Meconium, Babies, and Striving for Perfection- A Hospital Birth Story

I am excited to share this very honest birth story about a higher risk mother birthing her fourth child and trying so hard to do it naturally.  There is so much to learn from it, from the importance of birth place, the role of adrenaline in stopping labor, to finding peace and joy in interventions when they are needed.  But, enough from me, here it is from mama.  
(Note, there is a very graphic picture of meconium at the bottom of the page.)

I really wanted a birth with zero interventions. I knew from the start of pregnancy I wanted to attempt my first birth drug-free! I had wretched medical care throughout my pregnancy and switched doctors four times. It wasn't until my second round with my original midwife that I felt comfortable with actually delivering in a hospital. I knew with my complications, an unassisted childbirth was not a smart idea, but because of how risky a hospital birth could have been, I felt I was better educated about my body. With the switch back to the midwife, I was able to deliver at a hospital I felt safe at.  The "birthing center" of this hospital is wonderful! And I KNEW my birth plan would be followed!! They are very anti-intervention, baby-friendly, and homey. I was also excited because I was able to go home 6 hours after delivery! 

After many incidents of false or early labor that would stall because my little guy was posterior - Friday morning at 5am, I called my labor support, woke the hubby, and packed up my girls to head to the hospital. The day before, I was a "tight 3" at my appointment. I was checked at L&D and was "a good 3, but not yet a 4" with contractions 7-8 apart. so I was instructed to walk for an hour and the nurse would come find me once my MW came in for her shift. I was super excited! I walked around the atrium with my headphones on and started dancing away - getting those contractions to 3-4 minutes apart.

The nurse comes out and says "They want you to go across the street and see the Peri and MW right now." "What?!?! Why would they do that if I'm HERE RIGHT NOW IN LABOR??"

Well - the adrenaline made labor basically come to a screeching halt. I was FURIOUS! I was so confused about why I was in the office. Finally the MW came in and explained that she had to speak with the Peri about augmenting if I did show early labor signs, and to schedule an induction date since I was over 38 weeks at this point. She checked me and I was still a 3. Well yeah, after that - what do you expect?! So i was sent home awaiting a call for my induction time, as well as my NST times for Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Around 3pm, I get the call from MW saying be there at 9am both Saturday and Sunday for the NST, then Monday at 7am for a brief method of inducing since I really wasn't thrilled that I would have to be induced. (medically necessary, as allowing the pregnancy to continue raised risks for stillbirth with my specific complications) All of my natural self-induction attempts to this point had failed because of the baby's position, and I was defeated. Happy to have my time scheduled, I figured the same would happen as #3, I'd arrive 24 hours before I was supposed to be, ready to go. The plan for induction was about a half an hour of pitocin to start contractions and ROM and once I hit 5cm, unhook me and I can continue as I wish.

I spent the entire day trying to relax and get back into a labor mindset - suspecting that I would go back into labor that evening. Nobody believed me and the hubby started making plans for doing one last good scrubbing of the house for the weekend. I told my labor support to get to sleep early because I very well may be calling her at 5am again. She laughed, but I just kind of knew.

Ok - let's get to the good stuff 

Well, by midnight Friday/Saturday morning, I gave up and was ready to just sleep since I'd only had 3 hours the night before. So I laid down and did some internet browsing, then when I was finally starting to doze, I felt it. From about 1:30, I laid in bed trying to breathe through the contractions. At 2:17, I started timing them on my phone app. I got up and sat on the birth ball, breathing and moaning while leaning on the bed, the whole time smacking my husband to wake up and rub me or SOMETHING! He wasn't budging. After a solid hour of 5 minutes apart, 55-75 seconds long, I called my midwife and let her know what was going on. She said "Well, 5 minutes is good, but give it another hour and see what they do." So I went in the shower with the phone app and kept timing. Most of them were about 3 or 4 minutes apart, but some were 6 apart, but I was not giving up. I knew I was in the earlier stages of labor and I was ready to head in since I knew it would go quick. So before I called the midwife back, I FINALLY got my husband up and told him to alert the moms, call my support person, and get the show on the road. I vaguely recall N (labor support) standing in my bedroom and me pulling out my prefold diapers to show her the difference in her brand and my own... Kind of amusing since I was in labor and on my way out the door.  LOL ! I do not remember getting in the car, or taking the trip there. I just remember showing the diapers and being in the triage, getting checked.

Arrive at the hospital and they check me instead of bothering to monitor contractions or anything first. I was 4cm with a bulging bag and lots of show at 5:54am. "Let's go get you on the monitor for 20 minutes then get you in that tub and have a baby!"

I get to L&D1 - which is the room I WANTED to be in since that room is the only one with the built in tub, the rest were just inflatable ones. I was so excited that I would finally be having a baby after the long painful road we've been down!!!

20 minutes later, we haven't had one reactive rate from baby, so I chug some juice, some water, etc. Nothing. Another 15 minutes go by and they want to give me IV fluids since I threw up the juice (reminded myself that I never did like grape juice). I was upset because this is how all the interventions start. I did not WANT IV fluids. The nurse reminds me that 1. I just threw up and I can not get dehydrated and 2. hydrating myself would hopefully get him excited and reactive.

Around 7, the MW comes in and says "I know you don't want any interventions, but this baby hasn't been reactive once in an hour and we need to speed things up. You can't get in the tub with a lazy baby either because we don't know what's wrong. I want to break your water." I am starting to worry because after weeks of being concerned for my own body, and the baby, THEY were starting to worry. She even mentions how the strip from the day before was PERFECT, so they suspected something was wrong. My water was broken, and I was 5cm... and there was meconium. That completely risked me out of the waterbirth I wanted, which also meant I knew I couldn't do the pain and immediately asked for an epi. She said she would check with my PTT and WBC counts from the lab and let me know ASAP and have anesthesia come up.

I'm not really sure on too many details from this point because i was afraid for my baby, and I was dreading what was to come since they needed me to go quick because he STILL wasn't reactive. At one point I was a 7 and asked again about the epi. Bad news. I'd recently developed an allergy to the main ingredient in the epi drug and anesthesia said NO WAY. I said ok fine, please give me Nubane... she said not with a baby who wasn't being reactive, it would only depress his heart more. But assured me I was a 7 and it was almost over. I was not handling ANY of this well. I went from moany crabby laboring woman to trucker-mouthed mean laboring woman in an instant. I was checked again when i started feeling the pressure of baby descending, I was 9cm and he was finally a little reactive and I BEGGED the MW for some nubane to give me enough of a boost to survive delivery. She said ok since I was so close to delivery, it wouldn't have time to pass to baby. In my head, the nurse took hours to get it, but in reality, it was probably only about 10 minutes. But in that time - I was yelling that it f-word-ing hurt and the nurse really needed to run, and out of nowhere, I yelled out "I'm PUSHING NOW!" So I pushed a little bit with my body once, yelled more for the nurse to HURRY THE F-WORD UP again, felt the urge to push with the next contraction, but she was checking me and she asked me NOT to push because I had a tiny lip of cervix left, but I could push with the next contraction. "Where is that f-word-ing nurse at? I want my nubane! Can I just let him come down on his own while the nubane kicks in THEN i can push?" He needed out and I'm not allowed. "DAMN." I was done. I'd only had 3 hours of sleep before I woke up Friday morning. This is Saturday morning. I was strapped to the bed, on monitors, with IV lines, and the tub I longed for was a mere 3 feet away.

Here comes another contraction and I finally get the urge to REALLY push, so there I go, trying to poop. Before this, my push was more like baring down with the pressure but I knew it was time to get the show on the road. So FINALLY the dang nurse gets there, after that push, and I get my nubane. I was so mad. It was only a half dose - and it didn't even kick in until AFTER I was done pushing.

During the next contraction, I had one good push in me, and when I was done she said "Ok, go ahead and push again!" "No - I need a break." And you know what she said? She said "OK. Whenever you're ready." And I just wanted to hug her.

Insert a LOT of primal screaming here, but it's what my body wanted to do. It was how I got through delivery. It was how I pushed through that ring of fire. It was how I got my baby out of my body. I was not graceful. It was not how I wanted. I was not happy. It hurt like hell. But he came out. I pushed four really good pushes over 12 minutes. And I didn't have to do the whole 1-10 push 3 times with each contraction. I pushed with MY body, at MY pace. Although - when his head was out and that hardcore pressure was left there and I was on fire, I kept pushing until he came out.

Julian Hobert was born at 8:07am, October 22nd, 2011. He was set on my chest long enough to have his cord clamped and cut, then he was whisked away to a special team to check him out because of the meconium.

I remember the MW asking me "do you trust your husband to catch this baby even though he's never done it before?" Yes. I do. He said that was an experience of a lifetime and he was absolutely elated by it. But that isn't something I can put into words for him.

I started bleeding pretty bad right away thanks to my blood thinners, so I had to get a shot of pitocin after delivery. I got my baby back after 5 minutes - in perfect condition! They felt so bad about having to take him from me right away, they didn't even attempt asking to take him to be weighed until I asked them about 2 hours after birth. It was incredible. We had a rush of visitors and doctors and specialists because I still really wanted to go home the same day. Despite the meconium, baby was cleared after 6 hours. Sadly, because of my bleeding, we had to wait 12.

His birth weight was 6lbs even and he was 19" long. He was very small thanks to complications that came up around 22 weeks, which slowed his growth, but he is perfect in a million ways!

Despite my very strict birth plan, I do realize now that the interventions they DID do were necessary, as the fluids were to get him reactive, and once they broke my water to speed things along and saw just how bad the meconium was, I was grateful for that call being made. Active labor was around 2 hours long... and it was the most terrifying 2 hours of my life.

Meconium at birth.
I'm not terribly thrilled about sharing pics of my vag on a public blog, but I've had a lot of people ask how much meconium there was and the one pic I will share shows a great deal just how brown the water was. I love the look on my face of both pain and relief! The second picture was (I placed this one on the top, MB) ... I can't even describe the emotions I felt when they handed me my son and he was HERE! And he was AMAZING! The longest road I have ever been down, much heartache and loss, and my husband and I finally had a child to bring home! I couldn't decide if I wanted to cry, laugh, smile, squeal, but I knew just then that everything we worked so hard for was finally right there, in my arms. and I could never give an accurate description of that emotional moment. The third picture is just a candid moment and I think it is just beautiful and peaceful.

My husband seems to think we're doing this again (we also have 3 older children) and of course I can hope it goes better next time (is it bad that the idea makes me cringe? or is that normal still only being 6 days after birth? LOL!) but going in, knowing what to expect, I think I would be much more graceful.

Thanks so much for reading.


April said…
Wow! You didn't have ideal circumstances but you made the best of it. Glad your little one made it safe and sound. Hope if you have a better time next go round!
michele said…
I love your story. Especially the way you described your language during delivery!! I also just love the pic of the woman holding your leg and THE LOOK ON HER FACE!!!! PRICELESS! Thanks for sharing and congratulations!!
Anonymous said…
Thank you for sharing your story! It is so good to know that there are hospitals out there that will still try to accommodate a natural/lesser intervention birth plan. Thank you for being raw and candid about your experience, it was humorous and beautiful! Your a strong woman and I hope to share a similar story come this Feb!