My baby boy was born at 12:05pm after 3hrs of active labor. We had to transfer to the hospital due to scary low heart rate while pushing. He was born in the ER, but we are both fine now. Hope to go home tonight.
9lbs 4oz, 21.5"
I thought I was in early labor on Monday, August 1st, as I was having very regular, but mild, crampy contractions and some bloody show. I had my 39 week prenatal appointment at my OB's office that morning and had the CNM do a cervical check. I found out I was dilated 4cm and 100% effaced with a very soft cervix. She also monitored the baby's heart beat through a contraction and it was just fine. Baby was tolerating the contractions very well. Yay! I asked her if she thought these contractions could be early labor and she said it might be, but could be prodromal labor as well. Only time would tell.
I got home and was contracting every 10-11 min for 4-5 hours at which point I called my backup midwife, Alex, (my midwife, Detrah, was out of the state until Wednesday night!!!) who she said she would head over within in couple of hours to check me out. Well, she didn't get here until about 3hrs later by which time the contractions had completely petered out . We tried a few things to get them going again (took a walk, nipple stimulation, sex...), but nothing worked. So Alex left and said to text her if it picked up again.
The next day (Tuesday), I had a few minor contractions from time to time, but nothing that was even remotely regular or intense. I did have a little more bloody show though and I suspected that I was contracting, but so mildly that I couldn't even feel it. On Wednesday, contractions picked up again in a pattern similar to what happened on Monday. I called Alex again and told her what was up, but said not to come out unless I asked her to as I had a feeling it would peter out again. It did.
I had a rough night that night. Baby was making some odd twisting movements that I could only describe as being felt in my bottom. Since he was ROP, I hoped this was him rotating into more of an OA position to get ready for birth soon. I just could not find any position, sitting or lying down, that was comfortable. I finally went to bed at around midnight, but woke several times due to Nickolas waking or just having to pee. Every time I awoke, I felt a little crampy and had some more bloody show at one point.
When I woke up the next morning, I didn't immediately feel any contractions and just assumed it would be another day like the last few had been...on and off contractions, but nothing too exciting. That day we planned to take Nickolas to my mom's house for an art class while Chris and I went to my prenatal appointment with Detrah scheduled for 10:30am. I felt my 1st contraction of the day at 9:15am while I was changing Nickolas's diaper and it was definitely a little more intense than what I'd been having, although still relatively mild. We got to my mom's house at 9:45am and by that time my contractions were coming every 5-6 min. It was a little more intense now...I had to pay attention to them, but nowhere near having to breathe through them or vocalize just yet. I kept feeling like I had to pee, like every five minutes, but only a few drops would come out. I also felt a little constipated. For the preceding several weeks I had been very regular with my bowel movements, but had been unable to "go" yet that morning.
My good friend, Amber, arrived at my mom's house to drop her girls off for the art class at about 10am. She is a massage therapist and was going to try to be present during my labor to act as an informal doula, if it worked out that she could find childcare for her kids when my labor started. We talked for a few minutes and I described to her what my contractions were feeling like at that time. She made the comment that it looked like I was starting to withdraw a little and she thought that it was likely that this was going to be the real deal today. She helped me realize that it was probably a better idea to just head home rather than try to make it to my midwife's office for my prenatal visit.
Chris and I left my mom's house to head home at 10:19am and I called Detrah on the way to let her know we weren't coming. She didn't answer at first, but called me back a few minutes later saying she was a block from my house as she thought our appointment was going to be there rather than at her office. Oops! She said she would go home right away to get her birth supplies and would be back at our house within an hour. Contractions had really started to intensify during the car ride home. We got home at 10:30am and I immediately went to the bathroom again. I still felt the urge to have a bowel movement and I also needed to pee, again! I sat on the toilet for a long time and had several very strong contractions and I was finally able to have a bowel movement. I thought after that the crampyness and rectal pressure might ease up a little, so I got off the toilet and spent a couple of contractions leaning over the vanity and the bed, but they actually started coming a lot faster and harder at that point.
I almost immediately returned to the bathroom because the urge to poop hit me strong again. It almost felt like the urge to push a little and I told Chris that I felt that way but there was no way I could be ready to push yet! He replied that it was possible and that he had a feeling things were going to go fast. He asked if I wanted him to call Detrah to see when she would be there and I said yes. When he talked to her, he found out that she was on her way and told her that that the the front door would be open and to just come inside when she arrived. He stayed with me in the bathroom to help support me through the contractions that were now on top of each other. I had begun to moan and yell through them and was trying hard not to scream. I knew from reading Ina May's books that I had to keep my vocalizations as low in tone as possible to keep my cervical sphincter loose and relaxed, but it was getting really hard to not just scream out loud. I also started grunting a lot and could feel my body bearing down and pushing a little, which was completely out of my control. I had never felt that kind of uncontrollable urge to push in my labor with my older son, so it kind of freaked me out!
Detrah arrived at 11:15am and I remember her asking me if I was pushing already based on the sounds she was hearing me make. I said I was and that I couldn't help it. I was still on the toilet and she suggested that I move to the bed. Chris helped me make the move and, man, that was rough! I ended up on hands and knees on my bed and I think I remember Detrah telling me that if it felt good to push, go ahead, but that she wanted to check me to ensure my cervix was completely dilated since this was going so fast. She checked me from behind while I was still in the hands and knees position and determined that although I was fully dilated, there was still a small bit of anterior lip left on my cervix. She advised me to try and breathe through the next contraction in hopes that the lip would go away. I tried, but there was no way I could avoid pushing and I let her know that.
At that moment, my water broke and it was clear of meconium. I was very happy about that. She had me change position onto my left side to encourage that lip to retract, but it was so difficult and uncomfortable to move that I needed help from Chris to do it. When I finally changed position, Detrah checked the baby's heart tones with her Doppler. They were very low, so she felt for my pulse to be sure she wasn't picking up my heart beat instead of the baby's. I heard her say very quietly "that's not good.", I started to worry a little. She told Chris and I that the baby's heart rate was around 40-50 bpm and that it should be in the 120-160 bpm range. I got very upset, which made it very difficult for me to push effectively. Detrah suggested that it may be appropriate to have EMS on the way in case a hospital transfer was needed. Chris asked if he should call 911, and Detrah said yes, so he grabbed the phone and made the call.
When he returned, he suggested that I might push better if I were squatting and they helped me move into a deep squat off the side of the bed, holding onto Chris's legs for support. I pushed with all the strength I had in that position until EMS arrived at 11:48am. At first, they thought they were just there to wait out the birth, but Chris said they needed to get me going to the hospital ASAP. They realized that it was a fetal distress situation and called for another ambulance to rendezvous with them in the event a full team was needed for each the baby and me and we left my house at 11:54am.
I was terrified! All I could think about was that I wasn't going to have a living baby at the end of this, so what was the point? I know that's a horrible thing to say or think, but after my miscarriage one year ago exactly, my mind was going to some very dark places during that ambulance ride. I was so sure that I would be wheeled right into an operating room to have a c section that I almost lost the will to push. They hadn't let Chris ride in the back with me to have room for the second team, but I could hear him from the passenger seat up front encouraging me to keep going for our baby. I was sobbing the whole time and just kept asking the paramedics to please save my baby! I tried to do my best to keep pushing, but it was so, so hard while lying flat on my back and riding in that ambulance. I know I got a few good pushes in, but I was quickly losing my steam.
We ended up at a different hospital than the one I was pre-registered at, so I knew my OB wouldn't be there. But I was so not prepared for the scene into which we arrived. When the ambulance pulled into the ER bay, they wheeled me inside and took me straight into an ER room. The room had the brightest lights I've ever seen and no fewer than 20 people inside waiting for us! I remember yelling "no, no, no!" because my mind couldn't process why there were so many people there. All I had wanted was a peaceful, quiet birth at home and now this felt like a scene from a movie or something and I was seriously in shock. Chris was pretty upset too and snapped at some of the people in the room, sarcastically asking "do you think you can get a few more people in here?". He told me later that, at first, he thought it might have been a bunch of medical students since that was a teaching hospital, but soon realized that they were actually all teams of real doctors and nurses all on standby to handle any potential emergency situation for me and the baby. It was crazy.
My fear of c-section was not realized. In fact, to my surprise they never even mentioned it! There were 3-4 OB's in the room and one of them (I don't even know which one!) assisted me in delivering the baby. I know she had her hands inside me as he was crowning and it hurt so bad. I guess he was still ROP and was presenting in such a way that he wasn't coming out very easily, so the doctor was just trying to help him along. I'm sure the fact that I was pushing flat on my back didn't help a whole lot, but they weren't exactly going to let me get off the bed and squat! I don't recall anyone ever checking the baby's heart tones this whole time, so I still had no idea if my baby was even alive at that point. I do remember reaching down to feel the baby's head inside me before he crowned. I think I was trying to determine if all the pushing I was doing was even bringing the baby down. No one was telling me anything about my progress the whole time. When I FINALLY pushed him out at 12:11pm, he was very blue and limp. And huge!
I had stopped crying at some point after getting to the hospital, but I started sobbing uncontrollably when they took my baby boy away from me. At least they didn't leave the room with him, so Chris was right there watching while the neonatal resuscitation team worked on him. Thankfully, he didn't need resuscitation! Several people rubbed him to get his blood circulating and they suctioned him because there was meconium present when he came out. I faintly heard him cry among all the other background noise and between my own sobbing and I heard Chris trying to get through to me that he was fine. He kept saying "he's fine, Erica! Do you hear him crying?" over and over. I finally realized he was talking to me and that our son was ok, but I still couldn't stop sobbing. I'm pretty sure I was in shock.
Chris stayed right by the baby's side while the medical team worked on him and as soon as he was stable, he requested that baby be given back to me for skin to skin bonding. The doctors ignored him at first, but finally, one of the more senior OB doctors listened to him and made them give the baby to me. Finally! It was only about five minutes from when I pushed him out until I had him in my arms, but it felt like an eternity. I couldn't stop crying at first...I took me several minutes of holding him, touching and kissing him, before my brain made the connection that has was truly ok and here with us, alive. I found out later that his apgar scores were 1-6-9. He really was in trouble at first, but quickly bounced back...thank goodness!
We never got any kind of explanation as to why his heart rate dropped so low and we'll never know how long it stayed that way. When I talked to Detrah several days later, she said her best guess was that maybe the baby was in a position that caused him to compress the umbilical cord at the time she took the Doppler reading. She said it's possible that laying on my back during the ambulance ride allowed the baby to shift his position just enough to keep him safe until he came out. Of course, this is just speculation. We will never truly have an answer. Despite such a precipitous labor and birth, I did not need any stitches. However, I did end up quite swollen and had a lot of muscle soreness all over my body for several days.
Alexander John was born at 12:11pm on August 4, 2011 after just under 3 hours of active labor. He was 9lbs 2ozs and 20.5" long. We took him home from the hospital just 24 hours after he was born. He was supposed to be born at home, but that wasn't our fate. Although I lost my much desired and peaceful home birth, I am so relieved, over-the-moon happy, and proud that he entered our lives healthy and is now thriving. We love you Alexander!
Edited by egmaranian - 8/13/11 at 5:12pm