Here is the story of Denver’s birth! I am descriptive about the labor and delivery, so read at your own risk.
The last month of pregnancy was difficult, physically and mentally. Between the heartburn, rapidly growing belly, lack of sleep, and constant anticipation of Denver’s arrival, I tried quite a few natural techniques to induce labor. I won’t go into details, but I will say that at least one of the natural techniques seemed to speed things up. 😉
On August 5th, I woke up and told Micah that we had to pack the hospital bag before work. It seemed random since it was Friday, and we could have easily packed the bag Saturday morning. We hustled that morning, though, and the bag was packed. Micah and I went to work, and at noon we headed to the gynecologist for my 39 week checkup. I expected Denver to arrive early, and I’d had the bloody show 48 hours prior, but I wasn’t expecting what I was told. The doctor checked me, and I was 4cm dilated, 80-90% effaced, and Denver was at -1 position, not quite fully engaged in my pelvis, but close. I was shocked to find out how dilated I was, and I asked the doctor if I was supposed to be having contractions. I told her I might be confusing contractions with Denver’s movements, and she offered to hook me up to the monitors so that I could learn to tell the difference. It turns out that I was confusing baby movements with contractions! I wasn’t in any pain and only believed that they were really contractions when I saw that the movements were happening 5-6 minutes apart. It helped that the monitors were attached via bands around my belly, and I could feel the bands tighten. The doctor advised me to check into the hospital when the contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart, told me she expected to see me later that weekend if not later that day, and off I went back to work.
While at work, I was definitely distracted. I couldn’t believe I was in labor, and I spent most of the afternoon trying to distinguish contractions from baby movements. I sent my family a text, hinting that Denver would arrive soon, but trying not to get their hopes up in case my contractions slowed down. At the end of the day, Micah picked me up, and we drove home to make dinner and settle in for the night. When we got home, we let Presley outside and suddenly I felt like I was leaking fluid. I went to the restroom, and there was quite a bit of blood. I called my friend asking if this was normal prior to labor, and she advised that I call my doctor. Reluctantly, I called my doctor, and she said I needed to check into the hospital for evaluation. I was not thrilled because I’d planned to labor at home until I’d progressed further. It seems like a God thing, though, because I was clearly in denial about being in labor. Micah and I called our dog sitter and headed to the hospital. On the way, we stopped at Chick-fil-A for dinner. Against the rules, yes. Worth it, for sure.
I arrived at the hospital around 7:00pm, checked in, and was sent to be evaluated. The nurse asked for my pain level, and I said 3. She had a strange look on her face and clearly thought there was no way I was in labor. Then she checked to see how far I was dilated, and she said I was a solid 5, maybe closer to 6. She could also feel the bag of waters. I asked if I’d be sent home to labor naturally, and she said no, I’d have a baby by morning. I still didn’t believe I was in labor until I was admitted and moved to a labor and delivery room around 9:00pm.
Micah and I let our families know that Denver would be born soon, and we settled in for what we expected to be a long night. The rules for natural labor are that moms have to be hooked up to monitors for 15 minutes each hour. During the 45 monitor-free minutes, moms are allowed to labor as desired. During the first few 45 minute periods, I walked the hallways to speed up the contractions, and walking worked like a champ. I had to stop during some of the contractions because they were becoming more painful. During one of the 45 minute periods, I labored in the tub, and this seemed to slow my contractions down. It was a nice reprieve but ultimately counter-productive, so I started walking the hallways again.
Eventually, the contractions picked up to a point where I decided to labor in the room. I tried various positions, such as on my hands and knees and squatting, and this is when I moved into transition. My pain level went from 3-4 to 7-8 within a 15 minute window, and I became quite vocal through each contraction. It surprised me how quickly the pain escalated from barely noticeable to hardly manageable. I called the nurse in, and she checked me. I was now 7cm dilated. She put me back on the monitors, and this is when labor became much more difficult.
Denver’s heart rate did not look great on the monitors because it wasn’t having the fluctuations the nurse was hoping for. Consequently, the nurse gave me water through an IV to help Denver’s heart rate regulate. The water only helped a little, and I had to stay on the monitors. This was terrible because I was so uncomfortable. I think it would have helped Denver and me both if I could have walked around and changed positions. After a while, the pain became more than I could handle, the contractions seemed to be coming one after the other, and the nurse gave me an oxygen mask. I was stressed out about Denver’s heart rate and sobbing hysterically. I finally said I’d made a mistake not getting the pain meds, and the nurse brought in another nurse to check me. I don’t think she realized how far along I was because my water still hadn’t broken, and I’d only been 7cm dilated an hour before. The new nurse checked me and discovered that I was 10cm dilated!!! I was relieved because I knew my pain level was at its max, and this meant labor was nearing the end.
Immediately after being checked, I asked if I was bleeding significantly because I felt a lot of fluid leaking. It turns out my water was breaking. Craziness commenced. A nurse called my doctor, who was still at home, urging her to get to the hospital asap, another nurse began preparing an area to evaluate Denver post delivery, and another nurse set up a table full of labor and delivery tools. The lights were dimmed so the room was nearly black, and a spotlight was pointed directly at me. Yikes, so much for Micah avoiding the business end. The 15 minute wait for my doctor to arrive was excruciating. Micah rubbed my back the entire time, and I couldn’t have made it without him. Finally, the doctor arrived, about 6 nurses huddled around me, and the pushing commenced.
Let me be clear. It was horrifying to make it to 10cm without pain killers only to realize that the only way Denver was coming out was by my efforts. Yes, I knew I had to push him out. But at 3:00am, after 2 hours of insanely fast labor and dilation, all I wanted was relief, and all I could imagine was pain. I’d never pushed out a baby before and doubted whether or not I could do it, especially if it took hours. I was in a panic when the pushing began, and I am praising God that he delivered me through. What’s interesting is that I’ve always heard that I would have the urge to push. I did not. I asked if I had to push on my back, and the doctor said only at the end. So I pushed on my hands and knees for a few minutes. It turns out that I am an effective pusher. During each contraction, Micah and the nurses would count to 10 three times, and I would push with all I had. After a few pushes, my doctor asked me to push laying on my back since Denver was moving down quickly. Pushing on my back was awful, and I yelled in ways I didn’t think were possible. Apparently someone in another room asked what was happening because I was so loud. At one point, I even yelled that my butt was exploding. While everyone in the room assured me this was not the case, the third degree tear and episiotomy tell me that I wasn’t completely off base. For the record, I was completely opposed to getting an episiotomy, but no one asked me during the pushing, and I didn’t feel it happen. Afterwards, a nurse assured me that there’s no way Denver would have come out without the episiotomy, but I will be having a talk with my doctor if and when Micah and I are blessed with Sledge Baby #2.
Near the end of the pushing, which only took 20 minutes though it felt much longer, I saw a nurse pull up a chair for Micah and ask him to drink a Sprite. Apparently he was close to passing out. He says the cause was the intensity of the pushing, not the view, but I am fairly certain it was a combination of factors. Soon after, the doctor asked me to look down to see Denver’s head. He was staring right at me, sunny side up. It was quite a sight, and honestly freaked me out that he was on the inside and outside simultaneously. I knew I was almost done at this point, and it took only two or three more pushes to deliver Denver’s shoulders and the rest of his body. Finally, at 3:18am on August 6th, Denver arrived, weighing 8 lbs 11 oz. and measuring 21 inches long. Praise God for my son!
The nurses immediately placed him on my chest for skin-to-skin snugs, but I was shaking so badly that the nurses handed him to Micah. Denver was very alert at birth, and he stared at Micah while the doctor stitched me up. I think the stitching was the worst part of the delivery. The nurses had to hold my legs in place in order for my doctor to finish up since I couldn’t stop shaking. Regarding the shaking, I am fairly certain it is related to Pitocin. Towards the end of active labor, a nurse brought in a bag and set it up near the IV. I asked what it was, since I was having a completely natural birth, and she said Pitocin. I asked for what purpose, and she said hospital protocol is to use Pitocin after labor, whether natural or medicated, in order to force the uterus to contract and the bleeding to stop. I felt betrayed. I’d been clear about having a completely natural labor, and this was the first I’d heard of using Pitocin at the end of delivery. It never came up at my doctor’s appointments, the hospital tour, or the birthing class. I gave up the fight because I was 1) unprepared and 2) in significant pain, but I am fairly certain the Pitocin caused the severe shaking. This is another issue I will be discussing with my doctor in the future.
Eventually the stitching was complete, and I stopped shaking. The next hour consisted of belly mashing to prevent blood clots, not exactly the calm family bonding experience I’d hoped for. At the end of the hour, the nurse walked with me to the restroom to get cleaned up, and there was blood everywhere, all over me and all over the floor. Why didn’t anyone warn me about this beforehand?!! I cleaned up as best as possible without a shower, a wheel chair was brought in, and Micah, Denver, and I headed to our recovery room.
In retrospect, I am thankful to have labored naturally, even though I swore during the process that I’ll use epidurals in the future. I haven’t completely forgotten the pain, but the fear of subsequent births has diminished somewhat over the last few weeks. Ultimately, I praise God for delivering me safely through pregnancy and child birth and for the gift of my sweet son Denver. Truly praise be to God from whom all blessings flow.
Thank you for reading.