Labor began the night of October 27th. I woke up several times during the night with sporadic, intense contractions. During the day on the 28th I was hit with a furious case of nesting. I cleaned the entire house from top to bottom, despite feeling that all I wanted to do was rest. I knew the leaning HAD to be done before the baby could be born. When Dave came home from work my top priority was to have him wash the dogs. He couldn’t
understand how I was sitting there having intense contractions and all I cared about was getting the dogs clean.
That night the contractions became more intense and closer together. I stayed in bed and tried to rest, because I didn’t know what was ahead and I wanted to be as rested as possible. Near morning the contractions were so intense I had to vocalize through them. At about 5:00 am I had to get up. We started timing the contractions and they were lasting a minute, and were two minutes apart. At 5:30 we called Lindsey, our midwife. She came over and checked me, and said I was dilated between a 4 and a 5. She assured me this was real labor. Strangely, while she was at the house my contractions slowed. She left so Dave and I could labor alone, with the plan for us to call her when we were ready.
Dave and I decided to practice hypnobirthing. After practicing, the contractions slowed and became sporadic again. Throughout the morning I tried to get in positions that would make me have more contractions. Around 3:30 in the afternoon Lindsey came back over to see if I’d made any progress. She said I was at a 6, and decided to stay.
I got in the birth pool, but it was too hot so I moved to the couch. Things progressed quickly at that point and I was having a hard time making it through the contractions. Dave and I tried hypnobirthing, but the all the noise I was making through the contractions made it hard to focus. Lindsey said I was in transition, and that I was starting to sound pushy. She asked if I felt like pushing, and I said no. She said to go ahead and try to push on the next contraction and see how it felt, so I did. Pushing felt good, and
seemed to take away a lot of the pain of the contraction.
I stayed on the couch pushing for quite some time. Lindsey’s back-up midwife, Jules arrived. They convinced me to get back in the birth pool to push, since it might be faster than me pushing on my side how I was. I squatted in the birth pool and pushed, and pushed. At one point I reached inside to see if I could feel the baby’s head, and I thought I could. There was something right there, just a couple of inches inside of me.
Jules suggested I go try and push on the toilet. I did, and it didn’t feel right. They asked me to feel if I felt the baby descending further, but when I reached inside I could no longer feel anything but my vagina. I told Jules that and she just looked confused. They decided to try and break my water. Lindsey tried, but it didn’t break. I tried pushing there through a few more contractions before we went back to the birth pool.
I was pushing as hard as I could, and Jules kept telling me to push harder. I was seriously scared that I was going to burst a blood vessel in my head. They had me put my feet up on the side of the birth pool and hold onto a towel with Dave holding on to the other end, and pull on the towel as hard as I could while I pushed as hard as I could, to give me some sort of leverage. (Dave commented that I was going to be sore from that the next day, and boy was he right. My arms, back and chest were sore for days after.)
A while later Lindsey again tried to break my water, but nothing happened. I had been pushing for 3 hours and was getting tired and losing heart. I didn’t feel like we were making any progress, and it just didn’t feel right.
At that point Jules checked me, and was shocked to say I was at a 4. I couldn’t believe it. A 4? I was only at a 4 and I had been pushing for 3 hours? The midwives wanted me to just continue to labor at home until I was fully dilated and we would try again.
I had no faith left in the midwives or their ability to safely deliver my baby. I was extremely tired and beginning to feel quite a bit of fear. This made the contractions almost unbearable. I decided I wanted to transfer to the hospital and get an epidural so I could sleep. I had no idea how long I would have to push when it was time, and I knew I needed sleep.
We packed a bag, having no idea what to pack and feeling in a daze. This wasn’t what we had planned or hoped for. Everything was going wrong. I was angry at the midwives and at what I felt was their incompetence. We made it to the hospital and I just started falling apart. I was fighting the contractions and the pain was unbearable. I tried walking from the car into emergency, and couldn’t make it. It felt like the baby’s head was coming out
of me and walking was extremely painful. The midwives went ahead and had a nurse come out with a wheelchair to get me.
Once in the hospital they were having trouble finding a doctor who would take me. The on-call doctor didn’t return their phone call. I was set up in a room and the anesthesiologist was there to give me an epidural, but she had to wait until they found a doctor for me and the doctor gave his or her approval. During the contractions I would beg them to help me. They checked me, and said I was only dilated 3 cm.
Finally, around 11:30 pm I received an epidural and a doctor arrived to talk to me. She sent the midwives and my brother out of the room so she could talk to Dave and I alone. She proceeded to tell me what a huge liability it was for her to deliver my baby. She explained that it was impossible to be fully dilated and regress back to a 3. I had never been dialated beyond a 3. She was very candid and told me she was afraid I would end up with a c-section for failure to progress. Since having the epidural, my contractions had all but stopped. She said they were no where near strong enough to dilate my cervix. She told me she would not deliver my baby unless I agreed to have antibiotics during the night in case I was GBS positive, whereas I had never been tested.
I agreed with what she told me, whereas I didn’t really have a choice at that point, and I knew I needed her help. They started me on pitocin and I tried to sleep. The room was extremely dry and my nose was very stuffy. I couldn’t have anything to drink, and I had to breathe through my mouth since I couldn’t through my nose. My mouth was so dry it was painful and I was miserable. I couldn’t sleep at all, so around 3 am the nurse told me
she would try to get the approval to give me ambien. After no drugs of any kind, not even tylenol, during pregnancy, here I was in the final hours and I had to take a sleeping pill. This was not what I wanted, but I knew I needed sleep. They gave me the ambien, and I was able to rest.
In the morning I felt as though my epidural was wearing off because I felt as though the baby’s head was coming out. I pushed my “pain” button and went back to sleep. This happened twice. When the doctor arrived in the morning she found that I was completely dilated, and the baby was right there waiting to be born. (Her head HAD been coming out!) Dave held up one of my legs (the one that was completely numb) and the nurse held
the other, and they told me when to push, and counted for me to ten. I had thought the counting would bother me, but I really liked it. It gave me focus and I felt it helped me push harder.
The doctor said I was starting to tear, so she did a small cut in my vagina, and then I continued pushing. In about 15 minutes of total pushing, Olivia was born. They cut the cord pretty much immediately, and handed me my baby. She was beautiful! She was still pretty purple. I tried nursing her, but she wouldn’t stay latched on. The nurse noticed she was breathing really fast, like she was panting. They did the newborn exam, and
decided they needed to send her to the nursery to get her on oxygen.
Basically Olivia didn’t transition well to being born, and that is why she was breathing the way she was. The doctors said it was fairly common. At first they thought she had pneumonia, and gave her two different kinds of antibiotics. But by 1:00 am on Saturday she had corrected the breathing problem herself. They kept her in the nursery, but finally let me nurse her on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, Halloween, I was able to have
my baby and go home.
Her birth wasn’t at all what I had planned or hoped for, but she arrived safely and that is all that matters.
Lindsey had called me in the hospital on the day of Olivia's birth and told me she would be by that afternoon to see me and the baby. She never showed up or called back. The next day she called and said she would come and see me when I was home. I never heard from her again.
Monica, mama to Olivia (6)