Eowyn Rose's birth storyEowyn’s birth story
On Thursday, September 30, facing a home birth deadline of October 4, I took 4 ounces of castor oil to induce labor at about 12 noon. After about three hours of terrible nausea and vertigo, plus five hours of diarrhea, contractions started at about 7pm. Irregular and not too bad. I did notice that they were incredibly long, lasting over a minute. At this point, I hadn’t connected the longer contractions with severe dehydration, which began on Thursday as well. This was most likely caused by the castor oil.
Around 1:45 am Thursday night/Friday morning, the contrax woke me up. 4-5 minutes apart, lasting as long as 90 seconds. These were a little more painful. They continued to grow in intensity, and we called JP, Karen and My midwife around 3:45am. At 5am, I got into the tub, and the contractions didn’t really slow down in duration or frequency, which was surprising. At about 6am, I began to feel a lot of downward pressure, so My midwife came to check me at 7am and announced that I was 2 cm. I spent the day walking and walking in the hot sun to get active labor going, and I noticed that all that walking was making the contractions go away. Hmmm.
Back in the tub, the contractions would get going again. I was drinking water constantly, but I felt terrible acid reflux all day, and could not eat anything due to the intense burning in my chest. Tums did not help at all. I wanted to drink water with electrolytes (SmartWater – no sugar or flavorings added), because My midwife felt I was dehydrated, but My midwife told me it was a bad idea. Thus, I drank lots and lots of water, even though my instincts kept gravitating toward the SmartWater.
Friday afternoon, My midwife was confused. I’d walked for about two miles around my neighborhood, and she didn’t understand why the walking wasn’t causing me to move into active labor. She said, “The walking should get you going so much, you’ll have to stop and breathe through the contractions.” Actually, the exact opposite was true. I never had to stop when I was walking. The contractions were much more painful when I was resting or in the tub. My midwife checked me again around 6pm and I was still only 2cm. She told me to take more castor oil. At this time she noticed I was dehydrated, and once again told me to drink water, but not the SmartWater. I told her I’d been drinking large amounts of water, and I also told her I had eaten very little due to the acid reflux. She had no response to this, just commented once again that she thought I was dehydrated. She also said that the dehydration was making the contractions more painful (and yet less effective) than they should have been, and that I should recognize and “ignore” that.
My midwife also told me that I was paying too much attention to my contractions. She told me repeatedly to go to the movies or just leave the house. She also said my husband and friends were not allowed to help me breathe through the contractions. I felt like my breathing through the contractions was helping, but she told me that if I thought early labor was painful, I wouldn’t be able to handle active labor. At this point I tried to imagine being in active labor (from what My midwife described, I imagined that active labor would be terribly painful), on an empty stomach, on the toilet with terrible diarrhea, and/or in bed with terrible nausea and vertigo. I also had a sunburn from all the walking, which contributed to the dehydration. My midwife’s response to my sunburn was to admonish me for not putting on sunscreen before all that senseless walking.
At this point, contractions had been consistently 4-5 minutes apart, lasting about 60-90 seconds. Painful, but fairly easy to breathe through. Except for the walking, which was exhausting in the hot sun and such, the contractions had been this way since Friday morning 1:45am.
At 7pm Friday, I took more castor oil. At 8pm, I vomited up the castor oil, along with about 20oz of water. My midwife had told me that none of her clients had *ever* vomited after taking castor oil. At this point, I became very concerned about My midwife and the level of care I was receiving. I knew I was severely dehydrated, I knew I needed electrolytes, and yet My midwife still refused to allow me to drink the SmartWater. Although My midwife could have hydrated me with an IV at any time, she never offered this, and I was so far gone with pain and dehydration that I had forgotten all about it. In general, I felt her reaction to my dehydration/acid reflux was criticism instead of health care.
After vomiting up the water, I laid down for two hours and had a good long talk with myself. I didn’t trust My midwife. I didn’t like how she was handling things. Regardless of what she told me, I felt like my instincts – get in the tub, rest, drink SmartWater, were right, but My midwife was getting in my way, not trusting me, and really scaring me with her talk of the evil pain of active labor. I also really didn’t believe that I could keep another dose of castor oil down, since I still had the acid reflux and dehydration.
My midwife called at 10pm. I told her about the vomiting, and she told me to take more castor oil. She said I had no other options, and if I didn’t hit active labor by 3am that evening, she would have to transfer me for pitocin. At this point, I had a deadline. I told her I would think things over for an hour and call her.
I began to seriously consider the hospital. My biggest reason for wanting a transfer was to no longer be under My midwife’s care. I felt that I might have a chance for better, more attentive care with the nurses and doctors than with My midwife. I knew there were risks, but at that point the risks of a C-section, drugs, interventions, etc. seemed less foreboding that the risks associated with My midwife, especially since her new deadline might very well land me in the hospital later that evening anyway.
Also, after nearly 24 hours of very painful early labor, I needed a rest. I was worried about having enough energy to handle active labor, or even push my baby out.
I gave my reasons to JP, Karen, and Jim, and they all agreed that My midwife was not helping me or trusting my instincts.
I told My midwife my decision to transfer. She checked me. I was at 3cm, and she agreed it was a good idea, although she emphasized that it was for pain management – an epidural and no other reason. I didn’t see any point in correcting her, I just wanted someone else to help me ASAP.
Once at the hospital, the contractions didn’t feel any worse, I was getting the hang of breathing through them, getting used to them. The nurse checked me at about 1:15am Saturday, and I was at 5cm! I’d been dealing with the “evil pain” of active labor without a problem. It didn’t seem much worse than early labor, and the contractions were still coming 4-5 minutes apart, lasting as long as 90 seconds. The 5 minute drive to the hospital had not slowed down the contractions at all.
The staff at the hospital was wonderful and supportive, they never made me feel guilty for transferring. I got an epidural at about 2am Saturday, and they started pitocin around 6am. My midwife advised me to have them give me as much pitocin as possible, since I was on the hospital’s clock now, and if I didn’t dilate fast enough, I could end up with a c-section. I took her advice, and I’m glad I did. I didn’t feel the painful pitocin contractions from 5cm to 10cm, thanks to the epidural. Mostly I just laid there and chatted with my mom and husband. By 4:45pm, I was 10cm and feeling a good amount of pain through the epidural, which they turned off the minute I told them I was in pain.
When I first started pushing, the nurse was very sedate. She didn’t give me any directions, just said, “push how you want when you feel like it.” My midwife, on the other hand, gave me very specific instructions which, surprise surprise, weren’t working for me. About halfway through the pushing process, I had full sensation of the pain and an overwhelming urge to push. I told My midwife to back off. After that, I followed my instincts, and pushing became a lot easier. After 90 minutes of pushing, my daughter Eowyn Rose was born. The best part was the end. Once she was crowning, I got the rest of her out in about five minutes, with minimal tearing and no episiotomy.
My first thought when I held her was, “This does not look like a newborn!” She was completely pink, no vermix, and huge. She also didn’t cry when they put her on my chest. Jim cut the cord, and the hospital staff bent their rules and let me stay with her for an extra few hours while she and I tried nursing. No matter what, if I was nursing her, the hospital staff always backed off. They were incredibly pro nursing.
Our post partum stay was short, and really great. The nurses came to our room at all hours to help me learn how to nurse, and I know this is why my engorgement wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
I was incredibly impressed with the hospital. Although I wanted a home birth very badly, in the end, I feel like I got the best outcome possible. I have no regrets about my decision to transfer, and my use of an epidural and pitocin. Obviously, I chose the wrong midwife, but you live and you learn. Birth is a sacred experience, no matter where, when, why, or how it happens, and now I have the most beautiful daughter in the world.