A Birth Story – Baby #8
The night I was due to be induced was warm and muggy. Masks in place, my nerves were running wild as my husband and I walked into the hospital and made our way up the elevator to the Birthing Center floor.
It was my first night-time induction since baby #3 and the longer I waited during the day, the more freaked out I became. I tried all the things: watching tv, cleaning, napping — and nothing worked. I couldn’t sleep, which meant I paced around finding random things to do to pass the time as my stress levels rose.
After eating a light dinner around 4:30 pm, my sister called and prayed with me around 5. It was good to get my feelings out and cast all my worries on God. I felt some relief. I remember expressing my concerns to my husband. I’ll be honest, I just felt doom and gloom giving birth during this pandemic.
For several weeks prior to this day, we had tried desperately to figure out if we should switch hospitals or even do a home birth. After hearing stories of women being forced to birth alone, others wearing a mask the entire time, and even some whose babies were taken away and quarantined from the parents, I felt scared.
I heard testimonies from other women (some in America and some in Europe) that would make your skin crawl. Birth should be a time of celebration, it should also be a time where women are comforted through what can be a very painful process. Because of the pandemic, some women were treated in ways that shouldn’t be.
We called many hospitals and found out most had the same type of rules that ours did (some were even worse!) and the one that had a more relaxed policy wouldn’t take us on so late into the pregnancy. The home birth midwife we contacted was fully booked. There was no room in the Inn, at least that’s how it felt to this 9 month pregnant mama.
But Hubby, being the wise man he is, commented that maybe just maybe this would be my best birth yet. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that thought.
In the hospital, things just felt surreal. We passed through the temperature check station. By this point, after weeks of two or three appointments a week, the woman who is in charge of checking temps recognized me. She asked if I was finally in labor. I told her I was being induced — she nodded. Thankful neither my husband or I have a fever, we made our way to labor and delivery. I couldn’t help but notice how eerie it felt seeing everyone with their masks on.
The check-in woman gave us instructions on when my husband could leave and what doors he should use to re-enter. Just then, a new father strolled by and mentioned that he’s making a fast food run for his wife. He can leave, but when he returns he must walk through the ER, she tells him. Ugh. I glanced at my husband. What a strange time we are living. I looked over at my husband hoping he wouldn’t have to go through the ER during our stay.
Once in our room, my nurse instructed me to get my gown on and wait on the bed. I looked around — what an amazing room. A giant jacuzzi style tub graces the corner of the room, and a beautiful walk-in tiled shower is featured in the bathroom.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, water births were not being allowed at the time, but we were given permission to use the shower. I’m thankful for small victories. I found out that our hospital uses waterproof remote monitoring if I needed to walk or use the shower, which is actually a huge win for all moms who are being induced. Pitocin births mean constant monitoring, but this gives grace to the weary.
As various nurses helped set us up, we were told to keep our masks on as long as my nurse or midwife were in the room. Even though this wasn’t my first induction, I still felt on edge. The prior few weeks were filled with scares about my blood pressure, my age, and of course the pandemic. Even though this wasn’t my first rodeo, it was my first time giving birth… like this.
Just a few days before my induction date, one of the midwives tried to do a membrane sweep on me to help get things going. At the time, I was only 1 cm. Not only was it painful, it started me contracting for several days on end. I worried if the sweep was that painful, how painful would this induction be?
Moments later my midwife comes in to check me, and I’m a soft 1-2 cm. She told me I’m a prime candidate for the Cooks Catheter with a piton drip. Relief overwhelmed me. I had had a foley bulb catheter during birth #6 and it went pretty well. So I was prepared for this and relaxed.
They hooked me up to the monitors and immediately my midwife saw that I was already contracting pretty consistently. Although 5 minutes a part, she mentioned that the contractions would need to get to every 2-3 minutes in order to be more effective.
Everything seemed quiet but intense, as my nurse and midwife placed my IV, catheter, and pitocin. The Cooks Catheter didn’t hurt at all — it’s more of an uncomfortable feeling for the first 30 minutes or so.
Another nurse comes in and quickly does my rapid Covid19 test. The test I had been dreading was not actually that bad. I felt like I jumped head-first into a swimming pool and breathed in chlorinated water — stinging and burning sinus pain for a few seconds. Thankfully, it came back about 30 minutes later: negative. Sigh of relief. I asked if that meant if I can take off my mask. “Unfortunately,” the nurse says, “hospital policy is that everyone still wears a mask.”
After lying down for a a short while, I tried standing and then attempted to bounce on the trusty birthing ball. The night passed quietly by, my husband slept soundly on the sofa, all the while I tried to watch some sitcoms on tv.
At about 3 am, I asked my nurse if I could take a shower and ended up standing in there for a while. Finally, the catheter fell out and I was checked again — 5cm, 50%. Progress. They left me to rest and I drifted off to sleep for about an hour.
At one point around 5 am, we walked the halls with our masks on. Nobody was around, except for a few nurses at their station. Other than walking and rocking on the birthing ball, not much happened until about 9:30 am when the midwife offered to break my water. Disappointed that I hadn’t progressed at all through the night, I took the offer and my water was broken.
Hours went by, and I reluctantly walked the labor room. My husband noticed while I walked my contractions picked up, and when I rested that they spaced out.
Worship music filled the air from my playlist, and after hours and hours of mild contractions and tears streaming down my face out of despair, (it seemed that nothing was happening) by early afternoon we began to walk the halls again. This time it felt different.
My husband recognized that every time we made our way to the final corner of our lap around the oval looped hallway, that a contraction would come.
After about 5 laps, the contractions were painful enough that I had to stop and breath through them. My midwife made a joke about not having the baby in the hallway, and told me when I felt ready, to get back to the room.
A tad nervous after that last lap, I thought we should go back. I made it to the ball right in time for the next contraction. As I sat there, I realized these contractions were the real deal. I had to breathe and focus through that one. I quickly learned that I was 6cm and 90% effaced, but the baby’s head was in a slightly off position.
They suggested I try rocking on my hands and knees for a while — they even offered hot packs and a massage for my lower back. Ummm… why had nobody told me this in the previous 7 labors? Seriously, though. It was like magic. The relief was immediate — every time a wave rushed on me, my nurse pressed into my hips and back, and all the pain fled.
After just a few more contractions, I was 9 cm with just a cervical lip. She gave me the go-ahead to start pushing. As I did, I realized deep-breathing with the mask on was not a good idea. It felt like I would suffocate before I could push the baby out. I tried to take extra breaths without the mask, but didn’t want to break the rules. Hiding my face near my pillow, I breathed in.
My midwife noticed this and let me know that it was ok to take off my mask because I was pushing. Then they asked me to flip on my back to see if they could maneuver the cervix and baby’s head.
My contraction pain never got super difficult. Not including my first birth, (which I was completely numb for because of my epidural) transition has always been accompanied by intense waves of pain and a feeling of helplessness. This time, the worst part was the mental dread that this baby will never come out.
I pushed for about an hour — which is my longest pushing phase by far. She was malpositioned — and in retrospect I probably should have tried to sit up or stand to see if gravity would do some of this work, but I was comfy where I was.
It was almost as if I was on pain meds (which I wasn’t) — I could only feel the first half of the contractions — once they peaked it felt like the contraction had disappeared. My midwife noticed this. it was still there according to the monitor, but I couldn’t feel it. In between pushes and contractions, we joked around with the midwife and nurse. We held actual conversations. It was like nothing I’ve ever done before.
By this point, I was almost on the highest dose of pit they would give me. My midwife decided to push back that cervical lip while I pushed, which made it easier for baby to descend. I silently prayed that the Lord would help her come down.
For the past month or more, we had been studying the miracles of Jesus on Sunday morning and during our small group zoom call. I started silently praying intensely. I felt like Jesus was there with me...as if He was sitting on the end of the bed across from the midwife. I felt a comfort and a peace like I’ve never felt.
I began to feel that this birth was truly a miracle — like the ones written about by John. It turned everything I feared and everything I thought I knew upside down. And just like that, I could see that anything is possible.
At 3:15 in the afternoon, baby Kitty made her grand appearance. They laid her on my chest as she cried and cried. I couldn’t believe it was possible that she was finally here.
Although I went into this pregnancy being told by one doctor of how great my bleeding risk might be, simply because of how many births I’ve gone through, I ended up with just a bag of pitocin, like most moms are given after the placenta comes out…no extra bleeding whatsoever.
Baby Kitty was only 7lbs 13oz, 20″, which isn’t a bad size considering she came a week prior to my due date. She laid on my chest for an hour as she started nursing. The midwife delayed the cord clamping, which is the first time I had experienced that.
My amazing midwife team got permission for us to leave a few hours after the birth, as long as we were both healthy. We got home around 9:30 pm. I showered and slept in my own bed our first night after the birth. A midwife came to our home the next morning to check in on how Baby Kitty and I were doing.
For having so much up against us, I can see with clear focus that all things are possible. Going into this pregnancy, I felt like the odds were stacked against us in several ways: I had endured multiple miscarriages after my 7th was born, someone ran into our car during a blizzard at 6 weeks pregnant where our car was totaled, and my age, along with some autoimmune issues I’ve dealt with in the past, made me feel especially anxious… and yet I had one of my easiest pregnancies, and definitely my best birth & recovery. I look back over the past few years and I realize that even though giving birth during a pandemic wasn’t easy, it was a blessing.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”Mark 10:27