With my due date for my second baby right around the corner, I’ve been reading so many birth stories for entertainment and encouragement! I made the decision at 25 weeks pregnant to fire my OBs who don’t support the natural birthing process, and have a water birth with a midwife instead! I’ve never written out my birth experience, and since I am going such a different route with an unmedicated birth outside of a hospital, I thought I’d get my first birth story written down, and I think it will be cool to look back at to compare, and also helpful for others who want to see the difference between a hospital and birth center birth, as well as an epidural vs. none.
On Monday, August 10th, on my due date with Roen, I went in for a doctors appointment to see if I was close to labor. I was only 1 cm and was so afraid to go past a week since the doctors told me I would have to be induced if so. Therefore, I asked for the doctor to strip my membranes to try to kick start labor. If I had known that this can and would cause prodromal labor for the next 3 days, I would have NEVER asked for it. Immediately I started cramping. They felt like period cramps but were not fun. But I was hopeful that it meant the strip was working! The next day, while Matt and I were eating lunch at our favorite sushi place, I had my first couple contractions. They were unpleasant but not painful, and I had no doubt in my mind that it was the beginning of labor. We went about our day and by 6pm my contractions were getting painful and closer together. I told myself if I could just wait till midnight then I would save us $500. My insurance requires me to pay $500 per day in the hospital, so I was hoping my stay would be 2 days max. At 11:30pm on Tuesday night my contractions had been less than just under 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each time for over an hour. Remembering the 5-1-1 rule, and in excruciating pain from contractions and back aches, we headed to the hospital, which was a 45 minute drive from our home. Upon checking in, they placed me in their biggest labor and delivery room since it was a slow night. I didn’t see any of the doctors in my practice that night, but had an awesome midwife who was the only one to read my birth plan throughout my stay. After hooking me up and monitoring my contractions, they could see that they were intense and close together, but I was still only at 1cm. Nothing was happening, the contractions weren’t doing their job. The midwife had me walk around the hospital. The pressure of gravity and the pain of my contractions was nearly unbearable, so after maybe 15 minutes, Matt and I headed back to the room. For hours I sat in pain on the birthing ball, just hoping I could get an epidural soon. By 5am, I hadn’t progressed at all. I was so disappointed. The midwifes’ shift was coming to an end and she told me if I stayed in the hospital, they would try to give me pitocin to get things moving along, and knew I didn’t want that. By now the contractions were less painful and seemed to slow down, but we’re still coming. She sent me home with an ambien to sleep through the pain and we made the trek back. The ambien allowed me to sleep for about 2 hours, despite being awake the whole night. Matt headed to work that morning, but was prepared to come home at any moment for when I needed to go to the hospital. The contractions lightened up until the afternoon on that Wednesday. When they got more intense, I hopped in the bath, which helped a lot. The contractions from the previous night were stronger than what I experienced most of Wednesday, but I was still in a lot of pain. At 6pm I had had enough. My body was tired from working so hard for so long and being in pain. Emotionally I was exhausted from the duration of my labor thus far. I was certain I was dilated enough to get an epidural and that I would have Roen in my arms that night. We arrived to a busy labor and delivery ward at 6:50pm on Wednesday, my 2nd day of labor and 3 days after my due date. They checked me and told me I could get the epidural right away because I was at a 3. I couldn’t believe all of the contractions only got me to a 3, but I happily accepted the epidural. The nurse stabbed me 4 times in one arm trying to insert my IV before letting another nurse step in. That hurt SO bad. I tried to get some sleep but it seemed if a nurse wasn’t coming in to check vitals or change the IV bag, there was some type of machine making a high pitched beeping noise. Plus I was still uncomfortable, despite the epidural. I was so exhausted though and envious of Matt, who slept so peacefully on the chair beside me. Once I got to 5cm I got stuck there for several hours. No surprise. A doctor I had never seen before came in rudely demanding me to let her break my waters immediately and administer pitocin. I asked her why and she said because my fetus and I were at risk of infection and we could both die. I was certain she was lying and getting impatient since her shift was coming to an end. I asked her if she read my birth plan. She hadn’t. I then told her that my mom labored for over 30 hours with both children and that I wasn’t concerned about being in labor too long since my water hadn’t been broken, and there was no sign of fetal distress. Angry that I wouldn’t let her intervene with unnecessary medical interventions, she left the room. My nurse seemed angry with me too. I was so mad that I had to argue with this random doctor after not having slept, but was happy to never see her again. At 7:30am on Thursday, with nothing to show but 5cm, I finally saw a doctor I knew. She was much friendlier, telling me she recommended breaking my waters and administering pitocin to get things moving. There was no medical reason for this, other than they probably needed the room I was in… But at this point I felt like Roen would never come without the help, so I gave her permission to break my waters but no pitocin. My labor started progressing and by 11:45am I was finally at a 10! I pushed for an hour with spa music playing on Matt’s phone, low lighting, and a calm room. I felt calm too. I did my best to focus and not waste any energy tightening my face or screaming. I was exhausted and sweaty, I wanted to chug a cold water so badly, but it didn’t hurt. Once Roen was born, I started shaking uncontrollably after, possibly from blood loss, but it is also a side effect of the epidural. I had to hand Roen over to Matt sooner than I would’ve liked while the nurse tried to control my shivering and shaking. (This can be a side effect of the epidural or loss of blood.) Two hours after delivery, I still couldn’t walk, or even feel my toes, so they placed the catheter back in and transferred me to a recovery room with the help of a wheelchair. The room was small and on a completely different floor, separate from the other postpartum rooms that were full. From there my recovery was intense. I had no strength and no energy. I wasn’t able to walk until Friday afternoon, and needed the assistance of 2 nurses to help me keep my balance. I felt like I was learning how to walk again. They asked me to use the bathroom and watched to make sure I was able. It was excruciating pain. I hated it. By 7pm I was determined to get home. Matt was at work all day and wouldn’t be coming back to the hospital. My mom was with me to take me home. The nurse didn’t want to let me leave, but I was insistent. It wasn’t until 11pm that they finally discharged me. Standing up hurt, so the nurse wheeled me to the car. I was so happy to get out of the hospital and slept so much better once I got home. I finally was able to connect with Roen and feel like a parent. The next 2 weeks were full of pain and discomfort and I felt sore for a good month, but it was all so incredibly worth it.
Looking back, I see so many things wrong with my hospital birth. I was bullied, uncomfortable, unable to sleep, kept from eating while in labor, bothered consistently, couldn’t switch positions due to the epidural, and only the midwife read my birth plan out of all the doctors and nurses I saw. They didn’t trust my body to do what it was made to do- give birth! They didn’t allow me to feel comfortable taking my time and rushed me and my baby. The U.S. has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and it’s no surprise when we also have the highest rate of Caesarian deliveries. Our infant mortality rate is up there too! It makes you wonder..
I know hospital deliveries have become the norm, and I know the risks are scary to think about, but studies say that 95% of low-risk women could give birth without medical intervention if they chose! Medical interventions are rarely necessary in a healthy pregnancy! I encourage you to watch the documentary, The Business of Being Born. I watched it before I had Roen and it made me confident enough to stand up to pushy doctors and nurses when they tried getting me to take pitocin.