Here is the story of how we met our third baby, Indy.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.