Birth Stories: Baby Graham

A friend of mine was kind enough to mention to her mommy group that I was looking for birth stories, so here is a story of a positive induction experience.

I went to my regualar OB check-up on Thursday 5/7. That Monday, my amniotic fluid level had been at the low end of normal (7 centimeters) so I knew there was a possibility that we could be meeting our little guy sooner than later. The baby passed his biophysical profile and my amniotic fluid level had increased to a 12! Probably the product of modified bedrest, but either way we were very encouraged and it seemed like the baby was going to be able to pick his own birthday. The nurse had forgotten to check my blood pressure when I arrived so she checked it after my ultrasound and it was slightly elevated – 146/93. I had consistently had readings of 110-115/70-75 throughout the whole pregnancy so they were not happy with the increase. Dr. Sesslar came in and re-checked my BP and it was even higher. She explained that at 39 weeks, the risk of keeping the baby in outweigh the risks of delivering him a week before my due date. He was officially “term” anyway. She checked my cervix and found no signs that my body was getting ready for labor – cervix was closed and thick (no dilation or effacement) and the baby was still quite high. She wanted to go ahead and induce me anyway because of the elevated BP, but she did admit that my chances of failing to progress, and winding up with a c-section, were higher because my cervix was not favorable and my Bishop’s score was low. She said we would do a slow induction since my body really wasn’t ready to have the baby yet. She told us it could take days and days and may end in a c-section anyway. I was sent home get my things and then I was to proceed to the hosptial for the induction.

I was not handling this news well at all. I was so excited that my fluid levels had increased that I didn’t see this coming. Not to mention Dr. Doom & Gloom’s positive outlook made me feel like there was no way I could naturally deliver this baby. Anyway, I held myself together long enough to get out of the office and into the car and then proceeded to lose it. There were so many thoughts going through my head all mixed up and it was very hard to stay calm. I was worried about the possibility of a c-section, yeah, but I was also worried that I was going to labor for days only to wind up with one anyway so I felt like “why even bother trying for a vaginal delivery?” I was terrified that we were taking the baby too soon and that he wouldn’t be ready. I was afraid that my plans to labor as long as possible without pain meds were out the window because I was going to be on Pitocin. We also had a sick cat that needed to be medicated daily and I really had no one to help me take care of her while I was in the hospital.

When we got home from the doctor’s office, Eric made us some lunch and I tried to calm down but all I could do was cry. I was trying to throw our stuff together for the hospital and I kept getting side-tracked with anxiety. I honestly wanted to call the doctor and tell her I didn’t think it was time yet and I would go on bedrest or just stay in the hospital but I was terrified of induction and I didn’t want to do it. I just wanted to run away and keep the baby inside where I felt he was safe. I was so afraid we were forcing him out too early even though I knew I was term.

We made arrangements for the boys and got the car packed. Set the animals up with all they needed and got ready to go. I felt a glimmer of excitement knowing that the next time I would come home it would be as a mother. 🙂

We arrived at the hospital around 3:30PM on Thursday and got set up in a room. I was hooked up to the monitors and baby looked great. To everyone’s surprise, I was having little sporadic contractions which was a good sign. They used a med called Cervidil to try and ripen my cervix and ready it for the Pitocin. Cervidil is placed behind the cervix and left there for 12-hours. I was told to be prepared that it can sometimes take as many as three rounds of Cervidil to get the cervix favorable enough for Pitocin. The first round was placed at 8:00PM and my cervix was “long and closed.” We watched some TV, ate dinner and relaxed before trying to get some sleep. This was a “pre-labor” room and didn’t have the amentities of a real delivery room so poor Eric had so sleep all scrunched up in a chair. We tried sharing the bed, but once I started feeling my contractions around 2:00AM, that didn’t work anymore. 🙂 I was finally accepting that this was what was best for me and the baby and that I was going to get through it no matter what.

The next morning (Friday) at 8:00AM they removed the Cervidil. My cervix was a fingertip dilated but I was not effacing at all. They gave me a few hours to eat and shower before placing the second round of Cervidil at 10:00AM. It was a long day. I was actively having contractions. They were not “painful” but they definitely didn’t feel good and to make me feel even worse, more than half of them were not even being picked up by the monitors! Apparently that was due to the placement of the monitor probe and not because they weren’t really happening, haha. My doctor called and had them remove the Cervidil around 8:45PM on Friday to check for progress. I was 2 centimeters and 50% effaced! Whoa. It was getting real now. My body was responding, I was having contractions, making progress and I was going to have a baby! At this point, the contractions were getting more painful. My doctor wanted to wait on the Pitocin because the Cervidil had thrown me into labor with regular contractions every 5 minutes apart. I was left to labor on my own until 11:30PM at which point I was 3 centimeters and still 50% effaced. Pitocin was started at midnight and not long after I requested pain meds. I still felt the contractions just as much, but I was able to relax more and get some rest. I layed semi-reclined with my legs in a squatting position to try and open my pelvis because baby was still quite high. With each contraction, I made an effort to relax my body and let the contractions do their job. By 2:30AM on Saturday, things were getting more painful and I requested more meds. They did nothing for the contractions, which by this point were feeling like the most violent abdominal cramps ever, but I was again able to relax more.

At 4:30AM on Saturday we were moved to a “real” labor and delivery room and I requested an epidural. At 4:45AM the anesthesiologist came in and placed my epidural. It was bizarre; felt very strange. As he was injecting meds, my water broke. I knew when that happened that things were on their way. My body was cooperating and it was ready to have this baby. Things are really a blur from here until delivery. I was now in “active labor.” Dr. Sesslar came in at 7:00AM and checked me. I was 4 centimeters, 100% effaced and baby was at a “0” station (meaning his head had engaged and he was no longer floating up high :-). I began feeling a TON of pressure. The contractions were not painful anymore thanks to the epidural, but the pressure was killing me. They checked at 8:00AM and I was up to 6 centimeters and they nurse estimated it would be another 5 hours or so – Graham had other plans! By 9:00AM the pressure was so uncomfortable that they checked again and I was 8 centimeters. The pressure got intense but I could feel the baby moving. I tried to savor those last movements. Eric was helping me through the contractions and at 9:45AM I told him “I think I need a nurse.” They checked again and I was complete at 10 centimeters. The nurse told me to breathe through the contractions and they were going to set up the room. A minute later another nurse came in and told me I could bear down during contractions to relieve pressure if I wanted. Well my “practice pushes” had the baby crowning in three minutes. I was told to stop pushing which, at this point was torture as I knew he was RIGHT THERE. I overheard the nurses say the doctor was 15-20 minutes away and I knew I couldn’t wait that long. A few minutes later the doctor appeared (thank God they were wrong on the time estimate!) and they got set up. I pushed through two contractions and in one big push Graham was born at 10:10AM.

I can’t even describe how I felt. I saw him and heard him cry and I was amazed he was out already. It seemed so easy! I mean it hurt like hell since my epidural had almost completely worn off, but it was quick and he was crying and I was crying and Eric was beaming and life was perfect. The doctor put the baby on my belly and I couldn’t believe I was looking at the little person that had been kicking and nudging me for so many months. His APGAR scores were 9 and 9.

He is so much more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. It is beyond amazing to me that he grew inside me for all that time. He is the perfect combination of me and Eric and I love that. When I look at him, I see Eric in so many ways. I knew I loved him already, but I had no idea how much until he was laying on my chest all gooey and screaming his little head off. He immediately looked right into my eyes and that was the single most amazing moment of my life. I am balling my eyes out just writing about it! Every time he looks at me, my heart melts.

Because the delivery was so fast, I did wind up with a 2nd degree tear, but recovery has been extremely bearable. After delivery, Graham’s blood sugar was low. He was given formula. This was the beginning of our breastfeeding troubles. 😦 We are still working on it but I am currently pumping and feeding him expressed milk with a bottle. This is definitely preferrable to formula, in my eyes anyway, but it’s not ideal. He was latching well for a few days but I still had to continue to supplement formula and he has definitely figured out it’s easier to get milk from a bottle than breast. My milk has come in now so no more formula (it wasn’t working for his tummy anyway) but I have to pump every 2 hours (not fun) to try and establish my supply.

Me again! I’m so glad this mom felt great about her induction. The issues with breastfeeding might be connected to delayed milk drop, because her body had to be made ready to birth, and possibly to the epidural. If you have trouble breastfeeding, contact a Lactation Consultant for help!

Do YOU want to share your birth story? Click the “Contact Me” menu on the right margin and fill out the form!

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Birth Stories: Rachel

Part of my blog will involve posting birth stories. These may be women who chose to have doulas, women who did not, women who had great birth experiences, and women who did not have great experiences. Part of this reason is because I believe it is cathartic for a woman to relive her birth, and part of it is because I want women to know every birth story is different and yet the same. There are so many things that can happen in birth, some good, some bad, some neither. Through the sharing of stories, though, we are empowered to look past the societal narrative to the possibility of a birth free of fear and full of strength.

So, without further ado, I’d like to share Rachel’s story. Rachel and I have known each other for a long time and I was so happy to hear she hired a doula for her birth. Take it away, Rachel!

A couple of months into my pregnancy, I started to feel the Lord leading me to the idea of a natural, unmedicated birth. The more and more I researched about it, the more I felt like the presence of a doula would help me to accomplish that goal. A big factor in having a natural birth is the length of time that you labor while at the hospital (the longer you are there, the harder it can be to avoid the temptation of an epidural). Having a doula come to your home while you are in labor is a good idea, because she can help you decide when you actually need to go to the hospital. Also, I have a history of back problems, and knew that having someone familiar with birth would be beneficial to helping me get in different positions, etc, that I might not think about in the moment. My husband also liked the idea of having someone there to reinforce his presence, and help him to know what to do.

I had my last appointment on my due date. My OB had been concerned about the size of my baby (possibly too small), and had hoped that she would have come by then. Since she had not, my doctor decided to induce the next morning. I was devastated, because being induced makes it really hard to have a natural birth (not impossible, but harder). I was 3 ½ cm dilated and 75% effaced… which is what I had been for over a week. I had been having some irregular contractions. Around 1pm that afternoon, they became consistent, and happened every 10 minutes. I was afraid to get my hopes up, because I’d had some false labor before. By 8:30 that night, they had still been coming, and were getting closer together, while lasting longer. I got in the bathtub, and my husband called the doula (Laura) to let her know. She said to let her know when I was ready for her. By 10:30 they were five minutes apart, lasting about a minute each… and getting pretty intense! We called Laura, and she was on her way. I was still in the bathtub when she arrived, and she would lean over and press on my hips during a contraction, which really helped. After awhile I got out and walked around. When a contraction came, I would lean on Adam, and Laura would stand behind me and put that pressure on my hips and lower back. We also tried being on all fours, and sitting on my bouncing ball. We alternated between those different positions (walking, all fours, and bouncing ball). She thought I could probably stay at home a little longer, but could tell we were getting anxious, so she suggested that we head to the hospital. Once there, I was checked and learned that I was 5cm dilated and fully effaced. I was a little discouraged that I hadn’t dilated more than that, but still happy that at least I was a 4 or more (otherwise, they won’t admit you). It was around 1AM at this point.
Laura was a huge advocate for me and Adam. I did not want an IV because it is harder to move around and do things naturally with an IV attached. She helped convince the nurse to just put a heplock in my hand, so that they would still have easy access in an emergency. She also got me permission to get in the shower. In there, she used the handheld shower head to put hot water pressure on my lower back, which helped tremendously!
About an hour after I was admitted, my doctor checked me and I was dilated to a 7 – which was very encouraging to me! At this point, she decided to break my water. Soon after, I started having the urge to push, but I was only at an 8, so I was told not to. If you push before your body is ready your cervix can swell, which can cause an emergency situation. However, the rest of my body was not on the same page, so having the urge to push without being “allowed” to was extremely difficult. I would say hands down, it was the most difficult part of my labor. They wanted me to lay on my side to help monitor the baby during this time. Laura tried helping my leg get into a position to push it instead of the baby, but it was still very hard and painful. This lasted about an hour. Finally the doctor checked me again, and said I could “gently” (HA!) push because I had a cervical lip. As I pushed, she corrected the lip, and finally it was time to REALLY push. At this point I was afraid, because I was tired and in a lot of pain and not sure how much longer this would all last (which is kind of scary, because not even the doctor can really know for sure!) After each push, I felt like I was going to pass out because when pushing, you hold your breath and are completely bearing down. That was not a good feeling! I pushed for about 15 minutes, and she came out! It was very surreal, and crazy! I was in shock, and so happy. The pain went instantly away just seeing her

I know, without a doubt, that I could not have done it naturally without Laura’s presence. Adam and I both agree that having her there felt like having a “middle man” between us and the staff. We didn’t have to worry about trying to put our foot down about anything (there are many things that we felt strongly about) – we just focused on getting the baby out, and trusted that she would do anything in her power to get to that point naturally. Having her come to our home while I was in labor was a huge relief. We probably would have gone to the hospital a lot sooner, and would possibly have been sent home – which would have been discouraging, and might have even slowed things down. With her, we ended up only being at the hospital for 3 hours before Olivia was born – which was amazing. She helped us feel reassured about the natural process of childbirth, and Adam felt like he was able to focus on the actual birth, instead of being stressed about minor things. He felt more calm with her there.

Hooray Rachel!!!! I love that she not only managed to avoid an induction, but also was able to deliver vaginally with a cervical lip (IT CAN BE DONE!). Check with your doula about how she will work in the birthing room. Some doulas act as vocal advocates like Rachel’s doula, and others may work more behind the scenes, talking to parents who then talk to the hospital staff. Let’s keep these stories coming!