I had in my mind a picture of The Perfect Birth. First, the birth began with going into labor on my own, preferably a little early. My due date came and went and still showed no signs of labor. Don't get me wrong, I was having plenty of contractions but nothing that was "longer, stronger and closer together."
I was measuring 48" at my 39 week appointment, that's 9" bigger than what is expected. We all knew that I had a large baby, and I had polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid). Knowing that and having the belly to prove it was incredibly uncomfortable. All the tricks I use with clients to get the baby to apply the head to the cervix were not working. I couldn't use the Rebozo or sifting because anything touching my belly hurt. I literally felt like my belly might burst open at any moment. I knew that because of the excess fluid the baby was too high to stimulate labor. However, the contractions were not in vain, I had been between 4-5 CM dilated and about 70% effaced for over 3 weeks.
I talked with the doctor and scheduled a tentative induction for Monday morning. I knew that breaking my water would get things going. I really wanted some of that water gone so that the pressure would be relieved and the baby's head could be applied. However, from experience I was terrified of a cord prolapse. I have seen it twice, and had a very good friend have a cord prolapse at home. Definitely not something that I was willing to risk. We discussed doing pitocin to get the uterus to start contracting. Again, knowing that I was going to have an unmedicated delivery I really didn't want to artificially begin contractions. The other option was to do a pinhole prick in the amniotic sack and drain off some of the fluid without the risk of cord prolapse.
When I went to bed Sunday night I knew that I wasn't going to keep Monday's appointment. I was emotionally raw and didn't have the confidence to go through with it. The hospital called to confirm I was coming in and was upset when I told them that I wasn't.
I spoke with my doctor again and she was fine. Even the nurse Abby was wonderful and listened to me when I cried and apologized for being 'that' patient. When I looked at the schedule for the week I decided to schedule another induction for Thursday. All the while praying that I would go into labor on my own, but not have the on call doctor that was scheduled for Wednesday.
I was pretty much out of touch with my family, even my mom was here and I just wanted to be left alone. I went to my neighbor's house on Tuesday evening to take advantage of their super deep jacuzzi tub. When I arrived they already had the tub filling, the fire (in the bathroom) was going, they asked what kind of music I wanted and there were some lovely bath salts and candles on the edge of the tub. I am not sure that they planned on me spending 2 1/2 hours in the tub, but it was absolutely wonderful. I was able to completely relax for the first time in weeks. After I got out we hung out and talked for awhile, then Erin walked me home just past midnight.
Everyone was in bed, and I was thrilled that I didn't have to interact with anyone. I climbed into bed resigned to the fact that I was still pregnant. Then the contractions really started to pick up. I tried timing them, but was too busy focusing on them to start and stop the timer. I knew that they were getting stronger but they sure didn't feel closer together. A few times I had to hop out of bed and walk through the contractions. I was able to breathe slow and deep, then get back in bed. I think I even fell asleep between contractions. At 2:00 AM I decided to call my doctor and see what she thought. I was 40 weeks 5 days, had been having irregular contractions for weeks, and had taken my Heparin shot at 10:00 PM. I really didn't want to get things going if this was another false alarm. I woke Sean up and we decided to head into the hospital. We took our time getting things together, then I had him tell my mom we were leaving.
In the car I had Sean call Renee and Jess and let them know we were headed in. We asked Jess to let Tami know, since I didn't feel like talking. The drive in was difficult because I couldn't move. I really just wanted to take off my seat belt and get on my knees, but I decided that was too much effort. When we arrived at St. Joe's we had trouble finding a parking spot, then we had some paperwork to fill out. Tami and Renee arrived shortly after us, Tami was quick to recognize that I didn't want to answer questions or fill out paperwork and she intervened on my behalf. I was relieved when they didn't make us go to triage but gave us a room instead.
I asked for my Pic line to be placed in my forearm but after a couple of failed attempts I consented to a line in my hand, as long as it did not interfere with my mobility. The monitors felt like someone was slapping my skin on my belly. I did not want the belts or the belly band constricting me. The nurse finally figured out that she could use the waistband on my skirt for the fetal monitor and gave up entirely on the contraction monitor.
I thought that the nurse was extremely patient with me and gave me the time that I needed instead of focusing entirely on the machines, but I was told later that while she was patient, I just politely ignored her.
Although I had just taken a 2 1/2 hour bath earlier, I decided to try the tub again. It was not as helpful as it has been for prior labors. I still felt like my belly was going to burst open at any minute. I asked Tami and Jess to read Bible verses that I had saved on my phone while Sean sat by me and rubbed my back. I finally decided that I just needed to move. I was feeling very vulnerable and like I just wanted some reassurance. I stopped walking to kiss Sean and to bend over for contractions. I really enjoyed the kissing and it provided me with much needed distraction and a feeling of just being able to let go.
I think that I pretty much kept my eyes closed and walked circles. Tami opened the curtain to give me more space to walk. A few times I almost ran into something, but stopped short. I liked the feeling of being in Sean's arms, but when my belly would touch him it hurt. Tami seemed to be the right height. I felt bad because I knew that I wasn't light when I leaned on her and Sean massaging my back added extra to what she was already supporting, but it worked for me. I alternated between Jess, Tami and Sean depending on who was closest. But even when I was leaning on someone else, Sean was always there to put pressure on my back.
I know that we used the oil diffuser and that some oils were used and I found that very comforting, but I don't know the specifics of which oils were used, or where. I also asked that someone place the wet washcloths in the fridge so I would have nice cold ones. They did a great job keeping the cold washcloths on my neck and changing them when they were no longer cold.
I could tell that I was getting tense and I did not want to get hung up. I did ask for several exams to see if I was ready to push, or if I could have my water broken. Prior to labor I was determined to let my water break when it was ready. I knew that I would be disappointed if I took action, but at that point I just wanted relief. The doctor broke my water because the baby's head was down and it was safe to do. Mostly because I begged her to. To my surprise it wasn't the gush or the relief I was expecting.
I decided that I needed to enjoy these contractions. I know that sounds strange, but I thought that if I could talk myself into loving each contraction I could progress faster and start pushing. I love pushing in labor. I love the idea that I get to meet my baby soon and that I am doing something to expedite the process. The power behind each push, the progress and the purpose is empowering. I just wanted to get to push. I couldn't help remember the hours of waiting to push and trying to push when I wasn't complete with Liberty's birth and I did not want to repeat that. So when I had a contraction I tried to imagine myself completely letting go, and being consumed in the moment. I talked to myself, I told myself that this was normal, my body was doing exactly what it was designed to do and that it was a privilege to give birth.
Jess was great with verbal encouragement and telling me that I was strong enough to do this. She was there with strength and gentleness reminding me to stay in control. When the doctor checked me and told me that I had a big fat anterior lip left on my cervix (the same thing that happened with Liberty) Jess encouraged me by reminding me that this was a different birth and that God had all things in his control.
I know I was not the ideal patient because I couldn't get in the bed. Dr. Kapernick was fantastic and did most of my exams standing up. I remember standing at the end of the bed and she told me to push with the next contraction and we would see if she could get the lip over the baby's head. I did, and she did! I was so happy. I was also so tired. I had been walking, squatting, and moving continuously. I felt like I was going to pass out and go to sleep, so I climbed in the bed. I was concerned because I knew that the shift ended at 7 or 7:30 and when I looked at the clock it was 6 AM. I really wanted this doctor to deliver, because I know she is hands off and trusts a woman to do what she needs done. She knows that we are designed to give birth and allows time for the process to unfold.
The bed was so low that they raised it up so that Sean, Tami and Jess wouldn't have to bend over so far. I pushed a few times and quickly realized that I was much better off standing up. I leaped out of bed, which sent everyone scrambling because not only was the bed raised and they were afraid that I was going to fall, but I went to the side that had the least amount of room.
The doctor stood back and let me push then all of a sudden the baby went from still not engaged to crowning. I yelled that the baby's head was here. Because of the size of the baby, they were concerned that his shoulders were going to get stuck and therefore they wanted me in the bed, so that the doctor could help. The original plan had been for Sean to deliver, but we realized that it was going much to fast and needed some assistance.
They told me to get in the bed, which was still raised. I am still not sure how that happened. I think everyone lifted and flipped me, but I am told that I climbed up while the doctor had her hands on the baby. It looked like she was moving me by the baby's head. I was almost sitting on his head, so they told me to scoot down in the bed. There was a mad scramble to try to disassemble the bed and they had a hard time getting it apart.
After I was in the bed they took my legs and brought them up to my ears, straightened them out and brought them up to my ears again. This makes the pelvic outlet bigger and they needed it as large as it could possibly be.
My birth plan said that I wanted the room quiet so that the first sound the baby heard was Sean and my voice. Instead I screamed him into this world. Finally, the rest of the amniotic fluid came out in a huge gush, right after the baby.
He was placed immediately on my chest and I opened my eyes for the first time. Both Sean and I were crying. I was so happy to have him safely in my arms. I think up until that point I was still unsure how it was all going to play out. I thanked Jesus for the baby, for his safe arrival, and for no complications.
He didn't cry as much as they wanted him to, and his breathing was a bit raspy so they brought him to the warming table and cleaned out his airway. We were all curious to his weight so I let them weigh him, before I got him back.
Delivering the placenta felt like I was delivering another baby. The doctor and nurse and Renee were all shocked at the size so they weighed that too. Most placentas weigh about 1 pound. Mine was 3 pounds 1 oz!
I couldn't stop crying and was so happy. I just wanted to kiss my husband and my baby. I felt like there is nothing better in the whole world than to hold a naked newborn on my breast and know that I get to be his mama.
When I told the doctor there is nothing like a deadline to motivate someone, she let me know that she wasn't going to leave. She would have stayed to do his delivery.
While his birth did not go according to my plan, I couldn't have asked for a better birth, or a better birth team. It was so very hard yet, absolutely wonderful.