By Reagan Faust of Pie Ins-PIE-ered
During the 18th week of my second pregnancy, we moved. I was a bit concerned because I would need to find a new doctor right away. I Googled the hospital in our new town and discovered there were no family practice doctors that would deliver a baby, but the hospital did employ two certified nurse midwives.
Intrigued, I decided to call and talk to the midwife and see if she was accepting new patients. I had known of a couple of friends who had used a midwife instead of a family practice doctor for their pregnancies and they spoke very highly of their experiences.
The midwife was warm, friendly and chatty. She asked all about me, my family and my pregnancy. I instantly felt like I was talking to an old friend instead of a woman I have only seen a picture of via the Internet. I knew instantly that this woman was whom I wanted to deliver our second baby. She told me that she would like my husband and I to come in for a “meet and greet” once we had moved to town. She said we could ask her anything we wanted and then decide if midwifery would be the right choice for our prenatal, labor and delivery care.
We moved. I met the midwives. I loved them. They were so warm and caring. They spent 30 minutes or more with me during every prenatal visit to answer all my questions and share knowledge with me about what to expect. I had been lucky to get 10 minutes of my first doctor’s time during my first pregnancy and most of my pregnancy questions were answered via the Internet. I felt completely pampered.
On July 14, I was 3 days overdue. My midwife had me do a biophysical profile test. Basically, they do an ultrasound to see how baby is doing and look for certain indicators that the baby is doing okay. The baby gets a score out of 6 points. I also had a non-stress test. I knew something was wrong when both my midwives came in to talk to me during my non-stress test. They informed me that Baby passed the non-stress test with flying colors (lots of movement and great heart rates), but we flunked the biophysical profile because I had very low amniotic fluid and the baby had limp muscle tone. It is never good to hear that your baby didn’t pass a test! They said that the muscle tone thing was probably just because the baby was overdue and ready to come out. I was to drink water like a crazy person to help with the low amniotic fluid. They also said that they wanted to get labor started as soon as possible. They checked my cervix, and there was nothing going on down there. They then said I had two choices: 1. They could strip my membranes. It wouldn’t be pleasant, but it should do the job. 2. They could start me on Pitocin. Because I was not at all dilated, they suspected that Pitocin would simply cause me a lot of painful contractions that wouldn’t do a thing for me. I opted for option 1 and hoped I would go into labor that afternoon.
When I didn’t go into labor that day, I was so disappointed. I called my midwife and asked her what was wrong with my body! She said stripping the membranes didn’t guarantee labor. I stewed the rest of that day wondering why my babies never want to come out on their own!
The morning of the 15th I woke up at 6:30 a.m. with what I thought were Braxton hicks contractions (not at all painful, just a twinge, really). However, to my excitement, ten minutes later, I got another one. And 10 minutes after that another! Maybe this was it!! Consistent contractions!! A new concept for me!! I had an appointment with the midwife that morning at 8:30. I told her I suspected I was in labor and had her check my cervix. Sure enough, it was softer. Yay!!! I knew that the 15th was going to be the day. We went home very excited.
By noon, my contractions were 5 minutes apart and slightly painful, but I could still talk through them. I called the midwife and she said to come on in. She checked my cervix again…I was 3 centimeters dilated! Yay, progress! At 1:00 p.m. I was checked into the hospital. By this time, I was needing to concentrate on breathing through the contractions.
By the time I got to my hospital room, I was working through every contraction by breathing and squeezing the living daylights out of my husband’s poor hand. The nurses helped me get changed and into bed. My midwife came in and said that she thought I was far enough along to get into the warm bathtub to help with the pain of the contractions (if you get in too early, it can slow your labor down). The bathtub was wonderful! It really did help and felt so good! I was in there for probably 45 minutes when I knew I needed to change positions.
After the bathtub, I sat on the exercise ball. It helped to bounce on the ball through the contractions (as well as breathe and squeeze the daylights out of my husband’s hand). After that, they had me get on the bed on my knees, draped over the back of the bed (the headboard was propped up). The nurses massaged my back and legs. That was a great position too for a while.
By this time, I was feeling some pressure and thought maybe the end was near. I had my midwife check my cervix and I think I was about an 8. I was so frustrated!!! I wanted to push that baby out and it seemed to be taking a long time to get to that point (it was probably 4 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. at this point). I got back into the tub then sat on the birthing stool for a while. I felt more pressure, so my midwife checked me again…still 8!!
At that point I felt like giving up. I was so tired of working through the contractions. They were getting more painful and longer, and I didn’t think I could do it! I got back in the tub, but it wasn’t comfortable anymore. I sat on the birthing stool some more, and the contractions were awful. My water still had not broken yet. I started crying through every contraction and yelling because it made me feel better. My husband and the nurses were so wonderful. They kept telling me I could do it, even though I was crying and telling them I couldn’t. The nurses had me get off the birthing stool and try to go to the bathroom. At that point my water finally broke! Praise the Lord!!!! I was so exhausted and still telling everyone I needed help and to do something because I was too tired to do anything else. My midwife said she would help me. I thought she meant give me some drugs, but it was too far into that game at that point. She got me up on the bed and told me I was almost 10 centimeters dilated (the water finally breaking must have got me dilating faster). She said she could turn the last little “lip” of my cervix up and I could push. I said DO IT!!!!
She did and I started pushing. I think I pushed 4 or 5 times and out popped our Caroline! She had the cord around her neck, but my midwife took care of that no problem. My husband said, “It’s a girl! It’s a girl!!!” My midwife put her on my stomach and I marveled at how gorgeous she was—even when all slimy—and how I had actually done it even when I had convinced myself I couldn’t. She had a loud healthy cry! She stayed on my stomach for a while and then to my amazement, my husband cut the cord (something he said he had no interest in doing). I was so proud of him. He was such great support throughout the entire process!
I ended up doing the birth without any drugs. It wasn’t too bad until that last hour or so when I was so tired and ready to give up. Once I had been admitted, Caroline only took 5-and-a-half hours to make her entrance, which is really pretty quick. It felt like a lot longer and I have tremendous respect for women who labor for more than that. It is such hard, hard work!
My second labor and delivery was night-and-day different from my first experience. My first labor felt so stressful and rushed, and I felt out-of-control and just along for the ride. My second labor was more relaxed, quiet, and I felt I was in complete control of the experience (except for a bit at the end when I just wanted to give up). Hands down, I will go with a midwife for any future pregnancies. They are the prenatal, labor and delivery experts!!
So, what about you? How did your first pregnancy and delivery vary from subsequent ones?