I really wanted a natural birth. I took the classes. I read the books. I read all the bloggy birth stories I could find. She dropped a couple weeks before my due date of December 16th, I was slightly dilated, and her head was beginning to move down through my pelvis. So when my due date came and went and my doctors started offering me the induction option, I politely declined because I was absolutely sure that I would go into labor naturally before I hit the 42 week mark. Spoiler alert: I didn't
Once I hit week 41 I started trying EVERYTHING to get labor going without medical intervention. Power walking, squats, jumping jacks, spicy foods, castor oil, primrose oil, nipple stimulation, acupuncture, acupressure, reiki, hot epsom salt baths, meditating, and membrane stripping. NOTHING WORKED. Meanwhile, every time the doctors checked me during week 40 and 41 they were all "Oh, you're definitely going to go into labor any day now. There's no way you'll last until your next check up..."
I started having small contractions Christmas day (9 days past the due date). They would get stronger when I exercised and then taper off when I rested. On December 30th I had my membranes stripped and immediately power walked four miles. I started having uncomfortable contractions every 5 minutes and we got excited. They kept happening for several hours and were getting increasingly uncomfortable, some were even painful. We were sure that this was "it." Then they stopped.
New Year's Eve (15 days past the due date) we headed in for our 4:00am induction appointment (see above photo). The doctors had reached the point where they were freaking out about the possibility of meconium aspiration and were very uncomfortable with waiting any longer for labor to start naturally. I barely slept the night before because DUH I was going to give birth to my baby the next day. We lay in bed talking about how New Year's Eve was the coolest birthday possible and how excited we were to meet our fashionably late little one.
I was still hoping for things to be as natural as possible, so the doctor stripped my membranes again and then inserted a cook catheter. He was confident that this would be the little nudge my body needed to go into labor. Nope. I started having contractions and eventually dilated to 6 cm, but when the catheter came out, the contractions stopped. At this point our favorite doctor's shift ended and a new doctor from the practice started. He was very "I haven't seen a baby this overdue in over 10 years. We need to get this baby out NOW!" He wanted to push Pitocin ASAP but we weren't comfortable with that yet; we wanted to explore every non-chemical option possible first.
So he broke the water instead. Luckily, the water was clear which meant no meconium and the doctor chilled out a bit. I was now wearing disposable mesh underwear filled with weird gigantic absorbent hospital pad things. (Labor is not glamorous, people. Not in the least.) Still no contractions. I paced back and forth in the five feet of pacing room the monitor wires would allow. I bounced on the yoga ball like my natural birth plans depended on it (which they did). I did a bajillion awkward pregnant lady squats. Nothing. Just the same teeny tiny contractions I had been having for the past week.
So he started Pitocin. We had been at the hospital for 16 hours trying to induce without medicine and it just wasn't going to happen. I cried. This was the moment that I had to let go of the natural birth I had been psyching myself up for for months. The IV was started, the Pitocin began to drip, and the contractions became stronger. We had been texting with our doula throughout the whole process; she came to the hospital at this point because Pitocin means it's about to go down.
Shit got real. I started to have realllllllllllllly intense back pain, and we realized that she was posterior (facing my front instead of my back). I labored in several positions that are supposed to help turn a baby. I couldn't lie down because it made the back pain worse. I labored in the shower while Lee sprayed super hot water on my lower back which helped a ton, but we couldn't do much of that because the doctor didn't like for me to be off the monitors for very long.
I labored on Pitocin without any sort of pain intervention for 18 hours***. That shit was no joke. By the end I was vomiting with every contraction and couldn't stand from exhaustion. I started to become delirious from lack of sleep (we had been at the hospital for over a day at this point). I would briefly fall asleep between contractions only to be awoken by a contraction moments later and there would be a few seconds where I had no idea where I was or what was going on. I was only dilated to 8 1/2 cm but her head was at station +3 (See the diagram below.) and we had been stuck like that for many hours without any progress, so the doctor just kept turning the Pitocin up higher and higher.
***I chose to labor without pain intervention because Pitocin contractions are longer, harder, and more frequent than natural contractions and can be really really hard on the baby. I wanted to be able to fully feel the contractions and as long as I could stand them, she could stand them. That was my reasoning, anyway.
Then I reached my limit. After 34 hours of being at the hospital and 18 hours of pitocin induced labor, I just couldn't do it anymore. I cried, I vomited, then I cried some more while my doula assured me that posterior babies often result in transfers from natural birth centers to hospitals so the moms can get epidurals because posterior labor is so painful. And sometimes the epidural allows the mom to relax enough for the baby to turn. I got the epidural. I opted for the lightest epidural possible and could still feel the contractions and move my legs. And I could lie down! I hadn't been able to lie in the bed for hours and hours due to the back pain and ohmygoodness it was amazing. I immediately took a 2 hour nap. The best nap of my life. Then, with the help of my wonderful doula, I did some different poses to help the baby turn.
When the doctor came in and checked me 2 1/2 hours after the epidural was administered, the baby had turned, I had dilated to 10 cm, and it was go time. I am really glad I got the light epidural, I could still feel the contractions and feel her head. Also, I never thought that I would want the mirror, but I am so so so glad I said yes when it was offered. I highly recommend it. Seeing it all happening was truly amazing and incredibly motivating when it came to the pushing. At one point her heart rate dropped a bit and I saw him get out the forceps. Hells no. I was not going to have forceps used on my baby (they can cause all sorts of issues later on). Those forceps just motivated me to push even harder.
I pushed for 1 1/2 hours and there she was! Our baby, in my arms. Mind. Blown. Hands down the most incredible experience of my life. The pain and misery of the past 22 hours of labor were a thing of the past. My perfect baby was in my arms and so tiny and so so adorable.
We decided that New Year's Day was an even cooler birthday than New Year's Eve.
We named her Lillian Isadore for her great-great-grandmother. Lillian was my middle name prior to getting married, and as a child I always wished it was my first name.