My Labor to birth Evan

By Su and Andrew

My husband and I came to the hospital on a Tuesday evening in April. I was 37 weeks and 2 days along and my son was measuring smaller than expected. My midwives (in conjunction with a high-risk OB) were concerned that the placenta might stop functioning, and they recommended coming in for an induction. It was scary and also exciting to head to the hospital. We expected to see our little guy the next day.

During admission, I asked if I could stay in my own clothes and the midwife said it was OK. My midwife started the induction by placing a medication close to my cervix to help it open. I got some sleep that night between getting checked on by the nurses and midwives. My husband had a reclining chair next to my bed and he got some sleep, too. The next morning there was no significant change in dilation. They started me on Pitocin and increased the dosage throughout the day, but my body did not respond: no dilation and no significant labor contractions.

My husband and I did a lot of walking around the unit and the atrium outside with my IV pole. We also played board games, listened to music, and enjoyed visits from some family members and our doula. Even our doula's husband dropped by to bring us a bicycle pump for our slightly flat labor ball. To keep up my strength, I ate a little food every few hours when I felt hungry (I brought my own food) and tried to nap, also. I was glad I had brought something to cover my eyes and make sleep easier. 

At each change of shift, I talked with the nurses about my hopes for how labor might go and my anxiety around it taking so long to get started. Talking about my experience with them helped me feel safe and gave me a chance to ask questions before my mind could run away from me. That evening (Wednesday), they stopped the Pitocin since it was having no effect, and inserted a catheter up through the cervix to try to help it dilate. Inserting the catheter was an uncomfortable procedure, but holding a warm pack over my abdomen and focusing on its relaxing warmth helped me tolerate it. Soon after the catheter was inserted I got some strong contractions and had a little bleeding. They didn't last long, so we went to bed and tried to get some sleep. When the midwife removed the catheter the next morning, Thursday, she found that my cervix had dilated some - not as much as expected, but a start! So she began the Pitocin again and we waited: more walking, more eating, more playing games, more chatting and trying to rest up for whenever labor would begin. During the late morning, as the Pitocin was slowly increased, I had some early labor. Midday I was resting in bed when the contractions began to get stronger. 

An image came to my mind of wind and waves gently rolling in at Bryn Mawr beach. As each contraction built, it felt like the wind and waves were coming onto the beach toward me. As the contraction eased, I exhaled and blew the wind and waves back out into the lake. I lay in bed for a while laboring like this and the rhythm of it helped me experience the contractions as kind of trippy. It was so satisfying to “blow away” each contraction as it ended! The strength of the wind and waves gradually became more intense to the point that I realized I couldn't blow away a full-on thunderstorm with just my mind and breathing. I woke up my husband and got out of bed so I could move with each contraction. He helped me labor for a while and our doula joined us later in the afternoon. My husband put on some great classical music that was just right for helping me keep a rhythm; I hung off his shoulders, swaying, and our doula helped my hips into a figure 8 pattern. When I needed a change of pace, I labored in the tub for a while. At one point before the tub, the contractions were coming without much of a break between them and I asked the nurse to dial back the Pitocin a bit. It felt like it was too early in the labor for them to be so intense and one after the other.

She agreed and the contractions became more manageable again. Late in the evening, I found it becoming quite difficult to keep my focus and rhythm and asked the midwife to check me. She said that I was progressed enough to try pushing to break my own water. They helped me onto the bed and I pushed with the next several contractions. My water broke with the first one or two pushes and my son was born soon thereafter at 12:08 AM Friday morning. He cuddled up on my chest for a bit, until they transferred him to the warmer and weighed him. Eventually they moved us up to the postpartum room, where we got some well deserved sleep.

One important thing we learned from this experience - inductions don't always go quickly. But we had a great team who was willing to work with us, and we are so glad to have our wonderful son.