The morning of Sunday, October 18, I woke up to find that my water was broken (slow leak). However, I didn’t have any contractions. I called my midwife to let her know. She recommended taking the cohosh herb combo to stimulate labor. I started the herb combo at 9PM and took it for two hours before going to bed. Contractions started at 1AM Monday morning. By 4AM they lasted about a minute each and were spaced between 6 and 10 minutes apart so I texted my midwife to give her an update. I had no trouble sleeping between contractions the entire night.
The next morning my contractions fizzled out. I started doing all different things to get things started again: walking, stairs, squatting. Nothing. At 4PM I started the herbs again – this time for a three-hour stretch. Around 8PM, my contractions started again. They were mild still, and about 15 minutes apart. Around midnight they started to get more intense. They were about 2 minutes each with 6 minutes between them. Darren filled the birth pool to get it ready and the midwife told us she would get ready to head over.
A little before 3AM, I got the urge to bear down and push. I fought the urge and my midwife arrived a bit later to check on me. Turns out I was only about 4 cm dilated, but baby’s head was really low, which was creating the need to push. The midwives checked me sparingly (because they didn’t want to risk infection since my water had broken two days before), and each time my stubborn cervix refused to thin out. They couldn’t believe that the baby’s head was so low, but yet the cervix refused to move out of the way (even with the midwife trying to move it aside). For the next 12 hours, I alternated between the shower, the toilet, the bed, and finally the pool fighting the urge to push. Darren really worked with me to breathe through each contraction. I’ve never wanted to push so badly and the pain was getting unbearable. As one last final resort, I was told to push while the midwife worked on pushing the cervical lip aside at the same time. She couldn’t pull it back though, so we decided to talk about plan B.
I had been seeking shadow care from a CNM at North Fulton Hospital. We talked about going there, but it was a good 40-minute (without traffic) drive away and I didn’t think I would be able to make it. My contractions were so strong and they were 2-3 minutes apart, so I knew I would be even more miserable in the car. South Fulton Hospital is only one exit away from us; we decided to head there. The plan was to tell the L&D staff that my water had broken that morning (so as not to alarm them into giving me a C-section). My midwife recommended that since I was so exhausted, I should consider the epidural to ease my pain, and also get pitocin to hopefully get that last piece of cervical lip out of the way. I agreed. My midwife’s assistant went to the hospital with us as our doula.
I got to the hospital around 3:30PM, and when the on-call OB finally arrived to check me, she was surprised that the baby was so low but I wasn’t fully dilated, but at least I was about 8 cm by that point. We presented our birth plan (which my doula had written up while waiting). One of the items was the delayed chord clamping. The OB had never done that before and was confused. I told her that I just wanted a few minutes with the baby on my chest with the chord still attached. After much persuasion she agreed to a 3-minute delay. In the meantime, my contraction pains were still strong as ever. I received the epidural around 7:30. I have to say that the anesthesiologist had incredible bedside manner and I felt really comfortable with him and his expertise. About 15 minutes later I was hooked up to the pitocin. At that time, the OB came in and told me that she would give me two hours, and if nothing happened, then they would have to C-section me. We were all in kind of a shock as she said this. After she left the room we got a game plan together on how we would refuse the section if it came to that. We are so lucky that our doula was so involved and this helped us tremendously in our courage to speak up.
Over the next two hours, the pitocin-induced contractions got stronger and stronger and I asked the nurse not to increase the dosage anymore. The OB got caught up in another birth and was delayed coming back to me by about 30 minutes. This may have been the break we needed, because when she checked me, she said that I was just about fully dilated and she thinks I should push while she pushed the remaining cervical lip aside. Four contractions later, I pushed our baby girl out and the doctor put her on my chest. What an amazing feeling! After four minutes of cuddling with her on my chest, the doctor clamped the chord and Darren cut it. Darren kept a close eye on Kora during her examination and made sure that she didn’t receive anything we didn’t want.
Even though this wasn’t the birth I had planned for, I know that sometimes medical intervention is necessary in extreme situations. I trusted my midwife and her assistant to offer the best birthing guidance and they delivered.
On a side note: after the birth the OB said, “I am so glad you didn’t have to have a C-section. I really want to get home and watch The Amazing Race that I Tivoed.” This just reaffirms my belief in the home birth model.