Remembering my son’s birth is one of my most favorite things to think about. Labor, childbirth, and after birth don’t always go as planned or wanted, but our outcome was beautiful and I love sharing this amazing day in my life, my son’s life, with others. ENJOY!
My due date, February 1st, came and went. I laughed at the irony of my doctors actually fearing pre-term labor. I knew my body and I knew my baby. At our 29 week ultrasound the tech did measure him small, around 27 weeks but everything looked good. So when I went late, I was not too surprised. He was taking his time. The night of Super Bowl Sunday I was especially tired and having some crazy BH contractions. We went home and I cleaned the house. B worked for a landscaping company and in the winter they did snow removal. We were expecting snow so he went to bed early. My first contraction came at 12:01am and that was it. I was in labor! I didn’t wake my husband and tried to get back to sleep but they started coming hard and fast, enough so that I got up and took a bath. That must have woken B. He came in and helped me get through a few contractions before I was ready to get out. We live in a tiny apartment and being that it was the middle of the night and had just started to snow, there was no way I was going outside to walk. So I paced our halls back and forth, stopping to lean against the wall for a contraction. Around 4am we actually started to time them and realized that they were coming every 3-4 minutes, lasting over a minute and by 6am, had not let up one bit. I called my doctor and they were ready for us. At this point, I wish we would have stayed home longer. I thought 6 hours was pretty long to labor at home, but I had no idea what we were in for. I realized early on that I was having back labor and I attributed it to having a tilted uterus. No one told me this was a sign that he was posterior and that we should do some poses, etc to get him to turn more (not even in Bradley).
We arrived at the hospital just before 7am. My parents came and I was admitted right away. I hear about other moms having to go to triage first to be checked and see if they would be admitted, but this did not happen to us. I was 2cm when we got there and was surprised that they kept me! Must have been the crazy contractions that convinced them I was labor. The morning was very rough. The back labor was debilitating. I tried everything from slow dancing with my husband, walking, the bath tub, shower, hands and knees, birth ball–everything! And nothing relieved it. I think I got way too hung up on the anticipation of the next contraction. I remember thinking about the next contraction while the current one I was having peaked and how I convinced myself there was no way I could go on like this for what seemed like forever.
My nurse was great, but she was not very helpful in getting me to try different positions. She also insisted that I keep the monitor on at all times. While I was in the tub, she put a waterproof one on. This was not apart of our birth plan and maybe it was the pain from the contractions that kept me from sticking up for what we wanted (although my husband knew what we wanted too), I think we were somehow easily persuaded by the fact that these were the professionals–what do we know?? The one thing she did not do was ask me if I wanted pain relief, which I had told her I did not want and if I did, I would ask for it.
By 11am the contractions were so hard and the back labor was so painful I could not even stand as the pain radiated down my legs. I was stuck on the birth ball and nearly passing out. They put oxygen on me and that did not help much. I remember looking in my husbands eyes and he was so scared. He was so frightened by the pain I was in and he could do nothing to help. It was at this point, now around 4cm, that I started talking about the epidural. I was crying and mad that I was even considering it. This is the only thing I did not like about Bradley–it made me feel guilty for even considering the idea of pain relief and this is something I would not want my students to fear. We discussed it as I went through several contractions, each getting worse and each time getting more faint. My anxiety got worse as I became more faint, fearing that I would pass out and they would rush me off to a c-section. Finally, we decided that I should get the epidural. I felt so defeated. I wanted to have an unmedicated birth so badly. I was only one of a handful of other mamas in labor that morning and getting the epidural was quick. The relief was a welcomed blessing and within 20 minutes of getting it and relaxing, I jumped from a 4-8cm. I know this is not typical of people who get epidurals and I also know that this is the only reason I am okay with the way things turned out. However, shortly after dilating so quickly by water broke. There was meconium in the waters and my sons heart rate dropped so dramatically that my OB rushed over to the hospital from his office. I had 6 nurses in the room fussing over me and the doctor insisted on an internal fetal monitor. I was so freaked out by how freaked out they were that I said do whatever. They also gave me a shot of medication to stop the contractions to let my son rest, but this of course stopped my labor for almost 2 hours! My husband was eating and refueling up on coffee while all this happened which is why he was not there to advocate or ask questions.
I was frustrated, but I took advantage of it by resting and waiting. Around 4:30 I was ready to push. My OB was great in that he did not leave from the moment I started to push, which lasted 2 hours. I was on my back. I hated that I could not get up on my feet and squat, which is what I wanted to do from the very beginning. Our son was born at 6:37pm and I wish that I could say the chaos ended there with a happy, pink baby on my chest who nursed right away and roomed in with me. Nope. Didn’t happen. They placed him on my chest and let me hold and kiss him. He was crying and his first breath actually caused him to pop a hole in his lung called a pneumothorax. His breathing was labored and within minutes he was rushed over to the warming table and then off to the nursery. My husband went with him while I was cleaned up. I had a 2nd degree tear and some abrasions. I made sure that he did not cut an episiotomy and he respected my wishes. The placenta delivered perfectly and I would tell everyone to make sure they take a look at it! What a crazy thing to sustain the life of your baby. So cool!
I was in a blurry haze for what seemed like forever. The nurses told me that my son only needed some extra O2 before coming back to me and that would not be more than an hour. After an hour and a half, he and my husband had not returned. When my husband did come back to the room, he came with the on call pediatrician who explained what had happened. Our son’s first breath was so strong he popped a hole in his lung, something that happens in about 1 in 100 births. They determined this through an xray and he was admitted to the NICU. Once I was settled in my post partum room I had my husband wheel me down to the NICU to see him. He was so precious! He was not crying and the nurses were so sweet. We met his neonatologist and she explained what they were going to do next. At 10:30 he had another chest xray to see if the hole was healing on its own and it wasn’t so they went ahead with a needle aspiration. Luckily, it worked the first time and he did not need a chest tube, which is the usual outcome for most babies. Our son spent 5 days in the NICU. They treated him for an infection, just to be safe and did a 2nd aspiration to ensure the air was out.
The entire birth experience was amazing, however there are so many things I would have wanted differently. BUT, I know that there is nothing that we did or didn’t do to cause him to pop a hole in his lung. That is a spontaneous birth accident that cannot be predicted or prevented. I accept that and after two years I also have accepted that this is our son’s birth story. We want more children someday and I can only hope and pray that with my continuing education and amazing support from B that we will have a med-free, intervention-free birth. Heck, maybe even at home.