Happy Monday and President’s Day!
Today I am sharing the birth story of my third babe (second son) from this past December. His story is a little different than my other two babes because I chose to get an elective induction at 39 weeks 1 day (I’ll talk more about why I chose to do this soon!) – but the experience was still so different than both of my other births! With our third babe, we also knew the gender for the first time. We had done surprises for the other two babes, but since we had a boy and a girl, my husband asked to find out this time. I obliged because he doesn’t really ask for anything, EVER. And his request was extremely heartfelt! In hindsight, I loved knowing the gender but there is little that tops the surprise of the baby’s gender at birth in my book (and we were SO surprised both times).
Okay, let’s do it!
I scheduled my induction on a day that I knew one of the midwives in our group was on the labor deck. My past two births were attended by OB/GYNs. In my first birth, the midwives on my team lived too far away to be on call for the birth, and in my second birth, I had just moved to Alaska and didn’t know the providers well enough to be comfortable about asking if they would come to the birth. My first birth was handled beautifully by the OB/GYN. My second birth was not handled beautifully by the OB/GYN and ultimately led to why I chose to have an elective induction for our third baby.
I arrived to the unit around 5:30 am and had my IV placed and my COVID screen done. My husband stayed at home to see our other two babes off to day care before coming to the hospital. The unit was busy and I didn’t see my midwife until about 8:30 am. During those few hours, I tried to relax and read a book. When she arrived, she checked my cervix and it was about 3 cm. Since the baby was engaged, we decided to try a membrane sweep with an artificial rupture of membranes instead of medication to jump start the labor. After my membrane sweep, I was 4 cm and the baby was still well applied to the cervix. She broke my bag of water and the induction was under way!
My husband arrived shortly after breaking my bad of water and the next hour was full of many, many pad changes and the birthing ball. Twice, I found myself sitting in a DEEP puddle of amniotic fluid on the bed! It was remarkable how much amniotic fluid I was leaking (on average, a term pregnant woman has about 500 cc of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac on her due date!). I planned to go walk around the unit but was changing pads so much it was easier to walk in the room or use the birth ball. At this point, I was contracting every 8-10 minutes and not feeling any pain. I was feeling an immense amount of pressure with the contractions. I was able to breathe through them easily.
Now, I knew going into my induction that I was going to get a labor epidural. That was part of my birth plan. This was new territory for me as a mama because I didn’t get an epidural with my other two labors! About 3 hours after the midwife broke my water, the pressure increased quite a bit with the contractions but they were still every 7-8 minutes. My birth team knew that I was going to labor really fast. With my second baby, I went from 5 cm to pushing/birth in less than an hour. And I didn’t want to miss my epidural window. My nurse (bless her!) and I decided the big increase in pressure was a sign that it was time to get the epidural.
The anesthesia provider had come to the bedside that morning and done my pre-anesthesia consult and consent. The same provider came back to the bedside and completed my epidural in about 5 minutes. It was super quick! Previously, I also thought that the lidocaine the anesthesia team uses for your epidural feels like lidocaine used for vaginal laceration repairs (this was my fear and it was REAL). The lidocaine for the epidural felt like a tiny bee sting – and to me, it did not compare to my 2nd degree repairs from the prior births at all! To me, the epidural felt like when you sit in front of a fire – when your legs get all warm and relaxed – and no one had ever told me that’s how it felt to them before!
After my epidural was placed, I could still feel the contraction pressure but only had a little pain with the contractions. My contractions spaced out to about every 10 minutes at this point. My nurse checked my cervix and my cervix was still 4 cm, but thinner (more effaced) and the baby was lower in the pelvis (-1 station). At this point, we decided to augment the labor with some pitocin and my nurse started the pitocin shortly after 12 pm. My contraction pressure got really intense on the left side of symphysis pubis shortly after. I was breathing through the pressure, but to me, it wasn’t pain.
The anesthesia provider came by to assess the epidural and decided to try a bolus to open up the epidural space. I moved to my left side as well in hopes that gravity would help the epidural bolus and infusion on the side I was feeling discomfort. At this point, it was about 12:30 pm and I dozed off for a quick 20 minute nap. I woke up shortly after 1 pm and was talking to my hubby when suddenly I felt a HUGE pressure in my pelvis. It was the same pressure I felt when my second babe was born and I knew the baby was coming. I told my husband “the baby is coming” and hit the call bell light. In hindsight, it’s so funny to be a midwife and know what is happening in your pelvis.
My nurse came rushing in (she knew I wouldn’t hit a call bell unless it was time for birth) and checked my cervix. The baby’s head was getting ready to crown and she summoned the midwife! She handed my husband a bottle of coconut oil to open for some lubrication and by the time the midwife arrived a few minutes later, my foley catheter was out and I was turned to my right lateral for birth.
I could feel the baby moving through the cardinal movements with my contractions. As the baby crowned with just the power of my next contraction (I wasn’t pushing), I concentrated on nice, slow, controlled breaths and held my husband’s hand. The baby crowned under the power of the contraction and then the head was fully delivered. Now, this is why I wanted one of my midwives to attend the birth…my midwife said “Let’s wait for the next contraction.” This is a very typically midwife thing to say but very unlike OB/GYNs. But our baby boy didn’t wait. I felt his shoulders restitute, another big pulse of pressure, and my body delivered him without a single push!
And then he was here!
I immediately pulled him up from the midwives hands and brought him up to my belly. My NRP training has always kicked in with my babes and I started to dry and stimulate him. He gave us big cries right away!
I knew he was smaller than my other two babes (my first was 8lbs 5 ounces, my second 8lbs 11 ounces). We snuggled and were so grateful he was here safely! Look at his cute little hand position too that he did all by himself (he was probably practicing in utero too)! I immediately began an assessment to see if he looked like his brother or his sister – do any other mamas of multiples also do this? I think it’s inherent in us as mamas.
Even now, I am just so thankful for him every day.
Now for some reflection…
I chose to get an elective induction because of some birth trauma from my second birth. That story deserves an entire post of its own (and it’s coming!). The induction process was much smoother than I thought it would and gave me a lot of insight as a mama, a patient and a provider. As a midwife, I know that women who have had babies before have babies very quickly. I knew my birth would be fast, but the quick delivery still surprised me! The human body never ceases to amaze me. I also learned a lot about what the experience is like from the induction side as well as what an epidural is like. I’ve talked inductions with women for years now and scheduled dozens of them for a variety of reasons (medical or elective). But I had never had an induction! I learned what it feels like to be a patient in the middle of a pandemic – the masks, the limited visitors, not bringing siblings to the hospital. The entire induction process was humbling.
I was able to choose my nurse and provider for this birth and that meant the world to me and my family. I was lucky enough to have the same nurse from my second birth since we delivered at the same hospital. She is fantastic and deserves another shout out (and a thank you). And my midwife was exactly what every mama hopes their midwife is: calm, encouraging, supportive and reassuring. Also very funny. She also didn’t blink an eye when I asked her to generously pour the bottle of coconut oil on the babe’s head during crowning! I love me some midwives.
Sharing my story is really important. It’s important for women to hear what birth is like from every perspective. I genuinely believe every birth is different and each birth brings you a lesson. This birth taught me that the people that you choose to surround yourself with during your birth are some of the most important people in your life. You will look back on them ALWAYS. The comfort they give, the words they say and the support that is unwavering are not ever forgotten. I know that not everyone gets to choose who attends their birth or their birth team. If you have the chance to choose, do so. It makes the world of difference. It’s also a reason I think many women seek out birth centers or home birth – you know your birth team and that makes all the difference. I can also speak to the other side of my comment – I think you are still able to have an amazing birth without knowing anyone. I’ve caught dozens of babies where I barely introduced myself and the baby was birthing. Outstanding care is still possible even in the briefest of birthing circumstances.
I hope you all enjoyed the story! My first and second stories birth stories are some of the most popular posts on the blog.
If you’ve been thinking about sharing your story, please do! It can be your pregnancy story, your postpartum story, a story about a birth emergency, or even a baby you lost. Storytelling is so important for our generation and for generations to come.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share you story!
Love you guys!