Going into my labor and delivery there were just three things that were really important to me besides having a healthy baby:
- I really wanted to avoid being induced.
- I really REALLY wanted a midwife to help me deliver.
- I was going to try to go all natural, but if I ended up needing some pain meds I wasn’t going to beat myself up about. A natural birth is a great goal, but no one is going to hand you a cash prize for doing it! 🙂
On September 25, 2009 I went to the hospital to have a routine test done because I was officially over due. I started off in the labor and delivery unit to have a fetal non-stress test. Basically, they hooked me up to a fetal heart rate monitor and watched how the baby was doing over the course of about 30 minutes. The baby did great and we passed with flying colors.
For the second half of my “over due test” I went downstairs to have an ultra sound to check my amniotic fluid levels. It was kind of weird to have an ultra sound without Nate there with me, but we were told that 9 out of 10 women had no problems with these tests so we decided he shouldn’t take off work for them. The ultra sound tech was really nice and tried to get a look at our baby’s face for me, but the baby was too low for us to get a peek. I remember telling the tech, “That’s ok. I’m sure I’ll see my baby soon enough.”
I was a little late, but never really felt like I was in a hurry to have my baby. I heard of so many women that felt really uncomfortable at the end of their pregnancies, but honestly I felt fine. If my baby wanted to take its time that was ok with me!
I went back up to labor & delivery to wait for my ultra sound results. It didn’t take too long before my nurse came back in. She told me that I needed to get undressed from the waist down so she could do a vaginal check.
“Is there a problem??”
“Yeah, your fluid is really low. You’re going to have to be induced. We’ll call the doctor and have her come in to check you out.”
“What?? Is there a midwife on call?” I asked as I laid down to be checked out.
“No, there isn’t.” And then she checked me. It was the most painful exam I’ve ever had. It took my breath away.
In the course of about 2 minutes I found out that I had to be induced, I wouldn’t be able to have one of my beloved midwives, and my “lovely” nurse shoved her entire arm inside me (at least if felt that way). Needless to say, I started crying. A lot.
God bless my poor husband. Nate answered the phone at work only to hear his wife sobbing on the other end of the line. Thankfully, I was able to get it out to explain to him that I was fine, the baby was fine, but I needed to be induced. Nate started his one hour commute back home to pick up our hospital bags and I tried to stop crying.
While I waited for Nate to come to the hospital I found out that there truly wasn’t a midwife available. It had been written in my chart to call a midwife even if there wasn’t one scheduled to be on call, but the three midwives in my practice were all out of town several hours away. Thankfully, the doctor on call was a woman! The doctor and I talked while I waited for Nate and we discussed why I was being induced and how it would happen.
WHY: During a normal pregnancy a woman should have an amniotic fluid level around 20. However, if the pregnancy extends beyond the due date that level might start to drop. My level was 1. Yep, one. The only thing lower than one would have been 0.5. Basically, that meant that my baby had no cushion around it. My midwife later used the term “shrink wrapped” to describe how the baby must have been.
Without any cushion, the labor process could put a lot of stress on the baby even though we passed the non-stress test. Any contractions could squeeze the baby and the umbilical cord, which would affect the heart rate. I just became a high risk delivery.
HOW: By now it was late afternoon. My doctor came up with the plan to give me two doses of the drug Cytotec. This was a small pill that was suppose to help “ripen me up for labor,” but shouldn’t actually push me into labor. The doctor was going to go home and check on me again in the morning. That’s when she would start me on Pitocin to get my labor going. We decided not to wait for Nate to get to the hospital and I received my first round of Cytotec.
By 7:00 PM Nate was settled into the hospital room with me, I had stopped crying, all family had been called and told that my labor would be starting in the morning and it was time for my next Cytotec pill. My new nurse (PRAISE THE LORD!!!) explained that I might feel some small cramp similar to getting my period. It didn’t take long for that to happen, but it was manageable.
At 9:00 PM I was given an Ambien sleeping pill to help me rest before my big day. Right away I tried to go to sleep, but Nate finished watching the Phillies game before he turned in for the night. I was trying to sleep, but those annoying cramps kept waking me up. I remember asking the nurse when the Cytotec was going to wear off because I really couldn’t see me putting up with these cramps all night. I wasn’t going to get any sleep!
For the next four hours I was in a tango with my cramps. One would hit. It would hurt. I would try to get comfortable. It would stop. I would try to go to sleep. Again and again my cramps and I did this dance together. I was feeling a lot of pressure to sleep as much as possible since I was going to be having a baby the next day! Since I was a high risk delievery I needed to be attached to the fetal heart rate monitors and an IV at all times. So even if I wanted to get up and move around there wasn’t very far that I could go! At one point the nurse suggested that I lay in the chair instead of the bed. I was laying in that chair when it started.
At 1:00 AM I woke up Nate and told him to get the nurse. The contractions (yes, I finally got to the point where I realized that these weren’t just cramps anymore!!) were getting stronger, the baby’s heart rate was dropping more with each one and then suddenly they started to feel very different. That’s when I woke Nate up.
It felt like my body was pushing with each contraction. Try making an “uhhh” noise while breathing out of your mouth, like if someone had just punched you in the stomach. Do you feel that in your stomach? That’s what my body started doing all on its own. The nurse decided to check me. I was at 4 cm. It all seemed kind of intense for 4 cm.
I got out of the chair to use the bathroom. I had some BIG contractions while I was in there. It took me awhile to get back to bed and the nurse was getting concerned about the baby’s heart rate. She was anxious to get me back on the monitors. When I got back into bed she checked again. I was at 7 cm. She called the doctor.
My goal of having a pain medication free child birth seemed very close to coming true. It certainly hurt, but I didn’t want to give up. I asked Nate to find out if it was too late for pain medication. I just needed to hear that it was too late. I needed to hear that there simply wasn’t time. If there wasn’t time for pain medication then I knew I wouldn’t be feeling this way for hours.
The nurse checked me again and I was at 10 cm. It had only been 30 minutes since I woke Nate up to have the nurse come. I went from 4 cm to 10 cm in only 30 minutes. The nurse started saying that the doctor might not make it in time. She said we didn’t need to worry because she had delivered babies before.
The doctor came in the room and almost instantly had me start pushing. I kept waiting for the “ring of fire,” but I honestly never noticed it. I only needed 7 contractions to help me push out our little one. They tell me that it took 30 minutes, but it honestly didn’t feel like it was that long. I had woken Nate up at 1:00 AM and Grace was born at 2:02 AM.
Little Grace Renee. I honestly couldn’t believe we had a little girl. We had decided to wait to find out the gender of our baby and I am so glad we waited. That moment when Nate said, “It’s a girl!” was so precious and exciting.
Sadly, I didn’t get to hold my baby Grace right away. Because I was a high risk delivery the NICU staff was waiting in our room to examine Grace as soon as she was born. They were concerned that Grace was working too hard to breathe, so they took her into the NICU for observation. Thankfully, Nate was able to go with her and she only needed to stay in the NICU for 30 minutes.
Any parent knows that the moment you hold your new little one is simply magical. She was so small and beautiful! Grace measured in at 6 pounds, 7 ounces and 19 inches. My words really can’t do those first moments justice. I loved her instantly.
Looking back my birth did not go the way that I expected it to at all. Nate and I never timed a single contraction! I had planned to labor at home for as long as possible. I was excited about trying out the whirlpool at the hospital. I had packed all kinds of things to help me through my labor and didn’t touch a single one. I never wanted to be induced. It wasn’t part of my plan. However, going from 4 cm to 10 cm in just 30 minutes wasn’t part of my plan either! Sometimes there is a better way than how you plan!!
I am extremely grateful that I was able to have a natural delivery. If Nate and I have more children I will certainly aim to do it again. Yet, I do recognize that my sleeping pill really did a number on me. Who knows how things will be next time around!
My midwife has reassured me that I don’t need to be worried about low amniotic fluid levels in any future pregnancies. Just because it happened once doesn’t mean it will happen again. I will be more closely monitored for it, but it isn’t a guarantee.
A super fast labor also isn’t a guarantee since I did have some induction drugs in my system. Still, I’ve been advised that next time around I probably shouldn’t wait it out at home too long just in case. Thankfully, Nate and I bought a home just 2 minutes away from the hospital. 🙂
Do you want to read more birth stories? Visit Amy’s Finer Things to read all her Labor Day Link Ups!