For those of you that don't know April is Cesarean Awareness Month (CAM) so in honor of that and in honor of recently celebrating my first child's sixth birthday I decided to go back and share in more depth about his birth. I know I briefly shared a little about his story when I first started this blog. After all if he hadn't have been born via cesarean my own journey or path would never have led me to a VBAC.
I really can't believe that was 6 years ago. I have to admit I have a horrible memory. Always have. But I don't want to forget the details of his birth, even though some are painful. Wow, as I just typed that I started to get teary eyed. I thought I was past that but I guess it never does really leave you even though you have healed and even though so much time has passed and a lot of the detailed memories have faded. I guess it will always effect me and I'm ok with that and maybe it is good that I will never forget the hard emotions of that chapter in my life.
I have retold the short version of his birth many times and actually retell it every month at our ICAN meetings but this is the first time in a really long time that I am going to go back and try to remember as many details as I can. I hope my sharing will help others. So here goes....
After taking 3 at home pregnancy tests I finally believed I was pregnant. My husband and I were full of excitement, happiness, and nervousness as this was our first baby. I decided I wanted to deliver in the hospital with midwives but after a few visits I changed my mind and we decided we wanted to have a homebirth instead. The "due date" came and went with only some days of crampy feelings and small contractions. Another 10 days went and I really thought the day had come. I had even more contractions, pains, pressure, feeling tight, stretching, and heavy. I even had my husband stay at home because the feelings were so much stronger but during that day those feelings slowly left and I was discouraged and emotional.
More days went by and I asked my midwife about natural ways to start labor so I tried blue and black cohosh and other herbs, evening primrose oil pills, castor oil, pumping and homeopathic remedies. Finally on March 16 at 12:00 am I got up and was feeling more uncomfortable at 1:00 felt stronger contractions and at about 2:00 they were increasing more to about 5 min. apart. I made calls to my family and by 3:00 I called my midwife with contractions staying stronger at 5 min. apart and lasting 1 minute. The assistant came to my house around 5:00 and checked my vitals and hung out with us. Around 7:00 my midwife showed up and I was still having contractions but they had spread out a bit. As I changed positions they would get stronger again for a while but then spread out more until I changed positions again. That continued for some time and since things were going at such a slow pace my midwives left for awhile and I went for a walk. As the day went on slowly it seemed like little progress was being made. My midwife called her midwife friend and suggested I get a cervidil to help things along but first we were to get a nonstress test done at the hospital. That evening the test showed everything was fine with the heartrates and the contractions so they gave the midwife the cervidil to put in me to help dilate the cervix. We decided that after such a long, exhausting day it would be best to try to sleep and do the cervidil insert in the morning instead of doing it right then.
I got a couple hours of sleep that night before strong contractions hit again. These were even stronger and more intense than the night before. I waited longer to call my midwife this time and by the time I did they were coming every 3 minutes. They were very intense and I felt it everywhere-into my back and legs. When my midwife got there at 4 am she immediately went to get the tub ready. Everyone was certain the baby was coming in the next few hours that is how intense my labor was. She checked me and I was at 5 cm. At 5 am, I got in the tub, which felt great. I was definitely in active labor--I tried different positions in and was in the tub for about 6 hours. My contractions were coming right on top of each other. We finally decided to get out and after laboring for about 11 hours I was only at a 6 now. After trying to rest for a couple hours laying down in bed, I continued to try different things, sitting on the toilet, walking, sitting on a low birth stool with each contraction. More hours went by. Progress was so slow, painful, and exhausting. My midwife wanted me to try some deep squatting with my bottom just barely off the ground. With each contraction I would lower myself while someone else held me under my arms to help support me and then I would stand up again before the next one hit and then I would squat way down again. That squatting was so painful and tiring to my legs. I did that for an hour-she was wanting me to do for at least 2 hours but there was no way I could make it physically. I finally got to lie down for awhile. She checked me again and even tried having me push a little to bring the baby down lower to put pressure on the cervix but it was too hard. I was only at a 7 now and the decision was made to go to the hospital. That was 7:00 at night. After 16 hours of active labor not to mention the whole day before of laboring and still progressing so slowly and with the exhaustion my body was dealing with we decided we needed to do something. I was upset and it was a hard knowing I was going to transport to the hospital.
At the hospital I got on pitocin and got an epidural in hopes that maybe I could rest awhile so I could physically have more energy and strength to birth my baby. I could still feel the tightening of my contractions but the relief was nice after the long, harsh labor. A couple of times the heartrate monitor showed a drop but the nurses felt it was the babies head being squished as he was moving lower so they weren't too concerned. After many hours a nurse checked me again and said I was at a 9 and would be pushing soon. I was excited and our hopes were finally up. Then the hospital midwife came in and checked me too and said no I was only at an 8 maybe 8 1/2. More discouragement. She decided to up the pitocin level and mentioned if that didn't work by morning I would probably go in for a c-section. I couldn't believe it and I prayed the pitocin would work.
Soon after increasing the pitocin the babies heartrate dropped again fairly low, which worried the nurse. She said the baby must not like the pitocin and so she went back down to the lower dose. A bit later it happened again and this time she took us off pitocin completely. Remembering what the midwife had mention earlier I knew then I only had a couple hours to finish dilating on my own before the possible c-section. This worried me and I asked if there was any other options or positions that might help. Then the heartrate dropped again and she quickly had me change sides and then more nurses came in with the midwife and they had me get on my hands and knees which was almost impossible after the epidural. I could tell they were not liking what they saw. The decision was made that I needed a c-section.
I just could not believe it. I broke down in uncontrollable tears. I was in shock. That was not something I ever expected to happen. We got everyone in the room and my sister called my parents. We prayed. Everyone was so emotional. I was a mess. The doctor even came in and prayed with me.
My husband and I got ready to be taken into the operating room. I really don't remember much of this part. I was still a crying mess. I was given a spinal and then my husband was brought in and sat beside me. Once they got started it was only about 5 minutes before my son was delivered. They held him up over the sheet where I got to see him for the first time and then as they cleaned him up he cried, and screamed. He calmed down as they brought him over. My husband held him and brought him cheek to cheek with me. I was shaking as I reached over to touch his face. I wished I was able to hold him. After I got stitched up and released from the recovery room I finally got reunited with my baby. He was born on March 18 at 5:23 am. A big 9 lb. 6 oz, 22 inches long baby boy.
I was in love with him the minute I saw him but I was not in love with his birth and it affected me in many ways. Even though it was extremely difficult I know that without that experience I wouldn't have the same views I have now. I don't think I would have valued the birth process as much as I do now. I wouldn't be here today helping other women the way I am now and for that I will be ever grateful.