One of my biggest passions is birth. The way most women feel about their wedding day is how I feel about my birth experiences. They matter and have profoundly shaped me. When my children grow older and need me less I would really love to make a career supporting other women through their births. It’s taken me almost a year to sit down and process the birth of my third baby, but I am so glad I did – spoiler, it’s a long story.
I found out I was pregnant in March of 2016. Baby #3 was given an estimated due date of Dec 5, 2016 and in my mind I had already added a week to that as my first two were born at 41 weeks. We opted out of finding out the sex to add a little extra excitement to things. As a mom of two boys already I was honestly going to be happy either way. Boys were all I knew, but a little girl would be fun as well.
My pregnancy was very easy and uncomplicated until 35 weeks when it was mentioned I was measuring around 30-31 weeks. No one, including myself, gave it much thought and I was told to come back in 2 weeks. During those two weeks I got pre-registered at the birth center which I was very excited about. I had a water birth with my second and couldn’t wait to experience that again.
November 14, 2016, at exactly 37 weeks, I headed to my appointment. Everything seemed perfect until they measured my fundal height. I was still measuring 30 weeks. I figured the baby was just balled up and hiding, but it was starting to seem more concerning. The midwife wanted me to get an ultrasound to be safe. I had to have it done at a different office and couldn’t be seen until the next day so I headed home. The next thing I knew I’d missed a call from my doctor and my husband was calling me. She called him to let us know she was able to get an ultrasound tech to stay late to see me. That was the first time I thought something may be wrong.
I left my boys with my mom (thank goodness she was in town!) and met my husband at the office. The baby was measuring right on track, but my amniotic fluid was low – a condition called oligohydramnios – and they wanted us to go to straight to the hospital. We didn’t know what this meant or if we would be having a baby, but we packed a few things just in case. I gave my boys big hugs and kisses and left not knowing if they’d be sharing me with a new sibling the next time I saw them.
Are you still reading this? I told you it was long!
When we arrived at the hospital, we were sent to triage and I was checked to see if my water had broken (which would explain the low fluid). The test came back negative for amniotic fluid so they hooked me up to an IV to try to pump fluids in me and told me they would do another ultrasound in the morning. Unfortunately the next morning (Nov 15th) my levels were half of what they were the day before. Anything below 5 is considered to be very low and my levels were a 2 – plus the baby’s heart rate was occasionally dropping. We decided to induce.
My birth team was amazing and knew how badly I wanted a natural birth. Although I had risked out of the birth center the plan was still to do a water birth at the hospital. That afternoon they started a foley bulb induction as it is less invasive (although it was so incredibly painful). The foley bulb fell out when I reached 4 cms and I hoped that would be enough to allow my body to kick into labor itself. I was able to rest that night which was so helpful.
The next morning I hadn’t progressed so we discussed our options and decided to start a very low dose of pitocin. I got up and walked the halls. I was determined to do everything in my power to help get labor rolling. As I was walking I wore a portable contraction monitor and it was discovered that the baby’s heart rate was dropping quite a bit with each contraction. I was told I’d have to lay down and have continuous fetal monitoring. Selfishly, I was crushed. This meant I would be unable to labor or birth in the water – and I had to be confined to the bed. Everything about my birth plan had gone out the window.
I was able to move around enough in the bed to help keep the baby’s heart rate from being dangerously low, but I wasn’t progressing at all. I wasn’t experiencing much pain in terms of contractions, but I was so emotionally exhausted. The doctor suggested we break my water because the baby was already under so much distress. He gave us some time to decide what we wanted and, although I didn’t want anymore interventions, my gut told me it was what needed to be done.
After my water was broken, the baby’s heart rate began plummeting. The only way it would come back up was if I was on my hands and knees. At this point, my feelings about the experience went out the window. I just wanted my baby to get here safely. Around this time I told my doula to head to the hospital – I was either going to push out a baby soon or end up with an emergency c-section. I honestly though it would be the latter.
My doctor thought we could help keep the baby’s heart rate up by doing an amnioinfusion – a procedure that pumps fluid back into the uterus which can take pressure off the umbilical cord. It was so incredibly painful and took 3 or 4 tries before it was successfully done.
Things immediately intensified. My contractions were so intense and not being able to move or get comfortable made it very difficult to get through them. My doula arrived and my husband did his best to keep me calm, but all I could think was I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. As soon as I got to my “breaking point”, I had to push. The doctor wasn’t there, but I told the nurse I didn’t have a choice. Apparently the doctor got there in time, but it only took two pushes and the baby was out. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the neck twice, but the doctor was able to fix it before I even noticed. They quickly handed the baby to me and I looked down – a baby GIRL. She was finally here. I did it. She did it. Avery Rose was finally here. ❤
Her birth was almost the complete opposite of what I envisioned. Problem after problem…intervention after intervention, but I always felt listened to and respected by my birth team and I am able to look back at the experience in a positive way.