On November 7th, I heaved myself out of bed at 6:45am. Today, I was 5 days past my expected due date. I was feeling big and a little clumsy, to say the least. I woke Elana, my 7-year old, and got her off to school, then headed back to bed. I had been off work for about a week now, and had been allowing myself a little extra sleep every morning. I woke up a couple hours later and snuggled with my fiancee. After he got up, I realized I hadn't felt the baby move yet today, which was odd. I stimulated my nipples at 9, and again at 10; still no movement. Around 10:45, I was running to the bathroom with a broken water!
I excitedly called Diana, my midwife. Brian and I had been planning a home birth. Diana would be driving from two hours away to help us meet our baby safely at home. After talking to Diana and sending a few photos, it became clear that a home birth would not be an option anymore. My water appeared brown: it was full of meconium. Diana, who later said she had never seen so much meconium present with the waters, recommended going in to the hospital right away to get a triage on baby's heartrate, etc. I called my mom to have her meet Elana after school, and then gathered my things and headed out. My fiancee got us to the hospital in record time – I still wonder how we avoided a police escort!
I was admitted right away – Diana had called ahead with my medical records, and the staff had been expecting us. I hopped into bed and got hooked up to an external monitor. Thankfully, baby's heart rate was perfect. I began to have mild cramping and then some contractions, and he continued to respond marvelously! I had been very calm the whole morning, and now felt validated. Baby was OK! I had no concern about laboring on my own, naturally.
The OB on call disagreed, of course. He pushed heavily for induction, among other things. The most memorable was the ask for a positioning ultrasound. The doctors tried to explain that some positions were impossible to birth naturally. I showed the resident the heartrate monitor, still strapped on and resting below my belly button, and asked him why he thought the baby was transverse. This surprised him! He said they wanted to see how big my baby was, and how much fluid was around him. I declined both of those tests, knowing they tended to be inaccurate, and believing they were requested those figures to build false evidence to support chemical induction. I was also told that they wouldn't “let me” walk around or use the tub for fear of a prolapsed cord. Of course, they couldn't disallow those things using any real evidence: my baby wasn't under any distress. After all the conversations, I allowed a cervical check and a (positioning only) ultrasound, just to be agreeable, around 1pm. I skipped the induction of labor, heplock, continuous fetal monitoring, and asked that they did not tell me how dilated I was.
Right about this point, I was feeling very thankful for all my research and reading, and for my God-given ahem assertiveness. I was totally confident, and feeling very in my power.
My labor seemed very touch and go. I walked the stairs and halls, bounced on a birthing ball, and used nipple stimulation to try and get things moving, but even into the late evening, I could talk through my contractions, which were anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes apart. Using Clary Sage oil helped speed contractions, but only temporarily. At every shift change and introduction to another resident, I was encouraged to induce. One doctor said that because my contractions were not regular, he couldn't be sure I was actually in labor, so we should start pitocin. I continued to politely decline induction, additional cervical checks, etc. etc., knowing my baby and I were fine.
Around midnight, Brian and I both tried to get some rest. My contractions woke me every 6 minutes or so, and I eventually needed to stand and rock to manage them. I kept thinking “open” and verbally encouraging my son to come down. I noticed that when I started a contraction with openness, I did much better. It took serious mental work to open up during a contraction. At 4 am, I woke Brian to help me. He applied counter pressure on my low back that provided amazing relief! In between contractions, I paced in our room, and he drank cup after cup of coffee!
I quickly found that sitting on the birthing stool during contractions made them acutely more intense – so that's what I did. That was a hard mental decision, but I definitely didn't want to prolong this labor. I felt like I'd been placed on the clock. I felt like, to have the birth I wanted, without continued threat of induction or cesarean, I needed things to get heavy!
At 6:15 am, I called the nurse to fill the tub. Contractions were starting to come close together, and Brian's counter-pressure wasn't enough. Even though I knew I wouldn't be allowed to deliver my baby in the tub because of hospital policy, I hoped it would provide me with some rest in between surges.
I was in the water by 6:30 and immediately questioned everything I had ever read about water birth! Wasn't this supposed to give great pain relief? Why was this suddenly so intense, and where did this nausea come from?? The answer to those questions, of course, is that I had suddenly leaped into transition labor. Over the next hour, I somehow dozed off in between three massive contractions. Brian, not knowing what else to do, stayed by me, watching, and offering water after each surge. My low moans and deep breathing turned into yells, and during each contraction, my body started pushing.
On that third contraction, around 7:15 am, I yelled for Brian get the nurse: baby was coming, and I couldn't stop him! This part was a little scary for me. I felt like I had no control over what was happening. I couldn't stop my son from coming out, and the pain was so intense. I didn't know how to help him; how to relax, and just ease him out – I am not sure that was even possible at this point. I have no idea how the moms in the birth videos I've seen just breathe their babies into the world. I felt out of control.
Brian pushed the button on the bed, and then ran out of the room to hurry the nurses in (this visual is hilarious to me now). The room suddenly filled with people; it was shift change time, so I had double the hands in the room. Two nurses, two residents, and one OB, at least. I felt sure I couldn't stand up, couldn't step out of the tub, couldn't sit on the birth stool, couldn't push anymore. But, I did. My body did what God created it to do. I felt the ring of fire, and then sudden pain relief. I felt Jude's head, this sudden roundness between my legs, then felt the roundness leave and told the nurse that the head was born. Seconds later, his body followed. I'd wanted to catch my son, but everything was so quick and intense that I couldn't even let go of the birthing stool! The nurse handed my son to me, and cut his cord (it was very short, and I would not have been able to sit up without it being cut or delivering the placenta). Jude quietly looked at me with giant, open eyes! I hugged him close, rubbed his back, and he began to cry.
The next half an hour or so was a blur of questions, exams, and business – something I wouldn't have had outside of a hospital. I don't remember how many times I asked “Can this wait?”. There were so many cooks in my kitchen, it was a bit overwhelming. One resident asked if he could help me deliver the placenta. One worked with the OB to put two stitches in my perinium; a nurse helped them get me scootched down in bed. Another nurse wanted to take my son and make sure his lungs didn't need suctioned. I held him close, and just marveled at him for a few minutes before I let them do their assessments. He is beautiful!
Jude River Moran arrived on November 8th, 2016 at 7:25am. He weighed 7 pounds, 14oz and measured 19.5 inches long. He looks exactly like his older sister when she was a baby! He has soft brown hair and is alert and curious. He loves being skin to skin with his mother, and sucks on his fingers when he is not being nursed. I'm so very in love.
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