When I thought about birth, I had no fear. As a women’s health and sexuality educator, I was so prepared to trust my body through pregnancy, labor and delivery. I was ready for a natural birth. I knew that birth in our culture is unnecessarily medicalized and that interventions only lead to further interventions. I also knew that no birth goes as planned. Little did I know the surprises in store as E entered the world…
During my pregnancy with E, due to unrelated health conditions, I was a highly monitored pregnant mama-to-be. Ultrasounds. Amniotic fluid measurements. Stress tests. I kept saying to my midwives that if they keep looking hard enough to find something wrong, they will find something. And they eventually did. Throughout pregnancy I was told I had a ‘modest amount’ of amniotic fluid. In my 40th week of pregnancy it dipped to a low level.
It was suggested that I was induced. Induced?!?
Although this was against how I thought of birth, I agreed to induction as I felt like it was time to surrender, as it were. I found peace with this. I was not going to let my stubbornness and preconceived notions of giving birth get in the way of my healthy baby. I mean, what if they were right?
On my due date, T and I dutifully arrived at the hospital excited, ready to be induced and meet our baby boy! It was like a surreal vacation – instead of a hotel, a hospital room. Instead of evening strolls on the beach, they were down a corridor. We played dozens of games of Yahtzee. (Side note: In one game of Yahtzee, T and I had 7 Yahtzees!!) We ordered Greenbush. Had visitors. Listened to the best playlist that T made. All while ripening my cervix, watching contractions on the big screen and having an IV of pitocin. It was a pleasant day, really.
Around midnight my water broke. Game on! We were moved to the actual labor and delivery floor, birth lights were hung. A baby was on its way!
We comfortably slept through the night. In the morning, the pitocin was upped and contractions were coming more regularly. More intensely and with regularity. Things were moving along.
We alternated between hanging in the tub. Walking the halls. Bouncing on the birthing ball. Almost how I had envisioned labor – minus the induction.
I labored with crazy pitocin-fueled contractions for 16 painful hours without an epidural. Around midnight that night, I could no longer ‘not push.’ It had to be time to push. I finally fully dilated and effaced. We were going to give it a go…
I had no fear. I was ready to push with all my might to see my baby boy.
Every time I pushed, half of my cervix swelled shut. Elliott entered my birth canal with a twist causing this asymmetrical swelling. I pushed. I swelled shut. I had to wait. No pushing until the swelling subsided. And repeat.
Now let me tell you, when you are in labor and it is time to push it takes everything you’ve got to not push and sometimes then you cannot control what becomes a reflex. However, I had to stop pushing. Because I couldn’t, an epidural was recommended to slow down the urge to push. The fearless, pain med free birth I thought I would have, now was intercepted with an epidural. An epidural?!? Yup, an epidural.
Pushing continued, as did the swelling, for 4 long, exhausting hours. It was time for plan B. Forceps. Forceps??!? Yup, forceps.
Along with the forceps came a tray prepped for an episiotomy. An episiotomy?!?! Yup, an episiotomy.
The OB, with his forceps, tried with all his might to pull my baby outta me. So much force, in fact, that he propped his foot on the edge of my bed to muster enough power to pull E out. Thankfully, I did not have an episiotomy because the forcep delivery failed. Now on to plan C.
Yup, emergency C-section. A C-section?!? Yup, a C-section. Who’s birth was this?! It was so far from the one I had envisioned.
T dressed up like a surgeon. And we were off. 35 hours after labor began, I was about to have a C-section. At this point, all I wanted more than anything was to hold my baby. A C-section it was. Draped. Gowned. Ready to roll.
Now remember, I pushed for 4 hours with only mild success. Then an OB pulled with all his might with forceps to bring my baby through my pelvis and into my birth canal. Now, in this C-section, baby E needed to come out from the other direction. Tugging. Pulling. Jostling. Yanking. Now, this was a pain unlike the contractions and the pushing combined.
At some point because I could no longer tolerate the pain, I was knocked out with twilight. Twilight!?!? I remember saying, “… but I want to remember the birth of my son!”
To get the leverage to pull my baby out in the other direction the tall OB needed a ladder. A ladder?!? Yup, a ladder. I kid you not, a ladder.
I woke up to my sweet baby wrapped up at my face ready for his first mama kiss. His papa introduced us face to face. He was so perfect. Oh baby, I’ve waited so long!
E surprised us all – even his nursing staff. His birth certificate and bracelets have typos on them because it was all but certain that he would have been born the day before. We bought a newspaper with the wrong birth date.
Each time we reached a fork in the birthing road, we went the way we least expected. E’s birth story is the exact way I never thought I would give birth. Little did I know.
E arrived into the world through induction, an attempted vaginal birth, an attempted forcep delivery and finally via C-section almost 48 hours later. I couldn’t have been happier to see him and I would do it again in a flash.
To his papa’s and my amazement – along with everyone else waiting to meet him – despite his dramatic and traumatic delivery, he arrived wide-eyed, unscathed, perfectly beautiful and chattering to anyone who looked at him. He was ready to greet the world full of curiosity, wonderment and ready to participate. Really, much like how he greets his world today as a 20-month-old toddling boy.
EVC October 16th, 2009 at 6:45am 8 pounds, 9 ounces 20 inches long