Reading birth stories was a big part of preparing myself for the birth of my son. The openness and honesty in each one helped me understand the process, let go of expectations, and boost my confidence. I hope sharing my own experience will help others in the same way.
My son was due on November 21st, but I was convinced throughout the pregnancy that he would arrive early. I believed this because I had originally been given a due date of two weeks earlier, so I figured he’d be born somewhere between the original due date and the “new” due date. On November 20th I found myself at a doctor’s appointment, still pregnant. At this 40 week appointment, the OBGYN started discussing plans for the following week which would involve an ultrasound and a potential induction. I let her know that I wanted to wait as long as possible before inducing, because I was set on having the most natural labor possible, and she said we could discuss further next week. My due date came and went.
I went to bed around 10pm on the 22nd, and a little after midnight I woke for one of my many nightly potty breaks and noticed I had lost my mucus plug in the toilet. I insisted my husband look at it to confirm it was a mucus plug and he suggested I call my doula. She told me on the phone, “losing a mucus plug means the baby is coming soon! It could be hours or it could be days. Just rest up and be patient!” I went back to bed, with my husband, and we began talking about how exciting it was that we were that much closer to meeting our baby. About 15 minutes after losing my mucus plug, and while lying in bed with my husband, I sneezed the biggest sneeze and felt a rush of fluid shoot out of me! I yelled in surprise that my water broke and ran to the bathroom to clean up as my husband cleaned the bed. We were both laughing hysterically at the fact that a sneeze broke my water (and drenched the bed)! I immediately started getting contractions that were about 5-6 minutes apart so I called my doula back to let her know. She suggested I rest and follow up with her when the contractions got closer and harder. My husband and I decided to sleep downstairs on the (dry!) couches and he held my hand through each contraction that night. Our doula came over in the morning and assisted with labor with the help of a birthing ball and warm baths. It was 1pm on the 23rd when we decided it was time to go to the hospital.
The nurse pushing me from the emergency room entrance to the maternity ward likely set a record for speed; my hair was blowing in the wind and my husband and our doula were barely keeping up. The hospital staff was not happy that I waited so long to come in – they had wanted me in immediately after my water broke. I was 6cm dilated, so after being monitored I labored in the tub, shower (my favorite!), standing up, sitting on a birthing ball, lying on my side with a peanut, etc. I eventually had to labor hooked up to the monitor because my son was having an irregular heartbeat. When I hit around 30 hours of laboring the midwife on duty began asking me if I had the urge to push, which I kept replying, “no, but I feel a lot of pressure.” After the same question a few more times, they decided to have me start pushing anyway since I was 10cm dilated. I pushed for two hours and NOTHING happened. I also suffered from horrible indigestion. My husband ate Chipotle and one of the nurses told him he should brush his teeth because the smell of a burrito may make me sick, but the first moment I caught a whiff of his hot, minty toothpaste breath, I got sick and everyone scrambled to get me one of those blue hospital puke bags! After that, most pushes were followed up with me losing more of the honey sticks, crackers, apple juice, and peanut butter that I had in my stomach from all of my snacking during labor. They gave me oral medicine to help with it, but it didn’t work. My doula and midwife would later tell me they never saw anything like it! The midwife, who seemed very impatient, told me that the baby was stuck in my pelvic bone and that I would need a C-section, so she called in the on-call doctor.
The doctor came in and checked me and told me she was going to prep me for the C-section for a multiple reasons: 1) because the baby was stuck due to my body being so tense from a long labor, 2) because the baby’s heartbeat was irregular, 3) because my water had been broken for over 24 hours and the baby was at risk for infection, and 4) because my contractions were slowing down. I was exhausted at this point and honestly, while a C-section was not what I wanted or planned for, having an end in sight sounded marvelous; I was ready to meet my boy! Since I had not had any pain medication up until this point, my doula had an idea. She spoke up and asked the doctor if I could get an epidural, take a nap, and try pushing again rather than jump right in to a C-section. If our doula hadn’t of been there, my husband and I would have never known to to propose this idea! The doctor agreed that we could try, so I dropped my plans of going all natural and got an epidural, pitocin, and an intravenous heartburn medication, and took the best two hour nap that I had ever had. While I was waiting for my epidural, I finally understood what the midwife meant by “pushing contractions,” however, at this point my energy was zapped and I felt so defeated.
During my best nap ever, there was a shift change and the midwife I absolutely loved and wanted for my son’s birth came in with a doctor I hadn’t met before. When I woke up the doctor checked me and said I could try pushing again, but if there wasn’t progress he wouldn’t be able to use the vacuum on me and would need to do a C-section. I could tell by his tone he was doubtful I would be successful with a vaginal birth. Once he left the room, the midwife said “psssh…you got this!” and I was eager to start trying again! I pushed for the next two hours and watched with a mirror and saw that I was finally progressing! Using a mirror was SO helpful for me because it allowed me to see what I was actually doing with each push. Seeing the top of my son’s head was the best encouragement and motivation! In between pushing, the hospital staff and I discussed the best pizza in the area and it was shocking to me how much more comfortable I was pushing this time around – was it the staff change or the epidural?! My midwife was also very engaged in delivering this baby – in addition to pulling on the bar while I pushed, I also spent many contractions doing “tug-o-war” with my midwife and a bedsheet. My doula was great support though all of the pushing and helped remind me which areas I should focus on pushing from, and she would squeeze pressure points in my hands to (I assume) help alleviate pain. My husband was steady with the ice chips and a cold rag on my head. While I finally saw my baby’s entire head in the mirror, I was ecstatic, and one push later I delivered his whole body and he was immediately placed on my chest. He nursed right away and we waited until his cord stopped pulsing and before it was cut by my husband, who was told by the nurse it was “like cutting a piece of chicken.” We cried together while we looked our screaming boy over and fell in love with him as he held our fingers with his little hands! After the initial inspection of the “damage” down there, I was told I had a 3rd degree tear and received extensive stitching; however, the doctor later let me know it was actually a 2nd degree tear that was on the cusp of being 3rd degree. I was also told I had “very bad bruising” since my baby was stuck for such a long time.
Atticus was exactly 8 pounds and 20 inches at birth, and labor lasted a total of 36 hours of labor. His irregular heartbeat cleared up within two days and we were able to take him home on Thanksgiving day! My recovery took a little longer, but that is a whole other story!