Everyone always has a plan when it comes to their child’s birth. Where you want it to be, who you want there, if you want drugs, what position you want to be in and a million and one other small details.
I had the perfect plan. All natural. Alex and I learned all the relaxation techniques, took the classes, watched the videos. The whole thing. We were as prepared as you can be for something you can’t prepare for.
But then, your body has other plans.
At 41 weeks pregnant I was going to the doctors twice a week. My cervix was still closed and I had high proteins in my urine which is making my doctor nervous. My blood pressure and blood work are still great but we decided we had to start working towards getting my cervix open and dilating so I can have my natural birth and cut back on my risks of induction.
My doctor decides the best thing for us to do is a cervix ripening gel. It has very little side effects, can’t hurt the baby and will hopefully bring on more steady contractions. I’m nervous but at this point I would prefer this over pitocin. I should definitely mention that I love my doctor. She was totally on board the entire time with natural birth and was extremely encouraging towards making that happen. I never for a second judged her instincts because I knew she wanted just as much as I did for us to have a natural birth.
Monday, January 12th we go to the Hospital to do our first gel. We have our bags packed and we excitedly talk about the possibility of me going into labor. Alex is even wearing the “baby being born” outfit he’s picked out.
When you do the gels, you and baby have to be monitored for two hours afterwards to make sure everything is okay. We watched tv, chatted with the nurse and although my contractions were picking up, we headed home afterwards.
After a night of inconsistent contractions my doctor was hopeful about how my body was responding to the gel and scheduled me for another one. So on Tuesday we re-packed our Hospital bags and went in for round two. Get the gel, watch tv, go home.
My contractions really picked up after the second one and I ended up tracking them all night thinking I was possibly going into labor. I had a doctors appointment Wednesday afternoon and my contractions were getting stronger. At the appointment I learned that I dilated to a one, but I was still not in labor and my doctor wanted me to do yet another gel on Thursday.
That night, my mom and sister flew in from Texas. It seemed like perfect timing since we were so close to meeting baby boy! It was also really nice to have them there during all my contractions and worrying.
At this point we were tired and starting to get discouraged. I was also really nervous I was headed toward medical interventions far worse then the gels. We reluctantly went in on Thursday for my 3rd and final gel.
I had had pretty consistent contractions for a week now and was getting very little sleep. After the 3rd gel my contractions were at an all time high and staying pretty consistent but we were still sent home.
My mom and sister had ran out so when we got home Alex decided to work on dinner. I went to sit on the couch as he chopped garlic when I realized I had to pee RIGHT NOW. When actually, my water had broke. I managed to make it to the bathroom but when I stood up realized it was a strange color and ended up calling the hospital when they told me I needed to come back.
It turns out since I was past due baby boy was already able to go to the bathroom and that’s what was in my water. Because of this I had to stay and couldn’t go home. I was also only dilated to a one which made me super nervous because with my water being broken it changes how long you can labor for. As long as I didn’t show any signs of fever we were fine, but we decided to not do any cervix checks until we absolutely had to to lessen our chances of infections.
My contractions were extremely strong and painful after a couple of hours so I just paced around the room. Sitting or laying down was far too uncomfortable. I could sometimes get relief from bouncing on an exercise ball but as the night went on that also lost its appeal.
The nurse wanted me to try a bath around 11 pm to see if that would help. At this point my doctor stopped by to check on me. So while I was in the bath I had Alex, my nurse and my doctor all sitting in the bathroom with me. Which is a funny thought looking back on it. My doctor said I looked like I was doing great and it seemed like my contractions were moving closer together so she thought we would be having baby boy soon.
After that I got out of the tub and started my pacing again. We had the tv on for some distractions(it was ironically the friends episode where Anna Farris has her baby) as my contractions started getting stronger and more painful.
By three am, I was exhausted. I had pretty much been awake for four days having off and on contractions. At that point I just wanted to sit down and eat something but the pain was too unbearable when I did anything other than stand.
Feeling discouraged, I decided to have my cervix checked hoping I was at least past five centimeters. The nurse came in and gave me the worst new- 2 centimeters and the baby’s head was sideways so he was pushing more on my hip and not my cervix.
I had basically been having extremely painful contractions which weren’t even moving me towards labor. I hit my absolute lowest point here. I didn’t know what to do and the best option they were giving me was to lay on my side with this thing called a “peanut” placed between my legs to hopefully move the baby into the correct position. At this point I was terrified. I wanted to have my baby naturally so bad but it didn’t seem like I was going to be able to.
Alex and I spent the next hour or so really trying to figure out what to do. I knew I couldn’t lay on my side, I did a practice run and it didn’t go well. I knew if I kept going the way I had been a Cesarean was going to become more and more possible. After weighing our options with the nurse and waking my doctor up to ask her opinion, we decided to get the epidural and start pitocin. Everyone agreed that this was the best way for me to at least still have a vaginal delivery.
I felt really low. Like I had let myself down, let my baby down. I was absolutely terrified of an epidural and it didn’t help that I hated the guy that came in to place it. Looking back I may have just disliked him because of the giant needle he was shoving in my spine but who knows.
I can honestly say that was the worst part of labor. I had Alex and a nurse sitting in front of me while I leaned over a pillow. I just stared at Alex and tried not to think about the waiver I just signed that mentioned being paralyzed and death. Once the epidural was placed I laid on my side with the peanut while they started pitocin.
The epidural felt different than I was expecting it to. I could still feel my legs and even move them slightly. I tried getting some sleep after that.
The next few hours are kind of blurry. I mostly slept and would wake up occasionally for them to check my vitals and to switch sides. I was also shaking like crazy and was terrified to press the button that would give me more of the epidural. By the morning my contractions were really picking up but baby boys heart rate starting dropping when I had them. At first me just switching which side I was laying on helped but when that stopped working we decided to stop the pitocin.
Luckily, my body continued laboring on its own. They told me afterwards that’s pretty rare and I was really lucky. Even after stopping it, baby boys heart rate was still dropping with each contraction. I remember staring at the monitor next to me just hoping he was okay. Each time it dropped too low the nurse would rush in to turn me or try to get it back up. Alex, the nurse and I would just stare at the monitor together and all breathe a sigh of relief each time his heart rate came back up.
By one in the afternoon on Friday, the 16th, they decided to check and see where I was. I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing but my nurse wanted me to try and labor down instead. That basically means not pushing(even when you feel the need to) and just letting your body do the work. This was hard. Extremely hard. She wanted me to labor down for two hours and I remember just staring at the clock hoping they would go by quickly.
His heart rate was still dropping occasionally and my doctor really didn’t think I was going to be able to have a vaginal birth. Luckily my nurse was fighting for me and we were just keeping a really close eye on his heart rate. After about an hour I could feel him coming. I was starting to get scared he was going to start coming out without the nurse even in the room. He was handling me pushing really well and each time a contraction came I would push a little bit more.
After about an hour another nurse who came in and started setting up a table with all the things the doctor would need for birth. It was insane to see and think that I was so close to meeting Henry.
When the two hours were finally up she checked me again and baby boy had made his way down and she was okay with me starting to really push. I got all set up in the stir ups and grabbed Alex’s hand(which I was quickly told that although that was cute, I would be much better off holding my own legs and pulling with each push) and with my first big, real push she could see the head. She was definitely not prepared for birth to happen that quickly and had to hurry up and call the doctor to come over.
With each contractions I held my legs as the nurse counted to ten and I pushed as hard as I could. The pressure is seriously so intense and I have never felt anything like it. The only thing that got me through it was really focusing on my nurses counting and after she would get to five, pushing harder than I even thought possible. After about three pushes Alex told me he could see his head and I asked if he had hair, haha. The doctor was finally here and with the next push his head was out and we figured out why his heart rate was dropping. The cord was wrapped around his neck. Twice. The doctor had me hold off for a second so she could unwrap the cord. When I pushed again the nurse told me to look down and said he was coming. I remember seeing him come out and it’s honestly the craziest thing ever. With one more big push he was out!
He was immediately placed on my chest for skin to skin and covered in blankets. I remember his eyes were already open and he was looking right at me. He didn’t cry right away, but a lady came over to assess him and he was totally fine! Completely healthy and beautiful.
Alex cut the cord and we were in awe. We both couldn’t believe that he was here and I was able to have a vaginal delivery. After about an hour he was nursing, happy and content.
After the two hours they weighed him and did all their checks. 7 pounds 9 ounces of pure perfection. My mom and sister were then able to come in and meet Henry. Such a surreal moment!
My birth story isn’t anything like what I thought it would be. But, my son is here, he’s healthy and we beat all the odds. It may not have been exactly what I wanted but I’m so thankful for the amazing team of people I had around me. I honestly think if I had any other nurse I would had had to have a cesarean.
My doctor later told me I was her “success story of the year” which was pretty awesome to hear. False labor for almost a week. My water breaking with meconium. Hitting a low by having to get an epidural. Being terrified watching my baby’s heart rate drop. Finding out the cord was around his neck twice. Basically a long list of things I never expected to happen.
But they brought me Henry. My smiley, perfect, healthy little man. I would go through all of it again, a million times for him.