This is probably going to be long (just like the labor), so just a warning! I tend to get wordy with these things...
Some of you may know that I really wanted to experience a natural (med free) birth if at all possible. I'd actually been researching it before we'd even gotten pregnant because I knew it was something that I wanted to do eventually. Once I got pregnant I read a few books on the subject and started looking into birth classes in our area. Unfortunately, the natural birth resources in our area aren't that great, and the one class that was here didn't work with our schedule. Sooo...I went to plan B and started looking at doulas. We found one we liked and met with her a few times and did a short, 4 hour, basic birth class with her that basically went over what to expect in the hospital and the different stages of labor. I actually never really went into birth with a "plan" on how to manage the pain, I just figured I would get through it. It doesn't last forever!
As my due date came and went, with no progress at my Dr's appointments, I just kept walking and trying to stay as active as possible. I felt pretty good, considering! I had energy, didn't have any horrible aches or pains. About 3 days past my due date I started experiencing lower back pain and things just felt...different. This was on a Thursday night (Feb 28). I woke up early Fri. morning around 1 am with very light contractions, they were all in my back. Pretty uncomfortable, but I was able to sleep between them and they were spaced pretty far apart, 10 minutes or so. I actually got up and timed them for a little while, but they were all over the place, so I just tried to sleep. I probably only slept 2-3 hours, though. Once Friday morning rolled around I felt normal again. I had a few contractions here and there, but they had basically stopped. Frank didn't go to work that day because I had wanted him home, just in case. We ran errands, got some lunch...it was a pretty uneventful day. Once the sun set the contractions got worse again, and closer together. Friday night I was up most of the night with pretty bad contractions. I was timing them and they were closer together than the night before, and pretty painful, but not bad enough for me to think it's time to go to the hospital. I was able to lay in bed all night with them, but didn't sleep. Just like the day before, once the sun came out, they spaced out again and nearly stopped! Ugh. I was getting frustrated at this point. I was ready to get this show on the road! Saturday I stayed home all day because even though the contractions weren't regular at all, they were painful when I had one and I didn't feel that comfortable running around town! By 10PM on Saturday they started getting pretty bad, and eventually about 4-6 minutes apart for over 2 hours. I really had to concentrate & breathe through them and I thought, "Finally!! This is it!" and at 1:30 AM Sun. morning we drove the hospital.
Once I got to the hospital, literally the second my foot stepped into the door...they started slowing down. Seriously!? But, I was hopeful. They hooked me up to the monitors and checked me....0. Dilated to a 0....argh! So, after 2 days of contractions....PAINFUL ones, they had done nothing. I was pretty bummed, but decided to head home. Then the second I got home they started fast and furious again. I was sooo frustrated at this point. Frank went to bed and I tried to sleep, I was so tired from 2 days with no sleep. I just couldn't, they hurt so bad. I didn't want to wake Frank again because I figured one of us needed some sleep, so I was dealing with them on my own. I had to be up walking around the house or they were unbearable. I couldn't sit or lie down. I finally woke Frank up at about 7AM...crying because I felt like I couldn't deal with them anymore (a bit of a low moment, ha). My body and mind were both exhausted! He got up with me and rubbed my back and helped me through contractions for a few hours. During the day they subsided, just like all the days before. How many days are we going to do this!?
**side note** during all of this I had been working with my doula and we determined the baby was probably posterior (sunny side up) because of the horrible back labor. She had given me all sorts of different ideas to turn the baby, and came over to our house to show me what to do. I tried everything, pelvic lifts, getting on all 4's during contractions, etc.
Sunday night into Monday morning- more of the same. No sleep at all, unbearable contractions, but I was DETERMINED not to go to the hospital and be told I wasn't dilated again. I knew I had a dr's appt. on Monday morning, so I was going to hold off until then unless things got crazy. If I didn't have that appointment on Monday morning, I probably would have gone to L&D on Sun. night, but I decided to wait it out.
I was 41 weeks exactly on Monday. I went to my appt. and was still having pretty regular contractions, but they were about 10 minutes apart instead of 4 once the sun came up (so weird that my body was doing this). Frank went with me to my appointment and they did an ultrasound first thing. Baby was definitely posterior! Then I went in for my check and the Dr. was like "Olivia, you are 4 cm and contracting...you are having this baby today!". I was a little bit in denial at this point...I was like "Are you sure? Can I just go home and see what happens? What happens if I get to the hospital and the baby doesn't come and it's just more of the same as I've been experiencing the past 4 days?"
We already had the car packed. Frank and I were hoping that was what the doctor would say! We ran home and grabbed a few more things and then went to the grocery store for snacks and grabbed lunch. We pulled up to the hospital around 12:30PM, I stepped out of the car and felt a gush and said "Uhh, Frank....my water broke!". Haha...right in the hospital parking lot as we were going to get checked into L&D. At this point, it finally sunk in that this is really happening...TODAY.
Once I got hooked up to the monitors we called the doula and she met us up there. I was checked again and was at 5cm. I was still pretty talkative and normal at this point. I was still laughing and able to carry on conversations between contractions. Sure, they hurt like a biatch, but I had been dealing with them for days, so I was a pro at them now.
Then I was checked again around 3 or 4 PM and was at a 6...sweet. Making progress. The doula and Frank were so great at keeping me focused through the contractions and I felt like I could totally do this. They got even more painful, but I was surviving. We did every trick in the book to get the baby to turn. There was no sitting around. I was doing squats, all 4's on the bed, sitting on the toilet, leaning over the bed, rotating hips on my birth ball, walking like crazy...it was a workout!! This was after 4 days with no sleep!
I was checked again around 5 PM and was around 7cm. This is when things started getting intense. I was pretty much in transition and the contractions were coming HARD. They told me the baby would probably be here before 9PM. I was focused and determined. Long story short- I was checked every hour or two until midnight with no progress despite all our best efforts. I was stuck at 7cm for 7 hours. It was torture! At 9:30 PM my doula told me we had pretty much tried everything and I could tell she was getting panicky because she didn't have any more tricks up her sleeve. She told me we could try for another hour, but maybe I should consider an epidural and pitocin because things were not progressing like they should. I agreed to keep trying. We actually kept trying until 12 AM...I wasn't giving up! 12 AM was my breaking point, though. I made the decision to get an epidural and then get pitocin, since the baby's position wasn't putting enough direct pressure on my cervix to dilate any further. At this point, I was happy with the decision, and I knew I done all that I could have done. Let me tell you, the 30 minutes between when I decided I wanted the epi, and until the epi came...were TERRIBLE. It took everything in me to get through contractions. I was not a happy camper. I was in my zone and it was a serious test of my strength to get through those last 30 minutes.
Epidural at 12:30 am on Tues. morning....GLORIOUS! Holy instant relief! I went from writhing in pain and unable to talk or focus on anything, to having small talk with the nurses 2 seconds later. It was insane how well those things work. Since I was already 7cm, we didn't think it would take long with some pitocin to get ready to push. Well, baby had other plans. They ended up having to crank the pitocin to full blast just to get me dilated a few more cm. Once I was at 9cm, they checked me and said the right side of my cervix was swelling shut. This happens with long posterior labors...not all the time, but sometimes. Apparently I was falling into that statistic...
When your cervix swells, there is no chance of vaginal delivery unless you can get the swelling to go away fast (which is rare). We were lucky to have a very experienced nurse with us who had seen someone lie on the side of the swelling with their leg up in the air and it worked to relieve the swelling. She said it was a long shot, but we were going to give it a try. She put me into position, and left us for 30 minutes. If the swelling hadn't gone away in 30 minutes....c-section it is. Frank and I prayed hard that things would work out in our favor. It was the longest 30 minutes ever. The nurse came back and checked me and said "You aren't going to believe this....it worked! You are complete and ready to push now!". Thank GOD! She told us afterwards that she had already done my c-section paperwork and reserved an OR room because the chances of it working were so slim.
So here I am, at about 4:15 AM Tues. morning and I am FINALLY ready to push! Hurray! Things happened quick. I pushed a few times with just the nurse, and then the Dr. came and I pushed a few more times (pushing was super easy, by the way....not sure if that would have been the case with no epi!). I would literally push, then once the contraction was over we'd all resume normal conversation like it was nothing....haha. It didn't take long, the head was out (still face up!) and everyone was like "WOAH! Look at all that dark hair!", then the Dr. said to push two more times at half the effort and out came the rest of the baby at 4:45AM. Frank yelled out - it's a girl! She didn't cry much, but they wiped her down real quick and put her on my chest...wow. What an experience, I think I was in shock. They took her to the back of the room to clean her up a bit more and we had about an hour of skin-to-skin afterwards. She was perfect! I had a small tear that required 3 stitches, but nothing major.
I guess the story continues later on that morning. Around 8-9 AM the nurses noticed my heart rate was in the 140-150 range. Then they noticed I was bleeding pretty heavily...found out that I had a lot of remaining clots (sorry, kind of TMI!). It was no pleasant at all, but they had to manually remove the rest of the clots and I was given a dose of cytotec to redilate my cervix and had to have another bag of pitocin so my body would get rid of what was left in there. If that didn't work, I was going to need a D&C. Luckily it worked. It looked like a murder scene, not gonna lie. Frank was a little freaked out watching all of that go down. I had pretty bad blood loss, and felt pretty weak, but I survived and didn't need any transfusions or anything!
So that's my story! A little long...and scary at times. We did it, though! I am totally going to try natural again, I am convinced I could have done it if the baby was in the right position. It was painful, but not like "OMG, I'm literally gonna die" painful, and back labor is supposed to be way worse than regular labor. My doula told me that in the 13 years she's been a doula, I am her 3rd client who ended up getting an epidural. She said she would have given up way before me, and that in my case there was nothing else we could have done. This definitely helps me be at peace with how it all went down :)