Monday afternoon, 6 days past my due date, we went in for what happened to be our final pre-natal appointment. Being on the cusp of 41 weeks my midwife wanted to check my cervix for the first time and sweep my membrane to hopefully avoid having to induce a week later. I had a good check – was 2-3cm dilated, 80-90% effaced and she was head down + super low. When we left I was already beginning to feel crampy and having more contractions. That evening I took it easy since I was pretty uncomfortable from the membrane sweep.
On Tuesday, the morning of my 41st week of being pregnant, Jacob, Hunter and I went into the hospital for my non-stress test – they check amniotic fluid and monitor her heart rate along with any contractions I might be having just to make sure everything is still looking good since I’m past term.
The first test was amniotic fluid and it showed I was really low – lower than where they feel comfortable to let my pregnancy continue on another week. And with that, we were at the hospital to stay! Having not anticipated this at all I made some calls to my mom and sister in law to get Hunter picked up from the hospital and our hospital bag brought to us. I was on the monitors at this time and while I was probably smiling, I was definitely holding back some tears. It took me a good hour or so to adjust my mind to this happening. It’s not that I wasn’t excited to meet our girl, but I so wanted to naturally go into labor. Also pregnant me = hormonal me so tears happen easily.
My midwife was open to just breaking my water in hopes that that would start my labor. We went though all the computer questions, got settled into our room and around 11:30am the midwife broke my water. Twenty minutes or so later contractions began. They weren’t too strong, only about a 2-3 pain level and spaced anywhere from 5-10 minutes apart. Jacob and I started to walk the halls, a lot. Gotta get this labor going! After lots of walking and not much change by afternoon, we decided to take short naps. Plus my feet were hurting a bit from all the walking. I knew we were in for the long haul and I was already feeling a bit sleepy so the cat nap was nice. After that, back to more walking. I had been restricted to clear fluids which was rough. I was super hungry. Since my labor wasn’t picking up, really it was slowing down, the midwife let me eat some food. I scarfed down the peanut butter sandwich, yogurt with blueberries, banana and pb oatmeal bars I had on hand. I knew it would be the last I’d get to eat for a while. Around 6:30pm, right around the time we were getting a new nurse at shift change I got into the bath to relax, again with hopes it would pick my labor up. Labor didn’t change so I just used it as a time to relax and prepare for the long night.
At 12 hours after my water was broken was when the midwife wanted to start pitocin. Since I ended up having to have it with Hunter I was already more okay with the idea than the first time. Obviously it wasn’t my first choice, but my body just doesn’t like to progress labor fast enough on its own. I was going to let them know I’d be fine starting pitocin a couple hours earlier since I didn’t see any changes happening, but my super awesome nurse Lisa encouraged me to continue trying different things and that my body could kick in on its own. I knew then that I was going to like her.
11:30pm came and no change. Onto the monitors for a while before getting pitocin started. I found a position I loved – sitting on the stability ball rocking forward/backward and side/side with my hands/elbows on the side of the birthing tub. More and more of my water kept seeping out and I felt a lot more pressure pushing down on my cervix when I’d rock forward. The only downside was that monitoring baby girl’s heart rate was almost impossible. Just almost impossible. It took a while to get the set up of straps and wraps around my belly, but Lisa did it. Once monitoring was done my pitocin started at 1am, at a level (or dose??) 2 I believe. I continued in that position for a little while longer but the monitors still had to be adjusted a lot. Contractions picked up a bit more in intensity and got a little closer together, maybe 5-7 minutes apart. With each contraction I focused on slow breathing and relaxing my upper body as I noticed my shoulders would tense up.
Around 2am I went back to walking the halls. I told Jacob he could sleep earlier since I was able to manage the contractions on my own, so instead of waking him Lisa said she’d walk with me. Lisa was our rockstar throughout the whole night. They say your nurse can make or break what your experience is like, and she made ours spectacular. She took the time to get to know us, she was funny, supportive and helped us be at ease. In between each contraction, we just chatted which made time so much more enjoyable. With every lap around those halls the contractions picked up in intensity. I had been given 2 more increases of pitocin and was set into a 6. I could tell the contractions were getting tougher when instead of just stopped, closing my eyes and breathing through them, I had to hold onto the rail or wall. Then the next level of intensity came and I’d have to hold on and bend my knees a little more. The final lap happened around 4am when I didn’t think I could stay standing through the contractions anymore.
Back into the room I woke Jacob up and returned to sitting on the ball with hands on the tub. However, this time I wasn’t able to sit through contractions anymore. The wave would come on and I’d lean forward, half way standing, Jacob would press my hips together and I’d try not to buckle through the pain. Remembering to breath and relax. I was always in my head telling myself to breath and relax.
Lisa worked on getting my birthing tub filled up and by 5am I was about to get in. I was 6-7 cm dilated and 100% effected. I needed the water for relief. And what a relief it was! I worked through the ever intensifying contractions with my arms hanging over the side of the tub, head resting on the side and belly floating facing down. I wanted to make sure she stayed in a good position, and it also was the most comfortable position for me to handle the contractions in. Maybe 5 or so contractions in I began having a big one with a shorter one right after, no rest in between. In my mind I thought transition was near with contractions like that, but I also thought it was way too fast. After just a couple more the intensity really peaked. I had one that left me groaning like an animal through the pain. I told Jacob to get Lisa. So intense. Another one came, same intensity, same sounds. By the time everyone was back in the room a third one came on and I told them I thought I wanted to push, so the midwife said ‘push your baby out!’.
At 6am pushing started. I had to work through one or two pushes to get the right feeling. I’d take a deep breath in through a contraction, hold it with my chin toward my chest, then bear down and push hard. Pretty sure I was loud throughout all this. I remember her head crowning and asking if the head was out. It’s such a weird feeling when the baby is half out! A couple more pushes and I hear the midwife tell me to lean back and get my baby. She was there! I pulled her out of the water and straight to my chest. All I could say was ‘oh my God, oh my God’ over and over again. I just looked at her in amazement. We did a little check to make sure she was in fact a girl. :). Jacob cut the umbilical cord and held her while I got out of the tub and into the bed. Then she was back on my chest almost instantly nursing. Perfect and amazing Zoe Louise was born Wednesday morning at 6:09am – just 9 minutes of pushing!
Having a water birth was amazing. The water helped me cope with the contractions, I could move around easily and I had zero tearing too. I can’t imagine not having a water birth in the future again. I so recommend it! Zoe was born in the correct anterior position whereas Hunter was posterior which gave me tons of back labor. The baby’s position makes such a difference in labor pains and I’m so thankful this one was easier. Recovery has been easier too!
Tomorrow Zoe will be 1 week old. Time is flying! We love every moment with this sweet little girl. God has truly blessed our family with Zoe and the safe birth that brought her into the world.
PS – If you love reading birth stories, here are the links to Hunters.