Here is my full birth story that I’m sharing for all the pregnant ladies and future moms out there. I hope this post provides you peace, comfort and a little advice. When I was 40+ weeks pregnant, I was desperate to read a story I could relate to. Warning, this is long!
At my 40 week midwife appointment, I saw a nurse that I had not yet met. Seeing that Tommy was measuring 8 lbs 11 ounces by ultrasound, she encouraged me to schedule an induction at 41 weeks if he did not arrive by then on his own. I was hesitant because I thought my due date was 3 days later. An induction at 40 weeks plus 4 days seemed preemptive.
On Friday the 8th, I cancelled my induction but rescheduled for Tuesday the 12th. I wanted to give Tommy a few extra days to arrive on his own. Things didn’t look optimistic though and I quickly began trying every natural induction method I felt was safe. This included bouncing on an exercise ball incessantly, walking, eating spicy food and having acupuncture done on Monday the 11th.
I went to a woman in Arlington named Ruth Knill per a personal recommendation. I am scared of needles but was desperate. The session was not painful but I can’t say it was relaxing either. It was quite a new experience. Once the needles were in place, I laid down and tried to meditate while little vibrations were sent through the needles in my neck, hand and ankle.
I noticed Tommy’s movement decreased in the last few days. In one of the Facebook January Due Date groups I’m in, I read that one of the members lost her child a week before her due date unexpectedly in utero. This broke my heart and freaked me out. I realized I was ready for Tommy to be born. I didn’t want to risk anything. I just wanted him to be delivered safe.
Tuesday morning I woke up at 5am with some new to me cramps. I started timing them and thought I was having regular contractions 20 minutes apart! I had planned to wait to go to the hospital until my contractions were 5 minutes apart but with my already scheduled induction at 8:30 am, I didn’t have to make any decisions. I had a big bowl of oatmeal with banana and walnuts as well as a glass of almond milk with some Vega protein powder. Once labor began, I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat real food so I was trying to fuel up like I would a marathon.
I read that this rule is sort of silly these days but time would prove that a) I didn’t want real food and b) I couldn’t keep anything down anyway.
When we arrived at MGH, we were checked into a room with a gorgeous view of the Charles River. It was the largest one on the floor! They checked all my vitals, drew blood and then sadly gave me an IV. I originally was going to attempt a med free birth if I could go without an IV, I hate needles so much. Turns out, everyone gets an IV.
Upon observation, they informed me that I was actually having contractions 8 minutes apart. I said, “I have a pretty high pain tolerance,” and ranked them at a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1-10. I was measuring only 1 cm dilated but 70% effaced, a good place to be I was told! We began with one dose of Cytotec to begin the induction. After 4 hours, they would check my cervix again and potentially give me another dose every 4 hours… up to 6 total times! This freaked me out but I felt like my baby would be delivered between midnight and 4 am so I didn’t let the numbers get to me. If the Cytotec were to not work well, the next step would be Pitocin, which I knew would guarantee me wanting an epidural.
So at 10:30 am, I put two little tabs under my bottom lip and let them dissolve for 30 minutes.
I don’t really remember the timing of the next 4 hours except that the first hour wasn’t so bad. Nick went to go grab me some avocado toast for lunch since I was allowed to eat until I was in full on labor. Then all of a sudden I started having contractions really close to together and really intense. My midwife helped coach me through them by focusing on my breathing. Nick had texted my family that I was doing great. I texted my family that I was miserable. Guess I have a good poker face.
When he got back, the nurses told him I wasn’t allowed to eat as I was in full on labor. My contractions were coming ever minute lasting a minute each. We didn’t know how far along my cervix was dilated but since my contractions were on top of each other, I had a feeling I was moving along fast. If I wasn’t, I was prepared to beg for the epidural.
I sat in a rocking chair for the next two hours refusing any sort of touch or communication. Standing hurt, dancing impossible, walking – no thank you. I told Nick I didn’t understand why I had to go through such excruciating pain to bring our child into this world and he just got to sit there. That was the only mean thing I said. I didn’t make loud noises. I entered my own deep trance like state, breathing in for a count of 6 and out for a count of 6. I began to imagine the baby descending his way down the birth canal and that visualization was the first trick that helped make the pain manageable. I wish I had done this sooner.
Finally around 2:30 they came to check my cervix. I was ready to demand pain meds even if I wasn’t deemed ready. The nurse told Nick my odds weren’t good and he was nervous for how I would handle the news.
Turns out, my body was ready for labor and at 5cm dilated and 90% effaced, they said I could have my epidural! It was smooth sailing after that. I didn’t need any more Cytotec and we decided to wait on the Pitocin to see how I progressed on my own.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I wanted a natural birth. After reading your stories, the women that gave birth both ways persuaded me to go with the pain med route. The benefits in my mind didn’t outweigh the excruciating pain. The needle placement felt like a pin prick compared to the contractions I had been feeling.
The epidural kicked in almost immediately and I grabbed my phone to text my friends and family how I was progressing. I even answered a few work emails that probably made only half sense. I couldn’t feel pain but could feel pressure when a contraction began. I could also move my feet and knees. The only areas effected were my hips and pelvic area.
Feeling better now but unable to eat, I ate a few honey stinger chews behind my nurses back and an Italian ice. Shortly after, that all came back up. Next I tried some chicken broth. Again, it all came back up. I have always been very sensitive to pain medications so I wasn’t surprised at my nausea but the trade off was worth it in my opinion. I was offered Zofran but declined since I felt better once I threw up.
I progressed to 9 cm dilated by 7pm. My family thought I would surely be pushing within the hour. Since Tommy was anticipated to be a big boy, we just kind of hung out for a couple hours to let me fully dilate to the 10 cm and let him descend slowly for minimal tearing. Had there been no epidural, I would have wanted the kid out of me asap but I was totally comfortable with the exception of the nausea.
At 9 pm, we began to practice pushing. This is where my workouts came into play! Being able to push and hold 3-4 deep exhales with each contraction was hard work and required stamina. We tried a few different poses, one in which I was in a squatting position and had to hold myself up on a bar. It was fun trying the different positions and made the time go by fast.
After each push, I would feel so defeated. Nick and the nurse were so encouraging that I thought I was getting close but I wasn’t. Finally, I was getting close and the midwife and a doctor came in to deal with potential shoulder dystosia – something that happens when the shoulders of big babies get stuck and sometimes their clavicle is broken.
About 90 minutes into pushing, Tommy was born wide awake and grunting. He pooped on his way out so I only got to have immediate skin to skin for just a moment before he was taken to be placed under the warmer and cleaned. He lifted his head off my chest (strong boy at 41+ weeks) and was just staring at me in the eyes. All I could think was how he must have been thinking, “So you’re the annoying voice on the outside? Is it really you? Are you my mom?” It was a moment I will never forget.
The final details of labor made me feel better about the induction. Had I waited to be induced, the meconium (baby poop) would have happened on the inside and he would have been breathing in his own poop. Also, his size reassured me that I made the right decision. I did have a small 2nd degree tear but that is allegedly standard for first time moms but if I waited it could have been worse due to his size.
I was warned that my next labor would go very fast. The nurse said that I was born to birth babies which made me feel good but not forget the painful hours from earlier.
Tommy weighed in at 8 lbs and 14 ounces. He measured 22 inches long placing him in the 97% percentile for length. Nick is about 6 feet and I’m 5’5 so we aren’t sure where this length comes from. The nurses also keep telling us how big Tommy’s hands are which again makes me think he will actually grow up to be a big boy.
After he was cleaned up, he was placed on my chest where I attempted to breast feed the little guy. I think I got him to latch but don’t remember it was all such a blur. We were then transferred to our hospital room where we would stay for the next three nights. It feels like forever ago but was just a week.
I had hoped to document with more pictures and video but I totally forgot. My mind was elsewhere – I even forgot to call my Dad!
The staff at MGH was wonderful during our stay. Their food, not so much but luckily they are located near Charles Street, where one of my favorite places for lunch is located. Green juice was one of my first requests – something I was told to avoid if unpasteurized during pregnancy.
This past week has been one of the most challenging but rewarding weeks. I never knew I could love something so much so fast. I told Nick I have anxiety already about protecting him from everything. News stories make me cry if they involve children. The postpartum blues are real.
I’m only going to be posting mommy stuff once a week as I don’t want this to become a mom blog but I do like sharing my pregnancy journey. Next week, I’m going to share what my body looks like two weeks postpartum and what I’m doing. Here’s a hint – I haven’t done anything. I’ve yet to really go for walks or start any remote diet. The breastfeeding thing has me famished and the lack of sleep has me out of breath at the top of a flight of stairs. If it was warmer out, I’d probably be up for walks but it’s just so cold and my hormones are crazy. I’m HOT. I’m COLD. I can’t regulate my body temperature.
Sorry for the long post. I wrote this for me as much as I wrote this to help the handful of you looking at having an induction at 41+ weeks.