Little Man is only 2 years old now, so I figured it was finally time to share about the birth experience we had with him. 😉
Despite a family history of preterm labor and other complications, I had a fairly uneventful and easy pregnancy up until I was about 37 weeks along, at which point my blood pressure started getting higher…and higher…and higher. I also gained ALL of my pregnancy weight in the last couple of weeks (most likely due to extra water weight and the high blood pressure.), including the 5-7lbs I had lost in the first few weeks due to nausea and decreased appetite.
My husband and I took a set of prenatal classes called Birth Boot Camp (which I HIGHLY recommend if you’re even thinking about having an unmedicated birth.) The classes were once a week for 10 weeks, and cover everything from prenancy nutrition to labor positions, and relaxation techniques to breastfeeding, and newborn care. You really get a ton of incredibly helpful information in these classes, and my husband enjoyed them, too! Bonus!
I saw a group of midwives, six of them to be exact, throughout my pregnancy who operated in an office with two other OB/GYNs and did all of their deliveries at a local, well-known and respected Baby Friendly Hospital. I wasn’t considered “high risk” and didn’t develop any issues that my midwives couldn’t handle so I never saw the doctors. Between the Birth Boot Camp and my midwives, I quickly decided that I wanted to have the most natural birth possible and I wrote out a detailed birth plan expressing my wishes. (Yes, a big joke to all of us Labor and Delivery nurses because birth NEVER goes as planned…and I can say that now that I AM one and have been on both sides of the process haha) 🙂
But once my blood pressure got to about 170s/110s and higher, my midwives started discussing induction with me. In order to make sure I stayed healthy and my baby stayed healthy, they needed me to deliver him. Delivery is the ONLY cure for preeclampsia, a condition that can lead to seizures and other maternal and fetal complications if left untreated. So, after much protest from myself, I finally agreed to be induced at a little over 39 weeks.
I was extremely nervous about the induction because I had heard so many stories of inductions going wrong and ending up in c-sections, not to mention the fact that Pitocin tends to make contractions much stronger and harder to tolerate if you don’t want any pain medications during labor, but I figured a c-section with a healthy baby was better than a natural birth and unhealthy baby, (or worse) if my blood pressure continued to stay out of control.
When I got to the hospital at 7am on Sunday, January 20th, the Labor and Delivery nurses got me checked in and started an IV, but since there was some confusion with the orders they had received, my midwife (Tania) came to check on me and finally got everything started around 9:30am or so. She put a balloon in my cervix to help it dilate (as opposed to using Cervadil, which is a cervical ripening agent) and they started Pitocin through my IV at the lowest dose possible, increasing the dose at slow, timed intervals. She had checked my cervix when I got there and I was only 2cm dilated so we knew we had a long way to go. The Pitocin kicked in pretty quickly (about 30 minutes later) and I started having contractions. They weren’t too bad at first… Not ignorable, but they weren’t unbearable either. Since I was on the Pitocin I had to be on monitors so I was confined to a pretty small area in the room. I had about 4 feet of cord length to walk around, get in bed, or sit on a chair/birthing ball. At first I tried to take a nap because I hadn’t slept well the night before due to the anxiety and I knew it was going to be a long day, but I couldn’t sleep through the contractions so I just tried to keep myself occupied and change positions often. I had learned through Birth Boot Camp that changing positions every 15-30 minutes in labor can help get the baby in the correct position for delivery and make things move a little bit more quickly.
They continued to increase the Pitocin every so often, but around 4:30 or 5pm not much had changed and when Tania came to check on me, she felt around on my belly and decided that Little Man was in the Occiput Posterior position (OP or “sunny side up”) so we decided to call our doula (Jenni) at that time to see if she could help us get into some positions that would turn him around. When she got there we tried several different things over the next couple hours, but we couldn’t get him to turn. I was getting bored and knew that I was just tiring myself out so the next time Tania came in around 8pm I asked her if I could get off the monitors long enough to walk the halls for a few minutes just for a change of scenery. She allowed me to go walk for a little bit, and not 15 minutes into walking my water broke. I SO wish I would have asked to go walking sooner!
After that I IMMEDIATELY went into active labor and the contractions got a ton stronger, closer together, and into a more regular pattern. Tania checked me less than an hour later and I was already 6cm dilated. She took the balloon out then, too, which had basically fallen out on its own. From there things started moving much more quickly. They gradually turned the Pitocin down until it finally was turned completely off and my body took over. I labored in the room for awhile in different positions until I thought I couldn’t take it anymore and asked to move to the birthing tub around 11pm. The water was very helpful, and I stayed there for a couple of hours. Around 1am I started getting really discouraged, but my wonderful husband and Jenni kept talking me through the contractions and Tania checked me again saying I was 9cm… So close! Very soon after that I felt the urge to push. I tried pushing in the tub for a little while, but it was hard to get into a good position in the tub, and my pushes weren’t very effective so I was encouraged by everyone to move to the bed before I wore myself out with ineffective pushing. (At this point in time I was so exhausted that I was literally falling asleep in between contractions.) So I moved to the bed and pushed sitting up with Tania and Jenni helping hold my legs and my husband talking me through it…It seemed like forever to me, but my Little Man was finally born at 2:48am!
Because he was OP and I pushed for so long he had a little bruise on has head from the trauma. I tore just a little bit, and got a couple of stitches, but it wasn’t too bad. They put him on my chest for a little bit, and after a couple of minutes I tried breast feeding him, but he wasn’t interested. Hubby cut the cord after it stopped pulsing, and I held him for just a couple more minutes, but he wasn’t crying very well, was having trouble breathing, and was kind of cold so they took him to the warmer and suctioned him out to help him breathe better. They had to call the NICU to come look at him, but he eventually warmed up and started crying better so they brought him back to me for some skin to skin/kangaroo care. In the meantime, I wouldn’t stop bleeding so they had to give me some extra Pitocin to slow the bleeding and help my uterus contract. Eventually my medical team decided both of us were healthy enough for visitors so we let all of our family come back to see him (They ALL waited in the waiting room almost all day/night long… Crazy people!) They weighed him in at 6lbs 13 ounces and he was 19.5 inches long 🙂
Although I had to be induced, I was extremely proud of myself (and my amazingly supportive husband) for having a successful, unmedicated, natural birth. That kind of triumph is SO empowering. 🙂