As I begin preparing for my next birth, I feel there is a lot more emotional and spiritual preparation I need to do than the last time. Yes, I know I need the physical preparation too, which I talked about it one of my most recent posts. However, I think that because I’ve been through one birth before and it was successful, I feel my body can physically do it. But it’s my spirit, that I worry about. I know prayer and faith can make anything happen, but do I really feel that way deep down? I know at one point with my daughter’s birth, I wanted to give up. Didn’t think it was going to be possible to push her out and was contemplating if I could just request a cesarean. But I had a few amazing women and my husband present (and my dad outside the room) and I think it was the power of their prayers that kept me going. That being said, I decided to revisit my daughter’s birth story and in the process decided to share with you! I wrote this shortly after she was born and then just revised a little to post!
Friday, I had gone to a midwife appt and she told me that I was 2cm dilated and ready to go. She said if I wanted, my body was ready enough for me to take castor oil if I desired. We talked about it because castor oil sounds like an entirely awful experience. Not a lot of people recommend it and have had horrid stories revolving around the use of castor oil. She said if I wanted to wait and maybe use it as a last ditch effort prior to an induction, I could do that. She stripped my membranes again (the 2nd time) but this time it felt like it might have actually done something. Leaving the office that day, I made my next appt and made the appts for my “past due” monitoring and had no intention of trying the castor oil yet. However, as the day went on, something in me grew more and more inclined to trying it. I mean, I’d tried everything else to induce labor. My best friend (a labor and delivery nurse) and I had spent days and days walking, playing Wii, walking with one foot on the curb and one foot off, putting golf, etc. I even tried acupuncture for the first time. Nothing had seemed to work. When I was able to get my contractions started, they would fade away after 4-6 hours and never really increased in intensity. My husband felt like we should wait on the castor oil so we did.
Dad came down to visit with my sister a little before she went off to Germany so he rode the train down to our house on Thursday to spend some time with us and wait for little girl to arrive. We did all kinds of stuff to keep busy while he was here but it was nice to just spend some time together. On Saturday we got a few more things checked off our “to do list.” Things that we weren’t really planning to do right away. We were able to get the dogs a haircut, paint our living room, and other similar tasks.
Saturday night, we decided I’d try the castor oil. But since I was a little hesitant about it, we figured I could take a small dose and if it didn’t work than we’d wait until closer to an induction before trying again with the recommended dose. Because I’d used so many methods to induce labor, I really can’t say what it was that got it started or if none of it helped and my body was just ready. Who knows? and most of them are old wive’s tales or not researched well enough to really establish whether or not they help. But I went to bed around 11pm that night feeling just a little off. It didn’t feel much different than some of the other nights I’d had when I went to bed with cramping or mild contractions, but as I did each night, I hoped that I would wake up in the middle of the night with stronger contractions. It wasn’t until about 1am that I was awoken from sleep and had to get up out of bed.
Because I’d had so many episodes of contractions/false labor, in the back of my mind I felt like that’s what was happening and I shouldn’t get my hopes up. Dad heard me in the living room and came out and watched “My Best Friend’s Wedding” with me as I tried to just get through each contraction/try to get a little bit of sleep just in case it truly was labor. After the movie, I tried to go back to bed but it just wasn’t possible. I was too uncomfortable. At around 5am, I woke up my husband and told him I needed help. He jumped out of bed so fast! He threw on his clothes like the house was on fire. My contractions still weren’t really regular, some were coming at 5 minutes, some 4, others 2, others 1. It was just so inconsistent but they were getting uncomfortable so I called the midwife on call. We decided I’d stay home for a little while longer, she suggesting I try taking a shower. After a two showers, time on the yoga ball, moving in any position that felt okay, we finally called again. I was worried that getting to the hospital was going to be so uncomfortable I wouldn’t make it in the car ride over to the hospital if we waited much longer. The only thing that helped me tolerate the pain was movement, and sitting in the car, would limit my movement and I knew it wouldn’t be fun.
Around 8am, my friend, dad, husband and I made it to the hospital. Walking into the hospital I remember telling them that I wasn’t sure I was going to make it without an epidural or anything because I anticipated that I had a long way to go. There weren’t any rooms in the birth center available when we arrived so they had me check into labor and delivery and go through all the admitting stuff there. The midwife came and did an examination and said I was 7-8cm and my bag of water was bulging and to expect “niagra falls” at any time. I was so relieved!! I seriously expected her to tell me I was around 4cm and so when I heard 7 I couldn’t believe it. It gave me that little extra umph. I’d made it this far, I could most certainly make it the last little way.
We ended up getting a room in the birth center by about 9:30 but the tub wasn’t filled so I took another shower. I seriously felt like there were moments I was crawling up the wall. There was nothing that made each contraction tolerable. My husband was trying his best to help. Our volunteer doula showed up and helped show him some counter pressure techniques that helped a little but really nothing made too much of a difference. I stayed in the shower till I was just too hot and by then the tub was filled. I labored in the tub for a few hours without much progress, other than my contractions were getting stronger, more frequent, almost never letting up. It seemed that when one would be on the way out, another one would be on the way in and I never got a sense of relief. It wasn’t until my water broke that I almost immediately progressed to complete. Because the hospital can’t do actual water births, I had to get out of the tub to actually begin the pushing stage.
I feel like I was in almost every position possible during the pushing stage. There were some that were more comfortable for me (all 4’s and squatting) and some that the midwife requested I get into for labor progression. I have to say that this stage wasn’t nearly as “painful.” The contractions seemed less painful and they also seemed further apart. The only part that was painful was when she was crowning and it seemed like she was “crowning” forever. She just wouldn’t get passed that point, no matter how much pushing I did. At one point, my midwife even had me get up and got to the bathroom in an attempt to help get things progressing. I don’t remember at what point, but her hear rate started dropping. Some positions appeared to make her heart rate slow, so it was sort of a move around and find a position where baby is okay, while I’m still pushing and feel like I have a bowling ball between my legs. My midwife said she’d only do an episiotomy if it was necessary for the safety of the baby but she was going to try everything to avoid it. There were a couple moments when I seriously thought she was close to doing it and I’d say a little prayer and then the heart rate would come back up and I’d breathe a sigh of relief. But no amount of pushing I could do was making any progress. I could feel her moving 2 steps forward, one step back with each contraction and I just kept wishing I could get the strength to just get past that point. I knew tension was building in the air the longer I pushed and she didn’t come but her heart rate continued to fluctuate. I don’t remember at what point they had me put on an oxygen mask, but I remember feeling at that point that things truly were getting serious and she needed out!
It was during that time that I seriously began to get disheartened, feeling like there was nothing left in me to be able to do it. Everyone kept saying “just one more push” but with one more push, I felt like I was still a long way off. I could feel the overwhelming amount of prayer and knew that no amount of strength I could concoct would help her out. That any bit of strength I could come up with would be supernatural. And in some ways, I feel like I knew things were out of my hands and even though there was tension in the room, I knew that God had control and whatever happened, things would turn out.
Eventually, on all 4’s I was able to push out her head but the midwife recognized a hand in an abnormal spot and had me stop pushing and turn over onto my back immediately. My little miss had crossed her arms across her chest and got her shoulders and chest a little stuck. With a few more pushes, she was out and up on my chest, perfectly healthy. It was absolutely amazing. After the cord stopped pulsing, my husband got to cut the cord, and she got to stay on my chest for the next few hours.
It was such an amazing time! The nurses and everyone didn’t take her from me until later to weigh her and all. They feel like bonding between mom and baby is more important than doing all the stuff right away and so they essentially give you space for the first couple hours, which is part of why I chose to deliver there in the first place. There were so many things I felt I needed to have written as a birth plan but they were standard practices that I didn’t even need one!
Honestly, it was the most amazing experience. The contractions were the worst part. Once it got to the pushing stage, it wasn’t so much painful as it was exhausting but in the end, looking back, I can’t believe I made it through without pain meds and that nothing went really wrong. It was the most amazing experience and I feel like looking back it’s kind of like a dream. The week or two before her delivery, I was seriously having doubts about whether I could do it. Some serious fears were in my head and prayer was the only thing that helped me overcome those fears and in the end have the birthing experience we desired. And looking back, I feel so great that we had a natural birth and would do it again in a heartbeat. And to have had no tears or an episiotomy just blows me away! I truly think it has to do with a state of mind. Yes, all the exercises for preparation probably help but I don’t feel like I did that much in way of preparing. We didn’t know what we were doing and we kind of just went with it.
Now we have our little angel.