Back story – Wyatt’s Birth
My first son, Wyatt, was born December 10, 2010, after a pregnancy I was certain had lasted entirely too long. Early on, my doctor changed my due date from November 15th to the 28th, so when December 8th rolled around 10 days later I waddled as fast into that labor and delivery ward for my induction as I could. At the time I knew nothing about how ripe a cervix should be when choosing to induce, or how long it could really take. All I knew was that 8 weeks of prodromal labor had done nothing to get my baby out, so it was time to let the doctors take over.
Two failed inductions later, I was exhausted. They sent me home to rest after the second day, assuring me that if baby wasn’t out by 5pm the next evening, they would do a c-section and ‘put me out of my misery’. I didn’t have much hope left for a vaginal birth at that point, so I figured that it was for the best and went home. I didn’t allow myself to look into the backseat, lest I remind myself that I was leaving without a baby in my arms. I spent the evening trying to sleep through intense pelvic pressure, and finally found rest somewhere around 1am… my water broke at 3am.
By the time I arrived at the hospital I was nothing short of exhausted. Contractions had started immediately and were intense right away. I could do nothing more than sleep in between them and moan through them, fighting each one as soon as I felt it coming on. My husband was asleep on the hospital floor as I lay feeling helpless, alone, and completely out of control.
A few hours in I asked for Morphine which did nothing but make me sick and took away any sense of control I had left. By 11am I agreed to an epidural. I was only 4cm, and could not imagine another God knows how many hours of suffering.
Once the epidural was in, things went quickly. Within an hour I was complete and ready to push. I pushed for an hour before the doctor suggested a vacuum because baby was no longer moving down. It popped off twice before finally working, and then when it did, he had shoulder dystocia.
It took them 3 or 4 minutes to correct it and then he was finally born. When everything was done, I had a serious 3rd degree tear, Wyatt had shoulder dystocia, a calcified placenta, and a true cord knot. Thankfully he was healthy, beautiful and perfect in each and every way, weighing in at what felt like a huge 9lbs, 8.75oz.
I left the experience scared. I tried to find reasons for why everything had gone so wrong, for why it seemed everywhere where I looked, my son’s life had been in danger. As time went on, I found that my tear wasn’t healing correctly and caused a lot of pain. My marriage was taking a bit of a hit, I had developed some trust issues because of my husband’s inability to support me.
I felt broken, as if my body was not capable of getting a baby out on its own. I spent months trying to come to terms with my birth. I dwelled on it a lot, I searched for answers and explanations for why things had gone so wrong. I read books, searched the internet, and contacted a doula months before I planned to get pregnant… I tried to get perspective from as many people as I could so that I could somehow feel at peace with my birth.
Shortly before Wyatt’s first birthday we started trying to have another baby, and two weeks later we got the good news. I was both excited and very anxious. I went between feeling comfortable and confident that things would be different this time, and terrified that I wouldn’t be able to handle it.
I wrote a birth plan early on and planned on refusing an induction until absolutely necessary, I hired a doula and talked with my husband at lengths about my hopes and fears for this birth. I kept a journal throughout my entire pregnancy, which helped me sort through my thoughts.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, my anxieties started coming to a head. My greatest fear besides an induction was tearing again. No one seemed to be able to tell me what it would be like to push with a tear that had healed incorrectly, so I had no idea what to expect. My due date of August 24th came and went without much incident, and the farther along I got the more anxious I became.
Labor & Delivery
Thursday, August 30th, at 40+6, I went in for a doctor’s appointment at 1:30pm. I was checked at 3cm and 50% effaced, which was mind blowing to me. I just couldn’t believe that my body had gotten so far all on its own. My doctor stripped my membranes for me and I left thinking I probably still had the rest of the weekend.
Around 2pm I started having strong contractions about 15-20 minutes apart. I assumed they were a result of the strip and didn’t think much of them. By 3pm I began suspecting that they were more than just false labor and called my Mother-in-law to come get Wyatt.
6pm rolled around and I had to breathe through contractions. They were more than just pressure now and took some concentration to get through, but not painful enough for me to even consider it ‘pain’. By 8pm I began asking Lance to squeeze my hips during a contraction, the relief was amazing and it gave him something to do, which made him feel a lot better and more useful.
At this point I was texting my doula, Trudy, updates on how far apart contractions were (still not at all consistent). I was watching TV, doing laundry, vacuuming and washing floors, talking and laughing between contractions, so in my mind, I was not in enough pain to be in labor.
My Mom arrived at our home around 9pm. She had come from nearly 10 hours away on nothing but gut feeling. I had always insisted that she stay at home until I called her, but she felt that Thursday was the day to come up, and I am so glad that she did. She sat with us for a couple hours while I sat on my ball, still just breathing through the contractions and asking Lance to squeeze my hips during the difficult ones. I still expected them to peter out by morning, so at 11pm we went to bed, assuring my Mom that we would keep her updated if anything else happened.
I managed to sleep without too much trouble until 1am. I woke up to several strong contractions that I could not stay still through. I woke Lance and insisted that we should probably head to the hospital just to get checked… it was something that I hadn’t wanted to do in my ‘plan’, but after 2 weeks of prodromal labor I was anxious to know whether or not this was the real thing. Plus we were a half hour from town and I didn’t want to wait for the contractions to get worse for the car ride.
Once I was up on my feet the contractions picked up, but became more manageable. I realized that laying down to labor was simply not an option for me. We told my Mom and texted Trudy that we were heading in, and that we would keep them updated.
We arrived at the hospital at 2am, and I was placed on the monitors for 20 minutes. My contractions were found to be about 3 minutes apart and getting closer together. I was checked at 4cm and 80% effaced, but they were unsure whether to admit me, seeing as they already had 2 other women with ruptured membranes that they expected to be laboring soon (small town hospital).
They took me off the monitors and told me to do what I wanted for 2 hours and they would reassess. We spent the first half hour walking the halls, stopping for contractions, but quickly realized that we were too tired to keep walking. We headed back to our room and I sat on my ball for a while and then got back into bed.
I knew after a couple of contractions that I couldn’t just lay there, so when I had a contraction I would roll onto my hands and knees, steady myself on the arms of the hospital bed, rock back and forth until it was over, and then rested in between. I did this for about an hour and a half. It worked really well to relieve the pressure and I was able to get through them easily.
4am I was placed back on the monitors and checked again. I was 5-6cm and almost completely effaced. The nurses told me that my doctor was heading in and would likely break my water. Lance and I were thrilled that we were definitely having a baby! We texted Trudy once again and told her that we weren’t sure how long things would take and, once again, we would keep her updated.
I was still coping very well, so we figured that asking her to come out in the middle of the night was unnecessary at that point. We were both still enjoying our privacy (in between nurse checkups) and preferred to continue laboring with just the two of us.
Around 4:30 my doctor arrived, checked me and asked if I would like my water broken (Yes please!). As soon as he broke it he said I was at 8cm and he would stick around the hospital. I got back on my ball and contemplated calling my Mom. I went back and forth for a few minutes before getting sick and telling Lance to call her just in case things went quickly. When she arrived (about 5:15) I was back on my ball, still laughing and talking between contractions. She joked that watching me, she would never know that I was in labor and that she would go home if she didn’t know better.
Half an hour later I began feeling pressure and a mild urge to push. The pressure was getting to be too much sitting down so I laid back down in bed and resumed rocking on my hands and knees when I had a contraction. The nurse checked me at 9cm at 6am and called my doctor, but within moments I was insisting that I had to push.
Those few moments were excruciating. I had one contraction on my hands and knees and felt the baby’s head moving down, so I laid on my side instead, trying to slow my body. I panicked when the nurses told me not to push and yelled. Lance was beside me, grasping my hand and telling me to focus on him. This helped me to refocus if only for a second. Thankfully my doctor showed up quickly, saw that I was just about crowning and told me to push when I felt ready.
I pushed for less than 8 minutes before my son was born. I felt everything, including when I tore, but it was incredible. I was able to feel where his head was and when to stop pushing, my doctor told me later that even though I felt like I was completely out of control, I had some of the most controlled pushing he had ever seen. I was told later that the cord was wrapped twice around Miles’ neck, but hadn’t been a problem to remove.
When they laid Miles on my chest I bawled. I had never been so incredibly happy in all of my life. I remember the exhausted, overwhelmed feeling that followed when Wyatt was finally born, where I looked down and felt no strong connection to my baby that I had expected… this could not have been more different.
I cried out of love and complete disbelief for what I had just done, I cried because he looked just like Wyatt but with a head full of dark hair, and because he was finally here. The first thing I said was ‘You look just like my son!’ and the nurses laughed at me and said ‘He IS your son!’, and then continued to laugh at me when I kept insisting that he was ‘so small’ when really he was just small for what I was used to.
Miles weighed in at 8lbs 7.25oz and a very impressive 22.5 inches long. He was born on August 31st 2012 at 6:08am, under a blue moon. He is perfect in every way.
I would have never believed that birth could be this way, that I could feel so in control while completely giving into my body to do what it needed to do. Everything that I once thought about birth being scary and dangerous from my first experience has been completely changed. Any doubts I had in Lance being able to support me are gone… now we joke that Lance is a doula since we never really got around to calling ours to come in. She visited us in the hospital and said that it was the strangest but most wonderful birth she had ever not really attended.
I no longer feel as though I have to explain away what happened at Wyatt’s birth, I don’t have to find answers or feel broken. Most amazing of all, my small 2nd degree tear that I got this time around is exactly where I had been having problems for the past 20 months. My body is getting a second chance to heal, and although I’m still recovering from Miles’ birth, I already feel less pain than I did before he was born. His birth has been quite literally a healing experience for me.