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.
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