After days of labor, Katie says, "I could definitely do that again."
"Early Wednesday morning, maybe around 4am, I woke up from pains I’ve been having on and off the whole night. Annoyed from the lack of sleep I had gotten, I decided to go to the bathroom for the 5th or 6th time that night. This time when I wiped, the toilet paper had a faint pink color. I was so excited I came back to my bed and could barely keep my eyes shut. “This is it!” I thought. “Today is the day!”... Little did I know, I was very wrong.
I called Emily when I got up and kept in contact with her throughout the day. She told me to time my contractions so I started doing that around noon. I spent the majority of Wednesday having sporadic contractions that were anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes apart. I spent some time in the tub, some time on the yoga ball, and a lot of time resting on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy with my mom. In the evening, I felt motivated enough to make a blueberry lemon cheesecake. It came out pretty freaking good. When it was time for bed I went into my room and was able to fall asleep. Throughout the whole night I was having painful, intense contractions every 20 minutes or so. Somehow, don’t ask how, I was able to sleep in between each contraction. So when I woke up Thursday morning I felt somewhat rested and refreshed.
Thursday morning and afternoon weren’t that eventful. Sporadic contractions. Bouncing on the yoga ball. Hip squeezes from mom. Hot baths. And Grey’s Anatomy. Lots of Grey’s Anatomy. Emily came over in the afternoon to assess the situation. She agreed that things might just be moving slowly and to keep doing what I’m doing. After having a piece of cheesecake, she decided to go back home. A few more hours pass and my contractions seem to get more consistent and closer together. Around 5 or 6 pm they were coming about every 5 minutes. I was feeling a lot of pressure. Shortly after that, they were coming every 3-4 minutes. It was getting closer and closer. Even my dog, Nala, knew something was up. She didn’t leave my side. Around 9:30pm we decided to go to the hospital.
We got to go right to a birthing suite because they were out of triage beds. Emily arrived shortly after my mom and me. When the nurse checked, I was only 4cm dilated. I think the nurse’s name was Heather. She was really nice. We kept the baby’s gender unknown so Heather was excited to hear what the outcome would be. Her guess was a girl. So many others guessed boy. Anyways. By this time I was in some pain. Luckily for me, they still decided to admit me. Dr. Chadwick came in to check things out and say hi. He was positive and in high spirits. I appreciated that. He suggested I try getting some rest. The next few hours are somewhat of a blur. I did try to rest but it was a lost cause. I couldn’t sleep whatsoever. I tried different positions, a hot bath, and even nitrous oxide to help cope with the pain from contractions. I will admit the nitrous did help a little bit at first.
6 hours pass and I decided to get checked again. I had only dilated another .5-1 cm more. I felt so discouraged. 6 hours of pain and hard work just to find out I’m only 1 more cm dilated. The nurse knew I didn’t want the epidural so she offered something similar to Benadryl that could possibly help me sleep. I can’t remember what it was called. I agreed to give it a try. After giving it some time, I realized it wasn’t working and I was still not getting any rest. It was at this point, around 4am, after crying many tears, that I decided to get the epidural. Emily and my mom were both very supportive and comforting after I made this decision. IV fluids had to be administered for an hour before I could get it. While that was happening, we walked the halls for a little bit. That wasn’t enjoyable. Standing equalled pressure. When we got back to the room I had a contraction so bad it brought me to my knees. It was then that I realized I made the right choice by getting the epidural, because I couldn’t take much more and was losing a lot of my energy. That was right before the anesthesiologist, Dr. Gezzar, came in. He did what he needed to do and after 5 or 10 minutes I finally fell asleep.
I woke up around 6:30 or 7 am feeling so much better. That epidural was a MUST. Dr. Chadwick was in at this time and asked if he could break my water. I was 6cm dilated so I felt okay with that. He did that and mentioned that there was meconium in the sac. He didn’t seem too worried but made sure the nurse made note of it. I fell back asleep as soon as he left.
A couple hours later I woke up. Still feeling pretty rested. Linda was my nurse now and Dr. Wykes was now the doctor on call. She popped in to say hi. Also cheerful and positive. I think at this point Linda told me I was about 7-8 cm and also had some cervix that still needed to thin out. A couple more hours pass that are a little blurry. At some point in the afternoon the epidural starts to wear off and I begin feeling pressure again on my lower back. Mom and Emily were helping me. Hip squeezes, shaking, pain blocks. Mainly I wanted lots of pressure directly on the spot of my lower back that was throbbing. It felt like a pinched nerve. It didn’t only hurt but was irritating the heck out of me. It got more and more intense until finally they call the anesthesiologist back for another dose. That made it better. I fell asleep for a couple more hours.
I wake up at some point and got checked. Linda said I was close to 8-9 cm dilated still with some cervix. I stayed this way for a while so she suggested a small dose of Pitocin to speed things up. Dr. Wykes was on board. I agreed. The Pitocin started to kick in and the epidural started to wear off. Contractions were feeling intense again and I was getting worn out. I was in pain. When Dr. Wykes came in to check me, I was still at 9 cm with cervix. The baby hadn’t turned the way we wanted and Emily said that’s why I was having so much back pain. I don’t remember exactly what was said but I knew Dr. Wykes was talking about a csection. I did not want a csection. Especially not before I even got a chance to push! I remember crying and crying. Dr. Wykes reassured me that she’s there to deliver a healthy baby and keep a healthy mama. And that everything would be okay. Emily talked me through my tears and reminded me when I was worked up the baby would be worked up. Emily and Linda suggested using the rebozo to try a couple techniques to turn the baby. Dr. Wykes said she was going to check back in about an hour. We tried those techniques and let me just say. They were not enjoyable. Lots of pressure and made me feel like I had to poop. I was in pain. The epidural was completely worn off at the point. Linda called the anesthesiologist to come back for more epidural. He came and discovered that something had gotten lost on my IV line. A clamp or something. He stepped outside to see if he could get another one. As he was in the hallway, Linda checked me and said the cervix had cleared and she thought it might be time to push!
We told the anesthesiologist he didn’t have to stay. Mistake on my part. I started pushing and it took a while to get down the right technique. Dr. Wykes came in to see if things had progressed and it didn’t seem like she thought the baby was coming anytime soon. I pushed and pushed. At this point Sabrina was there for the night shift and Linda was heading home. Linda was so great though. Encouraging and motivating. She stayed over hours because she really wanted to see this baby be born! Finally she left because the pushing just continued with what felt like no progression. The pain was increasing and I was getting aggravated. At one point I asked everyone in the room to stop talking. I was yelling at some points. And even dropped an occasional F bomb. Being in labor really does change a person. They put a mirror in front of me to help motivate me. That was sort of cool. Although seeing a little bit of hair was so awesome, it still felt like nothing was progressing when the hair would disappear after a contraction. A contraction would come and Sabrina would count to 10 for me to hold a push. I would get to about 7 or 8 before I really needed a breath. Plus I think she was counting a little slow. Or at least it felt that way in the heat of the moment. Dr. Wykes was in another delivery so for a while it was just me, Emily, my mom, and Sabrina. At one point I felt so exhausted and in pain I told them “I can’t do this anymore! I need a csection!”... Sabrina said “no you don’t, that’s an extreme abdominal surgery, you do NOT want that!” I’ll have to thank her for that someday if I ever see her again. I don’t know who suggested it but someone mentioned the suction option to help get the baby out. I was on board and willing to try anything. Finally Dr. Wykes got to the room with what felt like 15 other people. This baby was coming one was or another. I told her I can’t do much more and I’m running on empty. She told me we would try the suction but if it didn’t work we are done. She wasn’t willing to risk the baby getting anymore stuck. So I pushed with one contraction and the suction was placed on the back of the baby’s head. Mind you, I expected this “suction” to be small like the size of the end of a vacuum hose. It was like the size of a big orange. Anyways, after that one push the baby’s head felt like it was half in me and half out of me. It freaking hurt! I told Dr. Wykes “No more! I can’t do it, give me a csection please!!” She said no and that we were going to push one more time.
The contraction came and I pushed with everything I had. Everyone in that room was cheering me on and encouraging me. The energy was truly amazing. Finally with that last push out came a baby. A real baby! Dr. Wykes said “Look what you had!” All I saw was the umbilical cord so I said “A BOY!!!!” They said “Nooooo, it’s a girl!” and put her right on my chest. She is the most perfect being I have ever seen. I remember saying shortly after to my mom “I don’t think I can do that again, if I ever want more kids I think I will adopt.” And now, after having this perfect little girl in my arms for now almost 13 days, I think to myself “I could definitely do that again.”
Introducing Jesse Lyn Hawk. 8 pounds 7.1 ounces. 21.5 inches long. My life has changed forever and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
A special thanks to my mom for being my biggest supporter, Emily for being the best doula I could have asked for, and the hospital staff at Cape Coral Hospital for being so encouraging and helping me birth a beautiful, healthy baby girl. I am forever grateful."
Authored by Katie Stephens, mom of one beautiful baby girl, August 2020
In doula love,
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