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Jesse’s birth story, part 2

November 21, 2009

The nurse iterated again how she was concerned about not being able to get an IV in me fast enough if there were an emergency. I finally consented to an INT, in which they set up the access but don’t actually run an IV through it, thinking of an acquaintance whose wife had recently died because of a freak hemorrhage at the birth of their baby. By doing this, I managed to reassure both doctor and nurse that I wasn’t completely “unreasonable.” But of course for the next several hours they kept offering to hydrate me via that access. I’d wave my cup of newly refilled ice chips at them–not acknowledging that I’d drunk the last cup’s melted leavings before refilling it–and say no.

At 2 pm, I still was at 3 cm, but the baby had at least engaged and now was at -1 station, and my cervix was continuing to melt away. The doctor assured me that the dose of Pitocin she wanted to give me would be the smallest dose possible, and that really, all I needed was “a whiff” to get my labor going. She also admitted that she wasn’t accustomed to reactions like mine, that she was accustomed to a certain process. “Look,” I said, fighting the urge to remind her that I was her patient, not a process, “I’m not trying to be difficult. But a natural childbirth means a lot to me, and everything we do that disrupts that interferes with my ability to bring forth this child and bond with him.” That was my third refusal.

My labor pains were only noticeable when I was standing up, and it was still so bleah that I was beginning to doubt myself. I’d been refusing cervical checks by the nurse, because–as they had pointed out to me–the risk of infection does go up once the water’s broken. I confided in Dean that I was scared they were going to accuse me of failing to progress. I’d watch the monitor and despair every time the baby’s heart rate seemed to go below the “normal” range. “If I could just get to 5 cm,” I told him. But by 6 pm–the next time the doctor came–I was only at 4 cm and 80 percent effaced, and the baby was still at -1. Again she wanted to Pit me; again I turned her down, insisting that if I could get to 5 cm, I’d be fine, and to “just give me a few more hours, please?” I was practically whimpering at this point.

At 7, the nurse shift changed, and in walked my guardian angel, Lisa. The previous nurse introduced her as “our best natural childbirth nurse,” and Lisa took one look at me–by this point looking badly worn down by the repeated pitocin badgering–and said, “Well, the first thing we gotta do is get you out of that bed and onto the ball.” I got up, went to the bathroom, and when I came out, she had an exercise ball in her hands. “I talked to the doctor,” she said. “There will be no more talk of Pitocin. Now I want you to sit on this ball and every time you feel a contraction, start bouncing. We’ll get that baby down.”

At first, it felt silly, but not only was this a more active way of getting labor going (and I wish someone had told me to do this at noon), but it also allowed Dean to be more active with me. He pulled up a stool behind me and held me steady while I bounced, and rubbed my back between the contractions. Suddenly, the contractions strengthened noticeably, and for the first time, I needed to concentrate to stay with them. Not yet ready for breathing, I chanted a mantra as I bounced, “Baby down, Mama open.” Dean started saying it with me, and suddenly the energy in the room changed. It was 7:45 when she came back with the doctor to check me. The doctor’s eyes widened.

I’d hit 5 cm/90, she could feel the baby’s head, and my contractions had doubled in strength.

What a difference it makes to have a supportive environment! THANK YOU LISA!

So then…

Onward to part 3…

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