“I believe things are happening!”

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“Sorry for the early text! I believe things are happening!”

It was 4:12 am, and it had begun.  This is so often the way it starts for those first labours.  A slow build up of something that might be contractions, and then is definitely contractions.

She was feeling ‘something’ the night before, and by this time she was dozing but definitely not sleeping between the now 8-9 minute apart contractions. 3 hours later the intensity was more but the pace was about the same. Another 3 hours and now she was feeling some back pain, so they did “all the things” changing positions, moving around, hydrating etc.  And she was also trying to do normal things around the house, being patient, distracting herself.

It had been 12 hours since ‘something’ started, and 7 hours since it felt like labour, and now the rhythm was changing.  Now they were closer together, and it was harder to ignore them. Another 2 hours of that and she noticed that she was losing her plug! And she couldn’t talk all the way through them anymore.  Here we go!

10 hours after that first text, their Doula team arrived to an excited household that was ready to meet this baby.  Her sister was there doing her hair for her before giving hugs goodbye, the dogs were taken for a run, and she was lunging on the stairs and in high spirits.  Let’s do this!

For the next 5 hours we worked together as a team alternating between movement, walks, positions, and restfulness.  She drank red raspberry tea while he downed espressos, and the labour continued to shift and change and bring new feels.

Finally, it felt like it was time to go and see where she was at, time to change the scenery, it was just time.

 

It didn’t take us long to get there, and it only took about an hour to get an assessment, she was dilated to 4 cm and was 80% effaced.  A great start!

So we walked, and did all the things again, lunges and stairs and tucks and squats and it felt like something was changing, but that back pain was persistent.

3 hours after we arrived, she was admitted to a room! She immediately went into the shower and oh the relief! The contractions along with the back pain were intense and consistent, the water was so helpful. But she was asked to come out so that the baby could be monitored for a full 20 minutes. It was definitely harder to cope outside of that shower. After all the monitoring was done she went to sitting on the birth stool at the end of the bed, letting us know that this back pain was getting unbearable. Eventually she got the sterile water injections and that seemed to help quite a bit. She was moving around again, in the shower, on the stool, standing then sitting and we kept her surrounded and supported, everyone doing something to help her work her way through.

By now the waves of her uterine muscle contracting to bring their baby down were coming every 3 minutes, and she was so nauseated. Another cervix check told us that even though the labour had changed, the cervix was not more dilated yet.  The on call Obstetrician recommended breaking her water sac to see if that would promote a change. They were ready for something to shift so agreed to this step. The intensity and the pressure increased then and so she started using the nitrous oxide, which helped to distract her from the new sensations. She was still moving into different positions, helping this baby find their way. And then she started feeling like she needed to push! This was new. She could still breathe through it, so we encouraged her to do that, to wait until she couldn’t. More position changes and scarf sifting and using the gas when it got more intense.

And then another assessment. It had been 7 ½ hours since that first check, and her cervix really hadn’t changed a lot, but was now starting to get swollen because it was hard for her to avoid bearing down during the stronger contractions. The Doctor recommended augmenting the labour with synthetic oxytocin to try to create stronger contractions.  They were ready for this, she was feeling close to her end and it felt like she was still at the beginning. We were 24 hours in already!

Only 40 minutes after the synthetic oxytocin was started another cervix check revealed a shift.  Now she was dilated to 6 cm. Finally some change. It is amazing how those numbers can get into our psyche and twist us around. At this point it also seemed clear both from the labour and from this exam that this baby was coming into the birth canal at an angle.  The baby’s heart rate was decelerating at times and so a more accurate monitor was set up to watch that. Meanwhile she was still moving into all the positions we could think of to help this baby navigate! She was feeling so much like she needed to push, it was getting harder and harder not to bear down, and the next check confirmed that while she was still 6cm dilated, her cervix was swelling even more. Something had to change, she needed some relief.  45 minutes after getting an epidural, and some rest, another cervix check told us she was now dilated to between 7 & 8 cm! Plus the swelling had reduced and baby had moved. All the things we were hoping for. We helped her to stay as comfortable and restful as possible while still using open pelvis positions. Only 2 hours later and now she was 9 cm! After such a long pause it was amazing to see all the changes happening so rapidly. Because her epidural was not preventing her from moving into different positions, that is what she did. She went from a restful side-lying position to a hands and knees position and even sitting upright. That pressure feeling just kept on building and building with every new contraction. And finally she was fully dilated.  There was jubilance in the room! As the pressure built up she started using the feeling to bear down and gently shift her baby further and further down. More position changes, and so much intensity! The perseverance and determination of this birther was stunning. 34 hours after that first text and she was still digging deep and doing what she needed to do.

Right near the end we could see that the baby had pooped, and there were some heart rate variables so for the last few minutes she did some very concentrated and forceful pushing and suddenly he was here!

And he was everything. All at once the hours of this journey melted away and the moments of a lifetime spread out in front of them like sparking jewels.

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