This post has been on the back burner for a bit too long. So take a seat, grab a little (or a lot – I won’t judge) wine and be prepared for all things birth-y.
As you may know, I wanted to have as natural a birth as possible. I had many interventions with my oldest, Spencer, who ended up being birthed via c-section and then separated from me for 10+ hours (I still have a hard time getting over that). The experience left a bitter taste in my mouth as well as Andy’s, and I, especially, wanted none of it with the next. Cassia was born 2 years later and magically was med-free. Everything went exceedingly well, given that near the end (though I didn’t know it), I was asking for the epidural (it didn’t make it to me before she came). Then there was Felicity. Our sweet Felicity Katherine.
I was diagnosed gestational diabetic about 2-2.5 months before my due date. The difference between this time and with Cassia is that I couldn’t control the sugars by diet alone. If it was only my blood sugars during the day, I would have been fine, but it was the overnight fasting sugars that would not stay low, so I needed insulin to regulate them. Little did I know the complication that would make later in wanting a natural birth. (*cue drama*)(No, not really. But I was uninformed)
It would seem that in Canada (maybe elsewhere?) that the routine thing to do if a woman is gestational diabetic on insulin is to induce labour at 38 weeks. When my doctor brought this up with me, I expressed strongly and clearly that I was not comfortable with that idea. Then I went home and googled everything I could to find more information about this issue and why they would even suggest it.
Turns out that there is very little evidence to suggest that there would be any problem with my baby. The main concern is the size of the baby which, with regulated diabetes shouldn’t be a problem. There is evidence that in women who are diabetic with insulin before pregnancy that there is a slightly higher risk of their baby being born stillborn, but this has never been documented in any research or studies. It is a risk that is just assumed for those who are only diabetic during pregnancy. As baby seemed to indicate all things of being healthy, I felt more comfortable saying no to induction, especially without evidence.
Fast forward through a meeting with a specialist about it and regular prenatal appointments – we come to the day before her ultrasonic due date (May 17th). Andy and I were informed that the specialist had changed her mind about waiting and that she strongly recommended being induced on the due date. Andy and I were caught off guard with this, as that would mean the next day. We said no, but we’ll consider after the weekend. My doctor agreed (reluctantly) and we set a tentative (in our minds) appointment for the Monday.
By this point my body had given no indications of labour starting. My cervix was still pointed back, no effacing and definitely no dilation. So I talked with my awesome doula, Jude, and she gave me the name of a fellow doula who was also an acupuncture doctor who does acupuncture for labour inducement (and everything else, obviously!). She was gracious in her time and squeezed me an appointment for later that day. I left feeling more hopeful and with a couple pins in me (and covered) for the weekend to help with dilation. The next two nights I inserted a 1300mg capsule of evening primrose oil in me also to help. I used essential oils on my belly and legs and feet to help stimulate labour. I used every natural method available to me (except castor oil consumption) to help my body to try to go into labour by itself. Monday came; I didn’t feel hopeful as nothing felt different. Andy and I talked heavily about it and agreed that I would go in for an induction that afternoon (I’m sure my doctor was elated). We had talked about going in for a Foley balloon induction, which would force my cervix open for dilation (I believe). I had been hopeful that perhaps my methods over the weekend, if they didn’t trigger labour, would at least get my cervix positioned right and start dilation. My doctor said that if I was dilated when I got there that she would be able to strip my membranes instead (which I had done with Cassia and was familiar and more comfortable with). Lo and behold, she was able to strip my membranes.
While we were talking with my doctor about all this (in the hospital), the resident doctor came in to introduce himself. He didn’t leave a very favourable impression on Andy or I, as he tried to get us to sign a waiver that had some general terms about the induction so that if the course of induction was changed they wouldn’t require consent apart from the sheet (my doctor was out of the room at the time for the briefest of moments). When my doctor came back she corrected the situation as to what we had talked about, which I was thankful for. Andy and I both believe she had a ‘talking to’ with the doctor about us and our desires for the birth (for reasons I’ll expand on later). She said to get the nurses to call her if I wanted to have my waters broken to hasten the birth, but otherwise she’d check in with us at about 7pm or so.
So we headed to the birthing room and settled in. Had a fabulous nurse, Tabitha, who was willing to let baby play hide-and-seek with the fetal monitor (and not even -ask- me to stay on the bed in order to monitor the baby). I was started on oxytocin, the smallest dose, in order for labour to start and and maintain at about 5pm. Everything started gradually, I read for awhile on the bed while the contractions were mild. Eventually I had to stand, as sitting through them was uncomfortable. At this time (about 7pm) we called in Jude (my doula). I was on the exercise ball rocking through the contractions, which were quickly escalating. My doctor called to check in and asked about whether I wanted my waters broken. Given how I felt things were progressing, I said no. She said she’d check in later again to see how things are going. My nurse switched somewhere around the time that my doctor called, and we had another amazing nurse, Angela, take over. Jude knew her too and was happy that she was our nurse, and she had worked with her before and found her to be very patient-oriented and not a stickler for rules (in a good way for me).
Soon after this the contractions hit a new threshold and I needed to stand, using Andy for support and not much longer after this, as Dwija from House Unseen calls it, the dying cow sound made its appearance and stayed for the remainder of the labour. And the swaying during contractions started. Poor Andy, he literally had to hold me up during the contractions for the remainder of the evening.
Perhaps one of the best things about all of it was that I felt pretty much left alone. I had the help I needed when I needed it and I was able to move in whatever way I needed to in order to get through the contractions. I hung off Andy during every one, visualising each contraction dilating my cervix more so that baby could come. It was a little strange, but I truly think the visualisation helped me greater than anything. Any time I was distracted and couldn’t get the chance to start this visualisation process as the contraction was starting I felt like I was in much, much more pain than if I had the chance to visualise the efficiency of each contraction for dilation. Why? I have no idea. It worked like awesome though (as awesome as it can be when it feels like your privates are being slowly torn apart with each painful contraction) so I stuck with it. I was also using essential oils during this part of the labour. I had made up three different blends: one for nausea, one for muscular pain, and one for relaxing. I used all of them and as far as I feel, they all worked. I didn’t throw up (though I felt like I nearly would at transition a few times), my neck went out during a contraction and I had the one for pain applied which helped. And I felt like I could have taped the cotton ball with the relaxing oil to my nose. I used that one in between the contractions so that I could help myself to relax between them and recover. I think Andy later indicated that it looked like I was some sort of addict, given how desperately I’d be sniffing that cotton ball. Oh well. It helped.
It was in this time frame that the resident doctor came in. I recall hardly anything that happened, only what Andy reiterated to me between contractions. It seemed that he wanted my cervix to be checked, indicating that typically they check every two hours and it had been about six since I had been last checked. I agreed to have the nurse check me (with every movement triggering a contraction – what joy!). I was 5cm dilated. I remember Jude encouraging me, telling me I was over halfway there and doing good. The only other thought I had at this point was ‘get me off this bloody bed.’ Everything continued as it had before his interruption.
I felt the contractions shift as I went into transition. It felt like in the middle of the contraction, instead of continuing through, there was a small mountain thrown in. Comme ça. This indicated the level of pain.
That’s when the whole ‘I can’t do this’ ‘I can’t get through this’ ‘I don’t know if I can make it’ stuff came out. As these and other type phrases came out of my mouth, I recognised how typical it sounded of transition. I also realised that even though I was saying those words, I knew that I could handle it if it got worse. It felt like I knew that my body could handle a little more pain if it was asked of me, each time a contraction hit. It was such a grace to have in the midst of what felt like painful chaos.
And then the urge hit. It happened with Cassia, too. This, above all else, is the part of labour that I hate the most. The urge to poop and knowing that it’s going to happen no matter what. It appears that this seems to be the way my body labours, and it sucks because I definitely would prefer my excretory functions to happen separately from labour and delivery. At any rate, I felt the urge to push at the end of one of my contractions, so I conveyed that to Andy and Jude (probably yelled it, knowing the state I was in), Jude suggested that I get on the bed, and they told the nurse to call my doctor to come. I managed to get on the bed and the next contraction hit – it was all push, peeps. I couldn’t stop it, and then I felt baby crowning. I again *cough* conveyed this to Andy. He told the nurse who happened to be in the room that the baby was coming. Andy says she just kind of looked at him, acknowledged it, and started casually walking out as if to look for my regular nurse. Andy readdressed her, informing her that the baby was coming now.
I was still on my hands and knees, I had just had another pushing contraction when the nurses burst into the room and said, ‘we’re going to need to you get onto your back’ to which I replied, ‘noooo’ as another contraction started. My doctor didn’t make it to Felicity’s birth. It was on the following contraction that baby Felicity made her debut, fast and furiously. The nurses eventually figured out how to give her to me and I held our baby girl, who happily cried away in my arms. As far as Andy and Jude could figure, my water only just broke as I had been getting onto the bed.
My doctor arrived about 10 minutes after Felicity was born and attempted to deliver the placenta, which refused to come. She called the obstetrician who would attempt to manually remove it (it was only lightly stuck). They offered me pain-relief drugs for while they worked on the removal, which I agreed to (since it was feeling painful). They informed me that the drugs work very quickly and last about 15 minutes in my system before they wear off. Since I had an IV already, they just started the drugs and told me to inform them when I started to feel lightly drunk. That feeling hit, so I told them and they went to work. That, my friends, is when the drugs took their full effect on me and I hardly remember anything else from while they were in my system. Thankfully Jude (I think) suggested that Andy hold Felicity while I was drugged up, cause I’m sure that kid would have been dropped on the floor if I had kept holding her. I don’t think I’ve been that “drunk” since early college. I think I nearly slept while they manually removed the placenta.
After that, I was eventually whisked to post-natal. We had requested The Victorian Suite, which is the nicest room available. Our insurance covered all but $30 of the room, which we felt would be worth it if we could get it. Fortunate for us (and unexpected), the room was free. We arrived at 12:04am. We left the hospital home sometime that afternoon. When Andy went down to go get the paperwork for the room sorted out for insurance, he was informed that they couldn’t charge us for the room because they do their billing for the room at midnight, and we arrived 4 minutes afterwards. Fortune strikes again!
That is what really solidified Felicity’s name for us. Her birth felt very fortunate, or lucky, as with induction I had been worried about progressions of interventions, and having two amazing nurses who let me labour as I needed to even with all the monitors, and being able to deliver her on my hands and knees (waaaaay more comfortable than on my back, which is likely how things would have gone if my doctor had made it to the birth). Felicity’s entrance to our world was surrounded by luck and good fortune, which is the Latin meaning of her name (though Rosemary was a close second). We are so thankful everything went so well and continues so.
Thanks for sticking with me! If you want to read more birth stories, head over to Grace’s birth story link up! (ooh, I’m #300 for Felicity’s story…)