DH and I had planned a natural, totally drug-free birth and took Bradley classes to help prepare. At exactly 37 weeks my water broke. We had just been laying in bed after the alarm had gone off around 5 am. Right before that Hudson had been moving a lot, but then I felt this weird little pop sensation and thought it seemed odd. Soon after I started feeling some fluids and was pretty sure my water broke. By the time I got to the bathroom I was soaked through so I knew that's what had happened. We tried to stay calm and just go about our business, but I was a little nervous because I've known a few people who have ended up with C-sections after starting their labor with their water breaking. I thought contractions would start soon, but I wasn't having any. We tried to do some things to get my contractions going like walking and nipple stimulation, but it didn't seem to be working. I decided to take a nap mid-morning, thinking maybe the relaxation might help get things going, but still nothing. At around noon I was starting to get nervous because I didn't know what kind of time table the midwives at the hospital I was delivering at would have for me. I wanted to make sure I could still deliver vaginally even if I needed some interventions. I tried calling and didn't really get to talk to them, but was told to come in.
Fortunately when we got to the hospital around 1:30 (8 1/2 hours after my water broke) the midwife on call was great. They hooked me up to the monitors and tested the fluids leaking to make sure it was amniotic fluid (although she said she really didn't need to check because it was just dripping out). She didn't check me internallyat all and we made a plan for me to get in the shower to use the shower head for nipple stimulation and to do some walking. The nurse I got was awesome too, so she was really trying to put off the conversation about pitocin as long as possible. We did that for quite awhile and my contractions did pick up and they were about 2-3 minutes apart as long as I was upright, but if I sat on the birth ball or did anything that my torso wasn't upright they spaced out and got less intense. I was able to manage the contractions pretty well with the relaxation techniques we practiced in class.
In the midst of all this we were trying to figure out if I had an actual allergy to penicillin. I had just had my group B strep test the day before my water broke, so my results weren't back, which meant they needed to give me antibiotics. We had talked in the clinic about getting me tested for the penicillin allergy since it was kind of uncertain whether I really had one and I wanted to avoid the other meds they would give if I could. So in the midst of having contractions I had the allergy fellow come in and they did skin prick testing on me. It was kind of nuts, but it turned out I was not allergic to penicillin so it was worth it.
So we had been trying to get things going for awhile and by 11pm the midwife decided to check me and I was only at 2 cm. At that point she recommended starting pitocin and said they would start with the lowest dose and not increase it if my contractions got going more regular. We decided to go with this because I was getting tired and having a hard time being upright on hands and knees or walking because I was tired. They started the pitocin and my contractions picked up. I got in the tub to try to help, but that wasn't too comfortable so I didn't stay in real long. When I got out I got very shaky and then ended up throwing up 3 times. I also started to feel a lot of pressure and the contractions were very intense and painful. The nurse and everyone kind of thought I was in transition so at 1 am they checked me again and I was only at 3-4 cm. At that point I was very discouraged. I mentally broke down and just felt there was no way I could continue and asked for an epidural. DH and our friend/doula kept trying to encourage me and I was getting more and more frustrated that they were not taking me seriously. DH decided to step out and talk with the midwife. She told him she thought I could do it and did not need an epidural, but that it would probably be another 6 hours before I started pushing. DH really wanted me to be able to avoid an epidural like we had wanted, but didn't feel like he could come in and have me go another 6 hours with the contractions I was having (they were double peaking at times due to the pitocin). So they discussed giving me Nubain to take the edge off and they thought it may help me sleep. DH came in to ask me and I went along with it thinking that I was just playing along until they would have to give me an epidural. Fortunately, it worked very well and I did fall asleep for awhile. The rest of the time I spent lying on my side to deal with the contractions which were very intense, but after resting I was able to handle them much better and remind myself to take them one at a time. I was actually very quiet the whole time and DH told me later that often they didn't know I was having a contraction, but would notice me breathing different and check the monitor to see if I was having one.
Finally I started to feel like my body was pushing with the contractions and I was trying very hard not to push yet. They had me get up out of bed and go to the tub, but that was not comfortable at all so I sat on the toilet, but I kept feeling very strongly that my body was pushing. DH and our doula were trying to have me wait because they did not want me to be checked again until I was for sure complete so I wouldn't get discouraged. Finally they checked and I was complete and everyone cheered. I pushed briefly in a modified squat on the bed, but it wasn't very effective and I think Hudson's heart rate was maybe dropping a bit, so I flipped to hands and knees, but with the my hands on the head of the bed with it elevated which felt better. For some reason though they made me turn to my side, which was not fun at all. I think it may have been so the midwife could catch him easier but I'm not sure. I really don't know how I managed to turn since his head was partially out at that point, but I did. I then pushed his head out and felt the ring of fire. As soon as his head came out the rest of him shot out quickly. He was covered in vernix when he came out, but he was very healthy- he got apgars of 9 and 9. They immediately placed him on my chest and we waited to cut the cord. It was such a relief to have him out. I had pushed for only about 30 minutes. I did end up with a 2nd degree tear. My doula and the midwife both commented that my placenta was quite large for him being 3 weeks early and I think it was due to the Brewer diet from Bradley Hudson was good sized too for being so early- 8 lbs 2 oz.
Overall, we were really happy with how things turned out. We both feel very thankful we took the Bradley class because we feel like this could have gone much differently, and probably would have had we not had clear in our mind what our birth plan was. We were able to use interventions as needed and know that we were making informed decisions about them. I feel very proud that I made it without an epidural, especially after needing the pitocin. The relaxation techniques and all the exercises we practiced really paid off. DH told me that all the nurses we had and the midwife kept commenting on how well I did and that they were so impressed with how I managed the labor.
Hudson is doing great- he is nursing well and is generally a very easy going baby. Here's a picture of him at 2 1/2 weeks: