I’ve learned that childbirth is such an unpredictable thing. My mom had relatively quick and easy births (as easy as a birth can be) with both my sister and I and I always just assumed/hoped that I would have the same luck. Unfortunately, I have had no such luck haha. After Eli was born I published his birth story and it consisted of pretty much every intervention you could think of: breaking of the water, pitocin, epidural and baby going straight to the NICU after he came out.
I was really sad for a long time, I still get sad thinking about it, and was hoping my next birth would be that quick and easy second birth you always hear about. Sawyer’s birth turned out to be both easier and harder than Eli’s birth, but for much different reasons.
Sawyer’s due date was January 30th and even though I was really hoping he would come early I expected he would probably be late just like my first was. My husband, Eli and I were all headed to my 38 week baby appointment. Literally about 10 minutes before we got in the car Eli went from being his crazy happy self to lethargic and really crabby. He passed out in the car on the way to the appointment and I just knew he was sick. I went into my appointment alone and after the midwife felt around a little bit she said the baby’s head was slightly off to the side, instead of being straight down in the pelvis like it had been. She wanted to make sure she had it correct so she brought in the ultrasound to double check. As soon as she started doing the ultrasound my husband came into the room with Eli and he was crying and then he puked all over the floor.
I was so stressed out about him being sick, especially so close to my due date, and hearing that the baby’s head wasn’t quite in perfect position really stressed me out too. In hindsight I don’t think it was a huge deal and I probably shouldn’t have let it get to me so much. Thankfully Eli was mostly better by the next day and I pretty much spent the entire day bouncing on my birth ball and doing optimal fetal position exercises to get baby’s head back in the pelvis. The next morning I was feeling a lot of pressure down there again so I made an appointment to go in just so they could check his position, mostly just to reassure myself he was back in place.
They were able to get me in the next day and I went alone because it was during Eli’s nap time. The nurse took my blood pressure and it was something like 150/90. I didn’t think much about it because I have a long history of major white coat syndrome and my blood pressure always being much higher at the doctors office. I was also having a super stressful week and chalked it up to that. The midwife however was a little concerned and after figuring out that baby was back in my pelvis (yah!) she made me to go the hospital to have some labs done and a few serial blood pressures to tell if it was nerves or high blood pressure. I got to my car and immediately broke down crying. I was already so stressed out and this was just not what I wanted to be doing right now.
I got to the hospital and had another break down. The nurse was really nice and talked to me for a bit and then made me a cup of tea. My labs all came back normal but my blood pressure was still a little high, not crazy high but still high. I spoke with the midwife and agreed to do a 24 hour urine test, to check for protein, and then come back the next day and do more blood pressures. She mentioned that if it was still high we would have to talk about induction but I was pretty much in denial about that. I was still convinced it was just my nerves and being in the hospital didn’t make them any better.
I brought my husband and son with me the next evening when I had to go back and had planned on just dropping off the urine test and telling them I was refusing to do the blood pressures since I knew they’d be high because I was really really stressed out at this point. They ran the urine test and more labs and everything came back normal. Then the midwife came in and talked me into doing a few blood pressures. The first few were high, but again not crazy high. Then all of a sudden my blood pressure shot up to about 190/115 and the midwife immediately brought the doctor in and told me they weren’t going to let me leave with blood pressure that high and that I needed to be hooked up to blood pressure medicine and induced that evening. (I could have left but I would have had to sign something and it was strongly advised against).
At that point I couldn’t argue with the fact that my blood pressure was dangerously high so as disappointed as I was about having to be induced I didn’t fight it. They did a cervical check to decide what the best induction method would be, I was about 1/2 a cm dilated and 80% effaced, and then did an ultrasound to make sure baby looked good. The midwife said she was sure I wouldn’t be having the baby that night so my husband took my son home (it was the first night I had ever spent away from Eli 🙁 ) and I stayed at the hospital to start the process. Thank goodness we had hired an amazing doula to help with the birth and she came to the hospital for a few hours while they started me on magnesium sulfate for the blood pressure and inserted a pill into my cervix to help it ripen before they started the pitocin.
As much as I had wanted to try for a pain medication free birth this time, I decided right then that I would ask for an epidural the second I felt like I needed it. The magnesium sulfate made me feel like I was having hot flashes and also made me super dizzy, groggy and a little nauseous. I couldn’t imagine working through painful contractions with all that going on. I started having very mild contractions 3-5 minutes apart just a few hours after the first cervical ripening pill. I was able to get a little bit of sleep that night but not much at all. The contractions weren’t bad at all but with everything going on I just couldn’t sleep.
The doctor came in early in the morning and checked me again and while my dilation hadn’t changed too much he seemed optimistic that I was already having pretty consistent contractions. They inserted another pill in hopes that it would help my cervix be ready enough to start the pitocin soon. I continued to have very mild contractions about 5 minutes apart. In the early afternoon the midwife (the midwife and doctor decided to co-manage the birth even though I had become high risk) came in and checked me and said that I was about 3 cm dilated and she was ready to start the pitocin. I was excited thinking that would finally get things going quickly but also a little nervous because pitocin contractions can be really painful and really close together. My husband and son came back to the hospital that afternoon and we started the pitocin.
I was expecting it to cause painful contractions immediately so I even talked to the nurse about how I wanted an epidural if they got really bad and she ordered one to be on hand so I wouldn’t have to wait as long once I requested it. They started the pitocin slowly and would come in every 30 minutes to see how I was doing with it. Every time they came in things were pretty much the same. Contractions were still really mild and I hardly even had to breath through most of them. They kept turning the pitocin higher and higher and my contractions remained the same: pretty consistent but not super painful at all. I felt like I should be up doing things to help bring more contractions on but with being on the magnesium sulfate I wasn’t really supposed to even leave the bed because it made me so dizzy and nauseous when I stood up.
The pitocin was going up higher and higher and still not much was changing with the intensity of my contractions. They kept explaining to me that the pitocin and magnesium sulfate worked against each other. The pitocin was supposed to make your uterus contract and the magnesium sulfate relaxed your uterus so they were basically fighting against eachother and they were hoping that eventually the pitocin would win out and my contractions would finally pick up. I was getting close to the point where they weren’t allowed to turn the pitocin up anymore and would probably give me a break from it if things weren’t changing much soon. I was getting a little frustrated and nervous I would end up with a C-section if things didn’t start progressing. The doctor came in and checked me and said I was about 4-5 cm dilated this time, which was nice to hear that things had progressed a little bit. They talked about breaking my water but she didn’t feel quite comfortable doing it at this point since the baby’s head wasn’t quite sealed up against my pelvis, meaning that the umbilical cord could possibly come down once the water was broken which would result in an emergency c-section. I had had my water broken with Eli’s birth and it caused super painful contractions but didn’t help me progress at all so I was totally ok with the fact that she didn’t feel comfortable doing it.
It was getting kinda late in the day and I felt like I had to do something to help things a long. We weren’t totally sure he was in the optimal position so I laid on my side with a birth ball between my legs for a little bit and then mustered up the energy to bounce on the birth ball for a while. I still felt pretty dizzy and nauceous being out of bed, and I was running on zero sleep, so I sat against the hospital bed with my eyes closed and head down and just bounced on the ball. They were still upping the pitocin at this point and the midwife seemed a little disappointed when she came back in and I told her that I hardly felt the contractions when I was bouncing on the ball through them.
Then I felt something leak out (tmi sorry!) and went to the bathroom and it was my bloody show and mucus plug. My doula reassured me that that was a really good sign of progress and I kept bouncing until the doctor came back in to check me. I told her that I’d be really disappointed if I was still at 5 centimeters. She checked me and said that although I was still at 5 centimeters it was definitely a 5 this time and not 4-5 like it had been last time. She also said that baby had moved down and his head felt like it was nicely sealed over the pelvis and she felt comfortable breaking my water at this point. I was still a little hesitant but knew it was a good idea if I wanted things to happen.
I think she broke my water around 11:00 PM and soon after my contractions finally started picking up. They still weren’t super painful but I did have to start concentrating and breathing through them. I don’t exactly remember how long things were like that but then all of a sudden they got really bad. Like, so painful I felt like I couldn’t even breath when they were at their peak. The midwife checked me again and when she said I was only at 6 centimeters I begged for the epidural. They sent the order in but since I was on magnesium sulfate for my blood pressure it took a little longer because they had to make sure I also had enough fluids.
I remember my doula asking if I would rather have the epidural that didn’t go into the spine and took about 15-20 minutes to work instead of working immediately. She was suggesting it because I guess the regular epidural can really lower your blood pressure and my blood pressure was already an issue so they didn’t want to mess with it more, but the thought of having to wait an extra 20 minutes for it to work was not going to fly with me and I demanded the regular one haha. Each contraction was getting more painful and I kept asking where the epidural was.
At that point I started feeling a ton of pressure in my behind and told them that I really felt like I needed to be pushing. The midwife and doctor both came in and checked me and then I heard the anesthesiologist at the door being told he wasn’t needed because I was 10 centimeters and ready to push. I had gone from 6 centimeters to 10 centimeters in about 30 minutes and as excited as I was that it was time to push I was still in a lot of pain and a little disappointed I wasn’t going to be getting the epidural after all haha. I do remember the midwife saying that me how amazing it was that I was going to have a natural (pain med free) birth while being induced and on magnesium sulfate and that made me feel pretty good.
The contractions were coming pretty close together at this point and there was a lot of pressure and pain even between them. I was trying to push on my hands and knees but wasn’t making much progress and the midwife said that the baby was getting stuck behind my pelvic bone. I was finally able to move onto my back and it made pushing much less painful and it started to go more quickly. After about 45 minutes of pushing, I finally pushed out my baby boy!
I still feel a little guilty because I had my doula call my husband, who was at the hotel with my son, when I started to push but I was in so much pain that felt it was better my two year old didn’t see me that way. I told him to just stay put at the hotel and we’d call him once the baby was born. He got there right after the birth and was able to cut the umbilical cord so that was nice! My husband’s folks were planning on being here on January 27th to be able to watch Eli for the birth, but obviously that didn’t happen so we just had to do what we could.
I feel like my recovery from the actual birth was much easier this time around. I didn’t feel nearly as sore as I did the first time and somehow I managed to not tear at all. But, the recovery from having preeclampsia has not been as easy. I had to stay in the hospital for about 5 nights after the birth because my blood pressure wasn’t going down. In most cases with preeclampsia people get much better after they deliver the baby, but with mine my blood pressure continued to stay high and my liver enzymes became really elevated a few days after. I’m currently on two blood pressure medications and going in for weekly blood pressure checks. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get off of them soon though! I’ve also had a lot of anxiety surrounding the preeclampsia possibly coming back but I’m starting to feel a little more relaxed about that.
So far Sawyer is such a chill baby. My first was pretty fussy from the get-go and this experience feels completely different. Going from one child to two has been a little overwhelming though. My two year old seems to be warming up to the baby as the days go by but he’s also been having mega temper tantrums and that has been really hard. As frustrating as it is though, I really feel for him. His whole life has been turned upside down and I know he’s hurting a little bit from it. I’m hoping as the weeks go by he will start to feel better.
If you’re still reading this, thank you! I didn’t mean for it to be so long haha. I will be back on Monday with a new recipe and for the next two months I’ll be sharing one new recipe a week until I get back into the kitchen and start creating new recipes again!
xoxo Izzy <3