Intense 12 hour induction; welcome to the world, Emelia Iris!
We love it when our clients share their birth stories with you! Read Olivia's announcement as she and her husband Alex welcome their baby girl into the world. Congratulations!
"Emelia Iris was due on February 27th, just 3 days after my birthday. As her due date quickly approached, our excitement for her arrival and for labor to begin grew more and more each day. I had originally thought that maybe our little girl would decide to share a birthday with me, but that day quickly came and went with no signs of labor around the corner. Every day past her due date felt like an eternity as we waited for labor to begin and I continued to tell everyone who reached out, that no - she has not arrived yet! Here’s a friendly tip for anyone who has never been pregnant before - don’t ask a pregnant woman when their baby is going to come or tell the baby it's time to come out! - even if it’s with the best of intentions or in humor. It may not be this way for most women who go past their due date, but for me, it made me feel a tinge of sadness and frustration every time someone asked or talked to my belly as it was a reminder that we still had to keep waiting for her when all I wanted was to be patient that she would arrive when she was ready.
Our birth plan, which was made possible by taking the birthing classes with Christine and learning what our ideal birth would look like, was to hopefully go into labor naturally and to labor at home for as long as possible. I envisioned being able to run a bath at home and spend some last moments of quiet time alone before our lives would change forever. As the days grew closer to my due date, those original dreams were slowly starting to change.
At my 39 week appointment with my OB, the doctor had started to mention that if I did not go into labor by my 40 week appointment (the day before my EDD), that we should look at scheduling an induction for the following week. My husband, Alex and I strongly preferred to avoid a medical induction unless there were medical risks for either the baby or me. I really wanted for my body to be able to naturally begin labor on its own and when our little girl was ready to come. I also strongly wanted to avoid pitocin and an epidural, unless absolutely necessary. I had also envisioned that I would be able to walk around and change into different laboring positions to keep labor moving along and allow our baby to make her way into the world naturally. In the birthing classes, Christine shares with us something called the “Birth Fairy” who will bless your labor/birth with something unexpected or that may not necessarily go according to your plans. I will say that Emelia’s birth did not go anything like we expected or how I had envisioned, but I know that it happened exactly as it was meant to and at exactly the right time.
When I left my 39-week appointment, I told my husband what the doctor had said regarding induction and timing, and we both felt pretty frustrated that it was even mentioned so early as we weren’t even past her due date yet. We discussed that if I hadn’t gone into labor by the 40-week appointment, that he would go with me and we would be firm with our preference to wait until at least 41 weeks before talking about scheduling anything and we ended up having that exact conversation a week later. Thankfully, our doctor did not fight us on our wishes and internally, I could feel my own desires for my birth plan beginning to change and become more flexible. The yearning to meet our baby was growing very strong and I did have some concerns about waiting too long - although I know that many babies arrive close to 42 weeks or beyond with zero issues. My husband and I finally decided by the next appointment (40W & 4D) that if labor did not begin on its own by 41W that we were open to a scheduled induction. I was at peace with this decision and it actually brought comfort to know that we would be meeting our baby girl within a week, if not sooner.
At my last 3 checkups, I continued to be only 50% effaced and my cervix was fully closed. I tried to have a membrane sweep done at the last scheduled appointment, but it was not possible since I had not dilated at all. The plan was now that we would go to Healthpark Sunday evening, March 7th, to be induced with cervidil to allow my cervix to dilate and become more favorable. As long as the cervidil worked overnight, they would likely begin to start pitocin Monday morning and they told me to anticipate a 2 or even 3 day process as there was a chance they would need to do one more dose of cervidil if the first one didn’t work. My husband and I were able to buy ourselves one more night together before the induction as there were some scheduling miscommunications with the hospital and we ended up going in on Monday around 2pm. We were expecting that we would likely not meet our baby girl until Tuesday night or sometime Wednesday and were preparing for a long stay in that room. Little did we know, my body and baby Emelia had very different plans and we would be holding our baby girl by 7:26am the next morning!
The rest of the story is a bit long, but I thought I'd share the full details and full disclosure of my experience to hopefully be of help for other women who may experience similar bits and pieces of my story in their own birthing journey.
At 5pm on Monday, the nurse inserted the cervidil (which I will be honest was quite unpleasant and felt a bit violating even though I was usually very comfortable with cervical checks) and we were expecting to have a calm and quiet evening until that could be removed 12 hours later. I had to remain in bed and could not eat for the next 2 hours. During that time, I felt very crampy and uncomfortable as Emelia was moving around and jabbing me in my cervix quite a bit. The monitors felt extremely tight but the nurse said that they were already as loose as she could have them to get the heartbeat on the monitor. Thankfully, she said we could try the wireless monitors after the 2-hour window was up. That time seemed to go by pretty quickly and at 7, I was all set with the monica wireless device. Between 7-8pm, I started to notice that I thought I was having contractions. I did not have any braxton hicks throughout the pregnancy, so I really had no clue what to expect. This was the first time that there was noticeable cramping and discomfort that would come and go.
I asked my husband to look at the monitors and the printouts to see if it looked like they could be contractions or to find out what “Uterine Activity” meant. Sure enough (and with a quick google search to make sure we were reading it right), I was having contractions about 30-60 seconds long and anywhere from 3 minutes apart to maybe 5 or 7 minutes apart. We called the nurse shortly after 8pm to ask if it seemed like I was starting to go into labor as I was already having to breathe and focus though the contractions and they were very close together for early labor. She let us know that she was monitoring them but that it didn’t necessarily mean I was in labor or to get our hopes up basically.
From that time until about 2am, the contractions continued to be strong, intense, and very close together. I was not prepared in the least for the sensation that my contractions would give me. I’m hoping that the way they felt for me is quite rare and unlike most women’s experiences. For any mommas reading this, please do not assume that this will be your experience as we all have different labors and feel contractions differently! I only wish to share what my contractions felt like as it was very unexpected for me and unlike anything I’d ever felt before (despite having very painful menstrual cramps in the past that have taken my breath away or brought me to my hands and knees). The best way I could describe my contractions in the heat of the moment was that it felt like I was being electrocuted and burned at the same time. Of course, I’ve never experienced either of those horrors, but this is where my imagination took me. The pain would course through either my back and midsection in the earlier hours and as it got closer to 2am and up until pushing, I felt them all radiating in and down both of my hips where I believe the sciatic nerve is.
I was anticipating that I would have relief or a relaxed sensation in between each contraction, but I continued to feel extremely uncomfortable and tense in between them despite my efforts to breathe deeply and focus. I remember my husband continuously telling me to focus on my breathing and I told him there’s no amount of breathing that can get me through this!! He kept me focused and told me to just keep breathing and take it one contraction at a time. At about 2am, I was in the bathroom and leaning over the counter through a contraction. At that time, my legs and bottom half were shivering so intensely. My emotions erupted and I began crying and unable to focus on deep breathing as the pain was so intense. I pleaded to my husband that I needed some relief and he helped me calm down so that I could get my heart rate back to normal and return to deep breathing. The contractions weren’t slowing down and kept coming one on top of the other. What was even more frustrating or confusing was that the nurses did not seem to convey to us that labor was progressing as they continued to mention that we might still need to start pitocin in the morning to keep things going.
At this time, we were still thinking it would take at least through the next day before Emelia would be born. We finally asked for laughing gas or nitrous oxide to help me through the contractions at that time. Before they could give me that, they had to check me and I was only about 1.5 cm dilated at that time. It seemed as though the nurses were going based off of my dilation rather than contraction patterns to determine the speed or progression of my labor. After more and more contractions that continued to be less than 1-3 minutes apart, I finally told my husband that I needed the epidural. My body could not take the continuous pain without any intermittent relief. The nurses checked me again at about 4 or 5am when the cervidil was removed and when I told them I’d like the epidural. I remember the nurse checking me and sounding very surprised. She told me I was about 6-7cm dilated (when I was only at 1-1.5cm less than 3 hours ago) and rushed to get everything prepared for the epidural. As soon as we heard I had dilated that far and so quickly, I told my husband to call our Doula, Emily. We still thought that it could be many more hours of labor, but I thought we should call her just in case and in the event I could manage without the epidural. I remember telling the nurses in between contractions, as I was loopy from the laughing gas, “If we could get the epidural, that would be cool, but it’s also cool if there’s not time”. Since they had to give me a bag of fluids before the epidural could be done and they also needed to get the antibiotics administered as I was GBS positive, it was looking more and more likely that I’d be doing this naturally!
I look back and also think to myself, even if there was time for an epidural, my contractions were so close together and intense that there is no way I would ever have been able to lay still enough for them to do the epidural. Even though I was pretty out of it at this point, I could feel the vibe in the room had picked up pace, there were more people coming in and out, and my husband was telling me, “we’re going to meet our little girl soon!”. The time after this was a bit hazy for me but I know that my water broke somewhere between 5:30-6:30am and the nurse had yelled to the others that the baby had passed meconium and to get the NICU team ready. I was checked again somewhere in between this time and I was 9cm and getting closer and closer to feeling the need to push.
Before I knew it, there was another shift in the energy of things and my doula, Emily, took charge of the room as soon as she arrived. She told me to get on my hands and knees and started doing the double hip squeeze. That felt just as amazing as that first breath of laughing gas! I was starting to feel the urge to push and right before the doctor came in, I returned to my back to begin pushing. Emily and my husband had both of my legs and with the help of the nurses and the doctor, they were all encouraging me to push. I also had no idea what to expect for the pushing part - I admittedly couldn’t help myself from screaming as I most definitely felt the “ring of fire” which I hadn’t heard of that term until after labor. I also imagined that I would know when to push or that my body would push with my contractions, but it seemed like things had actually calmed down immensely once I was on my back to push and I didn't actually feel or intuitively know when to push. I just went by what everyone was directing me to and after taking a very deep breath. With a bit more screaming and figuring out how to push, I was able to push probably less than 8 or 10 times, and our little Emelia had arrived.
They let her lay on me for a few moments and the NICU team checked her out since she had meconium. During this time, I was able to deliver the placenta, when we learned that it had what’s called a “velamentous cord". The cord had almost detached from the placenta which could have been very dangerous if this deteriorated even more before she was born. The nurses and the doctor told us that she was a miracle baby as that it was very rare. Once the NICU team took care of Emelia, we were able to spend the next hour together skin-to-skin and breastfeed for the first time. It was a beautiful experience and I am so proud that my body was able to deliver her naturally. I could not have done it without the support of my husband all night long and Emily who stepped in at the most important and intense part to coach me through bringing our baby into the world."
March 9, 2021
We're so proud of you! What an absolute pleasure it has been to spend 4 weeks with you in Birthing From Within class as well as our time spent together as you prepared in those final weeks for Emilia's arrival. Our whole team is smiling ear to ear with your family! A very heartfelt congratulations to you as we welcome Emelia into the Mindful Birth family!
Our doula best,
The Mindful Birth Doulas team