Late last month, our baby girl finally arrived! If you’ve been following my pregnancy story you know that she was a full week late… so I was anxious to get the ball rolling. I was also feeling extra huge. lol. If you’ve been following my blog, you also know that I was hoping for a natural birth. Here’s how it all turned out…
My water broke on a Monday afternoon and I was thrilled. I called my husband right away to say, “It’s happening!” The original plan was to labor at home before going into the hospital, even with my water broken. I wanted to see if contractions would establish on their own. Turns out that was not going to be so easy (as you’ll read later…)
I’ll spare the details but after several hours at home, I was still having only mild, inconsistent contractions – not really even painful. I did however have some “alarming” signs that made me think we should head to the hospital. After talking with my doula we agreed to head in to Huntsville Hospital.
We checked in, distributed birth plans, etc. and luckily had an amazing labor and delivery nurse with a “natural” mindset. I was feeling pretty good at this point. The alarming signals I had been afraid of turned out to be nothing to worry about… and contractions were finally picking up in intensity and frequency.
I spent the time walking the halls, breathing through the pain and leaning on my husband for support. Brittany, my doula, offered encouragement and relaxation techniques. Hours and hours and hours passed. lol. Every so often I was checked for dilation, which as it turned out, was happening at a snail’s pace. More hours passed… and by Tuesday midday I was exhausted. I was also only dilated to 5 cm.
We’d switched shifts by now, to another wonderful nurse who was supportive of my “original plan” – except now we were getting to 24 hours from the initial water breaking. The risk of infection was going up. I was starting to feel a little desperate. I opted for a mild drug via IV to help me get some rest. I thought, if I can sleep a little, maybe I can keep going.
Fast forward several more hours. I was up and laboring again. My contractions just did not want to establish a consistent pattern. Dilation was stalled. I was starting to fear a C-section, since my waters had broken so long ago and things were moving so slowly. I was also, to be totally honest, doubting I’d have the energy to push her out! After talking with my OB (who happened to be on-call that day) I decided to labor with Pitocin – gradually increasing the dosage to see how I’d handle it.
They are NOT kidding when they say Pitocin contractions are harder to get through than natural contractions. I only made it a few hours (with dilation not progressing despite increased Pitocin) before opting for the epidural. I just knew, in my heart, if I didn’t get something to cut the pain, I wouldn’t be able to manage the rest of the labor. It was almost Wednesday.
Once I got the epi, they cranked the Pitocin up slowly – eventually getting to almost the max allowed (not joking) before my contractions established enough of a pattern to finish dilation. It was only a few hours from the time I got the epidural (which I was terrified of but turned out to be blissful) to the time I was ready to push. Pushing was fast and honestly, the easiest part after such a long slow labor. She came out with no trouble and minimal discomfort for me at 9 lbs. 0 oz. even. It was the happiest moment of my life.
Looking back, I feel very happy with the choices I made. I had a wonderful labor and delivery experience – in large part thanks to the nurses at Huntsville Hospital who let me set my own pace until it became apparent that a change in plans might really be needed. I also had a great OB and my doula Brittany Berghammer made me feel secure and supported through the entire rollercoaster.
I do also think that I probably avoided a C-section by trying so hard to stay natural until I was at least past the half-way point – until I was in active labor. In my research on labor and delivery I often read or heard people describe how epidurals and Pitocin can stall a labor or even stop it. I really think, if I had opted for drugs early on, due to my body’s slow pace of establishing labor, I probably would have ended up with surgery.
In the end, I didn’t… and was up and feeling pretty good within 24 hours. That was a blessing, since my daughter ended up in the NICU for several days with a bad case of reflux. Once discharged we were back-and-forth to the hospital every few hours to feed her and help with her cares until she was finally keeping food down and ready to come home.
Moms, how did your “birth plans” change once your labor began? Did you not have a plan at all? If so, how do you feel about your birth experience? Share your comments below! I’d love to hear them!
Also, a quick note. I want to thank all of our WHNT News 19 friends and fans, especially those who have followed my pregnancy and reporting on Birth Options in the Tennessee Valley, for the support and well wishes these last few m
onths. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this blog as well, which I plan to continue updating as my transition to mommyhood continues!