The birth of my first child was something that I had fantasized about for a long time. I pictured myself dancing and moaning through contractions and giving birth in a inflatable pool in my living room. I wanted to feel the raw power of my body and tap into ancestral wisdom passed on through each generation of women since the beginning of time.
I had originally planned for a home-birth. I had been seeing an amazing midwife for 6 months and had already gathered several supplies in preparation to bring my baby into this world in the comfort of my own home. On June 24th, 2019, the eve of my 33rd birthday and the first day of my third trimester, we rushed to the emergency room and I was diagnosed with a rare pregnancy induced life threatening condition. It was at that very moment that everything in my pregnancy changed. I was now considered a high risk pregnancy and had to say goodbye to my midwife and transfer care to a physician. I was absolutely devastated by this change in plan and most definitely did not want to have my baby in a hospital but this is what was needed for my safety as well as the baby. I was told by the doctors that I was still a candidate for vaginal delivery and that they would allow me to go to 41 weeks gestation before considering induction. Yay!
At my 36 week checkup my doctor had some bad news for us. After consulting with several doctors and team of specialists on my condition they decided that I would need to be induced at 38 weeks. This was absolutely frightening to me because I wanted my baby to come naturally. My birth plan was changing quickly and I was pretty bummed about it. My husband and I took a few days to process this new information and decided to go ahead and follow doctors orders. We made peace with the fact that things had changed and were trying our best to stay positive.
Tuesday, September 3, 2019 – Induction Day 8:00 pm
I arrived at the hospital with my birth team which consisted of my husband, mother and twin sister. As soon as we checked in we were placed in a room and I changed into the clothing that I wanted to give birth in. They hooked me up to continuous external monitors (due to my high-risk condition) and an IV that would limit some of my movement. The midwife that was working the hospital that day came in to check my cervix to see where I was at. At that time I was 75% effaced and dilation was a 0. They decided that they wanted to start me on Cytotec a cervical ripening agent. I took a full round (4 pills) over the course of 8 hours. Within this time I felt period like cramps that eventually turned into mild inconsistent contractions. During the night I was visited by nurses and doctors every 20 minutes and did not get any sleep whatsoever.
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
At approximately 9:00am the on-call Doctor checked my cervix and I had regressed to 60% effacement. They decided they would allow me to eat breakfast and lunch to give my body a break and then continue with the next phase in a few hours. At 2:00pm they started the first round of Pitocin. Contractions picked up after a few hours and were mild to intense at times. At 12:30am they took me off of Pitocin to give my body a break.
Thursday, September 5, 2019
At approximately 12:30 am I was checked again by the on-call doctor and I was 1cm dilated and was given a membrane sweep to try to speed things up. At 1:50am my nurse administered Cervadil high into my vagina right next to my cervix. This was extremely painful and was somewhat traumatizing. At this point I was terrified of having anymore checks done because this one was so incredibly painful. Once the Cervadil kicked in my contractions got super intense. They left it in for for 12 hours and removed it at exactly 1:50 pm. They checked my cervix again at 3:00pm and I was 2cm dilated and 90% effaced. At this time they decided to start me on another round of Pitocin. Contractions reared back a bit and were mild until about 8pm and then started to pick back up.
At 11:11pm my water broke naturally. This is the moment where “shit got real”. My pain level went through the roof. My husband called my mom and sister back up to the hospital… we were sure we would meet baby soon. A cervical check showed that I was 3cm dilated. My contractions were lasting 1min 45 seconds each and were about 3-5 minutes apart. I was doing everything possible to get through the contractions. I tried standing, dancing, and getting on all fours during contractions. The only position that worked for me was to sit on the birthing ball and rotate my hips while breathing deeply, moaning and keeping my jaw relaxed.
Friday, September 6, 2019
Around 1am my mom and my sister made their way back to our room. My contractions were insanely intense and everyone offered help but I was so in the zone that I didn’t want anyone to touch me. I bounced and rolled my hips through every contraction. As time went on I was getting more and more gassed as I hadn’t slept since Monday night and the last meal I ate was on Wednesday at lunch. I was starting to pass out on the birthing ball in between contractions and my husband was starting to get worried about me. I had no energy left.
I had a strict and crunchy birth plan that specifically asked the nurses and doctors not to give me any pain medications at any point unless I asked for it. Around 4am I asked my nurse to check my cervix and I was still at 3cm. At 4:30am I needed some type of relief. I requested nitrous oxide to attempt to take the edge off of the contractions. By 5am they had the nitrous in my room and I used it for about one or two hours before giving up on it… I was still passing out and it was no longer safe for me to be on the birthing ball but I absolutely could not lay down during the contractions – the pressure was just too intense.
Around 7am I requested pain relief. The nurse offered me Stadol, a pain reliever which would be administered through an IV and would allow me to sleep for a few hours. As soon as it was administered I immediately shot into what I like to call a “nightmare la la land”. I couldn’t speak or open my eyes and I started hallucinating. I thought that everyone in the room decided to take the drug with me and I was starting to panic. My body started convulsing and itching. It made me feel absolutely horrible for about an hour and I was so messed up that I couldn’t call out for help… even with my husband spooning me in the hospital bed. After about an hour I was finally able to fall asleep.
My twin sister woke me up at 9:45 am to say goodbye as she had to head to the airport to catch a flight. This was a very sad moment for my entire birth team. By 10am I was done. I couldn’t handle the pain or exhaustion anymore. I was still trembling from the Stadol and my contractions were extreme and lasting 1min 45sec apart and I was stuck at 3cm. I requested an Epidural and it was set up by 10:30am. Unfortunately, the epidural only worked on half of my body. I could still feel every bit of each contraction on the right side of my body but I was grateful to have some actual relief. I was finally able to get a solid nap in.
By 6:00pm the doctor paid us a visit and checked my cervix and informed me that I was fully dilated and ready to push. We all started crying. This was the moment we had been waiting for. We were all emotionally and physically exhausted. I asked for a moment to process that information and called the nurses and doctor back into the room when I was ready.
Let the pushing begin.
With every contraction I gave it everything I had. I was sure we would meet my baby soon. They could see the baby’s head and told me that he had blonde hair. It was so motivating to know that we were so close to meeting our son. I had no concept of time but knew that I had been pushing for awhile. The doctor entered our room and informed me that I had been pushing for 3.5 hours and that I still had about an hour to go. I couldn’t believe it. I was exhausted and feeling so defeated. All of a sudden babys heartbeat started to drop super low with every contraction. I watched the nurses and doctors face and the mood completely changed in the room. They asked me to take a break from pushing and continued to observe to see if it would happen again. His heartbeat continued to drop and at one point his it dropped so low that it was almost off the charts. The doctor looked at me and I knew exactly what she was thinking. Emergency C-section.
I looked at her with tears running down my face. OK-lets do it. I had no more energy and I didn’t want to loose my baby. They had the OR ready within 10 minutes and we were ready to go. Around 10:15pm they began surgery. My upper body was still convulsing and I was completely freaked out. I’m leaving out some details of things that happened int the OR because I am still processing and am quite sensitive about what happened. At 11:07pm they pulled my baby boy out and I heard him for the very first time. It was the sweetest sound that I have ever heard in my life. I let out the loudest cry I have ever let out in my life. A sound I have never heard myself make. My baby is here. He is alive. I am alive. After about 5 minutes they brought him over to me so I could see him. He was beautiful and perfect. They quickly took him away from me and my mom and husband accompanied him to go get him checked out by the pediatrician. I was stitched up and taken into the recovery room.
About an hour passed and I finally got to hold my baby. My perfect little angel. He latched immediately and we gazed into each others eyes and fell deeply in love. I looked at him and said “We did it. You’re finally here. I fought so hard for you and I cant wait to show you the world.”
Although, the outcome (healthy baby) was exactly what we wanted, I will most definitely mourn the birthing journey of my baby boy for a long time. It was nothing as I had imagined or planned. We were literally fighting against mother nature and trying to force my body and baby to do something that they were just not quite ready for. It was traumatic. When I went in to my doctors office for my 2 week postpartum check up I was informed by my doctor that they had made a mistake and that I should not have been induced. Wow. I am praying for a redemptive VBAC in a few years when we decided to bring baby #2 into the world… oh and a new doctor.
I would like to say thank you to the following people …
Thank you to my loving husband who was there by my side for the entire birth. Thank you for being my guardian and protecting me and our son. Thank you for your physical and emotional support. You are my rock and I am forever grateful for you.
Thank you to my mother and sister for flying in to be with us during this time. Thank you for holding space for me when things got tough and respecting our birth plan. Thank you for your endless love and support.
Thank you to the doctors, nurses and midwifes at St.Davids Hospital. I believe I worked with around 30 people over the course of the 6 days that I was in the hospital. Thank you for keeping me and my son safe and for doing your best to respect and follow my birth plan given the circumstances we were under.
Thank you to my original midwife June Lamphier who took great care of us during the first 6 months of my pregnancy. We appreciate you.