Friday, March 4, 2011

Birth Stories Series: Jennifer's Story of Rosemary's Birth

Guest Writer, Jennifer Jacobs

Rosemary Caroline
born November 22, 2010 at 7:48 PM
Ephrata Community Hospital
6 pounds, 13 ounces
20.25 inches long

Hi, I am Jennifer mother to Rosemary and wife to Jason. Jason and I had been married four years when we decided to try for a little one. We got pregnant right away in September of 2009, but sadly had a miscarriage in November of 2009. We waited a few months before trying again. I did a fair amount of praying as well as yelling at God. It was probably the hardest time of my life. When we were ready we were quickly blessed with a Valentine’s Day conception! I had a few scares during the pregnancy early on, but overall it was uneventful. I had very little sickness, very little discomfort and was able to remain reasonably active. Jason and I planned a Bradley method natural birth in a birth center. Our story just goes to show that plans don’t always go the way you’d like!

I went into labor on Friday, November 19 in the evening. I was having irregular contractions. I had had 24 hours of contractions the week before (my due date) and got overly excited and nothing happened, so this time I did not get excited. I was determined to act as if nothing were happening. Since I was one week late my midwife ordered a non stress test and biophysical profile. Both were perfect so my husband and I went to see Harry Potter and enjoyed it. I didn't sleep well that night since the contractions were worse when I lay down. They were about ten to twenty minutes apart. By Saturday morning they had basically gone away. I had sporadic contractions all day Saturday. Saturday night they were again relatively regular at about 10 minutes apart. They were more painful than Friday night and again I got little sleep. Sunday morning they disappeared again and I was getting frustrated since I was then nine days overdue and nothing seemed to be happening. Sunday night they started getting really painful to the point where I had to moan through some of them. I called our doula and put her on alert. She told me to get some rest. Haha! I tried. Contractions all night Sunday were 5 minutes apart and they hurt, but not to the point where I could not walk or talk through them. I was now going on three days with almost no sleep. I called my midwife in tears when they again spaced out in the morning. She had me come in and did a vaginal exam showing me at 2 cm. I cried.

They sent me to the hospital for another NST and BPP and possibly some therapeutic rest. This one did not go as well as the one on Friday. The fluid was very low and my daughter was not reacting well to the contractions. They decided to admit me to the hospital instead of allowing the birth center birth I had hoped for. My midwife asked if I had any questions and I said, “Can I have something to eat!” I hadn’t had anything since breakfast at 6 AM and it was now almost 1! My midwife made sure I got a full meal before admittance since hospital policy did not allow eating during labor. She stayed pretty hands off for the next 6 hours. I had only one vaginal exam during that time showing me at 3 cm. My contractions were still irregular and not very painful. I tried to rest, but at this point I was just too excited.

My husband and my doula made sure to remind the nurse to keep the fetal monitoring intermittent so that I was able to get up and move around as much as possible. As time passed the contractions got more painful, but still not to the point where I could not walk/talk through them. My husband and I spent some time talking. We walked up and down the halls. Our doula got me permission to be out of the bed even when on the monitor so I could sit on a birth ball rather than lying down. That made massage a bit easier. My husband was great about telling me how well I was doing, making sure I was drinking water and generally keeping things positive. He even held the monitor in place when it was being stubborn so that I could still stay on the birth ball during monitoring time.

I felt at this point that I was heading into labor land. I had been at the hospital for about 6 hours. Then our daughter started showing signs of distress during contractions. As they got more painful she had sharper decelerations of her heart rate. Upon examination I had progressed to 4 centimeters. My midwife considered pitocin and breaking my water, but I was hesitant to try those things considering my daughter was already having difficulty handling my relatively minor contractions and those interventions would just make them worse. The doctor on call determined that a c-section was necessary considering I had been laboring for 72 hours with little progress and still inconsistent contractions along with the already low fluid and the decels. My husband asked about how soon I would be able to breastfeed our daughter and made sure they knew our requests on the birth plan. Unfortunately hospital policy did not allow those things until I was out of recovery. I wish I had had my wits about me a bit more so that I could have pressed to hold my daughter (or rather have my husband hold her on my chest) right away.

A lot happened over the next few minutes. My contractions decided to pick up speed and pain, the nurse pressed the monitor hard into my belly during every contraction since she was having trouble finding the heart beat (boy did that hurt), I had to sign papers agreeing to a spinal, I got a spinal, I made friends with a nurse anesthetist who was the only person besides my husband who was there for ME! It was crazy! My daughter was born 30 minutes later at 7:48 PM via c-section. She had the cord wrapped around her neck twice which was preventing her decent as well as causing the decels. She also had a lot of meconium in the fluid. Despite all of that both of her apgar scores were 9! I was not able to have the immediate skin to skin contact I wanted, but my husband brought our daughter over to me so I could pat and kiss her and held her near me until the nurse practically had to drag them both to the nursery. He did all he could to keep me informed of everything going on. I didn't get to hold my daughter until two hours later, but she took to breastfeeding right away and seemed so relieved to be with me.

We learned a lot from our experience. It was not at all the experience I wanted-especially missing out on the skin to skin contact and immediate breastfeeding. However, I am thankful for the Bradley classes and knowing about all the interventions that may come up and being able to make an informed decision about how to proceed even though we didn't reach our goal of a natural birth.