This blog will discuss our birth story. Please be advised that there will be some specifics on the labor and delivery process although all details will be as tactfully communicated as possible.
Our delivery process started on Saturday, July 8th with the first signs of contractions. We were elated and so incredibly ready to meet our little baby. Contractions were mild all day but seemed to continue with a certain amount of consistency. Sunday seemed to be consistent with the day before, but really ramped up after our evening walk. The contractions increased in intensity accompanied by lightning pain and back pain. (Lightning pain is a very real and very crippling thing.) After over an hour of tracking this increased progress, we had a trend of contractions that made it seem like it was time to go to the hospital. We were both elated and nervous. (And I was very uncomfortable.) We arrived at the women’s center to get checked in and evaluated. Our nurse gave the examination and we learned that we had made no progress at all since our appointment the week before. Neither of us could really believe this, but were hopeful we could make some progress and that the contractions would continue to intensify. They did not. In fact, they basically stopped. (I guess our baby has stage fright.) We walked around the hospital for about an hour hoping things would pick back up. They did not and we were sent home. Not only was this frustrating and embarrassing, but it was also exhausting. We were genuinely disheartened, but determined to keep working on moving things in the right direction. We literally did everything to try and strengthen the contractions: warm bathes, meditation, walks, red raspberry leaf tea…you name it, we probably tried it. By Wednesday, we actually started making some progress and were praying that the contractions would join suit. By Thursday afternoon, the contractions seemed to be increasing in intensity and we spent all day on Friday working through more intense contractions. They had gotten to the point where it was more difficult to maintain a conversation and so we decided to head back up to the hospital. We thought we were surely dilated enough by then! Once we got to the hospital, we were evaluated and came to find out we were less dilated than on Wednesday. To top it off, our baby got stage fright…again. The contractions, which had been consistent all day, just sort of petered out. We were instructed to go home. Again. Now, I felt foolish and like I could hardly trust my own instinct. Clearly, I had no idea what I was “supposed” to be feeling, which was incredibly difficult. At that point, I resigned myself to the fact that we would probably just have to be induced since I felt like I had tried everything with nothing to show for it.
That weekend, we focused on not focusing on labor. I had accepted that I would have to be induced and that I wouldn’t go into labor naturally. We spent some time with family and continued to work on things around the house to prepare for our little one’s arrival.
Then, on Monday night, I began having intense back pain. I wasn’t having any noticeable contractions on my front (or at least not that I could tell), but I would hardly talk through the back pain. We began tracking the back pain just in case and it was coming at very regular intervals. I spent basically an hour sitting on the toilet just breathing through the back pain. My husband called the hospital just to ask if we should come in, not wanting to go in for another false alarm, and they said not to come in until I felt something on my front side. About five minutes later, my husband started packing up the car because things were so intense I couldn’t even talk anymore. We began our third drive up to the hospital in two weeks, hoping this time we would return with a baby.
By the time we got there, I had to hobble up to the women’s center and was leaning on my husband the entire time. They put us right into a room where it was clear I was having regular contractions. We began the process of waiting and working through labor as it presented itself. I had begun feeling a lot of sensation in my front as well as my back, which further intensified the experience. Thankfully I hadn’t eaten too recently because my stomach joined in the process shortly after we arrived. We stayed up the entire evening, switching between the bed and the shower to try and help with my back labor. Eventually, I asked for some pain medicine, which allowed for about 30 minutes of sleep for us both. We had specified that we wanted a completely natural birth in our birth plan. We were both committed to this and trusted that my body could handle this process.
By morning, I was dilated 9.5cm and having incredibly intense contractions about every 2 minutes. (By intense, I mean, I had contractions lasting up to about 2-3 minutes with about 2 minutes in between.) Our sweet nurses tried coaxing that last .5cm along but it wasn’t working. I was also having an outrageous amount of back labor at this point. Our nurse thought it was likely that our baby was flipped the wrong way and trying to get turned around. We tried a variety of positions to encourage this, but it only intensified the pain. We thought that surely we were close to welcoming our baby. Minutes and then hours went by with this level of intensity with no progress. Finally, I couldn’t take it any more. We were both so unbelievably exhausted both physically and mentally that I asked what options there were. (I was about ready for anything at this point.) We had the option for me to get an epidural and I took it. While this killed my plan for an entirely natural birth, I knew I needed a reprieve in order for my body to birth this baby. I was able to get the epidural in the nick of time and finally felt some relief. I was able to sleep for about an hour while my husband got his first meal since dinner the day before. Then, we were ready to start the pushing process.
I had read and practiced breathing techniques to try and limit the amount of actual pushing I needed to do. What I hadn’t realized was that your body does the pushing for you. Despite the epidural, I could still feel the sensations I had experienced earlier. (The only difference was that I had much less pain.) We began pushing through my contractions and the baby was on its way! After a couple of hours of this, it became clear that the baby was a little stuck. In order to limit the amount of tearing I would likely experience, my doctor recommended an episiotomy. This was, again, not what I had wanted in my birth plan, but was ultimately the right decision. After making the small cut, the baby came right out and we welcomed our SON into this world. After months of waiting patiently to know whether we had a son or a daughter on the way, we welcomed a beautiful baby boy into this world.
While my birth process was absolutely not what I had imagined and had hoped for, it ultimately resulted in the healthy delivery of our baby so I have no regrets. People are always saying your birth plan should be a guide, not set in stone, and that is absolutely true. The changes we made to our plan along the way allowed us to be present in the way we needed during this incredible time. If you are getting ready to welcome your baby, I hope you know that however your baby is born is completely okay! No plan should come in the way of what you need during labor. Trust yourself and know that the reward is totally worth it.