Happy Monday! Today we get to share a sweet story from a dear friend of mine. I was able to take care of her during her pregnancy but was unable to help her during her intrapartum course (I did get a chance to help bring her second baby into the world!). She is sharing her story today and has such a honest recap of back labor, a prolonged labor, an operative delivery and a third degree laceration – all to meet this sweet baby boy. Read on to hear Alison’s story!
Here is the birth story of my first baby boy! Jamie was my favorite midwife through my pregnancy in Virginia. I always tell people she reminds me of Cinderella in real life. She’s so kind, caring, and beautiful! Unfortunately she wasn’t on call when I went into labor so she did not get to deliver my son, but I wish she had! And she did come say hello to us in our recovery room when she found out I had delivered :).
I remember waking up in the middle of the night, around 3 am, with period like cramps. I was 40+2 so, I knew this was it. I got up, got in the shower. Everyone always tells you to get in the shower when you can because you won’t be showering for a few days once real labor starts. So, I took a shower and let my husband sleep for the next few hours well the cramps steadily got more and more painful. Around 7 or 8 AM the contractions were so strong that I thought I should probably wake my husband up so he could help me get through this. For the next few hours I tried everything to stay calm and breathe through the steadily more painful contractions. Around 11 I called L&D and they told me to come in to be checked. I can barely even talk through the contractions but unfortunately, I was only 1 cm dilated. I was so disappointed because I could tell my body was working so hard and nothing was happening yet, but I really wanted this to be over already.
They sent me home and told me to walk around… Which proved to be difficult because it was 105°F in Virginia. I walked around my living room in circles to try to get labor to progress and to keep myself busy. My husband suggested that I try to eat something to get my strength up so I had some watermelon. I threw it up a few minutes later. And then I kept throwing up and the contractions kept getting stronger and stronger until about three hours later I couldn’t take it anymore and we went back to the hospital. They checked me again but this time I had progressed to 6 cm. In three hours!!! As it turns out, the throwing up was a good thing because my body was doing what it was supposed to do and progressing me along.
They admitted me and I got the epidural almost immediately when we got back to my room. In hindsight, I wish I had waited a little bit longer to get the epidural because as soon as I got it, my body stopped progressing. My blood pressure dropped from the epidural too so I was given epinephrine and extra fluids. Apparently that’s a common side effect of epidurals! Who knew? They kept checking me and there was no change for, gosh I can’t remember now but many hours. A while! So that’s when they started the Pitocin to try to get my body to keep going. It was an evening of no sleep, I kept trying to rest but I was terrified. I was still only 5 cm by 10 pm and contractions had slowed. By midnight I was 6-7 cm and I started to have back labor as my baby was moving down into the canal.
You see, I forgot to mention.. my son was OP (occipito posterior) which means he was face up instead of face down. This position is famous for causing complications in the mother and also causing excruciating back labor because their head is pushing against your spine. Let me tell ya ladies… that HURT!!!!! It felt like someone was sawing my back in half. The back labor hurt more than the contractions. And I’m sure you’re wondering, what about the epidural? Yeahhh that had worn off because I got it so early and I was feeling this through the epidural that was left. Time kept passing slowly and by 2 am I was 8 cm. Back labor started to come back STRONG on my left side so I got an extra epidural done. At 5 am I was 10 cm. Back labor consistent and I was screaming in pain from my back hurting. I didn’t even feel contractions I only felt back pain. And the nurses didn’t really help me much at all. I had nurses sadly, not midwives, because I went into labor on the weekend and that’s how the military hospitals run. I didn’t feel like they were trying to help me feel comfortable, trying natural baby turning tactics, or anything like that. (My next delivery with Jamie was MUCH better!).
Finally it was take to push and boy did I push. They let me push for 4 hours. Yes, you read that right. FOUR HOURS and by 1:00 he still wasn’t coming. He was in canal and we could see the head but he was stuck. I remember telling the nurses after four hours of pushing that I knew something was wrong. He was twisted and stuck. His head was in the 99th percentile and so I really believe he was just too big for my body. My doctor told me that we had a few choices. He could do a vacuum or a forceps delivery. I asked him which was safer for the baby? And he told me the forceps but that it was harder on mom‘s body.
Obviously, I chose the forceps. I asked him what would happen if the they didn’t work and he said then I would have to go have c-section surgery. It wouldn’t be a normal C-section, because the baby was already in the canal. They would have to cut me open and then pull the baby up and out while I was knocked out and my husband could not be in there. That didn’t sound great for anyone. We were really scared, but also really tired and a little delirious. I just wanted it all to be over and I wanted to hold my little baby and have him be safe.
We were running out of time, it all happened pretty quickly. The NICU team rushed in, lots of doctors, and nurses. Everyone had to be there in case something went wrong. That was really terrifying. The lights were turned down and spotlights were on me. There must’ve been at least 10 to 15 people in that room that watched me give birth that afternoon! I recall telling my husband through tears that I just wanted the baby to be okay. I signed more paperwork, got even stronger pain meds, and then it was go fine! The doctor was staring at the monitor and waiting for one of my contractions to happen. When that first one was going on, he told me to push and when I did, the baby came right out with one pull of the forceps! THANK GOD!
I only got to hold him for a few seconds on my chest before they had to take him away to examine him and make sure he was OK. He also had pooped inside me, so they had to clean him out and make sure he didn’t have any infections or anything. I just remember I barely got to see what he looked like before they took him away but I understood why. I asked my husband to go take pictures of him with the nurses so I could see what he looked like because I already missed him (and was delirious from the medications).
My huge, beautiful baby boy was born at 1:17 PM and he weighed 8 lbs. 14 oz., 22 inches long.
He was perfectly healthy and so strong, and there was not a mark on him from the forceps. I really believe that he was just a little too big for me, especially for my first baby. After he was cleaned off, I was able to have skin to skin time with him and I didn’t let him go! I did end up with a third-degree tear that required quite a bit of stitches so that wasn’t fun. I wasn’t able to fully process the trauma of that situation (a stuck baby, emergency forceps, third degree tear) until many months later and ended up with a bad postpartum depression too. But I started physical therapy for my downstairs trauma and counseling for my PPD— and I’m happy to say that within a year of his birth I was already in much better shape in all ways! I also swore then that I would never have another baby because of everything I went through but… here I am now with a second baby boy! Although Jamie did not deliver my first son, she did deliver my second son! His birth story is coming soon (and it was a TOTALLY different, amazing experience), so stay tuned!
*Names changed to protect identity.
Whew! What a birth story. How many other mamas out there have a similar story? I didn’t have back labor with either of my babes, but supporting women through back labor is easily one of the hardest parts of being a midwife. Another part is pushing for 4 hours – or what if often referred to as a prolonged second stage. Unfortunately, back labor and a prolonged second stage often come with a babe like Alison’s that was sunny side up (occiput posterior)! Spinningbabies on the RESOURCES page is a great way to help your baby align in the pelvis towards the end of your pregnancy – often times we don’t know a baby is occiput posterior until well into labor – but a good midwife can tell you that in the clinic too.
Want to share your birth story? Please do – your stories empower and educate other women about birth and labor. Send me your story here!