On Monday night (3rd day past due), after spending the day on a long walk, an acupuncture appointment and prenatal fitness, my water broke. I expected labour to begin shortly after, so C stayed home from work Tuesday.
In anticipation of having a home birth we got all the last things ready: the laundry, cleaned the apartment, covered the couch in plastic etc. By evening I had some irregular contractions, but they disappeared again, so we decided that C should go to work, since it could theoretically still be days before I went into active labour. Around noon I went to do a non-stress test at the hospital with our midwife to see if the baby was still doing well. At this point I had mild, very irregular contractions, but at every single contraction the heartbeat dropped. We thought that this might be because the cord was getting compressed somewhere. Regardless, it meant that we were not leaving the hospital, so I called C and also our doula. At this point we were pretty sure it would end in a c-section, which I was a bit upset about. It seemed very likely that the rigours of labour would cause the heart rate to drop too much. But the OB and our midwife both felt it was worthwhile to see how the baby responded to stronger contractions. I think, in an ideal world, we would be able to stay monitored and let labour happen on it’s own – but such resources are not available, nor are policies really set up to let labour progress naturally (unless it naturally happens exactly according to schedule).
After some discussion with doctors and our midwife we decided to proceed with an induction after a few delays – escaping to do yoga (on the chance it may move the cord around) and to eat dinner (because, if we were able to go through with labour, we’d need the energy). Although our midwife needed to engage in some serious negotiations with the hospital staff in order that we could have these delays (and, who knows, perhaps progress a little further towards labour on my own), once we felt ready to move on to the next stage, it turned out there weren’t any rooms available anyway so we had to wait, and were even encouraged to leave and wander around. This was fine as waiting longer was what we wanted to do all along, but certainly made us wonder about the earlier discussion.
By late afternoon we were installed in a room and I was hooked up to an IV. The minute they started the oxytocin I started strong contractions. The baby seemed to be doing fine, so after 20 minutes they turned up the oxytocin and my contractions immediately became regular and close together. With the monitors hooked up we were able to discover that the heart rate remained fine if I remained standing or semi-sitting on the edge of the bed. When I tried leaning forward on the ball/bed or lying down the heart rate would drop and then take a while to recover. Luckily standing seemed to be my favourite position anyway. We were so happy that we were able to find a labour position that worked, and started to hope for a vaginal delivery.
At some point shifts changed and a new doctor arrived. He wanted to check my dilation, but it seem the only reason was to determine whether or not they should turn up the oxytocin. I did not want that, nor did I want to interrupt my labour, or to lie on my back for the exam, where the baby’s heart rate would almost certainly drop. So C fended off the doctor and luckily he never came back to resume the battle. He did however say that he wanted to check me when I was in more pain or before I started pushing.
Due to this comment I wondered how much worse it was going to get, but my wonderful doula convinced me that it was not going to get worse, just different. She was right. She was terrific. It was easy to stay on top of the contractions with her reassuring me, and C holding me. I became less and less aware of the things around me as labour progressed. Around 5 hours after getting the IV, I started to feel like pushing. At first I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want the doctor to come back; our midwife and nurse also noticed, but no one said anything except a brief comment about how one might avoid a vaginal exam if the baby was already on its way when it came time to do one. Once there was no doubt our midwife got ready to do an exam, but she could already see the head starting to crown – no need for an exam anymore! I pushed for about 1 hour before Fenya entered the world, just before midnight. C caught her, and put her on my belly. After the cord stopped pulsing C cut the cord.
Fenya got to stay on my belly for 2 hours, while I got a few repairs. It was so nice to have her skin to skin, and breastfeeding right away. We both fell in love with her on the spot.
I was very happy with the whole experience. C was amazing at protecting me against hospital “guidelines”, so I felt that we were still in control the whole way. I am very proud that I managed to do an induced labour without any pain management (up until the repairs, which I thought was by far the worst part). I felt very safe and cared for by C and our doula the whole way, and that made it a lot easier. Our midwife was great at navigating around the hospital procedures, and our last nurse was great because she stayed in the background and let us do what we needed to.
Luckily Fenya is a champ at breastfeeding, always hungry just like her dad.