So, where did I leave off? Oh yeah, it's mid morning on Wednesday, August 12th, I've been laboring for 32.5 hours and my doula walks out the door since she is sure that I still have several hours before I'll really "need" her. I am in a puddle of tears in my living room sitting on my birthing ball as I wasn't aware of that until that moment. If I'd know what she was thinking all along maybe it wouldn't have felt so awful when she left me. I thought I was much further along and getting close to leaving for the hospital, but our doula wanted to see my body to make a few more changes before we'd leave. Ultimately she was waiting for my contractions to get closer together (3 minutes), for bloody show or for my water to break. She just kept encouraging me which I translated as, "you're almost there."
After she left all the feelings I experienced while battling infertility came flooding over me. Our doula had not been available to me the evening before because she was with another woman who was pushing her baby out, and now she had just left me again because yet another woman was on the verge of delivering a baby. It was how I felt when everyone around me was getting pregnant and I was stuck in the cycle of month after month of getting bad news and feeling like we weren't getting anywhere. Now when I was in labor a similar pattern seemed to be happening. Contraction after painful contraction, like month after painful month, it seemed as though I was getting no where. And now my doula had just left me behind the way I felt left behind by all the women who moved into motherhood while Ben and I were stuck fighting the odds that infertility had dealt us.
It was a low, LOW point. I sobbed into Ben's chest both during and between my contractions. I cried because I was really pissed at the person I'd hired to help me had just left to help someone else. I cried for the pain, and for my exhaustion with the whole process. But most of all, I cried because I was reliving the leftover emotions that resided deep in my heart after enduring infertility for 3 years.
Eventually I was able to pull myself together. I wiped my tears away and began to focus on my contractions. They were so intense that I could get really panicky if I didn't work to stay on top of each one. My mom, dad and husband were an incredible support group for me. I definitely wasn't alone even if my doula had gone. As I took in the support of my family I began to really regret hiring this stranger to help me through it. I dreaded her return.
She did get back to our house in a couple hours just like she said she would be, but by now I had convinced myself that I didn't need her and her presence was making me angry. I couldn't even make eye contact with her. The room was definitely tense. I knew everyone could sense it. The calming vibes that were there when she first arrived early that morning were out the window and now our rooms were filled with awkwardness. Lovely laboring environment, don't you think?
Not wanting to be the focal point of 4 sets of eyes in the weirdness that now surrounded us, Ben helped me get my ball upstairs and into our big shower like our doula had suggested we do. The hot water ran across my belly and down my back and my tears began to run down my cheeks again. I pleaded with Ben to agree with me that we had made a huge mistake hiring this person. The I was done with her and with this labor bull shit and that it was time to go to the hospital. It's infuriating to be in the middle of a very serious (one-way) conversation with your husband to be interrupted by yourself. I was in the middle of making a point and would be cut off by my own animal like sounds that would come from a place inside me that I didn't know existed. I wanted to yell, "shut up!! I was talking!" to myself. I wanted the contractions to stop! I wanted Ben to understand what I was going through. I wanted someone to understand me! I'll never forget sitting there naked, having my head against the tiles, exhausted, looking down at the drain as I fought what seemed like the millionth contraction. It felt like it was never going to end.
After about 20 minutes in the water I finally started to be able to relax some. The pain intensity eased enough and I was able to start to think straight again. Ben and I were able to have half normal conversation. We went back over our birth plan. He reminded me that I was determined and that I would be proud of myself for sticking it out. He encouraged me to forgive the doula and allow her to help us again. He pumped me back up and gave me the second wind I so dearly needed.
We came back down stair to find my parents having lunch with our doula. I told everyone that I felt stronger again and that I was able to keep going. Our doula acknowledged that she knew I was upset, but I was able to express to her that what I was really upset with wasn't about her. I was upset that my labor was taking so long and that's not her fault. She apologized for not being more clear when she left that she thought I was so well supported by my family that she wouldn't be missed. We made peace and the day picked up for a while.
We decided to put on a movie to help give me something else to focus on in between the 5 minute intervals I was riding. I chose to watch the Stepford Wives....GO FIGURE!?!? Perhaps I was wishing I was a robot incapable of feeling pain like the characters in the the movie instead of enduring the raw humanity I was in the midst of. Who knows! Ben instantly passed out on the couch as soon as the movie started. He was exhausted...poor guy. As the movie played I wasn't really able to pay attention. My mom and the doula would crack up together as they watched and I can't remember where my dad went, but no one was paying attention to me and for a few minutes it was nice to have that break even though I was still no getting any breaks from the pains.
Eventually the pain and fear of loosing control caught back up with me again. I looked at the clock and it read 3PM. I had been laboring like this for close to 40 hours and the thought of going into another night was almost too much for me to bare. I wanted to know EXACTLY how much I had progressed since doula's don't do cervical checks. I needed to know what was happening... 4cm? 6cm? How much longer could I do this?? I annouced to everyone that I was ready to go to triage to get checked. No more laboring blind...I needed to know! I couldn't go into another night of darkness without knowing something and I wanted to go now to avoid the rush hour traffic. Everyone was supportive and agreed it was time to go to the hospital.
My parents stayed behind and we agreed to call them as soon as we knew anything. The drive to the hospital really wasn't as awful as I anticipated. I was really affraid of having contractions in the car but somehow I got through them. I guess having a change of scenery after laboring in my livingroom for what seemed like forever was a nice change of pace. When we walked into the lobby of the hospital I was hit by another wrenching contraction. We had to stop right there and I put my hands on Ben's shoulder for support while our doula compressed my hips. Those deep gutteral moans rose up out of me again and it just didn't matter how many men, women and children were watching. "I'm in labor folks...sorry! Stare all you want!"
After a few contractions the three of us made it all the way up to triage. I was taken into to a room and was very happy to see the doctor's gloved hand headed towards me. Never thought I would ever think this, but after that long I was ready for the knowledge her hand could give me! She gently prodded around with her fingers while we waited for the verdict.
The following news caused all of our jaws to nearly hit floor:
I was still only 1cm, 75% effaced. **GASP!**
That's right, after 40 hours of intense laboring my cervix hadn't budged. I was beyond devastated.We were instructed to go walk the halls while they called my OB to see what he thinks the next course of action should be.
Our doula gave us some privacy since we clearly needed it after news like that. I was too shocked to even cry. I couldn't believe that I had been through all that and NOTHING had changed. We were now fearful of being taken in for an emergency C-section (our biggest fear btw). Our minds were spinning and this all seemed like a sick joke. How could this really be? I was STILL dealing with my horrific contractions every 5 minutes but now my mental imagery had completely changed. Before I was visualizing her head coming down and my cervix streching open nicely, now all I could see (and FEEL) was her head being slammed down into my closed cervix. Just being pressed against a closed door over and over again. Ugh! I was DONE!! I didn't want to feel anymore....give my an epidural!!! I can't feel this anymore!! Every contraction was mocking me...a horribly painful reminder that my body wasn't working properly.
Ben said "I think how you feel right now....I felt this way when we first learned that I make really crappy sperm." It was a very sweet moment despite everything. We connected and truly felt for one another. Then we laughed at how bad we were at procreating. It's a bad joke, but in the moment it was comforting to ackowledge and laugh at how both of our bodies had completely let us down when it came to creating and birthing a baby.
45 minutes later we were back in our room in triage with word from my doctor. He thought that maybe there was scar tissue on my cervix that would cause it to be essentailly be glued shut. There was a procedure they could try ... basically scraping the inside of my cervix ... to see if that could get it to open, but that woud be way too painful to do unmedicated so I need to be admitted and given the epidural...fine!
This was when I totally turned myself over the medical process. My body had proven that it needed help. I had planned on avoiding all interventions unless they became medically necessary...well it was necessary to get the epidural! I was ready for some sweet relief and as far as I was concerned they couldn't get it in fast enough!
Luckily once we agreed to be admitted they moved pretty fast. The epidural was in within half an hour and oh my GOD the relief it brought!! I can't even explain how grateful I was. My doula was able to really commiserate with the pain I had been in. She said based on the contractions on the monitor she would have guessed that I was 8cm!
Now that I was numb it was time to scrape my cervix for scar tissue and strip my membranes (Stripping the membranes is when a doctor inserts two fingers into the vagina and makes a sweeping motion inside the cervix to loosen not only the mucus plug but the bag of water from the uterus.) After it was over Ben was really surprised by the amount of blood that came out of me and said, "Thank goodness you couldn't feel that...you probably would have died!!!" They didn't find any scar tissue, but since she was able to force two fingers in my cervix they were hopeful that I coud start to dilate now.
Over the next couple hours they continued to watch my contractions and monitor the baby. My contractions stayed very intense, but like clockwork were STILL ONLY every 5 minutes. Baby's heartrate was high...not in distress, but still quiet high so that was concerning. After another cervical check I still had made no progress. Very disapointing.
At this point my doctor suggested that we try some Pitocin to increase the frequency of my contractions. I was concerned that the long hard contractions that pitocin can cause would put the baby over the edge since she was already showing early signs of distress. But in this situtation all I could do was fully trust my doctor. I had faith that he would take good care of both of us if an emergency c-section became nessecary. Again another medical invertion...Pitocin... that became totally necessary....birth plan out the window!!! Whatever!!
As soon as the pitocin was in my system I started contracting every 2-3 minutes! Baby tolerated it just fine and I finally began to dilate!! This was a huge relief...finally the fortress know as my cervix was looking like it might actually open up at let our baby out!!
Around midnight we heard a loud POP and that was my water breaking! I had no idea that it could break with enough force to literally be heard across the room!! Amazing. That was the final key and I went from 5cm to 10cm in just a couple hours.
Once it was finally time for me to push I felt a huge burst of energy. The only thing standing between me and holding my baby was my ability to push her out. Our doc thought it might take about two hours, but I had other plans. I was SO READY to meet my little girl that I pushed her out in 1/2 an hour. Using a mirror was great incentive and amazing to see!!
At 9:02 AM (after 55 hours of active labor) Morgan was placed on my chest. Her first apgar was a 6...poor baby was a little limp and blue after such a hard labor...but she quickly came around and was given a 9 for her second score. She nursed soon after that and has been beautifully healthy since.
Having Morgan home with us for 3.5 weeks now has been totally amazing. I am more in love with her each day. I didn't get my unmedicated birth, but I did a vaginal birth that delivered a healthy baby and that is all we really wanted. I am beyond grateful for modern medicine otherwise there is now way Ben and I could have created and birthed this beautiful child.
I thank God every day for this blessing.