Birth Stories

Penelope's Grand Entrance

Starting Monday April 20th, I started having constant contractions that weren?t really consistent enough to time but where enough for me to notice every one. I sort of puttered around the house trying to relax and trying to not notice them. With my due date of April 23rd still being a few days away I knew I could be pregnant for a couple more weeks. They never really stopped and by Wednesday the 22nd, they had become painful and were about 6 minutes apart lasting a minute long so I had a feeling we were getting very close. I got very serious about relaxing and about getting all of the last minute preparations done before the baby came. The contractions kept me up all Wednesday night and they became about 5 minutes apart sometime before dawn Thursday morning, my due date. I had my 40 week prenatal appointment scheduled for 11:30 and my contractions were still not close enough together for us to go to the hospital, so we still went to the appointment.


I had never had an internal exam at that point and was going to be getting my first one. When my Doctor came in, he asked if I would like to have my membranes stripped since I was already in labor. I thought about it for a bit and decided to go for it. It certainly isn?t something I would have done if I wasn?t having contractions at all. When he was doing the membrane sweep, it hurt so bad that all I could do was laugh hysterically to avoid sobbing from the pain, or peeing all over him (he thanked me later for not doing that). He told me that I was only dilated to 1.5 centimeters but was 80% effaced already and he could feel the baby?s head she was so low. We left the appointment and pretty much immediately I could feel the contractions coming closer together and feeling much stronger. That was when I knew we would be heading to the hospital later. I wasn?t sure how much later, just that we were going.


Jesse and I decided to walk around the downtown area near the hospital and get some lunch. My contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and were painful enough I couldn?t even keep my eyes open through them. I took what I learned from the Bradley Method classes we took to help me relax and let my body do what it needed to do, it was hard but knowing what I knew helped so much. I ate what I could and when walking was taking too much out of me, we decided to head to the park and lay in the grass together. It was really nice just spending that time alone and enjoying each other?s company.


After a while at the park, I felt like I was peeing my pants during each contraction and I couldn?t stop it.  My contractions had been consistently at least 4 minutes apart for 3 hours and I had a feeling that my water had broken so we decided that it would be best to head to the hospital because I really felt like I had made a huge progress since I was at the OB?s office.  When we checked into the hospital I told them I thought my water broke so when they checked me they confirmed that it had. But when they checked my cervix, I was only measuring 1 centimeter. I chalked that up to the fact that someone different did the check since the first one and  I was nervous upon entering the hospital.


We went over our birth plan with the first nurse that was assigned to us and she put it in my file for everyone else to see when they checked on me. They were totally fine with everything that we had asked for and I felt a lot better about being there. Once I did get into the bed and they hooked me up to the monitors for an initial reading of how the baby was doing, my contractions got a little out of control. Rather than lasting only 1 minute, they began to last a few minutes and there was little to no break in between. This continued until they were lasting 6 or 7 minutes long with about 30 seconds between the end of one and the start of another.


The night nurse came in at 7 and told me that she could tell my contractions were really strong and she had a feeling that by 2 am I will have made a lot of progress because of how hard she saw my body working and how well I was handling all of it. We were told that other OB I was seeing said that if I hadn?t made enough progress by 2 am I would need pitocin to get my contractions more regular. When I was checked again at almost midnight I had only progressed to 2 centimeters so the OB came in to talk to me. My water had been broken for almost 12 hours and he suggested introducing pitocin if I hadn?t gotten to more than 3 centimeters by 3 am. I remember sitting in the shower with Jesse and he was holding the warm water on my belly to help with the pain saying ?I can make it to 4, I can make it to 4? in between moaning. So when I was checked at 3 am, I did it! I was so proud of myself  and I really felt like from that point on things would really pick up the pace and I?d be fully dilated in no time.


The next several hours were a blur, I still wasn?t getting breaks between contractions and the pain was progressively getting worse. I was having a hard time telling the difference between the end of one and the beginning of another because they were so long and painful. There was no position that I could be in that offered even the littlest relief, the pressure was just becoming too much for me. But I still knew that I could get through it without pain medication. The morning nurse came in to check on me and see how much I had progressed and she gave me the unfortunate news that I had only gotten to 5.5 centimeters in 4 hours. I wasn?t worried because it was taking so long for me to progress, it just worried me that it was taking so long and my water had been broken for all of that time. They recommended that I get started on antibiotics in case I developed an infection that could really hurt the baby. Normally I?m not one for preventative drugs when there?s a good chance they won?t be needed but when it came to the health and safety of my baby, I would rather be safe than sorry.


I was started on the first round of IV antibiotics after my water had been broken for more than 18 hours. The OB I had seen for my pre natal visit the day before came in to check on me and ruptured my forewaters to really get things moving along. I never wanted my membranes artificially ruptured but I wanted to try that before opting for drugs. There was thick meconium in the water and I was told that when the baby was born, before she cried, she needed to be suctioned so she wouldn?t breathe any of it in. This was quickly becoming a far cry from the birth I had imagined and hoped for.


In the afternoon I was checked again and again I was sure I had made huge progress. Alas, I had only dilated to 6 centimeters after all that time. At the rate I was going with broken water for over 24 hours I knew I needed help. My body was so tired after days of labor and it was working against itself by making the contractions too long and strong. I had to face the fact that if I didn?t have the help of pitocin, I would need a c-section if I kept going the way I was. And like before, this was another better safe than sorry situation.

I knew that the pitocin would make the contractions feel even stronger and that I was getting so tired that if I didn?t have pain relief I wouldn?t have the strength in me when it was time to push to actually push. I asked for an epidural because I wanted to be able to push and give birth to my baby. I was given the epidural and pitocin was administered at around 2 pm. I was finally able to get some rest and I could see that the contractions were spacing themselves out and were becoming consistent. At 4:15 I was checked again and was at 9 centimeters. The nurse told me she would be back in an hour to check me again but shortly after she left I knew I couldn?t wait that long. I already felt the urge to bare down and my body was pushing with or without my help.



The nurse came right back in to check me and said I had made it to 10. This was the best news I had gotten so far. My mom was not planning to be in the room during delivery, but we asked her to stay. I started pushing with each contraction and the baby came down really quickly because of how low she already was. I asked for a mirror so I could see, and I?m glad I did because it was really amazing to be able to watch as it was happening. When I saw her head and could tell she had so much hair I got super excited and more focused on pushing. The doctor was called and he only needed to be there for a little while because she was born after not too many more pushes. She was put on my chest and after the cord was cut she was taken to the warmer to have her nose and mouth suctioned. Luckily, she didn?t have any meconium in there.


Her apgar score was 8/9, she was measured and weighed and her weight was 6 lbs 15 oz. I was pretty surprised by that because she looked and felt bigger. But I had just given birth so I figured what the heck do I know. I had a first degree tear that only required 1 or 2 stitches. After she was measured and weighed she was put on my chest for some skin to skin time.


The next day nurses kept saying how much bigger than 6 lbs 15 oz she seemed and when she was weighed the next evening they found out why. The scale she was weighed on originally wasn?t calibrated and she probably weighed a pound more than that at birth. So we don?t know officially how much she weighed, but it was probably 7 lbs 15 oz.


I was a little disappointed that I ended up needing drugs when I had planned and prepared so long for a completely natural birth. At least I can be proud of myself for doing it all for the right reasons, and I know what I did was best for myself and my baby. I?m so glad I took the Bradley classes because they really helped me get through everything. They really helped my husband as well, he knew what was going on at all times, he was an amazing support person for me and he could speak for me when I couldn?t. I couldn?t have asked for a better birth coach and partner.


We?re so lucky to have such a healthy beautiful baby and even though it was so difficult I would do it a million times more just for her. She is worth every little bit of all of it.

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