One month ago today, my new life began. On Friday, May 10th at 9:30 Am I became a mother to a wonderful and mesmerizing little human that my husband and I named Charlotte Olivia. I want to share our birth story in hopes that it will bring comfort, knowledge and strength to maybe just one woman on a similar journey. This is the story of the birth of a baby and also, the birth of a mother.
My whole pregnancy started with being told that our baby could potentially have Edwards Syndrome, Turner’s Syndrome or Downs Syndrome. When we completed additional genetic testing that concluded that the chances of those things were “less than 1 in 10,000” my husband and I were so relieved. Then the doctors told us that because of the results of the original test (nuchal translucency) there was also an elevated risk of our baby having a cardiac defect and stillbirth and intrauterine death. My husband and I continued discussing each recommended follow up test and deciding as each was brought up. Because of this test and the associated literature suggesting the above potential outcomes my OB wanted me to deliver by my due date or be induced. I wasn’t thrilled with the news because I wanted as natural a birth as was possible with as little augmentation and interference as was possible. But, because the first priority was safety for our babe and myself, my husband and I agreed to go in for induction the day after our due date, of 5/7.
The morning of our induction, my body had been showing signs of early labor, but that didn’t matter. We arrived to the hospital at 7:30 AM and went in for our first intervention: the Foley balloon catheter. The purpose of this was to use an inflated balloon to separate my water sack from the wall of my uterus and my cervix, essentially acting as the baby’s head would if she would have dropped. This causes dilation and contractions. Twelve hours after having some mild contractions, I was dilated to a 5 and they removed the catheter. Now it was time for intervention #2: Pitocin (round 1). I was hooked up to Pitocin all night, to catch my contractions up to my dilation. In the morning when the doctor checked me, I was given the option to have them break my water, intervention #3 or to continue to wait. Breaking my water put me on a 24 hour time clock for delivery to prevent infection. Since I had already been there a full day, I said to go ahead and break it to get things started. Within an hour of breaking my water my body began to labor on it’s own. So at this point in the day I was on a level 9 Pitocin and now my body was laboring so I was having some insane contractions. They would last up to 4 minutes each, they would only be 30 seconds to 1 minute apart and most often they were coupled. I labored naturally like this for 13 hours. I know, I can’t believe it either. They eventually weaned me off the Pitocin mid-day. My husband was my pillar of strength. We had a doula that helped tremendously. And the staff in the L&D ward were great as well. After a long… very long day of laboring naturally at the height of my labor the doctor came in and checked me and concluded that my labor had become inconsistent because I was dehydrated and starting to get exhausted. They pushed fluids to me hoping it would start to regulate again with no luck. When they checked me again, I was still at a 7.5 CM and they ordered another round of Pitocin. This was when I lost it. I couldn’t continue with the doubled contractions with the intensity that they had been with the previous round of Pitocin. I went against everything I had thought I wanted and asked for an epidural, intervention #4. I cannot begin to adequately describe how much I did NOT want one. I don’t judge other women for getting them, (go for it girls!) I just didn’t want it for myself or my baby and labor experience. The anesthesiologist came in only minutes later, and after having to replace the first epidural, placed a second and I was ready to get some rest throughout the night while they started a 2nd round of Pitocin.
I did not get rest… Within an hour of getting the epidural and being told to sleep the nurses came rushing in to tell me that with every contraction, our baby’s heart rate was decelerating and they had to have me change positions. This happened 3 times. I was made to sit upright with my legs off the bed. I then had to lay on my other side. And finally I was told to get on my knees, with my belly pushed into bean bags on the hospital bed while leaning on my elbows facing the wall. My husband came and held my hand and ran interference with all the medical residents that were coming in to check on me so I could get some rest. I got 4 hours of sleep that night and it was the only rest I got the entire time I was in the hospital (5 days total).
I was woken up at 5:00 Am, it was finally time to push! I pushed for 3 hours before there was a shift change in doctors. When the new doctor came on she had said that most doctors would require a decision to be made because they don’t like you to push for more than 3 hours. But because she was just coming onto the floor, she needed to evaluate my pushing and the situation. She bought me another hour of pushing. The whole time I pushed with her, she told me that I may end up needing the help of forceps, a vacuum, or even still, a cesarean section (even though Charlotte’s head was beyond my cervix). But, after all that, Charlotte was born after 2 full days of labor and 4 hours of pushing! She was a healthy 7 lbs 2 oz. The whole “golden hour” after her birth felt rushed and impersonal because of the interference of hospital staff. Her cord clamping was not delayed as long as I would have liked, either. We were moved to the mother/baby unit 2 hours later.
I’ll spare you the details of the recovery in the mother baby unit because that was messy and uncoordinated. My 2 and a half days of additional hospital stay were not my favorite and in fact, I could even say that it was worse than the laboring because at least the laboring was productive! I didn’t get any rest, the hospital staff were intrusive and the lactation consultants were unprofessional.
What I will say is that my labor and birth were so augmented, interfered with and manipulated that I don’t feel like I got anything that I wanted with the exception of avoiding a C-section. I still got a healthy baby girl out of the experience and I couldn’t be more thrilled, despite the fact that it has taken me all day to write this, I couldn’t remember where I left off when I came back to it, I’m dealing with a clogged milk duct and Charlie-girl is going through a growth spurt keeping me on my toes all day long.
My point in sharing my labor and delivery story is to share what we went through. To further support a future mom and hoping that she doesn’t feel mom guilt because she got the epidural that she didn’t want. If I can help give comfort to one other mom who was given the same diagnosis we were with the elevated NT and risk of stillbirth than this has been worth it. Just because the doctors tell you the worst case scenario does NOT mean that it will come to fruition. Use your instincts, mama. You know your body and your baby best. Things will turn out exactly as they are supposed to.