I wrote my birth story almost a month ago now with the intention of it being one of my first posts when I re-started my blog. It ended up being much longer than I anticipated! Even though it took me almost 4 months to finally write it, I surprisingly still remembered it with quite a bit of detail. All that to say, I decided to break it into 3 parts the post isn't super massive. Here is part one. Hope you enjoy!
My favorite photo from my pregnancy. Taken just 11 days before Linus was born!
I think I should begin by saying that I have been longing to be pregnant and to have a baby for many years. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I was destined for motherhood. And, when I started learning more about natural birth and the absolute power of a woman’s body, that cemented it. I could not read/watch/absorb enough information about pregnancy and birth. I had my birth planned for a few years before Daniel and I even began TTC. I would have a midwife deliver my baby at the The Birth Center (TBC) in Bryn Mawr, PA. No interventions. No monitoring. No drugs. No internal checks. Just me, my baby, all that lovely oxytocin, and the power of my uterus and womanly, maternal instincts. In my mind it was beautiful and uncomplicated, pain with a purpose. After the final push, I would be rewarded with a brand new little person placed on my stomach for our first skin-to-skin interaction, ready do the breast crawl for their first taste of colostrum.
Although I still believe that a birth like this is in my future, Linus’s entrance into this world, though still beautiful and miraculous, was not be so dream-like.
My estimated due date (based on the rigorous charting of my cycle), was penned in my charts for April 16th. I fully expected, this being my first, that I would pass that date, easily, and although I was a huge, uncomfortable, swollen mess by the end of my pregnancy, I was looking forward to languishing in those last couple weeks, looking forward with eager anticipation, to the arrival of labor. Although, in retrospect, I always did have a nagging feeling that I was going to go early. But, anytime someone would mention that they thought the same, I would write it off and joke that I just needed to make it to 36 weeks so that I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital (at TBC, if you go into labor before 36 weeks, their policy is that you have to deliver in the hospital). If I could make it week 36, I would be golden.
Not sure how far along I was exactly in this photo, but getting close to the end!
Right around the 34 week mark in early March, I went to the bathroom at work and felt something slide out. Understandably startled, I took a look and saw what looked to me to be a rather large, albeit clear, piece of my mucous plug. This might sound weird to some, but it made me excited! Of course, it’s not unusual to lose your plug in bits of pieces over the last few weeks of your pregnancy; it was cool to know that something was happening. My body was gearing up.
Later that night, after our birth class at TBC, I mentioned this event to the amazing doula who was facilitating the class (unfortunately, I can’t remember her name now, but Dan and I both loved her!) to see what she thought. She did indeed agree that it was likely part of my plug, and shared in my excitement. She gave me a bit of a knowing and look when Dan and I left and said something along the lines of “See you next week… maybe!” I laughed it off again. No way we’d be having a baby the next week. For one thing, we still had one more week of birth class and our breastfeeding class to attend. For another, I still hadn’t had my shower nor had I finished the nursery or even frozen any meals yet! Plus, it would still be before 36 weeks.
The next day, I woke up feeling an excess of discharge. In the back of my mind, I knew it was likely a surge of lukeria as I was nearing the end of my pregnancy. But since part of my plug was missing as well, I decided to play it safe and gave TBC a call on the off chance I was leaking amniotic fluid. They had me come in right away. The midwife on call, Jamesina, was one that I hadn’t had an appointment with yet, but she was great. She tested the fluid and assured me it was normal discharge and there were no signs of infection. I was a bit embarrassed for being paranoid over nothing, but relieved nonetheless.
The next few days continued uneventfully until Monday morning, March 12. I was exactly 35 weeks.
I woke up to use the bathroom (as I had been doing, about three times a night since entering the third trimester) around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Again, I felt a small gush and found some red-tinged discharge. I tried not to worry, put on a pad, and went back to bed. I would reassess in the morning.
I got out of bed around 6:00, and sure enough, continued to leak, more so than the week before. I kept calm, tentatively told Daniel that I was going to call TBC again, and emailed my co-workers to let them know I would be to work late, but not too worry. I was sure that I was worried over nothing again, but wanted to be safe. Just in case.
See? I wasn't exaggerating about being a swollen mess... my giant feet and ankles about a week and a half before being induced (at least my toenails look pretty)
When Julie, the midwife on call (who I incidentally saw early on in my pregnancy when I had a scare after a short bleeding episode), got back to me, she said there was no rush, but to come in and get checked. She also told me to make sure I had something to eat (I happily obliged and had a bowl of raisin bran). Unfortunately, she happened to be at Delaware County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) after being called over near the end of her shift, so I needed to meet her there. She seemed confident however, that everything would be fine.
I had not been to DCMH at all yet. In fact, I was planning on setting up a tour later that week so I would be familiar with it in case I needed to be transferred while in labor at TBC. I left my apartment with nothing but my purse and dressed in my work clothes. Thankfully, it was a short drive to DCMH, but as soon as I parked, I felt anxious. The hospital was the last place I wanted to be.
Eventually, after getting lost a couple of times, I found my way up to the labor delivery ward and met Julie. She was just about end her shift, but took me to a room and got me settled.
I remember a nurse coming in, taking my blood pressure, and wrapping one of those obnoxious heart rate monitors around my belly. I then had to wait for the next midwife to begin her shift. I was in the room alone for maybe 10 minutes and had an emotional moment thinking (hoping) that I was so glad that I wouldn’t be giving birth in the hospital. I composed myself and remembered there was no need to worry. I was, most likely, overreacting again. The new midwife would probably tell me the same thing I was told previously. It was good that I was being cautious, but the fluid was nothing more than increased lukeria.
Eventually, I met the midwife, Cheyenne, another new one to me, but I feel like there’s an instant familiarity with the TBC midwives (they‘re all amazing), and I felt more comfortable in that foreign place knowing she was there. After exchanging introductions, she went about the business of testing my fluid.
Several minutes later, she returned to give me the news: this time, I hadn’t worried for nothing. I was leaking amniotic fluid (the irony of this is that - despite what is depicted in the media - there is really only a small percentage of women whose water breaks before they go into labor - 10%, I believe? However, most of the mamas that I‘m closest with began at least one of their labors with their water breaking, including my sister and two of my sisters-in-law).
Looking rather uncertain... but, thumbs up for meeting my baby!!
Based on this, the gestation of my baby, the excellent readings from the heart rate monitor, and the fact that I was (surprisingly to me) three centimeters dilated, the recommended course of action was induction. I felt my beautiful, longed-for, complication free birth crumbling away. We discussed options, and decided to start with Cervadil, a prostaglandin insert designed to ripen to cervix, in an effort to try and avoid Pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin, designed to stimulate contractions (which are much worse than natural contractions). To be honest, I was/am terrified of Pitocin and was praying the Cervadil would do the trick.
Before I could even call Daniel, the nurse returned to admit me. Suddenly, everything felt like a dream, like I was watching the scenario play out from a distance. Everything was happening too quickly, and surely, this wasn’t my birth…?
When she left, I called Daniel, who was at work, and told him we were about to become parents. I finally let some tears go, partly sad, partly anxious, partly excited! His excited reaction comforted me, but I’m sure his nerves shot through the roof. Before he could come to DCMH, I charged him with going to the apartment to pack our bags and pick up the snacks I had bought that weekend to save for TBC. I called my mom shortly thereafter and shocked the heck out of her, too. She was in the final days of planning my shower, which was to be held that Saturday, March 17th. Several other calls followed.
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