having a baby
Labor Day Submission: The Ring Of Fire
They say having your water break is something that only happens in the movies. So I wasn’t too worried when I tested positive for GBS, a naturally occurring bacteria that exists in one out of four women. If you are GBS positive, you just have to take a series of antibiotics here and there and once the baby is born. While harmless to us women, the bacteria can be very harmful to newborns. The more rare course of action is if by some small chance your water breaks, you have to rush to the hospital and get the antibiotic administered through an IV so the baby doesn’t get exposed to the bacteria without the amniotic fluid protecting it.
So there I was, five days late, HUGE, thinking…would tonight be the night? And sure enough, at three in the morning on February fifth, what happens? My water breaks. Oh and by the way, this wasn’t just a dainty trickle of water, but a gushing, ongoing release of water that continued for a few hours. So, my husband and I headed to the hospital at around 3:30am, with me sitting on a couple towels in the car…and in triage…and then again on the hospital bed. It appeared that a good 20 out of the 50 pounds I gained (yes, 50) must have been amniotic fluid, which was used to provide my baby a cushy, penthouse suite decked out with waterbeds.
I had hoped to labor as much as possible at home with our doula, but alas, I was instantly hooked up to an IV and uncomfortable monitors and wires that completely restricted my movement. The blissful early laboring experience at home that I had dreamed of was kissed goodbye in a Niagara Falls instant. So, I tried to stay positive, and let the contractions take their course.
After six hours of what seemed like advancing contractions, the midwives did a check – only two pitiful centimeters. This does not bode well for a labor when one’s water has already broken AND you’re GBS positive. So…the dreaded p-word entered the conversation.
I reluctantly agreed to go for the Pitocin. For those of you who have not experienced the drug, it’s commonly coupled with an epidural because the contractions become machine-like in nature, and so intense that it feels like you’re experiencing the most active and intense part of labor for a consistent period of time. I turned down the epidural initially, hoping that the Pitocin would ramp things up quickly and that I could take the heightened amount of pain for a short period of time. I just didn’t want to be further sequestered to the hospital bed, on my back, numb and unable to squat or move during the contractions. So I rallied…without having ANY idea what I was in for.
As the midwives pumped the Pitocin through my IV, time ceased to exist and we were catapulted into contraction marathon. Both my amazing husband and doula were running the marathon alongside me, squeezing my hand or pushing a hot compress to my back, which was the focal point of all my pain. Later, we found out that my little bean was “posterior,” a backwards but still head-down position that can prolong labor and be extra painful. It is also known as “back labor,” which I am now intimately familiar with. The contractions were consistently three minutes apart, two minutes apart, then a while at one minute apart (they came in and turned down the dose at that point, whoops!).
After eight solid hours of this sheer insanity, the midwives were ready to do another check. I’m praying at this point that we have made considerable progress.
ONLY FIVE CENTIMETERS.
HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?! So, there it was. I surrendered to the e-word, knowing that at this snail-paced rate, I would probably continue to progress at only one centimeter per hour, with no energy left to push at the end.
The heroic anesthesiologist then floated to my bed and administered my epidural. Instantly, I started to feel the contractions fade a bit, and the midwives instructed us all to get some sleep. So I just lay on my side, breathing more calmly through each softer contraction, while my doula and husband conked out.
Hours later, I finally progressed to nine centimeters …and the miraculous part of this story is that while I was attempting to rest, my little man decided to turn on his own. I could feel the back pain disappear and shift where it was “supposed” to go and for a blissful moment understood what non-back labor felt like.
LIGHTS UP! Nurses and midwives came in to “prepare.” They were thrilled that he turned on his own. If he hadn’t, they would have had to MANUALLY turn him before pushing which can be quite painful, as it’s not typical to deliver a posterior baby vaginally. Good little man already made his mama proud.
And then the spotty finale… the pushing was much harder than I anticipated. At one point they proudly rolled in a massive vanity mirror so I could watch the baby come out of me – I guess for motivation?? Not able to make any concrete decisions at this point, I looked toward the mirror and witnessed the first action shot, and must have muttered something quite disturbing as they promptly wheeled it away.
Then of course was when the midwife announced that I was about to feel “The ring of fire,” (ie, Jackson’s head sprouting out of my hoo-ha)…and then…well…I got why they named it as such.
But in the end, after 28 hours of labor, I said to everyone, “There is no f**&%#@ way I’m getting to 30 hours!!!” and proceeded to push like an Olympian for 45 minutes. And there he was, my baby Jackson, who was just as relieved for this epic journey to be over. I gazed at him in disbelief, then had just enough energy to give him his first hug and kiss before we both dozed off into blissful slumber.
(photo: Icons Jewelry/ Shutterstock)