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Jun 9, 2015

Roscoe's Birth Story

You may have noticed that I didn't have any new blog posts last week. That was because I was busy bringing my son, Roscoe, into the world. Or rather, pushing him into the world with all I had. When I was pregnant, I really enjoyed reading about other people's birth stories, so I thought I would share my experience.

I tried pretty much every method I heard of to get labor started naturally before my due date, including having sex, walking, eating pineapple and spicy food, foot massages, and sitting/bouncing on a birth ball. Spoiler alert: nothing worked. I ended up going to the hospital for a scheduled induction on June 2nd. My doctor thought that was the longest we should wait due to some complications I was having with my pregnancy. The upside of an induction is having an end date for your pregnancy. The downside is that it opens up more possibilities for complications that can lead to interventions like c-sections. Like many women, I was hopeful to avoid having one if at all possible.

We arrived at the hospital (Missouri Baptist) at 8am the morning of the induction to learn that the hospital didn't have room for us yet (apparently they called but I didn't get the message), so we had to return home and wait until they were ready for us, which was around 11:30. Those were some pretty difficult hours. I was still hoping that maybe I would spontaneously go into labor on my own. Little did I know there was small chance of that. When we were finally admitted into the hospital, I learned that I was not dilated at all, though my cervix was very soft.

At first the nurse suggested starting with a cervical ripening agent which took 12 hours to be effective. I balked at this idea and asked to speak to my doctor, who recommended starting petocin immediately instead. I began receiving petocin around 1pm. My husband and mother were with me during my labor, and helped me through the early contractions, which weren't too painful. It took until midnight for me to dilate to 3, enough to have my water broken. I had read about having your water broken quite a bit before going into labor. The instrument used to do this is always described as a being like a crochet hook. It sounds terrible, but it didn't actually hurt at all. When my "bag of waters" was broken, there was an immediate gush of fluid, then some smaller floods throughout the rest of the night.

After my water broke the contractions got a lot more serious. Laboring in bed was a lot more painful than laboring while standing, walking, or bouncing on the birth ball. I tried to stay moving as much as possible, but the nurses were concerned by some sharp drops in the baby's heartbeat that they were seeing on the monitor as I was moving around. Inevitably, after spending a few minutes in a new position, I would be urged to get back into bed.

As the evening wore on, I eventually did find a position that the baby didn't seem to mind, standing over the bed, leaning on the birth ball. Every time I changed position my monitor would move around and my nurse would have to come into the room and adjust, which I'm sure was driving her crazy. My overnight nurse was by far the worst of my labor and delivery nurses; it seemed like she was just waiting for me to get my epidural so she wouldn't have to deal with me changing positions anymore. Luckily, my mother and husband were there to help me keep moving, but as the night wore on they got tired and went to sleep. I tried to sleep as best I could leaning over the birth ball, leaking fluid on the floor, but I was far from comfortable.

Around 3am, my nurse brought in another nurse to check my cervix. Throughout my labor, my cervix was behind the baby's head, making it somewhat challenging for the nurses to measure how far I was dilated. I understand that having your cervix checked is uncomfortable for most women, but it was really, really uncomfortable for me. My night nurse's fingers apparently were not long enough for her to reach my cervix, so she brought in another nurse to check me. Note to future labor and delivery nurses: long fingers are an advantage! At this point I was dilated to four centimeters. I had hoped to reach five or more centimeters before getting an epidural to lessen my already higher chances of a c-section. My nurse and the nurse she brought in to check my cervix convinced me to go ahead and get the epidural. It was 4am and it seemed like it would still be a while before I delivered the baby. I needed time to rest. Plus, they said that the epidural wouldn't slow my labor down. As I was already feeling completely exhausted, I decided to listen to them.

I had heard various things about getting an epidural. The doula who taught our birthing class said it didn't hurt. My sister, who delivered about two weeks before me, said it did. Perhaps it hurts some people and not others? I would describe the sensation as being a little like putting your finger in an electrical socket. The person installing the epidural kept wiggling it around, asking if I could feel it more on the right or left, for what seemed like a really long time. All the while, I'm trying to move as little as possible through the contractions and shocks around my spine. Finally, she settled on a spot and taped me up. It must have been slightly more on the right than the left, because my left leg proceeded to get so numb I couldn't really move it until 3am the next night.

With my epidural in place, I was able to get some rest. Around 6am, my night nurse came in again to check my cervix to see if I'd made any progress. Apparently she had not been able to find the long-fingered nurse to check me out, so she made a go of it herself. I was surprised at how uncomfortable it was to have her rooting around in my vagina even with the epidural. She reported that I was still 4 cm dilated. I immediately began cursing myself for listening to her and the other nurse when they told me the epidural wouldn't stall my progress. And I began to fear that a c-section was in my future for certain. The nurse reported my status to my doctor, who stopped by to check my cervix himself. Good thing, because according to him I was actually almost 6 cm dilated. He said he'd been thinking I'd need a c-section on the drive to the hospital, but now he believed I would be able to deliver vaginally.

From there, things seemed to progress better, albeit still quite slowly. My new daytime nurse, Erin, smartly dialed back the petocin to let me rest a bit more and help the baby's heart rate level out. I slept through most of the morning and wasn't ready to begin pushing until around 3pm. Pushing was a group effort. My mother held one leg, my husband the other, while Erin helped count my breaths. When a contraction would begin, I'd take one deep cleansing breath, then take another breath and hold it for a count of 10 while pushing. Then I would release that breath and do two more the same way. The pushing stage was more pleasant to go through than the transition stage, where I could still feel the pressure of each contraction if not the actual pain. It also felt good to finally be doing something again, rather than just having labor happen to me.

But like all the other stages I had been through, pushing went slowly. The whole time I questioned whether I was actually making any progress, though my nurse assured me I was. I was pushing for about two hours before my doctor was called to the room. Then suddenly the room was full of people, bright lights were pointed at my nether regions, and I could feel that things were close. My contractions had been coming pretty regularly every other minute during the pushing stage; now that the doctor had arrived they became sporadic, like my vagina had stage fright. It felt like I sat there for five minutes with 10 people just staring at me with my legs in the air, waiting for the next contraction. It finally came, and then two more followed with slightly less delay, but still not as rapidly as before. Finally, the last contraction came, and I found some last bit of strength to push the baby's head out. The doctor asked me to stop pushing so he could adjust the baby's shoulders, then I pushed again and all hell broke loose. I couldn't see what was going on, but I felt the baby leave my body, then I heard everyone in the room let out a collective gasp, and after a beat or two the baby was delivered to my chest.

I was immediately completely overwhelmed with emotion. I looked in my husband's face and saw all my feelings mirrored back to me. We'd done it!  The baby was alive, whole, and perfect. He was in a position on my chest that made it impossible for me to actually see what he looked like, but I knew that my doctor wouldn't have handed him to me if there were anything wrong with him. Later, someone informed me that the baby had actually come out with the cord wrapped around his neck twice, likely the cause of the sharp drops in his heartbeat that we had observed throughout my labor. Apparently when the doctor had cut the cord from his neck, blood had sprayed on several people in the room, which was what had caused everyone to gasp. I felt so fortunate to have delivered him safely and let go of any previous second thoughts about epidurals or inducing. Everything had happened the say it was meant to, and now he was safe in my arms, my Roscoe.

I'm so thankful for the amazing team of people that helped me through my 28+ hour delivery, including my doctor and my nurses at MoBap (especially Erin), my husband, and my mother. I hope this story is helpful to anyone out there who is expecting a baby soon. Know that you can do it and it will be worth it when you hold your baby in your arms.