Birth Story: A Textbook Tale

Mother looking at her sleeping baby head to head in a hospital bed

Name: Prasanna                                                                                                                                                                           

Age at Birth: 30

Date of This Birth: 2/1/2012

Location: Mesa, AZ

Place: Hospital

Hours of Labor: 13-20

Birth Attendant: OB/GYN

Type of Birth: Vaginal, medicated

Birthing Style: Bradley Method

Overall vibe: Harder than I thought

Story: Even at 39 weeks, I hadn’t felt any contractions. When the doctor’s aide mentioned inducing labor, there was a sense of relief on my end. But after an exam, my cervix was at three centimeters, so the doctor just decided to wait till next week. Then, three days before my due date I felt few contractions, and the next day I felt a few more. The night after that, around 9:45 p.m. I started getting contractions around eight to nine minutes apart. It went on like this until 2 a.m. Facing the contraction wasn’t bad. I slept through them, waking up only at the contraction to note down the time. Also, from the childbirth class I knew that it would be better to be moving in the labor phase (between four and seven centimeters), so I tried to rest before it got to that.

After 2 a.m., the contractions started getting four to five minutes apart. I knew it was time. But there were some contractions that would be only two to three minutes apart, and then a few back in the eight to nine minute range. I was confused if I should start counting again. I gave it some more time during which I called the ‘on call’ doctor who was unreachable then and before. We started out for the hospital at around 3:30 a.m. In the childbirth class we were told to follow the “511 rule”—contractions five minutes apart, each lasting a minute, taking place over an hour—before going to the hospital. I didn’t want to be sent home for too little dilation. I was all prepared to follow the different positions to reduce labor pain. At the hospital, when the Triage nurse asked if I was in labor. I said yes. She wondered how I could be so sure. After filling all the forms, she checked my cervix and found it to be at seven centimeters. When asked to rate the pain, I said four. My husband and I were both overjoyed for skipping the labor phase. Yippee, I was going into the delivery room.

The nurse asked me if I could walk to the room. I tried and I did. She asked me if I needed epidural then. I told her that I was not there yet with pain. Her shift was about to end in an hour and a half. She told me that the next course of action consisted of breaking my water and that could get really uncomfortable. I was convinced to take the epidural then. The anesthesiologist did a good job of explaining how I would feel pressure at my back when he was inserting the catheter, and how I would feel a weird sensation of something hitting my elbow once the medicine kicked in. After a while, I felt no pain, just pressure during contractions. The nurse had hooked the fetal monitor and other stuff which showed the contractions and baby’s heart beat on the monitor. Just before the nurse was leaving, I asked her about the pushing. I had read enough only to know about the oncoming labor but nothing about delivery itself. She said that it’s nothing but getting out the biggest poop.

The next nurse checked my cervix and reported that it was already at nine centimeters. By 8 a.m., I was fully dilated to ten centimeters. When the nurse was checking this, she surmised that my water would accidentally break because any of the contractions happening then could be big enough to do that. And break it did, a warm gush. So now I know what it feels like should that happen first before contractions. By this time, the nurse had been using catheter to empty my bladder. We wanted all the space out there for the baby to emerge. We were just waiting for contractions to do their bit so that I would have to do as little pushing as possible. We thought we would be done by 11 or so.

But then the nurse did another cervical exam where she realized that she could feel the cervix again. She said that this does happen in some cases where the cervix contracts. She put a peanut ball between my legs and put me on my side, so that things would fall in place. We tried this way and that. Then the nurse thought I needed extra contractions, so in came Pitocin and some more epidural. At this point when asked to rate pain, I couldn’t quantify it; what I was feeling was pressure which I couldn’t call pain, but I also couldn’t bear it. The nurse noticed that the baby’s heart beat was reaching 180. She realized that my contractions coupled with close Pitocin-induced contractions were acting on the baby vigorously. So out went the Pitocin and the baby’s heart beat stabilized.

Finally, it was time to push at 1 p.m.With no visible improvement, I was reaching a point where I thought I might need a C-section. But the nurse never gave up. I started feeling pain in the left side of my back. The nurse wanted me to have some pain sensation so I would feel the contractions and push then. By now, I reached for the sides of the bed, to put all my energy into it. The nurse and my husband kept encouraging me and told me when they saw the head. When the nurse realized my pain was bad, she called for more epidural. I couldn’t have delivered without the epidural, as the pain would not let me push effectively. I wasn’t getting any respite between contractions. Once the additional epidural was in, I got the rest between contractions. I was ready to push and then some more. By then I had even got the urge to poop. I just followed that.

Some more gut-wrenching pushes and the baby crowned. The nurse made me touch the baby’s head so I would still be in the ring with all energy. She even got a mirror if I liked to get the view down there. The baby’s head was soft. Baby Maanya was born at 2.54 p.m. I thought the baby was very cute but couldn’t believe she was my daughter. After the cleanup, baby was put on me for skin to skin contact. I wanted to take a look at the placenta. My mom said that in villages they bury it in the earth. The baby and my husband went for the Apgar score and other tests. And here dad was taught a secret about how to hold the baby snug in his elbows so that the baby gets body heat and feels comforted. I was hungry and thirsty. I had chicken salad sandwich which I enjoyed with mayonnaise in it. I was off it during pregnancy. The nurse recalled what she had after each of her pregnancies. I was glad that during the whole deal I was allowed to take water as I do not like ice. And that’s the only choice on the menu during labor and delivery.

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