I was SO positive that I would deliver on my actual due date. So when April 25 came and went I was super disappointed that there was still no baby. Once I hit 40 weeks, my patience was running thin. I had a huge tight belly that felt like it was STUFFED to the max with baby. I was so over being pregnant. I wanted to get the show on the road😀
Taking a step back really quick.., after my 20 week anatomy scan my OB informed me we had what was called a marginal cord. This basically means that the umbilical cord attached off to the side of the placenta and not in the center. Since the center is the most nutrient rich area of the placenta this could potentially face us with some growth issues with the baby. She assured me that since I was healthy and low risk that this probably would not be the case, but we would monitor his growth more closely for the rest of the pregnancy just in case. We then got ultra sounds and measured growth once a month. The baby was always right on target around 50th percentile and was doing great. Once I hit 37 weeks I didn’t need to measure growth anymore but we still needed to monitor heart rate and fluid to make sure there weren’t any issues there and if there was that could signal that the placenta wasn’t doing its job efficiently anymore and we would have to decide if we needed to induce to get him out and get nutrients from my breastmilk rather than the placenta. I did fetal monitoring 1-2 times a week from there on out and baby looked great. Until my final visit at 40 weeks and 4 days…
40 weeks and 4 days I went to do fetal monitoring at my doctor's (OB) office. The baby’s heart rate was always great at these visits so I didn’t expect anything different. My OB came in after being monitored for 20 minutes and said “Did you hear it? I thought I heard a tiny drop in the heart rate from the other room… it was really short only 10 seconds.” I didn’t hear it. She looked at the data and sure enough she said his heart dipped to 90 something for just a few seconds then came back up. She told me “it’s probably nothing but I want you to pop over to Hoag (our hospital) and do another fetal monitoring session for 2 full hours. I just wanted to make sure this isn’t a pattern happening.” So my first thought is “Fuck- they are going to have to induce if this is a pattern.” Since I had been planning for a natural birth… induction was not on the birth plan. Before I left my OB”s office she did cervical check on me (my first one). I was 1.5 CM and 50% effaced.
So I went to Hoag. We monitored the baby again for a little over an hour. I was pretty upset. I was worried about the baby, my birth plan, the fact that I did not want to be induced. It was just really overwhelming. About an hour in to the monitoring they came in and said that they had another drop in his heart rate… this time for 8 minutes. They said baby is totally fine and healthy and not in danger, but they couldn’t let me go home in case his HR dropped and then couldn’t recover on his own. I was pretty upset at this point. One b/c I was worried about the baby and two because I didn’t want to have any medical interventions.
LABORING NATURALLY WITH NO PAIN MEDICATION:
They sent me down the hall to L&D and put us in a room that would end up being the destination of a very intense 24 hours to come. My OB of course got the update from the fetal monitoring and came over to the hospital to see me. I was having pressure waves at this point… but I usually did just about every night. This was happening in the morning this time, but I didn’t really think anything of it. I got hooked up to the HR and contraction machine right before my doctor arrived. She came in and said “Nancy are you feeling your contractions? Look at the monitor… you are already in labor!” I didn’t notice this- but I looked at the screen and I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes. They just weren’t intense. She explained that just checking my cervix at her office must have gotten my body in gear and labor had started on it’s own. My OB said she was staying on call for me and she expected to deliver our baby by midnight (it was about 1030AM at this time). To continue to progress things she also stripped my membranes at this point, gave me the blessing to drink castor oil (natural induction method) and scheduled to have the doctor working come in and break my water at 5PM if it didn’t break on it’s own. I started to feel like, ‘OK maybe I can still have a natural birth, my body and baby seem to be getting on board and things are progressing’ MY OB checked me around her visit at 11AM and I was now 3 CM and 80% effaced. NATURAL PROGRESS! YES!!
After my OB stripped my membranes, my pressure waves started to get more intense. Still 2-3 minutes a part. I drank the castor oil (which by the way is fu%&ing gnarly) chased it with some rootbeer and called my doula. At 5PM the doctor on call came in, checked me I was 3.5CM and 80% and then broke my water. Oh my so much water. After my water was broke shit got intense. Pressure waves were now every 1.5-2.5 minutes and stayed that way for about 13 hours.
I labored on the floor in this position (above) for a lot of the time. I also labored on the toliet, which was by far the most intense discomfort that I had. Every 3 hours or so (I’m guessing-I truly lost track of time, I couldn’t tell if 10 minutes had passed or an hour during all this) they would come in and check me. They kept saying “ok now you're 4 CM, now you're 4.5, you’re still 4.5” I was like “WTF! I have been busting my ass for 3 hours and I’m still 4.5CM?!” I don’t even think I could talk so who knows if that actually came out of my mouth but that’s what I was thinking. My doula (who is amazing) kept telling me I was progressing at a normal rate and I just had to keep going. So I did.
I labored naturally with no pain medication for 20 hours total with contractions coming just about every 2 minutes. It was truly intense but empowering. My husband was such a trooper and so awesome the whole time. I had SO much front labor in my lower belly and thighs. During every contraction I would have my husband squeeze my thighs as hard as he could! He literally did that every 2 minutes for hours and hours. He was amazing. I would not have been able to labor without meds without his support and presence. It was truly so intense (at least for me). Do-able, but truly INTENSE. I was making sounds I didn’t know my body could make and I was saying things like “Jesus take the wheel” to myself in-between contractions. You know shit is getting cray when I’m begging Jesus to step in and take over. Lol.
The last few times they checked me, they warned me that my cervix was swelling and I was actually going backwards because of this (my effacement went back to 40%). All I am thinking is HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE. I am in good shape, I’m healthy, I prepared in every way possible for my body to be ready to do this how am I progressing backwards now after all this time laboring?!
My doctor called and told me that after hours of my cervix swelling more and more that a vaginal birth wasn’t going to happen unless the swelling went down. It wasn’t going down on it’s own so she told me that if I wanted a vaginal birth I needed to get the epidural, rest, let my cervix go down in the swelling then start progressing in labor again. By this point, I’m 20 hours deep in busting my ass to have a natural med-free birth and she just told me that it’s not gonna happen. I’m heart broken. I’m exhausted, I haven’t slept or eaten in over 24 hours and I am getting hit with the most intense pressure waves back to back to back. What other choice do I have? I agree to the epidural.
Well- I def see why women get them! There is a WORLD of difference between pressure waves with and without pain meds. It was such a relief however I didn’t like how I couldn’t really feel what was happening in my own body. I also didn’t like the side effects (insane shaking, felt so out of it- not at all myself and very cloudy). But it made everything bearable. I could relax bc I couldn’t feel what was going on. It look 10 minutes to kick in and took 5 minutes to administer. Once I found out that I HAD to get the epidural and there was no way around it- I was like “Where is the anesthesiologist?! UGHHHHH get him in here!!!” Lol. It literally took him like 5 minutes to get to me, but after 20 hours of hard work and it not getting me anywhere, 5 minutes seemed like forever. I didn’t want to have to feel one more pressure wave if I didn’t have to.
After resting with the epidural for a couple hours my OB came in. By this time its morning of the following day. She checked me again and I was STILL in the same spot. My cervix was STILL swollen. She couldn’t even tell me how dilated I was because of the swelling. She checked the baby’s positioning and that’s when it all took another turn far far away from my birth plan. She told me he was posterior (sunny side up) he was also tilted and therefore stuck. She tried to turn him, and it didn’t work. She then broke it down for me and said she didn’t think with the baby’s size (BIG) and my size (LITTLE) in a sunny-side up position he would make it out vaginally. She basically said in a nutshell- we are going to need to deliver him via c-section. (Once she opened me up she indeed saw that he would not have been able to make it out vaginally and the reason my cervix was swelling and swelling was because of his position).
A c-section? Nightmare. NO. NO. NO. NO. It’s one thing to not be able to birth without medicine IE a epidural, but to have to have MAJOR surgery? To not be able to vaginally birth my baby? What? Ugh HEART BREAKING. I cried. A lot. Talked with my husband and of course decided the most important thing is to have our son arrive earth-bound safe and healthy and if that meant c-section, then c-section we would do. I then was prepped for surgery and less than an hour later my son was delivered via c-section at 9:59AM on April 29 2015. I would love to say that none of it mattered and when he was delivered I realized it happened exactly as it was supposed to, but that’s really not how I felt. I was totally out of it, foggy, shaking uncontrollably from the epidural and completely clueless to what was happening around me because there was a sheet up in front of me. A room of 15 strangers saw my baby before I did. I saw a picture of him before I even saw him in real life. My husband was crying years of happiness and I was crying tears of sadness as I stared at a big blue curtain in front of me and heard my baby crying across the room. The 5-10 minutes they examined him before I got to see him might have been the worst 5-10 minutes of my entire life. It truly broke my heart. The whole experience was just something I would never wish on any Mom. Now with that raw honesty said, on the other hand I realize I have to be (and truly am) so thankful for modern medicine because if we were not privileged to it, who knows how it would have ended.
This wasn’t the plan. I’m disappointed and will probably always be disappointed in how it turned out. I know I did everything to prepare to be successful in the birth that I wanted, but because of things that were out of my control it didn’t happen. Of course I am happy and feel lucky that we had our baby arrive safely and the baby was healthy, but none the less I am disappointed. There are things in life that can happen that are a million times worse than this, and I know that. This was just something that was personally a really big deal to me. It was a personal goal that I didn’t get to accomplish and I am sad for that. I have struggled with feeling like a failure for my body not being capable of vaginally birthing the baby that it made med-free or not. My outlook on it is getting better and I realize this is an event in my life that I will grow from- as they all are.
It took me a little longer to feel “connected” to my son. I’m not sure if this had to do with he c-section or not. It’s getting better each day, but I am sad that I couldn’t experience a vaginal birth and the moment when your body brings your baby into this world and on to your chest- but I couldn’t bring him into the world… doctors had to do it for me. It makes me feel broken in a sense. This is what I was made to do as a woman, and I couldn’t do it? I always knew there would be a chance of an emergency situation and I could end up having a c-section. I just didn’t think that if it did happen it would make me feel the way that it did. It literally took me a couple weeks to be able to even talk about it without getting upset. Maybe the hormones were to blame, I’m not sure. It’s getting better.
Now I look at my son and care a lot less about how it all played out because I have him and of course he is worth the worst, longest labor ever. However, at first it was pretty devastating.
I wanted to be raw and honest in telling my birth story and not put ribbons and bows all over it. This is real life and this is the real story. I think women should know that it’s normal to feel this way because no one told me it was.
I will, as we all do, get back on my feet, pick my head up and keep moving forward.