My Birth Story

by | Dec 13, 2022 | Motherhood, Pregnancy

She’s finally here! In today’s post I’m sharing my birth story. Things definitely did not go to plan, but I truly believe she arrived exactly the way she was supposed to.

Baby girl is here, our little Sadie Joy!

I’m finally coming on here to share my birth story. Things definitely did not go to plan, despite my best efforts to achieve a birth I always dreamed of. I fundamentally knew that my plans could change, but didn’t think they actually would. But that’s just how things go sometimes. I learned a great lesson in releasing expectations.

For as long as I can remember I had always wanted a natural, unmedicated birth. I’ve always been fascinated by birth and can recall flipping through the many books that my mom had when I was a kid. In my twenties I even considered becoming a midwife, or a doula, as I had such a strong interest in the subject. I always believed in the power of the female body and couldn’t want to have my own birth experience. Once I got pregnant, my husband and I prepared ourselves with birth classes (we took Bridget Teyler’s Built to Birth Course), exercises to help support baby’s positioning, and hired a doula for additional support. I felt so ready to take on this huge event.

I’d had a perfectly healthy, normal pregnancy and didn’t think anything would happen that could change my plan. Spoiler: a lot of things happened.

Breech Baby + ECV

The first unexpected change to my birth “plan” was Sadie being breech at 37 weeks. She had been breech since at least 28 weeks when I had a couple growth scans, although I didn’t expect her to remain that way. I thought she would flip.

But at a 36 week scan to verify her position, she was still indeed breech. Frank breech. I was absolutely distraught, because this opened the doors to the likelihood of a caesarean, something I really wanted to avoid. I cried and cried, and tried every possible exercise and technique (including Spinning Babies and chiropractic adjustments) to get her to flip on her own, to no avail.

After a lot of thinking, at 37 weeks and 2 days I decided to go ahead with a procedure called an External Cephalic Version (ECV) where a doctor tries to manually maneuver a breech baby into a head-down position from the outside of your belly. I was apprehensive as I’d heard it can be really painful, but I had an extremely easy and painless experience. The doctor successfully flipped our baby within 30 seconds. It was uncomfortable in a deep pressure sort of way, but definitely did not hurt.

I was overjoyed! This meant I could resume my plans for a natural, vaginal birth that I had always wanted.

FALSE LABOUR + GOING Overdue

As some of you know (if you follow me on Instagram) I went pretty overdue. I had Sadie at 41 weeks + 5 days, and let me tell you, going overdue is hard. I was really emotional during this time for reasons beyond simply feeling ready to have our baby. I was so physically uncomfortable by this point from my list of pregnancy symptoms (like swelling and pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel, among others). I began seeing others who were due around or even after me have their babies. I started to feel like something was wrong with my body. Why wasn’t I going into labour? What’s the hold up? I felt like I was letting others down every time a friend or family member would reach out. The giddy anticipation of going into labour came and went as I approached 42 weeks. It was no longer a fun and innocent wait, but a stressful and frustrating one. I was mad at my body and mad at others whose bodies seamlessly progressed.

The thing is, I’d been having mild contractions on and off for around two weeks. They felt like mild period cramps combined with a belly tightening (like Braxton Hicks). Some days they could even be timed, and I’d excitedly input the data into a contraction timer app I downloaded on my phone, hoping they’d get closer and closer together. But the excitement quickly wore off as I realized these contractions never intensified and always tapered off. Day after day after day. It felt like my body was trying to go into labour but couldn’t quite get there.

I’d discussed induction with my midwives a few weeks prior, a casual conversation we had just so my preferences were noted. I did not want to be induced as I knew that one intervention often leads to another, nor did I think I would need to. But I made the decision early on that 41+4 would be my personal limit for going overdue, if it came to that.

Getting Induced

My due date came and went. I hit 41 weeks. 41 weeks and 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, and… 41 weeks 4 days. I had tried several “natural” induction methods that unfortunately didn’t work. I also requested a membrane sweep at 41 weeks but couldn’t have it done as I was not dilated enough.

So there I was. On Monday November 7th I had an induction scheduled. I really didn’t want it to have to come to this, although by this point I also felt ready to try giving my body a nudge. I hoped my body would kick into gear with just a little help, then do the rest on its own.

We were expecting a call around 7:30am to go into the hospital to get things started, but it wasn’t until 8pm that night that they told us to come in.

We arrived at 8pm and had to wait about four hours to see the OB. Finally, a little after midnight (now Tuesday November 8th) she checked me and I was still barely 1cm dilated which I was the previous two weeks. Not great for being almost 42 weeks pregnant. The OB also noted that baby was still not very low in my pelvis. She suggested we try a cervical prostaglandin gel to help soften my cervix, and around 12:30am, I received my first dose.

They told us that I may not notice anything, or perhaps a bit of cramping, but to just go home and try to get some sleep. But within minutes of the application, I began contracting fairly strongly every two minutes lasting a minute or so. I was so overwhelmed by this because I wasn’t expecting it. This continued for a couple hours as they monitored me and at 3am they still told us to just go home and try to sleep.

We get home, get in bed, and I writhed in pain with back to back contractions until about 4:30am.

And then I feel a POP. My water breaks.

I tell my husband and I frantically get out of bed. I was absolutely hysterical. For some reason my water breaking really scared me as there was so much more than I expected. The water was also slightly murky. After calling our midwife and doula in a frenzy (who told us it was probably meconium) we headed back to the hospital around 5am.

We were admitted right away and got moved into a birthing suite around 7am. Our doula Michelle (such an angel!) arrived around 10am. I was still having regular strong contractions I was coping really well. I felt really on top of it. I experimented with various positions, a birthing ball, and a TENS machine to help me find comfort.

Around 11am my midwife checked me. I had still not dilated at all; I was barely 1 cm and baby was still high. I was really disappointed because I’d been labouring for 9 hours or so by this point. This is when she suggested we get started on pitocin. I was bummed as I wanted to try to birth without an epidural and knew that pitocin can make things much stronger, but alas).

I coped really well for maybe two hours with pitocin until the contractions started getting very, very, very difficult to handle. I was reaching a point where I was unable to manage even the thought of another one coming. I started telling my team that I didn’t think I could do this anymore, and hoped so hard that at the very least I’d dilated a good amount which would have been encouraging.

At this point, I had also not slept for close to 40 hours.

Failure to Progress

I continued to labour for a while longer which by this point was pure agony. My midwife finally checked me at 2:30pm. Still 1cm dilated. Baby is still high.

This news broke me and any tiny ounce of strength I had left. I was failing to progress.

I knew I absolutely could not do this anymore and I requested an epidural immediately. The amount of pain I was and for such an extended period of time, all while only being 1cm dilated, felt cruel. The anesthesiologist could not come fast enough. Even waiting one more minute was unbearable. He arrived probably 15 minutes later and I got the epidural. It was such a relief. I cried to my midwife, doula and husband that I had tried my absolute hardest, to which they reassured me I was doing amazing. I was really proud of myself for how long I laboured! I truly gave it my all. The hope was that the epidural could also help me dilate because I could relax. I’d long since let go of my birth plan by this point.

Around 4pm my midwife checked me again. I was about 2cm dilated and baby was a little bit lower. We had a mini celebration! It was exciting to know I had made a little bit of progress.

But… some bad news. Baby had started having heart decelerations over an extended period of time after I would contract, which signified that she was not coping well with the labour process. They had me changing positions every few minutes to see if that helped in the event that her umbilical cord was being pinched.

Nothing was helping. They had to turn off the pitocin.

My midwife came to my bedside and gently explained their concerns. She told me that a c-section was recommended and likely where this was headed.

This is where I mentally started to detach, partly because I was insanely sleep deprived and just completely exhausted. I felt numb to the situation. Defeated. Emotionless. Maybe a bit of shock. My husband asked tons of questions trying to understand what was happening. The OB came into the room along with a bunch of nurses and started explaining what was happening and what to expect. She gave us the option of turning up pitocin again to see if baby improved but I intuitively knew that it just wasn’t worth it at this point. I knew I was going to have a c-section. I finally broke down and cried.

The C-Section

Sometime after 5pm I was prepped to go to the OR and it all happened so fast. They ramped up my epidural so I was ultra numb and pumped me with all kinds of drugs that made me feel pretty loopy and dizzy. My husband entered in his scrubs, and it was go time.

After a few minutes I hear the OB say “happy birthday!” We hear her cry and it was so surreal. I couldn’t believe a baby just came out of me. I burst into tears.

I see them take her over to a checkup table (she looked and sounded great thankfully!) and I just cried “it’s a baby! It’s a baby! I want to see her!” I couldn’t believe this little person was here.

My Thoughts on My Birth

My birth experience was the opposite of what I hoped for. It was a combination of scary and surreal and intense and honestly a hazy sort of dream. We found out that the cord was wrapped tightly around her neck and is what likely caused all the heart decelerations (as I’d contract, the cord would tighten). It may have also contributed to her inability to engage properly in my pelvis and descend as well. But really, I’ll never know why things happened the way they did. Sure, I can question things. Should I have waited longer? Should I have done this? Should I have avoided that? Who knows. What I do know is that I made the decisions that I made based on the circumstances I was under because I felt that they were best for myself and my child.

I’ll end with this: I so badly wanted a vaginal delivery. I did everything I could to avoid a c-section, including a successful ECV. But it came full circle and I know that little Sadie was destined to be born via caesarean. I don’t feel upset about how things went — instead I feel incredibly proud of myself. It’s our own special story.

by Meghan Livingstone

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MEGHAN LIVINGSTONE, CNP

Hi, I’m Meghan. I’m a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, blogger, and YouTuber with a passion for healthy, simple living. I’m here to inspire you to listen to your body, eat mindfully and wholesomely, and create a fulfilling life that’s completely unique to you.

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