I was 40 weeks and 2 days and had already scheduled the induction for Sunday the 14th. Our OB didn't want us to go more than 41 weeks. We were entirely planning on a med-free labor, in part due to an allergy to other pain medicines, and certainly didn't want to be induced. I saw my acupuncturist Tuesday the 9th to try to get things started naturally. My husband and I had also been using acupressure points for the past week. And my OB stripped my membranes at my appointment Tuesday. So one (or all) of these things seemed to have worked!
I had been having very frequent BH contractions for the past couple of months, so I was used to ignoring contractions. Painful contractions began the evening of the 10th while DH was playing Frisbee golf (I was walking the course with him). I noticed that my back kept cramping badly but I figured it was just from all the walking. Around the 9th "hole," I decided I was too uncomfortable and wanted to go home. We had yummy potato soup for dinner and speculated if this was the real thing. Around 8:30 p.m., the contractions got to be quite painful and DH went about packing the rest of our things for the hospital. I helped as much as I could but had to keep stopping to focus on the contractions.
Two things I noticed at this point: (1) the contractions were increasing in intensity but weren't getting more frequent per se and weren't following any sort of pattern, and (2) the pain was all in my back--it felt like my bones were crushing and then twisting. Because I never felt anything in front, I'm assuming this was back labor?
We kept timing contractions while DH massaged my back and I leaned on pillows on the bed. This went on until 1:30 a.m. when he encouraged me to try to get some rest. I drowsed until 3 a.m., waking every few minutes to breathe through a contraction. At 3 a.m., I woke DH and told him I needed to get in our bathtub and soak in the hot water. He filled it up and I spent the next many hours laboring there. We hired our doula through the hospital, so we had to go there to meet her. Looking back, I wish we had gone with one from an independent practice so that she would have helped us at our house.
We arrived at the hospital around 11 a.m. on the 11th. We mused that our daughter would be born on 10-11-12! How could we have known how long labor was actually going to last... They checked and I was at 5 cm. I felt so happy! I wasn't so worried about how long labor was taking, I just wanted to make as much progress at home as possible before going to the hospital. Our doula suggested I get back in the tub. I stayed there for hours again. The contractions still were not organized and seemed to go on forever. There was no break in between, just a slight decrease in intensity. It was miserable at that point.
It was around 7 p.m. (shift change) that the nurses and doctors got pretty antsy about my progress. For some reason, everyone and their mother wanted to check my cervix. Although I didn't see any purpose in it, I felt so vulnerable and frustrated at that point that I didn't put up a fight. Two nurses and one OB checked and said I was 9 to 9 1/2 cm and could begin pushing whenever I felt the urge. I was elated! My water still hadn't broken and I was excited that we would soon be meeting our little girl. This was pretty much the last happiness I felt until Madeleine was born.
A new OB came in and did her check. She gruffly told me that I was barely an 8 and making extremely slow progress. This literally broke my heart. It was so hurtful that just a few minutes earlier, I was told that I was jut about done and now I was nowhere close (or so it felt). That second OB was horrible. She made me feel like a failure who would need my baby to be taken out of me a la 1950s. My husband despised her, too, so it wasn't just me! I tried to ask her why the other OB and nurses had gotten a different measurement, but she just stared at me like I was a crazy person and left the room. By that time, my contractions were coming in sets of threes with ongoing pain between sets.
(At the beginning of the pregnancy, I felt like we would be great candidates for a birthing center. However, being a FTM, I got nervous and figured that we should do this birth at the hospital. I kept trying to customize the birth experience though and expected that the hospital would respect our wishes. This couldn't have been further from the truth! They treated us like criminals who didn't care about our baby because we didn't want the fetal monitoring, drugs, eye ointment after birth, IV hookup, etc. Needless to say, I don't intend to deliver at a hospital again.)
The OB told us that we had 2 hours to get to 10 cm or else we would have to take pitocin or do a C-section. I told her to get out and leave us alone. At the same time, the nurses were telling me that my chart all of a sudden showed I had a UTI and that I had pre-eclampsia because my blood pressure was high (no other symptoms). I said "I'm in excruciating pain, of course it's high!" It turns out (no surprise to me) that I wasn't pre-eclamptic and didn't have a UTI. I felt like I (and DH) had to be so on guard to protect ourselves and baby from these people who were supposedly capable caregivers. It was so stressful!
About an hour later (8 p.m.), I was laboring on the yoga ball when I got the urge to push, but I fought it because they told me that my cervix could tear. This was one thing I hadn't researched in the pregnancy, so I trusted that they knew best. After a while, the urge went away and didn't come back until much later. I really regret believing their scare tactics and not trusting me body.
I was stalled at 8 (according to that OB) until 1 a.m. We had fought her (and all of the nurses) tooth and nail to avoid drugs, but I felt like there was no end in sight at that point. She again gave us the option of pitocin or C-section. I refused both and we were stale-mated. Then DH suggested an epidural. He reasoned that at least then I could maybe get some rest, regardless of dilation. I felt defeated but agreed to the epidural. The anesthesiologist was also in a bad mood. I couldn't believe our bad luck!
After the pain was gone, DH and I slept for about an hour and a half. Then the nurse came in and checked and said I was at a 9. They convinced us to allow a small amount of pitocin to get us over the last cm. After that, around 3:30 or 4 a.m., they shut off the epidural and told me it was time to push. The urge was notably gone at this point. My mind had tricked my body into believing it was doing the wrong thing, so it stopped telling me to push. Madeleine was still posterior, so they had me push on one side and then the other for a couple of hours to try to turn her. By this time, shift change was nearing and DH suggested (only partially joking) that we just hold off until after 7 to have the baby so that the evil OB wouldn't be the one to deliver her. It was actually kind of funny--we had given her such a fight at that point that she just stopped coming into our room, which was fine by us!
All the while, I was still pushing but Madeleine's head was stuck against my pelvic bone so she wasn't coming out anytime soon. I pushed until close to 8 a.m. when the heart monitor indicated that her heart was decelerating. I wasn't all that surprised because our little trooper had made it through so much already with a very strong heart rate. The new OB suggested that we use a vacuum to help her out since she was in distress and was stuck. We refused it and kept pushing until it just felt wrong to me to keep going. At 8 a.m., I called the OB in and told him that I wanted the vacuum assisted delivery. He hurried in and by the next contraction, was ready to deliver her. I pushed twice and she was finally born at 8:05 on the 12th!
Our beautiful little girl was 8 lbs, 12 oz and 20.5 inches long.