Really I had a great pregnancy. Nothing went wrong. I really couldn’t have gotten any luckier. We were ready for a baby and we got pregnant without trying. Something just told me I needed to take a pregnancy test. I wasn’t really having any pregnancy symptoms. My period was always irregular. It came about the same time of the month, but if I was the slightest stressed it just wouldn’t come for a month or more, at a time. So the fact that I had missed a period didn’t mean anything to me. Took a test the night I had a “feeling” and it was positive immediately. We were overcome with excitement and joy!
I didn’t have morning sickness, just a little nausea. My pregnancy was pretty much a dream. I wasn’t uncomfortable until the last month, and I was happy to be thriving with my son inside me! I was due 11-14-11. I had the typical “new/ first time mother” concerns, which landed us in triage a couple times and we were sent home. The first time was at 32 weeks. Everyone that told me “your water breaking isn’t always like the movies, it can be a really slow trickle/ leak” freaked me out! I thought my water broke… twice. Nope. After my water was broken in labor I know what that feels like and I’ll never make that mistake again! When I went in at 32 weeks (terrified) because I was having contractions every 3 minutes. They monitored me for a few hours, and I didn’t progress, thank goodness. I drank a lot of water when I was there and that got the contractions to stop right before they were going to give me an injection to stop them. I didn’t want that unless I didn’t stop on my own. After continuing to be extra hydrated the rest of my pregnancy I didn’t have any worries until I was beyond 40 weeks.
All the horror stories I heard or read scared the heck out of me. Nobody would leave me alone. The constant “oh my goodness, you’re past you’re due date!?” or “WHEN is that baby coming” comments drove me up the wall! Yes I was uncomfortable, but so what? He’ll come when he’s ready! I read story after story about negative things that happened with people’s birth. Scary stories, like stillborn babies. They are just horrifying, especially to a first time mother past her due date. We went in to my midwife (who works in a practice alongside other midwives, and OBs) on Monday. Riley had run out of room in there. He just wasn’t moving around. They did a non-stress test and due to the results of that test scheduled an induction for that Friday. I was relieved because of all the scary things I had read. My parents were in South Africa until that Thursday night so I was fine with waiting that long, but as an anxious Mommy at this point I was hoping to go into labor sooner. She said that she thought I’d go into labor on my own before that and we all hoped that would be the case.
Bottom line to everything I’m about to tell you in my story, is that I was not nearly educated enough about the whole process. We took the classes, I planned to breastfeed, and we wrote a birth plan that was supposed to be so easy to follow. I felt very prepared. But none of that helped me the way I thought it would.
I didn’t get a wink of sleep on Thursday night I was so excited that I was FINALLY going to meet my son. I did my best to read POSITIVE induction stories but I was still worried. I thought that I’d be in and out of there in no time though. I could do this like a rock star! I really thought everything was going to go quickly! The plan was for me to check in at 6 in the morning, start the Pitocin, have my midwife come over and break my water about 8am, then have a baby right after. Oh…. No!
We went to the hospital and checked in at 6am on Friday. It was my mother-in-law (who had been in Alaska for nearly 3 weeks by this point awaiting the arrival of her newest grandson), my husband and myself. There were 4 women in active labor that morning. I was having contractions on my own, but they were 6-8 min apart. There weren’t enough nurses so they tried to send me home. After being sent home 3 times before I was devastated. They said it was too risky to do an “elective induction” and chance anything going wrong with other women in “real labor”. I immediately felt like a horrible mother. I was just doing what the doctors told me to do. I felt selfish and jealous. Selfish because I was forcing my son to come, jealous because those other Moms in labor on their own weren’t as pregnant as me! I didn’t want to go home… I had even thought that morning “They can’t send me home today!” and we even joked about this not being another false alarm trip on the way to the hospital. My husband could see that I was bummed and asked if we could stay and that when either more staff got there, or babies were delivered they could start my induction instead of coming back after lunch. They allowed me to stay, and eat a small meal. My midwife was slammed with deliveries at the other hospital. She had another midwife that was at the hospital to come and check on me. I had met with every midwife and a few doctors in the practice prior to going in to the hospital. I wanted to be familiar with all of them in case my midwife couldn’t be there. I wasn’t a huge fan of this particular midwife but I let her check me. She couldn’t even check me. He was so far back there she couldn’t even feel. Also, she has tiny fingers. Isn’t that a prerequisite to being a midwife or OB? Having long enough fingers to check your clients? I’m only partially kidding. She guessed I was still at 2.5 cm which I had been at for weeks. My excitement and hopefulness had faded a lot by this point. Not only were my contractions not doing a single thing, I felt like a bad mother from the “elective induction” comment.
We waited for the other mom’s to have their babies. Not knowing better, I tried to get up and walk around, but they had started an IV of fluids and gotten the Pitocin ready and didn’t want me walking around much. I knew then this was going to be a long process at that point…but I had no idea. I couldn’t do anything on my own naturally to progress labor without being told to get back into bed and they hadn’t even started the Pitocin! It was a chore to get up to go to the bathroom. I begged to use the birthing ball and try to progress on my own. They finally let me and then kicked me off shortly after, telling me that my son’s heart rate wasn’t steady when I was on the ball. The reality is that the monitors hooked up to me weren’t accurate while sitting, bouncing, and rolling on a ball! Back to the bed. Ugh! We sat there and visited, and watched the contractions of the other mom’s on the monitors. Then heard their babies cry when they were delivered. I will admit I was so jealous!
They started the Pitocin about 10:30. I started to have stronger contractions almost immediately. I felt I was handling them like a champ. Then they would come in and tell me that the baby wasn’t reacting to the Pitocin and his heart rate wasn’t where they wanted it. I’m a very easy going person, unless you really piss me off. I had no idea what was going on, they didn’t elaborate, I just listened and did what I was told. I didn’t know better. I just went along with anything they told me. They played this game of turning on the Pitocin, bumping it up every 30 min, then turning it off again all day long. I was hardly progressing. Around 7pm I was about 6cm. I still hadn’t seen my midwife all day. They asked if I wanted an epidural over and over. I was handling the contractions really well, especially on Pitocin. I asked for advice. I was never against an epidural. My thought in the very beginning was “oh hook that bad boy up as soon as I get to the hospital”. Then I did my research. I chose to make the decision in labor. If I wanted one I’d get it, if I thought I could do it without, I would. When I decided this, I was not planning on being induced. They wouldn’t let me out of the bed. I chose this hospital to deliver at, for the labor/ delivery unit. I had heard positive things, and they just finished putting in a $50,000 labor tub. You can’t deliver in it, but you can labor in it. Oh how badly I wanted in that tub. My midwife informed me I wasn’t allowed to be in it on an IV before we went to the hospital. My dreams of labor were already shattered. Because of the fact that I was basically allowed only on my back and in my bed, I said I would go ahead and get the epidural.
I loved my nurse. She was amazing. I really trusted her. I asked her when I should get it, and she told me it was going to be shift change soon. So if I wanted it immediately they would catch the guy before he was off and if I wanted to wait it would be at least 30 min to an hour. I had a choice, so I asked who was better. I want it done right, in the right spot, on the first try. Who has a better rep? Per her suggestion I waited it out until the next Anesthesiologist came on duty. We cleared the room. The best Anesthesiologist they had took 3 tries to get it right. I could just hear the crunching, and that made me sick. After the epidural I laid there some more… shaking uncontrollably. I should have known I’d have a reaction. I usually have reaction to Anesthesia. Even the laughing gas at the dentist makes me shake like a leaf. They kept throwing blankets over me. “I’m not cold!” I just can’t stop shaking! I’m fine!” Once I stopped shaking so much I had about an hour of slight relief.
My midwife came in finally, after delivering about 6 babies that day! She checked on me and then went to the lounge but assured me she was going to be here, with us, until he was born. I was relieved. We got to have her! I thought she’d be going home after the day she had, but she was here for us!
We sent our family and friends home since they had been there all day with nothing happening. We told them to get a few hours of sleep and come back, and we’d try to do the same thing. I wasn’t sleeping. I was still so excited. I had been there a long time already, with no baby yet. But I was in labor, I had the epidural. They weren’t sending me home. I was going to leave with my son. I was ecstatic. There was no sleeping. I have sleeping issues to begin with (that I now laugh about because I see some of it in my son). One of them is if there is anything exciting going on, no matter how tired I am, I’m up! I’m not missing anything! I laid there with the lights off for a while, just trying to relax. Hoping that would help me. I had been so tense the whole time. I now know that’s why I wasn’t progressing. I wasn’t relaxed at all. I was excited, tense, and uncomfortable.
About an hour later I felt “pushy”. I felt like I needed to poop badly! It was a lot of pressure and it HURT. I didn’t think it was supposed to hurt with the epidural. I thought I wouldn’t be able to fee anything…wrong. I told my nurse. She checked me. I was at a 9 and I had a lip. So wasn’t quite time to push yet. The Anesthesiologist came back in and put something in my IV to “help some more” I have no clue what it was. I remember she told me there was a difference between pain and pressure, and asked what I was feeling. Painful pressure, does that help? PAINFUL PRESSURE! I thought the epidural was supposed to make you numb, where you couldn’t feel this!
So after another round of shaking for an hour, my parents and my best friends came back. I had asked our best friend’s girlfriend (they are now married with a baby) at the time to be in the room with me. I have grown very close to her and I know how badly I want to witness a birth, I’d give her a chance! Plus she was 6 weeks pregnant! How perfect!? I was checked again, and given the green light! I was at 10cm, the lip was gone. All systems go! I started pushing, and pushing and pushing. 2 hours later I’m still pushing about 4 times per contraction. He finally started getting closer. I remember feeling so much relief when they removed the bottom of the bed, and got everything ready. I knew I had to be getting closer. They had me in the weirdest positions I’ve ever seen trying to get him out. I was confined to my back, but I did this weird frog leg thing, tug of war, etc. I also forgot to mention that since 6am the previous morning I had been hooked up to a blood pressure monitor that went off every 5 minutes. They wouldn’t take it off because I was on Pitocin and had to be monitored. That sucker hurt. Every 5 minutes. This includes every 5 minutes during contractions while PUSHING. Oh and when it would misfire (because the band was too large and it kept sliding down my arm, or my arm was bent trying to hold myself up while I was pushing) it would beep loudly and then re-fire. That was the only thing I cussed at the whole time. I hated that thing!
Riley Lee Butz was finally born at 5:39 am, almost 24 hours after getting to the hospital. We had worked it out with our midwife that my husband Andy was to help catch Riley and then put him on my chest. That didn’t happen. He was put on my chest, but that’s when it started to go wrong. He didn’t cry. He was making weird gurgling noises, but breathing. I couldn’t see him at all. My head was so far back in the bed that I could feel him on my chest, but all I could see was my hospital gown, and towels. I could feel him with my hands, but I hadn’t yet seen my son. Within seconds the NICU team was in our room. They hurried the cutting of the cord (which I wanted to wait until it stopped pulsating to cut) and whisked him away from me. We had said that if anything was to happen, my husband would stay with Riley. He was right by his side. They brought him over to the corner of our room and continued to try to get him to cry and clear his lungs. They put oxygen in front of him, and then took him to the NICU. My husband stayed by his side. Within minutes of delivering my son, I hadn’t seen him, and he was in the NICU. I was without my son, without my husband and I didn’t have any idea what was going on.
Only 2 at a time were allowed in the NICU. I delivered the placenta and then they started stitching me up. 3rd degree tear took about 45 minutes to stitch. When I was finally done (in horrible amounts of pain, but all I wanted was to see my son!) They asked me if I wanted to go to the NICU. At this point I had only seen him through a video. My Dad could see the horror on my face, went and took a little video of him to prove he was okay, and brought it back to show me. My husband had come back in once to tell me everything was ok and he broke down in tears. So overcome with emotion, joy, but at the same time completely terrified. Why was he in the NICU? Just because he didn’t cry? He was breathing just fine, they weren’t treating him for anything.
I was in NO shape to get out of that hospital bed. I was white as a ghost I was shaking, I was in pain, and I still couldn’t feel my legs. None of that mattered to me. I needed to see my son. A nurse told me that if I could stand up and get to the wheel chair that she’d bring me to see him. I would have walked on water if that’s what she asked me to do in order to see my son. I couldn’t’ stand. No way. But I was getting to that wheel chair. If I can’t do it on my own, they are going to make me stay here. No. No. No. NO! I don’t have any idea how I did it, but I got to that wheel chair. When I sat up I saw my reflection in the mirror on the wall. Holy hell, who is that lady? It honestly took me a minute to realize it was me. I had been so pumped full of fluid, Pitocin and IV. I had strained for so long. I had been in one position. That didn’t look like me. I was so swollen.
I finally made it over to see him, my precious baby. My husband was by his side, holding his hand, talking to him. Riley knew his voice. He was just lying there under a warming light looking at his Daddy. I touched him, held his hand, and told him how much I love him. How sorry I was for all of this. How this isn’t what I wanted to happen I wanted him in my arms, not here. I was so confused. Why is he here? Nobody was telling us that anything was wrong. My husband later told me they brought him over there just to monitor him. They did all the weighing and measuring over there. They had him on a monitor watching his lungs because he was “gasping” but he was at 100% the whole time according to the monitor. He had no idea if something was wrong or what it was. Why couldn’t they monitor him in our room like they promised they’d do from the beginning? Unless something was wrong! What’s wrong? We didn’t know, and I don’t think they knew a reason either! He was just taken from me to be watched… because he didn’t cry. They only allowed us a few minutes in the NICU and demanded we leave because shift change was coming soon. WHY? We were forced back out of there, and they tried to occupy me by giving me a meal. A meal of pudding, an old pear, jello, milk… it was 6am and there was no food around the hospital yet. I hadn’t eaten in nearly 24 hours. I just want to be with my son!
They then told me they were bringing me to the mother/baby unit because my room was ready. They would give my son a bath and then bring him to me after “a while”. I have yet to hold my son. He’s been in this world for over 2 hours and I have yet to hold him, breastfeed him, nothing. I was heartbroken. They kept pushing me further away from my baby without any reason. Then the make it or break it moment happened…
While they were wheeling me down the hall, away from the room I gave birth in, away from the NICU a nurse came out of the NICU. She said “Mrs. Butz, your son is hungry. Do you feel up to trying to breastfeed him?” I immediately felt hope! That was the best thing I had heard in hours. Then the nurse who was pushing my wheelchair barked back at her “No! This mom is in no shape to breastfeed. She just had a traumatic delivery and she’s not nearly recovered enough to breastfeed”. THIS I knew about. This I knew. I knew I wanted to breastfeed. No questions, hands down. Breastfeed my baby! I was just astounded at the nurse I was with. I looked at her and said “I want to feed my son”. She was horrible. She said to the other nurse “Do you not SEE how pale this woman is?” (like I couldn’t hear her). I said it again “I want to nurse my son, please bring me to my son”. The NICU nurse said they feel he needs his first meal. The other nurse said “Well I’m concerned about this mom. Somebody needs to be thinking about her”. It was then I took matters into my own hands. That was the turning point for me, where I took control. Maybe it was about 30 hours late on taking control, but I did it. I started to wheel myself away from that bad nurse. She yanked me back. I said “I really don’t care about what you are concerned about, I’m concerned about my son and I want to feed him. Either push me over there or leave me to do it myself”. The NICU nurse came and got me and wheeled me into the NICU. I was a sobbing mess. I finally had my son placed in my arms. I had no idea how to breastfeed. I had taken classes but now was when I learned on my own. I knew how the body worked, but not what it felt like. I tried to get him to latch and after a few tries he finally latched on. My husband and I were sobbing. He was okay! The first time I ever nursed my baby was in a NICU full of babies and nurses, right in the open! I didn’t give a care in the world who saw me; I just wanted to feed my son!
He finished nursing, and I immediately felt a little better. I had done something for him. I had contact with him. Then my husband asked me if he could hold him. I was astounded. Nobody had held him yet? I thought I was the last one! I was the last to see him; I guess I just assumed everybody held him. No. I felt amazing that I was still the first to hold my son, but mixed emotions that he had not been held yet, and had been alone, just lying there. Welcomed into the world under a machine with no direct human contact. Why?
Shortly after they asked us to leave again, and said they’d bring him to us. It was about 6 hours after he was born that he was released into our care in the hospital. Nothing wrong with him he had just been separated from us for no legitimate reason. I was so happy to have him in our care at the time that all I cared about was loving on my son.
Now I care. Oh I care so much. There are so many things that are going to be different next time. I’m not sure I’ll even birth in a hospital. I’m looking into birth centers that allow water births. If I do use the hospital it will be on my terms. I will not be induced unless I go past 42 weeks and it’s medically necessary enough that I agree. I don’t want an epidural. I don’t want to be confined to a bed. I want to labor on my own. I didn’t progress in the bed until I had the epidural because I couldn’t relax. I now know there are so many other ways to relax and deal with pain. I want my husband to help “catch”. I want skin to skin immediately. I want to delay cord clamping. I want to breastfeed after birth. I want him or her to stay in the room with us for everything unless something is seriously wrong. Not just that the baby didn’t full out scream/cry. I want to be left alone with my husband and our baby to enjoy a moment as a family after birth.
We are trying for baby #2 and I can’t wait for the birth of our next child. I am working on becoming a doula and birth photographer. I breastfed for a little over a year, and overcame SO many obstacles with that. I want to nurse even longer next time. I’m driven, passionate and capable. I can do this! There is a reason I’m so passionate about birth and breastfeeding. I hope sharing my story will help you understand. I hope it is inspiring and educational. I know I learned a lot from my experience.