NWP Episode 107: Our Birth Story with Special Guest Nick Myers [Written and Audio]
I am so excited to share this blog post and podcast episode with you! I know reading and listening to as many birth stories as I could helped me mentally prepare for our birth experience.
Labor is an incredibly intense experience, and I want to be mindful of how they may feel to some reading this. I also want to be mindful that many women struggle with infertility and this blog post and podcast episode could be a jolting reminder of that. I just want to say I see you, I’m here for you and I’m giving you a big, big hug.
40 Weeks (Due date Tuesday, June 4th)
Statistically speaking most first time natural moms deliver at 1 week and 2 days late. We should have used this information to guide our decisions in that last week, but alas- we got impatient. The two weeks leading up to hitting 40 weeks and the week of being 40 weeks was really hard. I was uber pregnant. I was uncomfortable. I was starting to get antsy about when this would happen, and to add to that- I probably got 10 text messages a day from loving friends and family asking if I had gone in to labor yet. If we were to do it all again, I might had considered lying about our due date (Nick is convinced next time we will). We should have kept our regular routines going, I was completely done seeing clients at 39 weeks and was so incredibly bored (relaxing is a challenge for me). Nick had stopped working and my family had come to town, too. I think being thrown off our regular routine made that last week even more emotionally harder for me and I just felt like everyone was waiting for me to go into labor for an entire week. To add on top of that, our midwife and OB clinic was trying to schedule an induction if labor didn’t start on its own and I was trying to avoid that.
So to encourage labor, I started going to acupuncture daily, eating all the spicy foods, pineapple, dates (I started eating 6 dates a day at 36 weeks), breast stimulation, having sex…basically doing all the things they “say” to do. But Madelyn wasn’t ready to come! At 40 weeks and 4 days I even did 1 Tablespoon of castor oil twice in one day (despite my midwife’s recommendations not to). Weirdly enough, it didn’t even make me go to the bathroom! It might work for some people, but did absolutely nothing for me.
41 Weeks (Monday June, 10th)
We had a doctor’s appointment early in the morning the day before I was 41 weeks. I was finally dilated enough (the week before I wasn’t dilated at all) to have my membranes swept. To my understanding, this releases hormones in your body that stimulate labor. I went to acupuncture with my sister right afterwards, and the moment they started putting in the needles I started to feel mild contractions. I was trying to not get too excited because I had experienced Braxton Hicks contractions all week prior, but these felt different. Once we got home from labor around noon, I started having mild, more consistent (but not steady enough to be considered active labor) contractions so I consider this beginning of labor (early labor). We texted our doula to let her know what was happening, and her advice was to ignore them and rest as long as possible. A couple hours later (2pm) I lost my mucus plug and while I was trying to follow the advice to rest I was SO excited. I was ready to do this.
The afternoon continued with mild contractions that slowly but surely got closer together. We watched comedy shows, Parks and Rec, napped and listened to music to pass the time. Around 4pm we started tracking the contractions with an app.
At 5:30pm, I had my last meal for basically two days of a PB&J, cheese and apples. It seemed light at the time but in hindsight I probably ate too much as later on I had terrible gas cramps (and threw it all up). Around 7pm, the contractions were getting stronger, closer together and longer. We turned on the Avvett Brothers and my sister set up crystals and candles all throughout out house. My dog Porter was also being SO sweet and was lying beside we all through this process. I’m convinced he knew what was happening.
At 9pm my contractions really started to pick up in their strength and they were, well intense. I tried laboring in the bath for about twenty minutes, but sitting upright was very painful for me. So instead, I went into the living room and started walking and rocking through the contractions. I tried to dance and have a good time, but I honestly wasn’t much in the mood for it. Nick was cracking jokes, particularly at the horrible smells from me passing gas :)
By 10pm, our doula Bailey arrived. I was having really strong, intense contractions in our living room and felt that they were almost more painful than they should have been. We thought I might be having back labor (which could have been a sign from the get go she was in the wrong position) so we tried different positions to help with pain relief. At this point I was only talking a little and not laughing at any of Nick’s jokes. I had started shaking uncontrollably, which never stopped throughout the entire 29 hours. I knew shaking meant I was getting close to transition, but I didn’t realize how long I would shake for or how exhausting the shaking would be. In between contractions when I was supposed to be resting and recuperating I had to focus on not shaking. So I was constantly either trying to get through a contraction or get through the shaking.
At this point I was getting more serious, more inward, still shaking so much and around 11pm, things started to really get intense so we all made the decision that it was time for the hospital. The only thing I remember about driving to the hospital was I refused to sit down (too painful) so I hovered over the seat the whole time. I later found out from Nick he was so frantic that he missed a turn and went the wrong way to the hospital, but I had no idea at the time!
Getting to the hospital and hitting 41 Weeks (Tuesday June, 11th)
Once we arrive to the hospital, check in and go to triage its midnight and despite all of us, including our doula, thinking I was going into transition (based on the strength of the contractions, the space in between them being only 2-3 minutes at this point and the shaking and I also projectile vomited multiple times in triage), I was only 3cm dilated. I was incredibly disappointed, especially since they wouldn’t admit me until I was 4cm. My sister wasn’t allowed in triage, so Nick, our doula and I walked the hallways for about an hour and a half until I reached 4cm (and fully effaced) and could be admitted.
At 2am, we finally entered our labor and delivery room. We were luckily the only ones on the floor trying to do a natural birth, so we received access to the limited wireless monitors and the one and only nitrous oxide machine available. I also was connected to IV as I had to receive Penicillin every four hours due to being Strep B positive. I had originally not wanted to have IV but ended up being thankful I had them, despite whispering “waterrrrr” in between every contraction, I had a hard time staying hydrated enough and the IV fluids were so helpful with that.
By 3am, I was dilated to 7cm and I took a shower (this hospital doesn’t have baths, sadly) to ease the pain and we also began trying various positions recommended by our doula to both try to cope with the intensity of the contractions and to try to advance labor. This is also when things started to get super fuzzy for me. I had tried to distract myself as a way to cope with the contractions, as well as using affirmations like “what if this pain could be pleasurable?” and “I only have to get through one more contraction”. But the only way I could cope was by going very inward, I felt as if I was going inside myself, into the pain, and I later found out from our doula I was basically doing hynobirthing. Apparently at this time we also tried to use the nitrous oxide but I didn’t find it helpful (I couldn’t seem to regulate my breathing enough to get it to work).
Early Morning Hours
With all the signs of transition and advancing from 3cm to 7cm, we all thought I would start pushing soon…but that is not what happened. We continued to trying various positions, but for the most part I stood and swayed (while Nick held me up, kinda like slow dancing circa seventh grade) to get through each contraction. By 5am I had not dilated any further, and my cervix had some swelling and I was exhausted so I was administered Benadryl and Stadal (narcotic pain medicine) and everyone took a 1-hour nap. I woke up from the nap and I’m convinced I can do this, I felt rujevnated from the nap (crazy how a one hour nap during labor can do that!) and I had apple juice which I was so excited about. My water also broke at this point, but it was a slow leak as it didn’t completely rupture. I get back in the shower for the second time to help ease the intensity, and then we begin doing every thing possible that the doula, nurse and midwife can think of to naturally advance labor. I’m dong the peanut ball, sitting on a round ball and sitting on the toilet…all of which I could barely handle the pain during each contraction (another sign Madelyn was in the wrong position). I continued to only be able to tolerate contractions via slow dancing with Nick, so we did this for hours and hours.
At 7am, I was in excruciating pain. I hate to say that, I really don’t want to scare someone about labor, but if I am being honest, it was excruciating. At this point I started to feel like every position we tried was torturous, I just couldn’t cope with the intensity of the contractions and the Benedryl I had to take a couple hours earlier was making me sleepy and I was super pissed about that, too. At this point I also want to mention we had a nurse shift change, where our dream team was officially created with our midwifes Sarah and Amy and our nurse, Daniel. Those additions plus my doula, my sister and my husband was just the support I needed to get through labor.
In the morning, my midwife finished manually rupturing what was left of my water membrane and when that didn’t progress labor any further (I had been 7cm since 3am), I was administered low dose Pitocin to increase the intensity and effectiveness of my contractions. Even though they were 60-90 seconds apart and what felt very intense to me, they apparently were not strong enough to move her further down and dilate me further. At this time I was also administered another round of Stadal and I took another hour long nap.
By 10am, there was still no progression, I was still at 7cm. I was frustrated. Exhausted. Pissed about the Benedryl (still). At one point, Nick was getting teary eyed because I was in so much pain, and I yelled at him to pull it together and “I NEED MORE AFFIRMATIONS!”. Labor makes you do crazy things, y’all. I’m obviously starting to lose it but I’m still refusing an epidural because I wasn’t ready for it yet. We try one last position, where I was in this crazy position with my pelvis on the bed over a ball and my feet dangling over, and I’m not kidding I felt like I was being tortured. They asked me to try three contractions in the position and the second after the third position, I screamed to get out of it.
I then move to being on all fours on the bed around noon…and this part I remember vividly. Fleetwood Mac was playing in the background (why?!). I was moaning so loud. I was no longer hypobirthing. I was rocking back and forth on all fours and for what felt like forever, as I was weighing what to do in my head. I knew I was on the verge of passing out from the pain. I also knew there was no way I would have the physical strength to push. I made the decision that getting an epidural was better than passing out and having a C-section or not being able to push and risking the health of my baby, and I have zero regrets about that decision. I screamed, “CACAO”(our code word) and also I believe”Give me a F****** epidural!”, Nick made sure I was serious about that decision (often times when you are having a natural birth you feel as if you cannot handle it anymore but you are getting ready to push), but I was, I was so ready for the epidural. At 12pm I had been 9 hours at 7cm and showing no signs of progressing any further and I just couldn’t handle it anymore. It had been twenty four hours of labor. It was as if she was stuck, and my body couldn’t relax enough to advance labor without medical intervention.
And thank goodness for that medical intervention. I was able to take a two hour nap, the midwife cranked up the PItocin and my body was finally able to relax enough to dilate. I received the epidural around 12:30pm and throughout my naps, laughter and conversations (it was as if I had come back to life!) I had stronger and stronger contractions and was finally starting to dilate, and by 4pm I was ready to push.
I began pushing around 4pm and pushed for an hour to Salt N Peppa and Outcast. Our dream team was so helpful during pushing and were incredibly encouraging. My sister was dancing and taking videos in the background, my doula was on one side, my husband on the other, I had my amazing midwifes encouraging me, telling me how great I was doing and my awesome nurse, Daniel, was telling me when and how to push. And within an hour, I pushed out my baby girl, to Hey Ya by Outcast, dancing and pushing the entire time. It was incredible, especially considering what we had all been through at that point.
Madelyn came in to the world at 5:01pm on Tuesday, June 11th.
And no wonder my contractions were as intense as they were, Madelyn was OP, meaning she was sunny side up. They told me later on it would have been excruciating to push out an OP baby, so another reason I was so grateful for the epidural.
After 29 hours, we had made it. She was healthy, beautiful (with the funniest cone head due to being OP!). She had a lot of fluids from being upside down so they had to cut the umbilical cord quickly and suction out the fluids. But she was here and perfect and I turned into a new person (but more like myself than ever before?) the moment I met her.
And that’s where I’m going to leave off! On the podcast episode we share a bit more about the couple days after delivery including establishing breastfeeding and placenta encapsulation, so be sure to listen to the end of the episode if you want to hear more about that! The episode is also super fun to listen to because Nick recorded it with me. I wasn’t sure if I would be emotional recording the episode or laughing…but true to our relationship we laughed and smiled while we chatted about it. It felt like a roller coaster at the time, but looking back I think nothing but positive, happy thoughts about the experience.
Our biggest takeaways from the experience was how important the support around us was, we were so happy we hired a doula and so thankful for the midwife and nurse we ended up with. I also think being flexible while still being an advocate is so important. And I am so glad we took childbirthing classes and I read a ton of books to prepare, too. From my experience, I feel like the mental preparation matters far more than the physical preparation- so do what you feel is best for you to mentally prepare.
I’ve got all the links to the services we used below, and we HIGHLY recommend everyone we worked with. Again, it was the dream team! I don’t think I would have been dancing during pushing without them.
Who we used: