Noah's Birth Story:
Some of you already know that my labor was a VERY long journey....46 hours to be exact with 4 of those hours consisting of pushing (not even considering all of the pre-labor contractions that started around 33 weeks of pregnancy). Early labor all started on Saturday, July 7th. I could tell my contractions were feeling different than my pre-labor contractions, and I was having a harder time ignoring them. But, I continued to ignore them as best as I could. I actually went to a baby shower that morning which did really help me ignore the contractions for a bit. By the afternoon, the contractions were beginning to become stronger, but I still tried to ignore them. We had a birthday party that evening that we really wanted to go to, so I thought let's try ignoring them one last time to see if this is the real thing, so out we went to the birthday party. I made it about 1 hour at the party before I could no longer carry on a conversation without having to breathe through a contraction, so we decided we needed to get home and start using some of our natural childbirth techniques we had learned.
Cole and I both knew that we were officially in Early Labor at this point in time. I immediately got in the tub and Cole helped me relax through each contraction by pouring warm water on my belly (a great technique!!). We did this for about an hour before we decided I needed to try to change positions and get in bed. For the remainder of Saturday evening/night, we changed positions and I used my breath to get through each contraction (the breath is also a great technique!). I think I might have gotten around 1 hour of sleep Saturday night.
Sunday morning finally arrived and the same thing continued....strong contractions. I immediately called my midwife to let her know what was going on. She agreed that I was in early labor, and I should continue using my natural childbirth techniques at home for as long as we could (early labor can last for several days or several hours and it is the part of birth when your cervix dilates from 0-3cm). She wanted me to call back when my contractions were coming in every 5 minutes, lasting for at least 1 minute for 1 hour. At this point they were coming in about every 6-8 minutes and lasting for 45sec-1 1/2 mins. **Side Note: My midwife had been out of town since Wed for the 4th of July holiday and was not returning home til Sunday evening. She technically was not supposed to be working on Sunday, but she said she would still try to deliver him if she made it back in time. She wanted me to also call the on-call OB to let her know what was going on so she could be prepared for a delivery if she did not make it back in time. She was still technically out of town for the weekend, but she said she might still be able to deliver Noah if he arrived later on in the evening. Cole and I had been talking to Noah since Wednesday asking him to stay in my belly til at least Sunday, and he was def. listening!
So, after talking to my midwife, we knew we were not going to be ready to go to the hospital for a pretty long time. I then called my doula to let her know what was going on and to see what she suggested us doing next since we were going to be laboring at home for awhile (this was all part of our plan though....laboring at home as long as you can is a good idea if you are trying to achieve natural childbirth.) She wanted me to start walking and to possibly do my "labor project" to try to keep my mind off of the contractions. A labor project is something you do in early labor to pass the time....I was going to bake chocolate chip cookies. However, I was never able to bake due to my contractions being so intense, but Cole and I did start walking. We walked down the street and around our front yard chatting about what we thought Noah was going to be like. It was really nice! However, I did end up getting pooped on by a bird in our front yard....Cole said it was good luck!;)
For the next several hours, we continued breathing through the contractions in different positions (birthing ball, side lying in the bed, walking around the house, climbing the stairs, etc) until I could no longer handle them anymore. We decided it was best for me to get back in the tub and for our doula to come over to the house to help us. Ayla arrived within 15 minutes and immediately sat down next to the tub and starting pouring the warm water over my belly and we began chanting (another great technique). We used the "ahhhh" and "ohhh" sounds. Both are deep sounds that help your body to relax. My body already loves to chant since we do so much chanting in yoga classes at Kashi, so I was saving chanting for more advanced labor, and Ayla thought it was now time to use this tool. Cole also chanted with us....it really was a beautiful time and it def. helped me relax through each contraction. I think we might have scared the pups and kitty though!;) We did this for what felt like at least an hour, but at this point I could no longer keep track of time. However, I do know that I had been in labor at this point for at least 18 hours (the average labor for first time moms is 16-20 hours, and I was def. hoping for more like a 6 hour labor since I had been contracting since week 33...oh well that def. did not happen!) After continuing this for awhile, Ayla felt we had entered into active labor (when your cervix dilates from 4-7 cm and becomes more intense then early labor). She felt it was time for us to head to the hospital because she did not want me to be in transition (the most intense part of labor when your cervix dilates from 8-10 cm). So, Cole put all of our stuff in the car, and I very slowly got myself together as best as I could and off the 3 of us went in our car to the hospital. Ayla rode with us so she could help me chant and breathe through each contraction in the car while Cole safely drove us to Piedmont Hospital.
Cole dropped Ayla and me off at the ED, so I did not have to walk through the the parking garage. Ayla and I walked the halls to Labor and Delivery which felt like I walked at least 2 miles, but I am sure it was not that far at all. We had to stop several times so I could breathe and chant through contractions. I think I def. scared all of the pregnant ladies that were on their hospital tour that afternoon. (Piedmont has pregnant couples tour the hospital on Sundays since it is one of their slowest days.).
Cole was waiting for us all checked in by the time we made it to L&D. They brought us to our room and proceeded to check my vitals and to see how far along I was in labor. Part of my birth plan was that I did not want to be informed of my dilation unless I requested it because I did not want it to discourage me during labor. All of my vitals were good, but I knew something was not quite right after she checked my cervix based on the look on everyone's faces, so I decided I wanted to know what was going on. I was informed that even though I had been in labor for almost 24 hours, I was only 2 cm dilated, but I was 80% effaced and Noah's head was very low. I was happy to hear some of the news, but I could not believe that I was only 2 cm and was still in early labor even though my contractions were so intense. The nurse told us we had lots of options: 1. We could go back home and continue laboring at home and then come back whenever we felt we needed to 2. We could stay in the hospital and continue laboring there until Noah was born 3. We could labor at the hospital for a few hours, see my progress and then go from there. Cole, Ayla and I all discussed these options for awhile, and finally decided to stay in the hospital. I could not imagine getting back in the car at that point, and I had a feeling of peace being in the hospital at that point in time (They could periodically monitor Noah's heart rate and make sure I was doing ok). Since we knew we were now staying at the hospital, I decided it was time to make my room feel a little bit more like home. I had Cole turn the "Pain" sign around that was hanging in our room so it was not visible to me, and then he hung all of my birth art drawings that I had prepared around the room (I read the book "Birthing from Within" during the last few weeks of pregnancy and did several birth art activities from the book. I would highly recommend this book to any pregnant women!). He also set up our iPod and put our Birthing Mix 2 on (lots of Kirtan and relaxing yoga/massage music). The environment of our room was much more peaceful and "home-like"!
So, we continued using my natural childbirth techniques for about 6 or so more hours in the hospital (again time is a bit blurry at this point). Judith, my midwife, arrived at the hospital around 10pm. I was SO HAPPY to see her! I knew that she would be the one delivering Noah now, and I felt such a sense of relief. At that point, she checked me again, and I was only 3 cm dilated. I couldn't believe it. Why was my body not progressing I kept thinking to myself....
Judith reassured me that my body was making progress, it was just very slow progress. She felt that my body, esp my uterus, was exhausted from all of the contractions it had been experiencing for so long. She felt it was time for an intervention. We decided that the least interventive option was to try sleep therapy so my body, mind and uterus could all try to rest. I was given 2 ambien, a mild narcotic to take the edge off of my intense contractions and an anti-nausea pill. It worked, and I slept for 3-4 hours or so!! However, I did wake back up as soon as the narcotic wore off to intense contractions once again. Judith felt it was time to check me again. At this point, I was now 4 cm and we realized my water had broke at some point during the night! Looking back, I think it was when I woke up and had to go to the bathroom, and told Cole "It keeps coming out!" I was so happy to hear that I had officially entered into active labor! However, at this point, we decided we probably needed another intervention to help speed things up. We decided that it would be best to start pitocin and an epidural.
At this point, I was soooo ready for the epidural and had no regrets whatsoever. I felt that I had done an awesome job handling natural childbirth as long as I could (about 35 hours). I had told myself before labor started that I had my plan A (natural childbirth), but I would be open to doing whatever I needed to in order to have a healthy baby.
The anesthesiologist came in and administered the epidural first around 6amish, and we started the pitocin shortly after around 7:30am. The epidural was amazing....no more pain, just pressure with each contraction. By Noonish, I had progressed to 8-9cm and was now entering into "transition" (the most intense part of labor). I was so happy knowing that little Noah would be arriving soon, and that I had the epidural! I do not think my body could have handled going through transition at this point in time without some pain relief. I believe about an hour passed of me just "relaxing" and breathing though each contraction, until all of a sudden I felt like someone had just crushed my right rib cage. I remember feeling like it was really hard to breathe. Cole, Ayla and my nurse had me try several different positions to try to help relieve the pain. I finally tried side-lying on my left side, and it helped. The pain was gone, and I could breathe again! I remember seeing the look on Cole's face...he was so worried that we were not going to be able to relieve me of the pain in my ribcage, but we did! Soon after that incident, I started feeling debilitating pain in my left side, almost like natural childbirth again. My whole team decided that my epidural was not strong enough, and that the anesthesiologist needed to return to give me something stronger. At this point, my eyes were closed, and I really did not open them too much more until the very end of Noah's birth. I think closing my eyes really helped me go deep within to help ease the pain and find the energy I needed to get Noah out.
The anesthesiologist entered once again and corrected my epidural. Within minutes the pain went away! Judith decided it was time to check my again to see if I had made it to 10 cm. Sure enough I was FINALLY THERE!!! It was time to start pushing! I was SO excited since I was not sure early on if I would be making it to 10 cm before Noah's heart rate spiked or dropped! Our "peaceful" little baby's heart rate never once spiked or dropped throughout the entire 46 hours. He was perfectly happy the entire time! Thank you Noah!
I began pushing, and I remember saying to my team..."Wow, this pushing thing really isn't that bad!" I was actually having fun with it in the beginning! Little did I know that after 4 hours, I would not be thinking the same thing. After about an hour of pushing, Judith decided that we should turn down the epidural so I would be able to feel when my contractions were coming to help with pushing. You do not have to work as hard pushing if you wait until you hit the peak of a contraction. Your body does half of the work for you. So, we continued for about another hour of me letting them know when my contraction was peaking so I could push. Judith did an awesome job of guiding me through pushing. It took me awhile to get the hang of it, but after about 2 hours, Noah was starting to make some good progress down! Once again, the progress was very slow though.
After 2 hours 45 minutes of pushing, I was starting to fade. My practice usually only allows patients to push for 3 hours max before an intervention occurs (vacuum, forceps or c-section). So, within a matter of minutes, in walked the on-call OBGYN from the practice. He took over Judith's position and tried a few things to help get Noah's head through my pelvis (this was the challenge...Noah was born with a 14 inch head! It was so hard for me to get his head to come under my pelvis). I continued pushing through a few contractions with the help of the OB. I remember him asking me how I was feeling, and my reply was "ok". He felt that we needed to turn the epidural down more and increase the level of pitocin. He then also proceeded to say that he was going to give me 15 more minutes to push, and then he was going to need to intervene with either the vacuum, or we were going to need to have a c-section. All words I did not want to hear after all of this effort. He left our room, and I told Cole not to let him back in. I was SO ANGRY at this OB! However, this was exactly what I needed. I needed a little extra push to go deeper within to find a little bit more energy to get Noah out, and this is exactly what the OB did. Later after Noah was born, the OB returned back in and told me it was just a tactic they use to see if the mom is really determined to keep going or to find out if it is time to intervene. He told me that he knew I had it in me, I just needed a little push. I thanked him at that point!;)
So, back to pushing. After the OB left, Judith also decided that I might need a small episiotomy to help get Noah's head to crown. I started pushing effectively, and Noah's head began to crown shortly after the episiotomy. Judith brought in a mirror so I could see Noah's head (During pregnancy, I did not think I would want a mirror brought it). However, this also gave me extra strength to push since I could see my baby with all of his dark hair. I continued to push for about another hour before Noah finally made his way out. During the last hour, I remember vocalizing aloud that I could do it and I kept saying "Come on Noah!", and eventually Noah's 14 inch head came out along with the rest of his 8 lb 9 oz body! Cole and I will remember 5:26pm on July 9th for the rest of our lives!
It was the most amazing feeling in the world to have him out. Tears of joy and exhaustion were running down my face, and all I wanted was to see my baby, but for some reason he was not placed on my chest immediately after birth which was part of my birth plan. I immediately knew something must be wrong because I did not hear him cry...Judith and Ayla both reassured me that Noah was just fine and that he was just a little stunned from the birth.
All of a sudden a hand full of people rushed into our room and immediately went over to the corner of the room where Noah and Cole were. Cole had been by my side the entire time up until the point when Noah was out. We were all a little bit worried that I might hemorrhage after birth since my mom did with both my brother and me. However, I did not, and Judith reassured Cole and me that I was just fine and she would take good care of me. It turned out that Noah just needed a little bit of oxygen to get him breathing. The nurse meant to hit the button for the respiratory team, but instead hit the "Code Pink" button. (the emergency button that baby is in distress and the NICU doctors rush in). It was a very stressful false alarm.
Within 30 minutes or so, Noah was brought over to me and we finally had our skin to skin time and he had his first meal while Judith continued getting me all ready. He was so perfect, and once again the tears just starting rolling down my face. Cole and I were so happy that he was finally here! It was by far the most intense and hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but if I had to do it all over again in order to bring my precious Noah into the world, I would without a doubt.
For those of you who made it through this entire story, my hope is that it did not traumatize you, but that it gives you hope and empowerment in the women's body and mind. For me, I am truly at awe with the miracle of life and birth. I want to THANK FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART my amazing husband, my amazing midwife Judith, and my amazing doula Ayla. I could not have done it without all three of you. Noah and I are forever grateful!
Noah shortly after birth
Noah at 1 week old!