Two days past my due date I woke several times that night with discomfort that would go and come when finally at 5am I moved to the couch and started to wonder if there wasn’t something more to these pains. After breaking all the rules and timing a few to see what was happening I realized these were uterine cramps and they were 7-12 minutes apart. No pattern and not a big deal. I went about my day, and then my water broke around 1:30pm. I had the group B strep test done and much to my disappointment it came back positive so after a lot of consideration of risks and benefits my husband and I had decided that we would take the recommended course of treatment and do IV antibiotics during labor to best protect the baby. Penny informed us that usually her client’s labor so quickly that the baby is out before the second round of antibiotics is needed. “I’m sure this will be me” I thought, as I planned to have a flawless pregnancy, was in great physical shape being a previous runner, and did everything I knew to do in order to prepare for labor and delivery. Gretchen came to do my first round of IV antibiotics later that afternoon and then checked back in later to see how things were progressing. Labor picked up and by late that night I was having decent contractions in a good pattern.
Early into Friday morning around 12:30am I asked if I could get into the birth tub and proceeded. After 3-4 hours in the tub contractions were about the same and Penny discussed with me that I wasn’t progressing into “active” labor and suggested that we may want to get out of the tub and try to get some rest so we weren’t exhausted and possibly my body could better progress to active labor after some sleep. My husband and I agreed and while I never planned to get out of that tub without a baby in my arms I decided to go with the flow and take some Valerian and get some rest. Friday morning around 9am the team decided that they would take off, let me have some space and see what happens to my labor. Contractions were further apart now and moderate. Friday night after taking a few doses of black and blue cohosh my contractions seemed to pick up a lot. I wasn’t sure if this was enough to call in the team or not so I labored with my husband all night Friday night having contractions every 3-4 minutes for 60-80 seconds. This lasted into Saturday morning when Gretchen came back to do heart tones and I asked if I could labor in the tub again. Because I tested positive for group B strep I knew that my vaginal checks would be minimal/none since my water broke and the baby would be at greater exposure even though I was being adequately treated with IV antibiotics. This was hard for me because as a first time mom I wasn’t sure of everything I was experiencing, my labor was going very long, and I was still not considered in “active” labor.
Saturday afternoon we finally decided that we needed to do a check to see where I was and how we needed to proceed. I was dilated to 10! RELIEF! We could finally start pushing with these contractions. My most intense contractions had started to fade and we had to work to get contractions ramped up again. Saturday evening and into the early morning Sunday we started actively pushing. The baby would come down, and Penny could see the baby’s hair and in a short time later the baby was all the way back up where we could hardly feel the head. [Midwife note: this was a phenomenon I had actually never experienced before. Baby progressed to +3 station rather quickly after pushing initiated and then within a half hour was so high, she was unreachable.] I was getting frustrated, exhausted, and starting to have serious low back spasms at every contraction.
Why was this not working? Why were we getting so close and baby wouldn’t come the rest of the way out? Did I not know how to push? Going on several days without good sleep, several hours of active pushing, and no signs that there was progress we stopped to reevaluate our situation. My back was giving out at each contraction and I wasn’t sure how much longer I could go on like that. Penny suggested we may need to transfer and try some pitocin to get contractions going more regularly and see if we could get baby to come out with some stronger contractions. We knew this was what we needed to do but it broke our heart in a sense to transfer out of the home birth setting and we knew that our story wasn’t going to end the way we had hoped and planned. After going to
Methodist, resting a bit, eating some, trying pitocin, getting an inter uterine monitor to determine inside contraction strength and finding that my contractions were not strong enough to get baby out, we were left with the recommendation that we have a c section. This was a devastating realization. But we felt we had truly exhausted all other options going from least invasive to most invasive [Midwife Note: and more than 28 hours after determining she was fully dilated. Yes, this couple gave it their best effort, and so did our collaborating team at Methodist Hospital].
Ellyana (meaning: the Lord answers our Prayers) Hope (meaning: expectation through Faith) was born at 9:39pm Sunday September 1st. My birth experience stumped the Believe Midwifery team and the doctors and nurses at Methodist Hospital, as well as my husband and me. We aren’t sure why my healthy body dilated to 10cm and could push baby down but not all the way out. We don’t know why our daughter was born via a surgery instead of in the comfort of our own home, through the natural ways that our God and creator designed and we so badly wanted. We do believe that everything happens for a reason and that we have learned a great deal from our labor and delivery experience. We know that God was with us through it all
and very thankful that at no point was my life or the baby’s life ever in danger during our long labor. I have an Everyday Blessings book that sits on my coffee table and I want to share the reading for September 1, the day Ellyana was actually born (despite my water breaking August 29th at 1:30pm):
“You answer us in amazing ways, God our Savior.” Psalm 65:5
God never turns his back on those who ask honest questions. He never did in the Old Testament: he never did in the New Testament. So if you are asking honest questions of God, he will not turn away from you…in learning to depend on God, we must accept that we may not know all the answers, but we know who knows the answers.
This passage means a lot to us given our journey. We may not ever know exactly what happen to cause our altered course but we did depend on Him and we know that He answers us.
The Believe Midwifery team was with us the whole time and was so supportive even as I labored in the hospital. They were with us to the end when Gretchen came in to see me during recovery. She even followed up with me a couple times during my hospital stay and gave me breast feeding support. We were so pleased with our experience at Believe Midwifery and we certainly plan to use them again for our next birth which we hope will be a VBAC home birth. Someday I hope that Believe Midwifery’s Facebook status will read: “Baby tucked in bed with mom and dad, waiting to meet big sister Ellyana when she wakes up!”