Oh, I hate to write this post. But I know that I have to. I know it will help me to heal and continue to process my birthing experience. But it will probably be the hardest post I ever have to write. The birth of our baby girl, Scarlett did not go as I had planned. Before I had even gotten pregnant I knew that I wanted a home birth. During nursing school I had to take a womens health class which of course entailed clinicals in the OB unit. My professor was very pro natural hospital based childbirth. I absolutely loved the class and loved being able to see babies being born. It was so incredible to watch new life come into the world. I also had the chance for my nursing preceptorship to spend 6 months working on an OB unit. During this time I had the chance to work with a midwife and fell in love with the idea of natural childbirth. After watching many women give birth both naturally and medicated I decided that natural was the way to go. Plus after going through tons of information and studies I really did not want to medicate my child. So when I found out that I was pregnant with Scarlett, I set out to find a homebirth midwife. I absolutely loved my appointments with the midwife. It was so nice to be able to spend at least an hour with her at each appointment. I really got to know my midwife and she got to know me.
So anyways, on to the real story. On Friday Dec 10th, my actual due date, I took a tumble down the stairs and landed on my tailbone. My back was in pain, but I figured I would just go to the chiropractor on Monday. Later that night, I started to feel small contractions. I didn't think much of it, until parts of my mucus plug kept coming out every time I went to the bathroom. I was already effaced 90% and when I checked myself I knew I was starting to slowly dilate. I tried to not think about it, but it is hard to do when you just want to meet your little one.
On Saturday, the contractions were coming about every 10 to 15 minutes. They were definitely not strong contractions and I could work through them. I had a hard time sleeping Saturday night due to the contractions getting stronger and excitement about the upcoming birth. I also noticed I had a hard time laying down, my back was really starting to hurt.
On Sunday the contractions continued to progressively get stronger and I had to start breathing through a few. Plus I was very tired having only slept around 3 hours on Saturday night. But I just tried to keep going and get a few things around the house done. I finally broke down and called my midwife late Sunday night. Contractions were getting stronger and around 5 minutes apart, but having checked myself a few times I knew that I was not dilating that much. Plus I couldn't lay down, my back just hurt! I definitely didn't want to go through a few more nights of not sleeping.
So after a night of no sleep, I decided to drive up to Fargo on Monday and have her strip my membranes. By my 10am appointment with the midwife the contractions were pretty strong and were about 3-5 minutes apart. The car ride was not fun. Having a focal point really helped me and I remember focusing on one of the radio dials during my contractions. Kinda weird, but it did help me somewhat. Having heard that having your membranes stripped hurt really bad I was prepared for the worst. However, much to my surprise it really wasn't that bad. My midwife said that they were already mosrly stripped because I was about 3cm dilated. Also while she was checking me she made a comment about how the baby might be posterior, or facing the wrong way. A posterior baby faces toward your belly, when they should be facing toward your back. This was the reason I was having the dreaded back labor.
I had an appointment with the chiropractor that afternoon, but by the time we got home from Fargo my contractions were pretty strong and I did not want to have to breathe through contractions in front of everyone at the chiropractor's office. So against my better judgement we stayed home. The contractions were continuing to be around every 3-5 minutes but they continued to get stronger so I called the midwife. When her and her assistant showed up they she checked me and I had made no progress so they went out to eat some supper. I could not believe that I had made no progress! The contractions were getting stronger and my back was KILLING me! I had Chris hold a heating pack on it and push in. It was the only thing that made it hurt less. I couldn't believe I was having front contractions and then back pains. I hadn't prepared myself for this and I was already so tired having not slept. So I continued to labor throughout Monday night the contractions continually getting stronger. I was constantly trying various positions on the birthing ball, kneeling, birthing stool, standing, etc. to get Scarlett to turn into the right position, but she would not budge (stubborn little thing :) ). I tried getting into the birth pool, but that was not happening. I needed something to brace myself upon and the birth pool was just not sturdy enough. I remember having them make me try to lay down to see if I could rest. However, the pain was so intense while laying that I would just scream. I remember even yelling at Chris once, then apologizing when I was back to being upright. Sometime that night my sister Amanda called our doula Devota to come and help. Everyone's arms were getting tired from pushing on my back and they needed reinforcements. Most of the night I had at least three people pushing on my back. Two would push on my hips and one on the center of my lower back. It was the only thing that would help. I ended up with big black and blue marks from them pushing so hard.
Around midnight the midwife asked me if I would like her to break my waters. Things were not progressing and she thought it might help speed things up a little bit. I hesitated for awhile because truthfully I was scared. Things were already intense and I didn't know if I could handle them getting more intense. But I eventually gave in hoping it would speed things up because I was so extremely exhausted. Plus I could tell my birthing crew was getting exhausted too. I am sure it was very hard work to continue pressing on my back throughout the night. However, much to my dismay breaking my waters did nothing. Contractions stayed the same and I continued to not dilate very quickly. I finally begged her to check me at 4am. Bad idea because I know that where you are dilated has nothing to do with when the baby would be born but I just wanted to know. Next time I don't want any checks! I was finally at 7 cm. I thought "yes, I will be done pretty soon." However, things kept getting worse. I felt like I couldn't handle the pain anymore and kept asking to go to the hospital. Chris was very good about reminding me of all the reasons I was having a homebirth. But after being in active labor for over 24hours and not sleeping for 2 days I was getting so tired. I could also tell the atmosphere aorund me had changed. The midwife kept coming to take the baby's heartbeat and she went into the other room to talk on the phone. She also pulled Chris aside a few times to talk to him. I was getting worried and finally asked what was going on. She told me the baby's heartbeat was getting a little high and she was getting a little bit worried. She was consulting with Chris about what steps we wanted to take. The baby wasn't in full blown distress, but was showing signs of distress. I asked Chris once again to go to the hospital, and this time he gave in. She had checked me before leaving and I was still at 7cm. It had been 5hrs since her last check! I could fathom continuing this way. I was so tired and probably dehydrated because I couldn't drink anything. I remember being so mad because they kept shoving a popscicle in my face asking me to eat it.
So we got into the car and headed for the hospital. And thanks be to God, the doctor I would have wanted was on call! He asked me if I wanted pain medication (aka an epidural) and told me he thought I should. And I gave in and said yes. At that point I just wanted it to be over. After 30+ hrs in active labor I couldn't do it anymore and when he checked me I was still at a 7 and she was still posterior. Her heart rate continued to climb and I think the doctor thought it would turn out to be a c-section with the way things were going. So they started the epidural. They actually had to do it standing up because I could not sit still for that long. They said it was the first time they have ever had to do that. They gave me a low dose and I could still feel all of the contractions, but was not in agonizing pain. The doctor also wanted to start some pitocin, but I asked if we could hold off for a little while. He kindly agreed to give me a little bit. Much to my and the doctor's surprise I dilated in less than an hour and I was ready to push. The nurse had me start pushing because she figured it would take me awhile to move the baby down but after 2 pushes she told me to stop because she had to go get the doctor. And 4 big pushes later Scarlett was born. I got to help bring her out and besides her shoulder getting a little stuck it was smooth sailing. She came out and was put right on my chest. We wanted to let the cord pulsate, but after about a minute the doctor said he needed to clamp it (so much for that one I guess). Chris then was able to cut the cord. They then took Scarlett away because she was flaring and grunting. She had to be suctioned out quite a few times. Probably because she came out so fast and there wasn't time for the mucous to get squeezed out. Then although I didn't want it the doctor pulled on my placenta and out it came. Then of course I had issues with bleeding too much and they had to give me cytotec. I wish he would have let it come out naturally, but what do you do. I was so tired at that point I couldn't fight. When they gave Scarlett back to me she was flaring and retracting and her O2 stats weren't very good so they had to take her back to do chest x-rays. She and Chris were gone for around 1 1/2 hours.
At this time, I was still is la la land. I felt numb and couldn't believe that I had just had the baby. It was very hard for me because I had expected to feel joyous and a huge amount of surging love for Scarlett, but I just felt empty. I don't know if it was the epidural (the drugs interfere with the sharing of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, between mom and baby) or just my disappointment in the birth experience. It took me a long time, probably 4 weeks, before I really started to bond with Scarlett. Motherhood has been very difficult for me and I did not expect it. First, my birth was difficult. Secondly, Scarlett was colicky and a high need child. Thirdly, I was having difficulty processing my birth and bonding with Scarlett. And lastly, Scarlett has problems nursing. But even though it has been difficult everyone keeps reminding me that God has a purpose for everything. I may be able to help someone in the future who will go through something similar to me. A friend actually shared a verse with me that I continue to read every time I feel bad.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of ALL comfort, who comforts us in our afflictions so that we will be able to comfort those who are in ANY affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God". 1 Corinthians 1:3
And also God has reminded me that I need to be more compassionate towards others. I now realize that sometimes things are out of our control. If I would have had it my way I would have had a less than 24hr homebirth and a lazy baby who breastfed like a pro. But I would never give Scarlett back. I love her dearly and am so glad that she came out healthy and well! I am still mourning the loss of my birth experience, but would do it all again in a heartbeat if the results were Scarlett!