Welcome to the 5th post in a series of birth stories that will run from August through September, Birth Story Celebration. Keep checking back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new, awesome stories of the miracle that makes us parents! Today’s story is from Sara!
Sara blogs over at You Are A Good Mama to chronicle her growth as a mother and offer a place where moms can talk about the different parenting decisions they make in a supportive environment to celebrate the differences that make us all good mamas.
Like all first time moms, I had My Perfect Birth envisioned. My water would break at some point, and I’d chill at home until it was time to go to the hospital. We’d settle into our room, where the lights would be dim and I’d be free to do all sorts of non-medication labor techniques. My favorite tunes would be rocking, and of course Salt ‘N Pepa’s “Push It” would be playing as my son made his entrance.
And of course, the actual experience was the opposite of what I imagined.
At about 38 weeks, my midwife scheduled an induction for a week past my due date. Doing it this early ensured she could schedule it for a day she was on call; if I had to be induced then we could almost guarantee she would attend my birth. She assured me that if we reached the date and both baby and I were healthy, I could refuse the induction if I wanted to go longer. Works for me!
My due date of Sept. 6 came and went. On Friday the 10th, I went in for my last OB check-up before the scheduled induction. The news? No progress since the last appointment – I was still only 1cm dilated. This was pretty disappointing. I know the end result is the same, but I had really hoped to go into spontaneous labor and let the baby decide when he wanted to come out.
All weekend, I debated about whether to go forward with the induction. I really, really wanted to go into labor naturally. However, my parents had flown to England for the birth and were leaving a week after the induction date. [Note of explanation: my husband is in the Air Force and we were stationed at RAF Lakenheath in England. It’s not like we were rich jetsetters or elegant expatriates). If I didn’t do the induction, there was a strong possibility they may not see their grandchild before they went back to the states. I didn’t want them to miss out on this. We did everything we could to get labor going that weekend, but my stubborn boy refused to budge. So, we went forward with the eviction.
The induction kicked off on Monday, Sept 13 with the placement of a Foley catheter balloon. This balloon is placed in the cervix and filled with water until its diameter is 4cm. The idea is that it mechanically opens the cervix to at least 4cm (at which point, the balloon falls out). It’s a very weird sensation – not exactly painful, but not the most comfortable thing to sleep with. I was very excited when it fell out around midnight that night. Whoo hoo! Dilated to at least 4cm finally!!
The next part of the induction started the next morning. We arrived at the hospital on Sept 14 at 0630. I was so excited – that was the day I’d finally meet our baby! I got all strapped into the hospital bed, with a monitor for Colt’s heartbeat and a monitor for my contractions. They started my IV and got me all hydrated before starting the Pitocin at 0800. I was sure this was going to be quick – a friend had gone through a similar induction a few weeks before and had met her son before 1100! Once the Pitocin started, we sat there and waited for the contractions to begin. I also learned that I was dilated to not 4cm, but 6cm!! We started to get excited, hoping our little man would be with us in just a few short hours. However…
…the rest of the morning was actually pretty uneventful. My contractions did get more intense, but they were manageable. I had really wanted to avoid having an epidural, and I was pretty pleased with how I was doing with the pain so far. And then…my water broke. At 1:00, we heard a pop (Bryce even heard it) and then a huge gush of liquid. It startled me so much I almost started crying! Then, as my nurse was cleaning me up, she kept making me laugh. Every laugh made more water spurt out, which then made me laugh more. She was a good sport about it, thank goodness (and soon stopped cracking jokes!).
My nurse advised me that my contractions would get more intense and painful, since I now did not have the amniotic sac to dull them. Boy, was she ever right. I tried to manage the pain with my breathing, but by about 2:30 I couldn’t take it anymore and begged asked for the epidural. In the middle of getting this pain-dulling drug, I seriously reconsidered my decision. In between contractions, I was getting poked in the back with needles and cords. The anesthesiologist had to do it twice because the first one only went down my left side, leaving me with lopsided, painful contractions on my right side. Because I had held out for so long (my midwife said I lasted longer than about 90% of women before requesting the drugs) and apparently have a high tolerance for pain, they had to dose me with quite a bit of meds to catch up to my pain. The result? Complete and total numbness from the waist down. It really messed with my head – I kept watching myself poke my leg and have a mini freak out when I couldn’t feel it.
Anyway, besides spazzing me out about my legs, the epidural also rendered my contractions painless. Sweet relief! It also helped me dilate from about 7cm to 9.5cm in a few short hours, since I was so relaxed. At 7pm, they dialed the pain meds back because I started pushing! Since I couldn’t feel anything, it was hard to know if my pushing was doing anything. After about an hour, I started getting some feeling back and it made pushing easier. My husband and one of the nurses had to hold my legs for me, since I couldn’t feel them let alone hold them up!
After an hour and a half, I was really frustrated with what I perceived as a lack of progress. I swear, I thought my vagina was the length of a football field. The nurses kept saying, Almost there! And I’d be like, are you freaking kidding me? He feels like he’s miles from the exit! Thankfully, one of the nurses set up a mirror so I could see the action…and I realized I was much closer to holding my baby boy than I’d realized. I could see and feel the top of his head. This definitely helped motivate me.
At 8:59 pm, Colt Bryce McCall entered the world.
Our boy was a strapping 10lb, 3oz and 22 inches long. How this man-child fit inside my 5’6″ frame, I’ll never understand. But I’m so glad he did, because he is absolutely perfect. He came out with a good amount of dark brown hair, and those heavenly, dark bluish-gray newborn eyes. I think he has my husband’s eyes and lips, and my nose and dimples. He wasn’t chubby, like you might expect from his birth weight. He was very solidly built and perfectly proportional. We’re not sure where his size comes from, because there is no history of large babies or tall people anywhere in our family trees.
One part of My Perfect Birth that did happen was breastfeeding. About 30 minutes after his birth, the nurse said, “Let’s feed this baby!” I stupidly thought, Already? Luckily, I did not share this with the nurse and instead put my baby to the breast. It was the weirdest yet most fulfilling sensation I’d ever felt. Our journey had its rocky moments after that first time, but I loved nursing him and we continued until he was 27 months.
And the rest of My Perfect Birth? There are times I wish it could have gone differently. If we have another child in the future, I will do everything in my power to avoid an induction. Luckily, we are now back living in the United States, so we won’t have the shadow of international travel influencing our decision. But, I don’t regret how things went down. For me, the end result overshadowed the minor disappointment of not getting my way on a few details. My boy will be 3 next month and I fall more in love with him everyday.