I know this is a little overdue (approx 4 months overdue) but I am finally ready to share my birth story. My delay was in part life with 3 little ones is often chaos and next I was finding personal acceptance to share my story. Let’s begin with a quick recap of my birthing history.
When I became pregnant with my first child, Sage, in 2013 I knew immediately I wanted a natural drug free birth. This was very important to me. After research, I found the hypnobirthing concept and it connected with me. I was able to find a 6 week hypnobirthing course in my area. The theory of hypnobirthing is to put yourself in a deep state of relaxation and your body will naturally open up for a peaceful delivery. My husband, Paul, and I went to every class, completed the weekly homework assignments together, and practiced at least 3 times a week in preparation for the birth of our first son. In addition, we attended partner yoga birthing classes, watched documentaries like the Business of Being Born, bought all the recommended essential oils, the birthing ball, hypnobirthing soundtrack, let’s just say the whole works. Then my due date came and went. I was determined not be medically induced and have my whole plan fall apart before it even gets started. I did it all; lots of sex, eating spicy food, eating labor inducing salads, taking baths in clary sage, consuming whole pineapples, hiking mountains, running miles, acupuncture, acupressure, every myth out. Finally at 41 weeks, the day before my scheduled induction, I gave it my all and drank 2 tbsp of castor oil mixed with OJ. Approximately 4 hours later, around midnight, my surges (contractions) started. I was able to labor at home for 5 hours using all of the techniques we had practiced. Then around 5:15am, with intense surges every 2 mins we headed to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital around 6am and I measured 6 cm. I was admitted, and through countless hips squeezes from the husband, breathing and relaxation coaching from my mom, positive affirmation on repeat in my head we were able to welcome Sage Adam to the world on Jan 11, 2014 at 9:56am. He weighed 7lbs 9oz. I was able to follow through with my desired birth plan and it felt amazing. The love for this little human was like no other.
21 months later I find myself in a similar post-due date predicament as we wait for the arrival of our daughter, Olive. Just as before, I had my birth plan all typed up highlighting my desire to experience a drug free birth experience using my hypnobirthing techniques to offset the pain of labor. Paul and I once again pulled out the good ol’ hypnobirthing books and all of our notes from when we took the class and got to practicing. Just as before my due date came and went. However, this time instead of playing the waiting game I knew just what to do; I pulled out and dusted off that bottle of castor oil and got chugging. Well 2 tbsp and some OJ. Just like clockwork, a few hours later I found myself in labor. However, this labor was much different. For the first 2 hours I didn’t even know I was in active labor as I was only experiencing period cramp like pain. The cramping started around 5am. By 7am the cramps were getting strong and consistent so we started to make our way to the hospital (a 45min drive with no traffic). We arrived at the hospital around 8:30am. Funny story the staff didn’t believe I was in labor! I was calmly breathing through my surges and apparently didn’t appear to be in much pain. Finally they got me set up in triage. We waited another 20 mins for someone to finally come check me and to everyone’s surprise I was 9cm dilated! Everyone went into hustle mode after that and by the time my OB arrived I was fully dilated. She broke my water and Olive Virginia entered this world at 9:49am the 29th of October 2015. She weighed 7lbs 5oz. Again, my desired birth plan was achieved in half the time of my first labor and with far less pain. Therefore, I just knew if I had a third child he would enter this world in record time and I probably wouldn’t feel any pain….. Right?!? Clearly my body knows what it is doing.
Now let’s get to the feature story of this post. My third and final birth tale for Mr. Milo Max. By my third pregnancy I felt pretty darn confident in my body’s ability to grow a healthy baby and efficiently labor and easily deliver this child. More of the same, my due date came and went…and went… and went. I tried everything to naturally induce labor and started with my go-to, the castor oil cocktail. NOTHING. I still had full confidence that my body to kick into labor when it was ready. However, I soon found myself 41 weeks pregnant with my third child and only measuring 1cm with no contractions. I knew it would be a hard sell to my OB to continue to delay medical induction. Emotionally distraught, caught between some imaginary guilt of letting myself and baby down and being struck with the reality it was time to meet this little boy of mine we drove to the hospital at 41 weeks + 1 day. The plan was to say I was having irregular contractions throughout the night (a little bit true) and given my history of short labors, 8 days post-due date, and this being baby #3 we would see what the hospital staff would decide. To be honest, I cried the entire ride to the hospital. Unsure of what the outcome would be, sad I wasn’t putting up more of a fight to have it happen ‘my way’, fear of medical intervention, confusion why my body wasn’t doing what it has done so well before. When we got to the hospital it was all I could do to keep it together. They took me to triage and NOTHING, no contractions, barely 3cm. In my head I’m still trying to process how this is happening. There was a sliver of hope they were going to send me home but then an OB came in to check my fluid levels and determined that they were low (ended up not being the case, but the fluid pockets were not visible on the ultrasound because they were hidden behind the baby). Nonetheless, the consensus was this baby was being delivered today.
Keeping my composure I requested a Foley Bulb as my first attempt to kickstart labor without drugs. The foley bulb got me from 3 to 5 cm, but still no contractions. My OB arrived and she was not impressed with my progression timeline and requested that I start pitocin. The dreaded pitocin, my greatest fear, the horrors from the birthing documentaries all flashing in my head. For the first time I was presented with the reality this would be a different story from the rest. The nurse started me at 2mU and would increase it by 2mU every 30 mins until my labor started and my body took over. For the longest time still nothing finally at 3pm and 10mU pitocin contractions started and they started fierce. At this point I still felt determined I would be able to deliver with no epidural. Let’s just say pitocin contractions are no joke and felt more intense than any of my previous labors. After one hour of intense contractions I just knew I had to be fully dilated, however in reality I had only gone from 5-6cm. Maybe it was because everything about this delivery was different than before or because I was already emotionally worked up I was not able to calm, relax, and effectively implement my hypnobirthing techniques. At 4pm, with tears in my eyes I requested an epidural. In that moment I had tremendous guilt and disappointment in myself. But also curiosity, what would this delivery be like. Whoah…. The epidural was like a warm blanket wrapping my body, while I still felt the tightening the excruciating pain was gone. It was what I needed to relax and let my body open. By 4:40pm I was fully dilated. I started pushing around 4:45pm and 9 pushes later my son Milo was born. Arriving June 1, 2017 at 5:13pm weighing a whopping 8lb 5oz an entire pound larger than my daughter.
Ultimately, I did what I needed to do to delivery a healthy baby. My body was fighting against the labor and with the size of Milo I needed my body to relax more than ever. The truth, the only thing that matters is a healthy baby and mommy. Not having your birth plan pan out as imagined is not the end of the world and is NOTHING to be ashamed of or disappointed about. The feat of delivering a child is AMAZING, no matter the method. Home birth, drug-free, medical induction, epidural, and c-section are all beautiful and provide the same ultimate result of holding a precious baby in your arms. My fear of an epidural impacting the connection of me and my baby, my baby entering this world in a drugged daze, slower recovery time for me all turned out to be fabricated lies. While I cherish each child’s birth story and experience for what it is and the child that it brought me, I can honestly say one does not rank higher than the other. As a mother, YOU are amazing and your labor and delivery story is always something to be proud of.