The birth of my fourth child was supposed to be the easiest and quickest delivery of all my births, or so I thought. This natural hospital birth was not only the longest, most difficult, and the most intensely painful…but it also had the longest hospital stay. I want to share my story here not to scare anyone, but to tell you that you can do it! Birth is the most amazing thing I have ever experienced! Here is the story of my fourth labor and delivery.
Navigating an Intense Natural Hospital Birth
Every one of my babies has arrived after their “due date,” and once we had crossed that line with my fourth, I started to feel like a caged animal! So, I started trying all of the labor-inducing things: evening primrose oil, spicy food, pineapple (made labor-inducing virgin pina coladas!), inversions, clary sage essential oil, induction acupuncture, chiropractic, and many more things that I have probably already forgotten.
Due date was on Monday, but by Thursday, I was getting desperate. I went to see my midwife and told her to strip my membranes, “heck stick your entire arm up there if you need to” I told her! She did a great (intensely painful!) job, and after the appointment, my husband took me out for Thai food. I had a curry with a heat level of 5. Delish! Then, I went home and took a bath, did a ton of inversions, and slathered myself in essential oils. Then I started to get crampy! Yes!!!! Crampy in the front and back, so I knew this was legit. Fourth time around you KNOW the difference between the beginnings of labor and Braxton hicks. So I finished packing my stuff for the hospital and headed promptly to bed at 8:00 pm. Woke up throughout the night with intensifying cramping.
3:00 am: Woke up with cramping that could not be slept through. So I dug out my contraction app on my phone and started timing them. Hit the shower and got myself mentally prepped for what was coming. I cried in the shower and celebrated my sweet baby in my belly, this would more than likely be our last shower pregnant. Such a gift!
7:30 am: Ready for the day, bags by the door, kids up and ready for school! We brought the kids to school and I had contractions that I had to stop and breathe through while walking them to their classrooms (I only freaked out a couple of kids, lol). Teachers came out to hug me and Luke as we headed off to have a baby. It was so awesome, we have the most amazing school in our church!!
8:00 am: Checked in to triage at the hospital. Vida, my midwife, comes in to check me: 3cm. Dang it! So Luke and I walked the halls to progress things. I was anticipating having my baby in the car on the way in, but that was definitely NOT going to be the case.
Our amazing photographer also happens to be a doula, craniosacral therapist, and outstanding human. So she labored with us and was perfect for a natural hospital birth, capturing photos in between helping me get the party started with inversions.
We walked and walked, I hydrated and hydrated (dehydration stalls labor), and we waited. I am not even sure what time they brought us into a labor room. How quickly we forget.
12:00ish pm: Labor! I remember saying to the nurse that I didn’t even remember what I did in my previous labors. My husband remembered though, see my previous birth post about that ????. He knew exactly what to do. I would have a contraction and he would push his fists into my lower back. The counter-pressure relieves the pain like magic. I labored on the toilet for a while, did that with my daughter for most of her labor. Don’t knock it until you try it, something about that position really helps with the pain. Back into bed as the contractions picked up, and POP went my water. My husband promptly congratulated me, as all of my water bags had to be artificially ruptured in my previous three labors. High five! This is when things really start to pick up!
2:00ish pm: Holy Hannah was this labor beginning to hurt. So intense I honestly thought I was ripping in half. Back labor is the worst labor to have, and I had that every time. My husband said he could feel my spine clicking and cracking when I had contractions. Good times. Spine on spine.
My midwife offered up sterile water injections, subcutaneously, in my lower back for pain management. I was all for anything at this point. They drew it up and told me to scream into the pillow, as it was going to hurt worse than the contractions! Wait, what? Wow, did it ever!! I can only describe it as though I was lit on fire and then the burnt skin was immediately scraped off. But then the pain was over and my contractions did become less noticeable in my back. Alas, it did not last long for me. Everyone has a different experience.
2:30 pm: I had 6 contractions back to back. BACK TO BACK. NO relief! This transported me into a different dimension, and I decided that I would no longer be participating in this labor. I froze up. The bed was in head-up position and I was on all 4’s gripping the top of the bed with a death grip. I would. not. move! The nurse grabbed the nitrous oxide — I had told them this was something I would consider if things got ugly. Things were ugly. On went that mask and I went even deeper into outer space.
Note: I decided to allow nitrous to be considered because it has an extremely short half-life and never actually makes it to the baby. You take off the mask and the medication is out of your system almost instantly. So this was something I could get on board with if it provided relief. And provide relief it did! There was no relief in pain, but it allowed me to come to a place where I didn’t care that I was having pain — if that makes sense. So I was able to come back to earth after a few minutes and cooperate with my birth team, who assisted me perfectly with my natural hospital birth!
Then I started feeling “pushy.” I told my midwife and off came the nitrous mask. Here. We. GO! But wait, I still didn’t want to move from where I was. I KNEW I had to move because I needed to get the baby out of my hip, where he was stuck. No amount of “turn onto your side, Kate” was convincing me either! Then the room got very quiet and my team was whispering to each other. My husband looked really worried. Our sweet baby’s heart was decelerating. We had to get this baby born NOW! So, my husband got onto the bed and just picked me up! He flipped me down on my right side, and my photographer/doula grabbed my legs and pushed on different muscles in my hips to release them. Then BOOM with one mighty push HE (we thought he was a girl, but never found out until delivery) came out into a puddle on my bed.
2:48 pm: He was perfect! 8lbs, 8oz, 20″ long, 14.5″ head, APGAR of 9. My sweet little baby. Just like that all of the pain was gone and I was in endorphin heaven.
Luke was in shock at the intensity of this labor. Covered in blood and completely exhausted.
But soon he recovered and was so grateful for our amazing natural hospital birth team!
The kids came to visit briefly to meet their new brother.
Everything was wonderful and we settled in for the night to get some much-needed “sleep.” We only had girl names picked out so “Doubler Baby Boy” slept in the bassinet by me at first, and then ended up in my bed because he kept spitting up every time he nursed.
The next day he had his 24-hour check with the pediatrician. While he was getting checked out, I was packing up in hopes of discharging him home later on. We picked a name: Johnny. It means “gift from God.” After having a soul-crushing miscarriage, and then finding out I was pregnant again 2 weeks later, he truly is a gift from above!
After the 24-hour check, the pediatrician came into our room…without Johnny. He told me there was a discrepancy in his O2 sats on his check. My heart sank, everything in the room went quiet, I was numb. I was sure my sweet baby had a heart defect. I stared at him in disbelief. The 20-week ultrasound had been completely normal! This was not happening, my natural hospital birth was different from what i imagined it to be. My kids were in the room so I kept my poker face on. He informed me that they were calling in the echo team and that he was going in for a chest x-ray. Oh my gosh, my mind was in a million different places. I thought I was going to throw up right then and there. I mechanically followed him to the Special Care Nursery, not saying a word. I could barely breathe.
Once I got there, they brought me in to see my sweet precious baby in his little warmer. Naked, hooked up to monitors. I didn’t even want to look at the monitors, in fear that I would see an arrhythmia on the screen. His sats were low 90’s and even dipped into the ’80s. I could not room with him because all of the mom/baby rooms were occupied. He was in a pod with eight other babies. I told them I would sleep on the floor if I had to, I could not leave him.
My family went home because only I was allowed in the Special Care Nursery. I sat in the chair next to his warmer and sobbed as quietly as I could. There were so many other moms in there, I didn’t want them to hear me. Finally, the echocardiogram came back: normal. Thank you JESUS! Oh my gosh, that was the BEST news I had heard in my entire life. I wanted to kiss the doctor and everyone else in the room. Then his x-ray came back, showing fluid in the bases of his lungs. This was the culprit. He had gulped amniotic fluid and blood into his lungs on his fast entrance into this world. He also came out so quickly that he was not given the good squeeze from my pelvis that really stimulates breathing and surfactant for babies.
Okay, so now that we knew what caused this, how can we remedy it? Time. It would take time for the fluid to absorb and for his stats to return. I was now able to look at his monitor. Normal Sinus Rhythm never looked so beautiful. But his sats needed work, still dipping into the ’80s. We were set to stay for at least two more nights. That night was spent sleeping for an hour in my room, and then walking to his room to nurse him, then back to my room. All night long. So so exhausting. But still so grateful that I did not care one bit.
Luckily, they were able to get us a room so I could room in with him the next night. The family was able to come to visit for 15 minutes, wearing masks. After they left, I snuggled that bassinet right up to my couch/bed and we slept for the first time, with the monitor still on. I liked having the monitor on now, it gave me peace of mind.
On Monday morning we were discharged. Sat’s 100% on room air. Nursing like a champ. My milk came in within 24 hours so I had to pump a ton and bring it home.
Wow, what a trip! I walked into this thinking I would have a baby in the car on the way to the hospital, and I ended up with the most physically and emotionally draining experience of my life. Bringing my sweet gift from God home was the best feeling in the world. So blessed to have had the team I had with me at the hospital. My midwives and nurses made it possible to have the natural birth that I requested. The pediatrician was able to catch something that I hadn’t even picked up on and monitor him until we were safe to go home. Thank you, Methodist Midwives, and all of the awesome staff who we will always be grateful for during my natural hospital birth.
We packed up and the kids wheeled me out in a wheelchair. Beyond grateful and blessed! Heading HOME.
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