On Thursday, October 22, I had my 41 week OB appointment. I was 2-3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. We discussed the possibility of induction and I was added to the list for Sunday, October 25 if I didn’t go into labour on my own before then. The OB did another membrane sweep. Immediately after I noticed less spotting compared to previous sweeps and just assumed it didn’t work. A few hours later, I had some cramping but also didn’t read into it as I’d had it on and off over the previous 2 weeks.
Mike and I went for a walk that night, but I cut it short compared to our usual route. I was feeling extra tired and wanted to go to bed early. As I went to sleep, I noticed an increase in cramping and hoped it would turn into real labour.
Throughout the night, I woke up to contractions. At 4am, I decided to start timing them and they were about 10 minutes apart. I got up to pee at 4:30am and my water broke. I woke Mike up and cleaned up the mess. Let’s just say I had one of those stereotypical water breaking moments. It was EVERYWHERE. In fact, it continued to gush/flow throughout the entire morning. As my contractions grew in strength and timing, I moved to the living room to my birth ball. At one point, I stood up and had another massive flow. Mike just stood there staring which made me laugh. I told him to get some towels. Before we left for the hospital, I had already soaked through 3 pairs of panties and 2 pairs of pants. I decided to wear a skirt and put a towel on the seat of the car.
We left for the hospital around 7:20 am. My contractions were about 3.5-4 minutes apart. On the drive to the hospital, they decreased in intensity and timing – averaging about 6-7 minutes apart. In triage on Labour and Delivery, they offered me the option of going home and seeing if they increased, or being admitted. I didn’t want to risk the chance of something happening at home, so we opted to stay. My OB was in agreement with our choice.
Our doula met us at the hospital and we were moved into our labour and delivery room. Throughout the morning, my contractions followed an inconsistent pattern. Sometimes they were 4 minutes apart, other times 8 minutes apart. I found more consistency if I maintained standing or walking positions. I alternated between pacing the room and bouncing/rotating on the birthing ball.
Up until this point, I had been labouring without pain medication using a combination of breathing techniques and visualizations. This was the most magical part of my birth story. Each time I experienced a strong contraction, I took myself to my “happy place” in my mind’s eye. While there, I was greeted by my children and our animals. With each new contraction, we engaged in a new activity – chasing butterflies in the meadow, watching waves roll in on the beach, climbing a big Oak tree, chasing the dogs through the field. With each contraction, I knew I that I would make it through it. I knew there was something special waiting for me. I knew my children would encourage me to get through it, “Come on Mom! You can do it! Let’s get another butterfly“. So far, labour wasn’t pain-free but it was manageable. I just took it one contraction at a time.
My OB decided to let me labour on my own and didn’t check me until early afternoon. At that point, I was only 3-4 cms dilated. They decided to give me another 2 hours before my next check which would be close to 10 hours after my membranes had ruptured.
2 hours later, I had only progressed to 4 cm. My labour nurse forewarned me that my OB was going to suggest an augment – the pitocin drip – due to the length of time it had been since my water broke and the fact that my contractions were moving further apart rather than closer together. They kept reiterating the fact that there was a risk of infection the longer we wait. Even though my preference was to have a natural birth, my husband and I agreed to the drip. We had already been at it for almost 12 hours and hoped it would bring our son to us sooner.
Every thing they say about induction contractions being 100x worse than regular labour contractions is completely true. Within minutes, the intensity and timing had increased. I lost my ability to get to my happy place. I moved into the tub hoping the warm water would help. My husband held my hand as I moaned and breathed through each contraction. The natural flow of labour was lost. It was forced, it was fast and it wasn’t pleasant.
I got out of the tub and moved to the bed. At that point, I starting asking how long I had to make a decision on pain meds. I decided to try the gas and air, but it didn’t work for me. My exhales were too forceful for the hose and it felt like I couldn’t use my breathing to get through it. I made it 14 hours without pain medication before deciding to get an epidural. My doula and my husband ensured me that the deviation from my preferences was well warranted. I still used hypnobirthing for most of my labour. I had always said I would be open to alternate choices if my birth experience required it.
The epidural offered much needed relief. At first, I still had quite a bit of pain on the right side. They had me lay on my right for a while until it dispersed enough that each contraction was numb. My nurse did another check and I was about 5-6 cms dilated around 7pm. When I was labouring without pain meds, I was really inside myself – quiet and calm. With the epidural, I finally felt like myself again. I was talking, attentive and asking lots of questions of my nurse.
She did another check around 9pm and I had rapidly progressed to 9 cm dilated. She said there was only a small ridge left and she suggested we do some practise pushing to see if we could move it. I found pushing to be difficult. When you can’t feel much in your pelvis, it’s bizarre to be told where and how to push. We decided to take a bit of a break and I managed to nap for almost an hour.
Following that, the nurse suggested I relieve my bladder. I had been peeing consistently between contractions all afternoon, but had yet to go since the epidural. I was not able to get anything to come out, so they decided to use a catheter on me. Turns out baby’s head was blocking ability to pee. It took two nurses and multiple attempts to even get the catheter in.
Around 11:30pm, I was 10 cm dilated and it was time to officially start pushing. Over the next 3 hours, I tried a variety of pushing positions, but our little guy was not progressing much. He seemed to be suck at station +2. I did experience some back labour pains even with the epidural. At one point, he was crooked and facing into the right side of my pelvis. We changed positions and they thought he moved into sunny side up. Once again, I changed positions in an attempt to get him in the right position. We succeeded both times, but he still wouldn’t come farther down in the birth canal.
The charge nurse came in and explained that we needed to use additional intervention. I was getting close to 24 hours since my membranes ruptured increasing the risk of infection again. Also, with the amount of pushing I had been doing, I was at risk of haemorrhaging. My OB was doing a c-section but once he was done, we would be proceeding with a forceps delivery. At this point, my husband and I were in agreement as we just wanted our baby boy in our arms safely. We thought a vaginal delivery with intervention would be a better option than a c-section. In fact, a c-section wasn’t even discussed. Throughout the entire labour, our little man had a consistent heart rate. The nurses kept joking that he was happy and comfortable in there. He made us laugh each time they did a check as he squirmed and kicked me.
Once the OB was ready, it was go time. He instructed me to continue pushing through contractions while he pulled with the forceps. He made a small episiotomy incision to help with the forceps. It took 3 big yanks for our not-so-little man to join us. He arrived calm and content requiring some vigorous rubbing before he let out his first cry. He also peed and pooped on his Momma immediately after they put him on my chest. He squirmed and gnawed at his hands as if he was already hungry. We did skin to skin on my chest for an hour before the nurse took his vitals and weighed him.
Wyatt Linden John Bast arrived at 2:47 am on October 24, 2015. He was 21 inches long and weighed 9 lbs.
We were moved to the mother baby unit to settle in for the night – 26 hours after my labour had begun. It was a long, yet rewarding day.
Was it close to the ideal labour I envisioned? No, yet it contained elements of what I desired. I used hypnobirthing. I had my husband’s constant support, along with that of my doula and my amazing nurses. I felt like we made educated decisions when required. Basically, the lesson learned is that you can be aware of your birth preferences, but you can never control the outcome. In retrospect, I do wonder if we had returned home if things would have been different. Each time a medical intervention was mentioned earlier in labour, it seemed to affect the regularity of my contractions. I progressed very fast once I had the epidural and was able to relax again. This is very interesting if you think about the mind-body connection during the labouring process.
Overall, I think my birth story turned out exactly as it was meant to. I learned to trust in the process and my medical providers. Most of all, we attained our goal: a healthy Momma (minus some tears and swelling) and a beautiful healthy baby boy.
There is only one way to describe the moment you meet your child for the first time: surreal. I found myself crying yesterday morning – tears of joy. I can’t believe he’s here. He’s finally arrived. Our miracle rainbow unicorn. I love my baby so much ❤