Coen’s birth story, my first baby
During my pregnancy Coen started measuring about 2 weeks behind. His measurements ranged from as low as 2nd percentile and none of them were above the 11th percentile. I saw a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at 34 weeks. They saw nothing alarming on their ultrasound and assured me that my baby’s short femur length and small measurements were probably because of genetics. After all, I’m only 5’2. The specialist did recommend induction at 39 weeks. I didn’t want this to happen because I knew induction meant it would be harder to achieve an unmedicated birth and also I was scared it would end in a C section. However, at my 37 week OB appointment, we set the induction date for 39 weeks. At my 38 week appointment, I was only 1cm dilated and 50-60% effaced. My OB did a membrane sweep hoping that I would go into labor on my own and avoid the induction. That day was Monday. The next day I had what I thought was maybe contractions but it wasn’t very painful and they eventually stopped.
On Wednesday morning the cramps started again. Spaced out but consistent! By 1 pm I thought I might actually be in labor. By 4 pm I knew without a doubt it was labor. Contractions were hurting now and close together. My husband got home from work at around 5 pm. He got our older boys (my stepsons) ready and off to my in-laws.
The plan was to labor at home then drive to the hospital. The place we were delivering was about an hour and 15 minutes from our home.
It was odd to me that all of the pain was located in my lower back rather than my stomach. Around midnight I texted my doula that I was ready for her to come over. When she arrived, her and my husband took turns applying pressure to my back. She suggested that the baby might be turned a weird way and told me different positions we could try to see if it helped move him the correct way. Around 3 am I told my husband I wanted to take a shower then get ready to leave. The contractions were intense and I thought surely we were making progress.
My doula went to pump (she had a 4-month-old at home) my husband took a nap and I showered. At 5 am we packed up the car and left town. I kept a heating pad on my back for the car ride and it helped take the edge off of the pain so much! I was even able to sleep in between contractions. My husband must’ve driven quickly because we got to the hospital around 6 am.
At this hospital, it’s mandatory that you go into “labor triage” before being admitted. When I was checked by the Dr there, I was 5cm and 60% effaced with a lot of bloody show. I was a little bummed because I had been in labor at this time for 17 hours. I thought for some reason I would be further along. However, I was still considered to be in active labor and admitted. My actual OB came in around 7 am. We chatted, she checked me and I was now 6cm.
This is when things got tough. I had been awake for over 24 hours. Laboring for 18 of them. I was exhausted. I started falling asleep In between contractions that were coming every few minutes. I would wake up at the peak unable to cope. Also, it was completely back labor. This went on until about 11:30 am. I told my husband and doula I wanted an epidural, I was so tired and couldn’t take it any longer. I needed rest and relief. The nurse came in to check me. It had been almost 5 hours since my last cervical exam, my contractions were consistent so we all expected me to be close to 10cm. Nope! I was STILL 6cm. I started sobbing. How had I not changed at all?
The anesthesiologist came in around noon to place my epidural. The pain of the contractions disappeared quickly. My OB came in around 1 pm, checked my cervix, I was now at 7cm. I asked her to break my water in hopes of speeding things along. The nurse offered Pitocin to speed things up but I declined. The goal was to rest for a while and hopefully progress on my own without any more intervention.
Shortly after the epidural was placed I got the worst headache of my life. My husband and doula took turns putting pressure on my head. I felt nauseated and couldn’t stop shaking. I developed a fever. At 4 pm they finally gave me medicine for nausea.
5 pm and I was finally 10cm. My Dr. arrived and we began pushing. I couldn’t feel anything so I didn’t know if I was doing it correctly. After a little over an hour of pushing, I began feeling my contractions a little more then started a sharp pain in my lower back. Even in between contractions the pain was there. My Dr mentioned that she thought he was facing the wrong way (posterior) making the back of his head apply pressure to my lower back causing the pain there. This continued until the end. I begged them all for something to make it stop. They said nothing would help.
Finally, he was crowning! Except this lasted for a very long time also. I looked down to see my Dr. holding scissors. She looked at me and said “ he has to come out right now” I hadn’t realized it but Coen’s heart rate was dropping and wasn’t coming back up. I pushed as hard as I could and thankfully delivered him without the help of an episiotomy. After 31 hours of labor, 3 hours, and 6 minutes of pushing my baby boy was born Thursday, May 23rd 2019 at 8:06 pm.
When he came out, he wasn’t crying or moving. My OB said he was “stunned” from the difficult birth and needed to be evaluated at the warmer. I didn’t have delayed cord clamping. After a few minutes, we heard his cry. He was fine. But they weren’t bringing him to me.
My husband asked the nurse to bring him back to us but she repeatedly ignored him. Instead, they cleaned him off and took measurements. Something we had specifically asked to delay.
This was upsetting to both my husband and I.
Meanwhile, my Dr is stitching my tears. I had a 2nd-degree tear that required many stitches. The next 2 hours were so frustrating. Instead of skin to skin and bonding with my baby, the staff filled this time with interventions. They insisted he have a bath in the delivery room because I had a fever during his labor. I’ve still not found evidence to back this up. But because of my epidural, I wasn’t able to help with his first bath.
It wasn’t until hours later that I was able to enjoy my baby alone. To actually look at him and see all of his perfect newborn features.
I was thankful for great OB care but my nursery and postpartum care were terrible. I left the hospital 2 days later. Swollen, exhausted, and clueless about how to breastfeed. No one had paid any attention to my questions. Not one nurse or lactation consultant helped with my babi’s latch. It was days later after delivery that I made an appointment with the lactation consultant in my hometown and finally figured out the problem. After that our journey with breastfeeding was much more pleasant.
It took a long time for me to be okay with how the birth went. I was completely ok with getting an epidural. It was truly for the best. I was happy I avoided mostly all interventions despite how long and hard my labor was.
However, I felt like the nurses completely dismissed me as his mother in those first few hours. Instead of respecting my wishes for myself and baby, they did what they wanted. They stole those precious first few hours of my child’s life away from me with zero care.
I struggled with this for so long. Postpartum was very hard for me. Thankfully my husband was very supportive, he helped me so much those first couple of months.
I still get sad when I think of how his birth went when it could have been prevented with the right care. But! I’m thankful for my sweet boy. Their is still so many happy moments about his birth and I choose to focus on those…
NOTE from Aliza (Bumpnbub): I generally try not to share negative birth experiences, as I think it can be make birth feel daunting and scary for first time parents. However, I also believe that every birth story should be told. This incredible mama, had a totally different second birth, and this will be shared in the coming days.