DISCLAIMER: This post is long and if you are trying to avoid unpleasant birth stories, avoid this! Or move forward, knowing there is a happy ending! Still want to read? Here we go:
When you are pregnant, you might want to plan ahead for your labor and delivery. What your preferences are on modern medicine, pain management, immediate bonding with baby, etc. People love to tell you to keep an open mind, be flexible, always have a Plan B.
WELL...My plan was about as hippie crunchy earth mama warrior goddess as I could get in a hospital. I worked out a birth plan with my husband thanks to some help from my awesome doula (Melissa Zefaris) and incredible hypnobirthing teacher (Alisha Tamburri). I trained for this labor and delivery for months like I was training for a marathon. I listened to hypno tracks twice a day, birth affirmation tracks when driving or showering, envisioned laboring at home with my husband and doula until eventually we would make our way to the hospital and I would have a baby within 4 hours of check in. I even endured perineal massages multiple times a week to help me deal with my fear of the "ring of fire." (Shout out to my husband for being said masseuse. Also, it is the farthest thing from a massage ever.) I had a healthy pregnancy: no complications, worked out regularly, and generally ate well. After my third cervical sweep on a Friday (at 40 weeks and 3 days), my doctor said "I predict something by Sunday." I went home eager to get this show on the road. THIS IS WHAT I HAD BEEN TRAINING FOR.
Saturday, I felt a surge of energy and expectancy. I cleaned like a madwoman, made sure our bags were packed, and was convinced labor would start that night. At 12:03am on Sunday 10/29/17, I was climbing into bed to say goodnight to my husband and felt I was about to lose all bladder control. I ran to the bathroom and as I sat down on the toilet, my water broke. I know they say it's rarely like in the movies. You guys, it was like in the movies. And then I started to cry. Wanna know why? My doctor had stressed several times that if my water broke, I had 6 hours to make it to the hospital. When your water breaks, you have opened the door to infection for yourself and the baby. I knew this meant I needed to start active labor asap or this was not going to go as planned. I used my birth ball to get through the random contractions when they came and listened to hypno tracks. At 5:40am, my husband had the truck packed and we were putting the dogs out in the yard and on our way to the hospital.
I was already pre-registered at the hospital (pro tip: always pre-register!!) and we were checked into a delivery room. They asked me a zillion questions and checked me for progress. 80% effaced and 2cm dilated. My doctor called to speak to me on the phone a few hours later and advised me that if active labor was not underway by noon, we would need to start pitocin. I started bawling on the phone and made my husband talk to him. Number one on my list of things I wanted to avoid? Pitocin. When your body labors naturally, you will have a contraction and then your body gives you a break to recover before the next one. Pitocin does not give you a break- the contractions come one after another as labor progresses. I called Alisha on the phone and cried to her for advice. Both she and Melissa advised that I ask for more time. My doctor agreed to a 3pm deadline instead. My husband, doula, and I did every trick in the book to get labor going. At 2:30pm, I began crying (lots of tears in this story) and agreed to go ahead with the pitocin.
My doula recommended that if I chose this route, I get an epidural because the pain would be a different level than laboring naturally. I wanted to try to do this on my own still. My dear friend Marianne showed up and the pitocin kicked in. I went 2.5 hours with no pain meds. My doula exuberantly cheered "you are kicking pitocin's ass!" Until finally, I couldn't do it anymore. The contractions felt like they never stopped and I was experiencing intense back labor (FUCK THAT NOISE BY THE WAY- BACK LABOR IS HELL). I cried some more and told my husband I thought I was giving up. I decided to have the nurse check me for progress before I decided my next move- if I was progressing, I was going to power through this. Except I was still only 2cm dilated. Time for an epidural. I was sure I could have handled this on my own if I hadn't had pitocin's interference. I felt so cheated.
The anesthesiologist was called and Melissa and Marianne were ushered out of the room. I was rolled onto my side and my husband was holding my hand, all the while I was experiencing intense contractions. I was loudly breathing like some wild animal and crying and anyone who says an epidural doesn't hurt is a big fat liar. I felt pain in my left hip and fluid moving through my bones and had a strong contraction in my back and I must have had a panic attack because next thing I know, my husband looked pale, I was rolled over onto my right side, and my husband was saying "they're giving you oxygen, babe! that's cool!" clearly trying to act like everything was okay. Unbeknownst to me, my heart rate had dropped but even more scary was the baby's heart rate had gone from 160 bpm to 2...4...2...6...2. After about 10 minutes or so of an oxygen mask and the epidural kicking in (and wow- did it ever), baby and I were stabilized and back on track.
This was probably about 3:30pm or so? For the rest of the day and night, I was lying in bed numb from the waist down. Every hour a nurse would come in and roll me over to the other side, place a peanut ball between my legs, take my temperature. I was on an antibiotic IV and if you didn't know, you are given a catheter if you get an epidural (you have no idea when you're peeing). I was painfully thirsty but not allowed to drink or eat anything but a few ice chips at a time. I began running a fever of 102. The nurse checked me for progress around 6am. 90% effaced, 4cm. My doctor (my hero) showed up and explained that a C-section was necessary now as I had a fever and could potentially be harming the baby. I agreed with relief to finally get this over with but also disappointment because this was so far from what I wanted. Everything moved so fast from that point. Two nurses came in and started a second antibiotic and wheeled me off to the OR. I was so delirious that I really remember very little. I was reunited with my husband and doula in the OR and was given more drugs via my epidural (helllooooooo morphine). At 8:38AM on October 30, 2017, 32.5 hours after my water broke, my son was born via C-section. I could hear him cry and the section where he was weighed and measured was behind me so I couldn't see him. As I was being closed up by my doctor, my husband brought the tiniest little baby over to me and held him cheek to cheek with me. The only thing better than that moment was about 4 hours later when the numbness in my arms had worn off enough for me to hold him. John Rocky Perez, a little human weighing 6 lbs 12 oz and measuring in at 19" long had made me a mother. Here comes the son...(photos by Melissa Zefaris).