“I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content” -Philippians 4:11
There is no easy way to give birth—I can say that now because I tried a little bit of all the ways this time and they are honestly all hard. (:
Birth always has a way of surprising us, I think. I thought for sure I had figured out how this baby was going to surprise us (; —surely he/she would surprise us by coming earlier than Noelle did right?, surely my labor would be much shorter this time right? Surely I would have better coping skills knowing what to expect this time, right? But no…I guess that wouldn’t have been a very good surprise huh? (: I do wish I had fewer expectations for this birth, because how things went certainly threw me for a loop.
To be honest, I am not a person who can easily say something like “as long as baby is healthy I don’t care how they get here…” –The birth experience is truly important to me, and a major reason I wanted to go to midwifery school. So, this birth was emotionally difficult for me to let go of the “ideal” I was wanting–It definitely humbled me.
So here’s the story as best as I can recall it:
Much to my surprise, my water broke on its own at 41+4. Much to my surprise again, my labor did not start for more than 24 hours. I didn’t experience a huge gush of fluid, so there was some confusion as to whether I was just leaking amniotic fluid or my water had completely broken. The following morning my midwife determined that it had indeed broken completely and so we were on a bit of a time clock for baby to be born, particularly at home, where monitoring is more intermittent rather than continuous. (There are differing professional opinions on how long water can be broken before baby is born, but the range seems to be 24-72 hours, assuming baby and mom check out ok)
Things seemed to be going fairly well at home. My labor got going the following afternoon (41+5) and my contractions were sticking in a pattern. I was encouraged that it was FINALLY happening and it felt like my body was “working”. I was never aware of how long my contractions were or how close together they were at the time but my doula, Renee, told me afterwards they were about three minutes apart and 60-90 seconds most of the time we were home.
At around 11pm, Paige, my midwife, gave me a heads up that transferring to the hospital was in the realm of possibility, but that we would reevaluate in a couple hours to see where I was at. Throughout the evening I was experiencing pretty severe vomiting and stopped being able to keep fluids down. I got a bag of IV fluids and Zofran at home, to see if that would help reenergize me. At around 1:30am Paige checked me to see where I was at and thought I was around 6 cm and that my cervix seemed more swollen than the previous time she checked me. At that point we decided to transfer. Even though I had known transferring was a possibility, the reality of losing the birth experience I wanted hit me and I pretty much broke down at this point. I felt like I could no longer handle the contractions, and I decided before we even left the house that I was getting an epidural when we got to the hospital.
So I did. I was really hoping that the epidural would help me rest and dilate the rest of the way, unfortunately it did not. Upon arriving at the hospital I was told I was at 8cm and then sometime in the middle of the epidural that I was at 9cm. I sort of question the accuracy of those checks now, and am wondering if I wasn’t quite that far dilated. Anyone who checked me noted that my cervix was pretty swollen, which seemed to be a recurring problem throughout my labor. In talking to my midwife and the doctors my best guess is that it was from the pressure from all of the vomiting/ dry heaving, and also baby being pretty low for a long time but not progressing down with strong enough contractions. They gave me a dose of Benadryl to see if that would reduce the swelling, unfortunately it did not either.
In the morning around 9am the on call Dr. and residents talked to us about a plan. C-section was definitely the plan for the day because of the length of time my water had been broken (almost 48 hours at that point), but they ultimately were willing to give me a few more hours to see if I could have a vaginal birth, since there were 2 more emergent c-sections ahead of me anyway. I was rechecked, and this time, the doctor checking me said I felt like I was back at 6cm because of all the swelling, which was incredibly disheartening. (IF I have another baby in the future, I think I would consider refusing or at least limiting cervical checks because of how much confusion they added to this birth experience). They agreed that the epidural had slowed down my labor, and were wanting to try Pitocin to speed things up. I reluctantly agreed as I felt this was truly my last shot at avoiding a c-section. Sometime right before they started Pitocin I began noticing that I could feel my contractions again and that maybe my epidural was wearing off. It became more apparent that it most definitely wasn’t working and I could completely move my legs again. Apparently my epidural had been disconnected which was definitely an unpleasant experience when I was already at my wits end. I asked them to turn the Pitocin off within an hour or two of them starting it. I was vomiting again, and just feeling like I could not take any more. My temperature was also trending up and in the 101’s so they restarted an epidural and wheeled me back for a c-section. I will mention here that baby looked fantastic on the monitor throughout the entire time.
At around 1:15pm I was back in the OR being prepped for a C-section. Once they were ready to start, one of the nurses brought Nathan back and he sat next to me at the head of the bed. Everyone in the OR got a real kick out of us not knowing the gender of the baby we were about to have. The doctor asked me what my last minute prediction was and I quickly said boy. At this point I knew 100% we were having a boy—only a boy would be this much of a stinker, right? (: A few short minutes later at 1:43pm Eli Andrew Wright was born and we could see him through a little window in the surgical drape that they opened . I hated that they couldn’t put him right on my chest but I could hear him crying and I knew he was fine. Nathan watched them clean him up then brought him over to me. I thought he was so handsome and couldn’t believe how big he was.
I could tell you all of the reasons why it is “better” not to get an epidural.
I could tell you all of the reasons why it is “better” to not use Pitocin.
I could tell you all of the reasons why it is much “better” to not have a C-section.
But for some reason I had a hard time reminding myself of those reasons in the moment. Birth can be a really disillusioning experience and I think that was a lesson I needed to learn.
It’s hard not to ask myself “what if?” at every step of the way. “What if we could have gotten my labor to start sooner after my water broke and saved those hours?”…”What if I had found a better rhythm at the hospital and things kept progressing?” “What if I tried the Pitocin a little longer…could I have had a vaginal birth?” etc etc etc. But that’s just not how this story went. If for no other reason, I think God must have just wanted me to have this is experience.
Noelle’s birth is what inspired me to go to school for midwifery. Eli’s birth definitely added some confusion to that calling, but I think will give me a depth of understanding that will prove to be important. I can distinctly remember feeling so in awe of what women go through to have their babies after Noelle’s birth and I can honestly say I feel even more in awe of all the things women go through now after Eli’s birth. I know that I will be able to relate to and empathize with a larger population of women now having experienced two pretty polar opposite births.
With Noelle’s birth I got literally everything I wanted, and with Eli’s birth I got literally EVERYTHING I didn’t want. But in the end, both were world-rocking experiences that I am thankful for and blessed me with a beautiful child to love and raise.
<<Because of how things went we don’t have pictures documenting the whole story but I am so thankful for these ones we do have! These were mostly taken by our amazing doula Renee who stayed with us for 30+ hours through the whole journey as well as the nurses in the OR>>
Link to Noelle’s birth story here: Noelle’s Birth Story