My Birth Story: A 50-Hour Medical Induction
My Birth Story
I found reading other women’s birth stories really helpful during my pregnancy. It was fascinating how unique everyone’s experience was. Reading birth stories helped me prepare for various labor scenarios.
My birth story didn’t play out quite as I had expected. I shared my last update “40 Weeks Pregnant” where I was not showing any signs of labor.
Below is my very LONG birth story. I tried to share as much detail as I possibly could in the hopes that sharing my story helps other moms prepare for labor.
In summary, after a 50-hour medical induction (20 hours of ‘active’ labor), baby Maeve was born at 5:47 pm on June 3rd, 2017, weighing 7lb 4oz and measuring at 20 inches.
40 Weeks Pregnant
I had an OB appointment at 40 weeks, 4 days pregnant. I asked my husband to come to this appointment with me for moral support. I was still only 1cm dilated. I explained to the OB (Doctor P) that I was hoping to avoid an induction. We agreed that I would have a non-stress test at 40+6, 41+3, and then if I hadn’t gone into labor naturally, I would be induced at 41+6. I was happy with this plan and felt relieved that I was going to have a week and a half to go into labor naturally.
My OB office is made up of six doctors. I met all during my pregnancy, as you never know who will be on call at the hospital when you go into labor.
Non-Stress Test Appointment
On Thursday 1st June, I was scheduled for my first non-stress test at 40 weeks, 6 days pregnant. I decided to go to IKEA to walk laps around the showroom before my appointment. The Las Vegas summer heat makes it too tough to walk outside, and IKEA has a nice big air conditioned showroom! While using the restroom in IKEA, I noticed that I was losing some of my mucus plug. I was excited as this was the FIRST sign that my body was preparing for labor.
Once at the OB’s office, I was taken back for an ultrasound. I was also told that the non-stress test might be a little while, as the nurses would be out for lunch. The technician showed me baby girl, who was head down, and doing great as far as movement and practice breathing exercises. I asked about my amniotic fluid and was told: “the Doctor will discuss those results with you.” I hadn’t been scheduled to see the Doctor, so this was a little bit of a red flag. A nurse checks my weight and blood pressure and shows me to a room where we do the usual undress from the waist down. At this point, I text my husband “I don’t know what’s happening… but I’m seeing the Doctor so standby (and by standby I mean don’t go back to work after lunch until we’ve talked!)”
Doctor H comes in, checks my cervix and says that my amniotic fluid is at 1.6. An 8 is normal, and 5 is low… so 1.6 was VERY low. I’m still only 1-2cm dilated, but Doctor H tells me to head to the hospital to start an induction. I hadn’t been leaking any fluid as far as I was aware.
By the time I’m at my car, my head was spinning. I had NOT planned this scenario. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting hold of my husband at work, and it took nearly an hour for him to get the message to call me. Meanwhile, I called a friend and my dad to give them an update and drove myself home to grab my hospital bags. I ran around the house trying to grab last minute items and tidy a few things up. I was also conscious that the hospital might not let me eat or drink, so I chugged a smoothie and a bunch of fluids. I had aimed to be at the hospital within an hour of leaving the Doctors office, but it took 2 hours. I was feeling quite overwhelmed, having not had time just to sit, breathe, and process the developments.
Induction: Part 1
At 2:00 pm, we checked into the hospital and immediately got shown to a room and hooked up to monitors and an IV. By 4:00 pm, one of my OBs (Doctor S) had come around and explained we were going to use Cytotec to initiate the induction process and ripen my cervix. Fortunately, the OB said I could continue to eat and drink at this stage… hurrah! I explained I was hesitant to use Pitocin to induce and would like to see how far we got with the Cytotec before introducing Pitocin.
The evening was pretty relaxed. I wasn’t feeling any contractions. My husband and I watched a movie and had dinner. I took the nurses up on the offer of a sleeping pill. I knew I was going to need to recharge before labor.
At 1:00 am, I was given dose #3 of the Cytotec, and my cervix was checked. I had dilated to 3cm. At this point, cervical exams were REALLY not fun (i.e. downright painful!) Both Doctor S and my nurses had TINY hands. My cervix was still very high/posterior, and so they really struggled to reach my cervix.
I felt fairly well rested by morning and requested a bit of monitor-free time to eat breakfast and take a shower. The monitors had been picking up some contractions through the night, not that I had felt anything. I had my bloody show and was given a 4th dose of Cytotec. I sent my husband home to shower and eat some breakfast and come back with my yoga ball.
Induction: Part 2
I was happy for the OB to break my waters but requested that we not rush into that. I was aware that if I wasn’t dilated enough before my waters broke, it might not be the most productive thing to do. During my pregnancy, I had read about how once your waters have broken, hospitals like to deliver within a specific timeframe to minimize the risk of infection. My concern was that I wouldn’t deliver within that timeframe and would be required to have a c-section. At around 12:20 pm, the medical staff started me on a low dose of Pitocin to see if that would help me dilate.
At 2:00 pm, while bouncing/rocking on my yoga ball, baby’s heart rate descaled. Suddenly a few nurses came into the room and got me back into bed. The on-call Doctor (not one of my doctors) came in, and they put an oxygen mask on me and are about to insert something into me. I had to stop them and ask, what are you doing and why are you doing it? They wanted to insert a monitor that attaches to the top of babies head to more effectively track her heart rate. I declined and was happy to sign waivers. The Doctor warned me that if babies heart rate descaled again, they would rush me off for an emergency c-section.
I found this part of my labor was the worst. I felt like the team were overreacting to a single dip in babies heart rate, without waiting to see if it continued (it resumed normal patterns after I got back in bed). I asked the team to turn off the Pitocin (because my research had told me that sometimes babies don’t react well to contractions while mom is getting Pitocin). After feeling disappointed that I had to have an induction in the first place, the threat of a c-section made me feel out of control and like I was going to lose out on the positive birth experience I had been desperate for. The medical staff’s theory was
- Amniotic fluid is low, therefore
- Placenta is old/failing, therefore
- Baby is not getting enough oxygen from the placenta and is reacting poorly to contractions, therefore
- Just to be safe, do a c-section.
My heart was telling me that there wasn’t hard evidence that my placenta was failing. I felt like my baby and I were healthy and didn’t think that a c-section was the right decision. This was the moment that I’m very glad I had done some reading around medical interventions and felt empowered to stand my ground in that moment. After having a good cry, I chatted with one of the nurses and explained my concerns.
At 5:00 pm, I asked Doctor S if I could go for a walk to see if that would help labor progressed. Baby girl’s heart rate had been stable for a few hours, and I felt like being confined to bed wasn’t helping my labor. Doctor S said no. My husband went and got me a big cup of tea, which really helped me calm down.
Doctor S decided we should try one more dose of Cytotec (dose #5). I took that around 6:30 pm.
At 10:00 pm, my favorite OB (Doctor I) came on call. We had a chat and agreed it was time to break my waters to try help the labor progress naturally. I had a heart-to-heart with her and explained how upsetting I’d found the events of the afternoon. She made me feel reassured that she would do as much as she could to help me avoid having a c-section. I knew that if she said “time for a c-section,” then it would be absolutely medically necessary and I would not object. I trusted Doctor I to have my back, and that helped me relax. Breaking my waters wasn’t too bad. The hardest thing was getting myself in a position where Doctor I could reach my cervix (it was still very high/posterior). I didn’t feel a ‘pop,’ nor did much fluid come out. They inserted a tube-like monitor through my cervix, that lay beside the baby, to monitor my contractions and, if needed, provide the ability to insert saline into my uterus. I asked Doctor I if I could eat a meal, having not eaten since breakfast – she agreed that I could eat a cliff bar, but warned I might puke it back up!
At this point, I’m considered to be finally in ‘active’ labor (30 hours into my induction).
By 11:30 pm my contractions were about 7 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute. I tried to sleep as much as I could at this stage, knowing I needed to get rest before active labor got into gear. By 2:30 am, I was in a lot of pain and only 4cm dilated. My husband kept telling me to “breathe through it,” which helped. He had been trying to sleep, and I felt bad knowing he couldn’t rest through my loud moaning! I was trying very heard to practice the lessons I had learned during pregnancy. I would repeat my labor affirmations to myself and try breathing with the contraction. I was struggling. During the peak of the contraction, I felt the urge to run away from the pain. When contractions would start, I felt fear sneak up on me… knowing that it was going to get more painful. I kept telling myself “you made it through the last contraction. You can survive this one”. During the contractions, I did feel very nauseated. I didn’t puke but had to ask for a basin a few times.
Up through 4 am, I had been contracting intensely. I’m not sure how close together the contractions were. The breaks in between were glorious, and I could feel my body’s natural pain relief working THEN (just not DURING contractions!), and I would pass out or rest between the surges. I had tried sitting on the yoga ball and learning forward onto the hospital bed or leaning back into my husband’s arms. We tried standing together and swaying. I tried hands and knees on the hospital bed, but this interrupted the monitors. I couldn’t find any position that helped me work through the contractions. I felt defeated when I asked for the epidural, but it was what I needed and what was right in the moment.
The anesthesiologist came around and did the epidural by 5 am. I decided not to look at his equipment. Getting the epidural wasn’t painful, especially compared to the contractions, but was a weird sensation. The epidural made me numb up to my neck. I was surprised that even my breasts were completely numb. It wasn’t an entirely pleasant sensation but did provide necessary relief from the contractions. The nurses inserted a catheter for me. At 7:00 am, I was checked and was only 5cm. I wasn’t surprised, having known that the epidural might slightly stall labor. We decided to start me on a very low dose of Pitocin.
After a rough night, I made my husband bring my toothbrush, deodorant, and facial wipes so I could freshen up from my bed. These little things make you feel a tiny bit better.
The day-shift nurse (Patty) brought me the peanut ball and helped me turn onto my side. Periodically throughout the morning, she would help me switch sides and adjust the peanut ball. My husband also had to help lift my deadweight legs. I felt like a slab of meat – ha!
At some point around lunchtime, I started to have more backache and could feel the contractions. The anesthesiologist came around and gave me a ‘top up.’ I asked the nurse for a break from the peanut ball and to lie on my back for a little bit, to see if that helped with some of the hip discomfort I was feeling. The nurse checked my cervix, and I had only dilated to a 6. The nurse made this sound like great progress, but I was so fed up after 44 hours of induction and felt like 10cm was so far away.
At around 1:30 pm, baby girl’s heart rate descaled again. The nurse checked me my cervix and declared that I was 9 ¾ cm dilated, and only had a tiny lip left. I was ecstatic at this news. We turned off the Pitocin and the epidural. I had decided I wanted to do the pushing phase without the epidural and knew it might take a little while to wear off. The nurse called Doctor I. I think I expected things to suddenly kick into action, so the relaxed nature of the next hour and a half surprised me. I was impatient to get pushing!
By 3:35 pm my epidural had worn off slightly, and I was conscious of contractions, but they weren’t painful. My husband set himself up on my left-hand side and was in charge of holding that leg back during contractions/pushing. My contractions were 5 minutes apart, which is pretty long compared to most women. The long gap between contractions did give me time to rest and recharge. An hour later, my husband could see babies head. The nurse had my husband squirt some baby oil on my vagina to help lubricate the area. I was feeling relaxed and chatting/joking with my husband and the nurse between pushes. Pushes felt good. The nurse told me if I reached down, I could feel the babies head. It was wet and hard and all a bit surreal! Doctor I came in and got herself set up. Slowly, other nurses come in ready to help during the actual delivery. Contractions get a little bit closer together.
As much as I thought I didn’t want anyone cheering ‘push!’ during this phase, the things that Doctor I and my nurse were saying was very encouraging for me. I felt euphoric. Pushing wasn’t painful; it was productive. They made me feel like I was going an amazing job given this was my first baby.
My last two contractions were baby crowning. Doctor I had been manipulating my vagina and helping me stretch, which didn’t feel intrusive, and I think helped. Pushing during these last two contractions (the crowning phase) did hurt. However, knowing I was SO close to meeting my baby helped me push past the pain, embrace the fact that I was going to tear a little, and push with all my might. I remember looking down after her head was born and being amazed. One more push and the rest of her followed. She officially entered this world on June 3rd at 5:47 pm after a 50-hour induction, and 2 hours of pushing.
Meeting Baby Maeve
While reading other people’s birth stories, and checking pregnancy forums, I’ve always LOVED the photos people shared where mom has a look of amazement and relief on her face, and baby is all goopy and freshly born. I asked my husband to take pictures in hope I would have my own photo to treasure. He delivered!
I hadn’t put much thought into exactly what she would look like during my pregnancy. However, my husband and I had joked that we thought she might have red hair. I have strawberry blonde hair, and my husband has a red tinge to his facial hair. Getting to see her, and her red hair, for the first time was amazing. She didn’t cry a lot, and so the nurses rubbed her a little to get her to clean out her pipes! She pooped immediately after being born (fortunately on a towel, and not directly on me!).
The nurse took her from me for a quick few minutes to weigh her and then brought her back for skin-to-skin and our bonding hour. I was able to have Maeve latch and do her first feed during that hour.
Doctor I delivered my placenta (I barely noticed) and gave me a few stitches. She said it was technically a 2nd-degree tear, but it was a clean tear, and not too bad for a first time mom.
After labor, I felt amazing. I was so happy that I’d been able to have such a positive pushing experience to make up for the less fun parts of the induction. I had a ton of energy and was so overjoyed at finally having my baby girl in my arms. I had missed the hospital dinner window, so my husband went to the hospital cafeteria and got me a tuna sandwich, and a donut – food never tasted so good!
My Feelings About Labor
- Things did not go according to plan, and this was tough for me. It’s a tremendous amount of pressure trying to constantly make the right decision for you and your baby, without being certain of the outcome.
- I hated being hooked up to so many monitors. By the end of my labor I had: an IV, a blood pressure cuff, a heart rate monitor on my finger, two monitors on my belly, an epidural, a catheter, a contraction monitor inside, and a heart rate monitor on baby’s head. I was most annoyed by the IV and the blood pressure cuff. The internal monitors weren’t too bad.
- I’m glad my Doctors kept my Pitocin dosages low. For the most part, I feel like the Pitocin helped me labor, instead of triggering too many interventions.
- The epidural isn’t pleasant, but it’s a whole lot better than feeling the contractions.
- Laboring without medication is HARD. I’m not sure if the circumstances were different and I had full mobility, that I would have been able to deal with the pain. Kudos to those who have labored without pain medication!
- Pushing was my favorite part of the whole labor. It felt amazing to finally have some control and be doing something productive to get me closer to meeting my baby.