Photo by Deborah Louie
I researched the options for the safest and most fulfilling way of giving birth. I decided a midwife at a birth center was what I wanted. I wanted skin-to-skin time, no drugs, breastfeeding only and no stress of a hospital. As my pregnancy came to an end, I was at 41 weeks and still had not gone into labor. After discussion with my midwife and husband, we decided to begin induction. That night found me in a hospital, exactly the place I wanted to avoid. I personally hate hospitals.
After monitoring the baby, we were unable to proceed as we had originally counseled with the midwife. Instead, my induction plan required an IV catheter, which was also a hated and dreaded affair. Placing the catheter fulfilled all my negative expectations as I had difficult veins. A restless night later, there was still very little contractions and I was not in labor. Another induction technique was used and failed. Finally, we decided to induce with pitocin. It was 24 hours since checking into the hospital and 10pm at night that the pitocin was started. I think I was able to rest an hour before the contractions began coming too strong. Waking up my husband to help with counter pressure, I began a night I will never forget yet find details hard to remember.
The contractions came each time harder than the last. I attempted to ride them like waves as the birthing class explained. It is much easier said than done, however with the encouragement of my mom, husband and labor nurse I found a rhythm. I remember finally releasing and giving into the whims of my body in the blessed jacuzzi, better termed the "aqua-dural". At that moment, I had no other recollection beyond my contractions but the intense pain dulled and I felt I could indeed do this!
After awhile I opted to have my water broken as I was getting exhausted and was ready for the end. My cervix was very slow to dilate. I was only at 7cm when the midwife broke my bulging sac. The rest seems a blur as I attempted not to push but often could not override my body. Finally, only dilated to 9cm, the midwife said it was safe to push. I have never felt so relieved! Ten minutes later, there was a baby girl laying on my stomach. She wasn't breathing. I remember thinking she was so slimy, followed by asking over and over if anyone could tell if she was breathing. I didn't want to panic, but I was worried and no one was responding to me as all focus was directed to my non-breathing child. The midwife had her cord cut and Elisabeth whisked away to be resuscitated in record time. Laying in bed getting sutured, I would get reports from nurses that Elisabeth was intubated (a breathing tube placed so they could breathe for her), then sent to the NICU, and finally extubated and crying.
A pediatrician came and gave us the report of her status and instructed us that we would not be able to hold our baby for 3 days as she would be in a cooling therapy with intravenous feeding to avoid brain damage. (She took 7 minutes to begin breathing on her own during her resuscitation.) I went home without a baby recognizing my entire birth plan had been tossed out the window with the exception of being able to labor without drugs.
Three days later, I held my baby girl for the first time and began breastfeeding that day. I have never felt such a rush of pure joy. It was a trying and exhausting 5 days total of being in the NICU for Elisabeth and for us but we got through it with the support of God, family, and the wonderful staff. It has only solidified the pure joy of giving life to a wonderful baby who thankfully is completely healthy. It was an experience I would never give up thanks to my midwife and birth-center support prior to and during my labor.
Did you have your baby with the Peace Health midwives?
We would love to hear your story too!