Thinking about how soon I’m going to be sharing M’s birth story, I realized I have yet to share H’s birth story. I pray that my birth story with M is very different from what I experienced with H, but I do want the end result to be the same, a happy, healthy baby. I hope you enjoy H’s story. Oh, and an advance warning, some of this might be a little more detailed than you want to hear, but I’m going to share it for the sake of other moms who do.
At the end of the summer of 2009, we began trying to have a baby and were so excited. It took us very little time to become pregnant and we found that our due date was somewhere around May 3rd or 5th. Because we didn’t know the exact date of conception, the doctor did an ultrasound at 14 weeks. This ultrasound gave us a new due date of April 27th. It also said we had a healthy baby. We could see heart, head, arms, legs, and body.
Time seemed to go SO slowly, but at the same time, it flew by. At 20 weeks, our ultrasound showed us a little baby girl. We decided on a name that meant, “favored of God” or “Grace”.
H looked great at every appointment and never caused anyone any concern. We began taking Bradley classes to prepare for a natural childbirth. We learned the pros and cons of different drugs and interventions used during labor, but also learned that the most important thing is to have a healthy mommy and a healthy baby. I changed my diet and did all the exercises recommended. I wanted so badly to give my best to the little one inside of me.
I had chosen a doctors group based on a recommendation of a friend. She’d had a good experience with them and I needed to have a doctor between home and school to be able to make it to appointments without taking the whole day off. When I talked to them about natural childbirth, they seemed to be supportive. I’d told them what I wanted and they were okay with all of it “as long as the baby wasn’t in danger”.
Well, as April 27th came and went, the doctors began talking about induction. This was my first clue that they might not have been as supportive of natural childbirth as I would have hoped. I was insistent that I wanted her to come when she was ready. I was prepared to have a daily ultrasound to check the placenta and amniotic fluid if that was what they needed to feel comfortable with waiting. It had gotten to where I was going to have some kind of appt. every day when I woke up Tuesday, May 4th at 1:30 am having contractions.
I knew that sometimes people have false labor, so I got up, walked around and tried to go back to sleep. Around 4:00 I woke up Brian and had him start timing them. They were coming every 2-3 minutes, but weren’t too strong. He got up, took a shower, and packed while I continued to walk while I packed the last minute things I needed. I continued to walk as he packed the car, but it did finally get to the point where I needed to lay down.
I tried resting…we slept on and off, and at about 6:00 am, we called the family. I had a few contractions one right after another. We decided it was probably time to go to the hospital. We showed up at about 7:00. We signed in and found out that (unfortunately) the doctor I liked the least of the group was the one on call. He came in, checked me and I was dilated to a 2. He said, “I think we’re going to have a baby today! Let’s break your water and get things moving.” At that point, I should have told him I was going home and would come back later.
I was really upset. I told him we did not want to break my water, but wanted labor to progress normally. He said okay, but that the nurse would be back to check in an hour and if I “wasn’t progressing”, he would recommend breaking my bag of waters again. When he left the room, the nurse told me that even if I hadn’t dilated further, she’d just tell him I didn’t want to have my water broken. I walked and was checked every so often. I wasn’t making a lot of progress, but was okay with that because I knew I was progressing naturally and H would come when she was good and ready. After a few hours, there was a nursing change. I was disappointed because I had really liked our nurse.
The new nurse we had was cold and not very friendly. She not only wasn’t friendly, but she would hook me up to the monitor and forget about me. I was only supposed to be hooked up for 15 minutes every hour according to our birth plan, but she’d come in after 15 or sometimes even 20 minutes, say the monitor had slipped and they had to do it again. She wasn’t good about making sure it didn’t slip during the 15 minutes. Granted, they were very busy during the day I was there, but it was frustrating just the same.
At about 8:00 pm, after the doctor had suggested breaking my water several more times during the day, we were told I wasn’t progressing and they needed to break my water. I’d been at a six for about three hours. We thought I’d probably reached a natural alignment plateau, and the doctor said it was possible, but not probable. I don’t think he’d ever heard of an NAP. We were told there was more than a 50% chance I’d have a C-section because of H’s heart rate dropping during contractions. This was a struggle for us because although we know it can be dangerous for the baby’s heart rate to drop too much, we also knew that it is very common for the heart rate to decrease during contractions. By this time, we also knew that our doctor wanted to do whatever he could to get us moving so he could go home.
We asked the doctor to explain our options. The two choices we were given were these. #1: Continue to labor naturally, have H’s heart rate continue to drop, and most likely have an emergency c-section. #2: Break my water, maybe have H naturally. If contractions didn’t strengthen, have pitocin administered, and have H naturally, or possibly still have a c-section. We told the doctor we wanted three more hours and that after that, if I wasn’t any more dilated, we would take his recommendation.
We called the elders of our church and I was administered to. They asked God for safety for H and for me and for things to go as naturally as possible. After an hour, the nurse came in and checked me. We were excited to hear that I was dilated to a 7! The doctor came back and wanted to check me himself. He decided that I was still only at a 6. This was so frustrating, but we didn’t argue with him anymore. We went ahead and gave them permission to break my water.
As soon as my water was broken, labor became almost unbearable. As my Bradley instructor says, I wouldn’t associate pain with labor…until they mess with it. It almost instantly became very painful. Things were so intense. Relaxation was nearly impossible and in fact, so was breathing at all. I went into what I believe was the transition stage of labor, but since I arrived there unnaturally, it lasted much longer than normal transition labor should. I labored HARD for an hour. That was the time that I literally though I was going to die and thought death would probably be preferable.
The doctor came back in and checked me again. I’d barely progressed and he said he highly suspected that even if I did continue naturally, my contractions weren’t strong enough to keep me from hemorrhaging if I didn’t have Pitocin administered.
He told me it was time to administer Pitocin. Now, to say a word in his defense, not once had he offered, or tried to convince me to take pain medication. I’d said I didn’t want it offered, and he didn’t. At this point though, he reminded me that I knew my options for pain meds. Being too proud, I waited until he left the room before turning to Brian and saying, “I want an epidural! Don’t let them give me Pitocin before the epidural.” I knew that I couldn’t stand any more pain than I was already having without something for the pain. My mom went and told the doctor.
The anesthesiologist came in a few minutes and administered the epidural. Almost immediately, the pain was gone. I barely felt the next contraction. They administered the Pitocin and I slept on and off for the next hour. I could feel the contractions, but not nearly as intense as they had been.
After an hour, a nurse came in to check the monitors. She told me that if I felt like I needed to be checked to let her know. Now awake, I thought about it and I really felt like H was about to fall out. She checked me and I had dilated to a 10 and was 100% effaced. She told the doctor who asked if I could continue to relax for about half an hour. I thought I could, but we woke up Brian just in case.
The doctor came in at 1:00 and I started pushing. I remember looking at the clock and thinking, “If I push for 30 minutes, I’ll have been in labor for a full 24 hours! Pushing went great! Using the Bradley techniques I had learned made things go smoothly. I ended up tearing pretty good which I think was due to the epidural and not being able to feel completely what was going on and push with total control. After 20 minutes, H was born. It was wonderful! She was bright eyed and alert and the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen! I was unaware of the people around me and the doctor stitching me up and delivering the placenta while I spent time bonding with H. They placed her immediately on my chest and we were able to spend time bonding for quite a while before they took her to weigh her and everything. It was really wonderful.
Looking back, I am not angry with myself about the decisions I made during labor and delivery. I know I did what I had to do. I let H receive the benefits of natural labor as long as I could and I put off drugs for long enough that she was only exposed to them for a very short time. I used everything I had learned to make good, informed decisions.
Things got very stressful during labor because of the doctors pressing us to break my waters early on. He pressed for augmented labor early on which made it very hard to trust him later when things really did need to be helped along. If I could go back, there are several things I would do differently.
1. I would choose a doctor (or midwife) who I knew supported natural childbirth. I would want someone I could trust to help me make decisions based on what I learned to be the best thing for my baby.
2. If I went to the hospital too early, I would leave. There is nothing they can do to keep you there. Looking back, I can’t believe I stayed when I was only dilated to a 2.
3. If they were monitoring me too often or for too long, I’d tell them the baby was fine, take the monitor off and do what I needed to do. The monitors made things stressful and more painful.
4. If I had a nurse who wasn’t being kind and helping me relax, I’d ask for a different nurse.
5. I wouldn’t let anyone tell me what to do. I know my body and I know that doctors are trained to deal with emergencies. Having a baby is not an emergency. Having a baby is a natural, beautiful thing.