The Long Haul – A Unity Point Birth Story

pregnant art, 10101, watercolor, birth story,

I was a typical first time mom, totally naïve about how labor and delivery would actually go. I worked right down the street from the hospital and my plan was for my water to break right after I finished my work for the day and I would just walk over to the hospital, push a couple of times, and the baby would be here. All on my due date of course. Well much to my dismay, when my due date rolled around and I was only two centimeters dilated, I was pretty disappointed. I continued to go to work every day because I didn’t want to just sit around feeling sorry for myself because my baby wasn’t here yet. Yet every day I showed up to work, the well-meaning comments of “no baby yet?” and “still here?” were enough to make me want to walk over to the hospital and demand that they do whatever they needed to do to get this baby out.

I told myself that Thursday would be my last day at work. I had officially reassigned all my work that day and but I told my boss that I would be in tomorrow. I was trying not to get my hopes up. Meanwhile, at home, I was trying to do everything possible to kick start labor. I ate about 4 pineapples that week, walked and walked and walked. It was early March but the weather was fairly mild. This baby didn’t seem to have any interest in coming and I was getting disappointed. I really didn’t want to go to work the next day because I would really have nothing to do but knew I couldn’t sit around the house alone. The next morning I woke around 5am to use the restroom. As I was getting back into bed, I felt my first faint contraction. I immediately downloaded a contraction counter app and started keeping track. When my husband woke up at about 7, I was excited to update him with the progress. He had a big interview for a new job at 9am and was wondering if he should call and cancel. I told him the contractions were far apart and it was early so go ahead and go. He said he would keep his phone available if there were any emergencies.

At about 9:30, the OBGYN office called to schedule my induction for Sunday night since at that point I would be a week overdue. I was really nervous about doing an induction and I told my husband that if we had to schedule it, I would not show up. Thankfully, it looked like we would not need to go that route. I told the nurse that I was having contractions. She asked about the timing and I said they were about every 5 minutes and lasting from about 45 seconds to a minute. She said go ahead and head to the hospital. I was ecstatic. I got ready and waited nervously for the call from my husband after his interview. He called shortly after and I told him the good news. Once he got home, he changed quickly and we jumped in the car to head to the hospital. The whole way there, I was so excited. We were excitedly talking about meeting our baby girl and calling our parents to tell them it was go time.

The hospital was expecting us so we got into triage right away. They hooked me up to the monitors and checked my dilation. I was only 3cm!!!! With all the excitement and moving around, my contractions had significantly slowed down as well. The nurse encouraged us to walk around and she would check us again in an hour. At the second check, I had made no progress and my contractions had really stalled. She suggested we go home, eat a good meal and relax. I was very disappointed leaving the hospital. I called my mom to tell her it was a false alarm. My husband had decided to go into work because his company gave him 2 weeks of paternity leave and he was taking a week right away and a week later in my leave. If he worked that day (Friday), he wouldn’t have to be back to work for 2 Mondays but if skipped work, he would have to be back the following Friday. My mom and brother took the day off from work and said they would hang out with me while he worked.

We went to lunch at Applebee’s and then decided to walk around the mall to see if that would help labor. I was getting some pretty interesting looks because every so often, I would have to stop and work through a contraction. I know people were looking at me thinking “this lady needs to be at a hospital”. Considering the circumstances, we had fun at the mall, laughing at the fact we were at a mall while I was in labor. We headed back to my parents’ house. I was resting on the couch and at this point, the contractions were much more intense but still not consistent. At 7pm, I went to the bathroom and my water broke. I yelled at my brother to call my husband and tell him that my water broke and it was time to go.

The trip to the hospital this time was much more uncomfortable. My “hilarious” husband said, “you are a lot quieter this time”. He got a pretty mean look to say the least. This time in triage, we were admitted to the hospital and I was excited to finally be in a room.  My OB clinic was made up of a team of 16 doctors so you could have anyone. I tried my best during my pregnancy to see as many as I could but I honestly didn’t care which one I would deliver with because I knew I had no control over that. Originally Dr. DeJong was the on-call doctor. However, once again, his shift ended at 7am and now Dr. Mintzer would be on call.

My original plan was to have a natural birth. (I was also supposed to go into labor on my due date, so obviously things change.) I told the nurse that I would like to do it naturally but would not be opposed to pain meds later in labor. When we got admitted, the first thing after I got all hooked up with my IV (I was group B strep positive), I started walking the halls. We would have to stop once an hour to have the baby’s vitals checked but everything was fine so we kept walking. At 10pm, 17 hours after my first contraction, my cervix was checked and was dilated to “maybe 4 cm”. On our next walk after that, I started crying to my husband. The contractions were more intense and walking was becoming very difficult and uncomfortable and I was hardly making any progress.

We had decided to see what we could do about pain management. When we got back to the room, the nurse said we could have fentanyl but she could only give that to me twice and it didn’t really take the pain away, it would just take the edge off. She said that it looked like we had a long way to go since I wasn’t even half way there and she suggested that if I wanted to do an epidural, we should get the fentanyl shot first and then have the anesthesiologist give the epidural while taking advantage of the fentanyl. I was very discouraged that I was in so much pain but still probably had a long way to go. I decided to do the epidural and at about midnight, it was administered. The nurse was very clear that I would no longer be able to walk around and would have to stay in bed. Once the epidural was in effect, I was finally comfortable. My family was in the room and we were just hanging out. Around 2am, I was checked again and still only a 4. The nurse suggested that my family leave so my husband I could get some rest. Once they left and the lights were turned down, I became very uncomfortable. I had pain in my upper back above where the epidural was working. Along with that, the baby’s heart rate kept dropping when I would have a contraction so the nurse had me continually switching positions. Needless to say, I was very uncomfortable all night and did not get any sleep. At 7am, the nurse and doctor were both done with their shifts and we met the new nurse and doctor. The doctor offhandedly mentioned that the previous doctor had mentioned he thought the baby would be about 7 pounds so I should have no problems.

At 8am, my cervix was checked again and I was only 5cm. This is when the nurse suggested Pitocin because of how long it was taking me to dilate. Another reason I was not progressing is because my contractions were coupling. This means that I would have two contractions back to back, then nothing for a couple of minutes. The baby’s heart rate was also dipping when they would couple and since my water had already broken, I was on a time table. I agreed to the Pitocin. Once that was administered, the pain in my back intensified. I asked if there was anything else we could do for the pain. They put some warm towels on my upper back and had the anesthesiologist come and check the epidural. Everything looked fine and he was able to give me some more fentanyl since it had been so long since my last dose.

At 10am they checked me again and I was finally at 9cm and 90% effaced. They would check again in an hour. At 11am, after only 30 hours, I was finally 10cm! The nurse suggested laboring down for an hour and they would wean my epidural so I had some feeling to push. At noon, I decided it was time to start pushing. The nurse said everything looked good and our baby should be here in an hour. I told myself to not look at the clock and just focus on the contractions. Very quickly, the nurse and my husband could see her head and all of her hair but with every push, we seemed to make no progress. I finally looked at the clock and it had been over an hour of pushing. That is when the nurse suggested a mirror. I was very hesitant but the nurse said that maybe being able to see what her head looks like when I push, might give me a little help to see what was working and give me more motivation. With a little coaxing from my husband, I agreed with the promise that as soon as the doc came in, they would take the mirror away. The mirror was the best decision we made. Seeing all that hair on her head and seeing the progress I was making with my pushes helped me so much.After another hour of pushing though, I was losing steam. I looked at the clock again and started crying because I knew I didn’t have any energy left and I felt like we were still far away from delivering her. At this point, I told my husband that I didn’t even care if we had to do a c-section, I just wanted her here. Also, in between each contraction, I would have to wear the oxygen mask because her heart rate kept dropping. Nothing critically low as it would return post contraction but it was just another thing that made me very uncomfortable.

The nurse called the doctor and told him that I had been pushing for over two hours and I was losing steam. He was finishing up with another patient and would be in soon. While we were waiting for him, I kept pushing through the contractions. At one point, I felt my whole body crack, like I was being adjusted by a chiropractor. Suddenly, she came further down the canal and we started making some real progress. We didn’t know this at the time but she was stuck on my tailbone and that is what was holding her up. When the doctor finally got to the room, he said “Wow, this baby is almost here.” I pushed twice more after he got to the room. Suddenly he said “reach down and grab your baby.” I put my arms down and pulled her directly to my chest. I can honestly say, that was the most amazing experience of my entire life. I had not planned that and would have said no if I had to decide beforehand. The doctor did have to give me an episiotomy and I also tore a little as well but he said it was a clean tear helped by the fact that he had done the episiotomy. I would have said no to that prior to the birth as well, but at that point, I would do anything to get her out.

The next couple of minutes were me just holding her skin to skin crying while the nurses cleaned her off. Eventually they had to take her to suction her out and clean her up. I sent my husband over with her while the doctor delivered the placenta and stitched me up. I was nice to finally have my perfect little girl here. She ended up weighing 8 lbs 6 oz and we were all a little surprised by that. I was very thankful to have Dr. Mintzer on call when I delivered because he said there was no way he would do a c-section and I found out after that he is the best in that practice for episiotomies. He was perfect for our situation.

Once she was all cleaned up, we immediately tried nursing. Initially it was uncomfortable and difficult but after about 20 minutes, she latched on and we had a great nursing relationship. I sent my husband for food because I was starving. It had been over 24 hours since I had anything to eat. Finally, our daughter was here and we were so happy.

Overall, I loved the hospital that we delivered at. I loved the fact that we could stay in the same room the whole time since you are able to labor and deliver all in the same room. You have a dedicated nurse for your entire labor (unless it takes longer than their 12 hour shift like mine did). We were admitted at 8pm and she was not born until 2:30pm the next day. I never felt pressured with any of the interventions even though they were not “planned”. They did a great job of explaining what was happening and kept me calm and as comfortable as best they could throughout. That being said, I was still very traumatized by the whole experience. I partly blame myself for not being more prepared and thinking that I was going to have a labor like my mother’s (3 weeks early, short labor and small baby). I had read a lot of books and articles leading up to birth and felt prepared going in. The recovery was also pretty easy considering my 4th degree tear and long delivery. The worst part of recovery was the bruising/breaking of my tailbone. It took almost a year to fully recover from that. I am thankful for a healthy baby and a healthy mother and that there were no further complications.

I have to say, it was very cathartic writing my birth story. I semi-joke that I had PTSD from labor but writing it out and re-reading it really helped me prepare me for the next one this October.

Art by 10101


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