My childbirth story begins with me saying that it wasn’t what I planned, but was kind of what I needed. My experience changed my perspective and opened my eyes to a different birth and different stories than the happily ever after I had read about. Even though my childbirth story did not go as planned, I am very proud of what I went through and overcame to bring my first son into this world. I hope my story helps empower women to take ownership of their delivery and be proud to share their story.
Since I wanted to have a natural birth and was fast approaching 42 weeks of pregnancy (which brought me to a point where due to our care, I would have to be induced). My midwife decided I should come in to have a Foley bulb inserted into my cervix to help kick-start labor. I was at 1 cm when I went to the hospital. At 10:05 PM they inserted the Foley bulb and in the process the doctor accidentally broke my water. The hospital staff noticed a small amount of meconium in my water. That night I had mild contractions and slowly went from 1 to 4 cm with limited sleep.
The next morning a new nurse came on shift and was able to get me breakfast and then started me on Pitocin.
The contractions started, but they were manageable. Around 10 AM my nurse noticed that my IV was causing swelling in my arm. She said that the IV wasn’t working correctly so I needed to have a new IV. The new IV was administered and the Pitocin started working more effectively.
Around the same time my doula was finally able to get through the base’s security and arrived at the hospital. An hour or two after that my midwife came in to check on me. She asked how I was coping. She wanted me to focus on how my body was doing and not directly on the pain that was expected during labor. I said around a 6-7. She also checked to see how far I had progressed, 5 cm. Contractions continued and my Pitocin was upped to a 6. Slowly throughout the afternoon it was reduced. Eventually I went off Pitocin. At this point I was able to use the shower to help me cope.
Getting a break
The shower felt great and helped me to be totally relaxed and pretty much stopped labor with very small contractions. Near shift change (5:30 PM) my midwife wanted to check to see how far along I was. She hoped I had progressed to 9 or even 10 cm and was going to stay on shift to help me push through the delivery. Unfortunately, I had only progressed to 7-8 cm. So shift change took place and I felt abandoned.
My new nurse put me back on Pitocin and started talking about needing an epidural. My body still wasn’t ready to labor alone and the only way to get labor moving was to use Pitocin. Turning Pitocin back on caused the contraction to go into overdrive one after another with no break and super high intensity. After a few hours my doula suggested they check me. She told me if they checked and I was at 9, it would give me confidence to finish strong if not it would help me know where I was. I was convinced I was going through transition because what I had read was that when coping seemed impossible you were almost done.
Instead when they checked me I had gone in the wrong direction, I was at 6 cm.
My nurse and doula suggested I take a shower to help me get a break, but since I was still on Pitocin the contractions didn’t lessen and relaxing was the last thing I could do. While in the shower I knew that the only way to get through this was to get an epidural. I couldn’t cope any longer and I was exhausted and since I was going in the wrong direction I didn’t see a way to do it. My husband told me a few days after delivery that the nurse and doctor told him and my doula I had to get an epidural because I was at such a low level of Pitocin, I would never be able to get to 10 cm.
I got out of the shower, worked on my frustration and disappointment of having to get an epidural to get through labor. I got an epidural after approximately 24 hours of labor. Once the epidural took effect I fell asleep. A few hours later my nurse checked me, I had progressed to 8 cm.
Having the shakes
Shortly after she checked me I started to get the shakes really bad and had what I can only describe as a side stitch of pain. I tried to just be tough and go through it, but the pain kept increasing and the shaking made it impossible to rest. Add to this, I was quite alarmed when I tried to feel a pinch in my legs and actually felt something. I didn’t want to push the button to cause more of the epidural drug to go inside of me, but I had no choice.
Shortly after pushing the button the machine started beeping and the anesthesiologist was quickly called to my room. It seemed there was a malfunction with the machine and I had no longer been receiving the epidural drug, which explained the shaking, the pain and the fact that I could start to feel again. With the machine fixed I was able to take another nap.
I went to 9.9 cm.
I awoke from my nap from a beeping machine that said my blood pressure was spiking. When the nurse checked my temperature it was at 104. I had an infection from my water breaking over 24 hours before. Because I was healthy and my son was doing fine, the doctor chose to give me antibiotics to treat the fever and continue with my labor instead of electing to do a cesarean. They checked me again; I was still at 9.9 cm. Around 0500 the doctor and nurse came in to check me one last time. Finally I was at 10 cm and my son had started to make his way down the birth canal.
They told me it was time to start pushing.
The doctor was very concerned about me and my son and wanted to know if I would be opposed to using forceps if need be. He knew I wanted a vaginal delivery over a cesarean and wanted to make that happen. So they brought the forceps into the room just in case I needed them. I started pushing on my back at 0520. When I started pushing I couldn’t feel the contractions and had to ask my husband and the doula to look at the chart and tell me when to push. I was slowly making progress, but needed to work harder to get him out.
At 0600 shift change happened and I was back with my original nurse and my midwife was there. My midwife wanted me to get off my back and try pushing in different positions. I don’t really know how, but I was able to move into the position over the birthing bar. The birthing bar was great because I was able to fall back when the contraction was over and take a break and breathe. My husband was there next to me and helped put the oxygen mask over my mouth in between contractions. At some point I started feeling the contractions and knew when to push.
I remember people giving me updates on how long I had been pushing.
When I was told I had been pushing over an hour, but to me it only felt like minutes. I didn’t really have time to think about anything except when the next contraction would come and to try my hardest to push my son out. As I got closer to my son crowning I remember my midwife telling me she could see him. And then a few minutes (or a lot of minutes) later she had me touch his head to show me how close I was to his arrival into this world.
I don’t really know what I did differently or if I just finally pushed hard enough, but he finally came. We had planned on delayed cord clamping, my husband cutting the umbilical cord and immediate skin to skin. Because of all the complications we were unable to do any of those things. The doctors and nurses whisked him away to the warming table and started working on him. His initial APGAR was 3. I was so tired and so happy no one else was going to yell at me to push. I didn’t mind that they took the baby I had worked so long and hard to push out. He was born at 8:03. After about 30 minutes of evaluation, I finally got to hold my son.
My childbirth story didn’t go as planned.
I was two weeks overdue and had to be induced. From that point on anything I had planned or read about was pretty much out the window. But I’m not upset that things didn’t go as planned. Instead, I am proud of my birth story and what I accomplished. If I hadn’t been educated about natural birth I would have let the doctors induce me a week earlier. I wouldn’t have had the midwife there to get me into positions other than my back and as complications popped up I would have likely elected for a cesarean. In the end, it all worked out. I’m hoping with baby number two labor will start naturally and I can have the birth story I hoped for. But no matter what happens, I will be proud of the amazing accomplishment of bringing another human being into the world.
And don’t worry, I did get a natural birth with Baby # 2, you can read the whole story here.