Devoted

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The importance of feeling safe, supported and centered can never be emphasized enough when it comes to pregnancy and birth. This birth journey started out with some challenges because of late stage pregnancy care provider changes that were out of their control, which led to uncertainty about the birth location and a general feeling of disjointedness.

Fortunately a Midwife from another group was able to step in and offer some stability and reassurance.  Just in time too because her 41 week fetal assessment indicated that the amniotic fluids were low and baby was showing possible signs of distress.  So it was time to meet this baby! They were directed to go straight to triage to start the induction process, but it was a busy weekend and they ended up waiting in a room for 20 hours before the needed staff was available. Yes twenty.

During that time, they walked and rested and created a cozy environment for their birth journey.  Their Midwife met them there at the start in order to help settle them in before doing the necessary paperwork to transfer their care to the on call Obstetrics group, and then one of their Doulas came by to help them settle in and adjust to this twist in the path.  Then everyone got some sleep overnight, and by 11 the next day the staff was able to get the induction started.

At first she was resting, waiting for something, anything to start happening. It wasn’t long before she started to feel her uterus tightening with more intensity than she had felt so far.  She was eager to facilitate this process and so she was lunging and squatting and sitting on the birth stool, and we helped her with stretches and releases to keep her open and balanced.

The fetal heart rate is continuously monitored during an induction and because there were some decelerations the Nurse felt it would be good to do a cervix check to see what was going on.  And so we discovered that in just under 4 hours her cervix had made significant changes and baby had moved down in the pelvis quite a bit! We all felt encouraged by this. The medical staff felt that it would be best to attach a more direct monitor on the baby at this point, which meant breaking the waters.  This birthing couple had wanted to avoid interventions like this, especially since low amniotic fluid was the reason they were there but the recommendation by the attending medical staff was very strong and so they agreed. At that point we found out that the baby had had its first bowel movement which is sometimes a sign of distress. Because the induction chemical can add to a baby’s distress it was decided that it had to be turned off to give the baby a chance to stabilize and then the Doctor would reassess the situation. At this point they were informed about the possibility of a belly birth.  

As scary as all of this was, this birther was determined to beat what looking like mounting odds against her having anything resembling the birth experience she desired.  She got herself into a hands and knees position and the baby’s heart rate got much better. Her labour did not decrease despite the synthetic oxytocin being shut off, in fact the contractions grew stronger and more intense.  Now she was breathing through every surge.

She asked for the nitrous oxide to help her catch up to this new level of intensity, and found it to work so well for her. We could see her whole body visibly release between the waves of labour power.  

She continued to move into different positions, mostly upright, using gravity and motion to help her baby find the way. Then suddenly it looked like the labour had shifted, she had all the classic signs of late stage labour. She was nauseated, hot then cold, flushed and out of sorts.  The Nurse did a cervix check at this point but there had not been a huge change, so we tried some more positional tricks to help this baby’s birth dance along. When we did the abdominal lifts, the labour really seemed to shift again and the waves of contractions took all her concentration to work through. We had two hours of intense labour and this birther just worked with it, even continuing to move into different positions, and there was another cervix check that said nothing had changed. This was obviously disappointing, and was made worse when the Doctor gave them some very hard choices to make. The synthetic oxytocin was turned back on and we talked over the suggestion of pain management options at this point. She even offered to just deliver the baby right then via cesarean. They were not tempted, they were holding on to their belief that this baby could be safely born vaginally. Because the Doctor had just told them they might be looking at an emergency birth if the baby didn’t respond well to the chemical being used for induction, which would mean being put under, they felt it might be wise to have an epidural in place. We all agreed the epidural could potentially help her to get some rest and release her muscles as she was now feeling quite clenched due to all the uncertainty and fearful prospects being presented to her.

Sometimes an epidural does not give the relief we are hoping it will, and this turned out to be the situation here. There was a lessening of the feeling of the contraction intensity for about 20 minutes but the feeling of pressure was increasing dramatically and soon the contractions were being felt again. She didn’t feel sorry for herself, she just kept labouring. He put lavender on his hands for her to have close by for smelling to keep her focused and strong, breathing and keeping pace with her body. Both her Doulas were there giving constant encouragement and supportive care. She was surrounded. We could all see that she was starting to feel like her body was bringing the baby down.  Another cervix check told us that dilation had gone from 4 cm to to 8 cm in just 90 minutes! Finally the cervix had caught up to the labour she had been feeling. Now that feeling of bearing down was getting stronger and stronger.

Just under an hour later, there was barely any cervix left and this baby had moved way down into her pelvis.

36 minutes later they were greeting their son. Born only a few minutes after midnight he now shares a Birth Day with Canada.

Despite all the challenges and possible outcomes, this little family held on and kept their faith high, stayed trusting that they could do this and never lost their shiny optimism. Devoted to each other, to their baby and to hope.

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