Bump Squad mama Tavia on having the birth she always wanted.
I was 38 weeks, 5 days when I had a routine OB appointment. I had had three nights of false labor before that, so I decided to ask my doctor to check my cervix. I was surprised when he said I was 4-5 CM and 85% effaced. Really really surprised. I don’t think I knew you could just walk around that dilated and not be in labor. He asked if I would like a membrane sweep or schedule and induction and I declined. I live an hour away from the hospital, so he wasn’t rushing me or my birth, he was just offering some choices because he knew my first labor/delivery was fast (2 hours, 20 minutes) and said this one could go even faster. I declined both. I really wanted a spontaneous labor this time.
That night I started to have false labor again. Only this time I started to get nauseous around 9PM and by 11 I was having full blown flu symptoms. By 4:30AM we had called my husband’s mom to come watch our daughter and we headed to the hospital. I was puking nonstop and violently. The doctors determined I had a stomach virus, gave me 2 bags of fluid and some anti-nausea meds and sent me home. I was still only 5cm dilated.
Two days later I attempted to go to our local “Boo at the Zoo” with my daughter. When I got there, I felt OK, but about 20 minutes into walking around my sciatica pain flared up like it never had before. (I did not have this with my first pregnancy.) After collapsing to my hands and knees about 5 times and having to explain to the crowds that I was not in labor although I was 39 weeks pregnant, I decided to leave. The next few days I couldn’t leave my house. My sciatica had gotten so bad that I was afraid to drive because my legs would unexpectedly feel like lava was being poured down them. I didn’t want to risk anyone’s safety.
My mom flew down from Virginia on Tuesday evening. That night at 2:30 AM I was woken up out of my sleep with a painful contraction. Then several minutes later, another. Then another. I woke up my husband and told him we needed to go to the hospital. I knew I didn’t want to risk delivering on the side of the road and my last delivery I didn’t have any painful contractions until transition. I didn’t think laboring at home would be a good idea given I was already 5cm.
By the time we got to the hospital an hour later, I wasn’t having any more contractions. We decided to sit in the lobby and bounce on my ball/walk the halls until my previously scheduled 7:30 routine OB appointment. We walked and walked and just spent time together. We had a big breakfast (believe it or not, the hospital food is delicious there) and coffee and went up to the appointment around 7:15.
At this appointment, he checked me again (per my request) and said I was a solid 5 and almost 6 cm dilated and completely effaced. He again gave us options – membrane sweep or schedule an induction. He knows how far away we live and how at this point I was a walking baby-time-bomb. I was in a lot of pain from the sciatica and mentally frustrated from the more than week of nightly false labor plus the stomach virus plus being up since 2:30 that morning thinking I was in real labor. I decided to go with a membrane sweep. I had read a lot about them and I knew it wasn’t likely to work, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. The doctor told us to hang around the city for a while and go walk at the mall. He said if I thought I was in labor to come right back to his office instead of going to Labor and Delivery – this way I could skip L&D triage.
My husband and I loaded up and headed to an outdoor store and walked for about an hour. We then went to the mall where we walked and shopped, we got a foot massage and ate delicious pretzels. We stayed there for about 2 hours. As we were leaving my contractions got a little more painful, but I chalked it up to my cervix likely being irritated from the sweep. Nothing was consistent. We decided to go walk at the hospital for a while and we would call a hotel to see if we could go sleep for a few hours just in case things picked up later. As we drove out of the hospital parking lot to head for a local hotel I had a REAL DEAL contraction. I couldn’t talk or function during it – just breathe. Once it passed, I knew we needed to head back to the Doctors office at the hospital. At this point it was about 12:30 pm.
We pulled up to the hospital to find there were no parking spots, so my husband dropped me off at the door. I walked to the help desk counter where I had back to back heavy and hard contractions until he came and got me. We walked together to the doctor’s office; stopping every other minute for me to work through another contraction. The doctor saw us immediately, checked me – 7cm. It was the real deal. This baby was coming.
A nurse and medical technician escorted us through a back hallway to L&D. We walked to triage where they called back to the floor. No rooms available in L&D. No rooms available in triage. I was laboring in the hallway at this point. Not ideal, but I tried to stay humorous about the whole thing. A nurse took us back to the O.R. where they have a recovery area with beds and curtains for privacy (beats the hallway, right?). Once we got there she realized an O.R. room was open, so she took us there instead…now we had a little more privacy with a door to close. However, I had never been in an O.R. so it freaked me out a little. I tried to find the humor in it.
I lucked out and I knew my assigned nurse from our Essential Oils team. She is THE BEST EVER. I labored standing at the side of the bed while we signed paperwork and got the IV port situated. (I am GBS positive, so I had to get antibiotics for it)
After about 30 minutes, it was just us and two nurses (and our birth photographer). The nurses never left our side. They rubbed my back, put cold cloths on my forehead and back, encouraged me the entire time. They accepted every single labor and birth request I had. They let me stand, squat and get on all fours – any position that made me comfortable. They checked me when I asked and never forced anything. They helped my husband help me. (My husband was a TROOPER through all of this by the way – virtual high five for being awesome Jimmy!) If I asked for something to change, they changed it. I cussed, I blew raspberries, I growled, I laughed, I breathed, and the three of them helped me stay focused.
At about 2:30pm the doctor was called in. It was time. Pushin’ time. I trust my doctor. I trust the nurses I had. I really trust them, but I couldn’t push. My contractions were very, very strong and my body wanted to arch my back and push away from the doctor, not bear down and push a baby out. I argued with them, yelled, cussed more, apologized to everyone, cussed more, yelled more, apologized. We did this for about 20 minutes. I could. Not. Push. I had always heard of the “pushing instinct” the one that overtakes you…I kept asking why I didn’t have it. Then the staff helped me move into a better position. I had been in a half laying on my back/half sitting position and I was holding my own legs. They moved me to lay flatter and put my legs into the bed stirrups and BOOM. The baby moved past the pelvic bone. THE INSTINCT KICKED IN. I seriously could NOT stop pushing even if I had wanted to. My body took over. Three big pushes and my baby was OUT; born at 3:07PM — 2.5 hours after my first real contraction.
Everyone let me look to see that we had a BOY. A SON! I couldn’t believe it. Not to mention he was SO chubby. Per my request, the doctor practiced delayed cord cutting, my son was not wiped down after birth and they gave him straight to me. He was fat, covered in vernix and so precious. After our skin to skin time we weighed him and he was 10lb 1oz. I pushed out a 10+ baby with no pain medicine. After my first birth (Pitocin + late Epidural), I wasn’t sure I could do it. I still cannot believe it and I don’t think it would have been possible if the staff hadn’t been so amazing to us. I had the birth I always wanted and a giant baby BOY; a little brother for our daughter!