I thought that I would wait to meet up with our doula & my husband before posting this, but I’ve decided to post away before I get even more behind. After revisiting the birth story with them, I may do a follow up post to add in what I might miss here. In the mean time, here it is in all it’s length (sorry!):
For 9 months, I had convinced myself he was coming early. He was due on January 11, but I thought for sure we’d be celebrating his birth in the first few days of the new year. On New Year’s Eve, I spent the day doing self massage on all the acupressure points–inner ankles, knees, in between thumb & forefinger. I did jin shin jitsu flows (like acupuncture without the needles), courtesy my friend Becca’s instructions. I ate loads of pineapple, went for a 4 mile walk, danced & had a little spicier of a dinner. All of this only resulted in a tummy ache. No regular contractions, just the same mild period like cramping I had been feeling for days.
After New Year’s Eve, I relaxed about him getting here early. For a bit. Then I got restless and anxious again. I packed the hospital bags. I repacked them. I washed baby clothes. I re-arranged the nursery. I cleaned. I walked and walked more. I checked out book after book from the library. And then I did the massage, jin shin jitsu, pineapple stuff again. Another tummy ache. A few more nights of contractions.
After the 11th came and went, I scheduled acupuncture and started taking evening primrose oil per my midwife’s advice. I was only 1 cm dilated and 70% effaced a few days before the 11th. Five days after, I was in the same place. I went to acupuncture again & started getting regular contractions the next night, but not strong enough to do anything about it, and they went away when I went to sleep. A few days later, I went to another check-up, had my membranes swept, went to acupuncture again, and waited for the contractions. They again came and went in the night. I was starting to get nervous.
Until Monday night–January 20th. I had gone for another 4 mile walk that day & went again with my husband when he got home from work. We had dinner & watched Friends. The contractions started again, & they were a little stronger. After a few hours, we were tracking them regularly at 4 minutes apart. In our Bradley classes, we had discussed going to the hospital when they were 4 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute for an hour. We had also discussed that I would start to be non-responsive & that’s when my husband would know it was time to go to the hospital. I remember thinking–what do we do? What if my tolerance for pain (something I have always prided myself on as someone who used to run 5 miles everyday in the dead heat of summer), is higher than other people’s? What if I never feel the terrible contractions that everyone describes?
I called our doula, we called the midwives, we labored at home. Until around midnight or 1ish? I hadn’t felt him move for an hour & panicked.
We called the midwife again, and she told us to come to the hospital so we could monitor him. We checked in, did a non-stress test, and she checked me. I was still only 1 cm & 75% effaced. He was fine. She told us, we can admit you now & see how things go, but I’d encourage you to go home. If you stay, you may get pressured into a labor you aren’t comfortable with–pitocin will likely be offered to get things going. So, we went home. She sent me home with 2 ambien so I could get some sleep for the labor she was sure was coming. I hesitated to take them, took half a dose around 3 when we got home, and woke up around 6 am to VERY strong contractions. I wasn’t hungry, but thought it would be a good idea to eat something, so I choked down about a half a cup of yogurt and a half a banana. Within an hour my contractions grew stronger. I could no longer talk through them. We called our doula. I called the midwives, and we labored at home.
The contractions became so strong, I could only handle them on my knees. Our doula put a pad under my knees and got a bowl form the kitchen since I said I thought I might throw up. I labored this way until contractions were about 3 and a half minutes apart, and we decided to go to the hospital–a 20-30 minute drive. I rode in the back seat, still on all fours bearing down with each contraction. We checked into the hospital & on the way in, I remember dropping to my knees in the waiting room on the way in–hit by the strongest contraction yet. It was much more intense than a heavy period cramp. Much, much more.
However, when our midwife checked me, I was still only 1 cm & 75% effaced. After hearing this, I started half crying in between contractions, my morale sinking. I was so frustrated.
Our doula ran a bath for me in the hospital jacuzzi tub. In our birth classes, we had been told that during labor, we would lose all sense of modesty, and I remember thinking–well, that won’t happen to me. I had a cute outfit picked out for labor & planned on wearing it & keeping my sports bra on during the bath. Nope–big as a house, I stripped down & sank into the warm, soothing water. I began to relax a little more through contractions. When the next midwife came on shift (the practice we went to has 3 midwives that we see), she checked me & I was still the same. She said she had seen this happen in a labor with first time moms before and did something that felt like a membrane sweep again & all of the sudden I was 5 cm. I breathed a sigh of relief–again in between contractions, and decided to get out of the tub since the water was getting cold.
Labor continued. I braced for each contraction, using my breath to relax as much as I could. I was getting tired and weak though after hours of laboring without food. Aaron & our doula tried to coax me to eat something, but I thought I’d puke. I sipped coconut water and had some honey sticks when I could. I got in and out of the tub–to labor & out to monitor me and baby. The hours passed without any real sense of time–for me. I noticed it had grown dark outside the window, and was told at some point later that I was 8 cm. The more tired I got, the worse I handled the contractions. The worse my breathing became. The more I panicked. I stalled at 8 cm for a few hours, panicking, breathing shallowly, exhausted and ready to give up. I asked for an epidural. I didn’t know how long I had labored, but it was something like 22 hours.
The midwife suggested we try Fentanyl instead since it was less invasive and didn’t last as long. At this point, I just wanted the epidural, but with the coaching of our midwife, doula and my husband, I agreed to take it. I didn’t remember this afterwards, because it did nothing for the pain. I was still panicked, still not breathing well, still just too exhausted to labor well–to labor with the strength needed to have a natural birth. An hour went by? I wanted the epidural. And got it. (About 24 hours into the labor)
Within 20 minutes, I was out. I felt the contractions, but they weren’t as painful. And I slept for a couple of hours through my contractions. when I woke up, our midwife checked me again, and it was time to push. We did a few practice pushes on my right side, but Easton’s heart rate dropped to the 60s. I could feel the panic in the room as our midwife pushed him back in and told me to stop pushing. They put in the continuous fetal monitor (again, I had no idea that this had happened because I was so exhausted & out of it). After his heart rate returned to normal, I was told to turn to my left side & try pushing again. This time his heart rate stayed steady. I should also note here that he was face up–which was making labor & delivery that much more difficult. Our midwife reached in and tried to turn him while our doula pushed on my belly from the outside, but he wouldn’t budge. After an hour of no real progress pushing on my side, I asked if I could squat. She wasn’t sure I’d be able to since I’d had the epidural, but at this point I felt it had worn off because I was feeling the contractions fairly strong again. I squatted & pushed without progress. After half an hour, I was too tired and laid on my side again.
Sensing my exhaustion, our midwife called in a doctor who was skilled in forceps delivery. She told my husband and doula that I was probably going to need some help. At this point, I agreed. Get him in here, I thought, I don’t know if I can take this. I remember thinking I was going to have a c-section because I just couldn’t push anymore. I didn’t think I had the strength.
The doctor finally came, & helped me deliver Easton with the forceps. It was the most painful thing I have ever felt. I swear the epidural was competely gone by then. My husband told me that the doctor (a man taller than him at 6’1″) was using enough force and leverage with the forceps that he was shaking. I couldn’t see it, but it felt like I was being split in two, & I was so worried that our baby would be hurt in the process. I was also told later that I pushed for 30 minutes during this process. I was also told later that he had the umbilical cord wrapped around his leg twice. Poor little guy!
Then, in a flash he was out. A cry sounded out & this little warm being was placed on my belly. I was so relieved but too tired to cry. A rush of love and amazement passed through me that I was too exhausted to comprehend. We moved Easton up to my chest & we gazed into each other’s eyes as the doctor stitched me from where I had torn & where he had given me an episiotomy. Even after the traumatic and intense birth, he was so alert. So beautiful.
I have never known love like this. For my son or for my husband. I’m constantly crying with worry and gratitude–and I know some of it is post partum hormones, but so much of it is love. Love and gratitude. Gratitude for the support my husband provided during labor & the strength he gives me now. Gratitude for the new life that’s with us. And love. For it all. This beautiful, amazing life.
Our birth didn’t go at all like we had planned. It wasn’t the natural, beautiful labor I imagined. I didn’t wear my perfect labor outfit. I didn’t labor at home for as long as I should have maybe. I didn’t stay strong enough to stay medication free. I don’t want to feel guilt about any of it. Because isn’t that life? Life doesn’t always go the way we plan, it goes the way it does & we have to adapt to it. Maybe I could have adapted better. Acted with more strength. Maybe not. It went the way it did. I did the best I could. And most of all, he’s here.
He’s here. My beautiful baby boy. My 8 lb. 1.2 oz, 20.75 inch long, 15 inch headed boy. Well, at birth anyway. He’s bigger now. I’ll catch up one of these days.
With Love & Gratitude,