Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Birth Story

Beware, it's REALLY long...but I want to be able to read it and remember it all later.
    My fourth pregnancy had been long and exciting.  We had planned for this baby.  Unlike Brayden, our wonderful surprise, this baby had been planned—we had been trying to have another baby for over a year.  In February 2010 I had found out I was pregnant after trying for only 2 months, I was so excited!  My excitement was soon crushed when I went to my 12 week appointment to find out the baby no longer had a heartbeat.  My heart was broken.  I desperately wanted another baby, but was hoping to get a new job so we decided to hold off on trying again right away.  I started my new job in June 2010 and immediately began counting the days until we could try again for a baby.  So much for my timing, I found out in September that I was pregnant again, unplanned this time.  However, just as soon as I’d found out I was pregnant, I also found out the pregnancy wouldn’t last—my HCG levels were too low and I miscarried the next day, at 7 weeks.  I was upset, but not nearly as crushed as with the first miscarriage.  I talked with my Doc about my options and ways we could try to prevent another miscarriage.  We decided I would use Prometrium during my first trimester as soon as I got pregnant again.  So after a few months of trying, on December 20, 2010 I found out that for the 3rd time that year, I was pregnant!  I was due on August 29, 2011—Brayden’s fourth birthday.  I immediately began praying that I would meet this sweet baby that was growing inside of me.  I wanted so desperately to have another baby; I didn’t think I could handle any more heartache this year.  I spoke with my doctor, started taking my Prometrium and got ready for the nine month ride ahead. 
            My first trimester went the way it should, I was tired, and nauseated, and tired.  I figured if I was nauseous that meant things were going good inside.  Who knew that feeling like puking would ever be a good feeling.  I got to see my little sweetie for the first time at 10 weeks.  On January 31, 2011 I heard the sweetest sound, a healthy heartbeat.  Tears began flowing immediately—I prayed that sound would never  end; I didn’t want to face losing another baby.  So on I went, praying daily that this baby would grow strong.  Into my second trimester—things were still going well.  No signs of complications, no more nausea, and a big ol’ belly to prove it. On April 1, 2011 we got to find out our little squirt was a girl!  What a sweet profile picture we saw.  And that wonderful sound, a strong heartbeat, just thumping along.  The baby kept growing at a rapid rate, I hoped she wouldn’t be as big as her 9lb 12oz big brother, but if she was I would be thrilled still.  Onto the third trimester, we got to catch a glimpse of her sweet chubby cheeks and momma’s nose at 33 weeks.  Things were getting harder, my hips were really hurting and it was hard being on my feet all day at work.  But regardless, I was happy to be carrying a healthy baby girl.  The home stretch was in sight, I couldn’t wait to meet my “sweet” Caroline.  At 36 weeks I was 1cm dilated, at 37 weeks I was 1 cm dilated, at 38 weeks I was 2cm dilated.  I wanted to wait for labor to start on its own, but like any mother, I couldn’t wait to meet my baby.  Waiting for her arrival was making me anxious and nervous, I wanted to hold my baby and know that she was safe, she was here, she was alive and mine to love.

            I hadn’t planned on being induced.  I was induced with my first child and wanted this labor to occur spontaneously, naturally.  Yet, things weren’t going to end up that way.  My husband, Jordan, works 24 hour shifts as a Paramedic and isn’t always readily available when at work so my doctor suggested we induce labor while my husband was sure to be around for delivery.  My midwife even stripped my membranes hoping to spur on labor the night before my induction, with no luck.
            So, on August 19, 2011 we headed to Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (I’m an OB nurse at the hospital too) to induce labor and meet our sweet daughter.  I was anxious to get to the hospital and get things going.  I was also nervous about the induction; I was induced with Pitocin with my son and knew the pain and agony that may lie ahead.  However, the doctor used Cytotec to induce me and things started off slow and easy.  I planned on going natural and having a waterbirth with this delivery, unlike my son’s delivery that included an epidural.  I was two centimeters dilated when I arrived at the hospital, and having some irregular contractions every now and then.  My nurse, Sharen, came in and placed the Cytotec next to my cervix around 4:30pm to get things going.  I stayed in bed for a while to let the medicine start working and around 6pm or so my husband and I decided to take a walk.  We walked for over an hour, up and down stairs, all over the small hospital, we even went outside to walk the hills around the hospital campus.  When we went back to my room it was time for the night nurse, Anette, to arrive, so she came down to the room and chatted for a while and discussed how things would go throughout the evening.  The baby had a great heart beat and was tolerating labor well so I sat up on an exercise ball and rocked in a rocking chair until it was time for the nurse to check my cervix again.  At 8:30pm the nurse said I was having frequent contractions, but they weren’t regular enough and they weren’t strong enough.  I agreed, saying they were a two or three on a pain scale of 1-10.  Then the bad news came, I was still only two centimeters dilated.  All of that walking and moving around and relaxing to let the contractions do their job, and no progress.  So Anette talked to Dr. Lam and he decided to give me a double dose of Cytotec this time.  Back to bed I went, to let the medicine kick in.  My husband and I talked a little while watching television, but I was really trying to focus on these contractions—I wanted to stay relaxed and let them really work on moving my baby down.  I breathed in and out with each contraction, listening to the little thump of my baby’s heart as we moved through labor.  We got up and moving again around 10pm, I went to the bathroom and then we hit the stairs.  I climbed up and down stairs for a full 30 minutes, determined to help my body progress in labor.  By 11pm I was breathing through the contractions, not because they were really intense, but because I was determined to relax through this labor.  Anette came to check on me again around midnight.  My contractions were getting stronger, maybe even painful when I was lying in bed, but still not doing what we needed.  My cervix was still only two centimeters dilated, although my cervix had thinned out and the baby’s head had moved down some.  I was nervous that Dr. Lam, was going to start thinking about Pitocin, and that was the last thing I wanted.  I planned to deliver this baby in the water, without pain medication!  Anette knew I was against having Pitocin and she reassured me that Dr. Lam was being patient; he was in no hurry to rush things along.  He knew my body would kick in to gear when it was time.  So back to bed I went for another dose of Cytotec.  Around 1am I was tired of being in my room, but my husband was asleep on the pull out couch, so I took my exercise ball up to the nurses’ station and sat with the staff.  When I was in bed the contractions were starting to pinch, and cause my back to ache.  Yet when I was upright the contractions almost seemed to disappear.  I rocked back and forth on the ball, bounced up and down, breathing deep when I felt a contraction coming on.  Anette was coaching me to really make these contractions worth it, to focus on the contractions and let the tightening push the baby down.  Some of the contractions seemed intense enough to call a six on the pain scale from 1-10, but I was still talking through some contractions and totally resting between them, so I knew I had a lot of work left to do.  At around 3am I decided to go take a shower, to see if relaxing in the hot water would help my contractions along.  I rocked back in forth in the shower, pushing against the wall with each contraction, trying to breath deep and focus on moving the baby down.  Around 4am I got out of the shower and Anette came to check my cervix again and listen to the baby.  Her heartbeat was thumping along nicely, sounding just as wonderful now as she had twelve hours ago when the induction was started.  But, my stubborn cervix had made little change; I was now only three centimeters dilated.  Anette and I decided I needed another walk, so around 4:30am I got out of bed and she and I headed for the stairs.  We told Michelle, the OB aid, that we were headed to the stairwell and we’d call her on Anette’s cell phone if we needed her.  I tried “waddling” as I walked down the hallway, trying to really loosen up my pelvis and give my daughter room to move.  When we got to the stairs Anette suggested I do a couple of lunges each time I got to the bottom of the stairs, before heading back up.  So down the stairs I went, did a couple lunges, back up the stairs I came.  Down the stairs again, two lunges and a pop—“Anette, I think my water broke.”  Yes indeed, my water had broken.  Warm water soaked my sweat pants.  I felt bad and hoped I wouldn’t leave a puddle for our housekeepers to clean up.  We hustled back to the OB department to listen to the baby and make sure all was well.  We walked onto the OB hall to a surprised Michelle, she couldn’t believe we were back so quick.  Now I knew, I was finally in active labor. Oh did that next contraction hurt, I stopped and held onto the wall…this was it, Caroline was on her way.  I hustled down the hall to my room to get in bed and let Anette listen to Caroline’s heartbeat. Jordan was still asleep on the couch, for now I let him keep sleeping.  The contractions were getting harder, Anette checked me right away—4cm at around 4:40am.  Caroline’s heartbeat sounded great, I tried to focus on my breathing and listen to her little heart between contractions.  Anette hurried out the door to call the rest of our delivery staff in (everyone on staff wanted to be present for the birth of our little sweetie and I wanted them their too).  Jordan woke up as Anette left and I told him that my water broke when I was up walking.  He was a little confused at first but quickly realized that things were getting busy.  Another heavy contraction came and I started feeling a lot of pressure.  Jordan called Anette in the room, she checked me and I was 5cm just minutes after her last check.  She went out to tell Michelle and they started filling the tub.  “Oh no, this contraction is worse than the last” and “Get Anette back in here” I told my husband.  I couldn’t take being in bed any longer so she checked me one last time, 5cm still, and I got in the shower.  Anette started calling people on her cell phone as she stood outside the shower curtain.  I heard her telling them that I was 5 centimeters and going fast and that they needed to get here quick.  Most of the staff lives close, including my midwife and doctor, so I was happy to hear they were all on their way.  I was moaning through contractions, letting the hot water hit my back.  I clung to the wall as the tightness got more intense, the pressure was more than I thought I could handle.  Anette was coaching me, telling me to hang on to the contractions and not to lose control.  At 5:00am she said the tub was full so I turned off the shower and she helped me dry off.  I wanted to walk up the hall to the room where the tub was.  Another contraction came as we reached the room and I grabbed the door handle, hanging on for dear life. 

After the contraction was over I got in the tub fast and got on my hands and knees.  The water felt amazing.  I had been in Anette’s position before, as the nurse coaching a mother near the end of her labor, but it was exciting to be the one in the tub this time.  I was still able to relax and talk a little between contractions, but they were coming fast and hard now.  Jordan sat near the tub, telling me I was doing a good job.  Two contractions had passed and I was starting to feel pressure.  I didn’t want to feel pressure, I wasn’t ready.  I wanted the rest of the staff there, I wanted more time to relax and catch my breath.  I’d only been in the tub a few minutes.  But Miss Caroline was ready, she wasn’t going to wait.  With the next contraction I told Anette I needed to push and that I was scared.  She encouraged me to push and yelled for Michelle to get in the room fast. 

 I pushed with that contraction and she was immediately crowning.  At that point I don’t think I waited for any contractions.  The pressure was so intense all I could do was push.  I pushed, and moaned, and repeated that I was scared.  I reached down and felt her head coming out, after her head was out I remember saying, “Oh wow, that feels so much better,” but knew that I had to get her shoulders out next.  She had the cord around her neck so Anette told me to wait a minute, she loosened the cord a little and I pushed with everything I had.  Out came Caroline, just 5 minutes or so after I’d gotten in the tub, at 5:15am on August 20, 2011.  I turned around, reached into the water and picked up my baby.   She cried quickly and began “pinking up” while I talked to her and rubbed her back. She was so sweet, just staring at me, wondering what all the fuss was about. 

The rest of the staff arrived, surprised that I had already delivered.  We stayed in the tub to let the cord stop pulsing, and I nursed her for the first time, then we cut the cord and they took Caroline to the nursery while I delivered the placenta and got cleaned up.  After, they wheeled me back to my room and got me nice and warm in bed to rest while they finished bathing the baby and checking her vital signs. My 8lb 3oz baby girl was here, she was healthy, and she was mine.  I’d finally gotten the baby I’d been praying for—and I’d delivered her myself, without a doctor or a midwife, without any pain medicine—just me, Jordan, Anette, and Michelle.  What a wonderful morning that was.


  1. Great story, great delivery, great mama!!
    I am so glad I got to be there with you!

  2. Jess - I loved reading this! It got me excited for May - when our next little girl is due! You are one strong lady! Love you!

  3. Check out my blog. You've been tagged!