A Natural childbirth jumpstarted with Cytotec: Lucy’s Birth Story
The ten days I was pregnant beyond my due date were some of the most emotionally challenging days of my life. I was adamant that I wanted labor to begin on its own if possible, and so my husband and I waited and waited. We took many long walks through the Lincoln Park Zoo, ate out at all our favorite places, spent hours at the gym swimming and climbing the stairs, and watched an unbelievable number of episodes from The Office. My husband and I are both teachers, so even though the waiting was excruciating at times, we considered these days to be our summer break before becoming new parents and joyfully embraced them.
On Saturday morning, I woke up feeling well rested. But when I stood up, some liquid started running down my legs. I tentatively woke my husband and said, “I think my water broke. But I’m not sure. I also could just be slowly peeing myself.” I called the midwife practice, but I felt really foolish because I was so unsure. The midwife actually was more confident it was my water than I was, and she laid out some options for me since I didn’t have any contractions yet. I could come in and see if it was amniotic fluid, but if it was, then I would be admitted. I could also stay home and see if contractions would begin, but I would need to come in if twelve hours elapsed with no progress.
My husband and I began walking. We did all the stairs at the gym, I tried bouncing on a ball, we walked some more, and with hours of no real progress, we finally made the decision to go in to the midwives to see if it had all been a false alarm. Every now and again a small additional leak would occur, but the amount of liquid that came out throughout that morning was actually quite small.
The midwife confirmed that it was amniotic fluid but told us we would need to begin an induction since I had no contractions. I was devastated. I had no desire to be induced. I wanted to be able to move around freely during labor, and I was worried that an induction would elevate my chances of needing further interventions and also greatly limit my ability to be mobile. When we were shown into the triage room, I burst into tears. There were no windows and it was the size of a large closet. I felt trapped and heartbroken. I did my best to rest and prayed for peace and a healthy baby while we waited for someone to come to us.
It took a while for nurses to attend to us. They began a twelve hour overnight course of Cytotec, which was supposed to ripen my cervix before beginning Pitocin. I was under continuous monitoring, and every two hours a nurse would awaken me to give me another dose. I tried to sleep as best I could while listening to my baby’s heartbeat in the background. As dawn approached, I began to feel dull aches. I thought to myself, “These are good. I need to embrace them calmly and let my body know that they are welcome.” As I write that, I feel like it sounds crazy. But that’s what I did. I took deep breaths with each contraction, letting baby and my body know that I was ready. At 8:00 AM, my Cytotec course was finished and the midwife and I worked out a plan where I could take a break from meds and see if I dilated sufficiently before 10:00 AM to avoid the Pitocin. My husband and I kicked it into high gear as soon as they took me off the fetal monitoring belt. We walked the halls again, bounced on the ball, and every time a contraction came, I bent over, breathed deeply, and embraced it.
The midwife came around 10:30 AM. I had a hard time carrying out a full, uninterrupted conversation with her because contractions were getting more intense at that point, although I told myself that I still had a long way to go and kept a positive attitude. She did an internal exam, at which point she said, “Woah. Are you okay? You’re easily at 8 cm.” I was thrilled. I felt such joy and exuberance that things were moving quickly, I would not need Pitocin, and that it looked like I would be having a baby on Father’s Day. At that point I got into the shower to let hot water pour over my back as the room started to fill with nurses. The midwife didn’t leave again. Everything from the moment I got out of the shower happened quite quickly. I did my best to continue to use low moans and deep breathing, spent a lot of time swaying and bent at the waist, and then took the midwife’s suggestion to try to lay on my side until I needed to push.
Pushing was far and away the hardest part of the process. It was such an odd experience to mentally believe I was pushing but not feel any movement. I just took the midwife’s word that the baby was moving down more and more and kept listening to her gentle coaching. By 12:30 PM, sweet little Lucy was laying on my chest and pooping meconium all over me. The nurses and midwife were unbelievably supportive, kind, and joyful alongside us. I was so thankful for their care and their support in letting me have as much of a natural childbirth as possible. I am in awe and so grateful to the Lord that a medical induction, which I had feared, worked tremendously well for me and my baby. I had heard very few positive stories of women who were able to labor naturally after being induced, and I am forever thankful for my own opportunity to do so.