For three or four days I had been waking up in the middle of the night with a couple intense contractions that had me walking around practicing my breathing exercises. They eventually subsided. When Carol came to check on me at our next appointment, we discovered I was already 3 cm dilated and I opted to have her strip my membranes since I was 41 weeks. That night at 1:50 am, I went into real labor. I actually don’t ever remember being in early labor. Maybe those few days before I had my membranes stripped were actually my early labor. Anyway, I just remember it started out much stronger that night than I had anticipated. We called Shar at around 5:30 or 6 am, when my contractions were about 5-6 mins apart and I remember telling her to go to her appointment since it was my first and I was sure it would be a while. Then I called my doula and had her drive down from upstate. By the time they both got there about 1-2 hours later, I was in full on concentration mode and had already dilated to 8 cm. I remember thinking, “Wow! I’m so lucky, it’s going so fast.”
We all thought I’d be delivering in the next couple hours. I was proud I was handling the pain so well. I sounded like an animal with the deep moaning but it seemed to be working for me. Soon, I began to show signs of transition. I was throwing up, doubting if I could really do this, etc. At the 14 hour mark though, when I hadn’t moved out of transition and into pushing Shar thought it best to check my cervix and see if perhaps there was a lip that maybe needed some help being eased over the baby’s head. When she felt my cervix she did in fact feel a lip, accompanied by a lot of movement from the baby. We decided to try gently pushing while she tried to slip the lip past the baby’s head, but it kept bouncing back. What we would later discover was that my little man was in a compound presentation with his head and arm trying to come out together, making Shar’s work of trying to get my cervix to dilate those last 1-2 cm that much harder. After about 16 hours my body was so worn out and wound up from being in transition for so long. I became worried that I wouldn’t have the strength to push him out in the end and I think Shar could see the fear and exhaustion in my eyes. She gently told me it was O.K. to transfer to Woodhull Hospital, that it wasn’t a failure. At the time I beat myself up over giving in, not thinking about the unusual circumstances I was experiencing. I felt weak, like I was less of a woman in some way and that I was taking the easy way out. However, in the end. I couldn’t feel more positive about my experience, and this is why:
Had I not planned a home birth and labored at home for so long, I’m convinced my son’s unusual presentation would have been discovered and the length of my labor would have caused me to have a c-section. Not to mention I would never have gone to Woodhull Hospital without Shar and Carol’s recommendation. The choice of transfer hospital made all the difference in my experience. When I got to labor and delivery after a lengthy and slightly awful triage experience, I was immediately surrounded by nurturing midwives (Robina my favorite) and Shar stuck by my side until I was comfortable after receiving the epidural. They worked together to bring Robina up-to-date on my labor and the staff was more than willing to compromise with me and give me the least amount of intervention possible. I was able to sleep for a good 6 hours after receiving the epidural and fully regained my strength to push. I even survived through a shift change with more incredible midwives coming to my service, one of which (Jess) actually kicked the Surgeon who wanted to give me a section out of the delivery room as I was starting to push. She was even able to prevent me from having more than a first degree tear despite him coming out like Superman! Did I mention her expert stitching skills? I actually think my lady parts look better than before ha!
The best part of the whole experience was that my midwives wouldn’t let me increase the epidural once it wore off, despite my begging. They knew it’s not what I really wanted and they knew it would make pushing all the more difficult. I was able to be fully present and unmedicated through pushing and I’m eternally grateful for that. My little man was put right on my chest, skin to skin after he was delivered and rooted his way right to my breast (even if he didn’t latch exactly). It was magical to see the instinct he was born with. I remember his smell being the most intoxicating thing I’ve ever experienced. I also remember looking at him and thinking, “Who’s baby so this? He’s too big to have possibly come out of me ha!” Russell Patrick was born on 1/7/15 at 10:07 am weighing in at 8lbs 6.7oz and 21.5 inches long. He scored a 9 on his Apgar test despite 29 hours of labor and 45 minutes of pushing. Little dude was not phased.
I’m sure my memory is different than those present at my birth, but I can honestly say that from start to finish, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was a journey and a true transformation into motherhood for me. I’m a different woman because of the strength I had to muster and the compromises I had to make to complete it. I’m forever indebted to those who helped me along the way, especially you Shar and Carol. You will forever hold a special place in our hearts.