I started to write out my birth story and after a few pages into it, I realized I was getting wrapped up in the details. No one really cares about my appointment times two days prior to going into labor or even how I spent my time in triage. That being said, I saved what I had written, because I am sure one day I will want to look back on my story and reminisce on every detail of how Morgan entered this world. I have had two pregnancies, resulting in the birth of three amazing children. No, that is not a typo or the result of post-pregnancy brain. This is my story.
I delivered twin girls in May 2011 via c-section after an emotionally and physically demanding pregnancy. I experienced pre-term labor at 23 weeks and spent the next 13 weeks (5 of which were in the hospital) lying horizontal and praying my babies would be born healthy. My husband Wilson and I had tried for three years to conceive, so the day I found out I was pregnant, I made a promise. I got down on my knees and through tears, I told God I would do whatever it took if He would deliver this child(ren) to me. I did not care how they came into this world and figured the doctors would do everything necessary to achieve this goal. So when they said bed rest, I rested. When they said take this pill to stop contractions, I swallowed. When they said c-section because they are twins, I did not question. I have no regrets. They were born healthy at 36 weeks and came home with me three days later. I have no regrets. That was their story.
When the twins were 14 months old, Wilson and I decided we would try to expand our family, knowing it may take a few years due to the issues trying to conceive. We were shocked after the first month to find out I was pregnant. This baby was my miracle baby, and in my mind, God’s way of telling me I was worthy of being a mom (anyone who has experienced infertility knows you tell yourself some irrational things). My goal for Morgan was the same as for the twins, ONE healthy baby in the end. I discussed VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) with my provider even though I knew it may be an uphill battle. I did not want to change hospitals or providers due to my history of pre-term labor, but knew I was not attempting this type of birth with the most VBAC friendly practice or hospital. I also knew there are certain risks with VBAC deliveries, just as there are for every other type of delivery. For that reason, I decided I wanted to attend a non-hospital affiliated birthing class so we could educate ourselves on ALL of our options.
My husband and I “graduated” from Delilah’s childbirth class feeling empowered, and although I have no regrets with my first pregnancy, I could not help but feel a little cheated out of the experience I had always imagined. We hired Delilah to be our doula. I read (parts of) “Easing Labor Pain: The Guide to a More Comfortable and Rewarding Birth.” I made my two play lists, one for early labor and one for the pushing phase. I stayed active. I did everything I thought I should do to prepare myself for the experience I had envisioned and wanted to attempt – an unmedicated vaginal delivery. Therefore, everything should go according to plan, right?
A few days shy of 39 weeks pregnant, I went in for my scheduled OB appointment. I expressed concerns over the looming scheduled c-section date and even convinced my OB to extend the date by a few days. Again, not the most VBAC friendly provider, so she had me schedule a repeat c-section “just in case” I didn’t go into labor on my own. It was also my OB’s policy that labor inducing drugs cannot be used in a VBAC due to apparent increased risk of uterine rupture. All of this to say, my body needed to do what it was supposed to do and we were on a time clock. From the questions I asked, I believe my doctor suspected I was getting nervous about things happening on their own. Admittedly, I was, only because of this arbitrary (I felt) date I would not be allowed to go past. So, in that moment without much warning, she stripped my membranes assuring me if my body was not really ready, nothing would happen except for mild cramping and spotting. I hoped for a sign all day, but went to bed that night assuming Morgan just was not ready. The next morning, I started to experience what I thought could have been contractions. I did not know what a true contraction felt like, because although I had them for almost half of my twin pregnancy, I never could really feel them. The cramping started to intensify so by mid-morning, I began to time them. By 6:00 that evening, we were on our way to the hospital to meet our baby girl . . . or so we thought.
I arrived to L&D and was admitted to the triage unit for observation. I was monitored for contractions and indeed was having painful contractions every 2-3 minutes. The nurse checked my cervix and we were told I was 2cm dilated and completely effaced. Good news, right? I labored for four hours and was checked again. Still 2cm dilated. I had already been warned that “protocol” for my hospital/OB practice once in labor is dilation of 1cm every 2-4 hours. I was not allowed to walk due to needing continuous monitoring – another hospital protocol for VBAC deliveries. Wilson called Delilah and discussed the situation with her, then he and I made the decision to go home- a pivotal decision in my mind to this day. I labored all night without a bit of sleep. We communicated with our doula almost hourly the next day. How will I know when it is time? How do I keep myself safe and know that my baby is safe? Trust your body and yourself, Delilah told us. Relax, eat well, drink water, take baths, get rest – you’ll need it, she told us.
Day 2 in labor came and went and I decided that evening that I would even venture out of the house to get a pedicure. I had contractions the entire time I was getting my nails done and even had the pedicurist asking if I was okay. That night I was up again, all night, on the couch rocking back and forth on all fours every 4-7 minutes. At 4:00 in the morning I woke my husband up. I told him I just could not do it anymore and it was time, time to go. He suggested trying a bath and I told him no. I believe my exact words were, “I don’t care if they have to CUT her out of me, I’m done.”
We registered, once again, and were admitted to triage. I just knew they were going to tell me I was 2cm dilated. I was monitored for contractions (as if I needed a machine at this point to tell me when I was having a contraction) and the nurse performed her exam. “We’ll get you a room in L&D, you’re 6cm, my dear.” Praise God! The day had come and the wait was finally over. We called family, called our doula, and I walked (for the last time until delivery) to my room where I would meet my daughter. I was introduced to my L&D nurse, who ironically was the same nurse in the operating room when I delivered the twins. An IV was started for antibiotics (due to being group B strep +) and an epidural catheter was placed. I reiterated my plan for an unmedicated birth, but I agreed to the catheter placement without any drugs being delivered, in case of an emergency.
Delilah arrived and was able to teach my husband techniques to help me relax through breathing and deep pressure. I labored on the birthing ball for most of the morning, once they were finally able to locate the one birthing ball on the unit for me. I labored for a while on my side, then in the seated position on the bed. I was measuring 7cm and the nurse suggested I consider having my water bag broken to help labor progress even faster. At 11:57, the Dr. on call arrived to break my water, and then told me he felt like I was only 5cm. What?!? That’s the wrong direction! His “revelation” changed things for me. My contractions slowed, I lost focus. I was reminded by Delilah how important mental stamina as well as physical stamina is in this race. She told me that I must “trust the process.” After a quick pep talk, I was able to regain focus on the task at hand and decided not to worry about the numbers.
By 12:30 the nurse said I had just over a centimeter to go and felt that if I changed positions, the baby would turn her head slightly to allow me to finish dilating. Delilah suggested a unique position and so I got on all fours facing the back of the bed and within two contractions, felt a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. The nurse checked and I was fully dilated and ready to push my Morgan out. It was time. It was finally time. As everything was getting prepared, and I was working through back to back contractions and practice pushes, the doctor came in to see how things were progressing. He told the nurse he was going to do his c-section and would be back in a little while. I remember questioning if I had it in me. Could I do this? I was so close to meeting my sweet girl and wasn’t sure I had the strength to help her out. Then I heard my nurse tell the OB, “No doctor, she is going to have this baby in 5 minutes.” This was the reassurance I needed. She exclaimed it with such confidence and I knew then I could do this.
My husband had one of my legs against his chest and my doula the other. I used them as leverage as I pushed through three contractions. Then that was it, her head was out. I would take twice as many days in labor to see the look on my husband’s face and tears in his eyes again – a moment I will never forget. One more push for her shoulders and she arrived on Monday, April 22 at 1:49 pm. She was perfect. I have no regrets. That was her story.
I believe lessons can be learned through all of life’s experiences, good or bad. The process of becoming a mom (and the continued process of parenting) has taught me one thing – I am not in control and cannot expect to be all the time. If something is meant to be, it will be. Life does not necessarily always go according to “plan.” I am learning to relinquish the control I so desire to have in life, and in turn have become a more patient mom. I have three of the most amazing girls, a rock star husband who adores his family. We are blessed. That is our story.