Ryan's Birth Story
This is a story about the birth of my first son. I am writing it 3 years after the experience and after a lot of learning and education. I wouldn't call my first experience "bad", but from what I have learned, it could have been so much better. I guess it's better to learn late than never at all, though.
I had been experiencing mild hypertension in my third trimester of pregnancy. It was a concern for my Doctor, though I remember my mother, who was a nurse, thinking that the numbers were nothing too extreme. He prescribed a medication to lower my blood pressure and I took it like a good patient. Nothing much was asked of me to see what may be causing problem, nor was I told to try other things to see if it return to normal on its own. I have learned from this.
After my 38 week prenatal appointment, he started sending me home with my hospital papers, thinking I wouldn't be pregnant much longer. So it was with great disappointment to discover, from this same doctor at my 40 week prenatal appointment, that my cervix was still tipped the wrong way, I hadn't dilated or effaced at all and that birth was not imminent. I felt like I had been robbed of the hope of delivering this baby anytime soon and, combined with the concerns I had been led to believe regarding my blood pressure, I started to feel like a failure. I just wanted my baby.
I shared the emotions I had been experiencing with my Mother-in-law. She was concerned for my feelings as well, and called the Doctor's office to see just what was going on with my Doctor. The receptionist reassured her that he was "one of the best in town" and that she'd let the Doctor know of my concerns. I received a phone call the next morning from my Dr.'s office telling me that I was to be induced. I was to call the hospital the next morning to see if they had room for me, and if so, to go on in.
The next morning, after I noticed a bit of show, I called the hospital and was told to come by after lunch. It was weird to drive to the hospital, not in labour but with the knowledge that I would be coming home with my baby soon. I was excited that I wasn't going to have to wait much longer to see my little one, but I was also nervous because I knew that induced labour could be tougher. I have learned from this.
I was tucked into an antepartum room and with a roommate on the other side of the curtain, my Doctor applied the prostaglandin gel to my cervix. Now begun the waiting game. My husband and I played cards and talked. We watched the fetal monitor for any signs of reaction to the gel, but there were only minimal tightenings. I was told by the nurses that I didn't look like I had high blood pressure, but upon checking it, they were surprised to see I did. (I believe the high reading may have been due in part to the stressful surroundings.) The nurses sent my husband home that evening and I remember feeling that he was going to be so far away from me. I told the nurse I was concerned about him leaving, but she said they'd call him if anything happened. She then handed me some sleeping pills and told me my doctor had told me to take them. He was afraid I'd be kept up during the night with contractions. I felt I had to do what I was told, so I took them. I have learned from this.
The next morning, a strange man came by, introduced himself, and applied more gel to my cervix. They wanted to get things going. When my husband got there, we started to walk the halls to help encourage labour. After several loops of the maternity ward, he suggested we try new scenery. I, somehow, felt a need to seek permission, so I asked the nurses if we could leave the maternity wing. I remember the tone of their response was unkind. I was told that because of my blood pressure, I had to stay in bed. I felt like they were treating me like a misbehaved child.
Around noon, I started having regular contractions. My husband was getting hungry and after we agreed that nothing would happen for a little bit, he went out to get some lunch. The contractions started getting more serious all the time. I still was in antepartum with a stranger, so I didn't want to show that I was in pain. I decided to take a shower to see if that would help. I soon discovered that they have cold bathrooms in the hospital because when I had the shower spraying on my tummy, the rest of me was shivering from cold. I also felt like I was hogging the bathroom, so I decided to get out and go back to bed. Not ten minutes after lying back down, I felt a little pop in my tummy and with the next contraction, a big gush of water came running out of me. I rang the nurse and she came in and agreed that my water had broken. She told me I should go have another shower, though I didn't feel like doing that again. But I needed to be a good patient so off I went into the shower again. My husband returned while I was in there, and only saw the empty bed. I guess one benefit to having a roommate then, was that she could tell him where I was.
I was then given a choice of birthing rooms and we made the move down the hall. I wasn't dealing well with the contractions and was feeling scared and overwhelmed. Upon getting into the bed there, I announced that I was going to be sick and needed a bucket! It made it to me just in time. I no longer felt capable of dealing with the pain, so I asked for some pain relief. I was given a shot of Demerol and I anticipated smooth sailing from there on. As the drugs circulated throughout my body, I felt that cloudy haze come over me. Then the next contraction came and it still hurt! The only difference was that it hurt and my mind was all cloudy. I have learned from this.
One of the many disadvantages to my having Demerol, was that I don't remember much more of my labour from this point on. I have had my husband "tell me the story of when Ryan was born" and though it warms my heart hear it and to remember the small snips that I can, it makes me feel sad that I didn't have the faculties to be in the moment while I was in labour with him. But again, I have learned from this.
I do recall when it was time to push. I was an intense primal urge that rippled through my entire body. By that time my Mom and Dad had arrived and were helping me breathe and each holding a leg. The doctor had shown up, too. The sun had gone down and I remember wondering where the day had gone. It took about 45 minutes of pushing and soon my precious son's head was born. He had his arm up beside his head, so though there was some extra diameter there, once his head was out, the shoulders were in an easier position to be born and he literally shot out. I'm glad the doctor had a good catch.
They wrapped my little 6lb. 12oz. son in a blanket and gave him to me to hold. I could barely keep my eyes open due to the Demerol, but I remember feeling incredibly blessed to hold such a beautiful child. In a little bit, he was taken back to have their tests and procedures performed on him while I was stitched up from a small tear. After that, the room emptied out a bit and I nursed little Ryan for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing, and still could hardly stay awake. I was told to go have another shower and then they wheeled my newborn and me down the hall to our new room.
As I had mentioned previously, I feel this had not been a "bad" birth experience. I got to take my healthy little son home after a day and a half and, with some help from my mother, was able to nurse him quite successfully after we worked out some tongue positioning problems. But I do realize now, just how much better I could have made this birth for myself. I do not blame the Doctor because I realize that I held the power to change the situation, I just did not use it. I know now that I am in control and that by educating myself and making my own informed decisions regarding labour and birth, that I don't need to be anyone's "good" patient. I love my son dearly and am grateful I had this opportunity to learn and grow from. I don't know if I would have felt compelled to educated myself like I did, if I had had another kind of birth. It's true when it's said, "The Lord works in mysterious ways." Ryan Robert McCue was the first precious addition to our family.
- Heather McCue
Other birth stories by Heather: