*Posted with Permission
Going into it, my plan was to labor at home as long as possible. Admittedly I romantizced this a bit - think Bon Iver on vinyl and candle light while cuddling with my sweet dog. And after a handful of hours, I’d arrive at the hospital and have my baby in my arms after a few pushes. This is not at all what happened, but I am so thankful for all the things that did go right - and there are so many!
Things started happening on on Sunday Nov 1. I was 41 weeks 4 days pregnant and admitted to labor & delivery for an overnight treatment that would prep my body for Monday’s induction. But when I woke up on Monday, there had been zero progress - I was still just a finger tip dialated and 50% effaced. I was desperate to have my baby after so many months of waiting, but I noticed these tiny contractions and felt it was my body’s way of saying, “We just need a little more time.” So I asked my doctor if we could postpone the induction. Thankfully the baby and my body looked healthy so she agreed and we scheduled another overnight treatment for Wednesday, and Thursday would be the final induction date. On Tuesday, I took Melanie’s advice and had a dose of castor oil in the morning. When nothing happened, I had another dose that afternoon, and bam! the contractions started around 5PM, bloody show quickly followed while my husband and I were out for our final dinner as a party of 2, and I was so excited things were happening. I labored all through the night at home, and at one point, the contractions got to 2-3 minutes apart. I was about to call Melanie, and my sweet husband kept asking if we should go to the hospital, but soon after, the contractions started to fade. I woke up on Wednesday so disappointed that it wasn’t the real thing, but knew my body had made some progress. Reflecting back, my husband says this was the hardest part of the entire labor for him - he felt so helpless when I was laboring and could sense my disappointment when we woke up without a baby in our arms. To me, this was the easiest part. I was fresh and feeling very ready, very positive about everything. But after nothing happened, I was left knowing exactly how back labor felt, and I had depleted a lot of physical and mental energy.
Still determined to get things going naturally, at Melanie’s encouragement, I took another dose of castor oil around 11AM on Wednesday and contractions started back at 1PM. (That stuff is seriously nasty but clearly worked for me!) I went into the doctor’s office to get checked, and the good news was that I was now 2 cm dilated and 90% effaced! Huge progress after weeks of almost nothing. But I was also bleeding a lot, so my doctor sent me straight to labor & delivery, against my hopes of laboring at home as long as possible.
From there my contractions continued and it was clear they weren’t dying down this time. With my husband and Melanie's support, I moved around as much as possible but felt most of the contractions in my back. Melanie and our AMAZING nurse helped move me in positions that would shift the baby and hopefully combat the back labor. This would work for awhile each time, but then the contractions would eventually shift into my back again. Around 9PM, I was starting to loose steam, so we decided to get checked and hopefully the progress would encourage me. Unfortunately I was only 2 1/2 cm after all that time and my tears started flowing. Again Melanie, my husband, and nurse were so encouraging and assured me that things were progressing. Something about my doctor having small hands and the evening hospitalist that had just checked me having large hands. I bought it and we kept going!
I want to point out at this stage that, looking back, this seems like a really long time to be laboring with so little progress. But Melanie kept assuring me that my contractions were getting closer together and kept me staying positive. Despite the work we were doing, we were still talking and joking around between contractions. I remember a conversation about why matching socks is a waste of time. And I couldn’t believe Melanie had never seen the Sia Chandelier video. I almost started playing it for her, but then a contraction came on...
Over the next few hours, Melanie had me try some more positions, in the shower, in the tub.. and I had some relief at times, but nothing was helping me cope with the back labor over a prolonged period. And around midnight I started to lose steam again. My hour and a half long birth play list was getting really old, and I made a mental note to make a longer one next time. The music was turned off and the room was quiet. I told Melanie I couldn’t endure this back labor any more, so she suggested a dose of narcotics which would help me “forget about the pain”. I thought this sounded impossible, but it worked! We all slept for about an hour and I woke up feeling renewed. I got checked again and was a 5 or 6 cm. Hooray! (Melanie did I get checked before or after the narcotics. I can’t remember for sure!)
This is where I think they broke my water and both Melanie and my nurse renewed my determination for a natural birth, but about an hour later I was losing steam again. Melanie encouraged me to get checked before making a decision about an epidural. The nurse declared I was now at 6 or 7cm. On the verge of transition. At this point it was about 4AM and I felt like I didn’t have the emotional or mental strength left to go through the hardest part of labor. I decided to get an epidural and have no regrets about doing so. It helped me sleep again and when I woke around 7AM my doctor was there to check me. She declared I was now at 10 cm and ready to push! I was so happy to be at this stage but also so happy that I’d be delivering with my doctor. I knew she supported my desire for a vaginal birth and minimal interventions.
At this point, Melanie encouraged me to let the epidural wear off so I could push more efficiently. I did NOT want to do this, and there is no way I would have without her encouragement. But I knew she was right. For the next four hours I pushed in all different positions to move my baby down. Not only were these position helpful in moving the baby, but they somehow passed the time instead of just pushing over and over again in the same position. I don’t actually remember this feeling like a real long period of time. I more remember worrying that I wasn’t making much progress because our baby couldn’t seem to get past an essential turn in the birth canal. Again Melanie kept encouraging me and helped me pull it together when I started to lose it.
Around 11ish, my doctor came back in again with a more serious tone. “Alright guys, we gotta get this baby out one way or another now”. I knew what she meant by “another”. My sweet husband decided this was the perfect time to finally break out the affirmation flash cards I made for him. He showed me one “You are about to hold your baby”. But at this point I was in an out of body experience. It was like my body was a locomotive and I was just along for the ride. I couldn’t focus on anything but pushing so I think I just muttered “not helpful”.
Now I was finally pushing with the contractions instead of fighting them. Everyone was cheering me on and assuring me that the baby was ALMOST there. And at 11:28AM our sweet baby Julia came into the world with one final push. I couldn’t believe it! They placed her on my arms and I started to cry.
Even though some things didn’t go my way, I am so thankful for all the things that went well. Most importantly that we have our healthy baby girl to love and hold. She is perfect in every way. And I couldn’t have gotten her here without my dream team of support.