To start out, here is a copy of our birth plan:
Birth Preferences for Marquel Anteola and Matt Havlik
Thank you for your support in the natural birth of our first child! We are excited about this experience, and happy to be sharing it with you. Here are a few things that are important to us; we kept it short and sweet:
- Our desire is for a non-intervention, natural birth. Our goal is for a water birth. If a birthing room with a tub is available, we would prefer to use it.
- It is important for us to have freedom of movement throughout the entire birthing process if possible. We would like to be able to get up, walk around and change positions often.
- We would like to avoid tearing or an episiotomy if possible. Whatever perineal support that can be provided without scissors would be appreciated!
Postpartum and Baby Care:
- We would like to have immediate skin-to-skin contact with our baby after birth.
- Please delay cord clamping.
- Please delay erythromycin and newborn procedures at least 1 hour after birth. We plan to DECLINE Hepatitis B injection.
- We plan to exclusively breastfeed and would like to avoid artificial nipples and supplemental formula.
- If baby must leave us, Matt will accompany.
In the event of a cesarean:
- Husband and Doula present
- I would like to have one arm free.
- I would like to be lucid during the first few hours of recovery, but comfortable. The appropriate drugs for this are greatly appreciated.
But let me back up a little bit. For not planning on getting pregnant, I think we were pretty hard core about approaching this situation. Matt and I thought it was best for us to have a completely natural, drug-free labor. At my 37 week check-up, my blood pressure was higher than normal, and I feel like my doctor went into freak-out mode. She put me on bedrest (which ended up being for a month! UGH!) She made me do a 24 hour urinalysis, which came back negative, and to see her twice a week. It was a taxing month.
My due date was March 23. That day came and went, and no sign of baby coming. Our doctor scheduled an induction for Friday April 6. Determined to not have any drugs, I talked with our doula, Kaitlyn, about options to get this baby moving.
I had acupuncture done the afternoon of Monday April 2. I had a few contractions that evening, but nothing significant. I scheduled an induction massage for the afternoon of Tuesday April 3. There were tons of tornado outbreaks this afternoon and I was scared that I would have to cancel. Talking on and off with the massage therapist, we were able to reschedule for later that afternoon.
Side note: Matt and I decided to take our dogs to the kennel Wednesday morning. For some reason I had a feeling that we needed to take the dogs earlier, so I convinced Matt to come home a little early on Tuesday and we took the dogs then.
The induction massage worked. I started having contractions around 6pm Tuesday night, and was excited to finally have the process under way! We called Kaitlyn around 8pm to let her know what was going on. I labored at home with Matt until about midnight, which is when Kaitlyn joined us.
When Kaitlyn arrived, my contractions were coming on strong about 3-5 minutes apart, and lasting around a minute – the active phase of labor. I was also vomiting; a lot. I couldn’t keep anything down – food or liquid! With the help of Matt and Kaitlyn, I went through a lot of different labor positions to try to get comfortable. We even went for a few walks down the street in the very early morning hours. This was interesting when a contraction would happen and I’d have to breath through it…I was wondering what the neighbors were thinking!
We headed for the hospital around 8 am on Wednesday April 4. The ride was interesting, as I was facing backward in the front seat, during rush hour traffic. We arrived at the valet parking and unloaded all of our things and called Dr. Wiley. I remember everyone offering me a wheelchair, but all I wanted to do was be on my hands and knees during contractions. I made quite a few stops through the lobby in this manner, and even had to look for a garbage can because I was still vomiting.
With the way my contractions were going and the way I was acting, everyone thought I was in transition. Sadly, when we got to the L&D room and Dr. Wiley gave me an exam, she determined I was only at 4cm! Everyone was shocked, except me: no one told me so I wouldn’t get discouraged.
The L&D room was very nice. I was able to get the suite with the new birthing tub. After the exam, I got in the tub to labor some more. Not sure how long I was in there, but it was nice! I decided to labor out of the water for a while and try some other positions. Dr. Wiley came back that afternoon for another exam; I’m guessing around 1-2pm. I was only at 5cm. Dr. Wiley discussed with us some options to move this along: breaking my bags of water, and pitocin. I said that I wanted to try some more natural things first, so we would revisit that later.
I was having really bad back labor pains. Kaitlyn and Violet, my L&D nurse, were discussing that the baby was probably occiput posterior. Kaitlyn called a few chiropractors to come work on me. One arrived soon and what she did seemed to work – for a while. After this, my back labor was intense and the peak of my contractions weren’t even registering on the monitor because they were so strong. Think screaming bloody murder strong. But they were still 3-5 min apart. The second chiropractor came and did some more adjusting. She was productive, and was also trained in midwifery, so she was very helpful during this intense part of my labor. She suggested more positions to try, and Kaitlyn also did some belly sifting to try to turn the baby. Unfortunately, none of this worked.
I think Dr. Wiley came back some time between 5-7pm. We decided to have my water broken. The bags of water were filled with meconium, something I thought would happen, but didn’t want it to be so. This meant that the baby had to have the NICU team at the delivery and meant that I couldn’t deliver in the tub, cord clamping couldn’t be delayed and I couldn’t hold baby immediately.
More laboring, nurse shift change, and on top of that, this was the only night that Dr. Wiley couldn’t be on call. I quickly realized that our natural birth plan was going out that window, but I was still trying to hold onto it. We labored for a few hours more before the on-call doctor came to check on me and tell me that I was only at 8cm with a cervix that was starting to swell. Around midnight-1am, we decided to have the epidural. It was Thursday morning, and I had been up early since Tuesday without sleep. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. The on-call doc also suggested pitocin to get the contractions moving along closer together.
Around 7am, the on-call doc came to check on me. (I will admit, as much as I wanted to avoid drugs, it was nice to get a nap). Still at 8cm with some contractions 9 minutes apart, she said a c-section was necessary to deliver my baby. Though this is the last thing that I wanted, I knew it was the best way to bring Amelia into this world. I felt really calm about this decision, and though they labeled me as failure to progress, I know few people who could have lasted as long as I did in labor.
When the c-section was decided, the preparation for the surgery went really fast. All the nurses were getting me ready, and telling Matt what to expect. I asked my nurse to try and stall as long as possible because our doula was coming back in rush hour traffic (she had gone home to rest when I had the epidural). They wheeled me off all by myself and said Matt and Kaitlyn would be there right after me.
The c-section sucked. I was numb from the middle down, but the parts that were not numb were shaking. They said it was a combination of the drugs and my adrenalin. It felt like I was kind of in a fog, but still knew what was going on…it’s hard to explain. The operating room was weird. There were so many people, and so much was going on. What I did love was that Matt was the first one the hold Amelia (actually second, because of the doctor). He brought her over to me and told me that we have a baby girl. He said that I got the biggest smile on my face.
One of the things that got me through that long, excruciating labor were some affirmations read to me by Kaitlyn. One that stuck out went something like this: You are able to handle your contractions because they are a part of you; they are not stronger than you. I chanted “I am stronger” many times throughout labor and it helped…
So that’s the story of how Amelia was brought into this world. It’s not how we planned it, but it’s how it happened. Do I wish things could have been different? Yes. Would I change them if I could? No.