The following birth story is shared by one of our clients, Meredith Carpenter, who chose to have her second baby at home after her first one was a planned hospital birth. Be sure to read her other birth story and also why she chose to give birth at home.
Here is the introduction she wrote to her writings:
Having two children in two years, you could say that my mind has been saturated in pregnancy and childbirth for some time now. I am a scientist by nature (and according to a degree lying around somewhere), so delving into these topics has become almost a hobby. My intention here is to share my own birth stories and to address the fact that childbirth needs to be viewed differently in this country. Women need to embrace pregnancy and childbirth rather than fear them.
It was the morning of my due date at around 5:30am and the night had been a long and restless one. I awoke to a little bit of wetness and my first thought was that I hadn’t gotten up in time to pee and had leaked some urine. But, when I got up out of bed, I leaked some more and realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t urine. My water had broken to some extent, but was just leaking very slowly. I wasn’t sure what to do and definitely had no other signs of labor to note.
I knew that if your water breaks in a quick rush that you should get to the hospital ASAP, but I had trouble convincing myself that mine had even ruptured. I had planned and prepared for a natural, hospital birth and knew that I needed to labor at home as long as possible to get in my comfort zone and get used to riding the waves of contractions before going and getting hooked up to IVs and monitors. So, I laid back down and tried to rest for a while.
Don’t remember if I actually slept or not, my mind was racing. Justin was asleep on the couch and I didn’t want to alert him until I knew it was really happening. Plus, I was really hoping that contractions would start soon after my “water breaking”. 8:00am rolled around and nothing had changed. I felt just fine other than being a little tired.
I woke Justin up and told him what had happened (and was still happening). My water was clear, had no odor, and was leaking so slowly that almost couldn’t tell. Justin wasn’t quite comfortable with the idea of me just waiting for labor to start on it’s own and convinced me to call our group of OBGYNs and tell them what was happening. I was very reluctant to do so because I knew whoever the doctor was at the time, they were going to tell me to come in and get checked since my water had broken, period.
I dabbled with the idea of calling and wasted time eating breakfast and cleaning up around the house. No sign of contractions. So, at around 11:00am we drove to the hospital. I was taken into triage where we stayed for almost two hours. The nurse was very nice, but the room was super uncomfortable. There were a couple of women actually laboring in triage and they weren’t very shy about it.
I had to lie on a stiff cot, hooked up to monitors the entire time. I remember wanting nothing more than to leave or at least just get up and move. Justin and I had spent time developing our own birth plan in order to achieve a natural delivery, but we never even got it out. Looking back, I was scared and timid.
As soon as we checked in at the hospital, I felt like I had relinquished control of my labor to “the professionals” and I had a feeling that no matter what I did or said, the outcome at this point would be the same. I’m not sure whether or not the monitors showed that I was having any contractions. If I was they weren’t intense enough to even remember. However, they decided to move us to a room and inform me that since my waters had broken, they would like me to deliver within 12-24 hours. I knew I was in for it.
The room was much nicer than triage, but I was still hooked up to monitors. I know now that I didn’t have to be. They can come in and monitor you every 30 minutes or so, so that you don’t have to be on a 2 foot leash.
I went into Cameron’s birth feeling so confident and just knowing that I could do it without drugs. But the truth of the matter was that we were not as prepared and knowledgeable as we thought we were. And now the unexpected had happened. The birth plan still sat in the top of my bag.
I was actually concerned with making a good impression on the nurses and didn’t want to irritate them with a “plan”. How silly is that? As if making sure they liked me insured an enjoyable birthing process. What was I thinking?
It was around 1:00pm when we had been put into the room. I bounced on my balance ball, walked around, and just hung out with Justin and my mom. At around 2:00pm the nurse came in and informed me that the doctor wanted me to start a Pitocin drip to start contractions. I remember the lump forming in my throat.
I knew that Pitocin makes contractions much stronger than normal and that they would hit much harder. I somehow talked her into putting it off for another hour. But when 3:00 rolled around, my contractions hadn’t picked up any and they insisted that I begin the Pitocin. So, they wasted no time starting the drip and by 4:00pm I was having very strong contractions.
There was no easing into them, the very first contraction was pretty intense. From this point on, the story is a little fuzzy. My mom disappeared to let Justin and I try and get into the groove of things. I dealt with these contractions for about two hours. I tried laboring on the toilet, but it was cold and awkward.
I had to get out of the room, so somebody asked if they would remove the monitors and walk the halls, so they did. Justin and I walked around the circle of rooms and watching eyes and each time I would have a contraction I would have to stop and hang onto him. We didn’t walk for long because it was awkward too. Back in the room I remember just feeling defeated. We were sitting on the bed together and at this point the contractions were so intense that I couldn’t talk or move or do much of anything because I was so uncomfortable in my surroundings.
It was when I actually tried to bite Justin’s hand during a contraction that I gave up and decided to call the nurse and order an epidural. It was around 6:00 or 7:00pm that the anesthesiologist made his way to my room. He and the nurses were very nice and supportive, but I was so humiliated with defeat and in such pain that it was just a horrible experience. I had to hold still for them to insert the epidural, but that was asking a lot.
I remember crying and Justin holding my hand. The epidural being put into position hurt even worse than the contractions. The anesthesiologist told me that he didn’t do “walking epidurals” and that soon I wouldn’t be able to feel any pain at all. He wasn’t kidding. My torso, hips, and legs were gone. I couldn’t feel them at all and it made getting checked for dilation that much weirder.
I don’t remember anything after this point until I woke up around 4:00 the next morning feeling like I was about to have a bowl movement in the bed. Justin rang the nurse and told her and she came in right away to inform me that it was pressure from the baby that I was feeling. It was finally time! I still felt so numb and tingly all over.
I had slept on and off through the night, but didn’t feel well rested. The epidural had not made me feel comfortable at all. The nurse turned off the epidural drip for me as soon as she checked to find me dilated enough to push. She had let the doctor know and now we just had to wait. Which was fine with me because I didn’t have a very strong urge to push just yet. It didn’t take long for the feeling to come back to my body enough to get to that point though.
About the same time the doctor showed up, all tingling sensations were gone and all I wanted to do was push. And the pushing felt incredible! I was so happy to finally be able to feel and work with my body. I felt in control again. It was not easy work, but I could feel Cameron moving down and twisting and turning through my pelvis, so I knew we were making progress.
After about an hour of pushing, her head was crowning and the doctor let me know that my little girl had a head full of blonde hair. I’m glad she told me that because it gave me the determination I needed to finish the job. I continued pushing as the team instructed me to, but her head just kept sliding back in between pushes (which I learned later is a good thing and shouldn’t be rushed, but was discouraging at the time).
All the counting and pushing had tired me out pretty quickly and I got to the point where I knew I didn’t have much strength left in me. So, I sat up in bed, looked the doctor square in the eyes, and told her I needed help and to do whatever she needed to do to help me get this baby out. Yes, I pretty much asked for an episiotomy, but I could feel the threat of a caesarian growing near and just wanted a vaginal delivery at this point. It had been a long, uncomfortable day and night. The doctor cut me and I could feel it, but I didn’t care about the pain anymore, I just wanted it to be over.
Shortly after, I pushed with all my might and felt my little girl’s body slide out of me all at once. The feeling was amazing. At 5:43am on February 21, 2010, Cameron Flora came into the world. I sat up and took a peep at her before falling back on the bed. It sounds bad, but all I could think about was sleep and food. Justin and I watched as she got cleaned up and assessed. It wasn’t long before they put her on my chest. But I was in a hospital gown and she was already in a blanket, so we didn’t get to be skin-to-skin.
I did offer her my breast though and she was interested right away. She was the most beautiful thing we had ever laid eyes on and I will never forget how amazing her smell was! We lay there for a just a bit before they insisted on taking her to the nursery, Justin followed. The birth had been stressful on her and I both, our heart rates had been unstable and we both had mild fevers afterward. But all in all, it was a beautiful vaginal birth and we were both healthy. Cameron roomed in with us and we all three just rested between visitors that day. It was so good to finally have our baby in the world right next to us.