Jessica’s Birth Story

Before the birth…

When I first found out I was pregnant I was terrified of the pain of labor.  I was very happy with the idea of epidural anesthesia. My biggest fear was having an episiotomy.  I didn’t fear c-section, because somehow I had a confidence that my body was built for the task, and I would birth vaginally. I approached pregnancy/labor as I did most challenges I had met in life thus far-by reading. I read everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and labor.

When I was about 5 months pregnant I started talking to a friend I had lost touch with from college. It turned out that she was also pregnant with her first child, due 2 months before me. She was taking Bradley Method childbirth classes, and thought I might be interested too. On her advice I looked into it. I was not totally convinced to pursue un-medicated childbirth at that point, but the level of education offered by Bradley Method classes as opposed to the standard hospital childbirth classes appealed to me. By the end of the class series I was convinced that I had the tools and ability to handle labor without pain medications.

I thought I might be in labor…

…but Steve was more certain of it than I was. Around 7 pm on Tuesday, October 28 I started noticing that I was having what I labeled “Braxton Hicks contractions,” so I started trying to time them.  I wasn’t really getting a regular pattern–partially because some of them were so mild that I didn’t feel them–unless I put my hands on my belly when I was “expecting” a contraction, then my belly was really hard.  From 7-8 the “contractions” were anywhere from 6 to 15 minutes apart, usually no longer than 30 seconds.

Steve and I went to see a movie at 8:40, and the theater was pretty empty–including us there were 5 people. At 9:08 I told Steve about a contraction, and he started timing them. Pretty much throughout the rest of the movie (until about 10:30) contractions were coming 3-5 minutes apart, but again, they were really mild, so I didn’t really feel them all, and they were entirely in front. Since there were so few people at the theater, and since we sat the furthest back, I had a lot of freedom to get up and walk around.

We came home, and took a walk from 11-11:30. I still didn’t think they were “real,” or even “regular” since they were so mild. I finished getting snacks together for Steve & Dotty (my doula) in case it really was labor, then went to bed at around midnight.

Yes, I’m in labor…but its going to be a long haul!

I woke up shortly before 5:30 a.m. with a contraction–I looked at the clock and must have just rounded the time to 5:30 thinking that they would be pretty far apart, and I just wanted a general idea. The next contraction came at 5:30, then at 5:38. I got up that time to use the bathroom and had a “bloody show.” Woke up Steve, and we called Dotty to see if she thought we should call the Dr.  We weren’t really timing through this, but they were about 2 minutes apart, 30 seconds long.  Hurt a little bit, still all in front.

Dotty said to call the Dr, who told us to come into the hospital to get checked. After last minute packing, we left the house around 6:30, got to hospital at 6:45. I was still 2-3cm dilated, 50% effaced (same as at my appointment the previous morning). My contractions slowed to every 5-6 minutes when they hooked me to the fetal monitor, and I also noted that laying down (even with the head of the bed elevated) made the contractions hurt more. My blood pressure was slightly elevated (I think just from all the running around to get to the hospital), so they wanted to run blood work, which all came back fine. While they were waiting for the lab results on my blood work, they let me walk around the halls, which brought my contractions back to about 3 minutes apart, 40-55 sec long, but MUCH easier to handle.

{Note: When I arrived at the hospital my OB was there, we’ll call him “Dr. M.” Dr. M. had been my GYN for 4 years prior to my pregnancy. He practiced with 3 other OB/GYN’s, so during my pregnancy I had appointments with the others to meet them. At about 5 months I started trying to get scheduled with Dr. M., but there was always some reason why he was not available. I did not see him until I was 39 weeks pregnant. I discovered in the hospital that not only had he not read my birth plan that I submitted at 32 weeks-explaining why he stripped my membranes without my consent and set this labor in motion-but he would not be on duty for my labor. Not only would he not be on duty, but none of the other OB’s from the practice would either! A Dr. who I had never met before, Dr. R., would be caring for me while I was in labor. This scared me very much, but turned out to be a very good thing in the end.}

Since it seemed I was going to take a while, they told me I could go home. 

Of course we didn’t go straight home.  Nope.  We went out to Friendly’s for breakfast, and got quite a few shocked looks from people when we kept standing up every 3 minutes for a contraction (me because it was more comfy, Steve because he was rubbing my back). We did ask for a table in a back corner so we were somewhat less on display. The waitress stopped by while Steve was in the bathroom to comment that she thought it was great that he was rubbing my back and all because when she was having kids “husbands just dropped their wives off at the hospital to have the kid, and showed up after the baby was born.”

After breakfast we went home, and we attempted to nap–especially Steve, who despite believing that I was in labor, hadn’t gone to bed until about 3 a.m. Well the nap didn’t work. Laying down made contractions much worse, and they were only about 3 minutes apart, 1 minute long, so we kept jumping up and down out of bed. After about about 20 minutes, we gave up. We decided to go for a walk. So we walked around the neighborhood for about an hour, stopping for each contraction for Steve to hold me up. Got some strange looks from passing motorists…LOL!

Time to go to the hospital!

When we got back to the house I was contemplating taking a warm bath, thinking that would be helpful, but all of a sudden my contractions started coming about 2 minutes apart. So we decided to go back to the hospital (with visions of the Jacuzzi dancing in our heads…). We called Dotty, who was going to come assist us at the hospital. The hospital was only a 10 minute drive from our house, but we had to stop about 5-6 times for me to have contractions. We would jump out, I would lean against the car and Steve would run around to my side and massage my back. We decided to call this routine a “Bradley firedrill”–not meaning to offend anyone of Chinese decent out there.

We got to the hospital around 3:45, Dotty arrived slightly after 4. We were the only patients there (and would be until Friday evening). The nurse we got we had met that morning-Jan, and she was great! I heard her tell another nurse in the morning that I looked like “a good candidate for the Jacuzzi,” and I was definitely all for that! We found out later she is studying to be a mid-wife.  After being hooked up to the fetal monitor for 20 minutes (nurse let me sit in a rocking chair so I could stand up for contractions) then getting examined by a resident–Dr. E. (5 cm dilated, 75% effaced), we were allowed to do what we wanted. We decided to walk the halls while the Jacuzzi was being filled. The standard hospital policy is 20 minutes in the Jacuzzi, then you have to get out for fetal monitoring. Well Jan talked to Dr. R., and got him to have an order put in my charts to allow me to stay in as long as I wanted, with Doppler monitoring every 15 minutes! We stayed in the Jacuzzi for an hour, then got out because we were turning into prunes.

Slow Progress, But Still Doing Fine…

I went on the monitor, then was checked again by Dr. E.–6 cm dilated, 90% effaced. The progress was a bit slower than “textbook,” but we were happy with it, and set off walking the halls. During this time, Dr. R. was hanging out at the nurses’ station and observing Steve and I as we would walk past every 5 minutes or so. He was apparently really impressed with how we were handling labor, and went to talk to Dotty to learn more about what preparation we had for labor (the Bradley Method classes). Dotty was hanging out in our room at that point because as a doula she tries to allow husbands & wives as much time alone together as they want for bonding; and also she needed rest because she had been at a birth the previous day for someone else in our class, and she does have a regular job.

Sometime around 7pm there was a shift change, and the new nurse I got, Judy, was really nice. She had only been in Labor & Delivery since June or July, she had been in Pediatrics before that, and this was her first experience with a “natural” childbirth. She has kids of her own, and she couldn’t believe how relaxed and cheerful I was with obviously intense back labor, and that I wasn’t yelling, moaning, swearing…she willing continued the same kind of care Jan had provided–fetal monitoring in a chair, offered me some Hi-C, allowed us to go into the Jacuzzi. Again we stayed in the Jacuzzi for an hour, then got out. I threw up a little while in the Jacuzzi (I felt it coming one contraction in advance, so I had Steve bring the waste can close to the Jacuzzi). The throwing up encouraged me that I was reaching late first stage. I was kind of disappointed that at 9pm I was only 8-9cm dilated with a lip, but I figured I would be pushing by 11 at the latest…

28 Hours of Labor Can Tire You Out!

Well I wasn’t pushing at 11 pm yet, I was stalled at 8-9cm with a lip. There was a shift change at 11 and we got a bad nurse–a real stickler for rules. The first thing she wanted was to put me on the monitor, so she directed me to the bed, and I politely told her that being in the bed made my contractions too intense for me to handle, that I had been sitting in the rocking chair for contractions prior to that. She argued a bit, so I didn’t bother to tell her that in addition to not being in bed for monitoring (God forbid!) I was also allowed to stand up for each contraction. I assured her that the monitors would stay in place under the belly band. The heartrate monitor fell out right away when I stood up, and it keep loosing the baby’s heartrate–which I had not had problems with at all before. Also, the contraction intensity numbers didn’t seem at all like the numbers we had seen before–my contractions felt more intense to me, but were measuring less intense. While being monitored I started to leak fluid, so we requested a check to see if my water had broken.

After the monitoring session the nurse came in and took the monitor off and again directed me to the bed because Dr. E. would be coming to check my bag of waters. I again told her that being on the bed was too painful, and that I would get on the bed when the Dr. was in my room. You should have seen the look on her face! I was going to make GOD (oops, I mean the Dr.) wait for *the patient*!!! She just spun around and walked out because I’m sure by now she knew she wouldn’t be able to budge me, and that Dotty and Steve (who had been pulling me out of the rocking chair for contractions because I was too tired to do it myself) would back me. Dr. E. came in, and as usual, was just fine with waiting for me. She was even okay with waiting when I started to get into bed and had to get out because a contraction started. She started checking me, and determined I had a small break in my waters, but had not completely broken. As she was saying that, I felt a POP!, and my water completely broke.

I thought the contractions had hurt a lot before that, well they REALLY started to hurt after my water broke. Steve, Dotty, and I began to walk the halls…we walked for about 20 minutes then I needed to use the bathroom. While I was in the bathroom the nurse came in and wanted me to get monitored again, even though it had only been 30 minutes since I got off! I hid in the bathroom for a bit, but eventually came out and got hooked up. While on the monitor, we asked her to get the Jacuzzi ready, I wanted to go back in (lucky thing that I was the only patient on the floor, they didn’t have to keep draining and refilling the tub, just adding warm water).

We went to the Jacuzzi and I trustingly stepped in, expecting the relief I had felt the previous two times. What a shock when I discovered that the temp was 94F (LOWER than body temp) rather than the 102 I needed to have any “theraputic effect!” It sent me into a contraction, and I could not get out! All I could do was try to get as much of my belly submerged as possible to “float” it off my back while we desperately drained & refilled to get the temperature up. I had the contraction for 5 minutes straight, until the temp got up. Poor Steve was scrunched in an awkward position to keep the water level up–that was the only time in labor I raised my voice to him. He kept trying to get up because it was cold and his position was awkward, but when he did, the water level dropped around me, and the pain was terrible!

Barely 10 minutes after we had gotten the temp correct, the nurse came to get us out. We told her of the Dr. order on my chart, and she left in a huff. She returned in a few minutes with the Doppler though. After 45 minutes in the Jacuzzi, I was feeling I needed to push, so we got out.

It’s Time to Push! …or is it?

We went back to the room, and requested a check. I was still 9 cm with a lip, it was around 1:30 then. We were all getting exhausted, I was no longer cheerful. I just sat in the rocking chair, and would drift off between contractions. Steve & Dotty would pull me up, I would lean on Steve & Dotty would massage my back. My contractions were coming in pairs–1.5 min apart then 6 min apart. We all “zoned out” for a while.

By 3:30 Dotty was wondering why I had stalled, and she was praying. She clearly felt that the chair was the problem, I needed to get on the bed and get on all 4’s for contractions. I argued–the bed was too painful, I had tried all 4’s earlier and it hurt…but Dotty persisted so I got in bed. It took until nearly 4 to get me on the bed, but after just a few contractions I was definitely feeling the urge to push! We got Dr. E. to come check me, which she agreed to do with me on all 4’s. I was ready! The room sprang to life, and I began pushing right there. After a few contractions Dotty said I should try squatting, but I didn’t want to–my legs were so tired! I was so tired, that for the last hour I had actually been trying to ignore contractions, hoping they would just disappear if I did! I tried this during pushing too–”maybe if I just relax I can let this contraction pass without pushing”  That didn’t work! I couldn’t help but push once I started!  Dotty insisted, and had the nurses get the squatting bar set up. Then we got me turned around, and after 3 contractions Jessica Ann was born at 4:41 am on Friday, October 30!  Dr. E. actually caught Jessica, while Dr. R. looked on. 

There had been some meconium staining (Dotty later told me that Jessica’s head was fairly covered with meconium-enough to concern her. At the birth though she just tried to calm Steve down as he saw Jessica’s green head crowning), so Jessica was taken to the corner of the room to be suctioned–did she ever scream! Her Apgars were 8 & 9, she was 7lb 1oz, 21in long. I had no episiotomy, but did have some internal tearing.

We came home Sat. afternoon.  I was so happy I did Bradley and was able to go natural. It was tough, but having a VERY supportive husband, concentrating just on one contraction at a time, and being educated made it doable.

Thoughts after the birth:

Jessica was very clearly in a posterior position for the majority of my labor-as evidenced by my experience of “back labor,” and intense contractions that did not produce quick progress. 25% of all babies are in a posterior position, yet they account for 50% of all “failure to progress” (dilation too slow) and “CPD” (Dr. determines during pushing stage that baby will not fit out vaginally) c-sections. C-sections for “failure to progress” and “CPD” are the leading cause of primary c-sections, accounting for 33% of all c-sections performed in America. 33% of c-sections are planned repeat c-sections, and the remaining 33% of c-sections are for other causes. Posterior positioning is very effectively corrected by having the mom assume a hands & knees position for 20 minutes or more at a stretch-this is what worked for me. But it is very rarely suggested to moms who are having a non-progressive labor. Instead these women are augmented with Pitocin to strengthen contractions. But the strength of the contractions is not the problem, so the “solution” does not work, and the mom is taken to have a c-section.

At many points in my labor an OB who had less faith in the natural progress than Dr. R. might have suggested augmentation of the labor with Pitocin or even moving to c-section-when I didn’t dilate the “textbook” 1 cm per hour after 5 cms, when I stalled for seven hours at 9 cms… (As a doula I was once told as my client was taken in to have a c-section that the hospital staff had been “generous” to allow to her remain at 9 cms for 2 hours!) But in the end I had a vaginal birth with an excellent recovery-I was out shopping 2 days after getting out of the hospital.

In all fairness to other OB’s out there, some use Pitocin when they don’t really think it is needed because they know that their clients, who lack the education about the normal birth process that I had, will be upset about having as long of a labor as I had, and hold their OB’s to blame since they heard that their friend got a “magical drug that made her labor speed up.”

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 6:07 pm.

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