Pregnancy Stories - Labor: A Change of Plan
by Rachel from Grand Rapids, MI – Mom to Matthew, 7 months, from Matthews-Blog.livejournal.com
When I woke up early in the morning on January 1st, I noticed that my contractions were different from the usual Braxton Hicks that I had been having for months. I thought it was interesting and emailed my Aunt Joan, who told me to go for a long walk and see what might happen. So, Matt and I took a longish walk and then went about our day. I noticed the contractions throughout, but not with any real regularity.
That evening it seemed like I was having many more of them, and I timed a few around 10pm. I was confused because I didn't understand how "regular" regular contractions should be. Around this time, I began to have some spotting, known as "bloody show". So, I called the doctor, and she said just to keep timing the contractions at intervals, and to let her know if anything changed. She would be on call all night.
Around 12:30am January 2nd (or the night of January 1st, however you want to look at it), I decided to get serious about the timing of the contractions. I woke Matt up and asked him to start timing them for me, and he proceeded to get really ticked off that I would get him up to do this when he had to work the next day. He didn't seem to understand that at this point it was very likely that there would be no work the next day.
At 3am we decided to call the doctor again when we noticed the contractions were between 2 and 3 minutes apart. This was as regular as it got for me! She said we should go ahead and go to the hospital. So, we called our families to let them know what was happening, put our bags in the car, and thanked God that there was no snowstorm we had to drive in.
Since it was so late, we had to go in through the ER. They asked if I wanted to be wheeled up, but I declined, and walked with Matt and the security officer. Once in triage, they put me on an external fetal monitor and had me rest there for a while. My contractions were definitely getting harder to deal with, so they let me walk around the birthing center. I found the contractions to be much easier to deal with when walking through them, or leaning with my back to the wall. This was surprising considering all of the laborr positions we practiced! Walking and standing were the ones I thought I would use the least- surprising that they were most effective!
Around 5am, they determined that my cervix had dilated from the 3cm it was when I got there to 4.5cm. After calling my doctor, they decided to admit me and give me a room to labor in. We took our things to the room and got settled. After that, I continued walking through the contractions for a long time.
Time seems to blur together at this point. There was concern from very early on about the baby being in distress and mention of an internal fetal monitor. Let me just say that my preference was not to have one unless absolutely necessary- Matt and I wanted a completely natural birth, and I thought we could have this baby by noon if I played my cards right, and went with average labor times! Also, I do want to mention that the staff was very respectful of my birthing plan, and any deviation from it was politely discussed with both Matt and myself and we decided together what was best for the baby.
In this case, what was best for the baby was the internal fetal monitor. After hours, I was dilated to about 6 cm (which the nurses thought was great, but I thought was really slow considering the work I was doing, and the baby still seemed in distress. His heart rate was acting very strangely after each contraction. I was worried, so I agreed to the internal fetal monitor.
Getting this done was scary for me. For those who don't know, they break your water, and then insert a monitor into your baby's scalp while he's still inside of you. This way, they can better monitor his response to contractions. I kind of panicked while they did this- it was very uncomfortable, although not exactly painful for me, just downright scary. Once I got through it, I was able to calm down more.
By this time, my contractions were getting very heavy and close together and very painful. I had been in regular labor for about 18 hours at this point. I knew by the nurse's comments that it would still be a while, and also that things were not going great, and I was going to end up with either pitocin or a c-section before things were through.
Thus, I went against my birth plan and decided to get the medication. I was in a lot of pain and knew I wouldn't be able to make it much longer without. Also, if I did have to get a c-section and didn't get the epidural beforehand, they would knock me out completely, and not allow Matt into the room, which I did not want. I started with 3 doses of staydol, and in the end got an epidural. The epidural was easier for me than the internal monitor, but worse for Matt. Basically, they insert a needle into your spine in which to administer medication. I had almost immediate relief and was able to get a little bit of rest.
After laboring for more hours, I was finally dilated to 10 cms, and was able to begin pushing. I pushed for about 2-3 hours (I'm not sure exactly because time goes very fast in labor and you really aren't conscious of a second, minute, or hour in particular). The doctors and nurses were concerned about the baby's oxygen supply, and his heartbeat was still doing strange things after each contraction. Not to mention that his head was turned very funny and he didn't seem to want to come out. I pushed on my back, on my side, and also while squatting. I have to say that pushing felt great! I could have pushed the entire labor long! Unfortunately, he really did not want to come out, and with the complications, they had me resting in between and also wearing an oxygen mask.
Finally, the doctor broached the subject of a c-section. He said I could continue pushing, but the baby was turned funny, and he didn't think he could even bring him out with forceps. Everyone felt really bad that every part of our birth plan was being violated, but I felt mostly that everyone was concerned for my baby's wellbeing, and that we really had to do what was best for him. Matt and I talked with the doctor about our options for a long time, and finally we felt confident enough to go ahead with the c-section.
They wheeled me into the room (I was panicked about the anesthesia - I wasn't being put under all the way, but this has always been something that is scary to me), and Matt got scrubbed up. They strapped my arms down to these boards while they began (a good thing as I was shaking uncontrollably). I felt no pain, but just a lot of poking and prodding. Finally, baby Matthew was born, and I could hear him cry! Matt tells me that he got to hold him, and I have a picture of this, but no memory of it. I was pretty out of it.
After the c-section they did a blood culture on baby Matthew. We had him with us for almost an entire day, and some of our visitors even got to see him. We had no clue anything could be wrong until later on Wednesday night they came to get him and check him out in the nursery. After about an hour, I began to wonder where my baby was. Finally, the nurse came back without him. The results of the blood culture came back positive for infection and they took him to the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit). I was devastated, and had to leave the hospital without my baby so that they could continue his treatment. We went to the NICU for entire days at a time so that I could breastfeed him. I will say they don't have a good setup for breastfeeding at the St Mary's NICU- there's basically a screen you sit behind in the ward while you feed. Not to mention how depressing of a place it is in general. We were both exhausted and upset about how this whole thing was going- especially since Baby Matthew did not seem like a sick baby at all!
The good news is that we have him home now and he is fine and healthy and an amazing little boy. He is breastfeeding like a champ and is now 9lbs and 2oz. I had a lactation consultant come to my house the day we got home since we had kind of a rocky start with breastfeeding (due to them comping him with bottles in the NICU), and she has been terrific!
Our birth experience was definitely not as planned, and Matt and I have been really disappointed. But on the other hand, we have our baby and he is safe and doing well and we are thankful for that.
Visit Matthews-Blog.livejournal.com to read all about Matthew and his mom!
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