On Monday the 15th I went to a routine check up. The midwife checked me and determined I was almost 3cm dilated and did a sweep to nudge things along. That night I woke around 1:30am to signs that early labor was beginning. Contractions soon began and were notable and strong enough to keep me awake, but pretty far apart. The next morning they began to space apart even more. I went for a curb walk to try and encourage progress, and then afterwards went home to nap, since I had been up most of the night.
Because I was now a full 41 weeks, I had to go in for a non stress test and ultrasound at 4pm to make sure everything looked good to continue to wait for him to come on his own. I had been having contractions and the clinic was pretty far away, so I asked David to drive me. Everything looked great, so David and I stopped off at Shake Shack for dinner on our way home. As I was eating my burger, I mentioned that it was spicy and it might kick start my labor. 😆
On the way home I noted a few slightly stronger contractions. We got home and David did bedtime routine with the kids while I showered. I could feel my contractions getting stronger and decided to start timing them. At this point they were 7-10 min apart. Once he came back I let him know things were picking up. He encouraged me to call the midwife and let them know I might be coming in soon.
The nurse on the phone didn’t sound super convinced I was in true labor, but because I was gbs+ this time, needed to come in on the earlier side to receive antibiotics.
We packed up our things and headed to the hospital. During the car ride contractions were 5 min apart and getting more painful, requiring me to focus on getting through them. By 10:30pm we arrived in triage. I was VERY discouraged to learn that I was still only 3cm dilated. But I could tell by my pain level that this was the real deal. Unfortunately the midwife seemed less convinced. She said she’d let me labor for 30 minutes or so and then see how we’re doing. My contractions continued to get stronger, but spread out to 7-8min apart as I sat on the birthing ball. So I tried pacing the room instead- the contractions were a little more bearable doing this, but were now 2-3 minutes apart. After about an hour the midwife finally came back and looked at my contractions. She focused on the fact that they were still a minute long each instead of getting longer. She offered to let me remain in triage longer to see if anything else changes or if I wanted to, I could go home.
Honestly- this is the most frustrating part of the birth story to me. If you know me, you know that childbirth absolutely fascinates me. I had always heard that if you choose to have a hospital birth, you need to know your rights and advocate for yourself. I knew this- but had never needed to. My experiences were always so amazing. I always felt so supported and encouraged.
Also worth noting at this point- I chose this hospital very specifically because it had a traditional birth center inside of the hospital, which is incredibly unique and kind of perfect for my desires around birth.
Moving along- I was finding myself frustrated with this midwife because she made me doubt whether or not I was actually in labor, so much so that she offered to let me go home and labor there until things “picked up”. Keeping in mind, I still needed to receive antibiotics 4 hours before the birth and I live a whopping 40 min away.
I asked her how on earth I was supposed to determine when to come back if my contractions are already 2-3 minutes apart and painful. She said to use it as a baseline. David and I agreed we should “wait it out” in triage a little longer. The midwife encouraged me to lay down and see if they spread out at all while she left to attend a delivery. Within minutes of laying down, my pain increases even more. This is not a good way to cope. I page the nurse and let her know I’m not coping with my contractions well and I think I should be checked. At this point we’ve been in triage about 2.5 hours or so. The nurse comes and checks me. I’m now between 4-5cm dilated, and she said they’d admit me because I’ve progressed. FINALLY!!
She does my bloodwork, inserts my IV, and does a covid test. I’m finally escorted to the birth center around 2am. David leaves to grab our bags from the car.
The nurses are filling up a bath for me and setting up the room. I’m trying to cope with my contractions, but having a difficult time. I’ve done unmedicated childbirth before, but these were much closer together and my back labor was even more intense, I believe due to his position.
I had been sitting on the edge of the bed waiting for the bath, but decided to try walking and swaying again since that helped earlier. As I’m swaying through an intense contraction, I feel a gush. Water broke. Maybe 2:30am or so? This makes my contractions even stronger. (Note- had we gone home, this would have happened in the car). They have me lean on something so they can confirm the rupture and my dilation- at a full 5. There are a lot of differences between this labor and my unmedicated labor with Xander coming into play at this point. 1. My back labor is way more intense. I had an anterior placenta this time and I could tell baby was facing it. This means his spine was against my spine, which causes even more back labor pain. 2. I’m not really jiving with the midwife on call. With Xander the vibe was very relaxed and fun. We laughed and joked the entire time- I was able to take the lead and was very supported. This time I felt questioned and doubted at every turn. First in triage, and then again now- when I told the midwife I wasn’t coping well and I’d like to be transferred to the regular birth wing so I could get an epidural. I had told her when I first got there that I wasn’t 100% committed to the unmedicated birth, though it was my plan. I’ve had great experiences both ways and just wanted to go with the flow this time. I knew I didn’t want to continue on this way only for it to get worse. Yet, she encouraged me to try the bath first to see if that helped, and proceeds to warn me that even if I request the epidural, I may not get it in time. She tells me that because my water is ruptured who knows how fast it will go now and if the anesthesiologist is busy, I may or may not even get it in time for it to kick in and do anything. Of course- I KNOW all this. I tell her I’m pretty certain I want it anyway- in fact I say it probably 5 times during our conversation.
I get into the bath, reluctantly because we’re waiting on my covid test results, and for the nurse to see if the anesthesiologist wait is long. The bath doesn’t help as much as I remember it helping last time- probably because my water is broken this time. I repeat for probably the 5th or 6th time that I’m not coping well and I’m 100% certain I want the epidural. The nurse returns to let us know that there is no wait for an epidural and that they’ll meet us in the new delivery room. So we pack up our stuff and go to the other wing.
The epidural is inserted shortly after we arrive in the regular labor and delivery room and I’m instantly relieved. Shortly after my epidural has fully kicked in I feel myself get hot, faint, and nauseous. My blood pressure is quickly dropping. This happened when I got epidurals with Ellavie and Will, and I had mentioned it to someone earlier but couldn’t remember who since I had been in so much pain at the time. (For reference- my pain level pre-epidural was comparable to how I felt in transition/pushing with Xander. So pretty intense). The nurse ends up paging back up to stabilize me. I can feel myself fading fast and groggily keep my focus on David, willing him to know I’m actually terrified that I’m about to black out completely. Between one nurse fanning me, a cold rag on my forehead, blood pressure medication, and something else injected in me, I finally start to feel better. My heart rate is now very high so my nurse barely leaves my side because she wanted to monitor me closely. David and I later talked about how we could tell she really cared – they practically had to force her to take her break.
They luckily figured out how to stabilize my medications and I’m doing well. David falls asleep and I try to rest through the adrenaline shakes and blood pressure cuff going off every 5 minutes. The midwife swings by at some point and the nurse fills her in on my blood pressure episode and mentions I’ll need to inform future care providers that I have this response if I ever receive anesthesia in the future. – the midwife responds with “oh that’s right, she did mention it to me, and I totally forgot to tell you. That’s my bad”. The midwife mentions she’ll be back around 6:30 to check me, and assumes that we’ll need to take some synthetic measures to move things along as she notes on the monitor that my contractions are getting further apart.
Finally around 7:30 she comes back and checks me. I’m STILL only 5cm dilated!! HOW? She says she’s going to order some pitocin to give the contractions a boost, and that she’ll be back in a few minutes to introduce me to the new midwife as it’s shift change.
This is the turning point. The positive one.
I meet the new midwife and I honestly couldn’t tell you much about her, except that I was just so happy to have a fresh face.
Minutes later… My nurse says she’s going to prep an IV line for my pitocin. Then she comments… “huh. That’s weird. I don’t think you’re going to need much pitocin because your contractions are suddenly picking up on their own quite a bit”.
Fun fact- I had heard this but hadn’t experienced it before. Did you know that there’s a lot of things that can stall or inhibit your labor? Feeling unsafe, unsupported, not trusting those in charge of your care, fear, etc are among those things. This suddenly felt very true as I looked back on the last several hours.
Around 8 the pitocin arrived. By 8:15 the the nurse turned it off because I just really didn’t need it.
At 8:45 I tell the nurse I’m not feeling the urge to push yet, but am feeling more pressure. David asks if it would be a good time for him to go grab breakfast and I say no, I think he’s coming soonish.
Around 9 I feel a big shift- almost like he pushed off my ribs and into the birth canal. I page the nurse.
By the time she comes I have this sensation two more times. She pages the midwife to check me.
“I hear you’re feeling some pressure- let’s take a look! ………okay, well….. you’re probably feeling that because you’re at 10cm and there’s his head!”
So…. I was stuck at a 5 from when I was admitted until 7:30/8… and then in about an hour went from 5-10cm. !!!
She asked me to give a small practice push and said “okay then- you know how to push… hold that thought and we’ll get set up and meet your baby!”
At 9:19 I started pushing. I did 2 pretty big pushes. In the middle of the 3rd push she told me to stop and just breathe- don’t push. I had a mirror and could see his head was about halfway out. I just kept breathing and not pushing at all, and watched in the mirror for the next minute as he quite literally just slowly fell out without me doing a single thing. 😱
Theo was born at 9:24am. ❤️❤️❤️
We actually didn’t name him until a couple hours later and had 3 names. We narrowed it down, and Theodore felt right. Right after we decided, I asked both the nurse and David if they knew what it meant. So the nurse searched and told me it means “God’s Gift”.
You sure are, Theodore. 😭
1. My nurse had tweaked her back the day before and was in a lot of pain. I felt bad whenever she had to apply counter pressure to my hips during a contraction. At the end, I joked that if anyone asks,I got the epidural so she could sit in front of the computer instead of helping me cope. 😂 She thought it was pretty funny.
2. I don’t mean to throw the first midwife under the bus. Her bedside manner was perfectly nice and she was kind. We just didn’t see eye to eye, which really isn’t a common occurrence for me. But in the middle of labor was the least ideal time.
3. To my friends that are future moms- all I can say is know your rights, trust your instincts, and listen to your body. You know your body best. Doctors and midwives are amazing and they know a LOT. But they’re not superhuman and they’re not psychic; they can only make educated guesses about your birth based on their experience. But no two birth stories are the same. Trust your gut, mama. ❤️