Birth Story – Part 1
Even though I’m biased when I write this, I think my birth story is one hell of a birth story. Mainly because in my mind, everything was going to go according to plan, give or take a few minor surprises. Surprisingly, Birth Plan A did turn into Birth Plan B, which turned into Birth Plan C and is now being told as Birth Story - Part 1. On top of that, I wasn’t prepared for any complications after the birth, thinking mom and baby would be discharged from the hospital 48 hours later, happy and healthy, maybe even sooner if we were feeling really good. What I learned was, never ever expect anything to go according to plan, especially with labor and delivery, since some things are totally out of your control.
On September 29th, Chris and I walked up and down the street after dinner around 7pm and I started to feel like my water had broke. Since I wasn’t sure (it never looks the way it does in the movies), we went home and called the hospital. They said if it isn’t gushing out, it’s probably not my water breaking. So we waited a few more hours, and as I did laundry, scrubbed the bathroom and kitchen, I started to have contractions, 14-15 minutes apart. Then by midnight they started happening every 5-6 minutes apart, and my water did break, the way it did in the movies. So I called the hospital and told them I was absolutely sure my water broke this time. They said good, come in now.
We packed up the last few things into our suitcase and headed out at 12:30am. Chris was still worried this was all a false alarm, but I assured him it wasn’t, and that he wasn’t driving me to the hospital for no reason. Shortly after we were admitted to the Birth Center, we were put in a large, spacious room that almost looked like a hotel room. The rooms were nicer than the standard labor and delivery rooms, since it was specially for natural births. They had a 4 poster queen size bed, i-Pod dock with radio and CD player, birthing balls, birthing tub, rocking chairs, and you can walk around, take showers, eat or drink. This is where I thought I would stay the entirety of my labor and delivery.
The early labor wasn’t so bad, I thought. Not as painful as I thought it’d be. I walked around and talked, joked with the nurses, called my parents. I was joyful, excited. I was hoping for the average 14-16 hour labor everyone talked about. Then they put me on an IV to pump me full of penicillin, since I was GBS+. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find my veins in my arms, so they tried sticking the needle through my right hand, then the vein collapsed. It hurt more than my contractions. So they pushed the needle through my left hand, and it worked. The penicillin hurt like hell, and that was surprising to me. I’d just have to deal with the pain of an IV in addition to my contractions. Plus, I couldn’t use my left hand anymore with a needle sticking through it.
Contractions started getting more intense. I tried the breathing techniques they taught us in class, which helped to some degree. Since I tensed up rather than relaxing through each contraction, I kept giving myself back cramps, which ended up making the pain worse. The nurse helped me stretch out my back with yoga poses (the cat arching its back, whatever it’s called) and that relieved the pain. I cried from the back cramps since they were more painful than the contractions. Only two hours into being admitted to the hospital and I already was crying. I felt pathetic and weak. The nurse said my doula was coming at 9am. Chris and I would have to be patient until then.
I don’t really remember much between 2am-9am, just that I was breathing through the contractions. Then a doctor came in saying something about a time limit to my labor, since I was put on penicillin, and my water had already broke, so the baby had to come out at a certain time before complications could arise. I didn’t think labor would last that much longer. 14-16 hours, right? Isn’t that what everyone tells us? She suggested that if things weren’t progressing that I could always move to the Labor and Delivery Unit, to get induced and speed things up. I said no, I’ll see how this goes, I want to do this naturally.
The doula came at 9 and was very supportive. She gave tips to Chris on how to help relieve my back pain, and told him not to take it personally that I yelled at him, because my hormones were going crazy. At that time I didn’t think my hormones were that bad, but looking back, I guess they were. The doula and nurses suggested I take a shower because it would lessen the pain. I stood in the shower for 2 hours because it made the pain almost disappear. After the shower, the doctor said I was only dilated to 4 cm.
All this time, energy and pain for 4 cm?!
The doctor said I needed to progress 1 cm every 1-2 hours, or they would have to induce me. I said I’d try (not that I really had any control over it). For two hours I laid in bed, breathing through each contraction. The doctor came back and checked me. She said I didn’t progress pass 4 cm. I cried again, feeling completely hopeless and frustrated. By this point everything was out of my control. My time limit was up and I had to get induced. Chris, the doula, the nurses and doctor told me it was ok to get an epidural if I wished. I felt weak because I went through around 14 hours of labor with no progression and I wouldn’t be able to deliver naturally. In a way, I gave up. I said if I were to be induced then I’ll get the epidural. Mentally I gave up coping with the pain, in turn the pain got worse and worse. I felt like I was being selfish before, being more concerned about my natural birth rather than getting the baby out safely. It wasn’t about me anymore.
They moved me to the Labor and Delivery Unit. I got the epidural, so I could rest and gather strength for when it was time to push. They induced me and we waited. Within a few hours, I was fully dilated to 10cm. It was ready to push. I told everyone I was scared, since the epidural numbed me so much I couldn’t feel anything from my waist down. How was I supposed to push? They gave me a few practice tries. I got the hang of them, sort of. After an hour of pushing, a doctor came in because the baby’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction. She suggested that they do an emergency C-section or a vacuum assisted delivery. Both options were horrible to me. I said I wanted to try pushing as long as possible before they intervened. They let me push for another hour but the baby was stuck. By that time, a C-section was impossible (baby’s head was too far down), and they needed to use a vacuum to get the baby out. The doctor assured me there was only a 1% risk of any complication. I still didn’t want the vacuum but I had no choice. It didn’t matter if I disagreed or agreed, I had to do it.
After a few more contractions, the baby was delivered at 10:07pm. She came out healthy and crying. Apparently I wasn’t doing that well, but I didn’t realize anything was wrong since I was still numb from the epidural. I had 6 tears down there, 4 they stitched up, 2 they couldn’ repair. I was also hemorrhaging and lost 750ml of blood. I didn’t realize any of this was going on, since everyone kept telling me I was fine. The doula kept patting me on the hand telling me they were just stitching me up. I asked why it was taking 2 hours and if it was normal. I don’t remember if anyone answered me. Chris seemed to be more preoccupied with me rather than the baby. All I wanted to do was hold our baby.
Looking back now, I’m glad I was so out of it. I found out that my delivery had been pretty rough, compared to other normal births. We even got a private room in the C-section unit where I had to stay for 6 days. The first night at the hospital we didn’t get any sleep, since over 30 doctors and nurses kept checking on us. Some doctors even came in groups to look at my disastrous state. One doctor asked if I wanted to be a part of a study group. It had something to do with side effects of a vacuum assisted delivery and that they would pay me money to do a survey. Apparently I was a freak show. My OB-GYN told me the reason my delivery was so rough was probably because of the vacuum, and that I didn’t do anything wrong.
I hope this didn’t traumatize anyone to the point of being deathly afraid of the birthing process. Honestly, I’m pretty horrified myself, and it will take me a long time to recover from this mentally. If you to ask me if I would’ve done things differently, I would’ve chosen the C-section and saved myself the extra time at the hospital. We were unprepared for complications. It’s been 3 weeks since then, and yesterday was the first day I actually started to feel better. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever feel completely better again, but it has to happen, right?
So that’s Birth Story - Part 1, Part 2 to come later.