I was set on a natural, spontaneous birth. I took Hypnobirthing, and practiced breathing and relaxation techniques regularly. I read Ina May Gaskin, and watched The Business of Being Born, and found a midwifery practice with a Centering Group. I didn?t even bother READING about cesareans or epidurals since _I_ wasn?t going to have THAT. I had a beautiful birth plan, respectfully declining any medical intervention, and asking for a gentle quiet birth with my mom and husband.
Then my midwife told me at my 36 week appointment that the baby had been measuring very small. A biophysical profile (fancy ultrasound) showed that she was less than 5th percentile which is severe intrauterine growth restriction. The day I was 37 weeks (?early term?) the OB I saw for a non-stress test encouraged me strongly to be induced the next day. I cried and cried, but a midwife I respect deeply explained why it was the right thing to do, and that I would still be a midwifery patient.
I checked into the hospital at 37w, 1d and that night, the midwife put in a Cook catheter to mechanical dilate my cervix. I woke up around 1 with some cramping and was up until 3, but these were tolerable pains. At 8am they removed my catheter and said I was 1-2cm dilated and 50% effaced. At 10:30am they put in the first dose of Cytotec, and then three more times every three hours. With each dose, they had to do a cervical exam, put in the pill, and I would have to lie in the bed on a monitor for the next hour so the Cytotec could dissolve, all while the contractions got harder and harder. So my hopes for free movement were out the window, but I was doing it for my baby, so my priorities shifted.
The midwives kept saying how great I was doing through the cervical exams which were getting more and more uncomfortable. I used my Hypnobirthing techniques during the exams and especially during each hour in the bed which were progressively more horrible with contractions I couldn?t move away from. I listened to scripts and breathed, but the contractions were nearly constant by the end. I started thinking about an epidural after about 14 hours of Cytotec labor, and told my mom that if I was less than 6cm at the next check, I wanted the epidural. I was still 3cm. So I got the epidural at around 4am, which was glorious. I think I dozed for about an hour before the midwife and the OB came into the room. They (and a million other people, it seemed) had been looking at my strips from the monitoring for the last few hours. They told me that (long before the epidural) the baby's heart rate had been dropping at the end of each contraction, which they called variable decelerations, which are apparently scarier than predictable ones. They thought the cord was trapped and the contractions were cutting off her oxygen supply.
The OB checked me and I was still only 3cm and that we needed to get the baby out. Considering her growth restriction, this was not a complete surprise and since they told me she might not survive a prolonged induction, I consented to a c-section. Boy, was that the right thing to do! Elena Rose was born on Thursday 3/21 at 5:58am weighing 4lbs, 9oz. When they opened me up, they found that the cord was wrapped around her belly and twice around her foot and there was meconium. She never would have survived vaginal delivery. They took her out and directly to the Peds team a few feet away. She didn't cry. I found out later that her 1 minute APGAR was 1. She needed resuscitation to breathe, but once they got her breathing, she recovered quickly. Her 5 minute APGAR was 6, and 10 minute was 8. She was taken to the NICU and my husband went with her. After sewing me up, I went to recovery for at least an hour -- I was pretty out of it, and knowing that Rob was with her, I didn't worry. I was able to see her briefly before I went to a room, but because of a blood work result (lactate?) and the meconium, they wanted to let her gut rest before I could feed her. Even just an hour old, when I held her skin to skin she was rooting and angry that she couldn't eat! When she finally could eat at 3pm, she ate like a champ!
They moved her into my room the next morning when all of her blood work came back ok and we haven't been apart since. I know they tell you the love is unbelievable and intense, but you just can't understand it until you have your own baby. I hope that each of you has the birth that you want, but if you don?t, trust me that it won?t matter. I could just stare at my baby for hours and would do anything for her. When she hiccups or yawns or cries, it doesn?t matter a bit to me how she got out of me. There?s only love.