written by Sam Dawson, Birthsmarter Educator and Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist.
It’s hard to know where to begin the story! Going into my final weeks of pregnancy, I was very calm and felt love and support from my chosen team- our doula and my husband. I had no idea what to expect, but as a physiology nerd, I was genuinely excited to experience labor and birth.
At 41 weeks, I chose to have a membrane sweep (this was on my husband’s birthday, lol- HBD, Eric!). I was surprised to find that I was having consistent contractions about an hour after and throughout the night. I even had a bloody/mucus “thing” exit my body in the middle of the night. Per our doula’s advice, we spent the day resting, eating, and snuggling. That evening, I was scheduled to have an NST to check on myself and the baby since I was at 41 weeks (my contractions had become more sporadic but were still there). We were told it was routine, but my husband had the instinct to throw in our hospital bags.
Turns out, I had high blood pressure and our baby was showing distress after my contractions so it was highly recommended that I stay for an induction. I was very emotional and really just wanted to go home, but after some time to process and chat with my team, I felt good about staying. My body was already progressing labor and my contractions were more consistent by the hour. I’ll never forget the calming presence my husband gave me at this time and how lucky I felt to have him with me.
Our doula arrived, I was admitted to the labor and delivery room, I ate some dinner, took a shower, and was ready to bring it on. I opted for a very low dose of pitocin to start, so that my induction could progress slowly and to see how my body would react (thanks to my doula for giving me the information on this option!). After about 15 minutes of being on pitocin, my baby experienced a prolonged heart deceleration. Nurses and the midwife rushed into our room, I quickly was advised to get on my hands and knees and perform deep breathing. After a few seconds, my baby’s heart rate rebounded and stayed for the rest of my labor. This was one of those moments that I never considered or was aware could occur, and it was scary. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I feel SO lucky to have the provider team that I did… for the following reason…
We took somewhat of a “time out,” stopped the pitocin, and my midwife and nurses came to my bedside. They asked if I wanted them to explain what just happened, to which I said yes and a few cuss words (my potty mouth really came out during this process). It felt nice to have somewhat of an explanation and a second to process the vulnerability of the moment. Then they listed a few options based on what my body was doing, gave me some time to discuss with my doula and husband as they left our room. We decided to try an AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) rather than continue with the pitocin, even though the very low dose of pitocin was unlikely the cause of the baby's heart decel.
They broke my water and also gave me a little intel on the status of my cervix (it was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced). When they broke my water, it didn’t hurt at all!
The period after the AROM is when my brain allowed my mind to get murky… labor land. To me, it feels like it lasted 2 hours, but in total- I labored in the hospital for 12. From what I remember: I moved around, used peanut balls, drank some miso broth out of a straw, got in the tub/shower, sat at the edge of the bed with nitrous oxide (I remember exclaiming that everyone should get high during birth, haha), took a short nap, snuggled with my favorite blanket from home, hugged my husband. Then the urge came. And wow. I’m humbled at the feeling that my body and baby produced.
This is maybe a good time to say that to this point, I hadn’t asked for an epidural. Somehow I forgot about it because my mind was so dissociated from reality. But this is the first time I felt logical and thought about the epidural. But with some clarity, my doula explained how close I was to meeting our baby, which helped me focus and keep going. I started using nitrous oxide again, which helped.
I pushed in a dozen positions and ended up finding that laying on my back with a little sidelying was most comfortable. After a bit, my midwife told me that there was a chance my baby was mal-positioned. I don’t remember why she came to this conclusion? But she was right! Levi was born with his face rotated to my left and his hand up by his face. After 45 minutes, LOTS of cussing, and some quality push coaching, we got to meet our sweet baby boy. It’s impossible for me to put into words the feelings I felt during these moments of my life.
My placenta basically birthed itself in one piece and my bleeding was quite minimal. My midwife notified me that I had a grade 2 tear that they were going to start repairing. I was very intrigued to understand where my tear was and which muscles were affected (I guess I can't turn off my pelvic floor brain, haha). After that was done, I was happy to have most of the medical team leave the room so I could bask in the moment and study my son’s face for the first time.
One thing I’ll never forget is how fast the environment changed from intense-birth to light and airy postpartum. Like a cloud lifted and I was over this massive hill that I’d been studying and trying to understand for so long. Like. Holy shit, I did it! After 2 hours being monitored in the L&D room, we were transferred to the recovery floor. It was 9 am on Christmas eve and we had the most beautiful view of the Wasatch mountains from our room. It sounds corny, but it feels like that’s when the second half of my life would begin.
Nineteen months later, I’ve realized that this story is alive. Each time I recount it, a new feeling, memory, or conclusion emerges. I love that about it. But from day 1, there’s one word that I've always used to describe Levi’s birth…magic.
Interested in reading other birth stories - check out our blog posts here.