Personal Tags: Ergobaby Birth Story Series
Our baby was due on August 7th. From 36-39 weeks, I experienced Braxton Hicks and the baby felt lower, but I wasn't dilating at all. I was certain she would be late. On Saturday August 4th, I woke up to my water breaking. Since there's a 24-hour window from the time your water breaks before they worry about infection, my doctors told me to come in. I was 1-2 cm dilated but not contracting at all. Once we checked in we walked the hallways with water and popsicles. Every 45 minutes the nurses would monitor our heart rates and my contractions. I had one contraction every 15 minutes that I barely felt so we discussed pitocin starting no later than 7:30pm.
At 4:30pm, having not progressed at all, we opted to start the pitocin. I was scared of the contractions on pitocin being terrible and coming on quick, but they started very gradually. I started feeling them soon after but they weren't uncomfortable till about 6:30 or 7. From 8pm-10:30pm or so, they were just about unbearable. I started off in bed and it helped to be on my side, but I was encouraged to get out and sit on the labor ball so that I wasn't tensing up my hips. I would bend over the bed with my face in the pillow and just clench my fists till it was over. My husband Shawn was a lifesaver. He would put his fist in my back and the counterpressure really helped. The breathing exercises, visualization, lights off, people being quiet and not talking during the contractions, repeating some sort of mantra (I used "I can do this" or "This will be over soon") - all these techniques definitely helped, but the pain was awful. In between contractions I would think ok, not so bad, but then another one would start and at its peak I would pray for it to be over.At 6pm I was only 3cm dilated, and at about 10:30-11pm, the nurse was estimating that the baby wouldn't be here till 5 or 6 the following morning since it was a first baby and I had barely dilated all day. At that point I let go of my wish to go epidural-free. I had been only been actively laboring with difficult contractions for about 3 hours, but I was exhausted. I also could not imagine potentially 8 more hours of pain like this with no relief and no sleep. I struggled with the decision but ultimately knew it was right for me at the time.
The epidural itself was virtually pain-free. I felt the needle and it was maybe a stronger pinch than most needles but compared to labor it was a cake walk. I laid back and gradually the contractions went from an 8 or 9 on the pain scale to a 6, to a 4, to where I couldn't feel them at all. I was anticipating a wonderful night of rest before pushing. I wasn't cold but my upper body was constantly shaking.
From about midnight for the next 30-40 minutes, our nurse was in the room with us. The baby kept moving, or my position would change, so she was in the room moving the belt around and making sure the heart rate was caught on the monitor. At about 12:40am she could not find the heart rate at all. She kept moving the belt around and just couldn't find it, but she wasn't worried - she very nonchalantly asked for help from another nurse. After calling the other nurse, she lifted up the blanket, looked down, and immediately called for help. I heard her yell for the NICU, and Shawn was trying hard not to react but had obviously seen what she saw. I asked Shawn if I was bleeding or something and he calmly said that I was fine. I remember gripping the sides of the bed as people ran in, wondering when someone would tell me what's going on. The room was suddenly flooded with people and our nurse said in passing that I should get ready to push. As they were getting my legs in stirrups several of the nurses said things like, "Oh look, a baby!" I thought that maybe I was crowning, when literally out of nowhere a nurse reached down and came up from behind the sheet with our baby girl in her arms!
The shock of seeing her so early plus how blue she was, made me gasp and my hands immediately went to cover my face. Shawn was saying, "It's ok, she's fine, babies are supposed to look like this" but they rushed her over to the warming table and we didn't get to see her right away. It felt like an eternity but within maybe 30 seconds we heard her cry and the nurses reassured us she was doing great. Shawn got to go over and be with her while the NICU checked her out.
Meeting our baby was surreal. They laid her on me and she just stared and stared like she knew me. Everyone said that moment was amazing but I didn't get it until it actually happened.
My birth experience was clearly not what I expected - how many people, who don't have a c-section, can say that they never even pushed?? When our nurse lifted the blanket, it turns out Caroline's head and shoulder were already out - I didn't feel a thing. Hindsight being 20/20 I will catch myself wishing I hadn't gotten the epidural. I think to myself, I could have made it till 12:48am if I knew it was going to be that quick. The fact of the matter though is that no one knew how long it would take, and it's very possible the epidural relaxed me enough to allow things to progress so quickly. In the end, it really didn't matter how things happened. We did what was right for us, with the information we had. And more importantly? Caroline Grace is here, and healthy, and perfect. We are so in love!