A birth story, for my own memory and maybe eventually hers:
I made my best effort not to make any plans for Baby Girl’s arrival, but as the day went along things came into play that I hadn’t even considered considering. I suppose I should have started thinking about all these things as we went over our due date, and over our revised due date and ended up looking at induction at 42 weeks.
I went off work at the end of November partly because I was exhausted and struggling and I fully expected her to come early. And then our first due date came and went, but she had been in the right percentiles for that date the whole time and our midwives had told us that our second ultrasound was the better one for dating. And then we started approaching induction based on that date and we revised to try and avoid it. I wasn’t too concerned because we had two ultrasounds that indicated December 29 and I wanted to avoid an induction. I had always expected to go into labour naturally.
And then we hit 42 weeks and my body was still showing no signs of movement and we went into the hospital and I got my first dose of Cervadil, and they hooked me up to a monitor and it showed I was having some contractions that I just wasn’t feeling, and all of a sudden there was light at the end of the tunnel. The Cervadil started working, and we went home and waited for me to go into active labour. Twelve hours later, that hadn’t happened and we went back to the hospital for a second dose. And then we went home, and I went through the night having contractions about once an hour and barely sleeping and knowing full well that I wasn’t really progressing.
And so we ended up at the hospital again on Wednesday morning, looking at either another dose of Cervadil, or an IV of pitocin. Pitocin was one of the things I had wanted to avoid all along, but faced with going home for another 12 hours and ended up more exhausted and stuck in the same place, we discussed it and decided to get admitted to the hospital and go for it. We discussed it with our midwives, met the OB who agreed with their recommendation, and got admitted and all hooked up. And soon thereafter I started having the worst pain I’ve ever had in my life.
When active labour started, the contractions had me shaking, feeling as though I was going to throw up and pass out. The first one completely threw me off my game and my immediate thought was that I wasn’t going to be able to go through another one like it. I couldn’t stand on two legs when it was over, Joe had to hold me up. I was so exhausted and so terrified of each contraction as it came that I started a discussion with Joe about an epidural – something I had never completely ruled out, not knowing what the pain would be like, but something I had planned on avoiding. After several more contractions and discussions with my husband and my midwives – second guessing myself all along the way – I asked for the anesthesiologist.
About an hour later, lying in bed, feeling much more relaxed and much more comfortable, I turned to Joe and told him that I knew it was the right decision. There was no way, as far as I’m concerned, I could have gotten through the rest of the day and pushed her out if I hadn’t gotten some rest. When the pressure started as she gotten ready to make her way into the world, I knew that a day of painful contractions, followed by the contractions that would have gone along with that pressure would have been too much for me.
But the pressure started to build, and I felt it get stronger and stronger with each contraction, I thought she might be ready to go sooner than we expected. And the midwife checked and was shocked at just how low the baby was – they told me that I would be ready to start pushing in about an hour.
And then they started to notice dips in her heart rate.
Apparently, it’s normal to see a baby’s heart rate dip during a contraction and there are no concerns as long as it comes back up. Our baby was experiencing this, but after her heart rate came back up, it would go back down again. This was a concern, as was the meconium they had seen in my fluids. They called in the OB.
He was a very nice doctor who we had seen twice already that day and had been very pleasant and reassuring. This time, he came in, talked to the midwives, looked at the readout of the baby’s heart rate and informed us that it was his opinion that this baby needed to be born sooner rather than later. I would start pushing and he would be back to help if she wasn’t out soon.
Forceps was a word I certainly hadn’t expected to hear in the delivery room.
I started pushing right away and within a few contractions, the OB was back in the room. Suddenly I was flat on my back, my legs stuck in two holders on either side of the table, and the room full of people. We had gone from two midwives to a room full of two midwives, an OB, his two students, two nurses and the two respiratory therapists that would check the baby as soon as she was born.
On top of the potential that the baby had meconium in her lungs (which she did, but no significant amount), the OB had suspected and suspected correctly that the dip in her heart rate was being caused by the cord around her neck. It was wrapped twice. In the middle of a push he told everyone to stop, including me and unwrapped her poor little neck.
And then she was whisked across the room and I was left on a table, crying, unable to see anything or hear much of what was going on. The OB explained to Joe what they were doing and why she wasn’t crying, but all I heard was his student calling over to him that I was bleeding.
So I started crying because I had no idea what else to do. I was scared for her and for me, and I couldn’t hear what was going on and I couldn’t see her or hear her and I couldn’t move. All I could hear was Joe telling me he was so proud of me and me wondering why because I had failed at just about everything I could think of.
And then there was a baby on my chest and she was fine, perfectly fine.