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This is a birth story which means it includes things about female-parts. You have been warned…
My birth story begins on May 28th. I was 41w5d pregnant and the deadline for hospital transfer and medical induction was loomng. That morning I went to see my midwives to get lemon verbena to be used with castor oil, almond butter, and apricot juice in a disgusting natural induction cocktail (that doesn’t make you sick). I was not even remotely dilated and my cervix was still fairly posterior, but it was very soft. I took the cocktail that afternoon and…nothing in the 4-6 hours it was supposed to take. However, later that evening, contractions started. They were 3 minutes apart and uncomfortable (the first contractions I had ever felt! My BH were painless), but only lasting about 30-45 seconds. I was excited but cautious. Over time they got stronger and harder and longer. Around 2:30 they were strong enough I couldn’t sleep through them and about 2.5 minutes apart and a minute long. Definitely within 4-1-1. We called the midwife, and she said that since I could talk through them I should labor longer at home and call her back when they got too intense for that. I agreed, and tried to sleep a little bit between them. I dozed until about 4:30 on the couch, then moved to bed. I woke up at around 8AM with…nothing. The contractions had stopped. I was devastated.
We had another midwife appointment that day (41w6d) to check on baby and try to get things going again. We also did another NST, which baby girl passed with flying colors. I was hoping that at least I had dilated some from the hours of painful labor that kept me up most of the night, but still nothing. My cervix was a little more anterior but still completely closed. My midwife even tried to open it a little herself so she should do a membrane sweep, but my cervix wouldn’t budge. We agreed I’d take the other induction cocktail that afternoon and be in touch.
I took the cocktail shortly before my acupuncture appointment at 5 that afternoon, which was also to induce labor (I was desperate). On the drive home from acupuncture at about 6:30 I told my hubby I could feel contractions starting again. They weren’t painful, but this was only the second time I had even felt contractions, so we were cautiously hopeful. By the time we got home at 7 they were moving beyond discomfort quickly. By 8 they were taking all of my attention to cope with, but were only lasting about 45 seconds and 2.5 minutes apart. I knew I should lay down, since I had had no sleep since the 4-ish hours the night before, but I didn’t want these to peter out as this was my last chance to avoid the hospital, so instead we went for a walk. After going about a block and a half I realized this wasn’t going to happen as I was in too much pain to keep it up, especially since I was only getting about 90 seconds between contractions. We made it home and things ramped up quickly. All of those early labor activities people tell you to plan, like putting sheets on baby’s crib or baking a birthday cake? Yeah, those didn’t have time to happen.
At 8:45 we called Geraldine (our awesome midwife) and told her I’d been having contractions I couldn’t talk through for about an hour. When I told her I was doing OK coping with them she said that since it had only been an hour my cervix probably hadn’t had time to change, so we would check back by phone in a couple hours. We agreed and the countdown began. I was living until those two hours were up so I could call her again, I was having killer back labor and it was HARD. I wanted to get in to the tub at the birth center!
We called at 10:45 and she said there still probably hadn’t been time for my cervix to change so let’s wait another few hours. I about lost it. I told her that no, I wanted to go to the birth center (if you know me you know how very hard saying something like that was!). We agreed she’d check back in in 30 minutes. She did, and then we agreed to meet at the birth center at 12:30 (which gave her time to get there and get set up).
At 12:30 we arrived and Geraldine checked me, with my permission. She told me she was extremely impressed and that I was already at 4cm and my cervix was basically gone it was so thin, amazing after where I’d been that morning. She left me to labor with my husband and our awesome doula, Lauren. As soon as she was gone I said, “Ha, I told you so, Geraldine!” I knew that with contractions as intensely painful as I’d been having there had to be progress being made!
I continued to labor for awhile. I got into the tub, my expected pain-destroyer, and it was…nothing. Didn’t help. I was having KILLER back labor, and the tub was so small I couldn’t have my front and back in it at the same time. I asked if I could get back in the shower, which was my savoir at home, and Geraldine told me that it needed to be cleaned from a birth that had happened earlier that evening (it was attached to another room). So I managed. Somehow. I was exhausted because my last real sleep was two nights ago and labor came on so fast I didn’t get a chance to eat dinner. Coping was HARD. But with the help of my amazing hubby and doula, I did.
At 5 Geraldine suggested checking me again sometime, and I agreed, asking her to now. She did and told me I was now at 8cm. I was disheartened and said, “Then shouldn’t I be in transition?” She kind of smiled and said, “I think you have been for a bit now!” I hadn’t noticed a difference in the pain, except it kept getting stronger, but evidently this was it.
My husband asked her if the shower had been cleaned, because he noticed on a run to reheat the heat pack for my back the door was closed. Geraldine said yes, and I got in the shower. Which was HEAVEN. The shower virtually negated my back labor. The regular labor I could deal with just fine, by swaying on a birth ball, it was the back labor that made it so very, very hard for me. Labor in the front was painful but felt productive and I could work with productive! I did so much better in the shower, in fact, that when Geraldine came back to check on me she was afraid my contractions were slowing or stopping because I looked like I was in so much less pain!
Eventually my hubby and Lauren somehow convinced me to get out of the shower. I went back and was checked again and Geraldine told me I was at 9.5 with just a little lip of cervix on the sides and back. She said if I labored for another 30 minutes laying down and switching sides then she could hold my cervix out of the way and I could push. I agreed, not knowing that, as the assistant midwife said later, pushing through a cervix being held out of the way is about the most painful and hardest thing you can do in a labor. But I was so exhausted and running out of energy I still think that was the right choice.
After what felt like it should have been more than 30 minutes I finished a contraction and said, “Where the FUCK is Geraldine???” I heard a quiet, amused voice from the other side of the bed say, “Right here.” Oops.
She checked me again and told me I was almost completely dilated, the lip had reduced. Then the pushing began. I had no urge, because my body wasn’t really ready yet. Pushing felt wrong, it intensified the pain where my cervix was being held out of the way. It took several contractions before my birth team could convince me to really push through a contraction. I pushed on the birth stool until I moved baby girl down enough Geraldine could release my cervix. Then I switched between squatting (which is when my water broke), being on my side, and being on my back, before going back to the birth stool to deliver. While back on the birth stool I finally got the pushing urge, and then pushing felt so good and I made great progress with it!
After roughly an hour and a half of pushing, my daughter was born at 8:28 AM! She was lifted up instantly to me and I held her on my chest. My hubby leaned around me, where he’d been supporting me as I sat, and we stared at her together. I was moved to the bed with baby girl and laid with her on my chest for awhile. My hubby took her after a bit when my placenta refused to come out and I was losing a lot of blood so we could try some things, and eventually I completed the third stage. I didn’t need any stitches, and the only medicine I ended up having was some Pitocin after the delivery to stop the hemorrhaging. One my placenta was delivered I felt so much better and was ready to really see my sweet baby girl. I love that she was naked and not a burrito for those first moments with her, I got to feel and explore the entirety of this amazing little creature I had created!
Baby girl was 8lb 3oz and 19.25 inches born on May 30 at 42w0d. Her head circumference was 14 inches, the 69th percentile, ouch! She was perfect and amazing and after a nap and some food we all headed home at 1 in the afternoon.