Henry’s Birth Story

At my 38 week appointment it was decided that I was to be induced on Friday, June 22.  The reasons for the induction were that the baby’s heart rate was increasing at each non-stress test that I had, and my blood pressure and heart rate kept increasing as well.  Therefore, it was decided by all of us (J, myself and the midwives) that I’d be induced before my high blood pressure turned into preeclampsia, and before the baby’s heart rate became too high.  I was put on a beta blocker to help lower my heart rate and blood pressure and therefore lower the baby’s heart rate, and I was given a week for it to get into my system before the induction.  During that week I had two non-stress tests, two ultrasounds and two midwife appointments to make sure that the baby and I stayed healthy.

On Friday, June 22, J and I checked into the Women’s Hospital at 7:00 pm.  Our induction was scheduled for 7:30, but the hospital was incredibly busy and we didn’t make it into a room until 8:30.  It turns out that we actually got the last room that they had – a room that they don’t usually use and that wasn’t stocked very well (our nurses kept having to leave to get things like a stethoscope and thermometer, and the equipment that monitored the baby’s heart rate).

Getting settled in the labor and delivery room.

At around 9 or 9:30 that night my midwife came in to start the induction.  I was given a heparin lock because I was Group B Strep positive and they’d need to run antibiotics throughout the labor to keep the baby safe.  In addition to having Group B Strep, I also had a resistant strain that needed a super strong antibiotic, and since I’m allergic to penicillin, I was to be given vancomycin.  After the heparin lock, my midwife put the balloon in place that would dilate my cervix.  The balloon was filled with saline and was left in overnight.  Putting in the balloon didn’t hurt, but it was pretty uncomfortable, and afterward I had a lot of cramping.  After it was inserted I was offered an Ambien to help me sleep, and I gladly accepted it.  After that, I promptly passed out and slept straight through the night until my midwife woke me up at 5:30 am.

At that time the balloon was removed and my water was broken.  Having my water broken felt extremely weird, like I was peeing myself, but not.  My midwife told me that there was a little bit of meconium in it, but that we weren’t going to worry about that at that point in time.  She then checked my cervix and told me that I was 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced.  Needless to say that I was ecstatic that I only had 4 more centimeters to go before the baby would pop out.  I was sure that things would go pretty quickly from there on out.

Almost immediately after I started contracting on my own.  The contractions weren’t bad at all and I was easily able to handle them without even breaking a sweat.  My doula arrived to our room at around 6:30 or 7:00 and started setting up the birthing pool.

Sometime that morning I was given my first round of vancomycin, and immediately I started having a reaction to it.  My scalp started itching like whoa and I started developing a rash around my hairline.  At first it didn’t hit me that I was uncontrollably raking my nails over my scalp until I could do nothing but scratch my head.  I was then given Benadryl and that put everything back to normal fairly quickly.

A few hours later my contractions started increasing in intensity and my doula suggested that J and I walk the halls to help things progress even more.  So, we walked, and walked and walked.  During contractions I would lean on J, and walk slowly while trying to stay completely relaxed.  It’s around this point in time (around 9 am I think) that I started having lower back pain.  It wasn’t bad, but enough to make me uncomfortable.

At around 10:00 am my contractions had increased even more, but I wouldn’t say that they were painful.  I was still able to relax completely while I was having one and just breathed through them.  My doula kept telling me that I was handling them beautifully and doing exactly what I needed to.  I should mention here that my doula was fantastic and really helped me stay focused.  She also really helped J help me – which I found invaluable, and I’m sure he did too.

Soon after the tub was set up and I was more than ready to climb in – I was actually really excited for it.  The warm water felt amazing, and it helped to take the edge off of the contractions more than I ever thought that it would.  If I ever have another child I’ll definitely be using the tub again.  For the next several hours I was in the water – minus several trips to the bathroom.  Between each contraction J would hand me my water cup so that I would stay hydrated.

Laboring in the tub.

Around 12:00 my midwife wanted to check my cervix to see how things had progressed.  As things had been picking up and increasing in intensity I was thinking that I had progressed and that things were moving right along as they should.  I was wrong.  I was still 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced.  7 hours of labor (going from when my water was broken) and no change at all.  That was completely disheartening to me.

During the vaginal check my midwife told me that the baby’s head was transverse – which means sideways!  The head being sideways is what was causing all of my back labor.  The baby wasn’t completely sunnyside up, but had his head turned just enough so that things were painful and slow to progress.

After checking my cervix my midwife told me that she’d give me a couple more hours to progress on my own, but if things continued to stay the same she wanted to start pitocin – which you all know that I didn’t want that to happen.

For the next two hours things increased and even started to become painful.  The pain was coming from the back labor that I was having – oh my god, that shit was intense!    I was having a harder and harder time relaxing through the contractions, and I was quickly losing my sense of humor that I’d maintained all day.  I was now moaning through the contractions and tensing up during them.  My doula was squeezing my hips while I was in the tub, while my midwife used massage oil that my sister had made to massage my shoulders and back during the contractions.  At some point while I was in the tub I threw up everything that was in my stomach and started thinking that this whole labor thing was too much for me to handle and that I didn’t want to do it anymore.  Needless to say that I wasn’t being reasonable anymore.

My back labor was getting worse and worse and at around 2:00 or 2:30, I wanted out of the tub.  I got out and went to the bathroom and almost started crying while I was on the toilet because of how much my back and hips hurt.  I remember being in the bathroom and looking in the mirror at myself and thinking that I didn’t want to do this anymore.  After I got out of the bathroom I crawled onto the bed and I hung out there for a while, moaning and slowly losing my composure.  While I was on the bed my midwife wanted to check my cervix again, and I was still exactly the same – 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced.  I was started on pitocin at around 2:30.  I don’t remember being hooked up to the stuff.  I was pretty out of it from the pain, but I do remember that the pitocin really made it all worse.

Pitocin is miserable – which is the biggest understatement that I could ever make.  I was completely justified to be afraid of it and not want it.  My back felt like it was being ripped in two before it was started and then it felt even worse – I have no comparison to demonstrate how bad it actually was, you’ll just have to take my word for it.  On top of the back labor, I was also starting to have contractions on top of contractions – as in several in a row with no break in between.  It’s at this point in time that things get a little hazy to me and my memory of events is blurred.  Sometime after the pitocin was administered my midwife checked my cervix once again and I was then dilated to 7 cm and 80% effaced.

After all of those hours of labor and my back feeling like it was being broken in two and then some, and I only had progressed one measly centimeter, I lost all of my motivation and will power to continue on the natural route and I broke down and asked for the epidural.  I actually had to ask for it for over an hour.  At first I was talked into trying nubain instead of the epidural, and I did.  I was given it very quickly and it did help.  I was able to relax and breathe for a little while, but it wore off quickly and I was afraid to ask for more.  After the nubain wore off the contractions were back to being incredibly painful (I should note that the actual contraction wasn’t horrible, it hurt, but it was manageable – it was just the back labor that completely derailed me, at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

I asked for the epidural again, and J and my doula tried to talk me out of it (they were trying to remind me of my birth plan – but I had already given up on that.  I remember withering in pain and snapping out of it long enough to make eye contact with J – glaring at him – and demanding that I NEEDED an epidural and I needed it now.  Apparently that got my point across.  I’m not sure how long it took for the anesthesiologist to get there, but it felt like it took forever, J thinks that I got the epidural around 5:30 (12 hours into labor).

I always assumed that an epidural would get rid of labor pain immediately.  But, that’s not the case at all.  I continued to wither in pain for what felt like an eternity.  And, of course, the epidural only worked on my left side… Once it started to kick in, my doula started taking down the birthing pool and that’s the only time that I got upset about the fact that I had an epidural.

Sleeping after the epidural.

I think that I was given a low dose of the epidural because I never did lose the ability to move my legs.  They were difficult to move, but I could still move them.  My hips also continued to hurt even after it was in place and my left side was definitely more numb than my right.  My midwife had my lay on my right side to help draw the epidural down to that side, which kinda helped.  Eventually I was able to relax, and then I passed out and slept for the next several hours until I woke up feeling tons of pressure.  I was checked again, but wasn’t complete yet – but I wasn’t told how far I had progressed.  I dozed off and on until I was told that it was time to push.

Again, things are kinda hazy for me during this time, but I’m told that I started pushing around 7:30 pm.  I was averaging 3 pushes per contraction.  Because the baby’s head was stilled turned in the wrong direction my midwife would have me move all round during pushing to try and get the baby to turn.  My midwife had me push three times for one contraction and then rest through the next contraction.  After a while of doing that, she had me turn onto one side and push for a few contractions, and then switch sides and push for a few contractions.  I repeated that for quite a while.  Pushing was difficult for me as I couldn’t really feel where to push, so I definitely had a cheering section for when I was doing it correctly and a very stern midwife for when I started to get tired and not push as well.

I was completely oblivious, but apparently everyone else was getting concerned that a C-Section was going to be needed because the baby wasn’t moving down.  I was told later that he got stuck on my pubic bone and my midwife was actually reaching her hands inside me to slowly move the baby into the proper position, thankfully I had an epidural and didn’t feel that at all (the baby also still has a bruise on the back of his head from where he got stuck).  I continued to push and push and push, and at some point they wheeled the mirror over to help see how to push.  I didn’t think I would like it, but it was actually really cool to see the baby’s head move down slowly, and it was actually a very effective tool.

I was finally finished pushing at 9:11 pm when my baby was born.  He came out very chill and calm and didn’t cry at all, but his eyes were opened and he was moving, so the not crying didn’t bother me so much.  My midwife cleaned out his nose and mouth with the bulb syringe before she plopped him on my stomach and I grabbed him and held him skin to skin – marveling at my baby for over an hour.  While holding him, J and I decided to name him Henry.  We were really leaning towards the name Asher before he was born, but the name Henry seemed to fit him so much better.  I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it is to hold your baby after spending hours and hours in labor – and it is true that you forget all the pain that you were in the moment that they’re born.

While I was holding Henry, I delivered the placenta – which I didn’t even feel come out.  After that my midwife informed me that I had a second degree tear – meaning that the skin and muscles of my perineum tore and had to be stitched up.  It seemed like my midwife spent a long time stitching me up and when I commented on it, she told me that “she’s making it pretty.”  I have no idea how many stitches she put in me, and I don’t wanna know.  All I know is that my lady parts are still sore, but they are getting better.

After an hour or so of holding my son, he was taken to be weighed and given his vitamin K shot.  I was really curious how much he  would weigh because of the gestational diabetes, but he turned out to be a “normal” size of 7 lbs 10 ounces, and he was 19.75 inches long.  A perfect size in my opinion.

Henry being weighed.

A few hours after Henry was born we were moved into the Mother/Baby room and my family of three settled in for our first night together.

Loving on my little man.

I know that this post is incredibly long, but a lot happened in over 16 hours (over 24 if you count from when we checked in).  All in all it was a great experience and something that I will remember all of my life.  I felt completely supported the whole time.  J was wonderful at his job as my labor partner and his sense of humor really kept me going through those tougher times.

I’m completely in love with my family and couldn’t be happier.  I have so much more to post, but I’ll save it for another day.

Settling in at home with my new family.

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