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Benjamin's birth: A long hard journey

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I had a midwife appointment on Aug 29, one day before my due date. Although I had turned down all previously offered vaginal exams, I was starting to get curious and so I let the midwife exam me. She said I was 90-95% effaced and a finger width dilated. She also said she could feel the baby and announced that he had hair. In retrospect, I think she might have done a membrane sweep because the exam was fairly uncomfortable (far more uncomfortable than any of the exams I had during labor) and because I started bleeding after the exam (and the bleeding continued throughout labor).

Around 9:30PM that night, the Braxton Hicks contractions that I had been feeling pretty regularly for the past 2 weeks started to become crampy and regular. However, I was able to ignore them so I decided to go to sleep. I woke up at 1:30AM on Aug 30 (my due date) with contractions that I could not ignore. I tried to go back to sleep, but after lying in bed for 90 minutes, decided I would just get up and take a bath (this was my plan if I went into labor in the middle of the night – take a bath to try to slow things down so that Chad and Serena (my doula) could get a good nights sleep. Around 4:00AM I looked down in the tub and noticed my mucus plug floating around. Around 5:30AM, Chad came in to the bathroom to check on me and I told him I was pretty sure I was in labor. I asked him if he wanted to try to go back to sleep, but he decided it was probably better if he packed his hospital bag instead. At that point I got out of the tub and put all of my last minute items into my hospital bag too.

Around 7:00AM we called my mom (who lived 3.5 hours away) a heads up that labor was starting and that she should plan on coming down to Atlanta (she was going to stay at our house and care for the dogs while I was at the hospital). I also called my doula and let her know what was going on. Finally, I called my midwife. The midwife asked me to go to the office to get checked before heading to the hospital. Because the midwife’s office was across town, Chad and I decided to wait until after rush hour before heading out (the idea of having contractions in the car and not being able to use the bathroom when I wanted to was not appealing). At that point the contractions were painful, but not unbearable.

We arrived at the midwife’s office at about 10:45AM. I was very frustrated to hear that I was only 1 cm dilated (I felt ready for the hospital) and that I should go walking to help move things along. So we called our doula and asked her to meet us at the mall. We met at the food court were we ate some lunch and then we proceeded to spend a couple of hours walking, talking and relaxing. At about 2PM I started feeling like I needed more privacy and that I wanted to “nest in” somewhere. So, we headed back to the midwife’s office for another cervix check.

Sadly, despite my contractions and all of the walking, I was still only 1 cm dilated. However I was completely effaced and the baby was apparently “right there” (I forgot to ask what station). I was told that I had some scar tissue on my cervix that might be holding things up. The midwife tried to break it up manually (which really hurt), but she said she could not get it to soften. The midwife then recommended that I go home and rest and wait for labor to pick up. When I heard this I started crying because I felt so frustrated with my body (I really felt like my cervix was not cooperating) and because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep. However, we headed home. Chad and my mom ate dinner (I wasn’t feeling much like eating at that point). I labored in several different places, tried taking another bath, tried to sleep but I could not get comfortable. Even though my contractions had not changed all day, Chad and I decided that the best thing was for me to go to the hospital. Once there the midwife suggested some medicine to help me get some rest through the night. I agreed and was given a combination of morphine and phenergan. I turned down the IV and asked that I be given shots instead (the nurses thought I was crazy, but I really wanted to avoid an IV as I was already peeing every 30-60 minutes). The shots lessened the pain enough for me to get some rest (although I really only slept between contractions). Chad slept fitfully on the “husband’s” pullout chair. The worst part of the night was that I had to be hooked up to the fetal monitor, which severely limited my mobility. I got chastised by the nurses many times because I kept unhooking myself from the monitor.

My midwife came to see me around 7:00AM on the morning of Aug 31 and did another cervix check. She said that I was 3 cm dilated and that she would like to break my water to help move things along. I was slightly hesitant about having my water broken (I really wanted it to happen naturally) but after laboring for more than a day, I was also VERY ready for labor to pick up. I asked if I would still be allowed to have a water birth (I really wanted to be in the tub at this point) and the midwife said I could. So, I agreed to the procedure. Chad then called our doula and let her know what we had decided and to ask her to come to the hospital.

At 11:30AM my midwife broke my water. I was allowed off the monitor (hooray!) and I continued to labor, rocking on the birth ball or sitting on the toilet (I loved not having to worry about moving to empty my bladder). At some point I threw up. I was encouraged by all of these things and felt like labor was going well. Chad and my doula both did an excellent job providing encouragement and support (both mentally and physically). Around 1:30PM I couldn’t stand it any more and asked to be allowed in the birth tub. Of course I had to wait for the tub to be set up (which was slightly annoying since I had made it very clear to everyone from the very beginning that I wanted a water birth and that I wanted to get in the tub ASAP).

Finally, I was allowed in the tub (my doula says it was only 30 minutes after I asked, but it felt much longer to me!). The water was heavenly. By far my favorite places to labor were the toilet and the tub. I labored in the tub for a couple of hours before I decided wanted to get out and sit on the toilet again. While on the toilet I reached up and felt my baby, his head was right there! I was pretty excited to be able to feel him and announced to everyone that the baby was “right there”. My midwife decided to check me again. She agreed that the baby was right there, but said I was only dilated 4 or 5cm. She then asked if she could manually dilate me to help speed things along. I agreed and then proceeded to experience one of the most painful procedures I have ever had. Manual dilation sucks! After completing the procedure, my midwife ordered me back into the tub with Chad, where I was expected to lie on my left side. At this point I completely lost track of time and started to feel very “out of it” and was in constant pain from the pressure of the baby, the contractions, and the pain from the manual dilation. I had done so much laboring for so little progress and I was definitely getting discouraged. I also felt exhausted and angry with my cervix for not opening. I am pretty sure I cried continuously for the next couple of hours, but I really don’t remember. I do remember telling Chad and my doula that I was “done” and that “I couldn’t take it anymore” and that this was “all too much”. Chad wisely remained silent (just gave me physical support), but my doula tried to talk to me. I am pretty sure I told her to shut up (but she says she doesn’t remember that).

At some point I got out of the tub again (I think it was about 2 hours later) and was checked by the midwife. No change in my cervix (in fact I think she said I was 4 cm dilated, which sucked after being told earlier that I was 4, possible 5 cm dilated). My midwife said to me that she thought I could deliver this baby vaginally but that she would like to help my cervix along by manually dilating me again. I REALLY wanted to have this baby soon, so I agreed even though I was still hurting from the last dilation attempt and was really upset that I had gone through all of that pain and waiting for zero change in my cervix. Once again, I experienced the horrible pain of manual dilation. Although I had been thinking about pain medication before (I had always said I would accept pain medication if I labored more that 24 hours and I had certainly surpassed that goal), the second manual dilation definitely pushed me over the edge and I asked my midwife to talk to me about pain relief options. I was hurting, tired, and extremely distressed.

Somehow we decided that the next best step was to try a pitocin/fentanyl cocktail. I agreed even though I knew it meant that I would have to have an IV and be hooked up to the fetal monitor. So, I labored for 2 hours with pitocin and fentanyl and then one more hour with just pitocin. Sadly, after all of that, my cervix still wasn’t dilating any further than 4-5cm. The pitocin was pretty brutal, increasing the intensity of my contractions significantly and combined with the continuous pressure from the baby’s head, I felt that there was no way I could continue without significant pain relief. So around 11:00PM I made the decision to get an epidural (in the back of my mind was worried that a cesarean was eminent). At 11:30PM the anesthesiologist arrived and gave me an epidural. Sweet, sweet relief. Even though I knew I was kissing my water birth good bye, I feel that getting the epidural was the best, most sane decision I made during labor (agreeing to a second manual dilation was the craziest thing I did). My anesthesiologist was excellent, very kind and patient; he did fantastic job. I could still feel and move my legs, but the pain was gone (although I could still feel pressure and knew when I was having contractions). I was able to open my eyes (I think they had been closed for hours because I was so out of my head with pain and exhaustion) and talk and joke with everyone which was an incredible relief. The mood in the room changed considerably. The pitocin was cranked up (at that point, I was like “bring it on”) and I actually felt like things were going to be okay.

Around 3:00AM on Sept 1 my cervix was almost completely dilated and my midwife turned off my epidural. My midwife had me do two practice pushes and then told me to rest and that she would come back to help me (she had another mother who was also ready to push and she decided to attend to her first since she was laboring naturally). However, sometime after my midwife left, I felt overwhelmingly “pushy” and just HAD to push. I announced this to Chad and my doula and proceeded to push with my contractions. At some point the nurse started freaking out and asked me to stop pushing (because my midwife still wasn’t present), but I ignored her and said, that we could deliver this baby without the midwife and that everything would be fine. A few more pushes later, at exactly 4:00AM, Benjamin was finally born into the world.

Although I do not regret any part of my birthing experience (except, maybe the second manual dilation), it was traumatic and I have had a really hard time processing everything that happened. My labor was extremely difficult and much more brutal than I could ever have imagined. Definitely not the peaceful natural water birth I had planned on. However, I am proud of myself for enduring so many hours of labor and doing everything I possibly could to try to reach my goal. I am also really happy that I had such a positive epidural experience which allowed me to enjoy the last few hours of my labor. My favorite part of the birthing experience was pushing my baby out and listening to my body (which was finally cooperating and doing what it was supposed to do) without instruction from medical personnel.
post #2 of 18
Congratulations on the birth of your son Benjamin! Thanks for sharing your birth story
post #3 of 18


Your story made me tired just reading it! I'm sorry that you didn't have quite the birth that you'd planned for, but I'm very glad that you and baby are both healthy. Congratulation on your new LO!
post #4 of 18
wow, emily, i had no idea it was that rough for you. it certainly was an ordeal! so benjamin emerged sans midwife? wow! a UC! (of a sort)

how do you feel about your midwife? i ask because i am still processing my own mixed feelings about my mw.
post #5 of 18
it sounds like you had a very rough time and I can tell you from experience, it can take months to years to process everything. just take it day by day and enjoy your baby, you truly dealt with a lot, but congrats!
post #6 of 18
Oh Emily!

When I first heard you mention the term "unfavorable cervix" I thought it sounded like one of those polite medical terms that disguises pain and suffering. I had no idea! I'm sorry you had such a rough time, so far removed from the peaceful waterbirth you wanted. You must feel really overwhelmed from trying to process what happened and learning to be a mommy all at once.

Did Chad catch the baby? Did you tear? On the bright side, it sounds like you and DH made a great team and did great when you were left alone.

Take care of yourself and hug Benjamin for me. I love his name, BTW.
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by PiePie View Post
how do you feel about your midwife? i ask because i am still processing my own mixed feelings about my mw.
Mostly I feel positive about her. I doubt very much that any other practioner in Atlanta (which is NOT a natural birth friendly city) would have allowed me to labor that long and that I would have been a c-sec after the first 24 hours. I also doubt that anyone else would have been that committed to trying everything to allow me to have waterbirth (I doubt very much that my midwife enjoyed manually dilating me - it was just the best way she knew how to help me without resorting to IV meds). A lot of what I endured was because I was too stubborn to cry uncle (and because I had a very optomistic and natural birth committed support team). However, I do believe that at some point someone should have recognized how very tired I was and how much pain I was in and helped me face reality a bit sooner than I did. However, who is to say that in retrospect I wouldn't have been mad at them for convincing me to give up my ideal birth before I had completely exhausted all of my options. So, despite the hell I went through, it was probably what needed to be experienced in order for me to completely accept pitocin and the epidural. That being said, I WAS irritated with the huge amount of fetal monitoring (even though I kept asking not to be monitored) and when I did my practice pushes, the midwife was shouting and counting (which I absolutely did not want) - so I am really happy she was busy with another birth when I was ready to push. Still, should I ever chose to have another hospital birth here in Atlanta, I will use the same midwife.
post #8 of 18
So, who caught the baby?

"So, despite the hell I went through, it was probably what needed to be experienced in order for me to completely accept pitocin and the epidural."

You should have no regrets! Medical help is available to women who need it, and it sounds like you were one of them. I always tell people to have no expectations about birth. Trusting your body and education are key but sometimes, after you have prepared for birth, intervention is warranted. You made an educated decision that worked best for you.
post #9 of 18
emily - thank you for sharing your story! If birth is a marathon, you did two (at least). congrats again!
post #10 of 18
hmm double post.
post #11 of 18
it sounds like you handled what you were given more than well. Thank you for sharing your story.
post #12 of 18
Congrats on the baby. I knoe exactly what you mean when you talk about all the waiting for no dilation...BTDT! You should be proud of yourself for getting through, and I hope you process it all soon and feel better about it.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by mommyminer View Post
So, who caught the baby?
The nurse caught the baby. I think she was a little freaked out. She managed to suction him and tried to wipe him off before DH yelled at her to stop and said that we didn't want her to do that. She then tried to clamp the cord and again DH had to stop her. At that point we were so off her script that she had to go the midwife
post #14 of 18
Originally Posted by dctexan View Post
The nurse caught the baby. I think she was a little freaked out. She managed to suction him and tried to wipe him off before DH yelled at her to stop and said that we didn't want her to do that. She then tried to clamp the cord and again DH had to stop her. At that point we were so off her script that she had to go the midwife
That's actually really funny!

Congratulations on your baby!! I come from the total end of the spectrum - VERY fast labor and very fast dilation... but then my pushing stage was the difficult part. As I read your story, I was like... wow... it's SO interesting to read about the different ways we can experience labor. It sounds like it was a pretty brutal experience but I'm impressed. I also would have NO qualms about accepting medical help at the point at which you did. I probably would have caved sooner. I'm glad your body decided to finally cooperate and you didn't need a section.

And it's also funny that in the end, your mw didn't even see the birth. I wish that could have happened with me - as great as she was, I hated the counting / shouting. It would have been great if she would have had to "step out of the room" for a few minutes and let me birth my baby in peace. :
post #15 of 18
I had a similarly long and brutal labor. Also with scar tissue on my cervix. And in my case the baby was posterior and acynclitic (tipped head, so pressure on the cervix was uneven, meaning I didn't efface evenly, and dilation was excruciatingly slow). Do you know your baby's position? Just wondering if it contributed at all.

Anyway, I know that feeling of despair, and like your body failed you. It's hard . I've done a lot of healing in the last two years. Just take it a day at a time, and have compassion for yourself .
post #16 of 18
Emily, first of all congratulations on your baby boy, I bet he is beautiful!! I am sorry that you did not get the birth that you wanted but is does sound like you did an amazing job!!

I have a question about the scarring on the cervix if it isn't to personal. What do you have scaring from? I had to have a cone (not sure of a better word for it) cut into my cervix due to constant bleeding and think that I might also have scarring. Is that what yours is from? Just curious.

post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the support ladies
At almost 5 weeks PP I am feeling MUCH better about my birth and it doesn't seem as miserable and horrific (is it the hormones that help ease the memories?). I think being able to write down and share my birth story was important for the healing process. I also think I am feeling better because little Benjamin has let his mama get 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep 3 nights in a row (woohoo!). Anyway all is well here.

Sharun - Sorry I just realized I forgot to reply to you about the scar tissue. I actually have no idea what it is from. The midwife kept asking me if I had had surgery or something, but I never have! I guess it was just one of those freaky things.
post #18 of 18
I am glad that you are feeling better now! Do you have any pics of your beautiful baby?:
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