Delilah Rose's Birth story (xp) life-threatening cond. mentioned)
This took me 7 hours to write. DH and I cried, and you may too, but know all turned out well in the end.....
Delilah Rose’s Birth Story
She was due Aug 26th, or 28th, or September 1st, depending on who you asked. Delilah did not come on any of those dates. An induction that would never come was scheduled for Monday September 8th 2008.
Saturday morning, September 6th, I went for acupuncture. By early afternoon contractions were 8 to 10 minutes apart. Our support person arrived but the contractions were not progressing. The acupuncturist came late that afternoon and while she was about to place the first needle, I felt dizzy and asked for my blood pressure to be checked. Given my previous blood pressure checks on Thurs and Fri, which were high at 130/90, it was disappointing, not surprising, and scary to find that it was 140/104. A call to my doula who spoke with my doctor sent us straight to the hospital. I had pregnancy induced hypertension. I had lost my homebirth a month before, and now there would be no laboring at home at all.
But before we left the acupuncturist gave us a beautiful send off gift of a song, she sang about the health and safety of mother and baby, a beautiful blessing to take with us. We would need every note, as it turned out.
We arrived at Sutter at 8pm on Saturday and I was checked in to triage. At this point my blood pressure was back down to a high but healthy level and an internal exam revealed that I was 2cm dilated and 50% effaced. The contractions had gotten closer together and were coming every 5 to 8 minutes apart. I was then shown into the room I would labor in for the next 29 ½ hours. We set about putting out my small kwan yin statue to focus on, three small posters: one of elephants because they are strong, beautiful and when birthing labor in community, one of geese because they never let each other falter and trade off support and leader positions, and one with phrases I would read over and over like a mantra:
“There is Only Now”
“Our little girl is on her way.”
The doula arrived and told me that if she, as a midwife, had a patient only that far progressed, she would send them home. This really hurt my feelings. Not because of the lack of progress, but because I was both relieved to finally be in labor and irritated because it was not my choice to be there this early in labor in the first place.
We waited. I couldn’t sleep, regardless of the instruction of my doula to do so. This was no surprise, since I had had insomnia and hadn’t slept in months. She kept telling me to sleep. It was getting very frustrating and I felt like I had paid her all this money to take her advice and couldn’t. I was sure I was letting her down. I couldn’t sleep.
By around noon Sunday, I was fully effaced and only 3cm. I consented to have my waters broken and they gushed out in warm pulses. There was meconium, a bad sign that Delilah had already had her first bowel movement in utero and may have ingested it. They added an internal fetal monitor and thank goodness her heartbeat remained strong. I was told, “Your baby will be born today.” It was so sunny out, and I wanted to believe them. Time passed.
Suddenly, Delilah was at +2 and I was only 4 cm. The urge to push was unbearable, and Delilah stayed at +2 and 4cm for hours. My support person, who was a good friend of mine, and I became as one. She stared into my eyes that were filled with fear and pain and helped me keep my tones low, to smooth the strain from my face, to breathe and blow when all I wanted in the world to do was push to relieve the excruciating pressure. I am forever in her debt and feel the closeness that resulted between us as friends is now immeasurable. She saw me through it all. My doula, husband, and support person took turns repeating “breathe in, breathe out” for the entire time, taking breaks to eat, sleep, use the bathroom. I did none of these things except use the bathroom, which I dreaded because contractions outside the tub were much harder not to push through. After three hours in the tub with no progress, I could no longer get out to pee. They said I could pee in the tub. I cried and did not want to, but lost bladder control. The conversation came up for pitocin and an epidural.
Previously, my doula and I had revisited my birth plan for no intervention and reconsidered, given the hypertension and the multiple illnesses that had plagued me from the beginning of the pregnancy. From the hyperemesis and the PUPPP to the insomnia, I hadn’t slept for more than 3 hours a night since April and labor was no exception. I was tiring quickly. The conversation about c-section was brought up and held off without my knowing it, because the doctor had faith in me. My doctor is the one that every midwife in town trusts first for the least intervention, and the number of times interventions came up and were held off is an incredible testament to her faith in the birthing power of women. Any other doctor and any other hospital would have sectioned me on multiple occasions during this process. She managed to wait out every complication and I got through them.
The doula told me pitocin, at this point, since I was already in labor, counted as augmentation, not induction. I said okay. The pain increased and I was 5, then 6 centimeters. I had to rest. The doula kept telling me to sleep and I still couldn’t. I felt like I was failing her and failing my daughter to be born and that I would go out of my mind soon. Choosing that epidural, which finally let me rest, probably helped to save both my and my baby’s lives, as it would turn out.
The next contraction came and I blessedly could not feel it. I told the anesthesiologist it made him very attractive. We laughed. I fell asleep. They turned up the pitocin to get me through contractions which intensified dilation as soon as I slept. I would find out later my blood pressure had sky rocketed and baby wasn’t handling the contractions well. Her heart beat had decelerated. The placenta would turn out to have been very old, highly calcified, and pressing on her. Again, the conversation about c-section was brought up and held off without my knowing it, because the doctor had faith in me. They had to turn the pit down and start it again at a lower dose. My husband went outside and cried, came back in, played cards with our support person and tried to breathe. I woke to be told I was 9 ¾ cm dilated. I had slept through transition! There was just a small lip of cervix left. I was so happy about that--having no idea about the other complications. I joked to my husband and support person that I just wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t give everybody “at least a little lip.” They laughed. I eventually had pain in my low back on the left hand side. It intensified, surprising me. I thought the epidural was wearing off and that frightened me. I didn’t want to feel that pain again. I was finally complete around 10:30pm. Again they said, you will have your baby today.
We didn’t know I would actively push for the next 3 hours. Baby had retreated to -1, and now I had the task of pushing through what was left of the epidural. I wanted to change positions. I’d forgotten what the doctor had to remind me of in that moment: that when you have an epidural, you lose the options of changing positions and you have to labor on your back. It took so much not to let that defeat me. They added an internal contraction monitor.
I came to realize I now had: a blood pressure cuff, IV, Epidural, oxygen monitor, oxygen mask, internal fetal monitor, internal contraction monitor, and urethral catheter to contend with during pushing. Almost every contraction brought beeping and blood pressure cuff constriction, which blew all my concentration and drove me insane. I had no idea why I was being so closely monitored. I pushed with everything I had. My doula was constantly, sternly demanding “Push. Harder. Push. Harder. Push. Harder.” As if I wasn’t. It wasn’t working. Not knowing the complications and why she was being so forceful, I got really angry. They told me use the anger to push.
I couldn’t get enough breath behind the pushes. Tucking my chin as I was instructed wasn’t helping. It would turn out later that the chin tucking instruction is given to help women tuck their pelvis upwards. Being a Middle Eastern dancer, I can isolate my body and that motion never carried to my pelvis, just made it impossible for me to properly draw breath, but they didn’t know that. I finally managed to ask what they needed, and tucked my pelvis. They finally stopped telling me to tuck my chin.
But I still couldn’t catch enough breath to push right and the doula continued demanding “Push. Harder. Push. Harder. Push. Harder.” I finally screamed at her and told them I needed encouragement, not forceful language. The doula went quiet. My support person said I was doing it, pushing out my baby. Thank Goodness. The wires and tubes kept bothering me. “Push that wire out!” chanted the doula. I finally told her I didn’t give a f*** about the wire just the baby and relief and to shut up about the wire. The longer I couldn’t breathe the more I panicked. I smacked away the oxygen mask my husband held over my face. I threw the oxygen measuring finger tip thing and tried to rip off the blood pressure cuff. I threw up. I was losing it.
They said when I threw up that it was helping. OK. I forced myself to continue to gag. I knew I could not stay on my back. I demanded they help me to a side lying position (apparently the doctor didn’t think I was capable of doing this). I lay on my left side, with my support person locking her knees against the bed and her elbows at her sides to support the dead weight of my right leg bent in the air for those hours of pushing.
The position change helped, and the epidural began to wear off. I could finally feel where to push but still couldn’t breathe. No one mentioned the word c-section to me, but it came up among the professionals again and was again warded off.
A nurse came to my side like an angel and somehow I could receive her instructions on how to catch a breath and when to breathe. It worked, and Delilah began her descent toward the vaginal opening. When she got there, my doula and doctor worked together to keep me from tearing. The doula massaged the opening and my doctor, who was a tiny woman, sat cross legged on the bed under my leg to direct Delilah’s crowning. She told me rapid-fire to “Push! Blow! Push! Blow! Push! Blow!” It was intense. I would have to say if you asked me to tell a part of labor I liked, it would be Delilah’s crowning, since I could feel it and control was so precise and finally possible. My husband was still holding the oxygen mask and throw-up basin for me. He said “I can see our baby’s head!” They told me to reach down but the angle was wrong and I couldn’t.
She crowned, not breathing. I am glad I could not see that her skin was so purple it was nearly black. My husband told me later the look on the doctor’s face was as if we had lost our little girl. The doctor told me she wasn’t breathing and I had to push her out NOW. I had come too far to lose her. I screamed and pushed. Her shoulder was stuck and the doctor couldn’t turn her. I screamed and pushed. One shoulder popped into view, but Delilah never turned to come out sideways and I pushed her straight out. And out she slid. They put her on my skin for just a moment and then the team of attendants I didn’t know were there split. The pediatric group rushed Delilah over the table prepped for her (still in our room) and my husband went with the baby. My support person and doula stayed with me. My doctor repaired a second degree tear and Delilah got the meconium suctioned from her lungs and tummy, was given oxygen, and cried and breathed. My husband tried to call out what was happening to her as it occurred, but I couldn’t follow it. I caught a glimpse of pink skin. I heard her start hollering. All the agony of pregnancy and labor and delivery finally went still, and I could begin to open my mind to the idea of family with my husband and a baby. Being present to the moment was, for the first time in ten months, not a burden or a trial, but a gift. Everyone remarked on how big she was, with a 14 inch head and 14 inch chest, 9 lbs and 20.25 inches long. Delilah was born at 1:40am, Monday morning.
My doctor sat calmly sewing me and said we wouldn’t know for five minutes if little Delilah was ok. I kept asking anyway. The sewing hurt. She also removed a very large collection of cysts that had grown on my inner labia during pregnancy.
Delilah’s apgars were 8/9. My husband was the very first thing she saw when she opened her eyes to the world. She was brought to me and we just stared at each other. Then she pooped all over Daddy and peed all over Mommy. We felt fully initiated into parenthood.
She and I are both healthy. I am mending. Delilah is beautiful. She only cries if something is bothering her, sleeps and breastfeeds well, though learning to breastfeed has been a highly emotional saga and I recommend any first time mom get help. My husband is so proud and a wonderful partner to me in taking care of her these first incredibly tough few weeks. We are all learning each other.
Excruciatingly long birth story
Also posted in my birth lodge....
Finally settled down and have time to do a birth story. I apologize in advance for the length. I don’t know how to write “short”.
In the early hours of Sept 11, four days after my 9/7 due date, I started feeling contractions. They started out about 40 minutes apart and then within a few hours were 20 minutes then got down to 8 minutes apart very quickly. I got excited thinking, ‘Today is the day!!’. DH wanted to get up and shower but I told him we should try to sleep a little more to rest up. We got up an hour later, both called in to work but by then my contractions were 20 minutes apart again and then eventually gone. Just a pre-labor incident, I guess. We spent the day relaxing, took a long walk and just waited really…
I started feeling contractions again later that night and we started timing them. By 3am they were about 4 minutes apart so we got organized, finished packing and started off for the hospital. It is usually a hectic drive, but leaving at 4am, we got there in 10 minutes. Our hospital is a pretty major urban one that caters to all walks of life so we were hoping they were as amenable to NCB as they say they are. We checked in and met Sarah, our first nurse. She looked at our birth plan and said it all looked great. She said they would not make me have an IV unless anything was wrong and said she’d just do a 20 minute fetal monitoring and, again, unless anything was wrong we would not need continuous monitoring. The monitoring was fine so she checked my cervix which was 3cm. She gave me a choice of going home for a bit or staying in triage and waiting as it was a very quiet time at the hospital. Since we didn’t want to risk going home then coming back into the city during morning rush hour, we stayed in triage. We got settled, I changed and we started walking the halls – contractions were still very manageable. Things were all going well and they checked me a few hours later and I was up to 5 cm. My OBGYN stopped by on her way to the office to check in because she heard we were in labor. She said that I was moving along nicely and wished us luck, saying we were doing such a great job. She unfortunately was not on call that day but an associate of hers was who I had met before and liked.
We were doing great. We kept walking the halls, using the birth ball, visualizing/relaxing through contractions… I felt really good. Only drawback is that my cervix was moving really slowly. They checked it a few hours later and it was still only at 5cms again, then went to “almost 6cm” a few hours later and then “about the same” which was discouraging as hours had passed by this point. By then Sarah the good nurse’s shift was over and we had this dopey young nurse who said things like “your contractions are going to get much worse, you know” when I was having a conversation with DH about how the pain was (gee, thanks, I did not know that) …. Or she asked how the pain was on a scale of 1 to 10 and I said “6” and she said, “only 6???”. She got the clue she was annoying us and eventually left us alone.
By then I had been in active labor for nearly 7 hours and was “almost 7cms” but things were really slow still having moved less than 2cms in 7 hours. I was getting discouraged so I let them break my water in the hopes that it would make things progress more. This is unfortunately when things got tough…. I had meconium in my fluid, a drawback of being overdue. The sight of meconium turned my low-key and in-control birth immediately into a “hospital vibe”. People buzzing around, the OB expressing concern, etc. They said I would need monitoring and steered me back into bed which was excruciating and ruined much of the rhythm I had. When they left the room DH and I moved with the monitor cords onto the birth ball which we put right next to the monitor. The annoying nurse came in and shooed me back into bed saying that my moving was interfering with the monitoring. I know I could have refused this, but at this point I was getting tired and frankly worried too as I had been laboring for quite awhile.
Just then a guardian angel arrived… the annoying nurse’s shift was over and Nurse Sheila was assigned. She herself had two NCB births herself and taught NCB classes and was so happy she got us. She immediately had me out of bed, doing different breathing exercises and trying different positions while she held the monitor cables to my belly herself. After another cervical check my heart broke as I was again barely 7cms. I just had this vibe from the questions I was being asked that the OB and residents were starting to think c-section which I absolutely did not want. We all talked and DH and I decided on a small amount of Pitocin as I was feeling like my stubbornness was going to work me right into a c-section. They put in an IV then the Pitocin then my contractions really started.
After a bit when the doctors had left the room, Sheila took one of my legs and had DH take the other and suggested that I start pushing to try to get the baby into a good station – she too knew they were thinking of suggesting a section and was trying to get me to a better point. The three of us pushed for about 45 minutes then she suggested they get the OB. The OB was shocked I had progressed so far and said I could start pushing for her. After about another 30 minutes of pushing they could see her head (and everyone kept saying, “what a head of hair!!!!”) then about 15 minute later I pushed her out. I was exhausted but elated! She was so cute and so strange seeing her… she was this whole brand new person but she looked so familiar. DH cut the cord and my placenta passed easily. They handed her to me and it was just unreal. DH got all teary… it was all really amazing.
I really was happy with 80% of the birth. DH and I did great for the first 10 hours or so and the part when we were pushing was good because it was almost a relief as I feel like I was getting so close. My big triumph was that I had no epidural and was mobile for the most part the whole time. I really, really was dead set against the epidural so the fact I did not need it felt wonderful . Until the merconium-related drama, the hospital was great and really consented to all our wishes. The merconium-related drama was a little disappointing (as it required Pitocin, I had almost dodged the IV bullet and the extra fetal monitoring was painful) but I would not let that ruin the experience. I honestly think that if I didn’t get the Pitocin they would have tried to steer me towards a c-section – Sheila even told me after the birth that one of the residents was asking, “isn’t her c-section scheduled yet?” when I was stuck at 7cms. But I just ignore that bad 20%.
Vivienne is just a joy. She’s happy and fun and we just love having her in our life. We got home on Sunday.
If you made it reading this far, you are amazing. :)