He was 7 lbs 12 ounces at birth, 20 inches long. After 13 days of prodromal labor we went in to the OBs on Monday morning the 19th of April and we were disappointed once again to find out that I was only at 2cm and the baby’s head had not come down further into my pelvis--despite the frequency of Sunday night/Monday morning’s contractions and the occurrence of true bloody show. It was discouraging to hear that the timeable and frequent contractions which had been keeping me awake for days weren't doing much for my cervix. So, we went home, and I actually figured it would be a few more days as the cx had pretty much gone away (my contractions were like vampires, asleep during the day).
Monday night we watched a movie at home and during the movie the cx started up again, but infrequently. I went to bed at about 10pm with timeable cx again...but figured it was more prodromal labor. At about 11pm, I realized that I COULD NOT lie down through these contractions. They were every 3 minutes and I had to flip onto my hands and knees to get through each one. I eventually managed to get into the shower b/c I wanted to see if the hot water would make them slow down...but nope, this was it!
At about 1am, I woke DW, the contractions were fast and furious...every 2-3 minutes and incredibly painful. DW called the OB and we headed to the hospital...where we found out I was only 3-4cm (7 contractions in the 50 yards between the elevator door and the labor and delivery room). But, progress had been made and it was clear that we were staying.
For the next couple of hours (the timetable is a bit blurry to me) I had intense contractions every couple of minutes. I was having back labor and spent most of the time on my hands and knees w/ my forehead against the birthing ball (I did not want anyone to touch me or look at me and I HAD to have the birth ball touching my forehead and I would head butt the ball as I rocked through every contraction on my hands and knees). I guess at around 4am, I started having contraction w/o more than 30 seconds between them that were intensely painful. For 2 hours, I had CONSTANT contractions (the intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring showed that the baby was doing great with all of this) and by 6am I had been laboring on my hands and knees for 7 hours.
At the next cervical check, around 6am, it was clear that the baby was still not engaged and I was measuring 4cm (w/ my level of pain/intensity DW and I both thought I was in transition, nope). The OB offered to rupture my membranes--warning me that, while it could speed things up, it would also make the contractions more painful. So after weighing my options, and stamina (I really hadn't slept in a couple of days due to prodromal labor and then active labor) I accepted the offer. I got into the bed onto my side, and the OB made two attempts to rupture my membranes--and they WOULD not go. The contractions were becoming even stronger already and I started to throw up. I had to have my upper leg supported into the air to get through these...and I was getting loud. Then, as I threw up again my membranes ruptured and for a brief moment I felt better...and then back into the cx.
It was pretty awful. The OB (who had midwife attended births of her own and was fully on board, as was the entire OB group, with our plans for an intervention free child birth as long as we felt that both myself and the baby were safe) quietly asked DW (I didn't hear her) if I would consider an epidural so that I could get some rest and relief from the unrelenting contractions. DW told her that I hadn't wanted one but then asked how much longer we could be in labor. When she got the answer (7-8 hours!) she came up to me and asked what I would prefer. When I found out that it could be that long before the unending cx ended with birth (and the OB's guess was a good one it would be another 6 hours or so) I realized that w/o rest I would not be able to keep going and the epidural would allow me rest.
I have to say, the epidural proved to be the best possible decision for all of us. With the epidural I could still sense the contractions, but went from a place of trying to survive to actually regaining a sense of self and control in the birth. It felt like I was becoming a participant rather than a victim of a process I had no control over. It was very difficult to hold still while the epidural was put into place but my DW held me close, supporting my weight and helping me through the process, and at around 7am I was able to lie down and close my eyes. The contractions slowed down and around 9am or so the OB (a new one as on-call had changed) suggested we use pitocin to strengthen the contractions a bit because the baby was STILL not descending.
I want to make it clear that the OBs were very respectful of my wishes and I did not feel coerced or manipulated in anyway throughout the entire process. The pitocin was added and the contractions became more regular. Throughout, I could feel the pressure of the contractions and I was able to maneuver/move around as much as I needed to (I actually didn’t want to move much, it was such a relief to lie on my side after all those hours of being on my hands and knees). I was also allowed to eat throughout my labor (including after the placement of the epidural) and I remember a very satisfying English muffin and later a cereal bar that tasted amazing! And, the anesthesiologist/OB made it clear that their priorities were my comfort and my ability to feel enough for labor to progress and for me to push effectively when it was time to do so.
But, I was still worried and puzzled that the baby was NOT descending--as was the OB. About 3 hours after the epidural was placed a Foley catheter was used (once again I was asked if I was okay with this before it was done and our champ of a labor & delivery nurse removed it when it was time to push). The second the catheter entered my bladder 1200 ml of urine rushed out!
So, that’s why the baby couldn’t engage! With the back to back contractions and my drinking water, gatorade and vitamin water to try and keep going I had not been able to pee even when I tried to (I'd tried, lots). It hadn’t occurred to me that I hadn’t been able to empty my bladder since active labor had begun 12 hours before. So, the baby couldn't descend/engage b/c he had a nice cushy bladder to bang against! So, if not for the epidural I would not have had a catheter, and without the catheter the baby would have continued to use my bladder as a cushion that kept him from coming out! Go figure!
2 hours, restful hours, I was complete (b/c now his head could hit my cervix!). I could feel the pressure of the baby against my perineum and was able to push very effectively, focusing my energy as I felt the baby descend and enter the birth canal. Being able to push gave me a surprising sense of satisfaction and I was able to bring strength to the pushing as it became clear that we would be meeting our son very soon. His head felt solid and full as he came through and I could feel the progress he was making towards us with every push. The labor and delivery nurse applied counter pressure to my perineum and lube was used in order to ease his passage.
A student nurse and my DW held my legs while I pushed (the bed had been broken down into a birthing chair). I felt his head come through and then with another strong push his shoulder’s slipped out. He came out facing the side (not posterior but he hadn’t quite made it all the way into the anterior position) wailing and was placed immediately onto my chest. He latched within minutes and I kept telling him as we patted and caressed him “it’s okay, it’s okay”. DW cut the cord and he stayed in my arms throughout the delivery of the placenta (which felt soothing) and the stitching. I had a second degree tear—mostly because I pushed him out in 22 minutes.
Our son stayed with us, intervention free, for several hours. When we were ready (when I wanted to shower several hours later) he was weighed and measured--7 lbs 12 ounces, 20 inches long, with a head circumference of 35cm. We accepted the prophylactic eye goop but declined the Hep B vaccine. When he went to the nursery for his first bath DW went with him while I showered. He remained and remains intact and it was obvious to us that the medical staff were relieved that we didn’t want him circ’d. He did not receive any artificial nipples in the hospital and staff actually volunteered to remove the formula from the hospital gift bag so that we wouldn’t have to cart it home only to throw it out (and they gave me lots of extra lansinoh!)
I am delighted with the quality of care I received and the respect shown our family in the hospital. The hospital we delivered at has the lowest c-section rate in the region (10%) and it was clear that the experienced nursing staff and the OBs all took pride in this fact. The lactation consultant (they have 3!) came by several times and was quite helpful. We left the hospital 26 hours after his birth—and he is currently snugged up asleep on DW as I type this.
Two moms and two boys enjoying the truth that love always wins!!!
The full bladder thing happened to a friend who was homebirthing too, the MW noticed it and cathed her to drain it, silly bladders! I'm glad they figured it out!
IT sounds like you had respectful care and that is always nice to hear!
I'm so happy to hear you and your family are well and home.
I hadn't heard of the full-bladder issue before. Glad it got taken care of!
Oh, and just FYI- Food pantries and low-income daycares/nurseries are almost always looking for formula donations, in case you find yourself with more sample cans and don't want to just throw them away.
9yo and brand new as of 4/28/10!
Mama to Umberto 12, Camille, 9, Piper 7, Rowena 2, and Jude Therese Prenatal DS diagnosis due December 23.
thank you for that sentence. that perfectly explains how i feel about my much-needed epidural
Pet-mom to Squirt with FLUTD & Maya the deaf wonder dog .
It sounds like you had an awesome birth!
Megan-39, Postpartum Doula, DW to Sacha-40 (18 years together) and Mama to Finn Alexander born 4/2/07 and Zivia Littlewood born 8/23/10