During my entire pregnancy, I was focused on having a natural childbirth, free from drugs and medical interventions. I practiced breathing exercises, read books and decided that hypnobirthing would be the best option for me. I was not able to attend classes in person, so I read Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond and downloaded the Hypnobirthing Set from Journeys Inward Hypnotherapy on iTunes. I listened to the meditation courses daily and felt I had mastered the relaxation techniques. I also watched my fair share of YouTube videos of other moms that had followed the same birth plan successfully to build up my confidence.
I firmly believed that a woman’s body was designed to give birth and that biology would support me. I conveniently blocked out the fact that my own mother had two c-sections.
Now onto my (almost) organic birth story…
I began having sporadic contractions on Friday afternoon at work, and they continued throughout the night. Around 4am on Saturday morning, I woke up to go to the bathroom (as I normally did throughout the night) and realized that I was soaked. I decided to put on a pad and just try to relax in bed. I got up again an hour later and had filled up a super plus pad. At this point, I decided that my water most likely had broken or was at least leaking. I took the longest shower of my life and started to mentally prepare for labor. At around 8am, the contractions were coming every 7-8 minutes.
I planned on waiting as long as possible to go to the hospital, so I decided to avoid calling my doctor until my contractions were consistently coming every 5 minutes. We watched Trainwreck as a fun (and hilarious) pre-baby distraction.
At around 1pm, I finally called the doctor with consistent contractions, and she immediately instructed me to go to the hospital. After a lovely wheelchair ride from the ER waiting room to the OB unit, I was in the delivery room and getting settled. This is where I was introduced to the largest and most amazing pads I had ever seen. You can only understand this appreciation if your water breaks!
Once I was settled into my room, I finally realized the uphill battle I was about to fight to have a natural delivery in a hospital. Every nurse that came to check on me asked if I wanted an epidural and reminded me that it could be awhile if I made up my mind too late. At 2 cm dilated, I spent hours walking in the hallways, listening to my hypnobirthing and yelling at my husband to put pressure on my lower back in the exact right spot for every contraction. After 8 hours of walking and hourly monitoring, I was still only 2 cm dilated. Because my water broke, I was given 24 hours to have my baby to prevent the risk of infection. I decided to continue with my plan and hoped that my intense contractions would get this baby moving.
At 2am on Sunday, I was still only 2 cm dilated and getting nervous. This is when the official medical intervention talk happened. I was able to ignore the previous mentions of an epidural, but at this point, I was losing faith in my body’s ability to dilate on its own. They recommended starting pitocin immediately. As soon as I heard pitocin, I knew my natural, drug-free delivery was a distant dream. I had read all about pitocin and what it was about to do to me. I was already having intense contractions every minute so could barely fathom what it would be like after having pitocin in my system.
I decided to get the epidural. My birth plan was quickly starting to fade away, but I stayed focused on having a vaginal delivery as my new priority. Pro tip: If you get an epidural this far into your labor, the pain of the epidural is minimal.
After being awake for two days with contractions, I was finally able to get some sleep. The first time I woke up to get checked by the nurse, I was already 4 cm dilated. And then I was stuck at 7 cm for hours. We were well past the 24 hour mark at this point and just waiting for my body to dilate. At about 10am on Sunday, I was finally 10 cm and fully effaced. Time to push! Woo hoo!
I had watched videos and read about the best way to push to allow the baby to move down to the birth canal. I was trying to do my breathing and at the same time being told by the nurse to push so hard that I couldn’t breath. This is another case where the hospital process and my birth plan were not aligned, and I was not prepared to address it. I secretly did my own breathing exercises in between the commands to push hard. Clearly not the best strategy…
I pushed for 2 hours and made no progress. She was not budging. This is when the doctor came to talk to me. They strongly recommended a c-section but would let me push for another hour. Continuing to push could also make the c-section more difficult. I was a teary, hungry, tired mess and could barely speak. I was out of options and my worst birth story nightmare was coming true. I wanted a healthy baby more than anything in the world though…bring on the c-section.
Once the c-section team was called in and assembled, I was rolled back to a room with a ceiling covered in hundreds of fluorescent lights. I laid there talking with the anesthesiologist while the team set up the room. Then, they were ready to begin and I was shaking uncontrollably. They assured me this was fine but not exactly what I wanted since I was about to be sliced open! The sawing motion started, and I could feel the pressure on my stomach as they cut and pushed.
Then, I heard her first cry, and I got to see her perfect face over the curtain. My heart (and eyes) exploded. My husband got to watch them get her ready while I waited for her to come back into view. She was finally back next to me, and I was shaking so hard that I could not even touch her. The post-op process felt like it took forever as I waited to see my baby again. Finally, they wheeled me back to the delivery room (that I did not deliver in) and I got to do skin-to-skin with her. Like magic, my shaking stopped.
Although my birth story was not at all what I had planned, it still ended with a healthy baby girl. Every mom and baby will have their own unique story. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to live up to your own birth dreams. If you do intend on delivering naturally in a hospital, make sure to understand any differences between your birth plan and the hospital’s procedures ahead of time.
Share your birth plan or how your birth story didn’t turn out exactly as planned in the comments!