As a new mom, I have come to appreciate the strides women go through to bring life into this world. It’s beautiful yet challenging at the same time. More women should share their stories so the world can appreciate and value us that much more. I’m taking a leap and sharing my beautiful yet challenging birth story.
On my due date, I had my 40-week appointment and it was determined that I had only dilated .5 centimeter but I was 80% effaced. I had been having a few Braxton Hicks contractions a couple of days/nights but it never turned into anything that would be alarming. At this point, I had only lost a few small pieces of my mucus plug but I hadn’t had any bloody show and my water definitely hadn’t broken.
I carried on with the rest of my day as normal. My mom was in town already in preparation for my son’s arrival. We got Checkers for dinner that evening and that night, the Braxton Hicks returned but they felt stronger and more like period cramps. They hurt so bad that I couldn’t sleep and had to get out of bed to lay on the couch for comfort. At this point, it’s around 1 AM. I continue to try to sleep and rest but I keep being awakened by contractions. My friend told me to start timing them, so I opened the “Contraction Timer and Counter 9m” app and began timing them. The first few times the app told me it wasn’t time yet.
Finally, around 4 am, the contractions were closer together and lasting longer so I woke my mom and husband up and told them it was time. We had a 40-minute drive to the hospital so I didn’t want to chance laboring at home. I showered and dressed and we headed out. Our hospital bags and the car seat were already in the car.
Walking to the car I had to stop due to pain and that confirmed that this was really about to happen. I had contractions all the way to the hospital but it wasn’t unbearable. I could still talk and breathe thru them but it was very uncomfortable.
Arrival at the hospital
We arrived at the hospital around 530 am and I was checked into the ER/triage for evaluation. During the evaluation, I was hooked up to monitors to track my contractions. After some time an ER doctor came to check to see how dilated I was. Cervical checks feel horrible by the way and after that cervical check, I felt like my contractions started to get stronger. But I had only dilated to about 1 centimeter.
My contractions were monitored for about 20 minutes and the doctor returned to see the readings. It was then that we got some not-so-great news. The doctor advised that some of my contractions, although not that strong, were causing my son’s heart rate to drop and that was something that they wanted to keep an eye on. He told us he would call my doctor to see if she wanted me admitted even though I wasn’t dilated but he felt that she would since I was past my due date and my son’s heart rate was dropping.
A few minutes later he returned to let me know that I would be admitted for delivery.
Once we were placed in our room, I was hooked up to monitors and an IV for fluids. My doctor came into the room and immediately gave me a warning about my vaginal delivery possibly turning into a cesarean delivery due to my son’s response to the contractions this early in the process. Her shift was ending at 730 AM and at this point, it was around 530 AM. So I ended up having a doctor who I had never met before.
It didn’t take long for my contractions to progress. And from here things got rough. My contractions became very strong and painful and as time progressed it didn’t seem like I was getting a break between them. My cervix was checked again because the thought was that with the frequency of my contractions, I must be dilating. But sadly no, I was still around 1 centimeter and my son was still responding negatively to the contractions.
I was in so much pain. Mitch turned on worship music so we could all try to relax and bring God into the room. I asked to stand and walk around to help with the pain and hopefully help me dilate. But all I could do was stand and lean on Mitch to get me through the contractions. I asked to go walk down the hall but as soon as I stood to get ready to leave the room I couldn’t make it because I was doubled over in pain. The medicine ball didn’t even help. The only thing that helped was breathing, focusing on the worship music playing, and having my husband to embrace. The pain was so bad my mom even began crying just from seeing my responses to the contractions.
It just seemed like I couldn’t get a break and this was all natural. I had not received any medication to progress my labor, this was all happening on its on. I was becoming tired since I hadn’t slept all night and I just wanted some relief to help me rest so I would have the energy when it was finally time to push. Another cervical check revealed that I was about 1.5 centimeters dilated. After all of that, the progress was still slow and he was still not responding well. All I was told was that I was not in active labor. At this point, it was late morning and we had been there since 530.
I asked for some kind of medication to help me sleep since the nurse said it was too early for me to receive an epidural since I still wasn’t in active labor. I was given some kind of medication through IV and it instantly made me drowsy. I would fall asleep but wake up for every contraction so it wasn’t much help. During this time I lost the rest of my mucus plug.
After more hours passed I was finally able to get an epidural and feel some relief. But I still couldn’t truly rest knowing that my son was still in distress.
My son’s heart rate was still dropping periodically and the doctor and nurse believed that his umbilical cord must have been wrapped around him in some way. They said the dropping of his heart rate during contractions was a telltale sign of this.
Their solution was to give me more fluid but this time through my cervix. This fluid was going to give my son more room and hopefully loosen the cord from around his body.
After some time I began feeling fluid leaking and it was determined that my water had started to break. I still felt a lot of pressure and some pain with each contraction but it was much more tolerable. Sadly, my son’s heart rate still was not responding well. At one point it dropped down to the 30s. All of us constantly stared at the monitor every time I had a contraction to see how he would respond and try to cheer him on when we would see the drops. The stress levels were high.
By 8 pm, we were all over it and pretty much ready for me to have a c-section if that meant saving his life. But the doctors still wanted to wait and try to give me the chance to have a natural birth.
Finally, around 930, the doctor entered the room and said it was time to have a birthday. After a full day of dropping heart rates, it was time to meet our son.
I was prepped for surgery. I was shaved. I had to remove my jewelry and was told I couldn’t wear my glasses. Luckily, my husband was able to bring them so I could see my son. I was taken into the surgery room and my husband was taken into a separate room.
My original epidural catheter was removed and a new epidural was placed that would numb me from my chest down. During this time my original epidural had already started to wear off or weaken, so I was feeling contractions. I had to use all my might to be still for this second epidural.
After the epidural was placed, I was laid on the table and the doctors did several tests to see if I could feel anything. I couldn’t feel a thing and that felt weird. I laid with my arms stretched out horizontally. The surgery began before my husband was brought into the room, which was unnerving but the anesthesiologist was very nice and comforting. During the surgery, I could feel tugging on my body, but I could not feel pain. Eventually, my husband was brought in and we sat and talked while the surgery was taking place. I had horrible chills and shakes from the anesthesia so a hot towel was placed over my head to help keep me warm.
It felt like forever before our son was out. Once he was out, my husband said how he looked just like the 3-D ultrasound. I remember asking why he wasn’t crying as they swiftly carried him away. Once they suctioned his mouth, I heard the wailing and felt relief. They cleaned him up and brought him back so I could finally see him, well once my glasses were put on my face. Then he and my husband were gone again and I was alone while they finished removing my placenta and closing me up.
After 17.5 hours of stressful labor and an emergency c-section, our son was born at 10:53 PM. The doctor said that his cord was not wrapped around him at all and instead he was facing upwards with his back against my pelvis (which isn’t an ideal position for vaginal delivery). She believes that his back was pressing against his cord and causing the dropping heart rate. He was born healthy and that’s all we cared about. On that day, my life changed for the better forever.
My delivery did not go as planned or expected at all. It was a very emotional and stressful day but I am grateful that we both came out of it safely and healthy. Before this, I had never been hospitalized or had surgery. But, I showed myself and my family just how brave and strong I could be for my son. And that’s the beauty of motherhood.
Thank you for reading my story.