On February 23rd at 11:30pm, I woke up and I suddenly felt a painful sensation I had never experienced before in my back and belly. I knew instantly that it was a strong contraction. I tried to go back to sleep for a little bit. A couple hours later (if that), I woke up again with contractions, mainly in my back. I tried to hold off on waking Brian, but ended up waking him up around 2:30am or 3am. My contractions were pretty consistent and unfortunately all in my back. I had a hunch that would mean our baby was “sunny side up” (facing my belly rather than my spine), but I didn’t focus on that since I had no idea really.
Somewhere between 5am and 7am, I called The Midwife Center to tell them I was in labor. I had the option to wait a little while longer or to come in soon. The shift change was around 7am and it turns out my favorite midwife was on call. I started to tear up because I had hoped for the last 9 months that she would be the midwife to deliver our baby. We decided to leave around 8am to head to the birth center. On the way there, my water broke. We arrived at the birth center around 8:30am.
To my surprise, I was 5cm dilated when I got to the birth center. I thought that was great and that we would have our daughter earth side by the afternoon. My mom joined us around 10am or so. I continued to have back labor and it was awful. I enjoyed having the freedom to labor how I wanted while at the birth center. I couldn’t imagine being stuck in a hospital bed. I labored in the shower, the birthing tub (my fav), while standing, and while sitting on a birthing ball. I said many times that our daughter would end up being an only child because I wasn’t doing this again lol.
Sometime in the afternoon, the contractions were one on top of another and it was difficult to cope. I thought I was going through transition at this point. Nope..I had only dilated another centimetre. I felt so discouraged and disappointed. At this point, they offered me nitrous oxide to help cope. That stuff is a freaking god send… I was back to laughing, making jokes, and smiling. It got me through the contractions.
However, around 8pm, the midwife checked my progress again and I was around 9cm dilated. She had me attempt to push but it wasn’t productive and I honestly never felt the urge to push. At this point, she made the decision that it was time to transfer me to Magee. I was exhausted and not making the progress I needed. My plan for a medication free birth was now out the window. She said that she wanted me to get an epidural to see if it would help me progress.
I chose to take an ambulance to the hospital because I couldn’t imagine laboring in my husband’s car at 9cm dilated and I didn’t feel comfortable not having a medical professional with me at this point. The EMTs were rude about having to take me to the hospital so that was unpleasant.
Once I got to the room, the attentive and personalized care I had received at the birth center was gone at the hospital. I was suddenly laboring at 9cm with no counter pressure on my back to help me cope. Eventually they had the anesthesiologist show up. I asked a million questions about the epidural and signed papers between my contractions. Once the epidural was working, I could finally relax. My in-laws and my dad and step-mom stopped by to see me and wish me happy birthday. That was a nice break in the long day.
At this point, baby girl was handling labor and the epidural great. There were no signs of distress. However, my water had broken over twelve hours prior and it was time to make a decision.
My husband and I advocated for my options as much as possible. We asked for more time. We asked for a small dose of pitocin to see if it would help. We asked for an ultrasound to see why baby girl wasn’t descending further (the midwife and the OB felt there might be “something” in the way on the right side. This was never confirmed). All denied. It was hard to accept that I needed a c-section. I never once researched c-sections because I didn’t want to entertain the idea.
I suddenly felt broken and disconnected from my daughter. Brian was upset for me because of needing a c-section. This wasn’t the plan. However, the OB assured me that since this wasn’t an emergency c-section, this was best case scenario.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching the clock and the day, which was my birthday, was coming to a close. We agreed just before midnight to the c-section.
Once again, I was getting prepped and signing papers. My poor husband hates hospitals and doesn’t do well with blood and needles. Joining me in the OR was probably his worst nightmare. I understood if he wouldn’t be able to be there and my mom would take his place. I was taken to the OR where my midwife and another midwife joined me. They helped me feel calm and held my hand. I told them I was so scared. I was shaking (from being scared and the medication they were giving me). Finally, Brian came into the OR. I told him how proud I was of him because I know that was hard for him for so many reasons. We talked through the operation and I kept listening for a baby’s cry. Finally! She was earth side at 12:46am. They opened the clear area in the blue drape and shoved our baby against it to show her to us (strange experience I must say lol). They took her vitals and cleaned her up before placing her on my chest. We were able to do skin-to-skin the best we could with the damn drape. Baby girl latched right away to breastfeed and she held my finger.
Poor girl had a cone head for about 48 hours because of being stuck. It turns out she was sunny side up and she ended up being 8 pounds exactly. However, IV fluids and a long labor can inflate a baby’s weight, so she was probably actually just under 8 pounds.
We didn’t officially decide on her name until about 24 hours later…Claire Elise.
Claire’s birth was a wild, unexpected journey. She has taught me to surrender because my plans aren’t certain and things will work out exactly how they need to.