So the day of April 5th seemed like it could be the day – I was 3 days overdue and very tired of being pregnant. I had contractions all day, which was new – they usually had come at night and made me think the baby was getting ready to come at night…hence my 3 calls 3 different nights to the midwives and my doula letting them know we were heading to the hospital, only to have the contractions die out quickly after the call…and call them back saying Nevermind…only to have sleep robbed from me for a couple more hours.
But Aug 5th was different – when we went on a walk I had to actually stop for the contractions – a good sign. However, I would have to stimulate the contractions for them to keep going, as my midwife had suggested. We had tried everything else – acupuncture, walks, evening primrose oil and lots more – everything we had been told. So finally about 7 I called the midwives and told them contractions were pretty painful – about 3 to 10 minutes apart – what should I do? I felt like my ability to decipher the situation was not quite up to par based on 3 false alarms the past week or so. Karen, the midwife on call, had us come in for an eval to the triage room. I was humming simple songs through the contractions – really just one…”High on a mountain top” and it seemed like a good distraction at the time – much nicer for myself to listen to than noises.
At the triage room they monitored the contractions – there were some good ones – about 8 minutes apart. So Karen said – lets have you stay and do manual nipple stimulation, which DID get the contractions going. I called the doula not sure if she should come since my 5 cm to 10 cm is usually pretty quick and I was already at a 5. I oscillated back and forth – she already had a sitter at the house so I told her to come. I am SOOOOO glad I did. Boy was I wrong in how things would play out.
I progressed about 1 cm every 45 minutes or so – so I was an 8 at 11:45…however , the head was still at a very high station of -3 to -4 even, sometimes -2. It bobbed up and down. So instead of breaking the water, fearing the head could collapse onto the cored, not good, we decided to wait.
The nurse and the midwife seemed amazed I could squat when laboring and pop back up so easily when the contraction abated. They also were amazed that between contractions I was my normal self – laughing and joking. I joked it was “Bipolar laboring.” Although my contractions were getting harder and “High on a Mountain Top” was disappearing. It became low groans instead.
Sarah, the doula was great. It was my first experience with a doula – she would massage my hands with great smelling oil, suggest different positions – especially when I was tensing, she would tell me to relax my shoulders or my face, which was very helpful. She would tell me I was brave and doing a good job. She made sure the lights were down and she was always making sure I was drinking water. And I really think she kept Brian awake – he was ready to crash at 10 – but she kept him going. The nurse also made sure he had food and water – he had also been going all day with soccer games, working on the basement, AND he had not dinner. Not good for a coach of an arduous labor.
At 1:30 I was 90 to 100% effaced and almost complete – 9 ½ with a little lip. Things were painful by that point and I was thinking we were almost done. My mistake! I still hadn’t gotten in the tub that had been filled up for my planned water birth, since they wanted to monitor the baby and give me the antibiotics, given thatI was Strep B positive. I had been walking around, on the birthing ball, standing, squatting with Brian holding me up during the contraction – which was all great. It was just this last part that was weird. The head would NOT come down.
So from 1:45 to 4:30 I was trying to figure out what the heck was going on. At 1:45 Karen was going to break the bag of waters and guide him down. Just was she was about to do this, My bag broke on its own, which was cool. Then I thought it’d be a quick birth after that, but dog gone it – he was still at like -2 or -1 station, rather than the +2 station we wanted!! What was going on!?!?!?!?
Then all of a sudden, Karen had to leave in the middle of all this because another girl who was overdue came in at an 8 and her water broke while sitting on the toilet and her baby was born in 25 minutes. So during this time I was 9 ½ knowing I couldn’t materialize on any of the contractions because Karen was gone and we had to wait. To tell someone with things to numb them they have to wait awhile is one thing, but to tell that to someone so close to the end and with super super horrendous contractions going natural is totally another situation! I felt like I was fraying at the edges always wondering when Karen was coming back. Meanwhile they had me go from every position you could think of – from hands and knees, to squatting, to on the birth stool, to side lying to the other side lying – trying to get the baby’s heart rate to like it and head to fit and try to switch him to the right position to come down.
Karen did come back in 25 minutes and I was grateful another doc was doing the “repair job” on the other lady.
Then another unforeseen curiosity…My contractions started slowing down of all things! I felt like I was getting more and more of a break – very odd. I even fell asleep a couple of times between contractions – getting a 4 minute respite in between. This actually was worrysome. Karen called this “outside the paremeters of a normal birth situation.” What was happening was that all the progress I made with the contraction would go backwards with the lack of continuous contractions to keep the momentum going. That head would pop back on up. She made reference to the fact that my uterus had been going for 3 days non stop and was maybe overly tired and not doing what they wanted it to do. That didn’t sound good. She then added, “I THINK we can still TRY for a vaginal delivery…” And that was really scary.
I was not about to go to all these hours of intense pain AND be SO close – and cervically complete – JUST to have a C section and avoid the very thing that made me want to go natural – a long recovery! It was just heart sickening.
Thankfully, in the next hour,things did speed up with the contractions it seemed to me – they keep switching me – and it felt like I was getting less breaks. The nurse kept telling Karen that there was still “plenty of room up there” – and it just made my efforts of pulling my recti back, pulling my transverse to the spine seem just completely worthless – and the pain and contractioned seemed like they were doing nothing.
I was literally getting to my breaking point. I was holding on to Sarah’s hand and Brian’s hand like my life depended on it. I head myself wimpering and crying after contractions. My low groans had become very load groans, with weird vibrato signaling my approaching complete desperation. At 4:30 am things were starting to look bleak. They felt there was no progression and they wanted to bring in help. Then all of a sudden the baby’s heart rate plummeted to a 60!! VERY VERY LOW! Karen and the nurse looked at each other and quickly wisked in a doctor and several nurses - the doctor with the vacuum in his hand…and if that didn’t work..gulp – C section! I was not bargaining for 8 weeks of recovery,- surgery - after all my preparations to let my body give birth how it had for my last three - and as natural as possible.
Karen was trying to work with the situation and was massaging the perineum to try and get it out of the way for the head. I didn’t know what was going on down there - a lot of fiddling around – so I would call out, ‘Who is that?” “What are you doing down there?” She would say, “Sorry, that’s me” and I knew she was trying to help.
I was praying, Sarah was praying, Brian was praying – I wanted him to give me a blessing but I couldn’t find the energy or the break to ask him. I was holding on to both of their hands to with crushing force. They wanted me to not hold my breath but to take little breaths so the baby could get more oxygen. I was on an oxygen mask to get the baby more air.
I asked Heavenly Father over and over for the head to descend. Then around 4:38 I got a burst and a finally a good sensation of feeling like I needed to push – the sensation I knew and could finally recognize during this birth. I brought my transverse back and pushed and pushed - I heard the word “HEAD” which gave me hope, so I took another breath during the contraction ready to make it work for me. I saw in my minds eye the “ring of fire” and I know I had to go through and toward that ring of fire to get where I needed to go. I was so glad I found it! So I kept going and out the head popped, then the body squirmed out quickly. This was all right before the vacuum was used. So no one brought to the room had to do anything, thank goodness. They came in right when everything finally clicked into place. All I had was a wiff of Pitocin to get that last lip to go back, and afterwards to prevent hemorrhaging.
In retrospect, when the baby’s heart went to 60, it was actually turning the right way finally in the birth canal so it could make that final desent – so it was a good thing.
Brian didn’t even realize what was happening – he looked up and was shocked to see the baby was out! He hadn’t realized what was going on. No one even mentioned “head is coming” or “here it comes” or anything along those lines. It just happened quickly after the finally descent. I felt totally drained of every single reserve my body possessed. I began shaking violently – teeth, legs, head – everything. I couldn’t get warm. I went into shock a little – it had felt so traumatic to me. I wondered why I couldn’t remember it beautifully like I did Kylie’s birth or Brooke’s birth.
Finally after an hour I calmed down enough to where I wanted to see the baby, hold him, and to nurse him. I had to calm myself down enough and get out of the shock mode. Even though it had been 60 minutes – the baby still nursed well and latched on right away. So cute. He had bruising –light spots that looked like freckles all over his face from the trauma as well – we were both a little scarred.
There was also some worry afterwards…they saw lots of liquid blood still coming out – and were worried there was uterine hemorrhaging or deep cervical tear that would have to be repaired. So they had to go in and look and my swollen cervix and see what the heck was going on – it was very painful – and lots of instruments. They concluded, as I was praying, that there was no tearing or hemorrhaging. I don’t think I could have taken it, I was still on the brink of hysteria from the craziness I had just been through. The silver lining is that I only had a slight abrasion only on my perineum, and didn’t need to have any stitches. That was a huge blessing.
He was the biggest of my babies – at 8 lbs 1 oz – and 21 inches long – so I think the longest as well. Glad he didn’t get any bigger. In hindsight, as I felt like we needed to go in tonite – it just wasn’t totally what I bargained for. I had wanted Isabelle because I had bonded with her, but Karen was so great, and so well seasoned – and I really needed someone in this situation with more experience to draw upon. I was so blessed she was on call.
Brian said he didn’t want to go through natural childbirth again. I had said, which Tami and my mom mentioned to me separately, - yes but it could have been a C section had I gone the “normal route” because my choices would have been limited in how I moved around to get him to get into the right position, as well as the limited muscle awareness to do what I needed to do. You never know how things could have played out…
It was amazing how modesty totally left me in this whole situation – that is the crazy thing about births. You just bare it all and deal with it.
I am glad its done – Ironic that I felt like I had my own Garden of Gethsemane on the [real] anniversary of Christ’s birth and resurrection – April 6th. So glad for a healthy baby finally here!