I wrote this on a Thursday, in the odd hours of the morning while I rock my son back to sleep. Thursday’s were important markers of time during my pregnancy. Thursday’s were when my gestational weeks rolled one into the next. Thursday was the day my cat died unexpectedly when I was 35 weeks pregnant. Thursday was the day I was induced at 39 weeks.
My son is nearing 8 weeks old. 8 weeks it has taken me to process my birth story and realize the particulars are not what matters. The exact details don’t need to be shared or even truly remembered in detail. What matters is this:
At the end of a wonderful and easy 39 week prenatal visit with my midwife Shar, baby’s heart rate and position were checked along with my fundal height and blood pressure. All normal. Except it wasn’t this time. My blood pressure was elevated. My midwife encouraged me to go to the hospital for additional monitoring so off we went a few hours later to Metropolitan Hospital. It continued to be elevated after several hours, even with meditation and relaxing music. The on staff midwife suggested I stay to be induced but I chose to sign myself out AMA. Soon after leaving, however, both of my midwives called to urge me to return. We discussed the risks involved with elevated blood pressure and what that meant for my planned home birth (it risked me out). After lots of tears on a long call with my doula, Lindsey, I ate dinner, packed a bag and returned to the hospital.
I had planned for an unmedicated birth at home. Even in all of my transfer scenarios I had not planned ahead for this one. Being a doula I knew that inductions could take a while. I came prepared with an eye mask, music, essential oils, and items for my birth altar.
My story is a long one, and one I don’t think is necessary to share. The short version is this. It took 3 days for my son to be born. Labor didn’t follow a typical arc. It started and stopped over and over. My doula stayed with us almost the entire time. We labored during the intense moments and chatted or rested during the quiet ones. We ate guacamole and pita chips. I was obsessed with pineapple. The hospital had wireless monitoring and wonderful midwives who support physiological birth. They allowed me to be in my space without pressure and with respect to my choices. I declined routine cervical checks and IV fluids. I moved around, walking the hallways or rocking on my birth ball.
63 hours after arriving at the hospital, my son was born. Almost 2 hours of pushing and he came out face up (direct occiput posterior) and eyes wide open. He was a tiny little guy, 6.5lbs and 20” long. He latched for his first of many feeds in the first hour, after we both had some time to adjust to our change in conditions.
I’m so grateful to every midwife and nurse who supported me in my birth experience. I was continually respected and supported in every decision I made. And I was allowed to make my own educated and informed decisions without pressure, which was vital to me. There were tears and laughs. Somewhere along the way my mantra became the very unzen “fucking hell” that I repeated as each new contraction began in earnest.
Birth looked and felt like nothing I had ever imagined for myself. I had prepared for long. I had prepared for challenging. But I had not prepared for this. I’ve learned that no matter how prepared, healthy, fit, educated you are that birth happens how it happens.