My Birth Story
Thursday April 3, at 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant, I woke up having mild contractions at about 5am. They were inconsistent and hard to time so I went about my day. They became a bit more regular and by noon they were 8-10 minutes apart. They were mildly painful but manageable and last the whole day. They never got longer, stronger or closer together and remained about 8 minutes apart for about 24 hours. I spent most of the day in denial that I was in labor because I expected things to progress but they never did. I just dealt with it and went about my day. My husband was at work and i felt no need for him not to be. I got used to the sensation of the contractions every 8 minutes. They remained mildly painful. I was able to get some sleep that night, waking up occassionally with contractions a little stronger than I had gotten used to, but I was able to go back to sleep after each one.
Friday morning, April 4, I got up around 6 am when I just couldn’t stand to be in the bed anymore. I spent most of the morning soaking in the tub and enjoying the jets and warm water. Again, the contractions were getting a bit stronger, but nothing I couldn’t handle. They were starting to get to where some would stop me in my tracks and they were definitely closer together. Josh had taken the day off, just in case, so we spent a lot of time relaxing in bed with Contraction Master and the breast pump trying to kick start the labor since it seemed to be dragging on. I mostly felt like resting so I just followed my instinct rather wearing myself out walking. My contractions were about a minute long by noon or so and where about 6-8 minutes apart. There were some strong ones but overall, still what I called mild. We decided to go for a walk around 4pm and went to the park with the dogs. We walked over a mile and I had had enough by then, so back home we went.
Once we were home and we were tired of Contraction Master we decided to go get some food. This was around 6pm. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart and a minute and a half long but bearable and I was hungry. On the way out I felt a lot of wetness so we stopped at the bathroom at the bottom floor of our building. I just thought it was a lot of discharge but in hindsight it was probably my water leaking. We went on post to the Mexican place (not sure what I was thinking, Mexican food while in labor???). I made a salad at the buffet and WHHHHOOOOOOOOSHHHHH… my water broke, Hollywood style and in public.. I immediately knew what it was and took off to the bathroom where to my surprise I find very thick brown water. This scared me because I was sure it was meconium so we immediately left for the hospital. We hadn’t intended on going to the hospital until I really felt the need to and physically I didn’t feel the need. The meconium made me nervous because I had been having contractions for about 36 hours at that point. Even though I knew that ‘overdue’ babies sometimes just had to poop, I was worried that he might be stressed out because of how thick it was.
The doctor I had been seeing since we got to Korea just happened to be the on call doc for the weekend and she expected me since I was 3cm and 75% effaced just two days earlier. She confirmed the meconium and said I was 7cm and more than 75% effaced. The baby was at a -3 station, which is very high in the pelvis, really barely in there at all. That explained the wooshing water break! We were admitted and my antibiotics for GBS+ were started. My contractions were registering big on the monitor and I was still talking through them while Josh and I cut up with our nurse. They were a little surprised that I was handling things that way and my nurse told me she hadn’t quite seen anyone labor like that. Most women were screaming for pain medication by then and I was acting like nothing was happening. Of course, that’s not true, I was just using my Bradley Method training to get me through each one, one at a time. We spent this time alternating between standing and swaying and sitting on the birth ball. Most of my pain was in my hips. It kind of felt like my hips were in a vice grip. Josh would squeeze them for me during the contractions but I started to not want to be touched. I didn’t want to be talked to or disturbed at all. The nurse was very respectful and kept her space. During each contractions I would just close my eyes and breathe through it. Josh thought it was funny that once the peak broke I would open my eyes and look around the room. I guess I was just making sure I was still there! The room was dim and no one bothered us. I had requested a hep lock only so after my GBS antibiotics were done, I got unhooked from the IV. I stayed on the monitor because the baby was having some late decels. They weren’t too worried about it but didn’t want me off. I didn’t mind since it was late and I was tired and I had plenty of slack to move around.
We labored almost three hours, till 11pm. The doctor asked if I wanted to be checked. She knew that I wanted limited vaginal exams but really, I was curious so I let her do it. I was still 7cm dilated and 75% effraced the baby was still at a -3 station, very high still. I was mildly disappointed that no progress had been made. I knew that usually labor was the quickest from 8-10 cm so I thought when we got there that I would be pushing in no time but instead, three hours later, there was no change. Josh and I reminded ourselves that not all labors are text book and that some people need more time. We decided to get up and do some lunging to help the baby’s position and help my hip pain. We also made sure to stay upright, standing and swaying and moving through contractions to help the baby drop into the pelvis.
Around midnight, the baby’s decels were getting worse. It was the late decel that they were concerned about. I had to be put on oxygen because the baby’s heart rate dropped with each contraction and if I stood up or sat on the birthing ball, my contractions stopped completely. We were getting frustrated because we knew the only way to work our “big” baby down the pelvis was to get up and move but we kept having problems. If I moved to much, the baby’s decels got worse. If I sat on the ball, the contractions stopped.
By 4am, I was still at 7cm and the baby was still at -3. So far, I had been at 7cm for at least 8 hours that we knew of. I hated playing that game, where we were clock watching my progress but there was NO progress. It was defeating. We were getting really concerned then. Why wouldn’t his head engage? We were doing everything we learned in Bradley class! We didn’t have an epidural keeping me in bed and slowing down my labor. We were moving and staying up right. The doctor said, “he’s big!” I didn’t believe her. And so what if he was big? I could birth a big baby!
Basically, my body was stalling just before transition. Transition can’t happen if the baby’s head isn’t putting pressure on the cervix to finish dilating the last three centimeters and with him at a -3, he wasn’t even in my pelvis yet. We were also coming close on the 48 hour mark of total labor. The oxygen seemed to help with the baby’s heart decels and as long as I sat Indian style in the bed, my contractions kept going at about 4 minutes apart and a minute and a half long. Our doctor knew how much we wanted a natural and low intervention birth so she left us to keep going as long as the baby’s heart rate didn’t get any worse.
By about 7am the concern was shifting towards my water being broken for so long while being GBS+ and having meconium. We had had three vaginal exams since we got to the hospital, in 8 hours or so. Not back considering some docs like to check hourly but still too much in my mind. The baby’s heart rate was steadily getting more irratic and my contractions where slowing down so we agreed to a pitocin drip to regulate, speed up and intensify the contractions. The pitocin would momentarily cause stronger contractions and then they would stop. The nurse would turn it up again, then it would stop. After two hours, I told them to turn it off. It was very painful when it did work but then it wasn’t really working so I didn’t want to be pumped full of chemicals for no reason.
After the nurse turned off the pit, the doctor came back in to see me at 9:30am. I was still at 7cm, baby was still at -3. I had been having contractions for 52 hours by then. I had been in the hospital for 13 hours. My water had been broken for 15 hours. My labor was stalling. My baby’s heart rate was dropping. My doctor assumed it was because his head was too big to fit in the pelvis and she also decided that he was having serious cord issues and obviously he was stressing. She told me the options: get an epidural and let’s “torture you with pitocin” (her words) or let’s go straight to surgery. Around that time I had a decent contraction and the baby’s heart rate dropped down to 60bpm. He had a very slow recovery. I chose surgery not that I had a choice in the matter any more since his heart rate had dropped so low. I didn’t like the idea of putting the baby through more stress of pitocin induced contractions. She agreed but told me later she was willing to try because we had worked so hard on the natural birth plan. By 10:30 am I am off to pre-op and by 10:45am the surgery begins.
Josh had to wait outside for the pre-op stuff. I was given a spinal because I have a blood clotting disorder and the anesthesiologist said that he had one chance to get it right or I would have to have general anesthesia. Luckily he got it right, I didn’t want to be out when my baby was born. Josh was allowed in the room and given a little chair to sit on. I had a reaction to the spinal and I was shaking so uncontrollably hard that had I not of been strapped down I think I would have fallen off! I swear that my anesthesiologist guided me through the whole thing. He did a really good job. I started to throw up and he put an alcohol swab to my nose. It was gross but it worked. I remember wondering what it looked like to see someone cut open puke.
Once the doctors (my doc called in another OB on staff to assist) got me open, they realized we had bigger problems than any of us thought. The baby was in a face first presentation, hyperextending his neck, trying to put his chin down first. This is an impossible delivery position for a baby with a 14.5 inch head. The cord was around his neck twice, very tightly and his oxygen was getting cut of. That’s why we had the decels througout the labor. With his neck hyperextended and the cord around it twice, it was getting pinched with every contraction. Typically from uterine incision to delivery, it takes one minute. Mine took 13 minutes. It also took an additional cut to my uterus, 6 vacuum extraction attempts and both OB’s plus the pediatrician to pull him out. The cut, called an inverted T incision, is typically saved for only emergencies or very difficult situations. My entire body was being jerked and pulled. I could feel myself rocking on the table even though I was completely numb. I saw blood splatter the screen. He wasn’t wanting to come out of door number two either! The doctor told me later that we were very lucky to have made the c-section call, that any pit/epi combo would have caused strong contractions and most likely have broken his neck. I lost well over a liter of blood during the surgery.
Because of the meconium, they didn’t want him to cry, so when the ped took him it was quite agonizing. Josh and I were already both crying anyway because to the trauma of the delivery but that just killed us, waiting so long. Josh was finally allowed to go see the baby and I got a quick drive by before he was whisked off. Josh stayed with Graham the entire time.
Graham was 8lbs 5oz and 20 inches long at birth. Not the big whopper we were told to expect:) His face was very swollen and bruised from the birth trauma and he was very very sleepy the first day. It was agonizing to see my baby’s poor beat up little face and it was almost three hours after his birth before I got to see him. We made it though and by the time we left to come home most of the swelling and bruising were gone. Most babies have ‘cone head’ from the molding that takes place in order to fit through the pelvis and into the birth canal. Graham had cone face. He stuck his face right into my pelvis and he was pushed on and pushed on until he became so wedged that he couldn’t go forward or backward. When he was first born they thought his nose was broken so they ran a tube up his nasal passage to see if it was closed. It was open and they decided it was just swelling and not a break. He also had a hematoma on his head from the vacuum attempts.
Overall, his health was good. He had a little breathing trouble but luckily no meconium aspiration. He had a hard time latching on and it seems like we had every breastfeeding problem in the book. We stayed in the hospital for six days and milk didn’t come in until we got home. We finger fed him formula until then and after some time we were able to successfully breastfeed. At 14+ plus months, we are still going.
If you are pregnant, please understand when you read this that face first presentations are very rare and that 90% of these are birthed vaginally. Please also note that my son was left mentum transverse which is considered a physically impossible position to vaginally birth. There are not many presentations that are considered physically impossible. For instance, breech babies are often delivered via cesarean but it is not a physically impossible delivery. Babies can and do deliver breech. LMT, however, cannot pass through the pelvis at all. I am posting this for others to read so that they may find information on t incisions and face first presentations. I also hope that people can learn from my experience and do whatever they can to have a healthier pregnancy. Please see my posts about the Brewer diet and Optimal Fetal Positioning. I feel as if my cesarean was necessary. It took some time to come to that realization but I do believe it was. It’s not the birth that we planned and that we wanted and it took a long time to heal from it but we did heal. Even after everything, I still believe in birth. I believe in our bodies and our abilities. I believe that I can birth and I intend to VBAC, inverted T incision and all, next time. I do believe that how we birth matters and that our experiences stay with us and our babies for the rest of our lives.