|Posted on May 17, 2010 at 10:49 AM|
When I first heard from the laboring Mom and Dad it was around 9 in the evening. Dad told me that they had been having steady contractions for several hours. I was very excited for them, but I went to bed knowing that they would let me know if/when they needed help. I awoke around midnight to another message that there was a great deal of blood and the doctor was talking emergency cesarean with them. There was a fear that there was placenta previa or detachment. I held my breath for that entire next hour until I heard that things had checked out and the doctor was allowing them to continue laboring. I slept a restless sleep and checked in again in the morning. I was concerned about the large amount of bleeding Mom reported having. I was concerned that they had been at the hospital so long. In general I was very concerned about their labor. I took some deep breaths and prepared to meet my next series of Bradley students. All during class Mom and Dad were heavy on my mind. Class ended and I checked in with them again. The long labor was starting to take its toll on both of them so I loaded up Becca-boo and headed off to Grandma's house to drop her off with her brothers.
I arrived at the hospital around 2:30. Mom and Dad both looked exhausted. They had been laboring well over 24 hours at this time. They were going on little rest. She was given the green light to eat and drink, however she was exhausted so this was difficult for her to motivate herself to do. She however was such a rockstar that she did it inspite of how little she wanted to eat. I was surprised at how upbeat they were. The contractions were pretty close together and pretty intense but Mom and Dad were working together in perfect harmony. I was so impressed with just well she was relaxing through the contractions. I really would have thought they were totally painless by how amazingly well she was handling them.
During the first few hours we walked, talked, rested and just managed it. When a contraction came Mom would total melt into Dad and I would massage her sore spots and support them both. During this time Dad’s parents came up and brought the most beautiful flowers. They were clearly so excited and so very supportive! They didn’t stay long, just long enough to give their love and support. It was funny because it turned out that the nurse who had been supporting Mom and Dad all day long was a friend of Dad’s sister. She had even been in the sister’s wedding if I remember correctly. What a small world indeed. As things progressed she would rock, dance on the birth ball and even took a warm bath. As day turned into night it was decided that both Mom and Dad should try to get some rest. Dad covered up with his blue and white blanket that perfectly matched his blue and white swim shorts. Mom was in her adorable polka dot bikini top and honestly looked like one of the most beautiful pregnant women I had ever seen. They both rested for over an hour. When a contraction began to build I would gently start to wake her and help support her through it. She barely flinched the entire time. Don’t think for a minute this means these were not painful! She was just incredible at managing/relaxing away her pain.
After she woke things really started to pick up. Her doctor began to express concern about just how slowly she was progressing through labor. She knew it was time to really get to work and she became as active as she could be getting those contractions going. Her mom came up around this time and brought a great deal of energy back into Mom. Its funny just how amazing grandmas can be with their daughters during labor. She reported that the contractions were “ridiculous” (which may have been the funniest thing I had ever heard based on just the way she said it…Dad, her mom and I all fought off the giggles with that one) but as she once reported “I totally kicked that contraction’s butt” and really she did. She was amazing. She was peaking, and double peaking. They would arrive one on top of another. She was nauseous, throwing up, hot, then cold, confused and really starting to have some serious self doubt. Every single thing she did screamed transition. She was still managing these contractions like a pro. I am certain without any doubt she would have handled the pain and intensity for three more days if necessary. I became so excited. I knew she was making progress and baby would be there soon. This went on for about six hours until her doctor decided it was time to check her around 4 am.
Now we talk about cervical dialation a lot in class. We know that a woman can go from a 3 to giving birth in a matter of minutes. Knowing this is what kept Mom going throughout her labor. You see Mom had been a 4 for a very long time. In fact when I arrived at 2:30 she was a 4 and at the few periodic checks in between she remained a 4. Most women would have given up on their birth plan after not showing any cervical changes for well over 15 hours. Not this Mom. Mom and Dad were nothing short of amazing. They took each contraction one at a time. They worked there way through and were truly a sight to behold. Instead of feeling defeated after each cervical check she felt more determined and would work all that much harder to get her daughter in a better position.
I would love to say that at this cervical check she was a ten and pushed her daughter out shortly after. This however was not the case. I think everyone on the entire floor’s heart dropped when he reported she was still a four. In fact her doctor had to step out of the room a minute before reporting the number to get a hold on his emotions. This was not good news.
There was a lot of talk about what to do next. We had tried to get her to sleep earlier but the contractions were so right one top of another she was only sleeping for a minute or two at a time. She had been in labor/without sleep for more than 50 hours. We all know what happens to tired muscles. They stop working effectively. This is what was happening to Mom. She was so exhausted that even though her body was still doing the work, her cervix would not open up. It became fairly clear that until Mom got some rest her exhausted body would not birth this baby. The doctor and nurses were starting to get very concerned for Moms well being and were beginning to talk about a cesarean section. It was at this time that Mom knew something needed to be done. The nurse and doctor talked with her about her options. They offered some narcotic through an IV to help diminish the pain so she could try to rest or to give her an epidural so she could really sleep. I advised them that if they were going to make the choice to go with medication, then to really think about what the goal of the usage of medication was and which medication would fulfill that. Taking into account just how exhausted her body was and how overwhelming the need for sleep was they made the choice to have an epidural.
The anesthesiologist came, administered the medication and both mom and dad slept almost instantly. Mom was gently awoken a few hours later and was able to push her daughter out into this world. That moment was no less special or amazing because of an epidural. Because Mom’s body had worked so hard before the epidural was given she was able to very quickly move into the next stage once her body was rested.
I consider this birth an amazing birth story and am so proud to have been a part of it. I realize that someone reading this story might feel the need to judge their choices. In one camp you have people who will tell you that if they had just waited eventually she would have either progressed or become so exhausted she would have slept on her own without the medication. In the other camp you have the people who will tell you that’s what is wrong with having a birth plan in the first place and that she should have just had the epidural 30 plus hours ago and been done with it.
For the natural birth advocates I will say perhaps you are right. If she had waited another hour, two hours, eight hours, twenty hours, forty hours her body would have given up and she would have slept. The stress to her baby and to her body during that time was a concern. There is of course danger in pushing your body to the brink like that and her doctor was worried about the strain of it all on her body and her baby. They made a very informed and educated choice. They knew just what the risks of an epidural were. Whether or not you would have made the same choice is irrelevant. They had fought hard for a very long time.
As for those who say she should have given up the fight hours ago I strongly disagree. During that time her body was working hard. It was moving Baby girl down her body. She felt the pain and pressure move from high on her back to low within her hips and pelvis during this time. Baby girl was making progress. Epidurals are famous for stalling out cervical dilation. Can you imagine what that would have done to an already stalled cervical dilation? With all of my training and every single thing I know about birth and medicated labors I am certain that had she had an epidural earlier she would have had a cesarean. In my mind there is no doubt about that.
Never before had I been so honored to have been with a couple who knew just what they wanted and were so willing to fight for it. They were amazing. Truly truly so awe-inspiring. Their birth is truly a success story and I thank you both again for allowing me to be a part of it.