Get comfy. This one’s going to be a long one. 19 hours to be exact. And so far from the “natural” water birth I had planned.
Let’s start from the beginning…
My husband, Patrick, is 6’7 (and 260lbs of pure love) so I knew Baby Ben was going to be BIG, I just didn’t know HOW BIG. From his first measurement in my belly he was already in the 90th percentile. This continued throughout my entire pregnancy, so HOW exactly he was going to come out of my small frame became a BIG concern of mine.
I knew from the moment I found out I was pregnant that I wanted to have a natural birth. I was going to do anything to avoid veering away from my natural birth plan. But because Ben was measuring so big, my doctor kept recommending that if I didn’t go into labour on or before my due date, they should induce me. Thankfully throughout my pregnancy, I didn’t gain a lot of weight considering Ben’s size (more on this in my next post).
Nearing the End of my Third Trimester
By the end of August as Ben’s due date (September 7th) was approaching I was starting to experience cramping. I thought maybe Ben was coming early but the nurses assured me it was nothing. I was, however, 4cm dilated but not yet in labour (see my infographic below to understand what this really means).
By September 3rd, now 4 days from Ben’s due date, nothing else had happened and the doctor kept mentioning artificial induction as a good option for me considering Benjamin’s size. I kept ignoring him; Pat and I wanted Ben to come out naturally.
The drug they use to artificially induce labour, Pitocin, can lead to many other complications so I was avoiding it unless absolutely necessary. I had done a lot of research and learned that it’s okay for babies to stay in the womb beyond their due date. A baby’s brain develops rapidly in the third trimester so I was not about to rush his delivery. However, because of Ben’s size I wanted him out on his due date to avoid a cesarean and save myself the torture of birthing a record-size baby. You other Mom’s know what I mean…
So I went home and tried all of the urban legends (even though I knew most of these are just myths – I was desperate); Pineapple, spicy food, bouncing on a medicine ball, etc.
Nothing was working.
Since I had begun dilating so early, and I was starting to get anxious, I went back to the hospital. They told me I was having contractions even though I felt nothing. At this point I was at 30% effacement but my water had not yet broken.
We left the hospital and the next day I went for a walk with Patrick. On our walk I had 3 really strong contractions. They were so strong I almost fell over. We rushed home but nothing else happened. That night I had the BEST sleep. Little did I know it would be the last sleep for a long time!
Three Days of No Sleep Starts Now
On September 6th, we decided to intervene. Doctor’s were pushing so hard for artificial induction, but we opted for acupuncture induction instead. My Doula, Dina, thought that because I was in early labour it would be safe to start the acupuncture.
Stay tuned for the rest of my acupuncture induction story with Naturopath, Erica Grenci @dr.ericagrenci coming soon!
Tip: A good Doula is a huge asset to a natural birth. They are able to calm you down and have techniques proven to help you bear pain for as long as possible. This really helped me in the beginning of my “natural” labour.
So, one day before Ben’s due date I began the acupuncture induction. That afternoon I went for a walk alone. I was walking down Queen St. in Toronto only a few hours after the acupuncture and started to feel a cramp. I knew from the pain that this was it. The feeling was too familiar to the pains I had felt a few days earlier. They were getting stronger and stronger. I just needed to tolerate them long enough to get home before I gave birth to this baby on the sidewalk.
19 Hours of Labour Starts Here
When I got home Patrick was there. I was timing my contractions using an app on my phone. The app was telling me to get to the hospital. But it wasn’t painful enough and I didn’t want them to send me home again. I wanted this to be it. By 8pm the pain was getting worse. I was finally making loud noises with each contraction. I sounded like a wounded animal. Pat was really pressuring me to go to the hospital.
I’m so glad I finally listened because by the time we got there and signed in I was keeled over in pain. Screaming. The contractions were SO strong I couldn’t take it. I was begging them not to send me home again! Pat called Doula Dina and my Mom. He told them they better get here FAST.
Tip: Always request the room with the tub in it. It’s the largest room in the hospital… leaving plenty of room for my Mom, Doula and Patrick.
I requested the tub room because I was determined to give birth under water. I knew that underwater births were more relaxing and less painful. But by the time I was 7cm dilated (and still in the tub) the pain was too much to bear and I decided I wanted an epidural. I asked a few times but noticed everyone was ignoring me. I guess that was their delay tactic. Pat, my mom and Dina must have all had a pow-wow prior to entering the hospital room and decided that if I asked for the drugs to just ignore me.
After asking nicely a few times, I was tired of being ignored. I screamed, “GET ME THE F***ING DRUGS! RIGHT F***ING NOW!” (I know! – Not very Ellevate Health of me)
Out of the tub I got.
Even the minimal amount of epidural slowed everything right down. The way an epidural works is it causes a blockage of pain, numbing the lower half of your body and therefore, at the same time slows down your contractions. Things were moving into slow motion. It was hitting me hard. I had a clicker in my hand, which could give me more epidural if I wanted. I didn’t want it. I was still hoping to experience some of what this childbirth felt like.
At this point they wanted to give me Pitocin because I wasn’t having strong enough contractions (thank you epidural). I refused. We waited and waited. Nothing was happening. That day I learned first hand what I already knew – doctor’s start to rush you when you are taking up hospital resources. The hospital staff kept wanting to administer Pitocin promising it would speed up my contractions and get things going again. Eventually after 6 hours of no movement and the pressure of a c-section looming in my near future, I gave in. They gave me the littlest amount of Pitocin and immediately my worst nightmare came to life. Baby Ben’s heart rate started to slowwwwwwwwwwwww. I demanded that they stop the pitocin and we wait for some of the epidural to wear off.
Finally, it took 8 hours for me to get from 7cm to 10cm dilated. When I heard the nurse say that I had reached 10cm, I don’t think hearing anything else would have made me happier. By 10:20 am (yes, the next day!) I was FINALLY 10cm dilated with strong enough contractions to start pushing. I pushed for whole 2 hours with a few small breaks. Did I mention I was pushing on NO SLEEP?! I had been awake for 48 hours straight (without even one nap) at this point and I was exhausted.
As I was pushing they warned me that I was going to tear from the front to the back, because Ben was so big. They suggested an episiotomy, where the nurse cuts your vagina to make a large opening for baby. I knew this wasn’t regular practice anymore because natural tearing heals faster.
This was it!
I had to make the decision fast. I looked at my doula, but she didn’t have time to answer. The nurse demanded I make a decision. I said YES! SLICE, she opened me up further. On top of the cut, I tore even further naturally. Then, every woman’s worst nightmare happened… That’s right!
Although, my husband still denies that this part ever happened.
Did I mention Pat was at the receiving end of all of this? He wasn’t just watching, he was helping. The nurses were so good about letting Pat have a hands-on experience in Ben’s birth. He was wrist-deep in bodily fluids helping me bring our baby boy into this world.
As humans, we have modernized so much, but the act of giving birth is still so raw and real. I was really taken back because even though I gave birth in a hospital, and there were so many scientific and technological interventions, the experience still seemed so primitive to me.
Baby Ben finally arrived!
After 19 hours, at 12:21 p.m. on September 7th, Baby Ben was finally born. He measured 9 pounds, 4 ounces, and 54 cm long.
I screamed with pure joy (and relief!) my baby boy was finally here! There is no greater euphoria than bringing another little human into this world.
He layed on my chest for just seconds before he was swept away again. They were sewing me up before I could smother Baby Ben with kisses. While Ben was being cleaned, weighed and measured, I was ensuring the nurses were sewing me back up tight enough!
Okay, so Ben’s birth story wasn’t exactly how I dreamed it would be. But I’m not regretful of any moment. I’m so happy that Pat got to play such a huge part in Ben’s birth, and that we learned so much along the way. And needless to say, I won’t be making a 10-page long birth plan for my next pregnancy because nobody could ever anticipate what will happen when labour finally happens. But I do know that I am thankful for the experience and am so looking forward to attempting another natural birth in the future.
I’m Elle! A Toronto-based Holistic Nutritionist. I’m a multi-passionate woman, but nutrition and understanding how the body works is really my passion. Through my own personal journey, I have trained my body to heal itself using strategic, natural tools and techniques. Now I’m ready to help others!
As a new Mom, I understand that wellbeing is a journey. I hope my expertise will inspire other parents to choose nutrient-rich foods and the right products to create a happy, healthy and sustainable home. Click Here to Continue Reading