“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”: Our Birth Story
At one of my prenatal appointments, the midwife challenged us to write our “birth plan,” except she crossed out the word “plan” at the top of the worksheet. She said that, “Birth never goes according to plan and is rarely what you expect.” At the time, I thought that sounded pretty pessimistic. But now I understand.
On Thursday, January 28th , at 2:00pm, I went to my 41 week appointment at The Birth Center. After scaring me just a little about the possibility of induction (and writing me a prescription for sex), the midwife I met with swept my membranes. Lyndon then passed his non-stress test with flying colors, and I went home, determined to attempt most of The Birth Center’s natural induction methods the next day. I never got a chance.
At 11:17pm, my water broke, after 3 strong contractions. I immediately jumped up and ran to the bathroom. On the way, I said, in a voice loud enough to wake Adrian, “Sweetie, I’m leaking.” He replied in a sleepy stupor, “I’m sorry.” We still laugh about that. Once he woke up enough to comprehend what was happening , he started packing all the last minute items into our Birth Center bag. I started shaking with the excitement of what had just happened and the fear of what was to come.
A few minutes later, I called The Birth Center. I chatted excitedly with the midwife for 12 minutes, during which time I had 3 contractions. She told me to go to sleep, if I could. I told her good luck. I hadn’t slept since the night before.
We spent the night alternating between timing contractions, trying to go to sleep, watching Harry Potter, listening to music, and doing anything else we could think of to distract ourselves. Contractions were coming about every 5 minutes, but they weren’t very intense yet, just painful enough to make it impossible for me to sleep. I put on a heating pad and managed to catch some 7 minute naps in between a few contractions. Adrian played his DS and did some laundry. We waited for active labor to begin.
At about 8:00am on Friday morning, I called The Birth Center again, telling the midwife that my contractions were about 3-5 minutes apart and I couldn’t walk through them anymore. She said to eat a little protein for breakfast and call her back when we were ready to leave the house. We borrowed an egg from our neighbors, as Adrian had eaten the last of them a few hours prior, and we called our parents to arrange a meeting time.
Around 10:00am, I had a few contractions unlike anything I had felt before. I had to kneel during them and rest my head against the couch. I told Adrian in no uncertain terms that it was time to leave.
Our Stubborn Son
In the car, on the way to The Birth Center, something changed. Instead of feeling pain in my abdomen, I began to feel it in my back. I thought it was a result of the odd position I was in and did my best to breathe through it, although it was significantly more painful than the other contractions I had experienced. When we arrived at The Birth Center, the midwife hooked me up to a monitor and discovered, to my chagrin, that the contractions had all but stopped. She felt my abdomen and announced that our baby was posterior, which explained what I came to know as back labor. I spent the next 6 hours walking the stairs, lying on a birth ball, and going out to lunch with the grandparents-to-be. My dad insisted on telling the manager, waitresses, and anyone else he spoke with that I was in labor, which resulted in a very jumpy wait staff. But, alas, nothing seemed to help our little guy flip around.
Finally, we tried a side-lying position, which was agony on my back, but worked! Around 7:00pm, the contractions began coming every 2 minutes, lasting for a minute to a minute and a half. They were very intense, requiring all my concentration and every relaxation trick I had ever learned. I also continued to have pain in my back. I was exhausted, falling asleep in the 30 seconds or less in between contractions. I was also dehydrated and felt like I was about to vomit more than once. At 11:00pm, the midwife informed me that I had hit the 24 hour mark and needed to be in active labor. She said I sounded like I was, but she wanted to make sure, so she did an exam. I was 3 centimeters dilated.
At that moment, I felt every ounce of determination in me melt away. I looked up at Adrian with tears in my eyes and simply said, “I’m done.” We prepared to leave for the hospital, and my “birth plan” went out the window.
The car ride to the hospital and the few minutes that followed were the worst part of the whole experience. Once we had decided that I would receive an IV and an epidural, I wanted them NOW. In retrospect, the staff really did get things moving very quickly, but my sense of time was relative only to the pain and nausea I was experiencing. Within 20 minutes of our arrival, I had received an epidural and been tucked into bed. I fell asleep the moment the pain subsided enough to let me. Adrian tried to get comfortable enough to nap as well, which proved a difficult undertaking. He refused to use the chaise across the room, preferring to sleep in an uncomfortable chair by my bedside in order to be close to me.
Sleeping Through Labor
At 4 am, a miracle happened. The nurse came in to check on me and decided to do a cervical exam just to see how things were going. She was very laid back about it, which I took to mean that she didn’t expect anything big. She started the exam, and I watched her eyes go wide as she said, “I can see baby hair”. The next 3 words were the best news I had heard in the last 24 hours: “You’re fully dilated.” She then told us, a slight note of panic in her voice, “Don’t push or anything. I’m going to go call the doctor.” At 4:10, the doctor arrived, and by 4:15, he was in his scrubs. I pushed for maybe 20 nearly painless minutes, and at 4:37, Lyndon was born.
Adrian and I didn’t mean to watch the birth; it just sort of happened. In my case, the nurse was too busy to move the mirror. Adrian just couldn’t rip his eyes away. The doctor challenged him to cut the cord, not taking “No” for an answer. They put Lyndon on my chest, and he was gray and covered in goop and just about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I started crying, out of exhaustion, happiness, and the relief of finally holding him in my arms. Adrian followed our little guy across the room so he could be weighed and examined. When the nurse called out, “Eight pounds, two ounces,” everyone gasped. They couldn’t believe such a big baby could come out so “easily”. Adrian and I just smiled. We knew that there had been nothing “easy” about it.
Our “birth plan” did not involve a hospital, an epidural, an IV, or an obstetrician. It also didn’t involve 29 hours and 20 minutes of contractions, 6 hours of back labor, or a posterior little boy. Our birth, however, had all of those things and more. Clearly, God had His own ideas about our son’s birth. It wasn’t at all what we had planned. But it was exactly what we wanted.