Labor did not go as we expected which has been challenging at times to deal with since we prepared and expected to have a normal natural birth. While we were at the hospital, I felt confident everything worked as it had to in order to get our baby here safely; however, once we got home, I experienced disappointment and some shame concerning the events, that we veered off course from our original plan.
Over the last two weeks, I have dealt with the disappointment of our story – that it didn’t go as expected – and am learning to accept it for the birth we were given and celebrate our strength, perseverance, and health despite it being different than we hoped. Jesse and I worked together as a team through unexpected difficulty and made informed decisions when we came to crossroads that required a plan B which assures me we did everything we could do but circumstances required a different way which still ended happily. Without further ado, I give you our birth story:
I went into labor early Saturday morning on the 2nd. I tried to go back to sleep, but the contractions were already requiring my full attention so I got in the tub a little before 5am to see if they were the real deal. Within about two hours, the contractions were 4-6 minutes apart.
Jesse and I ate breakfast and labored a while longer at home but then wanted to get close to the birth center since we live a little over 30 minutes away. We hoped things would move fast – both my mom and her mom had quick first labors so I was really hopeful for those genes!
Once we got to the birth center, the midwife checked me and I was 4-5 cm dilated. They don’t admit til 6 cm so the midwife told us to go walk somewhere. We walked some of the Swamp Rabbit Trail and labor danced through most of the contractions. The pressure in my hips was intense, and it began spreading into my lower back at this point also. After walking for about an hour, we ate lunch at Zoe’s then went back to the birth center around noon.
By this point, I was between 6-7 cm dilated and almost fully effaced which meant I could be admitted which made us feel like birth was just a few more hours away! I got in the tub to help alleviate the back pain, and I labored in there a while. We proceeded to labor everywhere and in every position over the next 7 hours but nothing changed much. The back labor grew more intense but the contractions still weren’t getting closer than 3-4 minutes apart. Around 7 o’clock, the midwife checked me again and I was still only about 7 cm dilated. After seven hours of intense labor, I’d hardly progressed at all! To say we were discouraged would be an understatement.
Since it was starting to get later into the evening, the midwives gave us an ultimatum that if things didn’t significantly progress in the next hour (by 8pm) we needed to go to the hospital to get some pitocin to help the contractions get closer together and strong enough to push Benji down. I cried as the midwives spoke with us about our options which weren’t really options anymore. We had to go to the hospital if we couldn’t get labor to progress on its own.
The back labor was intense at this point. The midwives as the final option available at the birth center gave me sterile water shots to numb the area and help alleviate the pain a bit. For the next hour, I labored on the birth ball moving my hips every way possible to see if Benji would drop. Jesse applied counter pressure to my hips, but the baby did not budge.
So around 8pm, we transferred to the hospital.
Jesse and I were both extremely disappointed and very tired. We’d been laboring all day long and it seemed like we still had a long way to go til Benji was born. My contractions continued as we went to the hospital and were admitted to our room. The nurse (who was incredible) hooked me up to the monitors and gave me an IV which caused me to shiver until I gave birth. My natural contractions intensified and started getting closer together, so the nurse delayed pitocin for a little while to see if the contractions would be enough to push Benji through. We again tried various positions to see if he would move around but nothing helped. Labor dance was the only way I could cope and breathe through the contractions. I was nervous about pitocin because I knew it would intensify the contractions and my back already hurt so bad each time. I couldn’t imagine how the pain would intensify.
My natural contractions still weren’t working hard enough to push the baby down so the nurse started two units of pitocin. Once that started around 11 pm, the back labor was excruciating! I could barely keep my feet on the ground with each contraction. Jesse had to stop me from screaming and remind me to breathe as best as I could through each one.
Jesse and I were exhausted and really at our end of creative ways to deal with the pain. Nothing we did was getting Benji lower. The pain felt like too much, especially with the prospect of it lasting for several more hours or having to increase the units of pitocin any higher sounded awful. I couldn’t even fathom that level of pain!
That was when we opted for an epidural to give some relief and allow me to rest so I would actually have energy to push once Benji lowered. By midnight I had the epidural and felt relief, and we were able to rest. I slept with a peanut (large peanut shaped “ball” that opens the pelvis) between my legs to open my hips. I woke up while doing that and felt pressure in my pelvis from the baby moving down. I slept from 2-4 am then woke up feeling some pressure in my uterus. I focused on opening up through each contraction. The nurse and midwife came in at this point telling me it looked like I was pushing on the monitor at the peak of each contraction.
Once I started feeling the pressure all the way down through my pelvis around 5 am, I started to push and Benji was born at 6 am. We still were able to have the skin to skin time and our birth plan was followed as far as Benji’s care was concerned. I had a small tear that had to be stitched but otherwise, pushing went well and was fairly simple.
At 6:00 AM, our boy was born into the world weighing 7 pounds 10 ounces, measuring 20.5″ long. Even though we weren’t at the birth center and labor looked different than we expected, we still had those first moments together as a family. The nurse immediately put Benji on my chest. Jesse and I were so surprised he was still covered in vernix at forty-one weeks! Benji latched on and fed for the first time within thirty minutes of being born. That whole space of time is a blur, but a happy one indeed.