The Motherhood Collective loves a good birth story! Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully stories like these will inspire you. ~TMC My husband, Don, and I prepared for many months in advance to have a natural, hypnobirth labor and delivery. We took the class, read the books, listened to the CDs, and practiced the hypnosis and affirmations. I agree with most of their model, so we thought it was a great way to prepare. Little did we know that things would be so abrupt, and most of our preparations would remain “all bagged up”. I truly believe in natural birthing and natural pregnancies. The last thing I wanted was a cesarean section or an induction unless absolutely medically necessary. Many of you may not agree with me, but that is my preference. I believe birth is a rite of passage and that it is a beautiful experience that should be enjoyed and not fretted. Our society, family experiences and personal experiences shape our beliefs about pregnancy and birth. I am no different. My past experiences as a labor and delivery nurse have greatly shaped my thinking when it comes to maternity care.
Let me begin by saying that I don’t really enjoy pregnancy so much. I am one of those lucky people who get to have nausea and vomiting for their entire pregnancy. I would get so sick that I would have petechial hemorrhaging around my eyes from throwing up so much. Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to not being pregnant any longer. As I approached 40 weeks, I was getting very excited about my impending “due date”. The mental aspect was getting the best of me. My mind was definitely ready to go into labor, but my body and my baby had other plans. At 40 weeks, I still had not dropped, was having little to no contractions, and had not lost my mucous plug. Apparently Jaxon was way too comfortable. I was taking Evening Primrose Oil, having sex on a more than regular basis, doing nipple stimulation, pumping with a breast pump, tried Castor Oil a few times (only induced vomiting), and walked until I had a stress fracture in my heel. Nothing was happening.
Then came 41 weeks. My Bishop score (cervical exam to check for ripening in order to strip your membranes) was a total of 3. Nothing great. This meant that I was not ready to go into labor, and I couldn’t have my membranes stripped. Jaxon was just enjoying himself as I continued to be sick and huge. Oh the looks that I got as I walked around NYC and rode the subway. We had to start at least talking about an induction. I also started getting bi-weekly NST's, BPP's and AFI's. I talked all of the details over with my midwives. All of the above testing for Jaxon was more than perfect. He was simply comfy and growing still. I continued to try all of the above remedies for cervical ripening. No contractions, though.
I had my next appointment at 41 weeks and 6 days. We decided to strip my membranes on this visit, despite my Bishop score. My cervix was very soft, though. At least all those remedies were doing something. That visit was on Tuesday. I did not have a single contraction all the way through Tuesday evening or Wednesday. I actually went to the mall after that appointment. As I was walking through one of the stores, a lady asked me when I was due. I told her “two weeks ago.” She then proceeded to get a very concerned look on her face and follow me around as if I were going to drop my baby out at any moment. I guess she thought she would catch. Needless to say, I was getting a wee bit frustrated with my body at this time. I also had doubts that anything was going to go the way we planned - as if birth is ever planned!
Thursday rolled around and I had some mild cramping, but nothing that I had not already experienced and had went away. I went walking, took more primrose oil and decided to try Castor Oil one last time. I made a peanut butter, chocolate and vanilla milkshake with 2 oz of castor oil. That actually disguised the taste enough for me to get it down. Again, nothing happened though. I went for another walk, kept well hydrated, cleaned some things in the house and went about my day like normal. The cramping did not end this time though, but it also did not turn into contractions.
Around 8:30pm, I finally started feeling cramping that became more regular. I started making lasagna and put it in the oven at 8:30. I decided to call Don and tell him what was going on. I talked to him while he drove home and told him that I think I might actually go into labor. We both were beginning to think I was having the gestation of an elephant. I called the midwife to update her, and she recommended a walk, some wine and some Benadryl to sleep. In my experience, this is typical for a first time labor. I called Don and told him that I would like to take a walk while the lasagna finished, and then try to get some sleep.
He walked in the door at 9:15pm, and my water broke at 9:20 with a huge gush of green fluid. It was the best worst feeling I have ever had. I was in labor!!! With my water breaking, Jaxon finally dropped and I could breathe. I called the midwife back and updated her. My contractions had decided to start with my water breaking and were 2-3 minutes apart. She recommended that we come to the birth center because we were 45 minutes away, but we would probably have to go to the hospital for the meconium. Don and I turned off the oven, threw the lasagna in the microwave, grabbed my shoes, and rolled out of the apartment. I left wearing multiple pads, sweats, and sat on a huge towel. My fluid continued to gush, making quite the yucky mess. I had bought Depends for this very thing, but they were conveniently located in the trunk of the car behind our building. My contractions all of a sudden were 2 min apart and were continuing to get stronger.
We drove down the West Side Highway in Manhattan, all the way to Brooklyn where the birth center was located. This was truly an amazing moment because there were no traffic jams, no accidents, and open parking spots. We actually made it in about 45 minutes. Don drove while I sat in the passenger seat really regretting my clothing choice at the moment. I was trying to get into a zen moment while we drove with the Hudson River on one side and the night skyline of NYC on the other, but my darn contractions kept screwing that up every two minutes.
We arrived to the birth center at 10:45pm. Andrea checked me, and I was 3-4 cm with a good fetal HR. My contractions remained 2 minutes apart, so we prolonged as long as possible before heading to the hospital around the block. Once we finally arrived at the hospital, I checked myself in while Don fought with NY parking. I paced in the hallway doing my hypnobirth breathing while the nurses stood looking at me. I felt a little weird in that moment. I'm pretty sure no one knew what theywere doing in triage, considering I was a direct admit. I continued to walk up and down the hallway rehearsing birth affirmations in my head, while Don ate a dinner of rice pudding without a spoon. Finally, a Hesidic Jewish man offered (at least I think – He spoke only Hebrew) to go to the cafeteria and get him a spoon.
I finally got a room, got hooked to the monitor and had a hep lock placed. I had to argue with my nurse a bit as to where to place the IV, and where the best location for the fetal heart monitor was. These are the reasons I wanted an out of hospital birth. I knew I needed these things, but as soon as I entered the hospital, I entered “nurse mode”. From here on out, I felt like I had to play two roles: mother and nurse. My contractions were still 2 min apart. The midwife checked me and I was 5-6 cm and that was around midnight. Don started videotaping at this point. My bouncing up and down on the birth ball made for some really exciting footage. I was doing hypnobreathing, but at this point is where we really failed. My husband is a physical therapist, and had all sorts of “tools” to work with for decreasing the pressure of contractions. We forgot about all of them. They remained in the bag the entire time. Big fat fail!! The whole time, my contractions were all in my back and I had continuous pressure. Don was pushing on my hips, and Andrea was doing the hypnobirthing rhetoric. Everything seemed to be moving right along.
Then it hit, the contractions fell into this overzealous pattern of mayhem. They were less than a minute apart. The pressure intensified, and I lost all control of my body and mind. The hypnobirthing philosophy went out the window, and I just tried to maintain any respectable level of composure. I told the midwife that I felt a lot of pressure, so she checked me again. I was still 5-6 cm, but it had only been a bit since my last exam. I thought I might go insane at this point. I was in tears because my contractions were about 45 sec apart lasting what seemed to be an eternity. My uterus was making up for the past 42 weeks! I had no time to even catch my breath in between contractions. I told Don I wanted an epidural. She and Don both asked me multiple times if that is what I really wanted. I had no idea what I wanted, but I wanted the insanity to end. Fortunately, the anesthesia team was in with another patient at the time. So I continued to breath, focus on the "opening rose", and listen to Don. My room seemed to be filling up with curious onlookers posing as medical personnel (interns, residents, nurses, etc.) observing this crazy labor pattern that I was having. Jaxon’s heartbeat was also starting to fluctuate too much. I don’t know the exact rate, but I could hear it on the monitor. That is a sound a labor and delivery nurse can always detect, a low fetal heartrate.
While all this was going on in my head, my labor continued in this crazy pattern. I told Andrea once again that I felt pressure. I was unable to hold back the urge to push. This was only 45 min from the last check she had done. She agreed to check me again because Jaxon's heartrate kept dropping. Something was going on, but no one knew what. She did check me, and I was complete and +1. I was having a baby, like, NOW! Just a few hours ago, I was making lasagna and pouring a glass of wine for my good night’s rest that I was going to have.
This meant I could push. The relief was coming. I forgot about the epidural and began to push my heart out. The greatest feeling of relief I had had since 9:20pm. I pushed a total of 2 times before the lovely hospital attending came in "to save the day"! She decided she would not let me push because his heartrate was too low. He was already at +2 station after only 2 pushes. She made me sit with her hands inside of me doing fetal scalp stimulation through about 5 contractions. I finally lost it and told her she needed to move along. Between contractions, I proceeded to tell her about the current guidelines for Neonatal Resuscitation. Finally, the MD that covers the midwives and the birth center arrived. He was the greatest doctor on the earth that night. He had the other attending leave because all she wanted to do was cut me. He told me to push. Now we were seeing eye to eye! We got up into the bed and used the squat bar. I pushed a few times, and then we had to lay back down to get the heartrate. He told me I had 2 more pushes, and then he would use the vacuum because Jaxon's heartrate was in the 70's for quite a while. I agreed that it was the best plan. We pushed, but he wasn’t coming. He set me up for the vacuum and prepared for shoulder dystocia. Don was on one side and Andrea was on the other. The contractions came and so did the most intense burning sensation that anyone could ever imagine. The pop came, and his head was out. Only one more hurdle to over come now...the shoulders.
Well, I had a big child so these shoulders were some work, but they came on out. He laid him on my chest, and we sat there for a couple of seconds before he had to be suctioned for the meconium. One of the greatest moments of my life came in those few seconds. Yes, the pain had ended, but I had accomplished something. I had given birth to a beautiful baby boy (that might I add was very healthy)!
I had no idea that my labor would be less than 5 hours, and be almost a precipitous delivery with a hyperstimming uterus. I had no idea that we would completely forget about the massage tools, CDs, breathing baby down and all of the other hypnobirthing stuff. I had no idea that I would only have back labor. I had no idea that he would not tolerate being abruptly brought into this world. I had no idea that I would have 3rd degree vaginal tearing that would require vaginal packing and 12 different sutures in areas that pain medication could not reach.
I do know that I was and still am so grateful to have a healthy baby boy. We stayed at the hospital for about 24 hours, which is a whole new story within itself. Stories of my Hebrew speaking roommate, renting the television, my one boiled egg for breakfast, preparing for Jewish Sabboth in a Orthodox Jewish hospital, calling to get my own medical orders, walking out the door and down a few blocks at discharge, not being allowed to turn my light off all night long – oh it was an experience!
We left the hospital on Friday afternoon, went to Brooklyn to eat, drove across the Brooklyn Bridge with the Statue of Liberty in site, and then drove through tourist-crowded Chinatown during rush hour to take our new baby home. I had never been so excited to sleep in my own bed!
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