This week’s birth story comes from one of our very own Instructors Victoria Robb from Michigan USA.
Thank you for sharing the wonderful arrival of Olivia Noel with is!
“Beginning at week 28, baby’s overall growth was starting to fall in the “small for gestational age” category. My providers were concerned about placenta insufficiency and wanted to keep a close eye on baby and blood flow from the placenta through the umbilical cord. Despite my additional 2-3 x a week tests looking perfect, they recommended I be induced sometime during week 39 to reduce the risk of my placenta tiring out the closer I got to 40 weeks. Even though I am familiar with all aspects and methods of induction from teaching my birth classes, I had never experienced it for myself—both of my previous labors started spontaneously with zero intervention or medications. The thought of having a totally different experience for my final birth was not ideal. I absolutely loved my births at the natural birth center and couldn’t imagine not being able to recreate that a third time (the need for continuous foetal monitoring or IV’s disqualifies you from the natural birth center).
So, with my induction date scheduled, I got busy trying to prepare my body for labor. Knowing that you really can’t “induce” labor on your own, I still did ALL the things in hopes that if it didn’t put me into labor, it would at least make the induction process go quickly. So, when my induction date arrived and I was still very much pregnant, I was definitely bummed and anxious for what was ahead. Will I go into labor with just misoprostol? I really want to avoid Pitocin…if I need pit, will the surges be too intense to labor without an epidural? How will my baby tolerate augmented labor? These are the thoughts that were constantly running through my mind. I just kept reminding myself that I am educated in my options and have the power to advocate and make informed decisions for myself and my baby—therefore, I will confidently accept whatever turn my birthing takes.
Check-in time was 9pm on Sunday, 8/8. At the check-in desk I requested that I be put in one of the 3 rooms in the “regular” labor and delivery wing that has a bathtub. Laboring in the tub was wonderful during my other 2 births, and it would make me feel better knowing I still had that option even if I wasn’t in the natural birth center. They looked into it and told me that it would not be possible because one room was in use, one was under maintenance, and the other didn’t have a baby warmer in it. I wasn’t ok with those answers! Knowing a baby warmer is on wheels and portable, I asked if one can just be moved into the open room for me. The nurse paused to think about it, and said “Yeah, that would work!”. Problem solved. I was set up in Room 99 and immediately noticed the clock on the wall wasn’t working. I LOVED that and took it as a sign because I had brought a sheet of paper to cover up the clock anyways (a Hypnobirthing trick!). I then was told what the induction plan for me was: Covid test, get IV Fluids started, get hooked up to the monitor, begin with miso, then Pitocin. I didn’t love being told what “their” plan was. I again, (gently…I think lol) pushed back and said that I wanted a saline lock instead of continuous IV. I had my doula waiting to arrive once my covid result was in, so I needed my Covid test put through as “stat”. I would rather be put on the “Monika” wireless monitor so I can move around freely, instead of being hooked up to the machine the whole time, and I wanted time to try other methods of getting labor started before I jump to Pitocin. The nurse replied with, “Well, you sure know how to advocate for yourself! You’re making my to-do list VERY long now”. This nurse was very sweet, and half joking, BUT— I was not about to compromise my wishes or plan when baby and I are both healthy, for the sake of someone else’s convenience!
After all the set-up, I was checked and was 2cm, 75% effaced. At 1am I got my first dose of miso which helps to soften the cervix and potentially open it more. The miso lasts 4 hours, so I tried to get some sleep because I was not feeling any discomfort—easier said than done! At 5am I was checked again and was 3cm, still 75% and surges were very weak and irregular. I got my second dose of miso at 7am, and my doula arrived shortly after, and we got to work! Ryan helped me do lunges, and I did the entire Miles Circuit many times in hopes that baby would get into a good position to start making my surges stronger. I did hip circles on the birth ball, which would kick things up a bit briefly, but no matter what, the surges would end up spaced out and not at all intense.
The entire time, baby’s heartrate strip looked BEAUTIFUL, so I knew that I could still take my time and talk through options since we were both safe and healthy. At 11:30am, the midwife I had been hoping for was on, and she checked me—still no change. We talked about next steps, and I opted for her to release my waters. She did, and although I felt and heard the “pop” as the bag broke, no fluid came out. Baby’s head was low at this point, so she said that sometimes baby’s head can act like a cork and stops the fluid from leaking or gushing. Ryan, my doula and I did some more positions to try to wiggle some room around baby’s head, but still not even a trace of fluid came out! I decided to try to rest with a peanut ball between my legs while thinking about what the next step will be if things don’t change. I knew that Pitocin is on the horizon and in one last effort to avoid it, I ask for the breast pump. Even pumping didn’t move anything along, but it did yield me ½ an oz of liquid gold colostrum, which the staff was VERY impressed by! Finally, at 3pm with still no change, not in any discomfort, I agreed to Pitocin. I was nervous that I had already had zero sleep since Saturday night, and we were heading into Monday evening. If labor did finally start, would I have any energy at all? They started me on the lowest dose of Pitocin, a “1”. By 7:30pm absolutely nothing had changed with my surges, and I was now at a dose of “5”! Gearing up for a long, long night, I ate a little snack, washed my face and do my makeup because…why not! I was restless and might as well not look as tired and frustrated as I felt!
We talked through options of increasing the Pitocin some more, but the midwife said she would feel more comfortable if I were on an internal monitor to be able to better assess the intensity of my surges. I didn’t like that option because I couldn’t be in the tub with an internal monitor, should I want to. I asked her to check me to see if any change was made. I had progressed to 4cm, and to everyone’s surprise, she felt a bulging amniotic bag! She explained that when she initially broke my water, the “forebag” must have remained intact, and that is what she was feeling now. She broke it, there was a good gush of clear fluid, and before I could even sit up, the first REAL surge happens. Things felt SO different. I maneuvered into a few positions, really needing to focus and breathe during the surges which were now coming at steady 1-2 minute intervals. I moved to the bathroom to labor backwards-sitting on the toilet so that I can rest my upper body and keep my pelvic outlet really loose and open. That felt INTENSE and so I asked them to get the tub ready for me. At 8:15pm I got in the tub and focused on completely relaxing and remaining loose and limp as I visualized what my uterus is doing as it surged and moved my baby down. My mantra that I kept repeating in my head as each surge was happening one after the other was, “Each surge brings my baby closer to me. When this surge is over, I’ll never experience the same one again”. Ryan and my doula knew from our last two births, that when I start low-moaning/humming during a surge, that it means I’m in transition. They noticed my demeanour change, the low moaning start, and they started to get excited. They told me to stay focused and that baby will be here soon! I’m not convinced that things progressed THIS quickly, and that maybe I’m just experiencing the extra strong surges that Pitocin causes. All I knew is that I definitely do feel like I’m at “that” point—the point where you want to tap-out, get the epidural, lose focus…and usually that does indeed mean that I’m about to meet my baby. My midwife checked me in the tub at 9:30pm and said I’m 7cm. As soon as she did that, I feel an uncontrollable urge to bear down. I’m helped out of the tub and took a couple steps out of the bathroom towards the bed, when I felt baby’s head crown. I reach down, felt the head and said “Baby’s head is coming out RIGHT NOW!!!” At that point the room got a bit chaotic! I was still standing next to the bed, not able or wanting to move any further. Ryan was next to me rubbing my back, my doula checked, and yelled to my midwife “I see baby’s eyeballs, head is out!” as my midwife was quickly trying to glove-up. Where my previous two births were quiet and controlled during the pushing stage, this was primal. I had seen many birth videos of women “roaring” their babies out, and now I was about to be one of them. At 9:39pm with one drawn out roar of “Get this baby OUT!!!!!!” (Ryan said it felt like it lasted a full minute), I birthed the baby as the midwife got on the floor under me. This was the first time I didn’t receive the baby myself, so it was a few seconds before she was passed through my legs up to me, and I could see that she was a GIRL! She was healthy and beautiful, and I was in total elated shock at what just happened!
Holding her, I got on the bed and put her on my chest. Instantly, she wriggled up and self-latched! Ryan hadn’t known about the breast-crawl and couldn’t believe it lol. That golden hour of skin to skin was wonderful, and I was THRILLED to hear that I had no tearing at all!
This experience felt like a culmination of everything I’ve learned over the years of being a Hypnobirthing student, and what I now convey to my students as an educator. Induction was not my plan, much less an induction that did not really “work” for so many hours! But it was as beautiful and empowering as my other births. Being educated on all options, their risks, benefits, and alternatives was KEY for me. My birth team was on my side the entire time, allowing Ryan and I to question, take our time, and make decisions that felt right for us and the baby. It actually was great that I was not in any discomfort for the first 22 hours! Olivia Noel joined our family in her own perfect way and our hearts could not be more grateful and full.”
If you want to create your own positive birth, you can start today!