Remember these shots? Thirty Three, Thirty Five, and then Thirty Eight weeks pregnant. With baby A. Not nearly as large as I would be at 41 weeks… I was huge. Not yet baby August, as the world would know him, but a secret name only we and a few family members knew. That was one of the fun things about pregnancy–keeping our name a secret! We loved it. For us it did a few things: People would keep asking, but it was our own choice and our own timing. It allowed us the freedom to keep a secret to ourselves. It also allowed us to not worry what people thought about the name beforehand, because they did not have a say in it. We had chosen it, and they could gracefully enjoy it once he was born. : )
I think making decisions like keeping the name a secret during pregnancy are important because the experiences is yours, not anyone elses. Of course, those who choose to tell the name are also in their own right to do so. But pregnancy is a time of decision, a time of commitment, and a time of intense preparation that many do not understand or grasp. Especially in the last twenty or so years, I think our culture has really skyrocketed the notion of having “your birth experience,” and becoming educated. Most notably, I think this decade is a time when women are questioning medicine’s complete and unwavering authority, because more and more people are beginning to see the birth process holistically, and not treating it as a medical condition.
(This is what I looked like the day before we went in to the birthing center. Look how swollen my face is! Alas, the joys of the end of pregnancy.)
However–My birth experience was not what I had envisioned –not “holistic” or “natural.” It began very medically, with the use of Cervadil, a drug that I didn’t think would be necessary. At nearly 42 weeks pregnant, my body was showing close to none of the common expected signs of impending labor. My water did not break. My mucus plug did not come out (that I could tell), and I did not have strong or steady contractions at any time, even when we arrived at the birth center to begin induction. My birth began with my own decision that it was time, because I felt a few contractions that were strong, and honestly I didn’t know how safe it was to keep my little guy inside. I had been advised by numerous people, and I didn’t want to jeopardize the life of my baby. So, in a state of heightened stress and awareness, we set off for the birth center.
Things did not begin well. A nurse who I had previously not at all enjoyed was actually there during the beginning of my induction. She was forceful, rude, and her personality just didn’t mesh with me. She wouldn’t have liked to be treated the way she was treating me. And to be truthful, I think that the staff you are surrounded by will greatly affect your experience, so I did NOT want to deal with her seeing my girly parts and being the person I called on for help.
When she asked if she could check to see if I was dilated, I told her no–I would please like a different nurse to be taking care of me. Funny, I know there weren’t many people on staff that evening, and I know it was probably a pain in the butt for them to have to call my midwife (who was on call), but I do have rights as a patient. I feel the birth center staff was almost shocked at my request to receive care from another individual. Receiving care from someone I neither trusted or liked was not on my list of to-do’s during my son’s birth. I tried to be peaceful, but it was really hard. So anyhow, after that initial, stressful runaround, my midwife came in, administered the Cervadil, and so, we waited.
It stayed in for 8 hours. This was the fun, waiting, nothing’s happening, semi-boring, not actually fun time. Which then continued for even longer. My cervix was not responding very much to the drug. To add to the stress of things not going nearly as we had hoped (no drug-free birth for me, but perhaps I could still have a waterbirth?!) my midwife was gone now, because her daughter’s graduation was going on, and another midwife who I did not know nearly as well would be with me. She turned out to be wonderful–in the midst of everything going haywire, God provided a person who coached me and helped advise me, and did not pressure me into anything. Which was what I really needed. An advisor, not a pressure-pusher. So she advised bouncing on the birth ball, walking, etc. Troy & I went out, on a very very hot day in May, and walked around. My contractions were increasing, things were going better. I had to take breaks and really steady my concentration, and bring myself inward. That was a good sign. I think it made it easier to bear these contractions, knowing that I needed them to happen, and knowing they were bringing me closer to my baby.
So we walked and walked, in the blistering sun, and then went inside. I was placed on the monitor intermittently, to make sure baby was okay–but those things are so touchy anyhow. They kept picking up an irregular heartbeat but it was just because I had moved around a little bit. We walked more. We walked so much around that hospital–seeing people looking at us and smiling, knowing what we were doing. Some of them offered an encouraging, “You can do it!” Which was nice. So hours and hours of waiting, and trying, and then getting checked for dilation, and no progress really being made. All of the details of my birth aren’t completely clear to me, even now, because of all the stress involved. But I do know that it was a very long time. We went up and down and finally, I started to dilate more and contractions began to come on more. How exciting!!! Feeling like we were actually going to meet this baby, that he was real and was soon going to enter our lives in a very real way, was what pushed us forward. The nurse started to get the room ready for my waterbirth, since I hadn’t had an epidural and would still be allowed to do waterbirth. So I got into my waterbirth gear:
The nurse said that maybe I could take a warm shower while she was prepping, to help me relax. Unfortunately, that stopped my dilation and contractions, I guess because I was not in real active labor, and before that begins a lot of things can cause contractions to lag. SO… I never really got the contractions to begin again, and my waterbirth plans fell apart. No waterbirth for this girl.
Frustration. Disappointment. Disillusionment. These were all things that I felt during my birth experience. Wondering where my God was when I needed him. What was he doing, anyhow? All of my doubts combined when I finally had to make the decision to begin pitocin. I was so thankful, at this birth center, they never pushed me into those things, but told me that they thought it might be time to try something new because I was making no progress. I had been in labor for such a long time that my body was exhausted already, and I hadn’t done the hard, exhilirating part–the push. Troy & I made the tough decision to start pitocin, and I went through five hours of painful torture. No lies, pit sucks. If you’ve ever experienced it, as one of my friends said, you would “describe the worst pain in the world,” most likely. I did that for the five hours, held my ground and stood tough. But it was so, so hard. And then…
I’ll have to fill you in on more in Birth Story, Part Two.