This entire pregnancy I anticipated and hoped for a labor and delivery experience similar to my experience with T’s birth. I planned to labor at home as long as possible and then go to the hospital ready to deliver.
Well. True to form, this little rascal had other plans. Baby Rascal Strikes Again!
At my 39 week appointment we were concerned that I might be leaking amniotic fluid so we did a fluid scan and a check. The fluid level was average but on the low side and no amniotic fluid was detected upon exam. So, we decided to check it again at the 40 week appointment if I made it that far. That appointment was on my due date, 10/13, and the scan showed low fluid. My midwife recommended going to the hospital that afternoon to be induced.
Wait what? Induced?
But my plan! My PLAN! Ha. So much for my plan. I was upset. I was MAD. I was mad at my body for not going into labor before fluid started getting low. I was mad that I was even seeing my due date. I was so DONE being pregnant. But I was MAD.
I talked to S and I talked to my doula and we considered asking for a repeat scan the next morning but fundamentally, it didn’t make sense to put it off. I was having regular contractions. My body was ready to labor. S was already leaving work. We had childcare on the way. My doula and photographer were available. It made sense to just go ahead and get it over with. I didn’t imagine this birth as something to “get over with” but that’s where my head was.
So, I went home. Cried. Updated some friends. Worked through my anger. Got my stuff together. Then I curled my hair and put on a full face of makeup. The routine of it calmed me down and made me feel more in control of the situation. With so many other things feeling out of my control, I needed something to hold on to!! On the plus side, I had hired a birth photographer so why not look fabulous?
We went to the hospital around 3:00 and I was contracting on my own but it was similar to the contractions of the week prior where I was just starting and stopping. They were uncomfortable but not kicking into active labor. While waiting for a room to be ready I was walking in the lobby trying to get things moving. The Stanley Cup was at the hospital for viewing so that was kind of fun to see. I opted not to get in line for a photo but I sneaked a few on my phone.
I had a good rhythm of contractions going by the time we were set up with a room. I was hopeful that labor would start for real without augmentation but a little skeptical.
Despite things not going as I had hoped, I was determined to be happy and try to have fun. I brought speakers from home and put on music to dance to in my room. My nurse said it was a breath of fresh air to have someone in such a great mood. Again, since so many things were out of my control, I took control where I could! I chose joy! I was about to meet my baby!
My dancing, walking and squatting and other methods increased the intensity of the contractions but still, nothing noteworthy. I would get into a good rhythm but then as soon as I would sit down they would stop. Baby’s head was too high up with my water intact (just like with both of my other labors). We couldn’t get measurable, strong contractions on the monitors when they would hook me up. It was really frustrating.
We went to the cafeteria and ate some dinner and then went back to the room to be hooked up to pitocin. I was so glad they let me eat. I wanted to just break my water but my midwife wanted a good contraction rhythm first before we broke it. Looking back I wish I had pushed harder to have her break it but hindsight is 20/20, right? So, around 7:00 they started the IV. That meant being attached to a big IV pole that I got to drag around with me. They had mobile monitors so I could walk around but whenever I would walk they would lose the baby’s heartbeat so that was kind of a pain. I had to keep going back to be readjusted. I rested for a bit. Walked for a bit. Had a great time chatting with S, my doula Samantha and my birth photographer, Maggie. I was on a mission to just try to enjoy myself. We made jokes, told stories, etc. They were able to move us to the one room at the hospital that has a big tub to labor in. I was happy to have access to it since I had always imagined laboring in the tub!
The pitocin did its job and got my contractions into a good rhythm. Every 2-3 minutes I’d have a contraction that made me stop and breathe but they still weren’t stopping me in my tracks. I knew from experience with my other two labors that it would take my water breaking to push me over the edge into active labor. So finally around 11:30, after 4 hours on pitocin, we called my midwife in to break my water. My guy was super cozy in there unlike his sisters who couldn’t wait to get out!
Linda broke my water around 11:45 and the effect was immediate. I sat on the bed for exactly two contractions before they got so intense that I couldn’t sit anymore. I stood up and leaned on the wall, which was my preferred position for contractions during my labor with T. I asked Samantha to squeeze my hips during the contractions and it helped a little but wow. Things got REALLY intense REALLY quickly. I was only dilated 3 centimeters when she broke my water so I was thinking it would take awhile to dilate and be ready to deliver.
We turned on the water for the tub right away and I got in and used the shower to spray on my lower back and distract me from contractions. It felt nice but those contractions were beastly. They were more intense than I remember with my labor with T. Probably because with T they worked their way up to that intensity naturally whereas this time it with from 0-60 when my water broke. Holy cow though. Shit got real.
I tried to use the same imagery as with T’s birth where I visualized the baby getting lower and lower in a “going down the drain” fashion and I used my voice going lower and lower to express that. I labored standing in the shower for maybe 10 minutes until the tub was full enough for me to lay down.
Laboring in the tub was… interesting. I don’t know what I was expecting but this wasn’t it. People made it sound so relaxing and made it sound like it was less painful somehow but it still was very painful. The up side was that I was able to really relax between contractions and let my body work. During the contractions I braced my elbows against the sides of the tub while the rest of me floated. I vocalized in a deep moan, wiggled my fingers and toes in the water, which felt great, and tried to breathe. Moaning helped with the pain but I DREADED taking a breath in during a contraction because it was excruciating! I was scared to breathe! It helped that I figured out that I needed to breathe 1-2 times during a contraction before the wave peaked and ended and I got the rush of oxytocin. It wasn’t as scary when I understood logically that they were only going to last a short time and then I could have a break.
Unlike my labor with T, where I just kept waiting for things to get worse so I never really complained because I didn’t really think I was “there” yet, this time I bargained with myself during each contraction. I said things (in my head) like “I can do this for maybe 10 more minutes but then I think I need pain meds” and “You don’t need to put yourself through this”. It was a totally different experience.
I finally said to my doula, “I don’t think I can do this for hours!” and she said “There’s no way you’re doing this for hours. You are so close!” And that helped so much!! I really thought I was going to have these intense contractions for a long time when in reality I jumped straight into transition and was dilating quickly.
All of the sudden, I started feeling a lot of pressure. I told my doula “This is what it felt like when I arrived that the hospital with T and I said I needed to push”!
Then, I felt him turn and descend. I could feel him go from being high in my belly to being IN the birth canal and on his way out!! I told Samantha what had just happened and she said it was about time to get out of the tub! (In IL you can’t deliver in a tub in a hospital so I had to get out before pushing.)
I had to get from my floating on my back to my knees and in that movement I really thought he was going to come out in the tub! I was on my knees, gripping the side of the tub, and my body started pushing all on it’s own. I was just along for the ride! Everyone made it top priority to get me from the tub to the bed.
Walking that 8 feet was pain unlike anything I’ve ever felt. Walking when your body is starting to push is NOT recommended. They covered me in warm towels and a warm blanket. I told them I didn’t want to be on my back so I got on my hands and knees and they raised the back of the bed so I could lean on it. Again they were having trouble picking up his heartbeat on the monitors so the nurse kept trying to reposition them on me and I just wanted to scream at her to stop touching me! They had to keep pressing the monitors into my abdomen and it was incredibly painful.
Going into this labor I told my doula and my midwife that I just wanted my body to determine when to push. I didn’t want any counting. I didn’t want direction. I wanted to labor down until my body just pushed the baby out. That’s exactly what happened and it was an incredible experience of what my body is capable of!
I had a few contractions on my hands and knees and then they asked me to lay on my left side in hopes of getting a better read on the baby. I had barely lay down when a contraction came and Linda could see him crowning!! I was amazed!
From there he basically came out on his own! I definitely had the “ring of fire” sensation but I didn’t have to push through it. My body just did it. Linda narrated his head coming out. She said she could see his eyebrows then eyes, ears, etc. His cord was around his neck and she deftly maneuvered it over his head. I could intensely feel when his shoulders were about to come out! Linda helped guide the shoulders out then I reached down and brought him out the rest of the way! So thankful that I was able to deliver all three of my babies with my own two hands. It’s indescribable. I hope to remember that feeling as long as I live.
He was completely limp. Not crying or moving and that made me freeze in fear! On the video my doula says “Talk to him, Morgan!” and I rubbed his back and said “Hi baby!!” They said his heart rate was low and he needed some stimulation to wake him up. So, they took him over to the giraffe warming station and rubbed him with some blankets and that’s where he had his first cry. There’s nothing like the relief that comes from that sound!! They suctioned him and then gave him back and we got to have our first real snuggle while I was delivering the placenta. That took a little while to come out but eventually came out intact. Samantha held it up for us. Always fascinating to look at!
He went back to the warmer for more suction because he was so gurgly and they also needed to stitch up my tear. I tore in the same place with all three kids!! (seriously??? I couldn’t have had just one without a tear?) Stitches down there are pretty much the worst, even with local anesthetic. We made a joke that it just feels like shards of glass in your vagina. No biggy! haha. The things you joke about in childbirth!
A pediatrician came in to check him and said he looked great so we got to have him back. Finally everyone cleared the room and I was able to just hold him and process everything that had just happened. The hour after birth has been a super intense experience for me all three times. All the people and the stitches and just processing what has happened… it’s a lot. The second hour is where things are beautiful and relaxing.
During that second hour, Daddy got to hold him. We got to take some pictures. We went up to our room together and began our journey as a family of five. The girls met him the next day after school. Maggie came back to take out first family photos. Precious memories to be sure. I’d recommend birth photography to anyone.
All things considered I still wish I had gone into labor on my own but for an induction, I couldn’t have asked for better. I know that the pitocin made my contractions more intense and painful but I was still able have to deliver without pain medication as I had planned.
I firmly believe that my decision to proceed with joy had a major impact on my experience. I was an active participant at every turn. I worked with my birth team to make decisions and we had a great birth!
If you’ve made it this far in the story, thanks for reading.