This story is dedicated to all new preggo moms who are considering a natural birth- I am not going to lie- It is difficult, but YOU can do it! It is possible and the rewards are so beautiful… What a gift to start your baby off as nature intended!! Plus it makes breast feeding sooo much easier! So go for it! If I can do it, you can too!
My Doula, Miracle, my husband, David and Melody Anne. My mom was there too but just camera shy! Thanks team! 🙂
Written a couple weeks after my labor…
While lathering my calloused feet with lavender soap, I reminisced about the events that unfolded in the last couple of weeks. My feet were probably the least painful part of my body when I was in labor with our little angel, Melody Anne. In fact, my feet were harnessed by the lovely nurses in the delivery room for a good chunk of time. But that comes later, let me start at the beginning. ..
I would actually start this birth story on Monday, January 12th 2015. I went to work at the High School as usual and started saying my goodbyes to students and faculty. I had a sense this baby was going to be coming soon. I felt uncomfortable cramping on and off throughout the day and felt very hungry and thirsty. After work, I went home, ate and took a long nap. Early that evening, the “back up” doula for Miracle came over and introduced herself, showed me her labor bag and talked to me about her experiences as a doula and also as a mother of two. The reason I include her in this birth story is because she may have helped speed up the labor process! She told me if labor slows down throughout the process, she uses acupressure to help get the labor going again. She proceeded to physically show me where these points are on the body and when she pressed on them, it was almost instantly that -what I thought was cramping- activated again. The cramping became more regular but very far apart time wise, so I thought, this might be it- I may be in very early labor! I got excited thinking about meeting my baby soon, but remembered what our Bradley class teacher always said, get some rest in early labor so you conserve energy. So that is what I did. I went to bed.
Tuesday, January 13th, 2015: The next morning I was almost certain the “cramps” were contractions, but they subsided, so I went to work as usual. The contractions came back during work, but they were so far apart and manageable that no one really noticed and I made it through until about noon, when they got a little stronger and closer together. But I was done teaching anyhow. I pretty much kept my cramping to myself, not wanting to worry my students. I was teaching small remedial reading groups at the high school. I had a massage appointment at 1pm, which I debated canceling because it was a little hard to drive, but I decided it would be better to go and get the therapy. I called David and told him I thought I was in early labor but that I am still going to massage appointment. Then I called Christine, my massage therapist, to let her know what was happening and if she still felt comfortable giving me a massage even though I was in early labor. She did not mind and the one hour massage helped me gain some strength and self-confidence. I was ready! Christine even let me borrow her exercise ball for the labor! (Which she ended up letting me keep after hearing my labor story!) She doesn’t have children so I don’t know if it was because it freaked her out or because she felt bad for me. Probably a little of both.
On the way home, around 2:15pm I stopped in at the OB office to have my cervix checked. I was already 3 cm and 90% effaced! They predicted I would be ready to go to hospital in a couple hours and they thought I would have the baby that night. (HA! It was a much longer process…)
I labored at home with David for the next few hours. My doula, Miracle, came over to access the intensity of contractions. I was still able to chat in between contractions so she told me to try to rest and to call her when we start heading to grandpa’s house in West Hartford. Grandpa was actually in the Hebrew home being cared for pneumonia. We wanted to stop at his house because it was much closer to the Hartford Hospital than our home in New Hartford. I tried to rest, but the contractions were too cumbersome. So instead I listened to music and practiced mindful breathing while David timed my contractions on our Pregnancy app. Yes, there is an app for counting contractions believe it or not! We ordered a pizza and I ate three slices around 5:30pm. I watched the episode of “The Office” where Pam is in labor because it makes me laugh. Michael Scott’s over-involvement in Pam’s labor process is hilarious. I could especially relate to Pam’s initial fear of going to the hospital. It was a nice distraction for the moment…
For me, my biggest fear was that I would be in labor for hours and hours, and then have to be brought to surgery for a c-section. My hope for a natural childbirth was based on a few of the obvious factors: better for the baby’s immune system, better for breast feeding when they are not drugged, better emotional transition for baby, better for mom’s postpartum recovery (physically and emotionally), but also, as a new mom, I wanted to make sure I did everything I could do to bring this baby into the world drug free and without too much intervention from hospital. I wanted skin-to-skin after birth so we both can experience the rewarding euphoric bond only a mother and baby can experience after an exhausting journey for both of us. I also worried that if I took the epidural, I would not be able to feel when to push and (like so many people) I would end up having a c-section.
We got to grandpa’s house at around 7pm and I labored on the exercise ball. My spirits were pretty good at this point and those honey sticks from Maureen, my awesome Bradley teacher, came in handy because I craved sugar like a mad woman! I also ate a Nutra-grain bar. My parents came around 8:30pm and Miracle (my doula) was there by 10pm. We all hung out at grandpa’s house watching TV while I listened to my music and labored on the ball. Dave timed my contractions which were creeping close to 3-4 minutes apart and getting stronger. By 11pm I was getting nervous and felt the contractions getting more intense. I was ready. We arrived at the hospital around midnight. The car ride was difficult, but not intolerable. I stayed in backseat laboring on ball, which had to have looked pretty crazy to cars passing by us!
We pulled up to emergency entrance around 11:30pm and I was offered a wheelchair. I almost refused because sitting was so uncomfortable but the contractions kept getting stronger and closer together so I took it and David ran outside to get ball from the car. I remember having so many bags and fearing that we would leave one behind somehow. Everyone was carrying a bag or two, my mom, dad, Miracle and David. I was even trying to carry one but they wouldn’t let me. I kept shouting things like, “don’t forget the bags!” and “I think I may need those massage oils and tools after all!”
A minute later or so later I hear David breathing heavy and stomping back into the hospital just as we were approaching the elevator. “I got the birth ball!” He shouted as he made his way over to the team. Miracle was pushing my wheelchair, while mom and dad remained by my side. When we got off the elevator, David started shouting over my labor cries, “We are having a baby!” I laughed at my husband’s animated enthusiasm. It was an entertaining distraction. We checked in at admission, got checked out at Triage (which took a good 40 minutes or so) and then made our way over to the delivery room. I was already 7 cm, 100% effaced, 1-1 stationed. On our way to delivery room, my friend, Stephanie showed up to help with the labor, but the hospital staff insisted on only having 3 people in delivery room at one time. I thought, no problem, they can rotate. But the nurse said, once you decide who is staying in delivery room, you cannot switch bracelets. I felt terrible. I honestly was not sure Stephanie was even going to make it, but here she was, she had driven from New Haven and now she had to wait in the waiting room. I felt motivated to push the baby out quickly so she could at least see the baby. We debated for a minute maybe having Stephanie in the delivery room, while mom waits with dad, but David really pushed for mom to stay since we had a solid team already formed. I was not really in shape for decision making but did claim I wanted my mom with me. I whispered to Stephanie to just try to switch with someone when nurses aren’t looking, because the rule is ridiculous. My devious self coming out due to mixed feeling of guilt and embarrassment, by my lack of preparation for the labor team. I should have found out how many people were allowed inside. I didn’t except such strict policies!
12pm – When we arrived in the delivery room the first thing I noticed was the youth of the two nurses taking care me. They appeared to be in their late twenties. This made me a little nervous, but they were so good at soothing my nerves, that the fear soon subsided. I asked about the tub but they said they would have to monitor the baby for 20 minutes first. So they began strapping on this incredibly cumbersome fetal heart monitor and I remember the nurse had to hold it onto the right side of my uterus. It felt so uncomfortable but I kept thinking, only 20 mins, only 20 mins. My contractions are getting stronger and I see from the corner of my eye, my least favorite doctor coming inside the room. It was Dr. Hartlett! This was the doctor who laughed at me when I asked about Tylenol use during early labor and she made the comparison of getting your fingers chopped off. I glanced at Dave and then at Miracle who both knew what I was thinking. But Miracle responded by saying, “Don’t worry, you’ll be alright.” I nodded and flashed a half smile. I didn’t care at this point anyhow, I was too far along to complain about which doctor would be in the room. Ultimately, it didn’t really matter anyhow because she gave up on me in the wee hours of the morning. I saw her say something like, “She’s still not progressing, I’ll be back in a while…” but it was the way she said it, it was like she was giving up on me. I am kind of glad she did though because she never came back, instead, Dr. Fagon came in and saved the day! But we will get to that later. I kept asking about the tub but the nurses kept having excuses even hours after that initial “20 minute fetal heart rate check.” In retrospect, I think the tub is kind of a farce. It was obviously something they don’t like to use often, especially in active labor. So I used the birth ball for an hour or so and by 2am I asked to try shower. This process took a long time. The nurse had to keep that cumbersome monitor on me, which she had to hold with her hand. The other nurse was trying to figure out how the shower worked. They both couldn’t figure out the shower nozzle or why water was not getting hot. So even after waiting 20 minutes, I went into very luke warm shower and cried. It was not relieving at all and I came out soaking wet, cold and shivering. I remember saying, “You have to be kidding me!” So I labored facing backwards on the toilet for a few more contractions. David held my shoulder and encouraged me to stay strong.
Then by 2:45am David and I were chanting “baaaaaby-baaaaby, ooooopen-ooooopen” and then when I switched to the hospital bed with ball on top, he shouted “Remember the rainbow!” (Referring to hypnobirth visualization) and I think I may have gave him the “I am going to kill you” stare…
By 4am, I was 8cm and in “transition” stage. This was the hardest part. I wanted to give up and I remember begging for God to help me. Occasionally Miracle would bring me water but when I tried to sip it through the straw, due the angle of the cup, nothing would come out! This would happen almost every time and I would shout in frustration, “theres nothing in there!”
The doctor said baby was 0 station but that my water still didn’t break. She suggested rupturing my membranes even though it was not in my birth plan. I just wanted some relief so I said she can go ahead and rupture them. This did help move along the process. I was on back at this point listening to meditation music throughout contractions. My mom was rubbing my shoulders and Miracle was whispering words of encouragement in my ear. David look petrified and I remember feeling worried about him from time to time. I thought he might pass out.
I remember praying to God to make this be the last contraction and please let me just see my baby.
Please, God, keep me alive. Don’t let me die…
Miracle would say things like, “You are almost there. Just one more…” in attempt to calm my nerves. I finally responded in fear by yelling, “YOU KEEP SAYING THAT!”
By 5:30am I was fully dilated (10 cm) and I began pushing, first on all fours, then squatting- using the bar, and then, nothing… not even close… where was my baby? What was happening? Hours were going by and I was pushing and pushing, to no avail. I had these two young nurses trying to help me but I couldn’t help thinking these girls have no clue whats going on and I’m going to die if a doctor doesn’t get in here soon. I had a feeling something was wrong but I wasn’t sure what and no one else seemed to know either.
So thank GOD Dr. Fagon finally showed up around 7:30am and directed me to get on my back. She was the only one who noticed that I was pushing Melody into my pelvis over and over again. “Errr, this whole time? I am so tired…”
But Dr. Fagon was very direct and an amazing coach. She was tough on me and I needed that. She was confident I could do this. She said, “Let’s get this baby out…” as she placed her gloves on and sat down in front of me. “Listen to my directions. When I tell you to push, you push…and breath when I tell you to breath…” So finally, by going on my back and listening to Dr Fagon’s directions about where to focus pushing and when to push, which, surprisingly, helped a lot! I felt much better about the progression this time around. I did need an small episiotomy because the perineum massage wasn’t working fast enough for my pain tolerance. So in my case, the directed pushing was very helpful for me, as opposed to the “natural pushing” which just wasn’t working for me. Thank you Dr. Fagon!!
With the help of an amazing team, I was able to successfully birth Melody and she was a happy, healthy, 6.6 lbs, 18 in. baby girl! We had immediate skin-to-skin contact, nursing and David didn’t cut the cord until the blood stopped pulsing after a few minutes. Yahoo! it was a successful natural birth! We hit a few bumps along the way, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but I did it, I survived! We survived. What a joy!
*Special Thanks to our Labor Team: My husband, David, my mother, Kathy, my Doula, Miracle and the Waiting Room Team: my friend, Stephanie and my father, Tom. The Hartford Hospital Nurses: Gina, Nicole, Kayla, Sarah & Shantae and Doctors: Dr. Hartlett & Dr Fagan
My husband, kissing both of us soon after she was delivered.