In order to begin my birth story, I need to start on Thursday, February 25th. That evening, Chad and I were going to bed and we both noticed that “Choo Choo”, our unknown baby, was not fulfilling the fetal kick count requirement of 10 kicks in an hour. Chad was a little more concerned than I was; I just thought the baby was being lazy! Despite Chad’s concern, we went to bed as normal. In the night, I woke up to pee around 4 a.m. When I got back into bed, we re-addressed the kick counting issue and I began to worry a bit more, trying to think if I had even felt the baby moving at work that Thursday. Looking in our fridge, I grabbed a can of juice and a cookie. I was hoping that the baby would respond to the unusually high sugar volume! After lying in bed for maybe 20 more minutes, we still did not feel kicks or movement. We decided to call the hospital’s midwives and they told us to come in. We packed our hospital bag, adding some last minute items, just in case.
When we got to the hospital Friday morning, I was surprised to find out that they had cleaned and prepped a delivery room for me. They were only going to run a few tests, but they needed a place for me to be during that time. They hooked me up to a fetal monitor and tracked the baby’s movement for about an hour. It turns out I was already having mild contractions that were about 8 minutes apart. The nurse had us order breakfast (again, I was surprised by this lol) and I ordered a high protein meal (omelet with ham, sausage, pepper, and cheese), with the possibility of going into labor in mind. They ordered an ultra sound for 8:30 a.m. that morning, so I alerted my bosses that I would be late to work and depending on results may not be going into work that day. I was frustrated that I was going to be late to work!
After the monitoring and breakfast, Chad and I went down for the ultrasound, which was another fetal movement test. Chad and I had fits of laughter over the fact that I was wheeled down in a wheelchair. It was nice seeing our baby on the ultrasound, but hard to see a good profile since the womb was so tight at this point! We told the technician we still didn’t want to know the baby’s gender although she might not have been able to see the “parts” anyway.
We didn’t have to wait long in the hospital room before the midwife had some results for us. She said that our baby scored a 4/8 on fetal movement, “So, I think we should have your baby today!” I immediately cried. I was happy and sad at the same time. Although my body was showing signs of early labor (contractions were now naturally about 7 minutes apart), I wanted to experience the thrill of telling Chad I was in labor and going to the hospital when it was time. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. I didn’t want the painful experience of intensified contractions from induction.
The drug they decided to try on me was Mesaprostil, which is an induction pill that simply ripens the cervix. If that didn’t work, I think they were going to try cervadil then pitocin. I took the pill at 10:45 a.m.
I called my boss, letting the office know my maternity leave officially started. Chad and I made some phone calls to family, letting them know that we were going to be having our baby and that we would keep everyone updated on progress. I had texted our Doula earlier that morning when we decided to go into the hospital to get checked. I called her and let her know that we were officially getting induced. I told her about my mixed feelings and she encouraged me that what is safest for the baby is best for me as well, even if it wasn’t as natural as I’d hoped.
After getting hold of my sister around 12:30 p.m., I realized that during our 15 minute phone call I had 4 contractions. When I told my doula that information she decided it was a good time for her to join us at the hospital. I ordered a cheeseburger for lunch and Chad and I went down to the Hospital’s Starbucks to get him a coffee. My contractions were starting to feel like pretty strong period cramps. They were progressing quickly and when my doula arrived to the hospital they were between 3-4 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds long. The next several hours involved doing lots of natural tactics I had read about that would help “move the baby down.” I drank lots and lots of water and we walked around the hospital. I tried napping but couldn’t nap through the pain, and lying down was the most painful position for me. Bouncing on the medicine ball and listening to worship music ended up working as my 20 minute power “rest”. As things became more painful, my biggest pain relief was taking hot showers. It also helped pass the time. Before we knew it, it was evening (7pm) and time for the hospital staff to change shifts. As the hospital staff was changing, I noticed things getting more intense on my end. I had more “bloody show” when I used the bathroom, which was a good sign that my labor was progressing!
When I got examined by the new midwife on shift, Kris, I was at 5 centimeters, which made me very happy! Enza suggested I try the jacuzzi tub. Once you’re past 5 centimeters, getting in the jacuzzi tub will not slow down your labor. Enza turned her candles on, dimmed the lights, and got the tub ready. I got in the tub and would move my hips side to side during contractions. I read that could help move the baby along, but in that moment I wasn’t pulling from a book; I was following my Body’s instinct. Shortly after getting in the tub I needed to get monitored again. I wasn’t happy because lying in bed was very uncomfortable for me. Since things felt significantly more intense since the last time I’d been checked, I requested to get checked again. The nurse said I was at a 6. I told myself this was good, I was progressing.
Going back to the jacuzzi tub, we took each contraction as a team. I cried out to God for help. I asked Him to be present. I said a phrase from Ina May Gaskin that really helped me, “women all around the world are birthing with me right now.” I told my body to open up. I held Chad’s hand. I groaned. I told the baby to come out, “we want to meet you baby”. Chad reassured me we will meet this baby and find out what it is! Enza poured water over my belly. Chad groaned with me in my pain! Enza brought peace to the room. Chad reassured me that God is with us! Enza brought rhythm to my breathing.
I began asking for the epidural. Enza suggested I try a position on the bed that had helped me earlier in the day. It was on my knees, with my arms propped up against the back of the hospital bed. I felt better in that position, and thought gravity’s pull might bring the baby to me faster. The pain was horrible and the contractions were closer together. I kept saying “this is terrible!” I begged for the epidural, “I want it, I want it, I know I sound like I’m 3 but I want it!” Enza said, “Chelsea I will support you in whatever you decide, but I know in our meetings you expressed that you really do not want the epidural.” It wasn’t the logic that convinced me, but the fact that nobody blatantly told me “yes” or “no” to the epidural really helped my illogical self. After that, I kind of dropped the subject.
Chad says I wasn’t necessarily screaming at this point, but it was probably between a groan, growl, and scream during contractions. I did ask for nitrous oxide or “gas and air”. I signed a waiver and the nurse set it up for me. Apparently gas and air doesn’t even help with pain. I do believe it helped me to mentally get through transition, though. Transition is kind of the peak of pain, where most women want to give up. I felt the need to vomit, was shaking, and I felt crazy. I remember spitting my gum out onto the back of the hospital bed!
I started feeling the urge to push. Enza told me not to push yet, and I told her I couldn’t not push. I had to. It was an unavoidable instinct my body had! I was pushing and I felt a huge gush of water! My water broke! That was good and bad. I knew the water breaking would make my contractions worse which made me really nervous. At this point, though, I was pushing, and looking back that was one of my favorite parts of labor.
Pushing ended up taking 40 minutes, which felt pretty short, and I was very happy with that time. I remember saying, “can’t you just pull it out?!” I remember everyone saying, “look at the (baby’s) hair!!” During pushing, the nurse was monitoring the baby’s heart rate, and I could hear that the baby’s heart rate was very low. I was kind of in a fog, and in “the zone” at this point. I remember worrying slightly about a c-section, but then just trusting that they would tell me if that needed to happen and my job was to push hard unless I was told differently. They ended up telling me to switch positions, so I turned over and laid on my back and birthed the “traditional” (unnatural) way that you see in movies. I definitely did not prefer this position, but it brought us our baby safely! And to be honest, me hating that position was motivation to push because I wanted to get being in that position over with.
Wendy came into this world at 2:08 am. Chad announced “it’s a girl”, and he revealed the name we had agreed on as well. I was 100% certain that God’s goodness and grace got me through my labor. We were exhausted and in love.