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Pregnancy & Birth

Personal Stories of Labor and Birth

I prepared exhaustively for my daughter's birth. I read stacks of books, read others' stories on the internet, listened to my co-workers stories. Little did I know that nothing can really prepare you for such a profound event.

I had it all planned: I was going to stay home through the entire first stage of labor if possible. I was going to have a non-medicated, water birth in a local hospital with a midwife. And of course it did not go as planned. I went into labor on the 4th of July. I wasn't sure if I was in labor or not at first. My amniotic fluid didn't rush out all in a gush like I expected. It just sort of trickled very slowly. After about 4 hours, I noticed that the fluid was a strange color. Not green exactly, not dark exactly...just strange. My midwife told me to call if my amniotic fluid looked green or dark so I called just to be safe. She said we'd better come to the hospital and she would check me to see if there was meconium present.

At this point my contractions were still 10 minutes apart. I was convinced she was going to check me and send me home. We brought the hospital bag just in case, but I was SURE I would be sent home.

Of course once we got to the hospital, there was indeed meconium in my fluid. My midwife said the since I had been laboring for about 5 hours and my contractions were still 10 minutes apart, she wanted to give me Pitocin to speed things up. It could be dangerous for the baby to spend too much time in an amniotic environment with meconium.

This was not the way it was supposed to go!

Of course an IV drip of Pitocin then meant I had to have IV fluids and nothing by mouth (I snuck sips of Gatorade anyway!) Even with the IV's though I was mobile and could labor in whatever position was comfortable for me.

I still used my hypnosis and every time I felt a contraction coming, I relaxed every muscle in my body and let the contraction pass through me like wave. I visualized my cervix opening and making a pathway of beautiful soft light for my daughter. I talked to my daughter and sent her lots of encouragement and love.

I spent the next 12 hours sitting on the birthing ball with my partner behind me. Every time I felt a contraction coming, I would say "pressure!" and he would press on my lower back as hard as he could. In between contractions we both dozed. Every time my midwife or one of the nurses suggested something that wasn't on my birth plan I would say "Give us a minute to talk about it, OK?"

The nurses kept asking me, "On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your pain?" And I would estimate low because I wanted to save the high numbers for when it got REALLY bad. One of the nurses even asked me, "are you always this calm?"

I didn't get to use the birthing tank because of the meconium. But the birthing ball, hypnosis, and counter-pressure worked great.

After 12 hours my cervix was only dilated to 5 cms. While I was relaxed, I hadn't any sleep for more than 24 hours. My midwife was worried that I would be exhausted and would have no energy left for pushing when we got to stage two, especially with how slow things were progressing.

So in the end, I agreed to have an epidural just so I could have an hour or two of sleep. After only about an hour of rest my cervix was dilated to 10cms! When the midwife said "OK are you ready to push?" my partner I both looked at each other and burst into tears. I think I was so focused on getting through the contractions one at a time that I wasn't really thinking about the fact that at the end of the day we would meet our daughter!

Even with the epidural I was able to push in a variety of positions. I pushed while lying on my back. I pushed hanging onto the bar, I pushed on my hands and knees. I could feel the contractions so I was able to direct when I was ready to push. For four hours I pushed. And I was willing to go longer! I had on my game face and I was focused.

However, my midwife said that after four hours of pushing the baby still wasn't very far down the canal. This suggested a problem. So we decided to use the vacuum extractor. I hoped and prayed this would work because the next step was C-section. And I DID NOT want a c-section.

So in came the obstetrician and the resident obstetrician and the anesthesiologist and the four deontologists and my midwife and two nurses. While I gave two final pushed, they affixed a little rubber cup to my daughter's head and pulled her out. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck  so they cut it as soon as they delivered her head. With a final push and a huge gush of liquid the rest of her was out!

They showed her to me before rushing her over to the team of neonatologists who would be making sure she didn't aspirate any meconium. She was the sorriest mess I've ever seen! She was gray and slimy and covered in green goo. But she was MY sorry mess and I cried with joy and exhilaration to be seeing her at last. She didn't cry for what seemed like an eternity while they were clearing out her lungs, but when she did it was the tiniest most lovely sound I'd ever heard. It made me want to cradle her close to my breast and comfort her with the warmth of my body.

They cleaned her up and wrapped her in a blanket. My partner brought her to me and we said hello. She was so tiny! 5 lbs, 11 oz. I was able to unwrap her and put her to my breast right away. She was so alert. She had the most beautiful bright eyes and the tiniest little mouth. I held her skin-to-skin and we talked to her. I think she recognized our voices!

After that, I didn't sleep for three days. I was full of endorphins the utter joy of having my daughter in my arms at last. We named her Aislin.

written by a 37-year-old woman 

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