When you are getting ready to have your first baby there is so much anticipation about the birth process. You can read and prepare but you really have no clue what it will really be like. Then with your second, you have the previous experience and thus you shape your expectations of the second birth off that first experience (whether it was good or bad) plus the wealth of knowledge that you’ve gained since then too. I had expectations for my second birth. I think we all do. But boy did God decide to show me how little control I have and how He ultimately knows what is best for us.
As I approached my due date, I began praying for specific things regarding our birth and labor experience. Slowly, each prayer I prayed kept getting denied and I’d have to adjust my expectations and trust that God knew what He was doing. There were so many things going against my anticipated plan that I nearly changed from delivering at the hospital birthing center to doing a home birth. But in the end, I trusted that God was still in control of the whole thing.
For some reason, I truly believed I would deliver early. When my 2.5 year old daughter told me God told her it would be on the 16th, I think that date became sort of ingrained in my head. However, that day came and went. As did the next 10 days between that and my due date… And then the 10 days after my due date. God taught me a lot in those 20 days. I prayed for patience and while I got it, it wasn’t in the form that I had anticipated…a nice head cold came my way from week 39-40. Then I subluxed a rib and had excruciating pain in my side limiting my movements. My grandparents came and went, without the arrival of our little baby. My dad came and went. My best friend and step mom came and went…still no baby.
I had literally tried everything to induce labor. Knowing that I would be traveling for a wedding in only a few weeks, I wanted my little newborn to be as strong as possible for the cross country adventure. Even as stupid as some of the natural induction method sounded, I was willing to give it a try…eating lots of pineapple, walking one foot on the curb and one off, coffee potty (google if you’re interested!), spicy food, Chinese food, Labor cookies (google!), red raspberry leaf, evening primrose oil, castor oil, etc. You get the idea.
Then finally…after 2 false labor starts, I started to feel the same thing again. My contractions weren’t really strong but they were frequent (like the 2 false starts), coming every 1-5 minutes. Joe and I went for a walk and they seemed to slow a little. They’d pick back up when I got in the shower. I was hopeful that it would be labor as I had my induction date scheduled and was really hoping that I’d go into labor before then. But at the same time, the way the contractions were (or weren’t really) progressing made me sort of doubtful.
I finally called my midwife and she suggested waiting another 30 minutes and see how things progressed. When I called back after 30 minutes, not much had changed. We decided we’d head in just to see how things were progressing at least for peace of mind. As we were driving to the hospital, I told Joe that I didn’t think it was the night. My contractions were getting further apart, now 6-7 minutes a part but feeling a little more intense. Walking into the emergency room, I was getting a little depressed. When I went in with my daughter, it was obvious I was in labor (I was 8 cm dilated at that point–of course it was obvious. Read my daughter’s birth story here).
When the midwife performed an exam, I was 4cm. Better than I had been at my appointment just a few days prior but not really what I’d been hoping to hear. She suggested admitting because my first labor went quickly and if things didn’t progress, I could go home. Being GBS positive, if I received 2 doses of antibiotics (which have to be given 4 hours apart), she’d discuss breaking my water if we needed to speed things along. It had been too long since my stress test so they did another one. He wasn’t responding well so they gave me some fluids until his heart rate started responding adequately.
We transferred to the birth center, Joe went to the car to get our stuff, and I was in the room all by myself, swaying on the side of the bed with each contraction, which seemed to be getting more and more intense. Within just a few minutes, my water broke. With my daughter, I had been in the birthing tub when my water broke so I never really had that same experience. The nurse came in and immediately called the midwife saying “light mec.” The midwife came and examined and determined that the amount of meconium in my fluid was to be expected being 10 days over and it wasn’t enough to exclude me from the birth center. Thank goodness!
With the time between my water breaking and delivering my daughter, and everyone anticipating this labor to be uber fast, I called my friend Rachel to let her know she could come down as she was planning to take pictures. She was there in no time and I labored in the shower and the tub for a few hours. I tried to eat a little snack to keep my energy up and be prepared. Bad idea, I threw it up all over the room before I could make it to the toilet.
After awhile, I noticed I was getting a lot of time in between my contractions. It was nice to have a little rest and everyone kept saying “it’s the calm before the storm.”
At 7, it was shift change and the midwives were trying to decide if they needed to have an extra midwife stay on (apparently the first week in March has been a busy time this year). So they did an exam and I was at 7-8cm. So we continued on…Joe providing counter pressure to my back with each contraction. We used a few oils here and there, finding great reprieve with the lavender, peppermint, and wild orange.
I was losing my steam and energy. I sort of had a gut inclination that things weren’t going well. I was still at 7cm and he was still at -2 station (where he’d been for the last 2 weeks when I’d had my membrane sweep in the office). For weeks, I’d been pretty sure he was in the posterior position and I had spent weeks trying to turn him to no avail. Something in my gut made me feel like he wasn’t getting into my pelvis because he was in the posterior position and that’s why labor wasn’t progressing. Between contractions I was walking and walking around in my room. With each contraction, I was performing lunges and squats and other maneuvers to try to get him to turn and engage. My contractions were getting farther and farther apart. I was now getting about 5-15 minutes between contractions. Despite my efforts, I didn’t feel like I was making progress. Sometimes during a contraction I’d bear down trying to make him progress. I could sometimes feel like he was engaging but as soon as the contraction let up, he’d bounce back up. Joe and my midwife were both great at trying to encourage me on. After while, I kept just repeating “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” The breaks between such intense contractions was making it unbearable. I just kept wishing for more contractions because I knew the more I had the more productive it would be.
Eventually my midwife approached the subject of pitocin. She agreed we needed to get the contractions to pick back up and all the natural methods we’d tried just weren’t doing it, and my contractions were continually getting further and further apart. I had been in labor for 12 hours already and was tired! I knew pitocin contractions could be super intense and wasn’t sure I was up for doing that after having labored for 12 hours, when I was already ready to give up. In my head, I kept thinking….this labor was supposed to be faster than my first and I’m now at 12 hours and still have a ways to go….where is this baby???
It didn’t take much for me to feel comfortable with the idea of having an epidural and getting the pitocin. Before going into labor, my advice to people that wanted to do it natural was to go into the experience totally determined to push through and not let an epidural be an option in your head. I truly feel like God gave me the peace of mind about the decision. I feel he’d been setting up the whole experience thus far to prepare my heart for making that decision.
It was right as we were transferring to L&D that my mom (who had just landed from Sacramento) and my sister (drove down from OC), both showed up. I started crying as I told them we were transferring but feel it was more of grieving moment. Shedding off my expectations of birth and the amazing experience I had envisioned, and giving it up for whatever may come.
Up until this point, I was unable to tolerate a contraction without movement and Joe putting pressure on my back. But the contractions were dulling and I was able to maintain seated on the edge of the bed or in the wheelchair. Yet again, receiving reassurance that I was making the right decision to get the pitocin. And yet again, I threw up when I tried to drink some tea my sister had brought me.
The transfer from the birth center to L&D is when I sort of lost track of time so not sure exactly on all the timing. The anesthesiologist gave me my epidural but after awhile I was still feeling pain in one little slice near my hip. The anesthesiologist came back and gave me 2 more doses. I’ve never had any sort of pain med like that. It was a weird experience, still being able to move my legs a little, feel him moving in my belly, but no longer feeling contractions. Once I was good and numb, they started the pitocin. Slowly over the next few hours, my nurse would increase the pitocin, waiting for my contractions to get back to every 2-3 min. They kept lingering at around 3-5min apart.
My sister wandered over to the monitors and watched the contractions. She kept saying “you have to be able to feel that…that’s a huge contraction.” I had begun to feel a little pressure, so I was thinking that it would be getting close to the time. A few minutes later my nurse walked in and we told her what our conversation had been. She decided to do a quick exam and see if she could see the baby’s head at all. To our surprise….his head was half way out. The next few minutes were craziness! Joe had been asleep, so he scrambled to get awake. The nurses were scrambling for the midwife. When she wasn’t there quickly, they began calling for an OB. But just then the midwife walked in. She was shocked to find his head all the way out. They asked if I could push at all and I did my best but not sure if it did anything to help as he slithered is way out, in the anterior position nonetheless.
16 hours later, our little boy was born! All 8lbs 13 oz of him! (My daughter had said 16 all along and I interpreted to be 2/16 as in February 16. Instead he was born at 2:16). He was immediately placed on my chest but wasn’t really breathing. The nurses and I were all trying to stimulate him to breath but he wasn’t making progress. The midwife immediately cut his cord and they took him to the table for some O2 and suctioning. It was a bummer to not have the delayed cord cutting and for my husband not to be able to do it.
After a few minutes they brought him back to me saying he was breathing better but still not great. I laid him on my chest, talking to him and praying he’d take a few good breaths. After a few coughs, his breathing no longer sounded wet. I put him near the breast and he immediately started nursing….and didn’t stop! It was amazing! My daughter and I struggled with breast feeding for weeks so it was amazing to see him latch on and go for it as if he had done it many times before.
I do feel in some ways I need to grieve the ideal experience I had been hoping and praying to have. I do feel blessed for how things went. An OB friend of mine suggested that the epidural and the pitocin could have what allowed him to turn, by relaxing my hips and creating more consistent and effective contractions. When I read all the possibilities that could occur during birth, things could have been worse. My experience wasn’t a bad one by any means, just different than what I had envisioned. Going through the whole process again in my head does make me sad for the birth I won’t have but grateful for the way it did go.
With my daughter I had lots of labor support. This time, I relied solely on my husband and I’m grateful for all he did. I couldn’t have done it without him.