Warning: extremely long post below! Though a very personal story, I wanted to take the time to share with you Hank's birth story. Partly because I wanted to be sure to document it so not to forget any of the details, but also because I benefited so greatly from reading other's birth stories throughout my pregnancy. It is certainly my hope that one might benefit too from reading about my personal experiences, and if there is anyone considering a natural labor, just know that it is hard work, but you can do it!
|Sweet Baby Hank|
As most of you know by now, my September 17th due date came and went. At this point I wasn’t feeling overly anxious or fatalistic that I would be pregnant forever, but I did know that as each day passed with no arrival of baby Hank, an induction would be happening as soon as I hit 41 weeks.
Fairly early in this pregnancy, I had done enough research to determine that I wanted as natural a birth as possible. I was prepared to labor as long as I could at home, with the hopes of arriving at the hospital far enough into the labor where my time hooked up to monitors and IVs would be minimal. I also knew that an induction would make this plan virtually impossible.
I stayed strong until Friday afternoon. At this point I felt that my induction date for Monday was a ticking clock, and as thrilled as I was to know that I would meet my son that day, I couldn’t help but be completely distraught over my straying plans. And that’s the problem with birth plans I suppose.I received lots of encouragement though and stayed positive that over the weekend labor would kick in naturally. I drank cups of red raspberry leaf tea, ate batches of labor cookies, walked miles, and did lots of other labor inducing techniques…to no avail. Until Saturday night. We just had gotten into bed and were watching SNL, when I had a truly undeniable contraction. I was both excited and frightened by the initial pain and the thought that this was only the beginning. Things continued to progress through the night. Around 1 AM we were walking around the neighborhood, and by 3 AM I had lost my mucous plug and contractions continued to grow closer together. I just knew that we would be heading to the hospital in the morning, and that I had beat out my induction date! I sent my husband to bed so that he could rest up for the big day that was coming.
But by 8 AM the contractions suddenly started growing farther apart and the intensity lessened. I went for more walks, but knew that things had stopped progressing. I called my doctor and let her know the situation. She advised me to still plan on going to the hospital in the evening, and if I had dilated beyond the 1 centimeter I already was, they would let me come home and see what happened overnight. If no progress had been made, then I would be admitted for Cervidil (a cervix ripening agent) overnight and the induction to begin Monday morning.
I stayed positive throughout the day. I’d had good contractions all night long, how could I not have progressed 1 more centimeter?! I rested throughout the day on Sunday. We packed our bags around 5 PM even though I was sure we would be coming right back home. At 5:30 PM we arrived at the hospital and were checked in to triage by 6 PM. Here was the big moment. The nurse does an exam-STILL 1 CENTIMETER! How?! Feeling the disappointment, she tells us to go get our bags from the car and she will get our room ready. The Cervidil would be ordered and put in at 10 PM for 12 hours. We arrived in our new room, and within 2 minutes I was hooked up to an IV, fetal monitors, blood pressure and pulse monitors, my temperature was taken and I was even given an oxygen mask. Totally discouraged, how was I supposed to manage my pain naturally hooked up and bed ridden?! We ate some dinner, watched The Emmys, and waited. And continued to wait. Until 12 AM when I finally received the Cervidil. Two hours late, which meant the Cervidil would now be in until 12 PM, at which point it would be removed and Pitocin administered to start the induction.
|Keeping a happy face after checking into the hospital.|
It was a rough night. I couldn’t use the bathroom for 2 hours. When I finally could I had to unhook all my monitors and roll the IV pole with me. At some point contractions started back up again, but I was managing them in bed and still able to sleep in between them.
Real change came at 6:30 AM. I literally jumped out of bed and told my husband that I could not manage my labor pain laying down any longer. As far as my monitors would allow, I began pacing my room. Frustrated and discouraged, I was on the verge of tears as I continued to wonder how I would ever manage my pain this way. My night nurse came in, seemingly not pleased that I was no longer in bed where I could be easily monitored. Shortly thereafter I noticed a small pop, and I just knew that my water had broken. Believe it or not the nurse on shift didn’t believe me! Regardless, I started to feel a little encouragement that labor was progressing without any Pitocin. The nurse shift changed at 7 AM and thanks be to God, in walks my new nurse asking me lots of questions about what was going on and how I desired to manage my labor. I told her that I did not want the epidural, and wanted the ability to use a birthing ball and the shower for pain management. She encouraged me that my labor could be handled in this way. She then confirmed that my water had broken! And she too was starting to believe that Pitocin would not be necessary. She would call my doctor to come in and check my progress around 10 AM. In the meantime, she encouraged my husband to go to the car and get the birthing ball, put on some music and she would unhook my IV so I could move about better.
At 10 AM, my doctor arrived and I was in full-fledged labor managing my contractions on the birthing ball. I jumped into bed for a check and I was 3-4 centimeters! Finally some real progress! My doctor was so pleased with the progress that the Cervidil was removed 2 hours early and any need for Pitocin was put on hold. At this rate they believed I would be pushing by 3 PM. I asked if I could use the shower now to change up my pain management, and they agreed. All of my monitors were removed and I was able to shower for 45 minutes. I feel so blessed that both my doctor and my nurse were so encouraging and accommodating in helping me to labor this way.
Fast forward 1 hour, and the nurse said that it was time for another quick check. Another nurse who was new had been assisting the main nurse throughout the morning, and the request was made that the new girl perform the check. I obliged, and she promptly delivered some pretty disappointing news. “I think she’s 3 to 4 centimeters,” she said. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I thought. “No progress?!” The main nurse took over, and to my delight she announced that I had in fact progressed to 6 centimeters. Everything was moving along faster than we all had anticipated.
For the next hour and a half, I continued to manage my labor on the birthing ball. My husband, truly acting as a doula, would watch the contraction readings on the machine and prepare me for increases and decreases in intensity. My primal instinct seemed to really take over as I hummed my way through each contraction. Having a routine (monitoring the contraction machine, using the ball, humming, and having a focal point) really enabled me to focus my energy on the rise and fall of each contraction rather than being consumed by the overall pain.
Around 12:30 PM, my contractions suddenly shifted into an urge to push. Feeling a new sense of urgency, I demanded my husband call for the nurse! At this point, the only way for me to manage the contractions was to stand up off of the ball and push. The nurse came in and seemed as if there was no way that I could be feeling the urge to push yet. She asked me to go to the restroom and empty my bladder so that she could perform another check. Knowing that there was no way that I could possibly use the bathroom, I quickly went in and came back out having lied about going. I hopped into the bed and she performed one final check, and she quickly exclaimed “I was wrong! You’re 9.5 centimeters! I’ve gotta call your Dr. now!” It was officially go time!The Dr. arrived and I got into the bed at 1 PM, and after 37 minutes of pushing our precious boy made his debut!
|Meeting for the first time.|
|7 pounds 10 ounces|
|Our first photo as a family of 3.|