My birth story....
I had a very bad experience with my OB with a miscarriage last fall, and couldn’t change docs due to insurance issues, so I decided to try UC. I went to my OB initially to confirm pg and authorize my insurance for coverage in the event of an emergency transfer. I had the initial blood work, and a u/s at 24 weeks, and then I just stopped going to my appointments without formally notifying them. I had met Sue, the CNMW at my initial visit. My dh was on board with the UC idea. We were ready, and I always told my family (who was very worried) that I was not going to stay home just for the sake of staying home, and I assured them and dh that I would go to a hospital if I felt anything was wrong. I would not risk my life, or the baby’s.
I had very strong BH the last 4 weeks and lost part of my plug 2 weeks before the birth. I know I was about 3-4cm dilated the last month, (I remember how it felt after my m/c and I had a two inch red stripe on my rear, supposedly an indicator). I had no internal exams, since no one had seen me since 24 weeks. I was awakened suddenly at 3:45 am Sunday Sept. 19th with a very strong contraction that was NOT a BH. I instinctively ran for the toilet, and my water broke with a SPLAT all over the tile and half in the toilet. It was clear with flecks of vernix. I was 40w 4 days. I called for dh, and he started setting up towels and tarps on the floor from the bedroom to the bath, and started to fill the pool. My next contraction came ten minutes later, very strong. They were about ten minutes apart the first hour, and I walked a lot. Then things suddenly picked up in intensity and speed. I was about 5 minutes apart, then three minutes. I was singing through the contractions, “Ohhhhh OOOOOOO Ohhhhhh” but they were coming so fast and hard it was like I couldn’t catch up. I labored standing, leaning on my hands over the kitchen table for a bit, then on my knees with my upper body over the side of the bed. Then I tried to get in the pool, but it was cold! We have a rental, so maybe the water heater was auto-set to shut down at night or something. I tried to get in the tub after the hot water came back a little but I couldn’t fit in any kind of comfortable position. I went to the toilet and stayed there.
Suddenly, it was just like one LONG contraction – just never ending. I couldn’t get any rest. They were so powerful and intense. I could not be left alone for a second. I just held my dh’s hand as he stood in front of me, as I roared and screamed. But it went on and on and on - for about two hours. I began to pray aloud over and over, “Jesus, have mercy on me... Jesus, have mercy on me.” I was totally incoherent. I began saying. “I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t have this baby!” My dh just kept saying, “You’re doing great honey.” I had this totally irrational, yet very real desire, to be instantly placed unconscious and have the baby CUT out of me. I did not care. I would have gladly had a c-section at that moment. The pain was so intense. Then I said, “I’m going to be sick,” and dh ran for a bowl. I threw up hard twice into it. And then suddenly everything STOPPED. It was like flipping off a light switch. I became instantly clear headed, and coherent, the pain was gone, and no contractions. I sat there for a while then started to wonder if this was normal, and told dh to go get me a pg book. I was in the resting phase! So, we sat there and waited. I think I dozed off for a moment. The contraction came about a half hour later, but was so powerful again, and very quickly picked up speed. But something was different than before. I was having what I knew must be back labor. That pain on top of the regular labor pains was absolutely excruciating, and unbearable. The only word I can think of is electrocution. It felt like a 12” strip on either side of my spine in my lower back had a lightning rod attached to it, and I was being electrocuted every two minutes. Then my body began involuntarily pushing SO HARD. At least three pushes on every contraction, which were now 60-90 seconds apart. But I knew something was wrong. I looked down with a mirror, and everything was quadrupled in size with swelling, and I knew that was wrong. I put my finger inside, but couldn’t feel up far enough to feel anything but swelling, no cervix, no head. I couldn’t feel the baby in my canal. It felt like my body was pushing against a closed door. I knew this was very bad and every alarm bell in my body was going off, saying I needed help. I told dh, “Something’s wrong. We have to go – we have to go NOW – call 911!”
The ambulance was pulling into the driveway literally 60 seconds after he made the call, (there’s a fire station 200 yards from our house) and suddenly there were 4 medics in my bathroom and me sitting on the toilet in my bloody night gown in AGONY! They gave me oxygen, and realized I was already pushing and they all yelled, “DON’T PUSH DON’T PUSH!” and I said, “Stop yelling at me!” They couldn’t get me down the stairs on a stretcher so they tried this chair device which didn’t work because it was too painful, so this medic carried all 170 pounds of me in his arms down the stairs, and he was very patient to wait the seconds between ctxs/pushes to do it.
At the hospital, a nurse checked me and said I was 7.5 cm, but my body wouldn’t stop pushing. My OB’s CNMW, Sue, arrived 30 minutes later - she was not pleased when she realized they hadn’t seen me since 24 weeks. She checked me and I was 9 cm with unbelievable swelling in my vulva and perineum, and a very swollen lip of cervix. Meanwhile, I was still dying from the back labor. I asked what my options were for pain, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to push this baby out with that electrical feeling. I got an epidural. I tell you what, that epidural was my best friend at that moment. It killed the back labor, but not the feeling of contractions, just dulled them a bit. Sue said she didn’t think it would be possible for the massive swelling to go down. Sue said she would let me rest for 30 minutes then we would have to discuss “options.” I knew that meant “c-section.” Just then, our priest arrived and gave me a blessing. When Sue came back, ALL the swelling was gone and she said it was a miracle – I think the blessing did it. I was complete and could start pushing. However, my epidural had been turned up, and now I felt NOTHING. After two hours of feeling ALL pushing, I was like, “Push WHAT?” so they turned off the epidural. They had me on my back, in the C position holding my legs up and I tried to THINK “push!”
I ended up pushing for three hours – mostly on my back, sometimes on my side. He wouldn’t come down. The whole time Sue kept saying, “Wow, the baby looks great, he’s tolerating this really well!” On the monitor his heart rate was always 135, 140, 125, etc. It took forever for me to crown, he was at the entrance of my vagina and wouldn’t budge. I was totally feeling again, and I had an instinct to turn on all fours, but Sue wouldn’t let me. Finally, he crowned and in the mirror they had set up I saw Sue reach up with scissors in her hand, and I screamed at the top of my lungs, “No!!! Sue, PLEASE don’t cut me!!!” And she yelled, “Then you better get this baby out on the next push!” And I said, “He’s coming NOW!!!” And I pushed with all my might through all the pain. He came out to his ears, and on the next contraction seconds later, Sue grabbed his head with her right hand and pulled, and pressed down on my belly with her left hand, and he came flying out all at once. It was so violent, that move that she did.
Sue yelled, “I’ve got MEC!” and immediately cut the cord and Alex was totally limp like a rag doll. It was the most terrifying sight. She yelled for NICU, and took him to the other table and started rubbing his chest and waving oxygen under his nose. My dh held my hand and we prayed the Hail Mary over and over while they tried to get him to breathe. Five minutes later, the NICU team arrived and continued working on him, and he started to pink up. His Apgars were 1/1/7. They took him away to NICU, and my husband broke down sobbing at my bedside.
I tore a little – a first degree labial tear, and a small vaginal tear, and got about 3-4 sutures. We went to NICU an hour later, and I got to hold my son. He had an IV in his head where they were giving him some fluids, but he was breathing room air. They kept him there for two days. I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I shook violently on and off for two days. The neonatologist wouldn’t let me put him to my breast, even though my milk had not come in, and they said he couldn’t eat anything for 48 hours. This made my lactation consultant very angry, since she knew it would help baby and me. She said docs make her job very difficult. Meanwhile, I had been chastised privately by my midwife and the resident neonatologist for what I had done – i.e. trying to have him at home alone. All the guilt was laid squarely at my feet. My LC asked if it was true what I had done. I really had a good sense of her, so I told her my story. Turns out she is an advocate of homebirth, and she was the only one who applauded me for trying, even though it didn’t work out. She said, “Good grief, you didn’t have a homebirth – you had a home labor!”
NICU sent him to the next nursery down, not the general one, for another four days, before he was released. My milk came in on day three, so he only got 1 day of formula, and then I put him to the breast on day five. He nursed like a champ! I refused silver nitrate eye ointment in Alex’s eyes at birth, and refused vaccinations (had to say that one more than once) and circumcision. He was kept there about two days too long, and we think they were being overly cautious as there was literally nothing wrong with our son. Every check or test was negative, and he was 100% healthy. Overall, though, all the nurses were wonderful and gave us great care.
My midwife did a good job, I think, given that I didn’t make her job very easy by “surprising” her the way I did. I would never attempt a UC again because of the type of labor I had. I would want a midwife there to help me through it, if I had such a tough labor again, since my dh is really not equipped to be a good labor partner, though he tried. And I would not want to be at home with a baby coming out looking the way Alex did. Maybe next time I will do it at a birth center, I don’t know. I have a lot of conflicted feelings about this right now. My husband was angry initially, and blamed me a little too. But he apologized, and he doesn’t fault me for having tried.
I totally cannot relate at this point to women who describe puttering around the house, etc. through labor, or kissing their husband, or having a pleasurable birth since mine was so intense and hard. It's just unimaginable. Sorry this was so long. I would like to hear any comments, since it may help me to process this. I’d particularly like to hear from pamamidwife and Linda (blueviolet), but all are welcome. Thanks for listening…