This is my fourth birth. My first and second were your typical hospital births with an epidural obtained at around 6-7 cm and my third was a homebirth. We thought about having a homebirth again, but the state of NC makes that difficult, so we chose a hospital birth and hired a doula. Warning: This birth story has some grossness to it (words like toilet and poop, for example).
I was due with Henry on June 18th and I had started having signs that labor would be soon the week before. On the 14th I was having contractions all day. Although they were far apart and sporadic, I was hoping they would turn into real labor. After Jason got home from work that afternoon we decided to go for a walk (pic) to see if that would help move things along. My contractions were around 6-7 minutes apart after dinner and I managed to get some sleep around 10p.
I woke up at 3am with harder contractions that were still manageable. I don’t fall back asleep easily, so I spent the next hour or so timing them and they began to get closer together and stronger until they were the expected 3-5 minutes apart. I called the doula asking her to come over. I was still managing fine, but wasn’t sure what the next hour would be like and that’s how long it takes for her to get to our house. My last labor was 25 hours, so neither Jason or I were in a real hurry. I stayed in bed while Jason got the car ready with the bags and the carseat and everything. I was doing well when all of a sudden I felt what can only be described as the baby falling down a ladder. It wasn’t smooth and it really hurt and felt more like a tearing than a “pop”, but the sudden gush told me, yes, my water had broken! This was at 5:15am.
I stood up quickly, felt a small gush and ran to the bathroom. It soaked my pj bottoms and just kept coming! lol I sat on the toilet and asked Jason to get me new pj bottoms. I put on a pad and started freaking. I have only ever had my water break spontaneously once before, with Nora, and I was at 6 cm and already in the hospital. Lorelei’s bag was broken by the midwife when I was pushing and Noah’s around 5 cm by the nurse. It’s quite exciting and scary to have it break at home! I called the doula and she talked me down a bit and met us at the house and then followed us to the hospital. That ride to the hospital was not fun. Lots of curves equals a ton of hard contractions!
We got there right before a shift change. I changed into a nightgown and sat on the birthing ball while the nurses did their thing and we gave them our Birth Preferences. They informed me that my least favorite doctor was on call and although we were low intervention he was high and would pressure us into what he called “appropriate care”. Not good news, but we didn’t have much choice being that we live in a small town. We got settled and then it was time for the nurse to check my cervix. I stood next to the bed, having contractions, really not wanting to get into the bed, but knowing it needed to be done. I pulled off my pj bottoms and out spilled about a gallon of water. Seriously, the weirdest feeling ever to have liquid spilling out of you that is not pee and having no control over it whatsoever.
At 7:40a or so, I got into the bed and was checked. 2 cm! That is it! Are you kidding me!? That was probably my worst fear come true. I wanted to be at 6 cm at the very least by the time we got to the hospital! Not to mention the fact that I was in a lot of pain for 2 cm. I thought, “give me the epidural”. I did not want to go through another 12 hours of these hard contractions at the hospital. I had discussed with Jason and Kelley (the doula) beforehand that I would request the epidural at some point, but that I didn’t really want it. Of course I wanted it, but with the epidural comes a lot of interventions that I definitely didn’t want coupled with the fact that the epidural makes me loopy and out of it and I really wanted to be present to meet my baby.
I was really upset that I wasn’t very far along, but Jason and Kelley did a great job at convincing me to try a few other things first. I figured out also that the bed makes you feel helpless. At least it made me feel that way, so once I was in that bed this whole labor thing felt hopeless and endless and I lost all stamina. I was happy to get out of it. I got out and walked a bit while the doctor came in to meet us and basically held his tongue. You could totally tell that he really wanted me to be monitored more often and have an iv, just in case and all that good stuff, but we were explicit in what we wanted and didn’t want (and respectful about it) and he went along with it without much fight. I say “much” because I had to be checked by him again, less than an hour later at 8:30a and have a quick ultrasound to make sure baby was head down and endure some condescension, but in the end that was only a few minutes and he left us alone after that. (A horrific few minutes back on the stupid bed, but worth the extra precaution for him to leave us alone.) When he checked me I was at 3 cm and 50% effaced, so I was moving right along.
I still wanted that epidural, but the next stop was the tub. I am not a waterbirth fan and I am not especially excited by the tub, but you gotta keep moving positions in labor and doing different things, so into the tub I went. It was blissfully warm and I was exhausted by this point since it was around 9a and I had been laboring since 3a on less than five hours of sleep. The awesome thing about the water was it allowed me to relax enough to doze between contractions. I stayed in there for about an hour and then became restless. I decided to get out and wanted to be checked because the pain was even more intense.
Our agreement (that I had made in my mind) was if after the tub I hadn’t progressed, then I was justified in getting the epidural. I was checked by the nurse and was at a 5-6 100% effaced at 10:15a. I had progressed, but omg it was so painful. I requested the epidural more assertively at this time. The nurse replied that usually in a 3rd or 4th labor you efface first and then rapidly dilate. She didn’t think it would be much longer. Rapid, in my mind, could still mean hours and I didn’t know if I could handle anymore. She also said that I was required to have an entire bag of iv fluids before getting the epidural which would take about an hour. I said start her up! The contractions were so intense and incredibly painful. She left to get the iv stuff ready and I realized I needed to go potty.
Like. Potty. To the bathroom we went. I kicked out Jason, but the doula sat with me and with every contraction, coming every minute it seemed like (every two in reality) it would force poop out of my body. What a new experience! /sarcasm The contractions were crazy intense, one right on top of the other. I was shaking with each one and they never fully felt like they went away.
I kept waiting to be done because I had to get the iv started in order to get the epidural, but as long as I was sitting on the toilet I couldn’t get the iv and as long as I was pooping with each contraction I couldn’t get off the toilet! Truthfully, I didn’t want the iv either, so perhaps my body was my advocate as well because after 40 minutes or so I was saying, “Are you sure I’m not complete?” “I feel like I’m ready to push.” No sooner had I said that, my body literally took over with the next contraction and I was pushing…on the toilet! The nurse and doula picked me up (yes, I quickly wiped) and brought me to the bed and I began to push with each contraction whether I liked it or not. This was at 11a.
I was not looking forward to this portion of labor. Pushing with no drugs is HARD. You must overcome the pain, push into the pain and go against everything your brain is telling you to do in order to get that baby out. Thank God the doula was right there, in my face (Jason next to her) telling me to push through the burning and cheering me on. I remembered pushing forever with Lorelei and I was determined to get this baby out as quickly as possible, so four pushes later he was out. Well, mostly out. His shoulder got stuck a little, so the very last stage of pushing him out was a little more dramatic and painful, but I did manage to keep pushing and out he came with no perineal tearing. Yay! So glad to be done, so glad to see my baby!
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end. We waited a bit for the cord to stop pulsing and cut it, pushed out the lovely placenta, but they quickly determined that I was bleeding “a little more than the doctor liked”. I refused pitocin as a routine injection, but I needed it now and another shot of something else, and a final shot of something else in my thighs all while two nurses are pushing firmly on my belly like their kneading bread dough to get my uterus to firm up and the doctor is literally swabbing my cervix repeatedly with dry gauze on what looks like a kabob stick to find a possible tear up there. Such fun! /more sarcasm. Again, the doula was right there holding my hand through this ordeal supporting me calmly and positively while Jason was with the baby and our pediatrician.
After that (which didn’t last as long as it seemed) I held Henry and we nursed a little bit and was given room to breathe and enjoy him while recovering. There was no rush. They eventually weighed and measured him and moved us to our room. I had done it. I had the natural birth in the hospital that I wanted. Maybe it wasn’t done as serenely and beautifully as I had pictured, but all the important things got done and our son was here and perfect. Our stay was pretty typical after that and we went home the next day. I had to stay in the hospital longer than I wanted to because of the excessive bleeding, but I am thankful for medical advancements and living in the 21st century!
June 15, 2013
7 lbs 14 oz
20 3/4 in