The following is a pretty lengthy account (over 3000 words; you’ve been warned) of Morgan’s birth story. I was hoping for a VBAC that was 100% drug and intervention free. I had an obstetrician that was supportive and on board with my wishes. I also had my husband to support me through this, and I really have to say that his help was incredible! I wouldn’t have made it past Tuesday evening without his help.
As I’m sure you have already guessed, nothing went according to plan, because births never do. Here is our story:
I began having regular contractions around 2 pm on Friday. I called my husband at work to let him know that it would be wise for him to finish up any loose ends he might have because I didn’t think he would be going to work come Monday.
After he came home, we ate dinner and then went for a walk. Things picked up, and I was having a contraction lasting around 45 seconds every 2-4 minutes. The contractions were very mild, so I wasn’t too confident we were getting anywhere.
That night, I continued to have contractions, but things spaced out to once every 5+ minutes.
My contractions stopped completely for a little bit in the morning. They soon picked back up but the intensity didn’t increase. I was still able to walk and talk without difficulty through each contraction. My belly was visibly tightening with most, though, which gave me hope.
I did a lot of walking. I also took a bath and my husband worked on my accupressure points. I was contracting anywhere from 3 to 10 times an hours. Nothing was consistent. I was beginning to get pretty frustrated and just stopped paying attention to them.
Still contracting, but nothing had changed. Nothing was consistent, and the intensity was still manageable.
Around 1 pm, I noticed my contractions stopped completely. I also noticed that my son’s position had changed, bringing his bottom almost to my belly button, which caused my belly button to suddenly become an outie.
Around 2:15 pm, there are still no contractions, but I discovered bloody show! I have never been more excited to see grossness come out of my vagina in my life! I also began to lose chunks of mucus. More gross. More excited, though!
That evening, things pick up in intensity. My contractions were still very random, but they definitely grabbed my attention with each one.
My contractions continued all night, waking me every 10-12 minutes. After I get up for the day, my contractions suddenly stopped. Nothing was happening. My frustration has hit a new level. At this point, I’m also beginning to get concerned about the possible impact this drawn out early labor may be having on my son. I call my obstetrician who, thankfully, can squeeze me in for a nonstress test and evaluation.
I called my husband to come home around mid-morning because at this point I’m just very concerned; I need to hear my baby’s heart beat through a contraction for some reassurance. I also knew that if everything wasn’t perfect at this point my obstetrician would be admitting me for monitoring at the least. He encouraged me to squeeze in a nap, which I did, then we were on our way to the doctor. My mother had already come to pick up Eva, who was home sick from school.
While at the doctor, the medical assistant took my blood pressure while I was having a contraction. It was high enough that she wouldn’t even tell me what she got. My obstetrician checked me, discovering that I was dilated to 2 cm, 70% effaced, and she completed a membrane sweep while she was there (with my consent, obviously). She pushed (gently) on my son’s head while she did the membrane sweep, showing me how close his head was to my cervix. It was definitely a weird feeling. She was confident that she would be hearing from me in the next day.
The medical assistant waited until the end of the appointment to take my blood pressure again. Unfortunately, my contractions had picked up (thank you membrane sweep) and another contraction started while she took my blood pressure. Again.
It was 160/98. Off to labor and delivery we went for some monitoring and blood tests.
My blood pressure readings in labor in delivery were never above 120/80. The nurse also made a point to not take the readings during a contraction for the first few times. All of my blood work came back perfect, as well. We were sent home (about 5 hours later).
At home, we ate a nice meal and called Eva and my mother to make sure she had everything she needed since she would be spending the night with grandma.
Things soon picked up, with contractions that stopped me in my tracks. I was nauseated and could barely force myself to take bites between contractions. We left for the hospital around 9 pm when I could no longer talk through my contractions.
We arrived around 10 pm and after a lengthy check-in process, I was checked. I was only dilated to 3 cm. So, let the walking begin! I snacked, keeping my blood glucose levels in normal range, drank as much water as I could, and walked. We did some yoga and Spinning Babies moves along with squats and even relaxation. I was checked again at midnight, only to discover no progress had been made with dilation.
We were given the option to stay and continue to work on dilation, or to return home. I chose to return home. I was exhausted, and I knew every time I went home my contractions increased. So, I was hoping I could relax at home which would in turn speed things along. I was also feeling a bit shaky at this point.
We finally made it home around 1:15 am. I sent my husband straight to bed, and I even tried to lay down next to him. My contractions were such that I needed to make noise and focus on relaxing all my muscles to get through each one. I quickly moved to the couch hoping he could get some sleep while I hopefully made some progress.
I took a long, hot shower, which helped quite a bit with managing my pain. I didn’t even try to get dressed again after my shower, instead curling up on the couch with my giant towel and my favorite pillow. I feel the need to add that I laid down disposable absorbent puppy pads on the couch before I laid down, afraid my water might break and ruin my couch.
I dozed between each contraction, until suddenly things got too intense to deal with laying down. I began shaking, and I was afraid I was going to puke all over my couch, but I couldn’t manage to get up to get a bowl or anything either.
After several more of these contractions, I managed to leverage myself up to go get my husband. I was shaking pretty violently at this point, and I had myself convinced that I was nearing transition. I woke him up and said, “Time to go to the hospital, and if this isn’t transition or if I haven’t made progress I don’t care! We’re staying anyway!”
He was instantly wide-eyed and up. He took in my towel-wrapped shaking body, hair still wet, and I could tell he was a bit alarmed. We arrived at the hospital around 4 am. This time, I let him push me in the wheel chair. Last time, I had been too zen and determined to be a trooper for something like a wheel chair. This time, I wanted to get there already and stopping every 2-3 minutes to get through a contraction wasn’t appealing.
I also have to mention, that was the worst, most painful car ride I had ever endured. I was moaning with each contraction, but because of the shaking, I ended up sounding more like a goat or sheep most of the time. We had brought some pillows and my favorite blanket for the car ride to help me be as comfortable as possible and maybe help with the shaking, but pillows and a blanket can only do so much.
We arrived at the hospital, checked in and were sent to a room. I was checked and we discovered I was dilated to 4 cm and the water bag was bulging! This was it! I was so relieved to hear we had made some progress.
I was promptly hooked up to a fetal heart rate monitor. My son seemed to be weathering the storm rather well so far. Blood was also taken and the IV placed (I wasn’t hooked up to fluids at this point, though).
This is where things start to get a bit foggy. Time started to run together, and I didn’t even realize it until my obstetrician showed up for her morning rounds. I labored standing and swaying, on a ball, and on my hands and knees on the bed primarily. I tried laying down several times, but it seemed to make my contractions much more intense.
At the hospital in which I was laboring, they assign nurses in a 1:1 ratio with laboring women. So, each of my nurses (we went through a shift change) spent quite a bit of time in the room with us. I was peeing what seemed like constantly, which really sucked because every time I needed to pee this triggered a really intense contraction while I was peeing.
My obstetrician showed up sometime between 7 and 8 am with the new nurse. I grieved the loss of the last nurse because she had been amazing and perfect, but the new nurse turned out to be fantastic as well.
My obstetrician sat next to me and tried to chit chat while the nurse checked me again. The nurse discovered that I was dilated to 6 cm, but she was also instantly puzzled. She addressed my obstetrician saying, “Um, there is something there that shouldn’t be there”. My doc checked things out. She pronounced that it felt like a knuckle was presenting first, instead of his head.
My doc said everything looked fine at this point and to keep at it, though. Off she went, and the nurse soon left telling us to call her if we needed anything.
Some time passed, but not too much, when we called her for something that wasn’t that important. I think it was for another pillow or blanket or some such nonsense. As she was leaving our room to fetch whatever we needed, my water broke.
I kicked off my slippers and hobbled awkwardly to the bathroom. I had been wearing underwear with a pad because I had been losing lots of grossness since Sunday when I lost my mucus plug. This is the only reason my slippers didn’t get ruined, thank you very much pad (and goodbye underwear because I was not packing them away to take home to wash)!
I stood in the shower and my husband stood there thoroughly grossed out with me. The nurse came back in with whatever it was we had requested and I told her my water had broken and let her see what was in the shower before I began rinsing my legs and feet. Gross. Just gross. I was glad to see there was no meconium, though.
The nurse checked me again, and I watched her every move to make sure she was maintaining a sterile field quite easily otherwise I wasn’t going to allow her to check me since my water had broken. She was perfect, maintaining her sterile field without being overly cautious or not cautious enough (for my liking, obviously). She said I was dilated to 7 or 8 cm. She was also hopeful that the weird something they had felt earlier was just two suture lines of his head sticking out as his head was molding to fit through my pelvis.
She left us alone with instructions to call her if something changed or felt different.
Pretty quickly after this, my contractions picked up. I had been getting contractions every 2-3 minutes that were lasting about a minute to a minute and 15 seconds. They slowly began lasting longer and longer, and then the time between them was getting shorter and shorter.
I noticed I was feeling the need to pee with almost every single contraction. I continued to stand through most of my contractions, swaying at the beginning and end of each. I also sat on the ball and did imaginary figure 8’s with my hips between contractions because it brought some relief. My lower back had started to hurt after my water broke. I couldn’t move during the most intense part of a contraction or it hurt just so much more, but I really wanted to stretch my back some.
At some point, I decided to move to the bed. I alternated several positions, but I was beginning to have a really hard time getting through each contraction. I couldn’t do anything other than stick my arm out to my husband to signal to him that I needed him to massage my hand (it was my only source of relief at this point). Each contraction began to leave me pretty wiped.
Little did I know that at this point my contractions had been lasting about 6 minutes long with a minute or less between each contraction. After about an hour of this, I called the nurse. I told her something had changed.
She came in mid-contraction and I could hear her encouraging me to focus on my breathing. Once I could speak again, I told her “I need a break; is there something that you would recommend at this point other than an epidural?”
She said she wanted to check me again before we discussed options. She discovered we had a problem–my cervix was swelling and this meant I was now at 6 cm again. I had either been bearing down or my body was bearing down without me realizing it. I can’t honestly say.
She said that she didn’t want to recommend something I had previously stated I did not want (the epidural; she knew I didn’t want one), but she didn’t have any good options at this point. I asked her if it was possible to get the epidural while laying on my side because I didn’t think I could sit up with a rounded back through one of my contractions. This is when I was informed by my husband that my contractions were lasting so long.
I didn’t really listen to her immediate response because another contraction just kicked in just after the end of the last one, taking my breath away. A moment later I realized she was on the phone, calling to see who was available to give an epidural. Whoever it was, she knew they could give an epidural while I was laying down and she gave me the thumbs up.
I only had to make it through two more contractions before the anesthesiologist showed up. I was happy to see her, yet sad that I was about to get an epidural. I HATED my epidural last time with Eva, and getting it placed had been a difficult process. I had been very determined to have a natural birth that was completely intervention free.
The anesthesiologist, at least, was pretty fantastic. One stick to numb, another stick to place it without difficulty around 10:15 am.
Shortly after having it placed, my nurse also placed an internal fetal and contraction monitor. It had become increasingly difficult to get a consistent heart beat from the baby, but I had resisted getting the internal monitor placed because I wanted to continue to be mobile. Now, since my mobility was already gone I consented to the internal monitoring. I was also getting increasingly worried about my son since things had definitely taken a strange left turn. We also discovered that his heart rate dropped rapidly if I tried laying on my right side. A urinary catheter was also placed at this time and IV fluids were also started.
I cried to my husband once the nurse left the room. I told him that I was proud of him and me, but I thought something was off and I didn’t know what. I fell asleep shortly after this conversation.
The nurse woke me again around 11 or 11:30 am. She checked my cervix again to discover that all swelling had reduced and I was at 8+ cm (her words), but the thing that she hoped was just his head molding seemed like not his head at all. She called for the house obstetrician to come check him out before calling my obstetrician.
The house doctor, who I had met the day before when I was being monitored for high blood pressure, was super nice and efficient. She quickly checked me internally, asked the nurse to get the portable ultrasound machine, and told me while we waited that she was pretty sure my son was presenting face first. She said she wanted to check his exact placement before making any assumptions, though.
I woke my husband up, because he had also fallen asleep after I fell asleep. The ultrasound clearly showed that our baby was trying to enter the world face first and that his little neck was already pushed pretty far backwards. It looked very painful, to say the least!
At this point, I wanted to cry. I knew this probably meant a repeat c-section for me. I also knew that his improper position probably explained the pretty ridiculous contractions after my water broke.
The nurse called my obstetrician, who arrived right around noon. She tried repositioning my son, but he wanted no part of it. He immediately went right back to the way he was. She tried again, and once more, but to no avail. She laughed as she was trying to reposition him because her first try, she accidentally poked him in the eye. Her next try, she said she might have just picked his nose. Her last try, he flailed his head around to express his displeasure at her efforts.
So, c-section it is.
I asked for the lightest dose possible for the c-section (as I had with originally getting the epidural) because I am sensitive to anesthesia. The anesthesiologist accommodated as far as I could tell.
My hands were free during the surgery, and my husband was at my head (along with the anesthesiologist). My baby boy was brought into this world at 1:03 pm! His left eye was swollen from where my doctor had poked him earlier and he had some bruising and swelling around his nose. He also had an indent across his forehead from where he had been pushed against my pelvis for hours. By the next day, only the bruising remained.
While he was getting cleaned up, I noticed I was having an increasingly difficult time catching my breath. The anesthesiologist gave me some oxygen and propped me up a bit, which helped tremendously. I ended up numb a bit too high.
Once my son was cleaned up and swaddled appropriately, my husband and he sat by me while the c-section was completed. My obstetrician also came and checked out the baby once she was done closing (she apologized to him for the eye-poking incident).
Here we are a little over two weeks later, and I am still very thankful for my hard, drawn out labor. I think it helped with my recovery at the very least, and I think it made my son better equipped for this world. I’m not even taking ibuprofen for pain and haven’t been since he was about 10 days old. I am moving really well, and I only have twinges of pain when I cough or sneeze. I still haven’t picked up anything too heavy (the baby in his car seat has been the heaviest thing) so I don’t ruin this great recovery. I can’t stress enough how completely different this recovery is compared to the last time. I was consistently rating my pain at less than a 3 during my hospital stay.
As for labor helping my son, he is a strong little bugger. We haven’t had a single problem with latch (more on breastfeeding another time). The nurses in the hospital called him “Hoover” from the get-go because he has such a strong latch and suck (my poor boobies). He also kicked the jaundice pretty quickly, which was a bonus.
Did I mention he has lungs unlike any newborn I have ever met? He could wake the dead with his cries! Except his father…he can’t wake him. No one can manage that feat (except Eva when she jumps on him to wake him up).
Well, that’s our story. It went as all births usually do–completely different than what was planned.
One last note:
My blood glucose levels during labor were great…until I quit sneaking snacks. I had snack food that I was having my husband give to me in one bite increments about every 4th contraction. Once things got more intense, though, I was too nauseated to continue to eat. My blood sugar then dropped and then spiked. My body was eating into my reserves which was setting loose ketones into my urine. Some lactated Ringer’s via IV seemed to help balance things out a bit.
Immediately following my c-section, my numbers were back to ideal. My son’s numbers were perfect as well. I haven’t had a single high reading since, and I quit checking while I was still in the hospital.