Here he is, our little guy at 2 days old. And here’s his incredibly long birth story. WARNING: lots of detail ahead.
Duncan’s birth story
We went for our midwife appointment and biophysical profile ultrasound on Tuesday morning at 41 weeks, 2 days. I’d been having cramping and light, irregular contractions since the day before and had thought perhaps I had a slow leak. The u/s showed that my amniotic fluid levels were low (although my water hadnï¿½t broken), so the midwife gave us a couple of options — either go to the hospital later that day to be induced starting with Cervadil overnight and then a Pitocin drip or wait a day, try getting labor going with Castor Oil, have a non-stress test that day and come back on Wednesday for another ultrasound and take it from there.
She did an internal exam and I was 80% effaced, 2 cm dilated and baby was at -1 station. But my cervix was still quite posterior and he was too high to safety rupture my membranes (to try and start labor that way).
We decided to induce labor that day. So we went home for a couple of hours, had something to eat, I baked brownies, we figured out someone to take care of the cats, etc. We got to the hospital just before 1 p.m. and went to the birthing center triage area where they put me on a non-stress test. I was a bit anxious/nervous/afraid at being induced as I worried it would make labor a lot harder and might lead to interventions. But we felt it was the best thing for Duncan.
After some confusion where a resident doctor thought we were supposed to go home and come back the next day for induction, I was admitted to the hospital at 4 p.m. The hospital midwife put in the Cervadil suppository at 5 p.m. I used my hypnobabies self-hypnosis technique and I barely even felt it. As part of being induced, I had to be hooked up to continuous fetal monitoring, measuring the babyï¿½s heart rate and my contractions. But my midwife encouraged me to unplug from the machine at least 10 minutes per hour and move around and not just stay in bed. And that if I wanted to refuse the continuous monitoring I could. I declined having a heparin lock put in, asking to wait until the morning when theyï¿½d do the Pitocin drip. I hoped that the Cervadil would send me into labor and I wouldnï¿½t need the Pitocin at all.
We settled in the room for the night. I did unplug myself every so often, but mostly stayed in bed or sat on my birth ball. We went to sleep around 9 p.m. and they gave me Ambien to help me sleep through the night at 11:30 p.m. It did help, as I was hooked up to the monitor and a nurse came in to check on it every ï¿½ hour. But I slept pretty well, and used self-hypnosis when the cramping/contractions bothered me. Hearing Duncanï¿½s steady heart beat was very soothing.
I woke up just before 5 a.m. when they were supposed to start the Pitocin drip. A nurse came in and suggested I take hot shower and get something to eat and that theyï¿½d start it around 6:30 a.m. I was hooked up at 7 a.m. after a not-so-wonderful tech took a couple of tries to get the hep lock in. I had a brief panic attack after the first attempt (I am NOT fond of needles).
The Pitocin got contractions going stronger, but they were still quite manageable. Our friend and labor support person, Brenda, got there around 9:30 a.m., I think. Things were starting to get more intense then. At some point, the midwife checked me and I was 5 cm dilated and she broke my bag of waters. The contractions got a lot more intense at that point and it became difficult to concentrate on my self-hypnosis. I tried several different positions and Brenda and Kevin were great helping me relax and refocus between contractions. I donï¿½t know how far apart they were at that point. Time seemed to lose its meaning. I remember doing a lot of moaning/vocalizing, mostly saying Aaaahhhh through the contractions, which really helped. I just kept breathing that way and did my best to relax all my birthing muscles as much as possible, instead of tighten them.
When I was 7 cm dilated, I asked about possible forms of pain relief at that point. It felt like it had gone on forever and I wasnï¿½t sure if I had the strength/energy to keep doing it. I was told I could still get an epidural or a shot of Nubaine, but that the Nubaine would make drowsy/drunk and make the baby drowsy too and he might have trouble latching on right after birth. No one pushed pain medication on me at any point, even though Iï¿½d gotten to the point of admitting that it actually hurt, these werenï¿½t just pressure sensations. The nurse had read my birth plan and was really great about everything. I asked the midwife how much longer she thought I had and I think she said 2-3 hours. I felt better knowing my options and knew I didnï¿½t want an epidural or anything that would make Duncan drowsy. So we kept going, even though I distinctly remember thinking at one point that I wanted to unhook the Pitocin drip and just run from the room.
Just before noon, the midwife checked me again and said I was 9 cm dilated. I think I quickly progressed from 7 to 9 cm. She said I had a lip on my cervix and that she could hold it back through the next few contractions to speed things up for pushing. So we did that and it wasnï¿½t too bad. I lay on my left side for a few, then on my right side to even things out.
Then I got to start pushing. I pushed on the toilet for a while and it was such a relief to get to DO something instead of just get through each contraction. I pooped in the toilet. I donï¿½t know how long we did that for, but the nurse told Kevin to keep an eye on things and check every so often to see if that babyï¿½s head was starting to come out at all. It didnï¿½t get to that point before I went back into the room and tried a few different pushing positions. Lying on my side didnï¿½t work (it was one of my planned positions, too). It was just too uncomfortable and hard to hold my leg up, even with help. I ended up on my back, with the nurse holding one leg, Kevin holding the other, I think. I had to grab onto my thighs and curl up my chin and bear down with each contraction. It felt like I did that forever, but it probably wasnï¿½t all that long.
Duncan started to come down the birth canal (the toilet pushing really made him drop down and open things up). The midwife got the mirror out so I could see the progress because she felt that would help encourage me to really push. It did. Getting him around my pubic bone felt like the hardest part because heï¿½d move down then go back a bit with each contraction/push. When he got near the end and his head was crowning, I was afraid to push too hard because I didnï¿½t want to tear. I admitted this out loud and they put warm compresses on my perineum which felt really really good. That was such a relief. And the midwife helped stretch things out at that point. I think she asked if weï¿½d brought any oils to use. But we hadnï¿½t.
Kevin was amazing at helping me push. He was grunting along with me and trying to help me not hold my breath too much so I didnï¿½t break all my blood vessels. But that was really hard to do ï¿½ to push yet breathe just a little bit. The midwife said I shouldnï¿½t use my throat so much as Iï¿½d go hoarse. So we found some kind of balance in noise making techniques. I got to the point where I felt like I couldnï¿½t possibly push any more yet I really wanted the baby out. And I could see him coming down the birth canal. So we kept going.
I remember feeling the burning sensation (the ring of fire) as his head came out. I didnï¿½t care at that point if I tore, if they had to cut me or anything, I just wanted to be done. Brenda encouraged me by saying that once his head it out, the pressure will be so much better and itï¿½ll be such a relief. That really helped. Sheï¿½d been through it so I figured she knew was she was talking about.
His head came out and I couldnï¿½t see in the mirror any more. The midwife said something about him holding his breath, but it was OK. Then she said he had a double compound arm something ï¿½ that turned out to be his arm wrapped around his chest with his elbow sticking out underneath his chin. But out he came and they dried him off a bit and put him on my chest. And I was in shock. A good kind of shock. But wow. The first thing I noticed about him was how big his hands were. And then that he was a cutie with smooth features, not all scrunched up. And his eyes opened and he looked at me and was very alert.
At some point in there the nurse helped me put him to my breast and he latched on like a champ.
Then I knew I still had to deliver the placenta, which was OK after all that pushing out of a baby. The midwife was concerned about how much I was bleeding ï¿½ something was still stuck somewhere, but they figured it out. I lost about a pint of blood and they gave me a shot of something in my upper left arm to help my blood clot. There was a lot of pressing on my stomach and fingers inside me and I really wanted to have that part of my regions left alone at that point, but I tried to relax as much as possible and let them do what they needed to do.
After the cord stopped pulsing, they clamped it and Kevin cut it. Then they took Duncan to the warmer and checked him out. Kevin and Brenda looked on and took some photos while I lay there stunned. They weighed him ï¿½ 9lbs 3 oz ï¿½ and measured him ï¿½ 22 inches. I started shaking, I think from the adrenaline and all that effort Iï¿½d just put out. It seemed like forever until they gave Duncan back to me, and then Kevin held him for a while.
I guess they cleaned me up at some point in there. They left the pit drip in for an hour, but at least I had the monitors unhooked. We just hung out with Duncan and stared at him in awe a lot. 😉
It was a really challenging experience, much more so than I anticipated. But looking back on it, it was a fairly quick labor ï¿½ from about 8 or 9 a.m. to 2:23 p.m. of intense sensation. Thatï¿½s only 7 or so hours. And I didnï¿½t tear at all or need any stitches and Duncan was fine the whole time. No complications at all. So it was the best possible outcome for a baby that didnï¿½t seem to want to come out on his own.
At 3 days heï¿½s almost back to his birth weight at 9 lbs 1 ï¿½ oz. He lost about 3 oz each of the first and second days, but gained 4 oz yesterday! My milk came in last night and heï¿½s breastfeeding really well. Heï¿½s adorable and alert and just beautiful.