The following is a guest post by Valerie. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful birth story with us!
“It’s our due date day! Our due date is finally here! I’m so excited for our date night!” Are the words that went through my head when I woke up on October 26th. I was so excited to go to my morning doctors appointment and then celebrate the day with my amazing husband during a romantic dinner at our favorite restaurant, Spark. Our Bradley Method teacher told us that date night was a must if I was still pregnant on my due date. I had no clue that we would have to cancel date night and that the day would end up being the best day of our entire lives. Or that we would finally meet our beautiful baby girl, Madilyn!
I vividly remember how I got dressed in one of the only outfits that still fit me (a blue and white striped shirt and a pair of gray yoga shorts), ate some delicious waffles, grabbed my purse, and headed out the door for my 9:00AM doctors appointment with my OB, Dr. Conner.
Since I was having some issues with high blood pressure ( I believe it was “white coat syndrome” because my BP was fine at home) I had fetal monitoring done throughout the last three weeks of my pregnancy. As of the 26th, all of my monitoring had been perfect. I would go in twice a week and sit in a big lazy boy and listen to relaxing waves while being monitored. Even though I hated being monitored, I did love hearing our daughter’s heart rate for such an extended period of time. It made everything so much more real and I knew that our baby would be here before we knew it.
As I drove to the doctor’s office, all I could think about was getting a close parking spot. I knew that if I could park close, my BP would be normal when I had it checked since in wouldn’t be hiking across town to get to the office. Fortunately, I was able to snag a spot right out front of the office! “It’s going to be a great appointment!” I thought. I walked into the office and sat in the same chair in the waiting room that I always did. I listened to my calm relaxation ocean waves and closed my eyes. At promptly 9:00AM, the nurse, Danielle, called me back to begin my monitoring.
Everything seemed like it was going great during my fetal monitoring test. I was calm and relaxed. Our daughter’s heart rate seemed fine on the monitor and I was having some contractions that also felt normal. After about twenty minutes, Danielle came in to look at my readings. She quickly said,”Let me get you some cold water!” And walked away. I knew right then that something was different today.
I drank my water quickly and then continued to get monitored for another twenty minutes. This time Danielle came back in and said, “Ummm.. Let me get you some juice!” I was starting to get really worried at this point. I frantically drank my juice and tried my best to relax. After what seemed like forever, but was really just another fifteen to twenty minutes, Dr. Conner walked in. She explained that I had three decelerations during the first twenty minutes of my monitoring. She stated that a deceleration occurs when the mom has a contraction and the baby’s heart rate goes down. Dr. Conner told me that she had shown my chart to another doctor in the office and they both agreed that I needed to have extended fetal monitoring done in the hospital. She also said that if my readings weren’t perfect at the hospital then I would need to be induced.
This is when the water works started! I told her that I didn’t want to be induced because a natural birth was so important to my husband and I. Dr. Conner said that she understood and that she would have already wanted to induce me prior to my appointment, but since I was practicing the Bradley Method she didn’t. She brought me into another room and comforted my while I cried. She explained the importance of having a healthy baby and that sometimes births don’t always go as planned. I continued to nod as I wiped the tears away from my eyes. My last question was. “Do I have an hour to wait before I go to the hospital for my husband to get home from work?” She assured me that I had an hour or two and that she would call later to check up on me.
Oh yeah! I forgot to mention that my doctor was going out-of-town at 6:00PM and that Dr. Meda was the on call doctor who would be taking care of me if I did get induced or go into labor while she was away for the weekend. I had never met or heard of Dr. Meda until that day. This did not help me to feel comfortable.
Before I rushed out of the doctor’s office I called my amazing husband, Kyle. I explained what was happening and he immediately left work to meet me at home. I got into my car to drive home and tried to stop the tears from falling down my face. I was scared and upset at the same time. I knew that our baby wasn’t in distress. I knew that if we went to the hospital the spiral effect would happen and we would not have the birth that we had worked towards for the last five months throughout our Bradley Method class. At the same time though, I felt excitement! We were one step closer to meeting our daughter.
When I walked in the door of our house I
knew that I had to eat, change clothes, triple check our bags, and give some love to our dog, Luna. I also had a feeling that once we left our house we wouldn’t be coming home for a few days because we could be meeting our baby girl! That was one of my first mommy instincts that was spot on! Kyle and I hugged Luna and were on our way!
The drive to Hoag Hospital only took us about ten minutes. That was barely enough time to review our Birth Plan and discuss all of our options. We also had to call our doula, cousin Sarah, and explain to her what was going on. Kyle and I were both so excited and also a little upset at the same time. We knew in our hearts that our baby girl was fine, not in distress, and perfectly healthy, but felt we had to follow our doctor’s orders to be safe.
When we arrived at Hoag, we went straight to the fifth floor for fetal monitoring. We had no idea that I would get my own room for this intervention and even a fancy hospital bracelet to go with it! A nurse took us to a private room and had me change onto a gown. My heart sank instantly and I knew that we were going to have to be strong so that we could have the birth we wanted…A natural and intervention free one. After I was changed and ready for monitoring, two OB nurses came in. One of the nurses was new to Hoag, so she was just learning the system and shadowing the other. The main nurse explained how my fetal monitoring would go. She also asked, “Why don’t you just stay?” Kyle and I looked at each other with eyes that said…”Here we go. The spiral effect is happening.”
One of the nurses hooked me up to the fetal monitoring machine and explained that she would be back to check on me. Kyle and I had just started watching the movie, Crazy Stupid Love, when the nurse came back in stating that Dr. Conner wasn’t happy with my readings. She said that there was one deceleration in the readings within the first thirty minutes and that my doctor wanted to induce me now. We asked if we could try alternative methods instead of Petocin and we were told no. The nurse also said that Dr. Conner would be calling me in a few minutes.
Our hearts were racing! We were thrilled that we would be meeting our daughter within hours, but upset that her birth would be different from what we wanted. When Dr. Conner called, she said that our baby was in distress from the ONE (yes ONE) deceleration and that I needed to have my bag of waters broken and be given Petocin right away. She also said that she had a feeling that my labor would end in a C-Section. Awesome. I was not happy with my doctor at this point or the direction things were going.
I hung up the phone and started to cry. I did NOT want to have a C-Section! Kyle immediately got in touch with our fabulous Bradley Method teacher, Nicole Green, for support. Nicole was able to offer me such wonderful advice and really helped put my mind at ease. She explained that everything would work out the way it was supposed to and that I could still have the birth we wanted. She also gave me some excellent questions to ask the nurses to make sure there weren’t other options to try instead of Petocin. I really appreciated her inspiring words and the compassion that she showed me. Nicole really helped to change our mindsets and steer us in a more positive direction.
When I got off of the phone, I looked up and saw doula Sarah! I was so happy that she was there and was going to help the birth of our daughter! She was so positive and said, “We can still do this even with Petocin!” With her and the best husband ever by my side, I knew that everything was going to be okay.
Shortly after Sarah arrived, I was moved into a much nicer room with a beautiful ocean view! The room was huge and had a spectacular view of Newport Harbor and of the ocean! I changed into my black Pretty Pusher (a more comfortable halter dress with openings in the stomach and back for easy access) and was ready to get started. Once I was officially checked in and settled, Dr. Feldman came by to break my bag of waters. When he first walked into the room, he went straight over to the window and stretched as he took in the view. Then he went over to the nurses to ask why he was going to break my bag. The nurse told him that it was because of the deceleration in my fetal monitoring and his response was, “Where?” The nurse had to flip through pages of readings to show him the ONE deceleration on the first page.
Dr. Feldman scoffed and then went over the procedure with me. He explained that I would feel some pressure and a little pain while he did the procedure followed by a gush of fluid. I asked if he thought our baby was in distress and he said that he thought everything was perfectly fine. Still, I laid back while he used a long crochet looking hook to find my bag and break it apart. I used my relaxation techniques to help me get through the procedure naturally and then felt a HUGE gush of fluid. It felt like I had just peed all over myself. When Dr. Feldman was done, I said thank you. Lol. No joke! I thanked him for breaking my bag of waters. At this point I was only one centimeter dilated. Dr. Feldman also reminded me that the epidural would be available if I changed my mind. I knew that I would be able to have our baby girl without it and thanked him for offering it.
About thirty minutes later and still no contractions, the nurse came in to give me my first dose of Petocin. Kyle and Sarah explained that I wanted to spread out the doses and that I wanted to get as little Petocin as possible. We didn’t want my contractions to be unbearably strong because of too much Petocin. We knew that this would help me to still have a natural birth, the Bradley way.
While we were waiting for my contractions to start, I remember bouncing on a yoga ball and having a great time talking to my wonderful husband and cousin, Sarah. We were laughing, talking about our birth plan, and just getting so excited for my labor to begin! Kyle and I were sneaking little kisses in while we anxiously waited.
On a side note….I was getting pretty annoyed because my fetal monitors were just hanging off of me and weren’t working. The nurses and doctors were SO concerned about our baby being in distress before I was induced and had my bag of waters broken. Why didn’t they care at all now? Each time the nurse came in to re-attach the fetal monitor it would slip down and stop working five minutes later. Ugh! Oh and the blood pressure cuff was also super annoying. It would go off when I was in the bathroom and then the alarm would go off. I think that happened at least five times. Okay I’m done venting! Now back to the most amazing day of our lives…
Kyle and Sarah also decorated our labor and delivery room with candles, positive imagery, and started playing my relaxation music of choice…Ocean Waves! They set out a bunch of battery operated candles to create a relaxed environment. Kyle also hung up the vision of Madilyn’s birth that we made through our Bradley class. I even had a new “mom” cup filled with water to drink. All of these things made me feel much more at home in our hospital room.
My contractions had started off very mild at around 4:00PM. With each one, I practiced my deep breathing techniques and just let my body surrender. At this point they were still short and painless. I was still laughing and smiling! The nurse kept coming in to up my Petocin. At 5:00PM it was upped to 8 units and then up to 12 units at 5:30PM. Finally at 5:35PM, I started hard labor! My contractions were strong. Extremely strong! They were also all centered in my lower back. My first thought was…awesome. I’m going to have all back labor. Ouch!
At this point, my parents also decided to show up to support us. I know they were just so excited, but it was really hard to have them there at first. I was in my zone and I was determined to have as little distraction as possible. I told them that they should go home because our baby wasn’t coming anytime soon. Finally after a little small talk, they decided to go wait in the waiting room.
At 6:15PM, the nurse came in to up my Petocin again to 16 units. Sarah and Kyle both talked to the nurse to try to persuade her to stop upping my Petocin because I was having regular and strong contractions at this point. I’m so grateful that they stood up for me, because at 6:45PM, the nurse came in and put it back down to 12 units.
I continued to mediate and relax into every single contraction. Kyle lovingly massaged my shoulders and Sarah rubbed my feet. They both took turns giving me water to drink and even switched massage duties when their hands got tired. They also walked me to the bathroom every forty-five minutes so that I wouldn’t have up have a catheter.
Each trip to the bathroom was such a big ordeal! Kyle and Sarah had to unhook me from the fetal monitoring machine. They also had to take off my blood pressure cuff and unplug my IV of Petocin. Once I was finally free, they walked me to the restroom that was peacefully lit with more candles. I also had to stop on the short walk to breathe through my contractions and again on the way back.
At this point I was in bed as my labor pains continued and my contractions grew stronger and stronger. Kyle continued to be the most amazing and supportive husband and coach in the world. He gave me non stop kisses and worked hard to massage my pains away. Doula Sarah also continued to work with so much dedication to keep me comfortable and was so incredibly helpful. Between the three of us, we had a fantastic birth team!
After about four hours of hard labor, my cousin Sarah left to go nurse her daughter Elsie. She said that she would be back in twenty minutes and to call if we needed anything. As soon as she left, I looked at Kyle and said, “Get the nurse! I need to push!” I had felt the urge that I had read about and learned through our birthing class. The description was spot on. I felt like I needed to poop!
Kyle got the nurse and I told her I felt like I was going to have our baby ASAP! At this point I had only been checked once when I had my bag of waters broken. I didn’t want to be checked unless it was absolutely necessary. I knew that I might have been discouraged if I got checked more and wants progressing as much as I felt like I was. The nurse came in and checked me quickly. She was like, “Oh wow! You are like 9…9 and half centimeters. Your cervix is gone and you are ready to go!”
I told Kyle to call my mom so that she could come be in the room for delivery. He also called Sarah and told her the exciting news! She couldn’t believe things had gone so quickly! Before I knew it, the nurses had totally gotten the room ready for delivery! There was now a giant mirror in front of me, tables full of shiny objects, and my legs were up in the air! Lol. I had a mirror listed in our birth plan, because I wanted to see our baby’s head for extra motivation to push if I became discourage or exhausted at any point.
The nurse, Amanda (this was our fourth nurse of the day. The other ones either had their shift end or were called out for emergency C-Sections), sat down in front of me and said that she was going to help me push. I remember taking the deepest breaths that I have ever taken and bearing down with each push. The nurse used her hands to help massage and stretch me out to prepare for delivery. That was most pain that I had felt yet. I continued to take deep breaths and push with each contractions. Kyle and Sarah held my legs up and gave me the most positive reinforcement that I have ever had in my life. I even started grunting with some of the pushes and was told that I needed to stop so that I didn’t exhaust myself. I looked into the mirror to try to see our daughter. I saw my mom standing there and asked to her to move away because “I was tired of seeing her in my hoo ha!” Yes, I really did say that! I never talk like that. My mom quickly moved aside and i continued to push with all my might.
The on call doctor, Dr. Meda, came into the room to see where I was at around 10:00PM. The nurse said that I wasn’t quite ready yet, so she went back out of the room to finish up some paper work. Before I knew it, the nurses said that I was very close to meeting our daughter! I couldn’t believe it! Everything was happening so quickly!
Before we knew it, Madilyn’s head was showing. I continued to breathe and push through a few more contractions and then gave one more big push. Finally, our baby girl came into the world and immediately melted our hearts onto last big push at 10:50PM. Dr. Meda placed her on my chest and I hugged her with every bone in my body. Kyle and I shared a big kiss and then couldn’t take our eyes off of our beautiful new daughter, Madilyn Grace.
Madilyn was absolutely perfect!!! Kyle cut Madilyn’s cord as soon as it was done pulsing and then Dr.Meda clamped it. Within minutes she wiggled her way up to my breast and began to nurse for the first time. It felt incredible to be able to nurse our daughter! Holding onto her so tightly and nursing Madilyn was the most incredible feeling in the world!
I felt overwhelmed with so much joy and excitement as I held our new baby girl! I also felt even more blessed to have been able to share the most incredible experience of my life with the most amazing and supportive husband. The rest if the evening and early morning was filled with new baby snuggles, nursing, and more love than we could have ever imagined. We were head over heels in love with our new daughter, Madilyn!
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