My second son, Matthew, was born on January 3rd. His birth was both traumatic and empowering. After a rough pregnancy, my team of doctors was fairly convinced that my baby would be arriving early. His due date was December 26th, the day after Christmas. I have to admit that I was really worried that he would arrive on Christmas day. I didn’t care so much that I might be in the hospital on Christmas day; my parents were visiting and I knew that I didn’t need to worry about childcare for my older son or my older son’s holiday being ruined. What I WAS worried about was that my new baby might always share a birthday with the biggest holiday of the year and I was worried that he would always feel overshadowed. I desperately wanted him to have his own day. I was also super uncomfortable. I felt enormous – way bigger than I got with my first son and walking was painful because my ligaments were stretched literally to their limits. I pretty much had taken up residence on the couch in my living room, much to my toddler’s disappointment. He couldn’t understand why mommy couldn’t play and that made me feel incredibly guilty. Thank goodness my mom was there (visiting from Texas) to shower him with love and attention. She swiftly and adeptly took over running my household and I am beyond grateful.
For two weeks before my due date my doctors assured me that my new baby would arrive any day but my due date came and went and my baby seemed awfully comfortable with no intention of making his debut. Everyone in my family started to get a little impatient. My husband kept asking if I felt any different and my dad declared that he was going to grow a “protest beard” until baby arrived. I was frustrated not only by the not knowing but also by my family’s constant questions. I felt powerless and torn between wanting my pregnancy to be over and wanting to let my baby arrive on his own terms. A few doctors on my team were trying to convince me into an induction but I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect if there was no medical necessity to perform one. Two doctors assured me that if I took a long walk, that would do the trick, they were wrong. It only succeeded in making me feel like I’d been hit by a truck. My stress and anxiety levels were high. I finally decided to just try to relax and be patient. Easier said than done – but I did my best. My due date came and went and although I was relieved that my son wouldn’t share a birthday with Jesus, I was ready to meet him. I felt on edge, with my first son, I only labored for 8 hours from when my water broke, at home in the middle of the night, to his arrival. Seeing as my miscarriage also happened in the small hours of the morning I felt that it was highly likely that my water would break in the middle of the night again. My doctors advised me to head to the hospital ASAP the minute I suspected I was in labor… they were nervous that he would be born in the car on the 30 minute ride to the hospital since my first delivery was so quick.
On the night of Thursday, January 2nd I was watching TV with my family. I felt hyper vigilant to every little thing I was feeling since baby’s arrival was past due. After using the bathroom several times I started to wonder if I was water was breaking. When my first son was born, my water broke in the middle of the night in a huge gush. I was expecting the same to happen with my second, but as the night wore on, I suspected more and more that I was slowly leaking fluid. After debating about it with my husband and my parents, I decided to call the “on call” doctor for advice. She told me that she doubted that I was actually leaking but told me that I was free to go to the hospital to get checked if I was concerned. After waiting it out for a little longer, my husband and I decided that it was worth it to go to the hospital to get checked out. It was 10pm and we reasoned that it was better to get things looked at earlier than in the middle of the night if things got worse. We also wanted to avoid the huge mess of my water breaking entirely at home if possible and as I said before, we were a little worried about the baby being born on the way to the hospital so we opted to air on the side of caution. After all, worst case scenario I knew they would just sent me back home.
When we arrived at the hospital a friendly triage nurse was waiting for us up in labor and delivery to check me out. Sure enough, the test they ran confirmed that I was in fact leaking amniotic fluid. I’m so glad that I trusted my gut instinct rather than my doctor’s guess. I was admitted and started on IV antibiotics since I was GBS positive. At that point, it was very late at night. The doctor on call wanted to start me on meds to induce me since I wasn’t having any contractions yet but decided to let me wait until morning so that I could have breakfast first. I crossed my fingers and hoped that my contractions would kick start on their own before then. I got very little sleep that night – much to my disappointment because I knew that it was probably my last night of sleep for a long time! I couldn’t get comfortable in the bed and could only pretty much lie on my back due to the fetal monitor that could only receive a signal in one spot on my very pregnant belly. I did enjoy some lovely lavender essential oil though compliments of a very sympathetic nurse.
The next morning I had just barely drifted off to sleep when my doctor woke me up to inform me that I needed to order breakfast in 30 minutes (right when the kitchen opened). I wasn’t thrilled to say the least. She told me that she would come back after my breakfast was ordered to check on my progress but told me in no uncertain terms that after I had eaten that she would be starting an induction protocol because I wasn’t contracting yet. I wasn’t happy about that at all and crossed my fingers that something would change by then. A short while later, just before my breakfast arrived, my doctor came back to check on me and to see what my body was doing. As she was checking me out, she broke my water the rest of the way and the trickle that had been happening all night finally turned into the gushing flood that I was expecting. She was still adamant about starting induction drugs and I asked her if we could wait and see for a bit since my water was now completely broken and I suspected that this was going to get things going. She told me that I didn’t have a choice. She said that there was too much risk of infection if we waited and that my body wasn’t contracting nearly enough and that wasn’t likely to change. I was unhappy. While I was eating breakfast, one of the head nurses, who happens to know me came in to check on me. I told her what was going on and about how unhappy I was. She told me that while she couldn’t override the doctor’s orders, she could turn the drugs off (or way down) after they were started if I didn’t need them. I felt a little better after that – a little more in control of the situation. I have to admit that if this had been my first delivery I probably would have felt bullied into doing exactly what my doctor wanted but since I had already delivered one baby, I felt as though I knew what my body could do and I felt empowered to advocate fiercely for what I wanted. Lucky for me, by the time that the doctor wanted to start the induction meds, it was time for shift change and she was getting off duty. My other doctor who was coming on, wanted to wait until he was there and had eyes on me before starting any new meds so I was given another hour reprieve. During that hour however my contractions started on their own, as I thought they would, and my labor progressed quickly. My nurse told me that it was lucky that they hadn’t given me any induction meds because my body was doing everything on its own and that my contractions were so close together that it wouldn’t have been safe to add in drugs to make things go even faster. I admit that I felt a big smug. I wanted to shout “I told you so!” I’m glad that I was able to delay things as long as I did because I really did know my own body best and I was right about how things would go. Less than 5 hours later my son was in my arms but not without a bit more drama.
My doctor who had taken over my case advised the nursing staff not to wait to call him if they thought I was getting close to delivery because he didn’t expect my labor to last very long – and they didn’t. They called as soon as I told them that I was going to need to push soon. However, they couldn’t find him anywhere. In a panic, the nurses pulled in two other on call doctors (not on my team) and several nurses. The room got crowded very quickly. My anxiety shot through the roof. When my doctor finally reappeared he informed me that I wasn’t fully dilated yet but that things would just “melt away” on their own as I started to push. I trusted him, not that I had much of a choice, because nature told me that my son was ready to be born and that I needed to push ready or not. Unfortunately for me, I ended up with a few pretty bad tears and a number of stitches but I’m proud to say that I delivered my son naturally without any drugs or medical interventions. On top of that, my newborn’s cord was so short that they needed to cut it immediately in order to place him on my chest – which the doctor who had admitted me told me months prior wasn’t possible when I asked if that might be why he had such a hard time turning while in utero. Although my son’s actual birth was a bit traumatic I felt empowered in that I had stood up for what I wanted and had taken control of my own birth to the extent that I could. He came out ready to be snuggled and with a full head of dark brown hair. He was eight days late but worth the wait. We are very much in love.
I’d love to hear your birth stories! Share them in the comments below! <3