Waiting, waiting, waiting. Alexandra’s birth story starts with a whole lot of waiting around as Allan, my parents (plus friends and family on Facebook) and I watched the days past my due date pass by. I was going to bed hopeful that each night would be the night contractions would start, and waking up disappointed every morning that nothing had changed. I was trying to do whatever I could to think about other happy things until Baby Bear decided to make an appearance, including a delightful pedicure date with my mom.
Thursday’s Doctor’s Appointment
As I mentioned in my 41 Weeks Pregnant post, I was supposed to go in to have an ultrasound to check amniotic fluid levels on Tuesday, but the tech was out sick so my appointment was rescheduled to Thursday, March 27. I was relieved to have the two extra days for labor to start on its own, but womp womp, I was still pregnant–12 days past my due date–when I went in that morning.
The ultrasound showed that my fluid levels were fine (and the weight guess was 9lb, 3oz!), but I had my midwife sweep my membranes during her exam to see if that would start labor. I was then hooked up for 20 minutes of fetal and contraction monitoring, which showed that Baby Bear was doing fine and I was having some contractions that I could feel. My midwife still felt like it was time for the baby to come out, mostly because of the risk of stillbirth increasing after 42 weeks. She checked the hospital schedule and asked me to go to the hospital at noon to have my water broken.
So, we’re already starting down the intervention path, but I’m much more concerned about the baby being okay than anything else. I’m also thinking about that ultrasound prediction of a large baby and thinking that the longer I stay pregnant, the bigger this baby is going to be. Everyone was pretty excited that it was go time, too! We all wanted to meet this little one.
Go Time at the Hospital
Breaking my water was a pretty simple and quick procedure, and it definitely kept those contractions coming, even though they didn’t hurt at this point. I was kind of disappointed to not be able to labor at home, but I was determined to do as much as I could at the hospital to keep labor progressing naturally, so I was walking as big of laps as I could manage in the little room, rocking in the chair, and bouncing on a little exercise ball.
They let me do that for about three hours, but when I hadn’t progressed enough by 4pm, my midwife asked to start a super low dose of Pitocin to move things along. They reassured me that I would still be able to move around, I’d just have to take the IV stand with me. I was okay with that, but as soon as they hooked up the Pit to the port in my arm, it hurt really badly. They had to take it out and try–three times–in my right hand, which was so painful and just plain traumatic since I hate needles so much that I started crying. Finally, they made it work at my right elbow, which is not ideal but they had kind of run out of options. I had an ugly bruise show up later at the original place on my left arm. So awful.
The Dark Period
Here’s where it started getting really painful and I lost track of time for a while. Allan put on my soothing waves soundtrack and my midwife taught him how to do different counterpressure moves to help with the pain, but eventually it got so intense that I threw up and started begging for the epidural. Allan did what he was supposed to and tried to convince me that I didn’t need it, but I finally won out. They checked my progress and I was 7cm, which is basically your last chance to get the epidural (and according to the nurse, the most common time to ask for one).
The anesthesiologist came in at midnight and I just remember him telling me that I needed to stay absolutely still, which was incredibly difficult to do through the contractions. It apparently took longer than normal (yet more evidence that needles and I do not get along) and Allan had to leave because he was so freaked out and worried, but at the end of it, my legs were totally numb, the pain was gone, and the nurses told me to try to get some rest. Rest! Sleep, even! That late in labor! I had no idea that was a thing.
Baby Bear Arrives
Finally, I was checked again and told that I could start pushing. It was weird, because I couldn’t really feel anything and nurses had to hold my legs, but after a little bit I could feel a contraction in one spot by my left hip so I could tell on my own when to push. The nurses and my midwife were super encouraging, Allan was supporting my head and back during pushes, but after around two and a half hours of this, my midwife started to make concerned noises and even mentioned a C-section because the baby wasn’t making an appearance. I asked to keep going because I really didn’t want a C-section, a doctor came in with a vacuum assist (and a lot of other tools behind him, omg) and all of the sudden (after three hours of pushing) we had a baby! He held her up, everyone asked if it was a boy or a girl, he said, “It’s a girl!” and I started crying. I couldn’t believe it.
The rest was kind of a blur, except I remember the doctor saying, “You were right!” because I had told everyone to encourage me by using female pronouns and saying they wanted to meet the baby girl. I said, “That’s a good point, I am usually right.” I won the bet!
What About Bradley Method/Natural Birth?
I had set out to have a no-intervention, drug-free birth, but I ended up having just about every intervention in the book short of a C-section, and I don’t have a single regret. I do wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t been induced and been on Pitocin basically the whole time (which I hear makes contractions more powerful and more painful), but holy cow that epidural was awesome. I have no clue how women make it through pushing (and stitches) without it, because it was crazy uncomfortable even being numb. If I had to do it again, I would definitely choose the drugs.