Our experience with Birth Help’s classes empowered us to learn more than we thought possible about ourselves, each other, and the birth process. After having completed the Natural Childbirth Series and Comfort Measures, our actual birth story began almost a month before Eva’s due date. During a routine ultrasound, we were told that my amniotic fluid levels were low, that my OB (and now an MFM) would be monitoring those levels, but that ultimately they would induce labor if the levels remained low.
My pregnancy had been uneventful—pleasant, even—so we were shocked to find out that now something wasn’t going as planned. What about my dreams of laboring in the tub and waltzing into the hospital for my drug-free birth on my own terms? Would I have to have a C-section? Is baby in there shriveling up like a raisin with no fluid? The what-if’s raced through my brain as we sat in the parking lot after the appointment; it was Tremayne who suggested calling René to see what our options were. We called, and she reminded us that a low AFI didn’t necessarily spell the end for the goals and plans that we had set. She suggested we talk with our doctor and research dietary modifications, but most importantly she reinforced the fact that I did maintain a great degree of control over what happened—I could “negotiate” for more time (depending on the level of amniotic fluid), and that I could play an active role in getting my fluid levels high enough to let baby keep baking.
She was right; I went home, spent ten days on bed rest and guzzled my weight in fluids (I perfected a cocktail of Pedialyte, Gatorade, and coconut water). Nervously, Tremayne and I had started attending the doctor’s appointments with my bags packed in the car, secretly hoping the MFM would allow me to go back home and keep watching Netflix.
On October 1, however, that would not be the case. Despite my best efforts—including an outpatient hospital visit to push some IV fluids into me—my amniotic fluid levels had dropped to a level that caused my MFM to very matter-of-factly instruct us to walk on over to Labor and Delivery, and get checked in. Still more than two weeks from my due date, I felt a waning sense of control over my birth experience. At my last check I wasn’t dilated, baby was high, no effacement. In my mind, I felt that these factors plus an induction could very possibly end with me being wheeled away for a C-section.
I had no idea what to expect at that point, and I certainly had no idea what to expect with Pitocin contractions. Would they be so unbearable that I requested an epidural minutes later? I would soon find out. At 5pm on October 1, the Pitocin was started. I had continuous external monitoring, which was fine with me. My nurses were very attentive to the rate at which I received the Pitocin, because they knew that my goal was to deliver Eva sans intervention. I started off very leisurely lying in bed with a giant peanut ball between my knees, and the contractions were super-tolerable. Then I moved to a birthing ball, sitting between Tremayne’s knees and breathing deeply. It was all very zen. I was rocking out this whole labor thing.
Then, at around 11 pm, I felt a pressing need to throw up, use the bathroom and request lots of drugs, all the drugs that I could possibly fathom. In hindsight, my body had reached the “transition” stage, but at that moment, I just know that during contractions I became very Exorcist-like. I think Tremayne was afraid I might leap from the bed and murder him, so when I demanded drugs, he hurried to the nurses’ station to find someone—anyone, really—who would provide them.
My nurses (one of whom has been my best friend since middle school) came in and, along with Tremayne, gave me the support I needed to 1) re-focus and continue working toward my goal, and 2) understand that, goals or not, young Eva was going to beat any anesthesiologist into the room. My zen breathing had been replaced with the ring of fire and guttural wails. I thought that only happened to people on TV, but here I was doing it. As intense as the contractions were, when they were over, they were over. I reveled in each “break,” mentally regrouped, and allowed the next one to come. My OB had exactly enough time to enter the room, put on gloves, and catch Eva at 2am, nine hours after my induction. Eva was born. I felt instant relief, joy, and the desire to high-five myself and everyone in the room. We did it!
We all did it. I was so grateful to everyone who helped to realize my goals with me. Each woman’s birthing experience is unique and is precious because it should be whatever she wants it to be—a hands-and-knees drug free birth in the wilderness, or a scheduled-to-the-day induction and epidural. It should be sacred and safe, no matter how we envision our experience; To my doctors and nurses at Baton Rouge General, to my wonderfully supportive partner Tremayne, and to René—who supported us every step of the way—I am grateful for the invaluable roles each of these incredible souls played in my experience.