**Disclaimer: I realize that not everyone enjoys reading birth stories and some people are uncomfortable hearing specifics about the birthing process...so if you're not interested, don't say I didn't give you fair warning! I have tried to keep Ellie's story accurate without over-sharing. There may be a few unfamiliar terms, such as birthing time (labor) and pressure waves (contractions). I studied and used Hypnobabies, a method of hypnosis for childbirth, thus the different terms.**
My due date was September 8, which came and went without any sign of impending labor. My first baby was induced on my due date due to extremely low amniotic fluid and my second was a c-section on my due date for no valid medical reason - so I had no point of reference for how my body might begin my birthing time naturally. At 41 weeks I asked for an internal exam - 1.5 cm, not very effaced, but my midwife said my cervix was in the perfect position for delivery and the baby's head was extremely low. In the meantime I was trying all sorts of natural induction methods, none of which produced more than a few twinges of pressure waves. Since I was a VBAC, Greg and I didn't feel comfortable going beyond 42 weeks so we agreed to go in for induction on September 22. My midwife was thrilled I was using Hypnobabies and was completely on board with only using pitocin to get pressure waves started and then let my body take over.
When we got to the hospital, we found that I hadn't dilated any more than I was at 41 wks and were also told my cervix was now extremely high and posterior, so we knew it would take a while. We agreed to the use of a foley bulb catheter to help me open up a bit more. I ended up laboring for 16 hrs on pitocin with no pain meds. Hypnobabies was GREAT! My hospital gown had a pocket on the front, so I clipped my iPod to it and kept one ear bud in the whole time to listen to the Hypnobabies scripts. Even though the pressure waves did start to get stronger and more intense, I was able to stay calm and relaxed through them. It helped, too, to think of them as "rushes" - as Ina May Gaskin calls them...I pictured myself riding on the front of a bullet train as each one propelled itself forward.
After 16 hours, I was at 6.5 cm, but the midwives had different opinions on what station the baby was at, so they broke my water, which seemed to be the start of things going off track. They wanted to do internal monitoring and had trouble getting it in. Two different midwives tried, which was extremely uncomfortable and really disrupted my focus. They had turned the pitocin down low (possibly even off? I'm not sure) since I was doing well, but then needed to turn it up again, so the pressure waves got a lot more intense again. I was stalled at 6.5 cm for a few hours and knew I was going to need an epidural to go any longer. While they worked on placing the internal monitors, the baby had a few decel's in heart rate, so that caused a lot of commotion! Even with having the Hypnobabies scripts playing and having Greg and my doula there with constant support, it was very difficult to get back to that calm and peaceful state. While I desperately wanted an unmedicated VBAC, I knew I needed an epidural in order to have the focus to keep going.
Once I got the epidural, the midwives started talking to us about considering a c-section (because the baby just wasn't descending), but there was NEVER any pressure, which we appreciated so much. We had total support in whatever we decided. It seemed like it took forever for the epidural to really kick in, but once it did, I knew it was better to go ahead with the surgery because there was no way I was going to have the energy and stamina to push for very long.
As it happened, the OR's were backed up and it took almost two hours for one to be available - so by the time they put in the catheter and started really getting ready to take me, we discovered I was fully dilated and complete! I know Greg would have liked to encourage me to try to push, but our doula helped him to understand that if I knew I didn't have it in me, his encouragement would likely only make me feel guilty - so I'm grateful she was there. Once we got into surgery, they discovered all kinds of scar tissue from my previous c-section on my bladder, so they had to spend a lot of time cleaning that up. I'm thankful to have a "reason" for the c-section...I never knew there were any issues and the scar tissue could have caused problems in the future.
Eleanor Elizabeth (Ellie) was born September 23, 2009 at 10:11 PM, weighing 9 lbs 11 oz and was 21 1/2" long. While it was not the birth experience I had hoped for, it did produce the outcome I desired: a strong, healthy, beautiful baby. I do believe we made the right decisions based on the circumstances. It was never an emergency situation and I'm thankful for that. The midwives and doctors were all wonderful, as were all the nurses I had. I am extremely thankful for Hypnobabies and how it worked for me, even in a Plan B situation. I know I have learned skills that I can continue to use well into the future.