My Birth Story
Before I even got pregnant, Chris and I decided we wanted a home birth. But I didn?t always feel that way. My friend Miriam did it and at the time, I thought that was fine for her but something I would never do. I wanted an epidural and the safety of a hospital. Then my sister-in-law got pregnant and was planning a home birth, too. Trying to understand the madness, we talked about it and she recommended I watch a documentary called Business of Being Born to help me understand why on earth she would want to do that. So Chris and I found it on Netflix. As we watched, not only did I start to understand why she wanted a home birth, Chris and I turned to each other and realized we kinda liked the idea. But as an English major, one little movie was not going to convince me. I needed to research. The more I researched, the better it sounded so when I found out I was pregnant a few months later, we found our midwives. I loved that they came to my house for appointments and spent time just talking and getting to know me. Each visit convinced me I made the right decision. Later on in my pregnancy, I created my birth plan, bought my birth tub, and got more and more excited about my birthing day...
At 39 weeks, I took off work to hopefully have a week to prepare for the arrival of my baby. I thought it would be good to have some time to get things done, relax, and mentally prepare. I got that. I also got the next week. By that time I was ready, not because I was uncomfortable or anything, I was just ready to meet my baby. At 41 weeks, my midwives recommended I go for a biophysical profile ultrasound to check on the health of my baby. But after careful consideration and discussion, I declined. I thought, I?m a first time mom and my mom was overdue with me and my sister. Blood pressure, heartrate, and urine tests were normal so I was sure everything was fine. I got serious and tried numerous natural induction methods, everything from raspberry leaf tea to acupuncture.
On Thursday, November 22 (2 days before 42 weeks), I woke up at 1:00 a.m. with contractions. I wanted to be sure it wasn?t false labor so for the next 1 1/2 hrs, I timed them. At 12-15 minutes apart, I thought I should at least tell Chris. I woke him up and said, ?We very well may have a Thanksgiving baby.? He didn?t respond so I said, ?I?m having contractions.? His response was priceless. ?Tightening of the uterus?? ?(With a smile) Yes.? ?What do I need to do?? ?Nothing. Let?s go back to sleep.? We did for awhile before Chris got antsy and went to set up the birth tub and pick up the house. At some point, I called my midwife and she told me to call back when they were 10 minutes apart, but they never got there.The contractions continued for a few hours and then just stalled. When I woke up, I called her back and she told me to go about my day and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. ?But don?t eat too much. We don?t need a bunch of cranberry throw up.? I had contractions on and off throughout the day, but they never stuck. I went to bed that night and woke up again to contractions early in the morning. I had 3 in a row that were ten minutes apart and I was waiting on one more before I called the midwives, but they started to space out again and then just stopped.
It was now the day before 42 weeks and my midwife came over to check me. Blood pressure was good, baby?s heartrate was good. I was 1 cm dilated and 80% effaced. She thought I would go into active labor soon, but again recommended a biophysical profile to check on the baby. I thought that was a good idea. If everything was fine, we would come back home and hopefully have a baby over the weekend. If not, I would be admitted and induced. I grabbed my hospital bag just in case, but really didn?t think it would come to that. When we got to Vandy, the doctor came out and told us I needed to be admitted and induced because I was 42 weeks. I told him I wanted to check on the baby and if everything was fine, I would wait. He said it didn?t matter if everything was fine, I needed to be admitted. He said that would be their recommendation no matter what the test showed. Would I really ?leave the hospital against medical advice?? I explained that I was going to have the test and then make my decision. Well, the test showed that I had zero amniotic fluid. They recommended I be admitted and my midwife agreed. They started talking about all the things that could be wrong--that her kidneys may not be working properly, that she might not make it through contractions, etc. It scared me to death, but my midwife explained that if they thought it was that serious, I would be taken away for an emergency c-section.
Needless to say, I was very upset I wouldn?t be having the home birth I had planned and prepared for. I felt like control was taken away from me. Of course having a healthy baby is the most important thing, but the experience still matters. They did try to accommodate me though and got me the room with the birth tub. Not a bad start. When we got to my L&D room, we emailed a copy of the birth plan for the nurse to print off. The doctor came in (not the one we originally met, thank God) and said my birth plan was right in line with how they try to do things, with minimal interventions. He said, ?Women have been doing this on their own for thousands of years. We?re just here in case we?re needed.? The nurse explained, ?This is your birth and we just want to support you.? It was awesome. I started to let my guard down and adjust my ?plan?.
We got right into natural induction methods. The staff was awesome. They were right there with me, supporting my choices as long as baby was okay. I was having contractions, but not progressing like I needed to when they started talking about Pitocin. We could do that or we could try the Foley Bulb balloon that manually dilates the cervix to get me into active labor. The nurse personally didn?t like the balloon and described it as very painful. At this point, I was exhausted. I had had 2 nights of contractions with minimal sleep, nothing was working, and I was discouraged. I didn?t even know how to decide so Chris and I took a walk to discuss, pausing in the hallway as I had contractions. He stepped in as the voice of reason and reminded me of how we wanted to do things as naturally as possible and the Foley Bulb was the next logical choice. Of course he was right. I wanted to try everything possible. Well, it did its job and dilated me to 5 cm and I was 90% effaced. The Bulb itself was not really that painful and I?m definitely glad I chose to try it.
Contractions were becoming stronger and more regular and my birth team was right there. Rebekah was communicating with family and massaging my back when Chris needed a break. Chris was right there doing everything I wanted and needed, without me even having to ask. He was absolutely amazing. Hours went by with no progression from there. It had now been 24 hours since I was admitted and Pitocin was all that was left. The humor was not lost on me that after all that, we were going with the original doctor?s recommendation. But at that point, it was on MY terms. We started the drip and things got serious. I could no longer go to the bathroom by myself. I needed to lean on Chris as I had contractions to and from the bed. Modesty was long gone. Clothes didn?t matter anymore. Not much did except working with Chris, breathing through contractions, and this journey with my baby girl.
Hypnobirthing was working great to keep me deep breathing and relaxed. That is, until my pushing contractions started. There was no deep breathing through that. I had uncontrollable guttural urges but nothing I couldn?t get through. I kept saying I didn?t want to do it anymore but remembered my friends telling me that?s when it?s almost over. Of course none of them had Pitocin and no epidural. ;) I continued to let my body work through the contractions until the doctor came in and said that the baby?s heartrate was not coming up like they wanted. She said I needed to get her out. She was crowning and a few pushes would get her out. My motivation came in thinking that I hadn?t gone through all of that for them to use forceps or be whisked away for a c-section.
Forcing it was as painful as I thought it would be, but it needed to be done. Moments later, she came out screaming her head off. Thank God! They handed her to me and I just weeped, partly from exhaustion and relief, but mostly from instantaneous, intense love. She was healthy, but why did the mood in the room change? Apparently I was losing a lot of blood. They swarmed me with towels, upped the Pitocin, gave me Cytotec, and started talking about a blood transfusion when they finally got it under control. Chris stepped outside and came right back. He later explained that he thought he was going to throw up. He was terrified of losing his wife.
I can?t explain the bond I felt the 3 of us had. I knew the journey that Lillian and I would go through would be special, but I underestimated the effect all of this would have on my relationship with Chris. Although it was one of the most difficult things we have gone through together, I wouldn?t change a thing because we now have a deeper level of love than I thought possible. Rebekah asked me how I would rate my birth experience on a scale from 1-10. I said 9. I can?t say enough of how great the nurses and doctors were. The only thing that could?ve made it better was to have it at home.