Birth Story: Part 2

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saturday morning everyone (but me) felt refreshed and ready to go again. After a second night of no sleep, my strength was really waning. I was really struggling to gear up and “rally.” And naturally because of my exhaustion, I was reluctant to try and increase my contractions. But after a lot of encouragement, especially by Matthew, I felt enough gumption to go another day.

Once again Matthew and I took a walk around the block to try and get things going. I was a beautiful day. In the middle of a contraction a lady in a car pulled over and started talking to Matthew. I was holding on to him and breathing through my contraction, thinking just please keep driving lady. Eventually she wished us luck and drove on. After walking for a bit, we decided it would probably be a good time to try the castor oil. This was recommended by my midwives as a last resort sort of thing and we were pretty much at the point of last resort. So my midwives made me a fruit smoothie with castor oil. It actually wasn’t bad at all and I think the smoothie gave me some strength too.

Perhaps it was timing or perhaps it really was the castor oil, but after drinking my smoothie my contractions started to increase again and were about every 5 minutes. Again I labored a lot in the bedroom on the birth stool and on the rocking chair. The midwives checked me and I was still about 8-9cm, so close. The bag of waters was bulging, but again the baby’s head was still fairly high. I remember thinking and telling Matthew if I can just make it to the pushing stage I know I can do this. We just had to get the baby’s head down further into the birth canal. I was trying so hard to will the baby’s head down.

We walked the stairs in our building and found a fire escape ladder on the 4th floor. I used the ladder to hang and squat from in attempt to bring the baby into a better position. For a couple of hours, we walked the loop of up the stairs to the ladder and down the stairs and back again.

Around 1 that afternoon I decided to get into the tub again. My contractions were always really strong in the tub, but at this point I was reluctant to get in. I was really tired and honestly didn’t want to deal with very painful contractions. Plus, the muscles in my legs really hurt. With every contraction my hip flexor muscles would be in excruciating pain. I swear my muscles hurt more than the contractions. The midwives gave me some arnica as a natural pain killer, but unfortunately it had zero effect. They also tried rubbing different oils on my hips and legs and while the massage felt good in between contractions, it really didn’t help to alleviate any pain.

Anyways, I finally got into the tub and with the first contraction in the tub my water broke. I felt a little pop and was so excited thinking now things will really get going. But when I looked down and saw meconium my heart dropped a little. Although, the baby had been doing fabulously until that point, and her heartbeat continued to remain really strong, the meconium made us all a little nervous. Apparently, meconium in the bag of waters is not unusual in “overdue” babies. (At this point in the pregnancy I think I was 41 weeks and a few days.) In retrospect, I think it was actually the castor oil that I took with my smoothie that caused the baby to, umm, release her meconium.

I ended up getting out of the tub and for the next few hours, I labored on the rocking chair. Every few contractions gushes of water would come out and the midwives would inspect the meconium.  As the hours went by, the meconium increased in thickness, meaning that perhaps the baby was becoming increasingly distressed. Yet, her heartbeat remained strong, so the midwives weren’t too concerned. (Despite long and difficult labors, I’m so grateful our babies handle labor really well.) Although the midwives weren’t terribly worried, I was becoming increasingly uneasy about the whole situation.

By late Saturday afternoon I was starting to lose it. I didn’t know how much more I could endure and since the midwives couldn’t offer me any real time frame, I didn’t know if I could labor indefinitely. At that point I really needed my midwives to lie to me and tell me it was almost over. They didn’t, they told me the weren't sure how much longer I had, possibly 6-7 more hours. Hours. In that moment I swore if I ever became a midwife or doula I would know when a laboring woman did not need to hear the truth. I was feeling done and that pushed me over the edge.

We labored at home for a few more hours, but in my head I had already made up my mind to go into the hospital. I was exhausted and hurting and worried about the baby. Part of me felt weak and like a failure, but part of me knew that I had really tried everything and had given it my best shot. I remember apologizing to Matthew and telling him that I hoped he wasn’t disappointed in me. He hugged me and said of course not, what I had done had been heroic. He said a lot of supportive things, which I will always treasure. His support though everything really made all the difference to me.

Saturday night we all agreed to go to the hospital. Once the decision was made, I didn’t want to spend one more minute at home. I wanted an epidural-stat. And I don’t apologize for wanting one. There’s only so far I could go and I knew I was at my limit. We haphazardly packed a bag and drove to the hospital which fortunately is only about 15 minutes away. It was about 8 or 9pm, so luckily there was no traffic. The midwives had called ahead to speak to the doctor and explain my situation, they had worked with this particular doctor before and said it was great he was on call. (Sidenote: everyone at the hospital was very supportive of our attempt at a homebirth. There was no lecturing or condescension, for which I was grateful.)

The car ride was not as difficult as I expected. I felt like I was willing my contractions to space out and trying to suck the baby back in-haha. I was having a couple of urges to push, but tried really hard not to. When we arrived at the hospital my contractions were still coming about 5 minutes apart and strong. They wheeled me into a room and I asked for an epidural right away. They were so nice and really speedy with getting the anesthesiologist up to my room. The anesthesiologist arrived and gave me a spinal block so I would feel relief immediately and then an epidural. I felt better right away, I was so happy. I couldn’t feel the pain in my legs, which was probably the best part. Obviously, I would have preferred to avoid an epidural, but thank God for pain killers and technology when birth doesn’t go exactly as expected.

After receiving the epidural, we were able to rest. Unfortunately, the epidural wasn’t that great. It felt as if all the medication was going to my left leg, which I could not feel at all (I didn’t like that). And I was having breakthrough pain on my right side. After about an hour, they put me on Pitocin in the hopes that it would help bring the baby down. But after about 8 hours on Pitocin, there was still no change. And my dilation had reversed a little. Apparently, the bag of waters was keeping my cervix open at about 8-9cm, but once my water broke, my dilation went back to about 7-8cm. That stunk.

Later we learned Abbie was acynclitic, meaning positioned off to the side a little, which is why she wasn’t descending. She was working hard to turn, but unfortunately was struggling to get into a good position. They said my cervix was ready to give way, so if her head had just been in a good position everything would have been golden. Maybe in time she may have turned, but it’s hard to know how much time that would have required. And with meconium factor, we felt like it was time to end this marathon labor.

By early Sunday morning, Matthew and I had a heart to heart and pretty much decided we were done and we would go ahead and opt for a c-section. As heartbroken as I was to have another c-section birth, we also just wanted to get on with our lives and meet our baby (and see Hannah).

As soon as we made that decision, they started prepping me. And as sucky as it was to have a c-section we were still excited. We were going to meet our baby soon. The one good thing about having a second c-section is that at least we knew what to expect. We knew the drill. They wheeled me into the operating room on a gurney. I really hate that part. It’s really scary to be brought into the OR lying on your back. Everyone buzzes around you and no one really talks to you. You’re definitely treated as just a body, everyone seems to forget you’re a person. I told the doctors to please do a good job. I think at least that helps them remember that I am a person, that this might be no big deal to them, but it’s a big deal to me. It’s my body they’re going to cut open and my baby that they’re going to deliver.

The surgery this time around took a lot longer than Hannah’s. It wasn’t as easy I think because they were trying to teach a few doctors. I wanted to be like “can you just hurry up?” After what seemed like forever, we finally heard a tiny cry. Abigail Elizabeth was born at 10:10am on a Sunday morning. They announced it was a girl and then I started to cry. I looked at Matthew and said “we have another girl! She and Hannah are going to be best friends.” I think he said, “we don’t have to buy any clothes.” Haha, my ever-practical husband.

(Sidenote: I could not believe the baby was a girl. In my head I was so convinced the baby was a boy. I had even been praying to the patron saint of the boy’s name we had picked out, that’s how certain I was, for cryin’ out loud. When they announced it was a girl, I thought really? Are you sure there’s not a boy in there too? Haha.)

(Poor Abbie looked like she had been in a boxing match.)

After Abbie was born, it took them a long time to close me up. They said Abbie had really stretched out my uterus and when they were pulling her out she had ripped a little of my uterus with her hand, so they had to repair that. I was definitely annoyed with how long the repair took because they didn’t bring Abbie over to see me and then they wheeled her up to the NICU even though her Apgar scores were 9 and 9. And of course Matthew went with Abbie, so I was all alone. Ugh, that’s so not how birth should be.

After what seemed like forever, they finally finished closing me up and wheeled me back into my room for recovery. My midwife was there waiting for me, so we chatted, but I was super drowsy from the anesthesia. About an hour later, Matthew and Abbie came in. Finally. My midwife left and we were able to spend some time as a family.

(I hate this picture of me, but oh well.)

Those are the facts of the labor and delivery. My thoughts and feelings on what happened are an entirely different post. Of course, I’m disappointed that I ended up needing a second c-section. Naturally, when we planned a homebirth, we were hoping for an entirely different ending. And I feel like for most of the labor, we got what we wanted. The midwives were skilled in helping my labor progress and helping it slow down when necessary. I would definitely choose to try for a homebirth again. Hopefully I’ll get the chance.

Of course, if you're going to have any surgery, a c-section is the best one to have because you get a baby out of it. And we are so thrilled to have our little Abigail, regardless of how she was born. Her life and birth are truly a miracle. She's such a wonderful addition to our family and we're in love.


  1. ohhhh so well written and such a beautiful story!

    I am absolutely in awe of how much you worked and worked at having the birth you desired.

    You are amazing-- and I learned so much by reading this--- (baby taking a bit of your uterus with her in her hand?- never knew that!)

    I'm going to email you b/c I have more to comment *duh*!

    Love you, and kisses to beautiful Abbie.

  2. Thanks, Kerry!

    I really appreciate your support because part of me can't help but feel like a little bit of a failure that we didn't have the birth we wanted. So thank you.

    Yes, email me! I feel like I haven't talked to you in forever (haha, it's probably been like a few days.)

  3. You are not not not a failure. Birth is a huge unknown, and there are so many factors at play *esp. baby position.

    You had waaay more fortitude than I would have had. I love this story and learned so much from your experience.

    Love you!

    I did email you just now w more birth thoughts...of course! :)

  4. AH! This is so beautiful!! Congratulations! She is simply gorgeous.

  5. Thanks, Kerry. Hey, you pushed for 4 hours! You have plenty of fortitude:)

    And thanks, Mary Christine! I just checked out your blog, I really like it! And your daughter is gorgeous too, btw.:)


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