My home water birth plan turned into a hospital birth. I made the decision that would be safest for everyone. But now that I have my baby home with me, I don’t even get sad seeing the birth pool and all the home birth supplies still sitting in my dining room. I got my healthy baby without too much trauma or medical concern, and that turned out to be all I needed to love my birth experience.
So here’s the story. On Aug 23rd I went in to the hospital for monitoring following another blood pressure spike, and found myself needing to make a decision – be induced that day or to go on blood pressure meds and likely end up with more of a dire need for an induction a few days to week later if labour didn’t come spontaneously early. With the help of an amazing midwife, I confidently made the choice to have an induction that day. I think my natural induction strategies (acupuncture, labour tincture) had really worked to ready my body. At 38 weeks and 3 days, I was already 3 cm dilated and fully effaced. I was a prime candidate for a medical induction. My body was expected to respond well to pitocin, and it did.
I did go through about an hour of regret when I was first hooked up to the IV and the monitors and was told I unfortunately couldn’t get up and move around, but once my midwife arrived I felt advocated for again and we were able to set up a peaceful environment. We dimmed the lights, I was able to eat, and the midwife suggested ways for me to move around on and beside the bed.
Early labour was quite boring. Pitocin was started at 1pm, and labour stayed pretty mild until around 8pm. During early labour my hypnobirthing came in handy – I was in the zone, totally relaxed, listening to guided meditations, and easily breathing through contractions. My wife sat beside me playing bejeweled on her phone because there was really nothing for either of us to do but relax and try to conserve our energy.
The pitocin drip was very slowly increased to attempt to mimic the natural progression of oxytocin. When active labour started and my contractions got more intense, I had to concentrate really hard to keep my relaxed, meditative composure. I had in my birth plan that I didn’t want my dilation to be checked unless absolutely necessary, and I didn’t want to hear how dilated I was (or wasn’t). That was working for me until the consulting OB, whom I hadn’t seen at all yet, came in and decided to break my water. When he did it he announced “she’s 5cm”. I immediately lost my composure. I broke down crying and panicked through the next half hour of contractions, saying there was no way I could make it through another 5 cm. However, as badly as I wanted to end the sensations, I wanted to avoid an epidural more. Respecting my birth plan, I was never offered an epidural, even when I was panicking about not being able to go on. My birthing team was right – I could totally do it.
When I finally calmed down and accepted that I couldn’t just give up and go home without completing labour, I got back in the zone. From 5 cm to full dilation my contractions were back to back. I had some trouble staying in the zone of relaxation and breathing near the end, and had moments of being scared and of losing confidence in my ability to make it. During the transition phase I used a loud gutteral screaming to release the tension. I kept apologizing for how loud I was being and felt terrible that I would scare other labouring women in the ward. The sensations were intense, and the way I got through it was to remind myself that they weren’t stronger than me; they were me.
I went from 5 cm to fully open in about 4 or 5 hours, but it went by in a blur. Even my wife, who was standing beside me constantly replacing ice compresses on my forehead, said the time flew and the hours bled into one another. By 12:30am my uterus had started to push the baby out. The contractions had changed, and the strength of them literally heaved my upper body up off the bed. The midwife asked if she could check me, and lo and behold, I was fully dilated. My body knew what to do.
Pushing lasted for an hour and a half, which again, went by in a timeless way. Between contractions I went into deep relaxation to conserve energy and relax the muscles of the birth canal. My wife watched as the buldge that was her head moved down, under the skin, and eventually crowned. She had flipped around during labour and was posterior, so her forehead had been squeezed into a big bump that emerged first. The midwives called her a special unicorn baby because of the big swollen bump on her head. When her whole head came out, her body slipped out in the same push. I was so shocked that I had actually just pushed a baby out of me that I think I stared at her stunned for the entire first 2 hours of skin to skin. I didn’t even notice that her head was swollen until much later. After the first 24 hours of life, though, all the swelling went down and we could finally see what she actually looked like.
Ever since we got pregnant I wondered what it would be like to have two moms, and therefore two maternal instincts, receiving their baby at the same time. I wondered if there would be jealousy over bonding time. But when she came out I kept asking the midwives if my wife could hold her yet. I couldn’t wait for her to feel the amazingness that was holding and bonding with our little bug. They were adamant that the baby stay on my chest for a full 2 hours though, which was great for baby’s breastfeeding abilities. She latched right away and went to town replenishing her energy from such an awkwardly positioned emergence into the world.
We spent the rest of the night in the delivery room bonding, getting stitches, getting baby checked out, and trying to pee. By 5 am we got a new room where we spent the morning. We were home by 4 in the afternoon on the day of her birth.
Everything went as well as it could have (although I might be sitting a little easier right now if I hadn’t needed stitches). Our baby is so fucking beautiful it hurts my heart. I had an amazing birth experience.