It was Sunday, 3:45 am. I woke up to lower back pain. I then proceeded to the bathroom, but little did I know that labor had just begun. It didn’t take long for the nausea to set in, it was followed by regurgitating the wonderful dinner I had enjoyed with with my husband and mother-in-law. What a shame! But before I continue with my birth story, I will walk you through the previous 12 hours as I feel they tell a much broader picture of my ordeal.
The previous afternoon I was feeling impatient on how labor hadn’t yet begun. I was a couple days past and I wanted to jump start labor, so my husband and I went to our neighborhood gym, across the street and walked for 45 minutes, about 2 miles in total. Not realizing my husband had been counting every time I had informed him I was contracting, he revealed to me that I had experienced about 4 contractions, which was more than normal for me. He told me to start timing them, so I downloaded an app and began recording. Because I wasn’t experiencing pain, I wasn’t certain if I was in labor or not, but with the possibility looming, I wanted to get in a good meal before it was too late.
We proceeded to a grass fed burger place, that we had never been to before. It was very good. I began to notice that my contractions were getting closer. Once we got home, I decided I made the decision to get to bed early, based on what many birth experts advise, that you get rest or sleep while you are able to in anticipation. I was able to sleep well until I was awoken by my real labor pains at around 3:45 am. Which takes me back to throwing up my dinner. My husband was awake and watching a movie, as is his favorite hobby on weekend nights. I was trying to clean myself so I could go back to bed. When I finally got back, I continued to have pains and had to go to the bathroom again. I started washing my hands and began breathing through the contractions when all of a sudden I felt like I had peed myself! It literally felt like I did, but I realized that my water had just broken, especially when I asked my husband to verify it which he responded, “oh yeah, that smells like amniotic fluid.” This was around 4:20 am. I was surprised my water had broken this quickly!
I wanted to delay going to the hospital as long as I could, so I told him I wanted to keep timing the contractions. We agreed it would be time when my contractions were 4 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for one hour. The contractions kept on coming consistently at 4 minutes apart and my poor husband couldn’t sleep through my painful moans. At around 7:30 am, I told him to go and wake his mother up and get ready to go to the hospital. When I heard the situation she quickly agreed that it was time to go.
We finished getting the bags ready and loaded the car. As we were driving to the hospital, I noticed my contractions were slowing down. When we arrived at the hospital and they began checking us in, they had me sitting in a chair, little did I know it was for about an hour! I was frustrated that it was taking so long to get us a room. Finally a nurse came to get us and then proceeded to set us up in a temporary examination room to check my dilation and the baby’s heartbeat. Yes, I know I have talked about the dangers of using doppler and ultrasound during pregnancy, but since I had was having a hospital birth I wasn’t able to opt out of this. The nurse strapped the doppler around my belly for about an hour, which was also frustrating, because she said it would only be for 45 minutes. It was uncomfortable having to lie on my back for so long and stay still, especially through all of contractions. When the nurse checked on me again, she informed me that I was only a centimeter dilated. My heart sank. I knew dilation didn’t necessarily tell you the whole picture, but I felt like I had progressed so much earlier. It was surprising I wasn’t far along at all. This was around 9 AM.
The nurses informed me that my doctor wanted me walking around to get the labor progressing. I was a little hesitant because I didn’t want to tire myself out so early in the labor. I also didn’t want them to start pressuring me into interventions for not progressing, so my husband and I started walking. I was relieved when they told us that my room was ready. We transitioned to the room, which was really nice. It was huge. It had a separate bathroom with a shower with a tub, a birthing ball and a peanut ball, it was a godsend, plus I was surprised that they had these additions. Not long afterward, my doctor came in to talk to me. She was concerned that my water had broken 6+ hours ago and I wasn’t progressing. My labor had slowed down a lot at that point. She was telling me that she wanted me to take some drugs to help me dilate – Pitocin, Cytotec or Cervidil. She thought Cervidil was the best option, but there was a possibility the baby wouldn’t react well to it. That scared me, not to mention I was trying to avoid all drugs. Fortunately, I had come armed with homeopathy and knowledge of acupressure points and labor positions to help move things along, so I told her I wanted to wait and try other approaches. Because of her lack of knowledge, she wasn’t comfortable with me using homeopathy, so I had to “sneak” it while she and the nurses weren’t in the room. My mom had arrived at that point and started to give me remedies to help me progress.
The homeopathy definitely worked because the pain started intensifying and the contractions started to become closer together. I walked around for a while, making so much noise because I was in so much pain and it was all concentrated in my lower back. I tried bouncing on the birthing ball, moving around, taking showers and a bath to relieve the pain. The showers with the nozzle directed at my lower back did wonders as did the bath, but as soon as I got out, the pain came back with terrible intensity. I wish I could have stayed in the bath, but they do not allow you to push in the tub at this hospital.
But on a side note, I confess I was afraid of my mom giving me homeopathy because every time she gave me a remedy, the pain got worse and the contractions kept coming closer together. I couldn’t really relax and I was screaming through every contraction. They later told me that doing low moaning helped better with the pain than me screaming at the top of my lungs. I tried this in active labor and it did help, but it was hard to continue that without having practiced it before. The nurse checked me again around 5:00 PM and I was only 3 cm dilated. I couldn’t believe I was going through so much to have only progressed so little. At that point, I was getting really exhausted and I hadn’t been able to keep down any liquids all day due to the nausea. The nurse recommended I start taking IV fluids. I eventually agreed but I wasn’t happy about it because I was trying to avoid interventions. Ultimately, it was a good idea because I was running out of energy and I didn’t know how much longer I would be in labor.
I kept on trying to walk outside the room, but I couldn’t make it very far because a strong contraction would come. I felt like I was disturbing everyone on the floor with my screaming, but I didn’t care so I then decided to try the peanut ball. I laid down on my side with the peanut ball in the hospital bed. The nurse recommended me switching sides every hour.
The past couple hours I had been thinking about pain medications and wondering if I could make it through without them. In the evening, my husband decided to leave briefly to get some food for himself. In the time he was gone, my doctor came back in the room and she said to me, “you know, Sarah, no one is going to think you aren’t a strong woman if you have the epidural.” I was at my whit’s end at that point. The nurse had checked me and informed me I was 4 cm dilated. This was so disheartening and I felt like I had no hope left. The contractions were killing me. It felt like someone was twisting my bones in my lower back and torturing me to death. While I did not feel a lot of pain in my abdomen, the lower back pain is was almost unbearable. I am surprised to say they were worse than my menstrual cramps, which were torturous to me.
I talked to the doctor through my contractions about what I could do for pain. She said there was an option of putting something in my IV that supposedly slightly distracts you from the pain, but there was also the epidural. I said I was concerned that my baby wouldn’t be as alert if I got the epidural. She said that wasn’t true but I was also afraid it would slow down my progression. She said that it was a possibility, but a remote one. I told her that I wanted to get it if it would take away the pain. When the anesthesiologist came in, my husband had returned and asked me what was going on. I told him I was getting the epidural. He was frantic and concerned with me. He reminded me that, “you made me promise that no matter what happened to not let you get the epidural.” I told him that I knew and it was okay. I, also, told him I was suffering so badly and wasn’t sure I could get through it with me progressing so slowly. Once they got the epidural in, most of the pain had disappeared within 15 minutes. I received the epidural at around 9 PM that night, but I didn’t make this decision in haste. If anything, I think it helped me to avoid more serious interventions and possibly a c-section.
With the epidural, I was finally able to relax. I was also no longer afraid of the side-effects of the homeopathy that my mom had me taking remedies every 30 minutes or less to help me progress nicely and dilate. During this time I continued to keep the peanut ball between my legs on my side, and continued switching sides every hour. The nurse checked me again at 1 AM and I was 9 cm dilated and fully effaced! She and my doctor could not believe it since I had progressed so slowly before and the epidural normally slows labor down! The baby was still positioned a little high, so it wasn’t quite time to push. A couple hours later, I slept for about an hour, which was nice. I actually felt rested! Sometime afterwards I had the nurse come back to check on me. She said the baby was low enough and I was ready to push!
It was around 5:00 AM when they told me to start pushing. Right before I pushed the baby out, the doctor asked me if I wanted to feel my baby’s head and I said yes. I did and was amazed. I was able to push our baby out at 5:35 AM! I was surprised I only had to push for 35 minutes, being a first time mom. My husband saw her and said, “it’s a….girl?!” We were all shocked she was a girl because we truly thought she was going to be a boy.
They immediately put her on my chest for skin to skin. It was so nice to finally hold her and to meet her. Later I let my husband hold her and he was filled with emotion and love. It was an amazing experience to see that. She is full of health and I am recovering nicely. I think the things that helped me progress the most was a combination of homeopathy, the epidural helping me relax, and the peanut ball.
I am happy overall with the outcome of my birth. Although I got the epidural, I have forgiven myself and I think it helped me avoid other interventions. That being said, I am more confident for future births that I will be able to avoid the epidural. I can practice more exercises, go to the chiropractor for adjustments to better open my hips, use homeopathy for pain management and possibly have a water birth at a birth center or at home.
I am so thankful to have learned about Dr. Price’s work back in 2011, which made me change my diet and lifestyle forever. I believe that is why I had a complication-free pregnancy & labor and why our daughter is so healthy. I am going to continue to spread the message of Dr. Price’s work to help us all get us back to our roots.