My due date was January 22, 2017. We had planned so much more with this baby than we did our son. We prepared our son the best we could, I switched my doctor to midwives, we wrote a detailed birth plan, we hired a wonderful doula and toured a wing of the hospital called “The Birth Place” that is designated specifically for low risk pregnancies. They have a queen size bed, rocking chair, and private bathroom. Mother’s labor, deliver, and recover in the same room. They do not administer Pitocin there or epidurals. I had such a horrible experience with my first with both of those that I was immediately drawn to that aspect. Sign us up…
My due date came and went on a Sunday. I had an appointment the next day at 40 weeks and 1 day for an ultrasound to check my fluid level with a follow up appointment with my midwife. I got into the follow up appointment to start a non stress test around 1:30 pm. My midwife came in and had a look that I recognized as a not fun one. I had much too much fluid left for being that late in the game and she wanted me to head in to the hospital around 4 pm: not quite the plan. I immediately started crying as the words she spoke shot through my brain: break your water, cord before baby, placenta could tear from wall, possible Pitocin, minutes to get a c-section if cord comes first…
So in we went armed with prepped-for-a-week bag, specific pillow for comfort, new, fuzzy, purple socks a friend bought so I wouldn’t be stuck with hospital ones, and anxiety. So. Much. Anxiety.
Unfortunately, because they had to do some slight induction actions, I was not able to go to the Birth Place as I wanted: not quite the plan. The midwife there at the hospital started a little pill to get my cervix to start thinning and dilate a little more. She had planned on doing three rounds of it. After the first, I had some bloody show which I was waiting for so that gave me hope. Braxton hicks had picked up a little after the first dose. Then again with the second one. I had made enough progress after the second one that she did not do the third dose. She said my body was starting to do things a little on its own so she didn’t want to do the third and stress the baby, which was good.
So come the next morning, January 24, the midwife that sent me in from the office was on her shift. I met her in the hall walking laps as contractions were starting to pick up a little. I excitedly caught her up on what was happening: I was a solid 2 or 3 cm, contractions were coming on their own, I was walking laps to keep them going. I went back to my room about 930/1000 am. The midwife came in and broke my water which was way less scary than I expected. Let me tell you… it’s a very gross feeling having your water broken. I sat up in bed to make sure the water kept draining. She kept her fingers up near my cervix to make sure baby’s head was coming down first. She fell right into place as we were hoping. I sat in bed for about another hour. Contractions got just a little more intense so we decided to call in our doula. Our wonderful doula walked laps with us and brought me to some stairs so I could go up and down a few times. The goal was just to keep contractions going. We did this for just about most of the day.
We went back to my room about 330 pm. The midwife came in and said basically that we were running out of time: not quite the plan. She said she wanted to postpone Pitocin as long as she could but we were running out of options and I was not progressing fast enough. Because I had so much fluid, my uterus had been overstretched for so long that the contractions it was doing were not really doing anything. My uterus was tired: I feel ya sister. So the midwife said as a last ditch effort to try nipple stimulation for an hour. They brought in a pump and I was to pump until I felt a contraction, wait five minutes and if a contraction did not start on it’s own, then to pump for another five minutes until a contraction started, and keep the pattern going for an hour. We were looking for contractions to go on their own between 3-5 minutes and last a minute long. At first, they did not come unless I was pumping but then they started coming between 3 and 4 minutes, and only lasted about 45 seconds. The midwife came in after about 45 minutes and recommended going on Pitocin: not quite the plan. The saving grace was that they did not push Pitocin the way the hospital we had our first baby at did. They start off at 2, and then go up by just one unit in cases like mine. Since my body was showing obvious signs of trying desperately to do something on it’s own, it just needed a little push.
Pitocin definitely got contractions going more. At about 600, they bumped the Pitocin from 2 to 3 units. My doula put counter pressure on my back during contractions while my husband played specially requested songs on youtube through his phone for me.
At about 6:30 pm, the midwife came in to check me and I was 7 cm. Thank goodness. Only 3 cm to go.
I said “really? Seven centimeters already?”
She smiled and said, “ yeah, I told you your body just needed a little push from Pitocin.”
I was shocked because the contractions I was having did not feel like what I imagined 7 cm contractions would feel like. She recommended I get in the labor tub to sort of catch up with myself for a minute and relax before things got even more intense. So at about 6:45 pm I was in the tub. It felt amazing. My doula spread the scent of lavender and her and the midwife helped me breath through contractions in the water. Before I left my room for the tub, my midwife told me to let her know if I felt any pressure or need to push when I was in there. That most likely meant baby was coming down and I would have to get out and get back to my room as quickly as possible. So I had one contraction and was fine. I had another and felt the pressure.
I let her know and she said, “okay, let’s do another one and see if the feeling remains and if it does, we’ll get you out and back to the room.”
I felt it more with the third contraction in the water. I immediately stood up in the tub when it was done and said “yep, feeling is still there.”
So we headed back to my room. I had a contraction right as I got to my bed and said to my doula, “I can’t do this.”
She said, “you’re already doing it, it won’t be long now.” I knew as soon as she said it, from my research, that she was right. I got up on the bed and set the back straight up so I could lean over it during contractions which quickly became more serious. I asked for the music to be turned off and my doula rubbed a cold washcloth over my forehead which was one of the most amazing feelings at that moment.
The midwife checked me and said there was a little bit of cervix left to go but I was almost there. I knew from the experience of my son that it would not be long. The same thing happened with him and 10 minutes after my doctor said that to me, I was ready to push. The midwife was having me sit back on my knees with each contraction and really let gravity do its work. I became very quiet and internal during the contractions and had the sensation that I was having a bowel movement. In the next second I thought, that’s the baby coming down. I said to the midwife “my body is pushing on its own, she’s coming on her own.”
She said “okay, well try not to, because I don’t know what your cervix is doing yet.”
I thought to myself I don’t know how to stop it from happening, it just is. The midwife asked for me to turn at least on my side so she could check again to make sure I was good to push. The only problem with that was during my pregnancy I had horrible pelvic pain from everything loosening and stretching like it was supposed to. Adding the extra pressure of baby coming down and moving in any other way other than upright was excruciating. I managed to slither, for lack of a better word, onto my side. She checked me and I was ready to go.
I had a sudden rush of fear. I went to push with the next contraction and I felt just the beginning of the ring of fire. That was the only time I let out a scream. I instantly thought, “oh no, I don’t want to do this anymore, no way.” But I knew, it would be over soon and the head was the hardest part. I had to 5-second pep talk myself and just go for it. That’s what I did. Let me tell you one more time, that ring of fire is nothing to mess around with. But it was the most amazing feeling to be able to feel her head coming. I reached down and felt her as she was crowning. I will never forget how slimy and wonderful her head felt to me and how I’m 90% sure I said the actual word “ick” as I wiped the slime off on my thigh. Her head was almost out, probably to her nose, when I stopped the push I was doing and I thought, “nope, I don’t want to sit here in this much pain with her head just sitting there, just a little more of her head to go.” I gave half of another push and I felt her head come the rest of the way.
One of the best parts was looking down at her and watching her turn herself like they are supposed to. I saw her face and she was already screaming. I was thinking “okay, just her body now, one more push and you’re done,” when the midwife said “do you want to pull her the rest of the way? Grab under her arms.”
I didn’t even respond. I instinctively reached down while I was pushing, scooped her under her arms and pulled her up onto my chest. She slid right out, I laughed and said, “I am woman, hear me roar!”
The things you say in a baby induced oxytocin high.
We did delayed cord clamping, the midwife let me feel her cord pulse. The placenta was delivered and she brought it over to me to explain all the parts of it which was amazing to me. My mom was even looking at me in awe. My husband cut the cord and she was weighed and measured. Adeline Rebecca was 7 pounds 9.5 ounces and 21 inches long. I was able to nurse her immediately and she was a champion from the beginning. The nice thing is that even though I was not able to deliver in the Birth Place, I was able to recover there. They wheeled me and baby to the new room with a queen size bed, rocking chair, and private bathroom. My husband and I curled up in the bed with Adeline so he could do some skin to skin contact with her. She was awake, alert, and making eye contact with us as if she was as amazed by us as we were by her: 100% the plan.
Birth experience and photographs submitted by Kathryn Garceau.