If there’s one thing we love, it’s a good birth story. I became obsessed with reading them when I was pregnant with Isla and I still can’t ever get enough. Something about reading about such a transformative, profound experience that no two women experience in the same way sucks me in every time.
So, if you’re like us, then you’re really going to like Isla’s birth story because it’s a doozy. I did my best to write it down as quickly as I could so I could capture every detail, so it’s on the longer side, but there’s really no way to pare down a 62 hour labor!
Isla Claire was born five days late on September 2, 2014 at 1:29pm weighing in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces and measuring 19 inches. She came 62 hours after my membranes ruptured. She spent four hours in the nursery for observation because she spiked a fever of 101.2 degrees and increased heart rate just prior to delivery. She received 48 hours of antibiotics in the hospital while we waited for cultures of the placenta, amniotic sac and her blood. Bacteria was present in the placenta and sac, but her cultures came back negative and all was fine.
LONG Story: (Seriously, go to the bathroom, grab a snack…you’re going to be a minute.)
At about 11:30pm on Saturday (August 30), I reached for the covers as I got in bed. I felt a gush, but we had just finished a long walk and I had drank a ton of water when we got home, so I thought there was a chance I had peed, especially since Isla was so low at this point. Plus, it was more of a slow leak, as opposed to the big gush I expected, so I figured it was just another glamorous pregnancy symptom. Luckily I had been sleeping on a towel and mattress protector just in case! I went to the bathroom several times and each time I thought I was finished and tried to crawl back into bed, I was racing back to the bathroom. After waking up each hour, I started to realize that this had to be my water. Contractions hadn’t started, so I tried to get some more sleep.
Around 5am on Sunday (August 31), I called the birthing center. The midwife I talked to told me to take a shower, put on a fresh pad and if I soaked through it in about an hour, it was probably my water. She said the other option was the my “cervical mucous was melting” and that labor probably wasn’t far away. This seemed totally bizarre to me, but as a first time mom, I ignored my instincts that it was my water and went with it. We had the option to come in and have it checked, but we knew that they would allow me to go up to 72 hours with ruptured membranes, and with a 40 minute drive, we decided to wait for contractions to start. Well, I never soaked through the pad (later I found out it was most likely because Isla’s head was corking my cervix and not allowing any fluid through except in small gushes), so I figured that maybe this mucous thing must have been true.
I spent the rest of the day resting as much as I could, but I was getting stir crazy, so my husband and I went for a walk again around 11:00pm after it had cooled off. I knew that walking would help work this baby down and hopefully start something. My route had gotten smaller and smaller the more pregnant I got, but I was determined that night and had big plans to go farther than I had in the last few weeks. We got about halfway and I felt another sizable gush and at that point I knew it was my water. Thank God it was dark and I was wearing black pants because I had soaked through everything!
We made our way home and contractions started about 12:30am (Monday, September 1). They were pretty inconsistent, but I figured today was going to be theday, so I went to sleep. I wanted to keep moving and get the contractions consistent and I was too excited to sleep! I had commented all through my pregnancy how funny it would be if she was a Labor Day baby, so I convinced myself she would be here by the end of the day.
When they got to the 5-6 minute range, we decided to go into the birthing center. We expected the contractions to continue to get closer, and since it was Labor Day, we didn’t want to have traffic hold us up. At the birthing center, I was monitored for about 20 minutes and tested for amniotic fluid. Twenty minutes wasn’t enough to get a good read on Isla’s heart beat because she kept moving (If the water slowly breaking wasn’t a sign of the stubbornness ahead, this certainly should have been!), so I was monitored for a while more while we awaited the test results. The test came back positive for amniotic fluid and the nurse told me that my contractions were not productive enough for me to be admitted. So, we were left with the decision to drive back home or to stay in town and hope something happened soon. The only advice the nurse offered was that “I would know when it was time.” I was becoming increasingly irritated with that answer, especially since I didn’t “know” when my water broke. We decided to take our chances and go back home since the contractions were starting to space out at that time.
Once at home, I tried to rest and eat, but I was very nauseous and had incredible heartburn. Rest was pretty difficult too since the contractions were spaced far enough to wake me up every time I would fall asleep. We put a call in to the midwife around 7:30 or 8pm. We were getting frustrated because we knew I wasn’t in active labor, but felt lost about what to do since my water had broken. Again we got the same “you’ll know” answer and she said she would call back in 30 minutes and we would come up with a plan. I finally gave in to my husband’s attempts to feed me (I hadn’t eaten anything real since about 3am because of the heartburn) and I sent him to get me the only thing that sounded appealing; frozen yogurt.
As soon as he rolled out of the driveway, things got real. I was able to breathe my way through the first few in the wide leg frog position and deep breathing, but by the time he was back (he was gone maybe 10-15 minutes), I was doubled over on the couch crying. He helped me breathe through a few more and by around 8:45pm they were consistently 3 minutes apart. They hadn’t been that way for quite an hour, but the rhythm had changed so dramatically we decided to get going without hearing back from the midwife (she ended up calling about five minutes after we left). At this point, I still didn’t “know”. I didn’t want to drive another 40 minutes, especially like this, unless I was sure I was going to stay, and since I had been sent away earlier I was extra weary of being sent home yet again. Thankfully my husband “knew” and I got in the back of our Highlander and spent the rid on my hands and knees trying to listen to the labor mix I had made. Longest.Ride.Of.My.Life.
When we got to the hospital I was monitored again before I could get in the tub. My husband had spent the whole ride trying to calm me down by saying that the tub should be filled and ready to go since they knew we were coming and I would be able to get right in. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled to have to wait a solid 30 minutes before I could get in.
The midwife checked me and I was at 6cm and a -2 station. In the moment, this so unsatisfying. I figured I had to be closer, but in hindsight, I’m proud I was able to labor that long at home. At this point, time became irrelevant and I entered a time warp. I labored in the tub, but the pressure on my sacrum was so intense I ended up just flopping around like a fish because I was unable to find a comfortable position. At one point, I was falling asleep between contractions in the tub and I woke up so confused. At that point, I looked at my husband and told him I didn’t think I could do it without meds because I was so tired. He knew I would cave and say that, so he ignored me and tried to give me quick pep talks between contractions.
I was checked again and had progressed to 8cm (in about two hours). At this point, getting to 10cms was the goal for me. In my sleep deprived mind, if I got to 10, I would be done. Pushing never even crossed my mind. My midwife suggested I get out to the tub because she saw I was struggling to find a productive position. This made the pain so much more intense, but I was hoping that it would get me to progress further. The only position I could find was a modified semi squat. I kept using my arms to brace myself to try and take off some of the pressure, but it was no use. All I wanted to do was lay down, but that put too much pressure on my hips.
My midwife checked me one more time and said I was at a 9. I was thrilled with this. I thought ok, we’re almost there. Then about five minutes later, she started talking about my pain management options. I was so confused. If I was at a 9, that meant I was almost there and if I was almost there, why would I need pain meds? They tried to explain that my contractions had slowed way down and were no longer productive (I didn’t believe that because they still hurt like hell!), I would need Pitocin to speed them up, especially since it had been quite some time since my water had broken and she suggested an epidural since I was already so weak. I had to have them explain it seriously three times because I kept falling asleep! I balked at first because I wanted to do it med free, and I still hadn’t acknowledged that pushing was apart of the equation. My husband and I talked for a few minutes while I tried to eat some crackers to get my strength up. When the crackers instantly came back up, we knew what we needed to do.
Despite my fears, I got the epidural around 5:30am. The anesthesiologist told me that he didn’t do as good of a job as he normally does (Perfect thing to tell someone who chose med free because they were afraid of the epidural!) and that I would still have feeling in my legs and that he could do it again. After sitting through three contractions while he placed it, there was no way he was redoing it. Plus the nurses all told me I would still feel the pressure, so I figured even if he did it “right”, I would still feel pain. It ended up being the best thing because I was able to get up and walk right after delivery and could still move myself when I had to adjust in bed.
They immediately started Pitocin and I was able to sleep until about 8am. After not sleeping well for about 48 hours, that three hours felt like a coma! They consistently increased the Pitocin until I was ready to push around 11:30am. I ended up using the mirror, which I never would have guessed. It really did help with the progress and I could choose how much I wanted (or didn’t want) to see. My temperature spiked to 100.3 as she crowned and her temperature was 101.2 and her heart rate went up to 170 bpm. At this point the midwife looked at me and said we need to get this baby out now. I gave one more push and finally after two hours, Isla was on my chest. We did skin to skin and delayed clamping and even got to feel the cord pulse. I ended up with a second degree tear that the midwife stitched up while we continued skin to skin.
Because of her fever and increased heart rate, she was taken to the nursery for observation for four hours while I was cleaned up and moved to the postpartum wing. Poor Isla was poked 5-6 times before anyone could get the IV in her tiny little veins. We cried more than she did! She received precautionary antibiotics for about 48 hours while we waited for the cultures to come back. The placenta tested positive for bacteria, most likely because of the prolong membrane rupture. Isla’s cultures came back negative and her vitals were consistently normal after the initial temperature. All the nurses kept commenting that this alert baby didn’t look sick, but it still gave us quite the scare.
It was tough at first to deal with not getting the med freebirth I wanted, but after talking to the midwife, she put it in perspective for me. She helped me see that I had worked really hard and got to a point where the meds were in the best interest of both Isla and myself. I had gotten to 6 centimeters all on my own and my body couldn’t continue because of the lack of sleep and loss of appetite. Had my water not broken the way it did I think I would have been able to accomplish my goal.
Looking back, we should have agreed to Pitocin the first time we went into the birthing center. When they told us we had 72 hours, we didn’t take into account labor time.We also weren’t aware that the 72 hours had started because we spent a good chunk of time thinking my mucous was melting when it really was my broken water.
It wasn’t the birth I had hoped for and I certainly wish it would have been easier, but we both left the hospital healthy and happy.