Birth Story Maeve
I was scheduled to be induced on the latest date possible, Wednesday, March 14th at 41 weeks and 5 days (as long as baby was monitored every few days and was doing ok, if she was determined to not be tolerating pregnancy anymore, it would have been immediate induction). I had done a lot of planning for a natural, unmedicated delivery (I had my birth plan set, and I had done exercises and chiropractics to get my baby in an optimal position, a hypnobirthing class), so I was heartbroken that I might need a medical induction and woke up every day in the week leading up to the induction date feeling like my body was failing me on this goal, as if I was coming up to some deadline set by doctors. I always believed my body and my baby knew best, so why was this happening. As 41 weeks approached, and no sign of any contractions, it seemed nothing was going to happen naturally. At the same time, I was trying to trust that God knew how this baby needed to be born.
Sunday, March 11th nothing had happened yet (41 and 2). I decided to try absolutely everything I had read about to get things going. Raspberry tea, pineapple, jumping jacks, long brisk walking, running up and down flights of stairs, and sex. Anything to avoid induction or at least het my body closer to being ready for labor so the induction had a higher chance of working. Seemed that night that it didn’t work, so I went to bed sad. The next day, however, I woke up and had a bit of a stomachache (41+3), then I realized that I might be having slight menstrual-like cramping. I wondered if it could be something (by that point, though, I was definitely symptom spotting, but I really hoped!!!). I hoped even if not, it meant my body was more ready for a smooth induction. Until this time, I hadn’t even had any noticeable Braxton Hicks contractions.
I continued feeling the on and off cramping throughout the morning, maybe a few times an hour, and wondered if it was contractions. I took a brisk walk in case it was something to encourage things to keep progressing. I also texted my husband that I was having cramping and thought it wasn’t anything, but maybe he should stay close to home in case it was. Later that morning I went to the bathroom and noticed a tiny bit of blood. The cramping was getting progressively more intense and was still a few times an hour. I texted the wonderful doula to keep her aware of what was going on.
I had an OBGYN checkup later that day. I was still having the cramping. The doctor checked me and told me my cervix looked great and very favorable. I was 2 cm, and was now about 90% effaced dilated (I had been a tight 1 cm for the last week, and had been 75% effaced). The doctor told me to go home, have more sex, and do an enema and there was a good change things would happen (we didn’t do either as things progressed on their own throughout the day and sex during labor is basically the most unappealing thing in the world). At that appointment we also had an ultrasound/biophysical profile, which indicated the baby was still in a posterior position, so I was slightly worried about having a difficult labor because of this as I read it can lead to longer labors and back labor.
We went home from the appointment and the cramping continued getting closer together. I realized it was very likely contractions. By the evening, they were about 10 minutes apart and by 7 pm the interval between them had shortened to 6 or 7 minutes. At this point, I thought I might be in labor. I tried to drink and eat something but I felt nauseous and threw it up. By 8 or 9 at night, they were getting extremely intense and were more like 5-6 minutes apart and they lasted 45-50 minutes each. I had to breath and be on my hands and knees to get through them and was having intense back pain as well. I reached out to the doula again, around 10 or so and told her I wanted her support at that point, so she left to come to the house. She helped to support me at home for an hour or two.. We called the OBGYN who told us to come to the hospital. It was strange leaving the house in a March snow storm knowing that there was a good change the next time we were back would be as a family of three. I rode in the car with the doula and Richie followed behind us. I think he was a bit hurt that I chose to go with the doula, but I was in a lot of pain at the time, and felt like her car would be better as it was larger and there was more room.
We arrived at the hospital and I checked in and they wheeled me up to labor and delivery where the nurse came in and put me on the monitor and shoved and IV in my arm (I was group B strep positive, so I needed to be on antibiotics throughout the delivery). Hospitals scare me so I was quite tense at that point. The OBGYN came in and told me I’m around 80% effaced and 4 cm dilated. He told me I was definitely in labor. Soon after, a nurse came in and told me that the baby’s heart rate slightly dipped so I would have to be on continuous monitoring for a while (my birth plan requested intermittent monitoring). Things seemed ok after that. I labored for the rest of the night. I had some back labor, so I continued to go on my hands and knees and squat to handle the contractions as these were the only positions that I found comfortable. The doula applied some counter pressure to my back, which helped with this sort of contraction. It seemed from the heart monitor like the baby was tolerating the contractions well, so I was allowed to be monitored intermittently, but that still meant being on the monitor for 45 minutes at a time (20 minutes off). At times when they made me stay in a bed or chair, it was very hard to tolerate contractions, and sometimes I’d stand up anyway even though I had the monitors. At times, they would fall off and the nurses would come in to reposition them.
Several hours later in the morning, the doctor came in and checked me, and to my very negative surprise I was still only dilated to 4 centimeters. He suggested that they break my water or start Pitocin to get things progressing. I really did not want these interventions so early on, because I know having interventions often leads to more interventions. I asked if we could wait to do these things if the baby was ok (which she was), and the doctor agreed to give me a few more hours to see if I had progressed. I was completely shattered that all the painful hours during the night didn’t lead to any progress. I was questioning if I could do a natural birth if I was just at the beginning of my labor and already was in a lot of pain and very tired- I had just stayed up all night. Looking back, I think that the transfer to the hospital may have stressed me out and slowed things down, and I wonder if I should have waited to go in. At the same time, I had no way of knowing how far I was into labor and how quickly I would progressed and I did not want an unplanned home birth.
I labored in various positions with intermittent monitoring for a few more hours and when the doctor came back to check me a few hours later I had progressed to five centimeters and was now 100% effaced. He told me that he thought that I would progress naturally, and left me to keep laboring on my own. I was so happy to hear this and felt that maybe my natural delivery that I hoped for was possible after all. One strange issue that came up during labor around this point was perhaps because the baby was in a posterior position on some nerves was I absolutely could not urinate on the toilet no matter how hard I tried. Perhaps the baby was pressing on some nerve in that area. Because of this, they had to catheter me.
I labored from around 11 am to 4 pm with intermittent monitoring (around 45 minutes on, 45 minutes off), the on parts continued to be difficult as I had to find positions that were comfortable and hands and knees, and squatting continued to be the only ones that were tolerable. The hypnobirthing visualizations helped during contractions. When the doctor came in to check me in the afternoon around 3:45pm, he told me I was at a 7 and station 0. I continued laboring in the same way as I had been and a few hours later around 6:25 pm, I was told I was around a 9 cm, station 0 and fully effaced. At that point, I consented to let the doctor break my water as he told me he could only adequately check me if my water was broken at that point as the bag of waters was bulging and making it difficult to adequately check things. This was music to my ears. I thought we were now in the home stretch.
I labored in the same way for a few more hours. The OB taking over for the next shift came in about 3 hours later to check me and I was only at a 9.5, still a “lip” of the cervix left, and I was at station +1. At this point she told me it was getting concerning that I hadn’t progressed much in the last 3 hours. My contractions had spaced to around 7 minutes apart and she termed it “arrested labor” (at this point I was getting so fatigued after the hours and hours of labor and my body was falling asleep between contractions), and said they needed to give me some Pitocin to get things going strong again so I could dilate fully and push. I freaked out at this thought as I wanted a fully natural birth, but consented when she said the baby had to come out so it was that or a cesarean basically, so I consented. The nurse who came in to administer the Pitocin reassured me it was only a very small dose compared to what most people get.
At that point I was told that there had been a few mild decelerations in the baby’s heart rate so they made me have continuous monitoring from then on. I had to stay in bed, which continued to be the worst place to labor, but the nurses brought me a birthing bar upon request so that I could kneel in the bed while being on the monitors (I was so grateful because laying or sitting still was terrible). I started feeling some urges to push, and the doctor came back to check me and sure enough I was 10 centimeters dilated and station +2! Time to have the baby. It was around 11pm.
It took a while to get the hang of the right way to bring the baby down when pushing. Because the baby had the decelerations I had to lay in the bed and do doctor-directed pushing, which was 3-4 pushes per contraction for 10 seconds each. I was instructed to hold my breath as I pushed. During pushing, Maeve’s heart had some mild dips so they stopped the Pitocin and kept shifting me from side to side and putting an oxygen mask on me during contractions to make sure baby was ok. The doctor also massaged the baby’s head to stimulate her. Her heart would go back up with these measures between contractions. It was scary and stressful, and I just wanted reassurance that baby was ok and I felt so terrified to not know. I wasn’t sure if what was happening was normal, or was an emergency. They also attached a monitor to the head to get a better heart rate reading as they couldn’t monitor it as well with the external monitor. At a certain point, baby was close to crowning, but still not born and the decelerations continued, due to a tight ring around my vaginal opening. I was also so thirsty at this point, as I couldn’t drink in labor and it had been so many hours. Baby must have been close to being born though, because someone commented on her full head of brunette hair.
They gave me the choice of an episiotomy or vacuum assisted delivery and I wanted to do the episiotomy first. I was very anxious at this point as team of several pediatricians entered the room to be ready to evaluate baby when she was born, quite disconcerting. They gave me a local anesthetic to perform the episiotomy. I looked down and saw the doctors hands covered in blood so I was freaking out so they put up a curtain for me to not see. The head (along with a hand which she had next to her head) emerged two contractions after the episiotomy. I then felt her full body come out. . She was born at 12:46am. She then went over to the team of pediatricians for evaluation due to the heart deceleration issues that had come up. I heard a loud cry, which was wonderful and reassuring. Richie went to be with baby during the examination, and the doula stayed with me to keep me calm. Maeve got 9’s on all her APGAR tests
The doctor delivered my placenta (no issues with this) and stitched me up and when they knew baby was ok, they brought to me for skin to skin. I was happy, but not euphorically like I’ve heard it described when some women hold their babies for the first time. I couldn’t believe she was here, but also I couldn’t stop thinking about how tired, hungry, and thirsty I felt and how I felt so physically off and kind of dizzy. She did latch right onto my breast and the doula commented how she was a natural. Thankfully baby and I have had plenty of time to bond since, and I feel much more bonded to her now, but didn’t really feel a complete instant bond. I heard someone say something about her birth position being ROA which I knew from Spinning Babies was right occiput anterior, so she had apparently shifted out of posterior during labor. They also mentioned compound presentation, which meant she came out with her hand on her head, which probably gave me more work as I had to push out a head and hand together. I learned baby was 7 lbs, 0 oz and 19 inches long (and definitely a girl, which I had known, but always wondered if they might be wrong as I had been told so many times by random people in the pregnancy that I looked like I’m carrying a baby boy).
By the time we got back to our postpartum room, it was 2 or 3 am. We all rested a little bit that night. In the morning, things were much calmer and Richie and I had some peaceful time to bond with the baby. Somehow we both knew she looked like a Maeve and chose the name Maeve Elisabeth (not really after me, I just love how it sounds together) (we were between a few names), so we decided to go with that one. Baby Maeve and I are both doing well now and all 3 of us are settling into our new life as a family of 3.
Overall, I am happy with how the birth went. Maeve is healthy and my delivery was mostly natural as I had hoped. When thinking about what I would want to be different if I were to do it again, I think I would have waited longer to go to the hospital and I think things would have progressed more quickly. Additionally, I wish the doctors had more understanding and patience for how different women labor differently. IT would have been nice if I had been checked less often and had been allowed to progress at my own rate without being told how slow my progress was. That is how my body chose to progress, and as long as baby was ok (which she was until pushing), is that an issue? I wonder if the Pitocin at 9.5 cm was truly needed. I was told by the doula afterwards that sometimes a woman’s body seems to stall, but is just resting and bank up more energy for the remainder of labor. I wonder if the doctor really thought there was a problem, or was just trying to make my labor be on her timeline, not my body’s timeline. Additionally, I wish I was allowed to labor more freely. It felt terrible, and I believe may have slowed things down to be confined to the monitors so often. The best things that I feel I did during the birth was put off getting interventions until it was absolutely necessary (I believe things may have gone very differently if I had let them give me Pitocin and break my waters at 4 cm), and get a doula. The doula’s support made what could have been a very scary experience sometimes that was positive. I am so grateful that I had her. I would 100% do a delivery as natural as possible again. Finally, one thing I wish was different that no one could have controlled was how the heart decels happened and the actual birth part was scary and not fully joyful. I wish that moment was full of bliss as they put her on my chest, not that she was handed to the team of pediatricians. Still, I’m so thankful that everything ended up being ok.
Overall, though Maeve’s birth was a great experience, and I am so thankful to God for how smoothly it went and I now have my precious healthy daughter in my arms; my daughter for whom I’ve yearned and prayed for so long, and God gave to me as a beautiful gift. She is my blessing and my miracle and I always want to see her as that (I was told for many years it would be difficult to have children, then we tried for a year to no avail, and God gave me little Maeve; she is my miracle and I cannot believe she is mine). Looking back, I also really believe God planned the timing of Maeve’s birth. It seemed she was late, but I had been sick for a week and a half before I had her, and my body waited till I was fully better to go into labor. I cannot imagine having gone through a long labor being sick. Additionally, I believe God knew she needed the extra time because she had been measuring small, and that extra time got her to 7 lbs. I am very blessed.