If She Can Do It, So Can I
My mom is not a particularly big woman. In fact, she is petite. However, she gave birth to two very big babies. My sister was born at over 10 pounds, and I was just under 10 pounds. I knew that I was probably going to give birth to a big baby and was told that repeatedly at my regular prenatal checkups. I was being prepped for my birth story for months. But the last thing I expected was labor induction.
I Was So Healthy and Strong.
Throughout my pregnancy, I exercised regularly. I was walking a couple of miles every day and doing stretches and relaxation exercises up to my delivery date. I had done acupuncture twice, starting at week 37. In addition, I was drinking red raspberry leaf tea, eating 6 dates a day, and practicing prenatal yoga. I felt very healthy and strong, and planning a natural birth, so it was shocking that at my 39week checkup to see that my blood pressure was extremely elevated and to find out that there was protein in my urine. My doctor told me that I would need to go to labor and delivery for monitoring and that labor induction was possible.
I went home where my husband had all of our stuff ready to go. I had called my parents to let them know my birth story was beginning, and my dad was heading to our home to pick up our dog, and off to the hospital we went.
A State of Shock and a Little Cranky
Looking back, I was in a state of shock. I truly did not believe that the baby would be coming because I wasn’t in labor and knew that I did not want to go through labor induction. I was cranky as we walked into the hospital because things were not going as I had planned. Even before I was pregnant, I was interested in having a medication free natural birth, so when I became pregnant, I began researching local supports for that type of birth.
Educated and Empowered
I feel very fortunate that I found Liza’s prenatal yoga class and her Bradley Method class. Together, these helped me feel educated and empowered to embark upon labor without medical interventions. As we walked into the hospital, I balanced letting go of control of how labor was probably going to start with excitement and fear that our baby might be born soon.
Preeclampsia. But First, Dinner!
After we were checked in at the hospital, it was evident that I had preeclampsia. My blood pressure was very high and showing no signs of dropping. I signed the waiver for labor induction and the process began. I asked to not be hooked up to fluids, and the doctors accommodated my request by having a Picc Line inserted, so if things changed, I was ready for an IV. In addition, I requested to eat dinner, which they allowed before beginning labor induction.
Foley Bulb, Misoprostol, & Relaxation
The first stage of labor induction was mechanical dilation, which was not comfortable. I was only 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. This process got me to 3 cm dilated rather quickly; however, because I was only 50% effaced, there were no other signs of labor. They then gave me misoprostol orally and suggested that I try to get some sleep. I enacted my relaxation exercise, per the suggestion of my husband. I put in my headphones with the music I had used for the relaxation exercise portion of the Miles Circuit and was actually able to get a little bit of sleep.
No Progress, So a Big Breakfast
The oral administration of misoprostol did not progress labor, so the next morning, the doctor prescribed it to be administered vaginally. I had not eaten anything since dinner and asked if I could eat before this. The doctor said that I could, so I ate a very large breakfast, which I would later regret.
Stuck On My Back
After breakfast, a smaller dose of the misoprostol was administered vaginally, and I had to lay on my back for an hour. This was incredibly uncomfortable from the combination of contractions, which started pretty quickly, as well as the weight of the baby. My husband put on a Netflix show and encouraged me to try to relax as much as possible.
Ah! The “Aqua-dural”
Once the hour was over, I immediately went into the shower, which is where I had practiced relaxation techniques in anticipation of starting labor at home. Being able to stand and having the warm water on my back was such a relief. I stayed in the shower for a while and felt significantly more comfortable. Being relaxed helped to increase the intensity and frequency of contractions.
My Body Took Over
I got out of the shower and was drying off when I felt liquid run down my leg. I called my husband over and said that I thought my water had broken. He expressed doubt and said it was probably from the shower but still went and got the nurse. They tested the fluid, and in fact, my water had broken. It appeared that my body was taking over labor. This was such an exciting moment for me because I really wanted to avoid pitocin and knew that other interventions were less likely now.
“Motion Is Lotion”
At this moment, my mom walked into the room. I shared that my water had broken, and she suggested that we go for a walk. When I had talked to her about my natural birth plan, I had asked that she encourage walking because it would help the baby drop. My great, great aunt, who is 101 always says, ‘Motion is lotion.’, and that sage advice was echoed in my natural birthing class and resources.
Loss of Inhibitions- A Sign of Active Labor
We started our walk around the hall. I had the hospital gown and mesh underwear/pad combo on. My buns were completely exposed, but I was approaching the ‘I don’t care/what modesty?’ stage of labor. However, the nurses did care, so they put another gown around me to cover up. As we walked, I could feel the contractions increasing in intensity. At the start of the walk, I was able to talk, by the middle of the walk, I could only tap to share when a contraction was occurring. We would walk, I would tap my husband on the shoulder to signify that a contraction was happening, we would stop, and then the contraction would end, and I would tap him again, and we would continue walking. At this point, I lost all concept of time. The distance we walked was short, but it seemed to do its job of moving labor along.
World’s Largest Breakfast – Again
As soon as we made it back to my room, I felt as though I was going to be sick, enter regret for the world’s largest breakfast ever consumed. For the next couple of hours, I was very sick. My husband balanced a nonverbal me with trips back and forth to the bathroom with loving support. Squatting on and off the toilet brought relief through the contractions. My husband was essentially lifting me on and off the toilet, at one point, his back could no longer take it and he told me he was going to set me back down. It was at the wrong time in the rhythm of the contractions, and I was not happy; yet, we both made it through that moment.
Time For an I.V.
The intensity of the contractions was overwhelming, and I did wonder a couple of times if I would be able to continue with labor. I wanted to lie down and sleep, but I was the most comfortable on my feet or squatting on the toilet. My husband kept encouraging me to lie down because he could see that I was getting tired, but, that really was not a comfortable position for me. I was still determined to not have medical interventions; however, after hours of being sick and not being able to stomach a single ice-chip, the fear of dehydration and the consequences of being dehydrated during labor came to mind. I agreed to some anti-nausea medication as well as fluids.
I Need To Push!
Shortly after that, I actually have no idea how much time had passed, I felt the sudden urge to push, and it was like a light bulb went off. I was able to speak. Again, I sensed doubt from others that I was ready to push but was checked and was at 9.5 cm. Colin continued to physically and emotionally support me. The position that was most comfortable for me at this point was the drunk prom date, so we swayed through contractions.
A Family Affair
As I got ready to push, my dad walked into the room. His entrance was not a part of the birth plan, and he was quickly told to leave by my mom; however, due to a lack of modesty, I told him he was welcome to stay, so with my mom, dad, and husband surrounding me, I began to push. It was so hot in the room because I had previously had the chills, so we were all sweating. They dimmed the lights and lowered the thermostat. I joked that this was the true Finnish birthing experience as it was sauna like for everyone in the room.
Strength From Other Women’s Births
I have a big head, and I was a big baby, so I knew that those two things were likely for my baby. Although this baby was coming earlier than both my sister and I had. In between contractions, I rested and practiced my mantra, I am large. I am open. I am capable, while envisioning my baby continuing to descend through my birth canal and being born. My dad fed me ice chips and my mom stroked my head. I pulled strength from the women who shared their birth stories with us.
He’s Almost Here!
Pushing was very challenging for me. The doctor and nurse that were with me were so supportive. Having them as well as my family was encouraging, but I was not pushing productively, or at least that’s how it felt. As time passed, the nurse began to say, ‘He’s almost here. Your baby boy is almost here.’ We had not found out the sex of our baby, although I thought it was a boy. Hearing that from her helped. After two hours of pushing and uttering, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’ Our baby boy was born. He was placed on my chest, where I rubbed in the vernix and received support with breastfeeding. Colin cut the umbilical cord once it stopped pulsating. There was such an immense amount of love and joy in the room from my family and the nurses and doctor.
Walden John was born at 10:27 PM, just over 24 hours after being admitted into the hospital. He weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. His head measured at 14.25 inches, placing it in the 99th percentile for size. He has changed our lives forever, and I am so thankful that he is here.