With Si's birthday just days away, I've decided to dust the cobwebs out of my head and retell his birth story. I've not written anything down regarding this in the past year, so I'm just pulling it out of my head. It should be easier than pulling a baby out of you-know-where. But still, there are bound to be things I've forgotten or events I remember differently than how they actually occurred. Bare with me.
Today, I'm focusing on the 2 weeks prior to labor and I'm pretty solid about these facts. In a few days I'll be back with the story of his actual labor and birth.
When you agree to have a midwife attended birth, particularly a home birth, you agree to a drastically different birth philosophy than that of most doctor attended hospital births. This post isn't the forum to elaborate on all of the differences, but it will end up highlighting several, the first of which is that midwifes do not get all hyper nervous when you go more than seven days beyond your due date. After all, a due date is not an expiration date. Some women have a longer gestational period, and first time moms are often overdue. That's just the way it is.
But I digress. My last day of work was February 23rd. March 1st was my due date and all of our ducks were in a row. The baby's clothes were all washed and organized. We had practiced setting up the birthing tub and knew how to do it. We were as ready as we could be. As the days passed, I did all that I could to try to go into labor. Most notably, I began a daily regiment of hiking up the steep hill into the trail head of the Grand Forest. Drew often joined me, partly in case my water broke or a strong contraction overtook me while in the forest. I should be so lucky! At the most, these walks got a few contractions started, but they subsided soon after I got home and began relaxing again. Still, the walks were good for my body and gave me a mental boost as well. I particularly needed this boost towards the end, when I became more discouraged, impatient, and desperate to get that baby birthed.
This whole time, I was being closely monitored by my midwife, Peggy, who reported that the baby was doing very well--strong heartbeat, no signs of stress of any kind, plenty of amniotic fluid to keep the little guy healthy. But Peggy also wanted me to go in to the hospital for some routine tests. These tests would be proof to the medical establishment that we were doing everything we could to ensure the wellbeing of myself and the baby. Of course, we were already doing that, but the tests would be the sort of proof-on-paper assurance the docs just can't get enough of. So, fine. On a Monday, 1 week and 5 day after my due date, I went in for an ultrasound that would determine the amniotic fluid index. The baby and I passed with flying colors.
When I still hadn't given birth by Wednesday--nearly two weeks beyond my due date, Peggy suggested I go in for a Non-Stress test. This measures the baby's heartbeat for 20 minutes or so. Again, we had already done this with the baby Doppler in Peggy's office, so going in for the Non-stress test was just to appease anyone in the medical community who might question our judgment at letting me go 2 weeks (gasp) passed my due date. Just as in Peggy's office, Silas passed the non-stress test easy-breezy. In fact, the nurse (who was fabulous, by the way) only had me hooked up for 10 minutes before announcing that I'd passed. If only it could have ended there. Instead, apparently, these results had to be shared with the doctor on-call, and boy, did he not like it when he heard my due date was half a month previous. He ordered me to take another amniotic fluid test. --We should have declined. We should have walked out right then. But we were nervous first-time parents, plus I'd just passed the fluid test 2 days ago. What harm could having another ultrasound do? Ohhhh.
A different tech did the ultrasound this time and she TOTALLY rushed it. She finished in just a few minutes, whereas it took the tech that Monday nearly 10 minutes! The Monday tech took her time and looked for the spots with deep pockets of fluid. The Wednesday tech did the exact opposite. She announced that there were depleted levels of amniotic fluid and the doctor went ballistic. He wanted to meet with me, but had a patient to see, so we were ushered back to Labor and Delivery and put back on the monitor (totally unnecessary). Meanwhile, Drew and I were getting agitated. I called Peggy and told her what was happening. She said there was no way my amniotic fluid levels had decreased that much in two day. She said that I had to talk to the doctor and be firm. She also told me to expect for him to try to intimidate me. I should be prepared for this. Okay. I hung up with her and Drew told the nurse we weren't going to wait to see the doctor. We had to get going. The nurse called the doctor, and the doctor insisted on talking to me over the phone. Wow, was Peggy right! He told me that if I was his patient, he'd keep me there and induce me (if I consented, of course--he said that as though it was a shame I would have to give my consent). He said that the baby may be fine now, but if I came back in two days, he might be dead. I repeat. If I waited two more days, my baby might go from being perfectly healthy to being dead. That. Did. It. I try not to swear too much in this blog, but what a crock of shit! I thanked him for his advice and then told him we'd consult with the midwife. We got out of there as fast as we could.
I remember crying on the way home. I was already in such an emotional state, and the doctor had really upset me. I wanted what any soon-to-be mom wanted--a healthy baby. I knew the doctor was not seeing the whole picture. After all, he never even saw me! If he'd spent two minutes feeling my belly rather than ordering a test, he'd have known that there was plenty of amniotic fluid remaining. But his negative tone had an effect on me. I wanted this to be over. I wanted my baby. I had tried herbs, hikes, and many other things to get labor going, but there was one unexplored option remaining: caster oil. This was guaranteed to start things moving, but not just the uterus. --Most unpleasant side affects. Peggy came to our house that afternoon to lift my spirits and reaffirm the fact that I had plenty of amniotic fluid remaining, test be damned. While she was there, I pitched the caster oil idea. She could see that the doctor had done his damage and that I was becoming desperate. I didn't want to have to go in to a hospital and be induced. I was really really determined to avoid this, but I didn't know how long I could wait for labor to begin on it's own. Castor oil, as undesirable as it was, seemed like a better alternative to artificial induction in a hospital setting, as I really wanted my midwife attended home birth. So, we decided that the next morning, Thursday the 15th, I'd take the dreaded caster oil and then see how things went.
Finally, we had a plan. Perhaps that's what did it--perhaps having a course of action was what I needed to relax enough to let things proceed on their own, perhaps it was just coincidence. Either way, I woke in the middle of the night in the beginning stage of labor--no caster oil needed...
Stay tuned for the concluding chapter of Si's Birth Story: 32 Hours, to be posted in a few days, probably.
6 years ago