Our Birth Story
(warning: very long and graphic, perhaps not the best reading for those expecting)
On Tuesday, April 28, we had our 41 week midwife appointment. Nutella was 3 cm dilated and very effaced. We all agreed for the midwife to do a membrane sweep to get things going. Throughout the night, Nutella experienced lots of bloody show and some contractions that she could not sleep through. At 4am, she woke Strawberry up to let her know that the contractions were getting more intense. We began to time them and they were approximately 10-20 minutes apart. [Strawberry: When she woke me, that was it for me going back to sleep. I got so excited, thinking we’re going to have our baby today! Nutella: I was relieved that things were getting underway on their own and that I wasn’t going to have to face a biophysical profile and continued waiting. I was really, really ready to not be pregnant anymore]
Wednesday, April 29, we both decided to work from home as Nutella’s contractions continued to build in intensity and frequency. By her 4:30pm chiropractor appointment, they were about 5-10 minutes apart and Strawberry drove her to the appointment. We hoped that by continuing to assure that everything was in alignment, it would facilitate an easier birth. On the way home, we stopped at IKEA to have dinner, thinking it would be a perfect place to walk around since it was raining outside. We did this for about an hour and a half.
We got home at 7pm and contractions continued to get stronger and even closer together. At this point, most of them were between 3 and 7 minutes apart and 60-90 seconds long. We began getting last minute items together in order to go to the birth center. We had called the midwives throughout the day to let them know what was going on. We called at this time and asked what to do. They said when it’s time to go, you will definitely know, so wait until then. [Strawberry: This was a really antsy time. I wanted the midwife to say ‘come in’ but she was hesitant, and I kept getting worried we wouldn’t get there in time. Nutella: I wasn’t worried]
At midnight on Thursday, with contractions consistently 3-5 min apart, we called the midwife and she said she’d meet us there at 1am. We arrived at the birth center at 12:45am and had to wait outside for 10 minutes until the midwife let us in. She checked Nutella in and examined her cervix. To our dismay, after having had labored all day at home, she was only 3.5 cm dilated, which was hardly any more than at our last appointment. She was fully effaced, however, and the baby’s head was very low. [Strawberry: This was a huge blow as we expected her to be at least 5 cm dilated by that point. Nutella: I was disappointed but determined to continue with our birth plan]
From 1am until 8am on Thursday, Nutella labored at the birth center. She was in and out of the tub, but usually didn’t find it to be very comforting unfortunately. Most of the time, she leaned on the bed or against a wall while Strawberry applied counter pressure to her lower back, or swaying/slow dancing with Strawberry and moaning through the contractions. Not long after we arrived, Nutella’s mother arrived to assist with labor. Nutella also kept running to the bathroom with episodes of diarrhea.
When the midwife checked her cervix again at 8am, she found it to be 4cm dilated after having labored for nearly 30 hours, at best, 4.5 cm. Both Nutella and Strawberry were exhausted and began to despair. We lay on the bed and cried at the lack of progress and thinking where this might be headed. Most people would’ve already had their baby at this point.
Nutella’s mom brought back some bread and apple juice for breakfast after we tried to nap for a little, unsuccessfully. After only a few bites of bread and sips of juice, Nutella began to vomit violently. We knew things weren’t going to get any better and were faced with the decision of whether to transfer over to the hospital. The time now was 10am on Thursday.
After much consideration, we transferred to the hospital where an IV was started. It was very painful and one of the reasons why Nutella had chosen to give birth at a birth center in the first place, being extremely needle-phobic. The hospital then administered Stadol (a narcotic to help Nutella sleep). They hooked Nutella up to constant fetal monitoring, constant contraction monitoring, a saline drip, and a blood pressure cuff that went off every half hour. [Strawberry: This was a complete nightmare. It was everything we had tried to prevent happening. It was like an out-of-body experience, looking down at Nutella who was attached to all sorts of wires and lying on her back in the bed, all the monitors going. While she slept after they gave her the drug, I sat next to the bed weeping. I didn’t sleep at all until hours after our son was born. Nutella: I was so distraught and physically exhausted, but also extremely fearful and disappointed. When they started my IV, I was sobbing, not just from the physical and psychological trauma of the needle, but I was mourning the birth that we worked hard for]
Nutella slept for 2 hours while Strawberry sat and watched the monitors. Even though Nutella was sleeping, she was still aware of the contractions and moaning every now and then. After the 2 hours of sleep, Nutella’s cervix was again checked to reveal no further progression.
We decided to break the bag of waters, but the baby’s head was so low the midwife couldn’t get a good hook. It was very painful, but she finally managed a small puncture and clear fluid began to leak.
We were then told to walk around the hospital labor and delivery floor to try and get things going and let the water leak out. We had to return to the room every 45 minutes to be hooked back up to the monitors to make sure everything was ok with the baby and Nutella. After 3 hours of this, another cervical check was performed and Nutella was found to be 5 cm dilated. Time lapse for labor now is around 36-37 hours.
Having dilated only 5cm and feeling exhausted and in pain, Nutella began to sob and requested an epidural…anything to make it easier on her. Before Strawberry could even ask for their code word for medication, Nutella began shouting it out. An anesthesiologist came in and went through a thorough explanation of the epidural procedure and all pros and cons surrounding it. Nutella sat up with her knees over the edge of the bed, leaning and trying not to move as the epidural was given. About 20-30 minutes later, it kicked in and the lower half of her body was completely numb. Her whole body began to shake. She could only feel the pressure of the contractions near her diaphragm now. She rested a couple more hours to see if any more progress would be made now that she could relax. One of the nurses said she might not be progressing because she “wasn’t giving in to the pain” which is complete bullshit because she had already been laboring for nearly 40 hours and most people would’ve had the baby by then.
At one point, Nutella drank apple juice and immediately began vomiting again. Since much time had passed and many, many more contractions, we thought *maybe* this was transition. A cervical check revealed that she was 6cm dilated. All hope was lost for continuing without more intervention. Even the midwife suggested moving forward with Pitocin. We were reluctant because of its reputation, but in the end decided it was the only way. They told us they would start with the lowest amount of the drug and see how everything was, and how the baby was reacting. If there was any sign of distress, they would immediately stop it. If all was well, they would increase the dosage.
Pitocin was given at 6 or 7pm. Nutella rested again as contractions picked up. They now took on a normal pattern. Strawberry saw earlier that on the monitor, her contractions prior to Pitocin were quick, tall spikes, but now they were long rolling hills. This continued for 2 hours when the epidural began to wear off. We told the nurse and she sent an anesthesiologist to give Nutella a “bolus” (hit of more epidural). Shortly after, a man bruskly entered, jammed the bolus into the line, and grabbed Nutella from the bed to turn her. He was so rude but thankfully was gone just as quick as he came in.
Labor continued and then at some point, Nutella got a fever indicating an infection. We got scared that maybe this meant she was headed toward a C-section, but the nurse gave her a Tylenol suppository. She refused the oral Tylenol based on her previous vomiting. Thankfully, her fever began to reduce quickly. Throughout the labor, the baby never showed signs of being in distress save for one moment when Nutella changed position and his heart rate dropped. Quick administration of an oxygen mask and a return to left-side position helped bring the heart rate back to normal. That was another scare leading us to believe that they might whisk her off to a C-section.
At midnight on Friday, finally, they did a cervical check and Nutella was at full dilation. The nurse paged the midwife who at this point, was just checking in every now and then. A short while later, the midwife arrived. Time now was 12:30am…about 45 hours of labor. The midwife said that pushing could commence. Although Nutella could feel the pressure of her contractions, it was not well enough to efficiently time her pushes. The nurse was great in directing her, and while Strawberry counted to 10 each time, Nutella pushed 4 times per each contraction. After some pushing, we were told the baby was descending, but slowly. [Nutella: I was relieved to get to the pushing stage of things, although it was very difficult. I was proud that I was able to push as well as I was and hoped I’d be able to get the baby out quickly and safely. It certainly was a complete change from how I had envisioned pushing our baby out, laying flat on my back, knees to my chest, hooked up to a million machines, but in the moment, I was just so desperate to get him out safely. I had to save my sadness and regret for later]
After 2 hours of pushing, the baby’s head had not descended far enough and Nutella was done. The midwife explained that the baby’s head was having trouble navigating under the pelvic bone. She suggested calling the OB to get his take on it. The OB arrived fairly quickly and decided on a forceps delivery. Having done some research, we asked him for a vacuum delivery attempt first. He agreed to try if Nutella could push hard enough. He explained that it was an 85/15 split…her force in pushing and his extra “oompf” from the vacuum. He’d attempt to turn the baby’s head to get him under the pelvic bone and out. [Strawberry: It was just one thing after another. At this point, it was anything and everything to get the baby out, to get to the end point. We had already been through so much.]
10-15 minutes of pushing with the application of the vacuum (4 times), our baby was born. To everyone’s surprise, he was covered in meconium. No one expected this since the amniotic fluid had been clear. The cord was also wrapped tightly around his neck and the OB slipped it off. He was whisked away to the other side of the room to be cleaned up and evaluated while the OB began to repair the 3rd degree tear that Nutella had sustained. She also had a tear near the urethra and was later told, a mild hemorrhage. [Strawberry: It was really intense, the moment when he finally came out. I watched this blank space where the OB was working with the vacuum, and then all of a sudden he was holding this baby upside down and I thought, oh my god, that’s our son. I began crying and telling Nutella how beautiful he was. And then I was completely torn between following my son to the other side of the room or staying with my wife. I kept desperately running back and forth between them. Nutella: I got very choked up the moment he was born, but then they whisked him away where I couldn’t see him at all and I kept asking for him, and they wouldn’t let me have him yet. It was this horrible limbo where I was just waiting to see him, I couldn’t even believe he was here, he was real….I felt so distant from my body and from him. I couldn’t look at the OB who was doing repairs because the one time I caught a glimpse, I could see the motions of him stitching me up]
Nutella kept calling out to Curly, and Strawberry kept running back and forth between the baby and her to let her know what was going on and that he’d be with her soon. Thankfully, he had come out screaming and despite the meconium, his Apgar scores were 8 and 9. After the OB finished repairing, he assisted while Nutella birthed the placenta in a few more pushes. After what seemed like forever, the nurses let Strawberry hold their son for the first time and bring him over to Nutella. She placed him on Nutella’s chest and he immediately began rooting for the nipple.
There was complete and utter relief that washed over us now. The baby was out and ok, Nutella would be ok, and we were all together. We knew recovery would be difficult, but it was finally over. We reveled in that moment of closeness.
Applying counterpressure while laboring in the hospital bed
Cleaning up the baby
The family together at last while the midwife looks on