Good experience or bad, when you get to hold your baby for the first time…..it all becomes worth it! But I know from friends that every labor and delivery experience is different….some are easy, some are hard… some you can forget, others you must grieve.
We were blessed. We had a wonderful birth and a pretty easy recovery as well.
I was an amazing experience…ending with the photo you see here of us holding our baby for the first time. She had her eyes open wide and was looking at us for the first time. What an awesome experience. We were overjoyed!
I also have to tell you that we had the best doctor, doula, hospital, nurses…and FITbaby was a little champ! Never worried about her heart rate dropping, moved into position, and came right out!
Now, let’s back up…..here’s our story.
36 week appointment on 6/1/11
“Hard” 1 cm dilated, baby low but not yet engaged
37 week appointment on 6/7/11
“Soft” 1.5 cm dilated, 25% effaced, -3 station
38 week appointment on 6/13/11
“Good” 2 cm dilated, same.
39 week appointment on 6/20/11
“Good” 3 cm dilated, -2 station, 65% effaced, engaged, soft, dropped. Estimated weight was 8 pounds. Dr “stirred up the prostaglandins” to try to get something to happen!
40 week appointment on Monday, 6/27/11 (Our due date!)
Ultrasound! “Good” 3 cm dilated still, 75% effaced, engaged, soft. Dr “stirred up prostaglandins” again! Amniotic fluids & heartbeat good! Estimated at 8 lb, 10 oz.
We had a huge surprise that changed everything at this appointment. We found out that my beloved doctor, who NEVER goes out of town, was going out of town!!! *GASP* It was a long holiday weekend coming up and she would be gone. We were far enough along that it was pretty certain we would go into labor over the weekend. So, we had a decision to make! Do we risk going into labor with another doctor? Or, do we induce and hope that I can still have a natural delivery?
So many thoughts and worries crossed my mind. I was really nervous about this decision. [Keep in mind that during pregnancy I delegated all decision making to my husband because I was so incapable.] I was freaked out that my decision to induce was taking matters into my own hands and forcing something. What if I ended up with a c-section with MY doctor rather than a natural birth with another doctor because I decided I knew better! Ah!
We called our doula who agreed with the decision to induce because we were so far advanced and with her in agreement we scheduled the induction for Thursday morning at 5am with a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday to meet with the nurse practitioner to check and see if there were any changes. I may have decided not to induce if there was no change between Monday and Wednesday. Our doula thought with a little Pitocin (induction) my body would take over and I could still have a natural delivery.
During this appointment, my doctor “stirred up the prostaglandins” a second time to try to get something to happen on it’s on. Later Monday night, my contractions became regular at 15 min apart but still not painful. Funny enough, it was after I got all of my work done (for my part time job) and decided I was “done” enough to have a baby now. Mind/body connection, maybe?
Tuesday – 6/28/11
Charlie woke up too sick to go to his last day of work…no kidding. He never misses work. He’s never sick. And, his last day? After working there for 5 years. He left and had to turn around to come back. He was SICK. I mean, SICK. He was in bed (or the bathroom) ALL DAY. At that point, I was really glad we had a doula because I didn’t think he’d make it to the hospital and I didn’t even think he could drive me!
That evening, I called the doula and during our call my contractions were 10 minutes apart. But, they still weren’t painful. Our doula thought we would go into labor that night. Nope. Nothing. Just regular braxton hicks contractions.
Wednesday – 6/29/11
Charlie felt a little better but still not well yet. Our doula met us at our appointment, thinking we’d need to be admitted! The nurse practitioner checked me and said I was at 4cm and still around 75-80% effaced. She offered to let us check into the hospital and have the baby, but knowing we wanted to have her “naturally” she let us go home. I talked to my doctor on the phone in the room and she told us to come back later or wait until our induction appointment in the morning. We had the last hospital bed the next morning and decided we’d go in and get checked and see if we’d progressed and still may go home. I still had not officially decided that induction was the right decision to make.
Thursday – 6/30/11
We arrived and I hadn’t decided if I’d stay or not. Dr. Tynes checked me and said I was 3cm!! What?! I was at 4cm the day before! :-O Was this a sign? I wasn’t sure. I was surprised and disappointed. No progress! I wished so badly that my doctor would stay in town and we could go home, relax and let it happen on it’s own. But, that wasn’t the case.
We started pitocin at 2 [I don't know the measurement used] and increased every 20 min. We hoped my body would take over and we could turn off the pit, but that never happened.
I started feeling “PAIN” when the pit reached 8. Asked Charlie to call the doula to join us at the hospital. I grossly underestimated the discomfort associated with being “hooked up” to machines. 1. Hep Lock 2. HRM for me on my finger 3. Blood pressure cuff 4. Contraction belt 5. HRM belt for baby. Through all my reading, I brushed off the issue of having all those monitors. I didn’t think it was a big deal. It was a big deal!!!
I was only comfortable in the hands/knees position during my labor, but the baby was soo low we couldn’t get her HR in that position. My sweet doula was pushing on my uterus to get her HR between contractions. It was awful. There was no relief! Even between contractions [harder, stronger, faster induced contractions] I couldn’t get relief! Then, when it was time to go to the bathroom, it took for.e.ver. to get there due to all the machines. I was having a contraction [or two] while they were unhooking the machines. Then, another on the way to the bathroom. Then one in the bathroom. Then one when I was done in the bathroom. You get the point. Ah! And, again, the only comfortable position was on my hands and knees due to her [soon to find out HUGE] head being so low.
The nurse finally told me I couldn’t stay there in that position. Um..what?! I couldn’t find another position that was bearable. I had to sit in the bed to get checked and while I was in the bed a contractions were miserable. That was the worst position for me. Seated on the bed. Not good. Once the back labor kicked into high gear, the nurse came back to turn up the pitocin to get my contractions even closer together. At that point, I was doing my “labor song” moaning and felt like I was being loud and annoying. [Come to find out my hubby, doula, nurse, doctors all told me that I was quiet and handling it like a champ! They didn't know why I asked for paint relief!! I know exactly why! ] That’s when I told Charlie, the nurse and our doula that if they checked me this next time and I had not progressed, I wanted a low dose epidural. I think we were at 4 or 5 cm at that point. They all agreed.
I could have kept it up for another hour, but the fear of all day and night was too much. I wasn’t able to stay in my comfy position. The pit was being turned up. I couldn’t pee when needed. I dreaded them checking me. The back labor…not fun. I tapped out. I got a low dose epidural at 7cm and by the time they were done with the epidural…it was time to push!!! It worked out beautifully. The low dose epidural took the edge off but I could still feel to push. [It didn't kick in hard core until after she was born and that's when my legs started to get numb.] I was able to push my beautiful 9 pound 5 ounce beauty out during three contractions. I pushed during the contractions and she was born in under 15 minutes from when the doctor came in. Pushing was awesome. I kept asking the doctor if I had to stop pushing during that contraction…I wanted to keep pushing. I kept saying, “I can keep going!”
TMI – The nurses and doctors were all amazed and said I would have been in agony had I not had the epidural. Who knows if they were right, but….my bag of waters was literally laying on the table. She was SO low and my bag of waters [in tact] was falling out! Yikes!
The doctor was amazed at how fast I progressed and told me to be careful on the next one, that it’d probably be quick. I am still hoping that I can do the next one natural with no pitocin. I hope to not induce next time. I have friends who have gone through labor both ways and have told me that pit makes it much worse but I didn’t experience any pain until pitocin. So, who knows! Maybe the epidural calmed me enough to progress to push. Maybe my body did that on its own and it wasn’t necessary. I don’t know.
I do know that pushing was an amazing experience. [May have been better or may have been worse had I not had the epidural when I did.] We were laughing and joking in between. I pushed on my side and it was comfortable. [Great position for your tailbone to move out of the way!] I was able to feel my uterus and push the baby out without tearing [TMI - 2 internal stitches and no external tearing or episiotomy for 9lb 5oz baby!] The doctors and nurses were impressed with my ability to push and how easily she came out!
I’ve heard different things. The doctor said I was “born to birth babies.” My lactation consultant thinks it was definitely how fit and strong I am. Who knows. I’m sure it helped in many ways to be strong but I know that there are plenty of other factors that play in. My doctor is amazing! Love her. The hospital was great. My doula…words cannot express. I wouldn’t suggest birth without a doula.
All in all…it was perfect. It was a wonderful experience. We felt great after. There was no trauma and we are blessed for that. We tried without drugs but had to induce so it wasn’t a “natural” experience. Because we waited so long to get the epidural, it was minimal and I was able to have a great experience pushing. I could feel and it was awesome. It took the edge off enough to enjoy myself and the experience.
My goals with natural childbirth were…
- to feel what labor feels like. feel braxton hicks vs. real contractions.
- to avoid the escalation of interventions – avoid forceps, suction, meds (w/ side effects to myself and baby), c-section, tearing and episiotomy
My goals were met but not exactly the way I planned and that’s okay!!
- Hire a doula. Hire a doula. Hire a doula.
- Pick the best doctor and hospital you can that is natural friendly & is willing to do what YOU want.
- Prepare mentally by reading birth stories in Ina May’s Childbirth book.
- Have a positive attitude and believe in yourself, your preparations, and that women have done this for thousands of years!!
- If you need/want meds, ask for lower doses. It’s not all or nothing! Ask! [I even cut my pain meds in half during recovery!]
- Hold off on epideral as long as you can! I was able to feel to push and I truly believe that’s why I had such a great experience! They can “turn off” the epidural but it takes hours to wear off. So, if you progress quickly, you will still be numb. I believe that feeling to push helped me to not tear or break my tailbone, etc. I could be wrong. Just what I think!