I have had several people ask me about my birth story so I decided to write about it. My midwife also suggested I do this to help process everything that happened. Giving birth can be a big deal to some ladies, and my all natural birth didn’t quite go as planned.
It starts with when I went in for my 39 week prenatal appointment. The medical assistant brought me back as usual and she took my blood pressure. I normally read below 100 and almost never about 110 systolic so when the machine said 149/96 I asked her to check again. The next two readings, one with the same machine on a different arm, and another done manually after some rest, ran high. After that the midwife came in and checked me and sent me over to the hospital for a non-stress test and to check for preeclampsia. I really wasn’t feeling very worried yet, sometimes blood pressure just takes high for a lot of different reasons.
When I got onto the floor, the nurses that greeted me were completely scrubbed up and attacked the new admit in that great way we nurses do. I had 18 gauges thrown at me and a bag of fluid was hung wide open. A full set of labs was drawn and a blood band was smacked down on my arm. The fetal heart rate monitor was put on, as well as the tocometer, and I heard something about a catheter. When the midwife came in I asked if the baby was alright and if I needed to call my husband. I had become a little teary because I thought they were going to take me to the OR and hand me a baby while I had zero support/ preparation for that to happen. Luckily, the baby was fine and I was looking fine to. My mom came down to keep me company while they monitored me and the baby. The midwife told me that I had some protein in my urine. The comfortable limit was a value of 0.3 and I had a value of 0.32. I was sent home with a large orange jug and orders for a 24 hour urine screen. That is this super fun thing where you have to save all your pee and put on ice for 24 hours.
I pretty much continued life as normal. I complained about being pregnant a lot and tried to distract myself from my imminent due date. I returned to the doctor for blood pressure checks and to drop off my jug-o-urine and spent the day with Enrique. That night we went over to my parents house for dinner and just relaxed and enjoyed each others company. When I got home I was pretty tired and looking forward to crawling into bed. That is when my phone rang. The on call midwife said that I had more protein in my urine and that they wanted to induce. I said, “You mean tonight?” I was pretty shocked. First of all, I really didn’t want to be induced. Secondly, I really was very tired. I called my doula and told her we were going in to ask more questions and get some more answers.
When Enrique and I got there we found out that the protein in my urine had doubled in the past 24 hours, so for the safety of the baby and I we decided to move forward with the induction. The plan was to receive 2-3 doses of Cytotec, a cervical ripener and then to be put on Pitocin, a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin in the morning to start contractions. I received my first dose of Cytotec at midnight. I was trying to get comfortable while in the hospital bed.
I was again hooked up the the fetal monitor and had another IV. I was very tired and I wanted to rest that night before it went down the next day. Enrique made himself comfortable on the couch and watched a basketball game and started dozing. I kept getting up to go to the restroom and asking for more pillows. My poor nurse was so patient with me. She kept coming in after I had unhooked myself from all my monitors every five minutes and remained totally nice about everything. Enrique would get up and help me untangle myself as well. At 4:00 AM the midwife came back in and checked me and gave me the second dose of Cytotec. I was dilated at 1cm and “soft”. After that second dose it started getting very real very fast. I began to have contractions and asked the nurse for a birth ball to sit on. Luckily, I never had to have any Pitocin, my body started doing everything. We were able to pretty much follow my birth plan at this point. At first I just sat on the ball and leaned over onto the bed, still trying to sleep. Enrique had been able to fall asleep on the couch but not for long because I started to play music to try and distract myself from the pain. I noticed at this point that I had begun to bleed. At 6:30 AM I once again got up to go sit on the toilet with both my nurse and Enrique staring at me. I felt the “gush” everyone talked about. I told my nurse “Oh, I think my water broke.” She asked if I was sure it wasn’t pee and I laughed and said I couldn’t be sure. It turns out that I was right and my water had in fact broken.
After that I started to feel some real pain. I was still on the birth ball leaning over onto the bed and I had begun to get louder with my contractions. Enrique sat behind me and rubbed my back. When the midwife came in and checked me around 8:00 AM I was dilated 3cm. I asked her for pain medicine, and she said she would give them to me but reminded me that my birth plan said no medication and told me the risks the medication had on the baby. I agreed that it wasn’t the best choice and went back to moaning on my birth ball. I asked Enrique to go ahead and call my doula so I had someone else there to help keep me calm and deter me from drugs. This is pretty much how it went for the next several hours. My doula Mercy and Enrique were so awesome. They rubbed my back and my hair and told me I was doing great. They helped me in and out of a warm bath gave me sips of water after each contraction. Mercy helped remind me to breathe through contraction. I remember at one point she asked me, “Are you in the zone?” and I just whined, “No!”
Every bit of my labor was in my lower back, so it felt impossible for me to be any position other than all fours. I had quite a lot of bloody show at this point. I eventually was on the bed, leaning over a peanut ball while Mercy and Enrique catered to all my needs. The midwife came in and checked me and Enrique went to go call my mom, which was a good sign. I looked at Mercy and told her, “I can’t do this much longer.” She told me that this was the time when everyone wanted to quit and that I was dilated 7cm, in transition. She asked me if I remembered anything about this stage of labor from school and I thought for a minute and then said, “That it sucks.” She then gently reminded me that it is also the shortest phase of labor…for most women.
I continued laboring, and my mother arrived. I had sweat off my first IV and they had to call anesthesia to come start a new one because I was so swollen. Everyone was trying to cover me up to preserve my dignity, and I remember not being interested in that at all. The man came in and started looking at my arms and hands. He was asking me to lay on my side which I was also not interested in, He tried several times to stick me and kept telling me he was giving me lidocaine, then miss the IV. He was also getting frustrated because I was having a hard time staying still with contractions. I wanted to scream at him and say, “I CAN NOT STAY STILL, SCREW THE LIDOCAINE AND STICK!” I didn’t though and he eventually started the IV. At about noon the midwife came in and announced that I was complete. 10cm dilated, fully effaced, but the baby was at -3 station. The baby was also sunny side up, which is why I had so much back labor. She told me that I had work to do. For the next hour we tried to labor him down and I tried to push when I felt like it. I was surprised that I actually had no idea how to push. Mercy had to coach me through it. All of that to say that it felt like my first hour of pushing was absolutely worthless. After this I had no concept of time. I was in more pain than I had ever been in. I was starting to panic and go ballistic. What was taking so long? I thought the baby was supposed to slide out after you were complete. I’d been laboring for hours, I had been up all night and I was losing it. I continued to try to push but my energy was draining. Mercy kept telling me, “You are doing this, you are pushing him out.” The baby did slide down to zero station. We were so close and I was in agony. I tried squatting at the side of the bed, but as soon as I did the midwife came in and wanted to check me. I needed physical help to move. She told me she wouldn’t deliver the baby standing and to get back in bed. I conceded enough to get on all fours in bed. She checked me again, which I might add is incredibly painful. There had been no progress.
I continued to try and push in several positions. The baby’s head was in a weird position. I honestly can’t remember what they were saying more than that. We began to try and get him to turn. I was laying on my side and using the peanut ball. Mercy kept asking me to straighten my bottom leg, which seemed impossible. I know that the nursery nurse came in twice. They even turned on the infant warmer. Then they came back and turned it off, I was still pushing and feeling discouraged and crazy. At some point after being on the monitor they cranked up my fluids. During this time my IV infiltrated and was now useless and my arm was incredibly swollen. I also remember the midwife saying something about putting me on oxygen but they never did. They wanted me to try and drink juice to regain energy, but it made me super sick. I was starting to panic. The midwife mentioned that they might use forceps and both Enrique and I said, “No!” pretty forcefully. Mercy kept reassuring me everything was fine. I kept saying, “You have got to help me!” Finally, I gave Enrique the “code word” for an epidural. We made sure the code word was something I would not want to say and was super inappropriate to discourage me from getting any drugs. Unfortunately, by that point I was done.
The epidural took forever. I kept thinking, I should forget it and keep going. I was sitting on the side of the bed while she poked holes in my back. The contractions were still coming and I would unwillingly bear down with each one. I had calmed down though and was staying still. I was hoping that the baby would just turn and slide out before she got the epidural in and I would have reached my goal. She did finally get the epidural and it was heaven. I have never felt so much relief. After that they pretty much prepped me for surgery. They said they let first time mom’s push for four hours before calling it a fail and that I wasn’t going to be able to push the baby out in the next 30 minutes. (Ouch.) Apparently we had been told this information when the midwife had announced that I was complete. My mother heard it, but neither I, Enrique or my doula heard the midwife tell us that I had four hours. Honestly, at this point in the game I didn’t care. I was ready to be done.
After that I was wheeled to the OR. On the table I was shaking like crazy, the doctor even commented on my teeth chattering. They had also given me an antibiotic that made me super nauseated and I kept turning my head because I thought I would throw up. The nurse anesthetists blew hot air on me and gave me some Zofran. Enrique was brought in the room and stood by my head but also watched the surgery. When they got Lucas out at 4:29 PM and showed him to me, I just started crying but I wasn’t producing any tears because I was so dehydrated. The doctor said Lucas had the largest “cap” he had seen in 10 years. I encouraged Enrique to go over to the warmer and see Lucas while they were stitching me up. When they brought Lucas to me I was shaking very badly and didn’t want to touch him for fear of hurting him.
About 30 minutes to an hour later they brought the baby back to the room with me. Mercy kept me company during the wait and helped me try to initiate breastfeeding. I think I was in shock that I actually had a baby, and super in love.
I was/ am a little disappointed in myself for asking for the epidural. I feel that had I known I only had four hours to push I could have endured at least that. I was also ashamed because I didn’t call to the Lord once through the process. I had memorized scripture and had worship music in the background, but in all my pain I was only focused on me. I think a lot of the reason I asked for it was that I did NOT expect to be pushing that long. I knew labor would be painful, so when it was painful everything seemed normal and going along as planned. The contractions hurt but I knew to breathe through them and relax. Also, having the midwife say I wasn’t progressing and nursery in and out with no baby was very discouraging. I also had not planned on an induction and it may have been that he was just not quite ready to come out. When they told me I was going to have a c-section I was not worried about it. I will say that about two days later, I was really worried about it. Recovering from surgery was not very fun, especially when you are sleep deprived and caring for your newborn. At the end of they day I am at peace that both Lucas and I are healthy. He is the best and most handsome baby I have ever laid eyes on.