I found out I was pregnant in the middle of October. It was a surprise to my husband and me because, although I wasn’t good about taking my pills, I was on birth control. In December we finally had an ultrasound. A baby boy! The due date was set on June 12. My sister-in-law announced her pregnancy at the same time we did; she was due on May 10 with another son.
My pregnancy was so easy, it’s really not fair for me to complain. I only threw up twice, though I did gain close to 45 pounds, almost entirely in my stomach. I was going to Bradley classes so I learned to eat my eggs for protein and keep walking and doing my excercises. I was worried about the birth and the pain, but my mom would always remind me that people had been coming to this earth in the same way for centuries. Because of insurance reasons I switched from having a midwife to a doctor, and then to another midwife. The doctor made me feel like I didn’t have any say in how my baby would be born, and I liked the idea of me being in control. This is my body; I was going to have my baby and it was my birthing experience. It was three weeks until my due date when we finally found a few midwives we felt comfortable with. I mentioned we had taken Bradley classes. I didn’t agree with the total anti-medical standpoint of some of the teachers, but we found one that had a nice mix.
We finally felt almost ready, and the wait began. I worked up and past my due date. Everyone would say, “Still here? Go home and have that baby!” And I wanted to. At my second check-up after the due date everything still looked fine, and there were still no plans for inducing me. We got another ultrasound and they estimated our baby’s weight to be around eight pounds, eight ounces. On our next visit, which was June 21st, I begged for them to strip my membranes. I was already 2 cm. dilated and 80% effaced. They said instead that they would set an appointment for induction on the 23rd. I finally had a date!
We arrived at the hospital, and everything got under way. The pitocin was started at 10 a.m. As the first contractions started I thought, “This is going to be a breeze. These don’t hurt at all.” And it stayed that way until about 3 p.m. That’s when my midwife came in to break my water to help things along. (By the way, when shopping for a doctor or midwife you want one with small hands. Ouch!) As soon as the water was broken the nurse rushed in, turned me on my side and gave me oxygen. I didn’t even know why. She finally said that the baby’s heart rate wasn’t regular. They decided to put on the internal monitor (something I was initially against) and refill the bag of water. Once they got those ready everything returned to normal, except me. The contractions were getting harder and harder to bear. I used many different coping techniques and the relaxation we had practiced, but it was so hard when it hurt so much! He just didn’t want to come out. The midwife checked me again and said he had probably turned posterior. It felt good to do pelvic rocks, but my arm with the IV couldn’t take them.
From then on it just got more and more intense. At one point I just told everyone to make it stop. I would come in another day and start over. My mom knew I was getting close, so when I asked for drugs she stalled. When the nurse finally came in with something to give me I asked to be checked first. I was 8 cm. No drugs for me. Soon after that I got up to use the bathroom and threw up all over the floor. I was in transition. YEAH! Almost done.
I was unhooked from all the monitors and allowed to take a shower. I would squat every time a contraction came and yell, “Counter pressure!” It felt so much better than being in bed. I was actually starting to push, because it made the pain go away. When they realized that, they made me go back into the room to check the baby. They said his heartbeat was very faint. I started to push with all my might. And push and push. I didn’t stop when the contraction did. It only took three contractions and his head came out. They let my mom deliver him the rest of the way. He looked a little purple, but perfect. They let me hold him for just a little while then took him to make sure he was breathing enough. It kind of scared me– not because I didn’t think he was fine– but because the nurse working on him looked like she was beating him.
I had a small episiotomy (another thing I really didn’t want,) and then tore. I was so tired – by this time it was 1 a.m.), I didn’t even care when I noticed the nurse midwife looked pale. I guess I was losing a lot of blood. She called in her back-up doctor to do the stitching.
Jack Gregory Peterson was born weighing eight pounds and six ounces, and after receiving a little oxygen, was in perfect health. I know now that he holds his breath really well and that’s what caused his erratic heartbeats!
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