September 28th, 2012.
I was a week overdue and I had been in false labor for over a week. Things were getting frustrating and the pressure was on from the doctors to induce once I went past my due date. I knew that Peanut was just fine in there and was not willing to accept that my body would just stop doing what it had been doing for nine months. It’s amazing how much doctors will bully you to try to get you to induce when it isn’t medically necessary. So on Friday, the 28th, because I was 41 weeks and refused to induce, I had to undergo some testing. I was sure I was in labor this morning when I went to the hospital. I went in for a non-stress test, which measures contractions in relation to the baby’s heart rate. This was pretty easy and normal. It took all of 30 minutes, and then I was sent in for my fluid check, where Kyle met up with me. We watched the ultrasound and saw our beautiful baby’s feet, etc. Then the ultrasound tech started to measure my fluid. She looked at me and said “Your fluid is low…they’re going to need to induce you.” I quickly got upset, as did Kyle. I knew the baby wasn’t in immediate danger and that induction was not necessary. This was a cop out and an excuse from the doctors to get me in and out. Just as the ultrasound tech burst out of the room, a nurse from the NST came in and asked me, “Ma’am… are you feeling your contractions?” I answered with a yes. “We need to send you to labor and delivery to get your cervix checked. We believe you are in labor.” Well then of course I have low fluid…my body is almost ready to be done!
My birth had just become a race against my body and the hospital. But I was going to do everything to be sure that the race was won on Peanut’s time. A doctor came to get us and as we were walking down the hallway he casually said, “So, Mrs. Francis, would you like to have a baby today?” I looked him straight in the eye and said “Not if my baby is not ready.” I don’t think he expected that. He chuckled condescendingly, “Well, I think you’re ready. We like to have them out by 41 weeks.” They tried to admit me and I just stood there laughing, “You mean you aren’t even going to let me go home and get my stuff?” They assured me that my husband could do it. I assured them that they were wrong. They all kept worrying I was going to go AWOL and leave the hospital. They brought in about 5 different doctors to talk to me and tell me the same exact things, but couldn’t give me a straight answer when I asked them why it was necessary to pump me with drugs to induce when my baby was not in distress. In the midst of the doctors coming in and out, I was texting and calling my friend Stacy, a PA who assured me that my baby was fine and the hospital was putting me through the ringer, just as every hospital does. She encouraged Kyle and me to stay strong and stick to our guns.
Then a nurse came in with a bunch of tubes and wires. She smiled at me and said “Hello, Kimberly, I’m the nurse who will be performing your induction today.” Only a split second later, Kyle jumped out of his chair and said, “WHOA!!! No one is inducing labor right now. We are weighing out our options.” It was really scary to us how pushy the hospital was. Finally a midwife came in and talked to us. She agreed that there was no immediate danger and that she would work with my birth plan. She agreed to let me go home, get my stuff, and even encouraged me to eat lunch. We then decided we were going to try to induce with acupuncture and a Foley bulb, since it was apparent that my body had already started to labor on its own.
So Kyle and I went home, ate a brownie sundae with our neighbor, Amy, and gave instructions to care for our house. We called those who needed to know where we were going, went for a nice long walk together, and then calmly drove to the hospital. Upon getting to the hospital I was checked, and was 1cm dilated, 50% effaced and -2 station. Things were moving along…slowly…but moving. The Foley bulb was placed in and the acupuncturist started her treatment. The midwife told me that if these methods didn’t work that they’d have to use Pitocin. I broke down crying and she asked me why I had so much fear about Pitocin. “Did you watch that Business of Being Born documentary?” she asked. “Yes I did, but the reason I fear Pitocin is because of the birth my mother had,” I told her through tears. She was understanding, but not really willing to change her position on the need to use Pitocin. I wasn’t allowing it to happen until this was an emergency.
After this, my doula Tana showed up. She kept me relaxed. She put glow candles in the room and played the soothing music she used when she gave me prenatal massages for the past 9 months. I was calm and I was ready to labor. Tana did pressure points and massage as I got through every contraction. She asked me to tell her when I was getting one, because she couldn’t tell when I was having them, my face was so calm. The only thing that was letting people know they were happening was the monitor I was hooked up to. They were about 5-8 minutes apart at this point.
After the Foley bulb fell out and two treatments of acupuncture, I was dilated to 3 cm. I had made progress. Contractions were still the same though, and the medical staff didn’t want to wait around for my body to naturally make them pick up. They started to again, push Pitocin. It was 2:00am at this point and I was exhausted. I kept telling them that I needed sleep before even thinking about inducing a labor. (Not that I was going to anyway, and I think the midwife knew that.) She annoyingly stated that all I was doing was buying time, and that we really should do it sooner rather than later. I knew I was buying time and I didn’t care. My baby was fine. I knew what was best for Peanut and I didn’t care how scary or threatening these doctors were going to get.
The night was long. I didn’t sleep much because of how much I was poked and prodded at. They kept pressuring me about Pitocin and it truly stressed me out. I watched as Kyle and Tana slept and prayed that God would show me why this was dragging on so much. I wanted it to be over, but I knew what I needed to do for Peanut. I continued to stay strong. In the morning, a new midwife came on staff. She again suggested Pitocin and I declined. I told her that if she would just let me walk the hallway, I could probably get things moving, but she insisted I needed to be hooked to the monitor to make sure baby was okay. I could feel Peanut moving! I didn’t need a dang monitor! I was getting so frustrated.
Finally, after checking with multiple doctors they agreed to allow me off the monitors for 30 minutes. That was all I had. I walked and walked and walked with Tana and Kyle. We walked around the entire floor. Then, when they hooked me back up to the monitors I walked some more and swirled my hips with every surge (contraction) to try to work baby down. When the midwife came in to check me, she was upset to find that I was only 4cm dilated. “You only dilated a centimeter more in three hours.” I was upset. I knew it wasn’t in 3 hours. I knew I did that dilating from walking in the half hour I was free. I knew things would move along if they would just let me do what my body needed to. But instead I was a prisoner, hooked up to all their tubes and cords.
Despite the fact that the monitors were on me for 24 hours at this point, and showed everything to be fine, they still told me how ridiculous I was being. I stayed strong and wanted my body to do this on its own. I told them that if they would just let me rest, then maybe things could move along. But if they kept stressing me out and mentioning Pitocin, of course my labor was going to stall! Our nurse was horrible and every 30 minutes kept coming in and mentioning that we needed to decide soon. I was exhausted; I felt defeated and truly wanted to punch her in the face at this point.
I knew I was never going to sleep in this damn hospital. I knew they were going to win eventually. They were going to give me the Pitocin and then I was going to need an epidural due to my exhaustion. And then there was the question of if I’d even be able to push the baby out. I was flirting with a c-section at this point. I sat on my birth ball, looking at Tana and Kyle, and just started to cry, “I just don’t know what to do.” Kyle asked if I wanted him to call Sunshine, our Hypnobirthing instructor. I declined. I asked him to call Stacy.
Stacy answered her phone and agreed that the doctors were being unreasonable. She was upset because she knew that if I was just able to go home and get some rest that I would probably have the baby by midnight. She assured Kyle this and told him that he had to get me out of there. As I talked to her on the phone I told her I was giving up. She encouraged me to go with my doula and sit in the bathroom. I did this, and Tana locked the door so the medical staff could not come in and bother me. Kyle then went to the midwife and informed her that he didn’t care about her policies, and didn’t wish for her to discuss it with me at all…but that we were going home. I was going to get some rest, and we would return when my labor was more advanced. The midwife actually agreed with Kyle, (and of course couldn’t say it) but told him we would have to sign a waiver because it is against the hospital’s policies.
She came in, said nothing to me, handed me the form, and I signed. I looked at her and apologized. I could only imagine what the medical staff thought of me for being so pushy. She just encouraged me to come back if my water broke or I felt decreased movement. She also said that, either way, I should come back in the morning for another non stress test. I agreed. The pushy, mean nurse came in to take out my IV and I apologized to her for wasting her time. “Oh it’s okay,” she said, “I think you’re doing the right thing. I think it will be what is best for you.”
My jaw dropped. The nurse who was pushing Pitocin on me for HOURS was suddenly on my side? It’s just crazy how the legal system and policies turn these people into such bullies, but once you sign your life away they completely change their professional opinions.
As I stepped out of the hospital in my own clothes, I felt AMAZING! I was free and I knew Peanut had the chance at a beautiful birth. We were going to do it. We called my Hypnobirthing instructor, Sunshine, and told her that I checked myself out of the hospital. She laughed, “I would have never thought to do that.” She said. She was proud of us though. I slept for a couple hours on the couch and then Sunshine came over to see me. I also got to take a nice hot shower while she was there. It felt so good through all the surges I was having. Sunshine ate dinner with me and just talked to me about her past births.
She told me about how she did have to take Pitocin and that it was an intense birth. She said that sometimes it is medically necessary, but that in my case she agreed it wasn’t. We hung out, laughed for a bit, and then at 8:30pm she told us she had to leave. I got up to let her out the door and as I stood up I felt a gush of fluid. Was it my water? I had no idea. I went to the bathroom, and upon looking at the fluid I noticed it was green. I started to stress, wondering if it was meconium in my amniotic fluid. But the gush was so small; was it really my water? I didn’t want to go back to the hospital after all that work to get out of there. I felt Peanut moving and just knew that it was okay. I needed more sleep at this point and I knew that. So after talking to Stacy again, who reassured me that if something was wrong my instinct would kick in and I would know, I decided to get some sleep. I slept for about 6 hours.
Around 1:00am, I sat up straight in bed and began to freak out. I woke Kyle up and he looked at me. “Babe, we need to go to the hospital now. Something is wrong.” He was a little confused after all the hard work we had done to leave the hospital. “I just need to go there,” I told him, “I will feel a lot better if we do.” So we got our bags together yet again and headed to the hospital. I called on the way over to let them know I was coming. The midwife was at the front desk when we came in.
“You’re back?” She asked, “I was so confused when they told me you were coming back. I thought you were waiting until tomorrow morning.” I looked at her worriedly, “I know, but I think my water may have broken and I just want to make sure my baby isn’t in distress and get checked out; better safe than sorry, right?” She agreed. She took me to triage where I was hooked up to monitors again and Peanut still showed a good, strong heart beat. Contractions were about 5 minutes apart. She checked my cervix to find it still at a 4. She then looked further.
“Oh…your water did break!” she said. “I can see your baby’s head now and there’s a bunch of hair.” It was real now. She pushed the head to the side and there my water went a gushing out on the table. THIS was what I envisioned when I envisioned my water breaking. The midwife then realized that, yes; there was meconium in my water. The baby had passed the first bowel movement in my womb. When your water breaks, you are already on a 24 hour time clock to deliver, but with the meconium, we had to act fast. I knew this and knew that I had to surrender to the fact that an intervention was needed. I agreed to the midwife’s decision to start the Pitocin. I felt defeated, but tried to stay as positive as possible. I looked over at Kyle and pleaded with him, “Whatever happens, please don’t judge me.” We called Tana and Sunshine, and they headed to the hospital.
As the nurse started the Pitocin, I blocked it out in my mind. I continued affirming to myself that the contractions I was having were getting stronger because they were my own. I convinced myself that there were no alterations in my labor and that I would stay relaxed. Tana massaged my feet while the contractions started to get stronger and I breathed through them with ease and comfort. We had gotten into a good rhythm.
Then the nurse came in to check on me. She watched me having a contraction and started to up the Pitocin. Kyle asked her why she was doing this and she said “Your wife doesn’t appear to be in any pain, so we need to give her more.” Kyle got very upset with this and went to talk to the midwife about it. I wasn’t appearing that way because of the hypnosis! They continuously asked me to rate my pain, and I declined, telling them that I didn’t want to focus on pain. This made the nurse rather angry and uncomfortable as well. To top this off, the monitors were not working. I would be having a contraction and the monitor would be flat. But no one bothered to look into this. They just continued to up my dosage until I was at 10 ml/hr. The nurse told me I would want it to be high because then I wouldn’t have to have a pressure catheter put in to prove I was having contractions. At this point, the freaking catheter sounded better than the amount of Pitocin being pumped through my veins.
About an hour later, Rosemary, the midwife, came in to check me. I was 5cm dilated, but they were still confused about my surges and because I didn’t appear to be in pain, had to put in the catheter to make sure the Pitocin dosage was accurate. What they found was shocking to them. My contractions were literally on top of each other. Rosemary, and one of the nurses felt my belly and realized it never stopped contracting. Rosemary grew nervous. “Turn off the Pitocin!” She said sternly. They turned it completely off, and I continued to labor on my own for 3 hours with no Pitocin.
I labored in the bed for awhile because of the stupid pressure catheter they put in me. It was bearable, but I was really squirmy and dying to move around. The nurses agreed that if I was comfortable I was welcome to. I stood up and labored holding onto the squatting bar while Tana and Kyle alternated pushing on my lower back and hips. I breathed with each surge and imagined a hot air balloon filling up until I could not inhale anymore. Then I blew the balloon away off into the sky. My balloon changed colors every time. I must have gone through hundreds of them during labor.
Sunshine was watching me breathe and encouraged me, telling me that I looked very relaxed through my surges. I thought I was going to need more tools than this but counter pressure from Tana and Kyle, along with the balloon visualization, seemed to be all I needed for most of the labor. Tana also had some really soothing music on which reminded me of more comfortable times when she gave me my amazing prenatal massages.
The midwife came in to check me and I reluctantly laid down on the bed again. The exams started to get less and less uncomfortable though. She looked up at me and said, “You are a 7…almost an 8. You are so close!” I still felt discouraged. If I was only going to dilate a centimeter every three hours I didn’t know how I could keep up with this. I was getting tired, and though I didn’t feel any pain, the pressure was getting intense.
I sat in a chair on a bed pan to try to get more relief and Tana and Kyle continued to do the counter pressure. This went on for a good while, until I finally stood up exclaiming, “This needs to stop.” I started to tell Tana and Sunshine that I could no longer do this. They helped me get onto the bed on all fours, and Tana pushed on my hips, while Sunshine fed me ice chips and tried to talk me through it. Kyle was also rubbing my back and helping to push when he was able. I should mention things got really fuzzy at this point and I have no idea where anyone really was, I just felt their presence.
I wanted to cry, but no tears would come out, so I just pouted my face. I looked at Sunshine and told her I could not do this anymore. “You are doing SO great!” she said as she smiled back at me. Tana also continued to affirm that I was doing awesome. Apparently at this time, Sunshine looked over at Kyle and gave him a thumbs up. She knew I had hit transition and that the baby was so close to coming out. She went and got the nurses, who mostly left us alone at this point. Sunshine and Tana had me under control.
Sunshine smiled and said, “Kimberly, you’re going to get your sapphire! Your baby is going to be born today, so soon! You are close!” I glared at her, “Don’t lie to me,” I pleaded with her. “I’m not lying!!” she said as everyone laughed a little. Kyle was behind me watching the entire thing. I suddenly heard his voice saying “Wow, this is so amazing.” He apparently could see my pelvis open and the baby start to descend. Hearing how much awe he was in really inspired me to stick with my plan. I could do this; and although I was not comfortable and ready to be done, at no point during transition did I ever think I’d rather have a needle in my spine to numb what I was feeling.
The midwife came in to check me, and Tana and Sunshine let me know she was here. “I’m not laying down, I can’t.” I said. “Honey, you can stay right where you are! I think she can check you from here.” Sunshine said. The midwife checked me and told everyone, “I don’t see a cervix.” At the time, I thought this meant she had no clue how far along I was, but what she was really telling everyone was that I was 10 centimeters and ready to push. I stayed squatted on the bed and used the squat bar to pull myself up when I had a contraction to push Peanut down. I continued to hear Kyle’s voice, just in awe of what was happening. It was more encouraging than anything seeing just how amazed my husband was at his child coming into the world through my body. Sunshine and Tana continued to do awesome at getting me through everything and focusing me.
Before I knew it, Sunshine had me turn onto my back in a sitting up position with my legs spread. I held onto my legs and pulled them up with each contraction as I pushed the baby out. The midwife was ready to receive Peanut, but I still had no idea she was there. I didn’t know where anyone was. I heard voices and knew there were tons of people in the room…but I was only aware of me and Peanut in this moment. The pressure was intense and I just wanted Peanut out at this point, so I pushed with everything I had.
Suddenly the midwife got my attention, “Now, Kimberly, your baby is sunny-side-up, so you’re going to have to push a little harder to make any progress.” She must have under estimated my strength, because I started to push with everything I had and before I knew it she was trying to get my attention again. I focused in on her stern voice finally, “Kimberly!!!” I looked down at her. “Now I need you to listen to me, Kimberly. If I tell you to stop pushing, you need to stop.” At this point, I knew the baby was almost out, but really just wanted Peanut out. I couldn’t stop.
She started to make me grunt to avoid tearing too much. I did this for a good while. Everything was so blurry and fuzzy at this point. Before I could even focus on what was going on, Peanut was out, and a little slimy human body was placed on my belly. The midwife looked at Kyle, “Tell us what it is, Dad.” Kyle looked at me and told me it was a boy. I was in shock, but so, so happy! We announced to the room that his name was Tristan Michael Francis. They took him to the other side of the room to suction him from the meconium and make sure all was okay. Kyle followed, cut the cord and then put on his first diaper.
They brought Tristan back to me where he nursed right away and later on Kyle and I were able to have our own moment with him. Everything was absolutely perfect. Nowhere near where we’d planned, but still so perfect and so meant to be!
After the birth, I had an amazing burst of energy and euphoria. While I was waiting for Tristan to be handed back to me, I looked around the room in shock at what I had just done and uttered the words “Holy s***.” Everyone laughed. I also joked that someone had better go get me a blizzard from dairy queen and a shot of tequila. I was full of jokes, and it was so not like me. But I was on cloud nine. It’s amazing what your hormones do when you don’t numb them, and I’m still in disbelief at how interactive my son was in the first few hours of his life. I know a birth like this is not for everyone, as people have their own beliefs and values, but after my experience, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I hope my story can show women that there is nothing to fear in childbirth. It is not a medical experience, it is a natural one. I heard so many horrible, heinous birth stories before my baby was born and I just don’t understand it. My whole experience was just so cool. As women, we have got to stop fearing something that is so natural. It is my only wish that everyone can feel the way I did about my birth.
Thanks for reading!