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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
William's Birth Story


I was already 12 days past my due date when I was scheduled for an ultrasound to be sure everything was okay in there. William was less responsive than usual and my amniotic fluid levels were marginally okay, so my midwife scheduled my induction for the following day. I had tried everything I could imagine to get labor started (3 acupuncture sessions, lots of red raspberry leaf tea, sex, etc) and nothing had worked, so induction was feeling inevitable at that point anyway. Nonetheless, I cried about it in my midwife's office and cried the whole way home and for most of the rest of the day. I was feeling overwhelmed about the birth process and all of the changes that would occur once William was born, and I was afraid of how much more painful birth would be with pitocin and being in the hospital the entire time. I was also feeling sad about the end of my pregnancy, as I really enjoyed being pregnant. Michael stopped to get lobster on the way home and cooked us a special lobster roll lunch, which I enjoyed even though I cried on and off through it. Finally, I asked Michael to take me to the beach, thinking that the vast expanse of ocean would calm me. It worked, at least for a while. We decided not to tell anyone about the induction, but then the next day decided to tell our parents and our friends who were watching the cats for us while we were at the hospital.


We couldn't sleep at all that night, unfortunately. When we checked into the hospital at noon the next day, my midwife started me on Cervidil, which generated some Braxton-Hicks contractions but nothing else. We slept for a few hours that afternoon and then the nurse let us go outside to see the sunset, which was nice of her. We also got to see the rising of the full Blue Moon, which my son would be born under. We had a great view of the moon from our hospital room too, so I kept gazing at it that night. As nothing was happening and I couldn't sleep anymore, I read for a while and we listened to Paul Simon songs for a while. My midwife came back to check on me around 1:30 am, and I was still at the same 1 cm I had been at when I checked in, though I was more effaced. She started me on the Pitocin drip then and we slept for a while. Around 3 am, my water broke on its own and contractions started coming harder and faster then, about 5 minutes apart. I slept for the 4 minutes between them and then breathed through each contraction in bed. I wanted to let Michael sleep as much as he could while I could still manage the pain on my own.



When my midwife came back the next morning before going into her office for morning appointments, I was at a 2...which was disappointing to me, as I had labored all night, but she said it was good progress and upped the pitocin more. At this point, the nurse got the tub ready for me and I went ahead and got in. Michael brought a chair into the bathroom with me and played music for me on his iPad (more Paul Simon and some other songs I don't remember now). I learned that rolling back and forth in the tub helped me get through contractions, which was helpful. I was starting to get too warm in the tub and the nurse brought me a tub of ice water to soak washcloths in that could be put on my chest and face, and Michael found a camping fan in the car to put on the edge of the tub. I was really starting to feel the contractions pretty strongly now, but they were manageable. At some point, I had to get out of the tub to pee, and I decided to stay out for a while because I wanted to cool down. I sat in the rocking chair and rocked through contractions, which also helped. Now it was around 11:30 and my midwife came back to check on me during her lunch break, and I was at a 3. I found this so disappointing and frustrating, because it already hurt a lot and I started fearing how intense everything was going to get before it was over. She assured me that I could do it and would have my baby that day, and she encouraged me to get back into the tub. I did, but everything hurt worse at that point and I decided that the rocking chair was better than the tub so I spent the next several hours laboring there.


Around 1:30, I was getting seriously freaked out by how much pain I was in. I was having a lot of double contractions where they just came back to back with no break, and I started crying and feeling sorry for myself. The nurse called my midwife to come back, and she matter-of-factly reassured me that I had to go through some labor and that I could handle it. She checked me again and now I was a 4. Again, I was so disappointed not to be further along, but she assured me that everything would go a lot faster now and I would probably have my baby within 6 hours or so. I lost track of time after this. Michael had been looking into my eyes and breathing with me through contractions, and the nurse encouraged me to start vocalizing through the pain, so I did and Michael moaned with me too. He also started holding my hands and trying to press the acupressure point on the webbing between my thumb and finger during contractions, which were every 2 minutes now. Everything got really intense, and the next time she checked me, I was so upset to only be a 5 that I asked her for an epidural, which I knew she would say no to (and she did), and then I asked for Stadol instead. She put in the order, but by the time the meds arrived, she had gotten me to try a few different labor positions and I felt like it was more manageable, so I didn't take the Stadol. I wanted relief from the pain, but I was already so exhausted from not sleeping for 2 days and laboring for more than 12 hours that I didn't want to take anything that would make me more tired. My midwife tried to check me again a little while later, but I howled so much that she couldn't do it (I'm not sure why this check hurt so much more than any other). She said I was probably already at a 6.


Shortly after this, I started throwing up and knew this meant I was in transition. Throwing up wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and I actually felt a bit better for the next few contractions before they amped up again. Now the pain was constant even between contractions and I couldn't get a break even for a few seconds...it went from excruciating to very painful and back and forth, for the last 4 hours I think. My midwife had been encouraging me to eat fruit and drink juice for a while now, and I had been drinking juice but stopped responding to anyone at this point. She had me get on the bed and lie down on my left side to help the baby descend, and I couldn't open my eyes because the pain and pressure were so intense. I kept moaning to the point of almost shouting, and I couldn't stop moaning between contractions even though my midwife kept trying to help me relax. They sent out Michael to eat something in the hallway at this point and I didn't even notice; it took all of my focus to just survive the pain.



I could feel the baby moving down, and my midwife said we were just waiting for me to feel the urge to push. I'm not sure I ever felt it, but I started trying to push anyway in hopes that labor would be over soon. At some point she had me flip onto my back and had the nurse and Michael hold my knees for pushing. This position felt impossible to me and I assured her that I couldn't do it, to which she replied calmly "Baby needs to come out, and you can do it." I screamed through the first attempt at pushing...it was so much intense pain and effort, and I was having trouble transitioning from passively surviving contractions while vocalizing to actively doing something through them while holding my breath. I had no idea how much effort pushing would take! She said matter-of-factly, "Well, you screamed through this one, but next time, hold your breath and push as hard as you can!" She had to be my cheerleader to get me to try hard enough, because again, I just had no idea how hard it would be. I found that I could get 4 pushes out of every contraction, and the second and third ones were where I really made progress. After about 40 minutes, Michael said something about the baby having a lot of hair, which gave me strength because I knew it would be over soon. My midwife said the baby was almost ready to crown. I felt him crowning in the next contraction as I felt burning, but his head didn't come all of the way out. I thought it had and remember asking my midwife if she could just pull him out now and she said no, but he would be born during the next contraction. They kept my feet up this time between contractions and I felt my midwife applying warm compresses and stretching my perineum, which was really painful but I understand why it was necessary. During the next contraction, I pushed as hard as I possibly could and didn't care at all if I tore, I just wanted him out and labor to be over. I remember it as happening during two pushes, but Michael says William came out all at once and it was just crazy to see how big he was coming out of me. (He said later that he had no idea how active a role he would play in the birth and hadn't actually planned to watch William come out, though he said it was amazing once he did see it.) Then William was on my belly and a few minutes later my midwife pressed hard on my belly and my placenta just rolled out, which I said wasn't so bad and she laughed, saying that was the first positive thing I had said all day. I had a small tear (she said one, but I felt her stitch me in two places, so I'm not sure) into my labia and the stitches didn't hurt at all. I was so overwhelmingly relieved to be done with birth that I didn't even feel emotional the way I had expected to--I just didn't have enough energy left to feel anything other than relief. (And of course I've felt all the emotions over the next several days, and I've cried a lot since then to make up for it--of course I am so in love with my tiny, perfect son.) All in all, my labor lasted 16 hours and I was in the hospital for 30.



My midwife wanted me to feel proud of myself and said that I had made it through the gold standard of labor with a pitocin induction without any pain relief, and that she knew I could do it. I didn't feel proud of myself because I had wanted an epidural and would have gotten one if she had let me, so I didn't feel like a warrior in the way I had expected to. Instead I felt weak. But Michael told me he was really proud of me as his wife and that I had expressed lots of self-doubt but never weakness. I didn't even recognize myself in the mirror later with my extremely swollen eyes and throat and burst blood vessels all over my chin and neck, but over the next several days, my memory of the pain has already faded somewhat and I do feel a lot more proud of my birth experience even though it was less than ideal in so many ways and I didn't handle it as gracefully as I thought I would. I don't know if I would do it this way again, but I am so grateful that I did not have to have a C-section and that William is doing so well with breastfeeding, two of the biggest reasons I chose natural birth. And I really appreciate my midwife and nurses as well as Michael in helping me get through it. I have a new appreciation for every other woman who has given birth--women really do make the world go around. Each day I have appreciated more and more how miraculous the whole process of entering the world is, and how much I can love such a tiny little person. Of course it was all worth it for him, though I'm certainly not in a hurry to go through it again with another child.
 

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Phew. I'm exhausted.

I would have felt discouraged at that slow progress too!

And don't sell yourself short on wanting the epidural. You could have asked again and again and eventually they would have done it. You knew if you asked just once they'd day no and just cheer you on and tell you you could do it. And that's okay!
 

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I had the exact same emotions about being ashamed at how not powerful natural birth made me feel. When it gets intense I always decide that I can't do it and I'm not up for it and I'm feeling so sorry for myself and don't feel connection to the experience or the baby and just.....Ack, it's not a feeling I feel proud of, remembering after the fact. And that's normal! Intense contractions are not something any woman just handles with aplomb and empowerment, they hurt! Every mom goes through at least a moment of self doubt and desperation for it to be over.

That's actually why I chose a spinal for my 4th - I wanted to enjoy the birth, and be more "present" instead of just surviving. But I would not recommend that for a first vaginal birth, it's awesome that you've now set the standard that you can absolutely handle any type of birth without anything, and the risks of things going into a cascade of interventions leading to a c section during first births are so high. But since subsequent births are quick in comparison and you're uterus has certainly proved itself, you can absolutely decide on whatever type of birth next time and don't feel like you *have * to suffer like that again. I know for lots of women just knowing that an anesthesiologist is ready anytime helps them to go without pain relief, since they know they can get it as soon as they decide they need it (therefore they end up managing without it!). Or then you can have it and chances are very good that it won't interfere with a normal vaginal delivery at all.

Anyway you ARE a birth warrior and I know it can feel like a failure since your emotional experience was different than you planned (been there done that ), but that's what intense birth is --being pushed way past what you feel like you can handle! The women out there who don't experience much pain with childbirth are anomalies -what you felt was normal and especially with the pitocen it would have been nuts if you felt like it was totally manageable every minute! Of course it was overwhelming!

We are all so amazed by you, and I hope in time you'll feel the same!
 

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What an exhausting labor! As someone who has always had fast labors, I have no idea if I could handle 16 hours without pain relief (reading your story leads me to doubt myself!) I often hear of birth stories where mom wanted a natural birth but ended up with an epidural that led to "complications" (like a stalled labor, etc.) and ended with a c-section and disappointment (or even feeling like they weren't meant to have babies.) Serafina described it well in that you've set your standard and you know you can handle anything now. I hope you come to embrace the empowerment of a natural birth and sometimes it just takes a while to process such momentous events before you can embrace them. Bravo Brooke!! And welcome to the world, William! Your Mama's amazing! :love
 

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Wow the mobile site is frustrating! Anyeay I know it probably doesn't make a difference but I sure think you are a warrior! I don't know you but I'm proud of you :) I think you did an amazing job getting through that birth experience without medication.
 

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@BarefootBrooke, It is so great to hear your story. it sounded therapeutic to write and I hope it was. I have a treat for you! I am putting together my birth story and I feel a sister in you and also a companion- it will be coming soon, promise. The only reason I made it through my birth in the way that I did was because of the strength and support of those around me. They midwifed me through the hardest dark night I have ever had.

I had a mama that I helped have her induced birth in the hospital without pain meds- stop her car in the middle of the street having seen me walking to tell me, again, that it was the hardest thing she had ever done, she won't do it again and thank you! And she had had babies before!

There are so many emotions and so much processing that goes on as we re-collect ourselves. Take good care of yourselves in this precious and important time. you are a rock star!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you ladies so much. Your words really do help me see myself and my experience in a more positive light. I really appreciate all of your support and encouragement, and Wild Rose, I'm sorry you had a similarly tough time! I look forward to hearing about it! Serafina, knowing that you and MPsSweetie had such positive birth experiences with epidurals made me feel a lot better too and it feels comforting to consider this as an option for future births, if I have to be induced again (shudder!). I think you are all amazing too!
 
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