My estimated due date of Saturday, April 1st, 2017 came and went. On the 3rd, I was 3 cm dilated and the midwife said she wouldn’t be surprised if she received a call that night from us saying I was in labor. That didn’t happen. All I did that day was have a non stress test and biological physical profile as I was now past 40 weeks. On the 6th, the midwife was surprised I hadn’t given birth and that I was still walking abound at 3 cm. She also told me that 1 midwife left the practice and that the doctor would be on call that weekend. That was disappointing, as I really wanted the midwife. She assured me that the doctor was a big supporter of natural birth so that I was in good hands.
Labor began on Friday, April 7th, 2017 around 10:30/11pm. Contractions were far apart but regular enough for us to know that it was finally happening! I did my nails for the fourth time as they kept chipping waiting for the arrival of Elijah. The contractions continued the next day, Saturday, April 8th, 2017 and started to get a lot stronger around 2 pm and Greg called my parents and sister to come over. They were going to go to the hospital with us and my dad was Greg, Simone (my doula) and my ride to the hospital. I was with them in the living room for a little while and my contractions started to go away/less painful. My family was distracting me too much so I went back into the bedroom with Greg and the contractions returned. Simone arrived around 3pm and said that my contractions weren’t consistent as of yet. My contractions rapidly got closer and between 6 and 7 pm they were lasting coming around every 4.5 minutes, lasting about 1.5 minutes for an hour. At that point, I decided that I wanted to leave for the hospital.
The ride to the hospital took a little over an hour. The unpaved streets of NYC were unkind! I was admitted into triage after 15 minutes of waiting in the waiting room. The vaginal exam revealed that I was 5cm dilated. That was enough to be admitted to labor and delivery, which required 4 cm dilation but not the birthing center, which required 6 cm. The staff wanted me to leave and walk around and return in an hour. That was something I was not even contemplating! But first, they did external monitoring for 20 continuous minutes. The device kept slipping so they had to restart the monitoring about 3 times. Then, I received an IV of fluids because the baby’s heartbeat wasn’t doing exactly what the doctor wanted it to do during the contractions. Around 1030ish pm, after the fluids were given, the heartbeat looked good enough for them and upon the second vaginal exam, I was 7 cm dilated. Off to the birthing center we went!
Loved the birthing center rooms. Got into the hot tub and it was AMAZING. The nurse did intermittent monitoring with her Doppler throughout the night. The doctor said that I could labor in any I wanted but for the birth I would have to be on my back due to estimated size of the baby (8 lbs 9 oz). I labored using the birthing stool for a short amount of time (uncomfortable), on the medicine ball, holding acupressure balls from Simone and the hot tub as aforementioned. My favorite position was lying on my side with my body pillow. I labored for a couple hours and when the doctor checked me, I was 9.5 cm dilated. Two hours later I was still 9.5 cm dilated and my water still hadn’t broken so she broke it using the hook. (At first she was just going to break it without me responding. Greg told her to wait and asked me if that is what I wanted). About 30 minutes later, the nurse and doctor returned and wanted me to start pushing with the contractions. The technique used was coached/directed pushing as opposed to spontaneous pushing. I had to wait for a contraction, hold my breath for 10 seconds and push. They wanted me to do this about 3-4 times per contraction. I generally had 2 good pushes in me; by the third one I could feel myself losing energy and forget about the fourth one! This part went on for a while with the baby’s head almost getting out but then returning to its position in the canal. The doctor wanted to take me to labor and delivery to give me Pitocin as my contractions started to get more spaced apart. I felt myself getting discouraged due to this and the fact that the doctor was saying I wasn’t progressing far enough fast enough. Nipple stimulation was performed by Greg making my contractions come back quicker and stronger and as time passed, I could feel the actual urge to push, which helped the process immensely. The doctor stretching my perineum felt worse than the actual pushing. Finally, the baby’s head came out and I found out later that it was a compound presentation. The baby’s hand was resting on his cheek when his head came out. Greg said that the doctor and nurse stated, "Ohhhhhhh” when they saw this, as if finally realizing why it was taking a little longer than they were used to.
It’s interesting that many of the comfort techniques I thought I would want during labor, I did not. I didn’t want people massaging my back, didn’t use the rebozo or the heat pack (which I liked to use during the uncomfortable moments in my pregnancy). The only comfort measure I used during my contractions was the acupressure balls and, during labor, squeezing Greg’s hand.
Having my parents, sister and doula with me were good. My sister held my hand when Greg needed to eat. They left and returned when I asked them. Simone (doula) was very supportive and helped Greg and me to make decisions.
We brought so many things with us which was okay by me as I'd rather have something and not use it than not have it and wish I did. The most useful was my body pillow and the straws. Not having the straws didn’t seem like a big deal but during those contractions and the different positions you are in, for me it made a huge difference not having to move to drink something. Great idea, Lisa!
Elijah was born April 9, 2017 and 4:55am. He was 8 lbs. 10 oz. and 22 inches long.