This is a real-life birth story. Read at your own risk. The following post contains some graphic content of a real labor and delivery. Just remember, I warned you. 🙂
My Birth Story for Baby #6
The last few weeks of my pregnancy drew to a close and I felt content and a bit anxious. I didn’t feel impatient like I had in so many of other pregnancies. This time was different. I had anemia and an autoimmune low platelet count. Each check at my hematologist filled me with fear. Fear that I would bleed out or that I would need a blood transfusion. My numbers were just too low.
Leading Up to the Due Date
Each appointment came and went. Week 38, week 39, week 40. My midwife didn’t want me waiting past 41 weeks. We listened to her advice and scheduled an induction for 41 weeks exactly. I hoped that baby would come before then. She did a membrane stripping to see if she could help labor along.
Nothing happened for the rest of the day. Early the next morning I had some sporadic contractions. Suddenly, I noticed what looked like a bloody show. Contractions continued and were a steady every 4 minutes a part. After about an hour to two hours of contractions, I decided to call our midwife. It was a false alarm. They lasted several more hours before stopping altogether.
In the following days, we tried walking. And walking. I hoped to skip the induction. The day before my scheduled induction came and I woke up to very regular strongish contractions. They continued to get stronger and closer together. At 3 minutes apart I called our midwife.
We live about 45 minutes from the hospital and the nurse told us to head on in. My 5th labor was so short (3.5 hours) that they didn’t want to take any chances. These contractions were strong enough that I had to stop and breath through them. I could tell I was still not close to transition or delivery but they were strong enough to call “real labor”.
At the hospital, we found out I hadn’t really progressed at all. I know that my early labors are longer (usually) than my active labor – but this was really a cruel joke. After monitoring me for most of the day, the midwife sent me back home. She told me to come in first thing in the morning for a full induction. The kicker? They planned to dilate me with cytotec and pitocin. That was news to me. Previously, they had used prostglandin gel. I was upset. Quite upset. Frustrated, I knew it was my fault for not asking more questions the week before, but I felt quite blindsided by this news.
Thanks to my wonderful friend and babysitter, my husband and I decided to have a date night and stay close to the hospital in a hotel, so we didn’t have to make the long drive during rush hour the next morning. At the hotel, I researched my options. I truly hated the thought of being hooked up to a bunch of wires and machines for a “natural birth” and I knew the pitocin had a risk of being very strong and making the contractions even more painful than they would typically be.
What is a Foley Bulb Catheter
The night before the induction, I read about a thing called a foley bulb catheter induction also called a balloon catheter / mechanical induction. Not having a clue if our hospital even did these, I kept reading. I read about Cytotec, Cervidil and Pitocin. I barely slept all night and drifted in and out of sleep. At about 4:30 am I woke up praying for peace and for help during this time of fear awaiting the next hours of what could be excruciating pain.
Time to Go to the Hospital
As we made our way to the hospital before 8am, peace swept over me. It would be ok. I met my new midwife who would start my induction, after checking in. I had never met her before. She was an angel. So sweet, so down to earth, very soft spoken and truly caring. I could feel how warm and thoughtful she was as she went over my options for induction.
Because my cervix hadn’t dilated enough during my prodromal labor which I had been experiencing for over a week, she said we should use something to ripen the cervix. She laid out my options and ended with, “we can try the Foley Bulb catheter induction technique. That is your best chance at a natural birth.”
My husband quickly started asking questions and googling information. We ultimately decided that this thing which we had just learned about was what we felt most comfortable with.
The Morning of Labor
She and the nurse got started. They had told me they’ve only done a few of these and the midwife had done them previously at her last place of employment. They were new to this hospital. The nurse who was on duty hadn’t had experience with them at all. The midwife calmly walked us all through the procedure as they inserted the catheter in through the cervix and filled it with warm, sterile saline solution. Placed between the cervix and the amniotic sac, this procedure did not hurt. It was slightly uncomfortable but it felt no worse than membrane stripping (that was far worse, in fact!).
Leaving the room, she warned me that it could take up to 12 hours to work, in fact, that was what she expected. It should dilate my cervix to a solid 3cm. At around 10 a.m., after they inserted it, they instructed me to walk the halls for quite some time. They allowed me to sit on the birthing ball, as well. I was encouraged to do whatever felt comfortable.
When will labor start?
During my endless trips around the labor and delivery ward, I was slightly scared that the foley bulb would fall out. It seemed uncomfortable to have the tubing hitting my legs, which they eventually taped there so it didn’t move around on me. Several very strong contractions and many lighter ones hit. When would this labor would start up for good?
As I walked the halls, I felt sad that this time of pregnancy was coming to an end but also excited to meet this sweet new little baby. As my husband and I walked and walked we heard a tiny little baby cry over and over again – apparently newly delivered. Great relief flooded over me as I knew that it would soon be us meeting our new little person.
By 12:30, not quite 3 cm, the foley catheter still hadn’t budged. After a while, they told me I could rest, if I needed to. Normally, I would never rest during a delivery – it seems against what seems natural, to me. However, because my contractions were so sporadic and because I started feeling slightly weak (most likely from lack of sleep the night before and all the walking I had done previously) Lying down, I drifted off for a little but felt the steady pace of contraction about every five minutes. Squinting my eyes open, I peeked at the clock to see another 5 minutes had passed.
After a full hour in the bed, I decided to get up and use the bathroom. Upon standing, I felt the foley bulb gradually fall out of place. It was out. My husband called the nurse and the midwife came in to check me.
At 4 p.m. I had to hear the news: 6cm dilated and about 50% effaced. I couldn’t believe it. She asked if she could break my water. I felt slightly nervous about this – so with hesitation – I asked her if I could wait a few minutes. We walked the halls for a few more minutes and after about 30 minutes I had agreed to AROM. She came in and broke my water and then told me labor should start up soon.
It’s Finally Time?
We waited and waited and waited and had less contractions than I had before the catheter fell out. I had never experienced this before. They told us to continue to walk the halls. As we walked I tried to focus on how close we were to having this baby. Somehow it still seemed so distant – like this wasn’t really going to happen today. It seemed like she did not want to come out!
This can’t be good
A while later, I used the restroom again and saw something that didn’t look right on the pad. I had had spotting for most of the day, and now, of course my water was leaking – but this was greenish fluid. My husband quickly called for the nurse and she confirmed that it was meconium. We were assured that this was from having a baby that was 41 weeks old and not from any distress as everything else seemed fine.
My mind immediately rushed to my first pregnancy when my little baby had meconium and other problems at birth. It became an emergency to get him out and moments before they were to do a c-section the doctor pulled him out with forceps. It was scary and traumatic and I suppose in times of weakness and vulnerability it still haunts me.
Praying Through it All
It was at this that I asked her to start the pitocin. I was scared. My waters were broken. Meconium was passed. Everything just seemed off. I dreaded the thought of going through a C-Section and I hoped that the pitocin would work and do so quickly.
They hooked me up to two IVs and got the pitocin slowly dripping.
I laid in the bed and cried quietly to myself at the thought of everything that could go wrong. Hitting my lowest point , we tried to get a pastor but couldn’t reach anyone. I knew I needed prayer and I needed it now. Have you ever felt that way? I could only pray so much for myself. I needed someone to pray over me and over this tiny, helpless child.
Thankfully my husband got up, and seeing the pain and grief on my face, prayed over me and lifted us both up to the Lord. As the hours marched on first 8:00, then 9:00, then 10:00pm, the contractions slowly got more and more painful. I was thankful – thankful that this medicine was working – doing what for some reason my body didn’t want to fully commit to on its own.
A New Way to Birth
As the pain began to pick up the midwife peaked her head in to check on me. She told me that I could get out of bed as long as they continued to monitor me. The nurse seemed worried. She felt comfortable with me being strapped in bed. But the midwife assured her that I could sit in a rocking chair or on the birthing ball if I desired. I told her I would love to sit on the birthing ball – so they set it up next to the bed.
It was then that my hubby pulled out his iPhone and pulled up old episodes of the TV Show “The Office” and told me that between contractions I needed to watch it. That show had me cracking up with laughter in between the rumble of the contractions. I couldn’t believe how the time flew by – even though I couldn’t move much I was able to rock back and forth and breath through the pain.
Transition At Last
Not wanting to introduce any bacteria, my midwife said because my water was broken, she wouldn’t check me too many times. At 10:30pm I was 7cm and somewhat effaced. At 12 midnight I was barely an 8. They left me alone again and as the minutes passed I got more and more uncomfortable.
The pain increased steadily and I kept praying that it would be over soon. I was thankful for the birthing ball that swayed with me as the pain gripped my belly. I prayed that the pain would be over soon. Another wave and then another as I cried out for no more. I told the nurse I think I’m close – too afraid that I wasn’t close enough. Thoughts overtook me that this pain would linger for hour after hour.
Is it time to push?
So around 12:30 she asked if I felt like I was going to push. Our nurse had a look of fear in her eyes, afraid that I might somehow push the baby by accident out on the birthing ball. I tried to explain that I felt like I might be able to push but I wasn’t sure. I had lost all faith in my body. Not knowing what to believe, I continued to pray that this would be it. I was so thankful it wouldn’t be much longer. As I hopped up on the bed, the nurse explained that if I felt “pushy” to work through the pain but not to push “for real”. She wanted me to wait for the midwife. I wrestled in pain and oddly felt better lying down even though the pain had become excruciating.
Once my next contraction resolved, my midwife checked my cervix. She turned to the nurse and said, “9 but I think it will stretch with the next contraction.” As the next contraction started she instructed me to push with my body. That I did.
Ready to Meet Her
With everything I had, I began to push. Nauseous and fear-ridden, anxious and longing for this to be over… I needed to hear, “it would all be ok.” Pushing, she whispered, “steady – keep pushing but not too hard”. I heard my husband announce that the baby’s head was right there. My eyes squeezed closed.
Somehow afraid to look – as if looking would stop the progress. I kept pushing slowly. Another contraction and I continued. I had no choice but to work through this rhythm of nature. As I pushed suddenly she was out and they plopped her on my chest. Opening my eyes I saw my beautiful little one covered in meconium.
The Baby is Here
Prepared to move quickly if she didn’t cry, the Midwife said the meconium might not be aspirated if she cried quickly. But she didn’t cry quickly. I did. I cried for joy and for sadness and for a mix of emotions that I can’t explain. I was relieved to see her – to meet her. She was new and yet, somehow I just knew her.
They took her across the room with my husband and suctioned her out. She began to cry immediately. Then, laying her on my chest, she immediately was able to latch.
An Amazing Answer to Prayers
My blood count numbers had come back earlier in the day and they amazed me. I was no longer anemic. In fact, my hemoglobin was better than it had been for months! My platelets had stayed steady at 101 – just barely over the limit if I needed a spinal (hospital policy is nothing in the spine/epidural if 100 or below). My fears were quickly squelched as I rejoiced in this new life. Then I remembered these verses.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
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I hope you enjoyed this birth story. Check out the birth story of baby #7 here.