Katherine was born Monday, November 27th at 4:55PM, 7 lb 3 oz, 20.5 inches long! We're so glad to finally meet her, and begin being a family of 4. Here's our labor and birth story...
Labor: My due date was November 11th. Beginning on the 7th, I began to feel pelvic floor pressure (feels like the baby's pushing on the Kegel muscle) and mild period-like cramping. I knew this was a good sign that my body was preparing for labor.
I chose to decline having my cervix checked before my due date, because I didn't want to risk feeling discouraged. I had been consuming 6 dates/day since 36 weeks.
As my due date approached, we began doing various things to help induce labor: foot massages, long walks, sex, nipple stimulation, etc. We weren't really focused on it intensely, because we knew chances were I'd go a little past my due date.
Well, we went a lot past my due date. Finally on the 20th (41 weeks, 2 days), I consented to my first cervical check. I was ecstatic to hear that I was 90% effaced and "an easy 2 cm dilated." I also consented to her sweeping my membrane, to hopefully help labor begin soon after. After this appt, I had bloody show almost every day until the birth.
Because I was already over 41 weeks, my doctor wanted me to come back again on Wednesday, the 22nd (day before Thanksgiving) to have my cervix checked again, sweep my membrane again, and do an ultrasound to begin the discussion of inducing.
On the 22nd, I was 100% effaced and "an easy 3, almost 4 cm dilated" and 0 station. To my doctor's surprise, the ultrasound showed no signs of distress or reason to induce that week (baby was estimated to be 7 lb, 3 oz, she moved, her heart rate and breathing movements looked great, and she had a great amount of fluid volume). My doctor said she's normally not comfortable waiting to induce past 42 weeks, but since everything looked so great, she was willing to wait until 42 weeks, 2 days, which was Monday, the 27th.
I was really, really hoping that my body would continue to progress into active labor on its own.
Birth: I was disappointed that I didn't go into active labor on my own, because that meant that we couldn't be in the low-intervention room at St. Joseph, and it was obviously not my desire to be induced with Pitocin and have a birth with some intervention. But overall, I'm really happy with my birth story.
We were scheduled for induction Monday morning the 27th at 7:00AM. It took a while for them to get me checked in. When Dr. Damian checked my cervix that morning, I hadn't progressed at all since last Wed - still 3.5 cm and 100% effaced.
I was disappointed, but hopeful that I might dilate quickly since all the effacement was done. They started the Pitocin drip around 10am. I didn't feel painful contractions until around 2:00, but after that they quickly grew in intensity. I was so discouraged to hear I was only at 4 cm around 2:15.
I tried to tough it out for a little bit, but my contractions grew even more intense and were spaced about 2 min apart, meaning I was only getting about 1 min of rest in between. I totally said our secret code word asking for an epidural. Michael, God bless him, said, "why don't you get checked again before we ask them for the epidural." Seemed reasonable enough.
When they checked me around 2:45, I had already dilated to a 6 in 30 min. I felt encouraged to stick it out a little longer, but it was SO hard given the intensity and that the contractions were still 2 min apart.
I again asked for an epidural around 3:15, but they checked me again and I was at 8 already and in transition. Just after 3:30, I was at 8-9 cm. Very soon after that I started having the urge to push, but I was at 8.5 - 9 cm and had to wait.
Dr. Damian showed up at some point (I was completely unaware of time by this point, but was told it was around 3:50), and I was at 9.5 cm. She told me to breathe and not push through 4 more contractions and then she'd check again and I could likely start pushing. Having that count down helped a lot, though through each one, I kept involuntarily pushing a little at the peaks.
Finally 4 contractions down, she checked and told me I was at 10 and could start pushing if I wanted. Never have I wanted to push more!! Remembering Nicole's and Rachel's advice to not be afraid to push really hard, I pushed as hard as I could right off the bat, not caring what came out of my orifices or who saw it. I just wanted it to end, asap.
Though very painful, pushing felt SO much more useful and proactive than just groaning in painful contractions while dilating. I was so glad for the advice to not fear pushing, because even pushing as hard as I could every single time, it still took almost an hour before she came out. Perhaps about halfway through pushing, my water broke (very odd sensation, but I remember Michael saying, "There's no going back now!") The doctor told me that she started to come down in the face up position, but once she finally turned, that made her head come out easier.
There were several times I thought I was feeling the ring of fire, but then realized when her head and especially shoulders came out what the ring of fire really felt like. As soon as she came out and they handed her to me, I remember thinking, "THAT'S how little she is?! She felt so much bigger coming out!!" The doctor said the cord was wrapped around her neck after my water broke as I was pushing, but that our baby girl was just so chill, her heart rate didn't even change.
I was able to deliver in the side lateral position like we wanted, even in the regular delivery room bed (they didn't break it down for us). And in hindsight, having the bed rails to grip and bear down on during the worst contractions and especially pushing was CRITICAL for me. So that worked out well for me given induction wasn't my plan.
Thankfully I only had two very small tears that took one stitch, but she said they weren't even considered first degree they were so minor. The soreness afterwards is no joke, and I highly recommend the "ice pack" (baby diaper packed with ice) they give you initially. I ended up only wearing and using the hospital gowns/mesh panties/pads because I didn't want to soil my own stuff, but now that I'm bleeding a good deal less, I look forward to being in my own clothes soon. We were discharged Tues evening, so just over 24 hours in the hospital.
The nurses were wonderful and respectful of our birth plan. I'm so glad it's all over, and I honestly can't believe I did it without pain meds/epidural. Even though for me it felt like forever, the whole painful part took only about 3 hours before she was out. I'm not sure if I would have made it without pain interventions had I not dilated so quickly. I also have no idea if the Pitocin made my experience feel more painful than it would have had my body gone into active labor on its own. But there's no point to speculating - I'm so thankful for how my birth turned out, and I could NOT have done it without the support and encouragement of Michael and our doula. Poor Michael - I squeezed his hand so hard during the contractions and especially pushing. But hearing his words of encouragement, and giving me updates on my progress, and our doula's soft words to remind me to groan in low tones and breathe slowly - it was all so helpful for getting me through when I felt like giving up.
No matter what your birth story ends up being, just be proud of how hard your body has worked to bring a baby into the world. It's no easy task, but it's so rewarding. And husbands, your support means SO much to your wife in those tough moments, even if she can't respond at the time. She hears every word and it can make all the difference. Thank you Rachel for all you taught us, and thank you to the others that have birthed before us and shared your experiences. We're so thankful to know each one of you, and excited to have gone through this journey together.