'm grateful for the experience, for the amazing team I had with me, the courageous doctors who could have easily justified a cesarean, for Eric's confidence in me, and for this sweet new baby boy, Indy.
And yes... we know Indiana was the dog.
Eric and I have spent almost every day for 21 months preparing for a natural birth. We began when I was pregnant with Milo. All of our energy the last trimester of our pregnancy with him was spent researching and preparing to reach our goal of an unmediated birth through the Bradley method. Instead, Milo's birth was induced and highly medicalized thanks to complications from gestational diabetes. As soon as I recovered I began working towards our goal once again. I dedicated myself to a strict exercise regimen and diet to help start this pregnancy at a lower weight and hopefully avoid diabetes, and continued with it throughout the pregnancy. I watched dozens of birth videos, poured over birth stories, and followed bloggers that I thought would help us be successful. Eric and I researched local hospitals, obstetricians, and midwives, read and re-read books, and studied every birth documentary we could get our hands on. There was no reason why we should not reach our goal this time.
When I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes this time we knew we may face an induction, but our midwife, a CNM named Margann, was confidant we would not be facing an IV-Pitocin-epidural birth experience like last time. I stayed active, took the herbs she suggested, and by 35 weeks my cervix was already dilating and very soft. We had a decent chance of nudging labor along if necessary. At my 38 week appointment (at 37 weeks and 5 days) on Tuesday, March 15th, I was 2-3 cm dilated and had been having long periods of contractions that were slightly more impressive than typical Braxton-hicks. My midwife stripped my membranes, though she said it would likely not work this time because she couldn't reach well. I believed her as I barely felt it. We would do it again next week.
Must be an old midwife jedi mind/uterus trick to ensure it will work.
I felt very little cramping and had no spotting that evening. Sure that I would not be having the baby this week, I went ahead and ignored my half packed bags again that night.
On Wednesday the 16th, I woke up at 6:30am for daycare and felt like someone had hit me with a baseball bat in the lower abdomen about 1000 times, then once in the head for good measure. My uterus was suspiciously silent though, not a single contraction. Calm before the storm? Or did we just upset it by poking around at it?
After stumbling around in pain all morning, at around 11:30am I started losing a ton of bloody mucus. It was nothing like what I imagined, a little mucus and maybe some spotting. It was pink and purple chunks of mucus and who knows what else, and it just kept coming. I sat in the bathroom in shock. This had to be the bloody show. Oh God. We are not ready. I played chicken with my uterus and now I'm going to lose.
I'm not sure how to describe what happened next. It was almost like my brain turned into a computer compiling everything that HAD to happen before this baby arrived. Ninety percent of what I came up with probably didn't have to happen, like washing the sunroom windows or mopping under the bed, but for me they were mandatory prerequisites to labor. The next 6 hours were a whirl wind of cleaning products, contractions and sheer panic. I never slowed long enough to time contractions, I needed to out run them. I assigned jobs to Eric until I felt he wasn't taking my urgency seriously. I knew I looked crazy, I knew organizing the entry closet was not a real priority and that the bunk beds didn't need to be put together, but in my world, right then, it all had to happen. I started crying and told him to get out. He still helped but just stayed out of my way.
By around 7:30pm I was spent. I showered and settled on the couch to see if my contractions were regular. They were 7 to 15 minutes apart, not painful, but a little pinchy. Four hours later I still did not fully believe this was it, I decided to go to bed to see if the contractions would stop. I laid there for 2 hours and while they slowed, they did not stop and could not be slept through. I gave up at 1:30am. I told Eric he should try to sleep and went back to timing.
When contractions were 5-8 minutes apart I was having to stop almost everything to breathe through them and sometimes lean against a wall. I woke Eric up and told him to call my mom and take Milo to her. This was it! Oh but first we had sex because who knew when we would get to again.
Eric got Milo ready and left for my mom's and I got in the shower to shave my legs and wash my hair. I thought contractions might be nearing 3 minutes apart, but I would rather have this baby in the shower than go to the hospital before I shave my legs. I think the biggest lesson of the day was that I have no concept of priority when I'm in labor.
I finished getting ready just as Eric got home. Contractions were even more intense now, but I still made him stop and take some last belly pictures between contractions before leaving the house at 6:00am.
On the way to the car I had a strong contraction that radiated down my thighs and I had to moan through it. It was amazing to me that they could get so strong, but that they just went away after. It was nothing like my Pitocin induction. This was like a million little battles and I was winning them all so far! I called the hospital on the way and told them I was in labor. I answered questions between contractions. I noticed that my body was beginning to push with them. If I tried to not push it hurt so bad, so I just let my body do its thing. I could still breathe through them and I wouldn't consider them unbearable so I knew there was no way I was transitioning. The woman on the phone said it may be early for me to be coming in, but since I was already on my way to come in anyway. It was discouraging, I didn't want to face a whole day of contractions like this, but I tried to not think about it.
We got to the Dominican Hospital soon before 7:00am. I had to stop twice from the car to the front doors of the hospital for contractions, and two more times from the doors to our room. It took me forever to change into my gown between contractions. I was starting to feel a little panicked. These were a lot of work. I had to grab onto stuff and breathe and moan, but the staff was treating me like I was in early labor. I paced between contractions and leaned against the wall during, relaxing everything and letting my body press down. The nurse was so nice, she was very up beat and I felt silly working so hard in front of her. I was sure she was thinking "Wow if you think this is hard..." But I couldn't help it. I couldn't sit either, I felt like I was sitting on his head. I got on my knees at the foot of the bed for a few contractions, which were now making my whole body shake. I was still answering questions about my medical history and such. I finally asked "should I feel like I need to push?" The nurse's look should have been answer enough, "Um... no."
She had me get up on the bed and checked my cervix. All she could feel was my bag of water bulging through, so she got the charge nurse. The charge nurse checked me and then grabbed an OB who confirmed, I was 9 cm dilated. I could not believe it! It was like winning the lottery! That's it, I'm almost done, I did the hard part already! According to Bradley, labor is hard work, transition is the worst, but when you are pushing you are finally getting to do something and I remember several women in the books stopping between pushing contractions and saying "Oh I like this better." YEAH! Let me push!
They wouldn't yet though. They helped me breathe through those awful contractions and sometimes I couldn't stop the urge and my body would push anyway. It was awful, it hurt, and it felt like it would never end. My body just wanted to push! The best thing the nurse said this whole time was just repeating "this will end, it will come down." She could tell when I was about to panic and would say that, I was glad Eric caught it on video, though those contractions are hard to watch now because I did so well when I worked with my body, and suffered so much when I worked against it. It was around 8:20am.
My midwife finally came in but I was barely aware. I was just trying to survive. I was getting scared, everything was moving too fast. The nurses were excited. "Ok let's have this baby!" "This will go so fast!" And many comments on how calm I was, the "calmest 9 cm I've ever seen" one nurse said. I didn't know what to say, I appreciated their enthusiasm and compliments, but I was beginning to lose it. No where near calm. I suppose I was calm the way a deer staring down headlights is calm.
Everyone prepared for my midwife to break my water, and the moment she did my body started to bear down. I can't emphasize enough how involuntary this pushing was, or the immense power behind it. It was like I was exploding from the inside, only there was a bowling ball keeping it all in and all that pressure was behind it.
In that first horrible moment, a thousand thoughts came to me at once, like a really awful enlightenment. First I was angry at Bradley for writing that awful book and making me believe that I could do this. This was SO BAD! Who were those evil women who said pushing wasn't so bad, just hard work, and actually chatted between pushes? Who could possibly encourage anyone else to do this and not go straight to hell?
I was hating them all, I was livid that I had been fooled... then I realized that it was too late. I had to push and I couldn't fight this. It was going to hurt and it was going to suck, but I took a breath and pushed with everything I had for what felt like an eternity. It was terrifying, I couldn't stop to breathe anymore. I thought I was going to pass out. I was sure the baby was stuck and I was going to die. Everyone kept saying he was right there and to push a little harder and finally, when I thought there was no harder, I gave just a little more and his head popped out. A second passed, no relief, my body bore down again and I pushed with it. It was so hard to push through something that hurt so much but I did anyway and he wriggled out and was placed on my belly. It was 8:32am, Ashley Caleb was here. He weighed 8 pounds and was 21 1/2 inches long.
Someone told me to open my eyes and I reached down to grab him. I just kept saying that I couldn't believe he was here. They gave him a little oxygen, but he never left my arms. I kissed him and was just so happy to finally be holding him.
I pushed out the placenta and the nurses all gathered around it because it was so big and had all these extra lobes. I hadn't torn at all. I was bleeding quite a bit so I was given Pitocin, Cytotec, and my midwife massaged my uterus for quite some time.
I was so happy, but at the same time I was in shock over what had just happened. I was trying to decide how I felt about it all. I thought I would feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment over having given birth naturally, but I didn't. I couldn't believe I had put myself through that voluntarily. I wasn't sure I could ever do it again. I could tell from everyone around me that I had done a good job. Eric was beaming. I overheard a nurse say "What a great birth to start the day with!" And Ash, who had still never left my arms and was now happily nursing, was healthy and staring up at me with bright clear eyes.
I have decided that it was hard, but I brought him into this world the safest way possible. I took no risks with his health or mine. Physically, I felt amazing very soon after. No soreness or pain or medications to get out of my system. I have a lot to share about our hospital stay and my recovery, but you will just have to wait for another post because right now I have a hungry little baby to tend to.
Jeff and Diane used to bring Vincent to my daycare. Diane does graphic design but she is also a turbo kick instructor here in Salinas. I've always read that fit mamas have quicker labors! Thank you for sharing Diane!
Vincent Takumi McGirr was born July 26th, 2011 at 7:41am, weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces and 21.5 inches long. My labor started a little after 1am when I was awaken by a tummy ache. After several trips to the bathroom i realized I might be having contractions… a pain would come about every 7 minutes. I tried to go back to sleep because they say that the best thing to do. Well that didn’t happen. So i got up and went to the couch and started timing contractions there since i didn’t feel like i needed to wake Jeff up at this point.
The contractions got closer together in the matter of an hour or so. They were 4 minutes apart for about 45 seconds, then some were only 3 minutes apart but 30 seconds. By 5am i was having them every 4 minutes for over a minute, and then some were only 1-2 minutes apart for 30 seconds. Definitely time to head to the hospital! Before Jeff got out of bed he mentioned “maybe i’ll work in Salinas office today instead of Gilroy”… haha! Uh… think again dude, we’re going to the hospital! After that he said “ok i’ll start the coffee” and in my head i’m like coffee?!?! NO TIME FOR COFFEE! Lets go NOW! Haha!
I convinced my mom to come along with us because i wanted Jeff and I to have extra support. All the while everyone is getting ready to go my contractions are hurting like all hell! Hard to brush your teeth and get your stuff together when you’re anticipating a sharp cramping over you tummy every few minutes. The one surprising thing that i learned after having experienced contractions is that none of those positions you learn in Lamaze class really help to ease the pain. Not that I tried them or anything (no time in my case!) but I just can’t imagine that changing your position would change the pain. The only thing I could muster enough energy to do was to get down on all fours so I wouldn't fall over or collapse or anything. You can’t really focus on anything but the pain while it is happening. During one contraction I started bleeding suddenly, so i knew for sure we HAD to go. Jeff called the hospital after i convinced him i couldn’t do it on my own since i’d for sure get a contraction mid-sentence. They told us to come i once i told them about the bleeding, so off we went.
The Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP) is about 20 minutes away. The car ride took a while and i was in the back seat, screaming (literally) through the contractions. Jeff was trying to help as best he could with his coaching and it did help distract a little from the pain. I remember myself yelling “help me” a few times… and as we pulled up to the hospital that last contraction in the car, i felt like i needed to push! Scary!
Jeff dropped my mom and I off at the front and i was so confused i didn’t know which door to go into! Ugh! But we found our way and a security guard put me in a wheelchair and took us to labor and delivery. It was about 6am by now. They took me to my room – which was a teeny tiny room that they haven’t used in a long time but had to shove me in it since they were extremely busy. I stripped my clothes off as fast as i could, got my monitors on and hopped up on the bed.
They checked me and I was “just a lip” – I think meaning i was about 9cm and almost fully dilated and ready to push. I had to pant through several contractions… I don’t even know how many but way too many in my book! I was waiting for the doctor to show up so i could push. I kept asking how much longer, and they couldn’t really tell me! I kept saying how it wasn’t fair that I had to wait, and that i wanted a 15 minute break from the contractions to catch my breath. Luckily there was a nice lady there that was actually a nursery nurse, that came in to help me through my contractions. She told me to blow out birthday candles so that they would just flicker and not go out. That helped a bit, because otherwise i really wanted to push. Everything in the room was chaotic. I can’t remember how many people were in this tiny “closet” like room! One particular nurse came in to put my IV in and i yelled at her saying she can’t do it now! LOL. I couldn’t imagine i’d be able to stay still for her to poke me. It took her several tries but she did get it in. After what seemed like an ETERNITY, panting through a billion contractions (ok so it was like 20 minutes)… i was finally told that the doctor was close enough to the hospital that i could start pushing. So push i did! It probably took about 7 sets of 3-4 pushes to get him out. It was a challenge to curl up, chin down, take a deep breath and push in the right places to get him out but it was so much better than trying to pant through contractions and NOT pushing. Jeff was a great coach giving me positive feedback the entire time, saying how great i was for doing it natural, etc. After i breathed through one particular contraction, Jeff said, “See that wasn’t so bad was it” and a nurse scolded him saying, “don’t ever say that to a laboring woman!” LOL!
When the baby was delivered he let out a cry. The doctor said “it’s a boy!” and “look at his round head! that is a perfect looking head!” He did indeed look very healthy and i saw Jeff get teary eyed! Didn’t have to wait at all to deliver the placenta. Jeff cut the cord in front of me and then they placed the baby up on my chest for skin-to-skin. Jeff and i just stared at our baby boy and started thinking of names! We were set on Calvin for a few weeks now but hadn’t made any final decisions. So when saw him we thought he looked like a Vincent, our other choice of name. And so he was named!
We all bonded for a while, he breastfed, then the nurses took his measurements. We called my mom in and she got to see the baby. I ended up with a 3rd degree tear (ouch!) and when i asked “how many stitches” i got – the doctor just said “oh we don’t count” – i take that to mean way too many to count! Yikes! But i’m recovering well, it is really not too bad.
Looking back, it’s kind of funny when you are in labor. It’s like you’re a little drunk/buzzed because you just blurt out and say anything on your mind. No filter at all!
You can visit Jeff & Diane's blog here.
If you would like to share your story please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After desperately trying to induce labor naturally, Eric and I found ourselves in Labor and Delivery at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital at 6:00am on Monday, October 26th waiting to be induced. I was 40 weeks and 5 days, we chose an induction because my gestational diabetes was not well controlled even with insulin, I had significant edema and while I wouldn't allow an ultrasound to estimate his weight, I knew baby was big. I was 3cm dilated, 60% effaced, unhappy about the induction but I was comforted by the fact that my OB was sure we’d have a baby by that night. We handed over our birth plan and I waited to have my IV started. I hate getting IV’s and I faint easily. I have terrible veins and I didn’t want to start the day with 5 bad sticks and me fainting. The first nurse failed. The second I didn’t trust (she looked like an escaped mental patient). Finally they called the anesthesiologist to do it. It was a rough start.
Pitocin was started at around 7:00am. Our plan was to induce with Pitocin and not have my water broken. We didn’t know that the Pitocin drip meant that we would not be able to use the shower or tub, or that I would have to be hooked up to monitors continuously. We were disappointed, but had a great nurse that had her three children without pain medication. She was very supportive of our plan to go pain med free. Good news.
Contractions showed up quickly, but only on the monitor. I didn’t feel a thing. As the hours wore on I got more and more frustrated. I was starving, I could have broth, jello, and flavored ice cups. I’m not stupid, those are all just various forms of more liquid. By that evening I was a crying mess. I was worried that the lack of food would affect my ability to hold up in labor, that my uterus would get over worked by the Pitocin and have problems contracting after delivery, and about the effects of a full day of Pitocin on my baby. My IV hurt horribly, and I felt defeated before even feeling a single contraction. I shamelessly sobbed in front of the new nurse and OB that was on call. I didn’t think the induction was working. They turned off the Pitocin and said they would try again in the morning.
In the morning my IV was excruciating. The nurse determined that I needed it redone, so the anesthesiologist came back and gave me another. I really liked the anesthesiologist; we could tell he loved his job. While he was there he explained everything about epidurals to us, in case we needed one. We listened politely. He just loved talking about his work so much, we didn’t have the heart to interrupt him and say we didn’t plan to have an epidural.
Pitocin was started again. A cervical check revealed that I had made no progress the day before. I had wanted to just nudge labor along, but my OB tried to help me realize that I didn’t really have the luxury of letting nature take its course. I was told that in nature, a mother in my condition would only have a 50% chance of bringing home a live baby (we now know this was wrong, and this OB was not good with numbers). He said that today we are cheating nature. I finally felt ok about our position. We decided to go ahead and let them break my water.
The next OB on call, Dr. Nelson, was also not my OB, he was the one OB I did not want to deliver my baby. I believe I had said something like “If he’s on call, I’ll have my son in the parking lot.” He came in and asked if he had seen me before. He had, several times, just the week before actually. I don’t need to be coddled by my doctors, but I do appreciate being looked at when talked to, and having my questions addressed. Both of these skills seem to escape this doctor. I don’t think he said anything else, he just checked me, and then broke my water. I hadn’t told him to break my water, and I was irritated he didn’t even ask. Also, Eric had stepped out to go to the bathroom so he missed it. He was pretty bummed. When I got up I produced a very impressive puddle on the floor. Go me.
The next nurse had also had her children naturally. Another score. She was very sweet and kept saying I reminded her of herself when she had her babies. My contractions could finally be felt around 10:45am, about an hour after my water was broken. They came on fast, there were no polite warning contractions. My uterus started out at a sprint. They started at 2 minutes apart and about 30 seconds long. I labored on the toilet for a bit, since it really felt like I needed to go to the bathroom, it was nice to be there just in case.
Within 20 minutes I really needed my husband’s support. I got on the birthing ball and leaned on the bed. Eric rubbed my back and talked me through contractions. As much as it hurt, it felt great to be doing this the way we wanted to: just me and him. I couldn’t talk much, I would just say “start” for the beginning of a contraction, and then after would fall into him and relax. I kissed him and thanked him when I could. Those little breaks were so precious.
Unfortunately, we were not able to labor like this for long, only another 20 to 30 minutes. When I leaned on the bed I would kink the IV in my hand, setting off a symphony of piercing alarms. Also, the monitors were not picking up baby. The nurse told me I needed to lay in the bed. I felt very trapped. The nurse said this OB likes the “express route” and my Pitocin was increased again as I positioned myself on my side. Contractions were now coming at a feverish pace of every one minute. The breaks completely disappeared. It suddenly felt like someone had dropped a piano on me, and as it crushed me I was then being hit with semi truck after semi truck. My options were pain, mind numbing pain, and pain again. The nurse had said earlier that a common complaint of Pitocin induced labor was that there were no breaks between contractions. I kept thinking about what Bradley said in his book in reference to contractions, a truth I expected to lean on in labor: Nature is kind, and always gives breaks.
Against the wishes of the nursing staff, I scrambled to my hands and knees and held onto the headboard. I felt like I was going to throw up and pass out all at the same time. As out of it as I was, at one point as I leaned over the side of the bed I remember thinking, “If I throw up here, cleaning off all those cords will be hell.” I felt bad for losing it, the nurse had been so nice and was so impressed with my birth plan, I felt like I was letting everyone down. I can’t say I remember many other clear thoughts, I just gripped that bed and moaned and cried and shook. Eric said that at one point he had even checked under my gown to make sure a head wasn’t coming out because according to what we had learned, for as much pain I was in, I should have transitioned. Just one hour had passed.
The nurses said I had to turn over, this time on my back. There was no way I could endure all this pain and stay completely still on my back. My IV alarm continued to go off again and again and they couldn’t keep baby on the monitor. I understood it was important to monitor him, that the Pitocin contractions could cause him to distress and that I did need to stay still, but I just couldn’t. I needed to be in any position other than on my back. Eric was being so good trying to help me cope, but I couldn’t carry on like this. I just cried and cried and said that I would need an epidural. Eric asked me over and over if I was sure. He knew how badly I didn’t want one, and he was right. Even as I asked for it I didn’t want it, but I was physically, mentally and emotionally spent. I just cried and apologized to him over and over, I felt like I was taking something away from him because he had prepared as much as I had for this. I wanted us to do this together and now I was tapping out early. Eric was so wonderful though, he said he knew there was no way I’d be asking for this if there was any chance I could go without it. He went and got the nurse.
The nurses turned off the Pitocin so I could stay still for the epidural. I didn’t say anything for a long time after that. I know I was moaning and trembling, but I felt very silent and still. I never asked what was taking the anesthesiologist so long, I tried to not cry anymore, I just shut down. Half an hour went by and the Pit was out of my system. It wasn’t long before I could feel the tightening waves of contractions, but with breaks in between. I was exhausted and in pain, but I also thought “This I could have done, these I could have worked with.” I’m really glad I had that time with my body, to know that I wasn’t too weak for labor. I believe I could have endured this if it weren’t for the induction. Through all this I never once thought that this whole natural childbirth thing doesn’t work or only crazy people try it, I just couldn’t do it on a nearly maxed dose of Pitocin.
It took two attempts to get the epidural right. Once it kicked in, I didn’t have a “Hallelujuah, epidurals are awesome!” moment. I felt very indifferent to it. The rest of the day wore on. Eric and I watched tv and waited. I texted back and forth with Amy, who was also now in labor. We guessed at when our babies would come. I was now sure my baby would share his birthday with my brother, October 28th. I was happy because 28 is my second favorite number.
At 11:30pm I felt my body start to push, and I could feel baby’s head moving lower. I didn’t tell the nurse right away, I wanted to just let my body push for a while, it felt good to feel something and to be involved. She checked me at 12:15am and said his head was very low and I could start pushing. We texted a friend who was going to take pictures and my father in law who was going to video tape, and I started pushing.
Eric sat behind me for support and the nurses set up the squat bar for me to put my feet against. I could feel most of the contractions so I could push with them, not just when the nurses told me to. I felt the head very low pretty quickly. Our friend, Tina, and Eric’s parents arrived and started taking pictures and video taping. Everything was going well. My only complaint was that the nurses would say “get mad at it” and “push like bowel movement.” I asked them to stop, I said it was distracting, but I really thought it was very rude sounding.
I pushed for about 2 hours and the nurses massaged the whole time. By now they had figured out that my baby had a very big head. I could tell they were trying to say things to each other without me hearing. The OB was called in and he had me push once. He said, as dryly as possible, I could have an episiotomy and vacuum delivery or c-section. I asked if I could just tear and he said no, that if I tore I would tear in several directions. He would also need help delivering the head and he was concerned about shoulder dystocia. Then he just left. To say the least, I lost it.
I was terrified of an episiotomy, and I thought that even if they got his head out, they might not be able to get his shoulders out. I said I wanted as many drugs as I could have and a c-section. I know Eric was thinking “who is this woman?” I had given up, I wanted out of having to make this decision or be a part of this birth. Eric completely took charge. He told me he knew I’d regret this, and he was sure I could do this. I finally agreed to the vacuum. I didn't look down for the rest of the birth. I told the nurse to tell the OB to not tell me when they cut me, I didn't want to know. I just buried my head in Eric, who now was beside me holding me up.
I barely remember the next hour. I was completely lost in Eric. I only heard what he said. He was the only thing that was real in the room, no one else was there. I know that there is no other way I would have been able to get through the rest of the birth. Eric kept telling me he could see his head and that I was doing it. At 3:37am I finally felt Milo come out, and they cleaned him on my stomach. I still didn’t look, but I felt his head through the towel, it was so warm and he was so wiggly… and heavy.
Even though Milo was here and he was supposed to be at the center of this life changing event, I was still barely conscious of anything beyond Eric. This moment was about us, we had made something so perfect and we had done it all together. I finally noticed Milo crying and we looked over at him as the nurses cleaned him off, and my appreciation for what we had accomplished swelled. In the end, I realized that that’s all I really wanted from this birth, Eric and I did it together.
In all I was in labor for 14 hours, pushed for 3 hours. Milo weighed 10 pounds, 3 ounces and was 21 inches long. He looks just like his daddy.
Our videos of Milo's birth, lots of interventions, but we had a pretty good attitude about it.
Congrats to Glimmer & Gilroy Van Frost on the birth of Evergreen Sparkle, our first Birth Boot Camp birth in the North Pole!
I totally want to paint my birth ball to look like an ornament now... and I'm kinda digging the name Evergreen.
Natural Birth Series
Sept 28 – Nov 15
Infant Sleep for Expecting & New Parents
6:30pm - 9:00pm
Gentle Cesarean: Planning & Recovery
Toro Park, 3-6:30pm
Natural Birth Refresher
Salinas, 1– 4pm
Preconception & Early Pregnancy Class
Salinas, 1– 4pm
Sibling Prep for Parents & Kids
November 4th & 5th
Toro Park, 2:-4pm
Fall Home & Birth Center Birth Series
Nov 7 – Dec 12
Natural Birth Series
Nov 29th – Jan 17th