Once upon a time, there was this girl. And she had a plan. For her third and final childbirth, she would have another easy, natural, unmedicated, uncomplicated childbirth.
Life, aka the universe, aka destiny, aka the great cosmic unknown, aka the gods, aka God with a capital G, (choose whichever you like, as your beliefs dictate) however, had a lesson to teach. Itâ€™s one our girl is familiar with, and it goes something like this: no matter how you plan or how much control you think you have over a situation, that situation has a life of its own, and events will unfurl as they will, so prepare to let go and let it happen.
So, I didnâ€™t get the birth I wanted. But does it really matter, in the end? The outcome is good. There is a baby, and he is lying beside me, cranky because I stopped feeding him and put him down. He is beautiful.
Oh, but you want the details? OK. Read on.
For two weeks, I had prodromal labor. I would have contractions for hours on end daily that would gradually stall out. We ended up in the hospital twice with regular, timed contractions, only to be sent home because my body wasnâ€™t dilating. Prior to the third trip to the hospital, the contractions were stronger than ever, for a longer, more consistent time. So, off we went to the hospital Monday morning around 4:30am. The midwives decided to keep me, as I was 2-3 centimeters dilated. So, I was admitted at 5am. I labored on my feet or sitting, in Allenâ€™s arms, for most of that day. And when checked, was disappointed to hear that no dilation had happened in that time. I was failing to progress. I tried not to take this personally. Theories abounded, such as the fact that his head had never descended, that his presentation was posterior. That my body wasnâ€™t producing enough oxytocin to do the job of dilating. Although it wasnâ€™t in the plan, we acquiesced to receiving help and I was started on pitocin to get things moving.
Contractions got stronger, and still no dilation. I was having excruciatingly painful back labor. And yet no progress toward birth was happening. The babyâ€™s head was still out of reach. No effacement. All those things that can be measured showed no change. My body was in hard labor, but my labor wasnâ€™t moving toward birth.
Finally, it was decided that breaking the water would move things along.
To further complicate matters, it was observed that the babyâ€™s heartbeat became erratic whenever I had a strong contraction. For the sake of the baby, I was asked to labor horizontally. There was fear that the umbilical cord was prolapsed, so whenever the heartbeat dropped too low, I was turned to the other side.
Many hours of torture ensued. Fourteen hours after being admitted to Labor & Delivery, and feeling near the end of my pain tolerance, I asked for help. I hesitatingly submitted to the epidural, even though I knew it was unlikely to provide much relief, having tried this before during the birth of my first child. But I did get relief. Three hours of feeling some numbing on the right side was … recharging enough to make a difference. The left side of my body never got numb, but the edge was taken off. And then the pain returned. Doubly painful. And then the midwives talked to us about our options.
As long as the babyâ€™s heartbeat continued to be stable, I could continue to move toward having a vaginal delivery. But I had to remain horizontal. Thanks to the pitocin administered earlier, I was now 5 cm dilated. Half-way there. When there was no change hours later, we had to make a decision. The midwife had a plan. She suggested a gradual increase in pitocin to get my cervix dilated so that birth could happen, as it was clear that my body wasnâ€™t going to progress on its own. But so gradual that it wouldnâ€™t affect the babyâ€™s heartbeat. If it started to, it would be discontinued, and weâ€™d have to consider a cesarean birth. We agree.
The pitocin is increased gradually. The pain relief is gone. Hours pass. The back labor in horizontal position is having its effect, breaking down my willpower. Another pow-wow with the midwife, and one tired woman asks for professional advice as to what to do. The midwife suggests a new epidural, and (with close observation of babyâ€™s heartbeat) increasing the pitocin to, as quickly as possible, get the cervix dilated. If this doesnâ€™t work, that other option will have to be considered. Itâ€™s now been 18 hours since admittance. The second epidural is administered. A little pain relief comes soon after. Which felt like blessed respite, despite it being only minimal. But the clock is ticking, so the pitocin is increased dramatically.
The babyâ€™s heartbeat is strong, to our great relief. Three more hours pass, and I drop off for little one-minute naps here and there between contractions, awaking fully to pain on my left side, which is still not numb.Â Then, the last of the pain relief dissipates. I endure hard labor contractions for about two more hours, fighting the desire to push. The midwife checks my progress and says â€œ30 more minutes.â€ I breathe through the most excruciating pain of my life. Another hour passes. And finally, there is no more holding back. The midwife arrives, and the final check results in the best news ever. I am finally dilated and effaced enough for birth, although the baby remains out of full engagement.
The midwife sounds doubtful that I can push the baby out, since so much pain medication was pumped into me. She thinks I am numb and unable to push. â€œDo you remember how to push, how you pushed out your girls?â€ she asks. I donâ€™t answer. I just push. I try to communicate that there is no pain relief, that I feel everything. But Iâ€™m also a little out of it with pain and resting between contractions. Her next question, I can hear the doubt in her voice. â€œDo you feel like youâ€™re making progress?â€ I donâ€™t need to answer this question. I just need to push out my child. I do so in less than 5 minutes, with three Â contractions and some heroic pushes using every bit of energy and willpower I have left, to the cheers of my amazed and amazing husband, who hasnâ€™t left my side for the entire 24 hours.
He is born at 5:48 am on his estimated due dateâ€”October 20, with a full head of hair.Â 8lb, 9oz, 22 inches long. Perfect.
I am up and walking 30 minutes later, and we are transferred to recovery. I shower and get dressed, and our first visitors arrive a few hours later to meet our son.
For more photos, go here.