September 25, 2013

Amelia’s Birth Story

First Family Photo BW

Throughout the pregnancy I always thought the kiddo would make it all the way to October.  That is until my braxton hicks really picked up in August/September.  I started to think then that she might come early, and boy did she ever.

On Wednesday, September 11th I lost part of my mucus plug at work.  It was a wake up call to make sure and get things ready to go on that end.  I spent the next 3 work days clearing my desk, writing instructions, and prepping as much as I possibly could in case the kiddo came early (still had no name at this point!).  When I left work on Friday I had the distinct feeling that that weekend would be our last weekend as a family of two, who knew I was actually right!

Saturday I hit 37 weeks and that night I started to have real contractions and began to lose even more of my mucus plug, this time it wasn’t just mucus, but a bit of “show” as well.  My contractions were anywhere from 8-12 minutes apart and after a call to the midwife she said go to sleep and relax, they won’t want to see me until they are 3-5 minutes apart for more than an hour.

Sunday morning I really felt like that it was going to be the day, so Nathan called in and said he couldn’t do lighting at church.  My contractions actually ended up lessening throughout the day, which we were fine with, after all she still had a couple more weeks to cook.  Around 6pm we decided to go for a walk to stretch our legs and on the walk my contractions really picked up.  So much so that we would have to stop walking and I would lean heavily on Nathan as I waited for each one to pass.  At this point, I had been having contractions for 24 hours and we really didn’t think she would actually come, so we headed to Culvers for dinner.  Throughout dinner we noticed my contractions were getting close to the 5-1-1 (5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for 1 hour) mark and we headed home.  I again called the midwife and she said wait until they are 3-1-1 and try to sleep for now.

At 1:15am on September 16th I awoke with a particularly strong contraction, and as I rolled over in bed to try and deal with the pain there was a huge gush as my water broke.  This baby was coming that day.  We again called the midwife right away before I started timing my contractions and she said to labor at home until the 3-1-1 mark, as soon as I got off the phone I started timing and it quickly became apparent that my contractions were only 2-3 minutes apart.  We called back and said we were heading in.  With the 30 minute drive we didn’t want to risk not going in soon enough and I also recalled how painful driving with contractions was just on our short ride to Culvers.

We arrived at the hospital at 2:15am and upon examination the rest of my water broke and it was declared that I was 100% effaced and at 5cm and the kiddo was sitting extremely low.  I was checked in and given a room and at our request the hospital called the volunteer doula on call to come on in and be our support team (thanks Jasmine- you were great!).

Over the next 7 hours I labored naturally without drugs.  I used the birthing ball, the bath tub, and leaned over the back of the bed.  It was one of the most challenging and painful things I have ever done.  Each contraction was excruciating, but I knew it was pain with a purpose, my daughter was on her way.  At around 7/8am they examined me again and I was at 9.5cm, they said I could try pushing and they would move the rest of my cervix for me.  I pushed for less than half an hour and it was declared that my cervix wasn’t moving, it was too swollen/puffy, and there might be a problem.

At that point a new midwife came on, Bridget, (I have to say that God gave us the PERFECT midwife for each part of the day- he knew which one we needed for each situation and his grace provided for that) and I was told that my cervix was too swollen and it wouldn’t dilate to a 10.  She wanted to do an internal monitor to monitor the strength of my contractions, pitocin to kick my contractions up, and an epidural for my pain.  NONE of these items were in our birth plan.  This was a huge blow to me.  I had wanted a natural labor and delivery and to be proposed all of these interventions at once was scary.  Because Nathan and I had researched so thoroughly and were so educated on what we wanted we knew what each of these decisions could lead to.  I ended up begging for another hour to labor naturally and see if I could resist pushing enough that the swelling would go down and I could fully dilate.  Our midwife granted me another hour.  It was one of the longest hours that day.  Each contraction I had to fully concentrate to ensure I didn’t bear down as I breathed through it- which was extremely hard to do because Amelia was sitting so low.  At the end of an hour she checked me again and it was discovered that I had not only not progressed, I was more swollen than before, and I had actually digressed to 7/8cm.  At that point she said we really needed intervention and if I really didn’t want the internal monitor/pitocin we could try with just an epidural and see if that relaxed my body enough that it could do its job.

Once the decision was made to get the epidural it couldn’t happen fast enough.  After having labored naturally for 8 hours total and then laboring the rest of the way with an epidural I can completely understand why so many women get them.  It was nice to be able to relax a little and sleep as we waited for my cervix to do its thing.  Around 1pm we discovered I was at a full 10cm and after 2 hours of pushing and no progress it was determined pitocin was needed to strengthen the frequency of my contractions.  I again begged for an alternative solution and she proposed one that I tried for an hour, and that still wouldn’t work.  At that point I ended up getting the pitocin.

At 3:45pm my contractions were finally strong enough to try pushing again.  I pushed 3-4 strong pushes during my contractions that were 3 minutes apart for 2.5hrs and there was virtually no progress.  At this point it had been nearly 24hours since I had eaten and I was running on less than 3-4hrs of sleep.  I was burning out and questioning my ability to bring my daughter into the world.  A cesarean was the very last thing I had ever wanted, that was why I chose the hospital I did and the midwives to work with, but I wasn’t sure if I could make it happen.  Nathan began to pray over me and read me scripture that a friend had texted me (thanks Megan!) and I felt the Lord renewing my strength and resolve.

At 6:30pm a new midwife who was a bit older and had a lot of experience came on and she immediately determined what no one else had been able to, my daughter’s position.  Amelia was sunny-side up.  This came as a bit of a shock to us because I hadn’t had back labor and no one else had been able to determine this because of how puffy my cervix was- which had made it hard to tell Amelia’s head position.  It immediately became apparent why I hadn’t been able to deliver Amelia that morning or all day.  At this point the midwife was getting very concerned for me and my daughter, despite our strong vitals.  She told me I had until 8pm to deliver Amelia or I was going to have to have a c-section.  I broke down then and there.  I had already been questioning my own strength and now someone else was questioning it too.  I begged her to do anything and everything she could to get my daughter out safely and she said she would do her best.

She immediately began by putting me on my left side and she rocked my hips back and forth for a solid 20 minutes in an effort to get Amelia to roll over.  When it came time to push again it was like a whole different me.  This wasn’t the time for pansy pushes, this was the time to get my daughter out, the clock was ticking.  Over the next hour I have never worked so hard in my entire life.  Each push made my head feel like it was going to explode.  I could not have done it without Nathan, the nurse, and the midwife encouraging me.  At 7:55pm I was frantic with worry wondering if she was going to come, the midwife reassured me that she wasn’t watching the clock anymore.  Five minutes later the room exploded with people and action.  I didn’t understand what was happening and asked and the midwife said honey you’re having a baby, it was then that I realized it was really happening, and I would not be having a c-section.  At 8:12pm Amelia Grace emerged.  Because there was meconium in her fluid she was whisked immediately to the warming bed they had set up to double check her, Nathan followed her there.  She was crying and once he placed his hand on her chest she calmed down.

After birthing Amelia I broke down.  I sobbed for several minutes straight.  I couldn’t believe she was here, I couldn’t believe that I had been able to get her out.  It was such a huge, amazing relief to know she was safely here and the long day’s goal had finally been achieved.  Once she was checked out she was brought to me and we began trying to breastfeed, she latched like a champ right from the beginning.  I was in awe of her full head of hair and beautiful wide open eyes.

I thank God for giving me the strength and endurance needed to get Amelia out safely.  And I am so thankful for Nathan and his support.  His encouragement, prayer, and calmness brought so much peace to the day.  While the day didn’t go as we had planned and it was difficult facing the decisions we faced, the educating we had done beforehand made all the difference.  With each intervention that was proposed we knew the risks that came with it and we were able to try all the alternatives before giving in.  And while the day took longer because we wanted to try and do things our way, we were ok with that, because we were giving my body every possible chance to do what it was naturally made to do.

As the day progressed and more and more of our birth plan was getting thrown out the window I struggled with it, I struggled with finding peace and not being upset.  However after, I felt empowered.  Yes, the day didn’t go as planned, but we gave my body every possible chance to make it through, and in the end our daughter arrived safely and healthily.

My thanks goes out to our hospital and midwives.  I am so grateful for their role in Amelia’s birth and so happy with our decision to use them.  I am fairly confident that had I stuck with my original OB and hospital I would have had a c-section.