Baby Bennett’s Birth Story

fullsizeoutput_1777

By Lacey Appolito

Three weeks ago, I delivered my fourth baby (second girl) with my most favorite OB and I couldn’t be more thrilled that my family is now complete. Two boys. Two girls. Lots of chaos. No shortage of love.

I have a weird habit of reading birth stories on my phone while taking a bath during my last month of pregnancy. As each week passes, I change my Google search… 36 week birth stories. 37 week birth stories. 38 week birth stories… You get the idea.

The final few weeks of pregnancy are filled with anticipation. Every cramp is scrutinized. Each trip to the bathroom is a quest for a lost mucous plug. It is fascinating to read how different women experience labor and birth, and exciting to imagine how your own will play out.

My first son Jack was born on a full moon, at 40+3 weeks after days of false labor. I was induced with my second son William at 41 weeks, and my daughter Evie’s birth was almost identical to what I experienced with Jack. It was a full moon and I endured several days of inconsistent but strong contractions before she was born at 39+5 weeks.

I thought for sure that my fourth baby Bennett would come early and fast since my body had birthed so many times before. And even though I know that how dilated you are doesn’t mean much in terms of when you will deliver, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed when I was barely a finger tip dilated and baby was very high at every single appointment leading up to my 40th week of pregnancy.

I was confident that a fourth baby would more or less fall out of my body, but it wasn’t looking like that would be the case at all. So, with the full support of my husband and OB, I scheduled an elective induction for Baby Bennett’s due date, and unlike my induction with William, I didn’t fret over my choice to induce at all.

In comparison to my spontaneous labors, William’s birth was less painful and more controlled. It really was an easy birth, and after a fast labor with Evie, I was worried that Bennett would be born in our car on the way to the hospital, which I wanted to avoid at all costs obviously.

Fast forward to my due date, September 14th, 2018. My husband and I checked into the hospital at 5AM. I quickly changed into my hospital gown and we rested while the nurse set up the Pitocin. Soon after the IV was placed, I felt a few mild contractions and about an hour later my OB came in to check my cervix, break my water, and insert an internal catheter to keep a closer eye on my contractions.

After my OB broke my water, which I have never experienced pre-epidural by the way 😳,  the Pitocin was cranked up and my body started to respond. I dilated from about one centimeter to five centimeters relatively quickly, and I felt confident that I would have a fast labor, after all.

Prior to my induction, I toyed with the idea of a natural birth. Of course I didn’t share this plan with anyone but my husband (who laughed because he knows me so well), so once I reached five centimeters the nurse started talking epidural.

I wasn’t in excruciating pain yet, but I also knew I did not want to feel the pain I felt with Evie, when I was eight centimeters dilated and clenching on to the side of the hospital bed for dear life, cussing and crying, begging for an epidural to take the pain away… So I agreed.

And then everything stopped.

For two hours I remained a little more than five centimeters dilated, but suddenly the situation changed. I started to feel the pain of each contraction again, and despite pressing the epidural button over and over again, the pain only intensified.

It wasn’t pressure I was feeling. It was the familiar stabbing sensation of labor. And it hurt like a mother.

The nurse checked my cervix and I was seven centimeters dilated. The pain continued, moving lower with each passing contraction.

“I’m feeling pressure!” I moaned to my nurse through clenched teeth, who decided to call my doctor up to check me again. Less than thirty minutes had passed and I was now nine centimeters dilated. The doctor wanted anesthesia to come push more medicine through my IV before birth, as the pain was unbearable at that point.

So we waited… briefly. Anesthesia never made it, as I was ten centimeters and ready to push within a couple of minutes.

My doctor returned, and sweet Bennett was born almost immediately. I pushed through two contractions and in an instant she was there! They placed her gooey body on my chest and she peed all over me, but I didn’t care. I was captivated by the moment. In awe of life and its miraculous ways.

It was a bittersweet moment in time, and one that I will cherish forever. My last pregnancy. My last birth story. My last time to experience the surreal feeling of bringing a child into the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

To Induce, or Not to Induce…

Over the weekend, a “Facebook friend” of mine gave birth to an adorable baby girl named Katherine. On Tuesday of last week, said friend posted something along the lines of this: “Today’s my due date! Took a long walk around the neighborhood last night… Hoping to meet Baby K soon!!”

This of course elicited a long string of responses. Some of the replies were words of encouragement and congratulations for making it to forty weeks; others included personal anecdotes on how to trigger labor.

Naturally, I felt compelled to add my own two cents and suggested Evening Primrose Oil and Organic Pregnancy Tea to move things along. Around 39 weeks, I tried just about everything to encourage Baby J to release his death grip on my womb. I bounced on a yoga ball for hours on end and drank pineapple smoothies ’til I was blue in the face (pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain that supposedly induces labor naturally).

My mother, who is rather old-school in nature, resorted to the method that folks used back in the good ‘ole days and drove me over every speed bump and railroad track she could find around town (and at alarmingly fast speeds, might I add). She was so certain Baby J would pop out after our joy ride that she considered charging my pregnant friends money in exchange for a labor-inducing tour of Austin. Her plan went up in smoke however, as my little nugget didn’t budge an inch. It really is too bad, as she would make an excellent tour guide. 

I can say with some degree of certainty that the combination of EPO and tea did the trick. Of course a full moon didn’t hurt either. Did you know that the moon’s gravitational pull can affect a woman’s body in the same way it affects the tides? It’s called the lunar effect. Ask any medical professional who works in a hospital and I’m sure they’ll agree; the hospital is inundated with crazies & pregnant women (more crazies?) every full moon. Annnd that’s enough science for one day.

Back to my Facebook friend… I scrolled through the responses others left for her and hesitated when I came across the following question:

Do you have a date that you will get induced by if she’s running late?”

The response?

Saturday!! Reaaaaallly want it to happen naturally before then though!”

My thoughts??

Then let it happen naturally!

Perhaps I am a tad hypocritical, as I was almost seduced into an elective induction myself. When I was in my 39th week of pregnancy, my OBGYN dropped the I-word, and I was intrigued at the prospect of controlling the otherwise great unknown: Labor. With a planned induction, I knew that my doctor would in fact be the one to deliver my baby boy, I could arrange for family member’s travel so that they would be present for J’s birth, and best of all, I would no longer wake up each morning and wonder, “Is today the day?”

What really sealed the deal for me was an off-the-cuff comment made by the nurse while the doctor was out of the examining room. I heard the words “increased risk of stillbirth” and developed tunnel vision instantaneously. Needless to say, I left the appointment with an induction date on the calendar. After a little help from the Google machine, I found that the risks of delivering a stillborn baby at term are negligible. The risks do increase after 42 weeks, however, the increase in risk is not even considered significant until 43 weeks.

Within an hour of arriving home from the doctor’s office I was in tears, hysterical at the prospect of inducing labor. I researched Cytoctec, the controversial induction drug of choice at my hospital, and was horrified to learn that it is not even FDA approved for labor induction. I did not want a c-section and I did not want to cause my sweet little peanut unnecessary stress, both of which are common side effects of labor induction. My intuition was impossible to ignore. I could not go through with an elective induction.

At my 40 week appointment, I shared my concerns with my doctor and she agreed to cancel the induction as long as my amniotic fluid levels were normal… We couldn’t have Baby J drying up in the womb! Unfortunately my fluid levels appeared low, which does in fact warrant a medically necessary induction. A biophysical profile was ordered to get a better look at Jack’s overall movements, breathing, and muscle tone, as well as the amount of amniotic fluid that surrounded him. Thankfully, we passed with flying colors. The fluid levels previously appeared marginal because he was storing more than his fair share of amniotic fluid in his belly. Go figure.

Within twenty-four hours of the biophysical profile I was in active labor, which means that I would have missed true labor by a day or so had I followed through with the original induction date. Thank God for intuition.

The night before her scheduled induction, my Facebook friend posted this:

“Last pre-baby workout! Induction scheduled for tomorrow morning. Tried to encourage nature along with extra squats…would LOVE to go into labor today – prayers appreciated!”

I did not respond other than giving a thumbs-up to the following comment:

“Good luck, I’m surprised they are inducing so soon. See if they can postpone as long as she is healthy. Elle was 9 days “late” – I think babies come when they are ready.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Fortunately, the baby was born healthy and from what I can gather via Facebook, all is well with both parties involved. I am certainly not judging this friend for agreeing to an elective induction, nor would I ever judge a woman for making a choice that is hers to make. My reaction is more so a result of my own personal experience and the tremendous emotional response I grappled with when considering an induction for myself. As patients, we trust our doctors and want to believe that they have our best interest at heart. It is a shame that women aren’t better informed about the risks associated with an induction before signing on the dotted line.

Thankfully, labor is not on my radar at this point in time. Instead of fretting about the birth of a child, I am busy enjoying my family.

j1

Enjoying beautiful “patio weather” with Baby J over the weekend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

False Labor My A**

Every time I used the restroom during my last month of pregnancy, I would cross my fingers and hope to God that my baby wouldn’t fall out into the toilet.

Plop!

I worried that my water would break in the shower, or that my contractions would be so mild I wouldn’t even feel them. I’ve never really had cramps and I take very long showers, so these seemed like valid concerns. I had lists of the signs and symptoms of labor all over my house. There was a list on my fridge and a list by my bed. I kept a list by the bath and the guest toilet, too. And although I could recite the list by heart, I truly believed that I might somehow miss the oh so subtle act of pushing a six-pound human being out of my body.

Boy, was I in for a surprise.

I had contractions for 48 hours leading up to the birth of Baby J. They started on a Friday night, so our only real option was to heed the advice from the on-call nurse. She assured us time and time again that I was not experiencing labor, but prodromal labor (false labor), and that there was nothing they could do until my contractions grew closer together. My contractions were all over the map; some seven minutes apart and others seventeen minutes apart. The one constant was frequency and pain level. I had four contractions every hour for two freaking days. Two days!

“Take a bath,” the nurse suggested.

It was no surprise that soaking in warm water did absolutely nothing to remedy the sensation of being stabbed in the uterus with a knife.

“Take a walk around the block,” my mom advised.

My walk around the block took twice as long as usual due to the fact that I had to stop every few minutes to breathe through a contraction. And by breath through a contraction, I mean double over in pain while cursing Sharon, the on call nurse, until my uterus slowly released allowing me to amble around the block once more.

My mother, whom I love very much but at times can drive me absolutely insane, did what most mothers would do upon hearing the news of their daughter’s false labor… Google it. She turned to the internet because she did not understand this “false labor nonsense,” and after hours of research called to proclaim that I was not in fact experiencing false labor, but the real deal, and if I didn’t get my butt to the hospital stat, B (my husband) would be delivering that baby at home.

“I hope he knows what he’s doing,” she jeered.

Naturally, I completely ignored my mother’s warning.

On Sunday morning, my doctor caught wind of the circumstances. She had the nurse call to inform us that we could go ahead and check into the hospital, and that she would use Pitocin to get things moving if need be. My husband breathed a sigh of relief, as we hadn’t slept in almost two days, and he was ready to throw in the towel.

My reaction was a bit different.

I flat out refused to go to the hospital. I didn’t want to need Pitocin. I wanted my labor to be real. We would wait until those contractions were five minutes apart, damn it!

I stood my ground for another three or four hours, diligently tracking each contraction with my iPhone app. Between many of my most painful contractions I experienced some mild cramping, which I wrote off as nothing more than a welcome reprieve to those dang false labor pains. I was certainly not monitoring these blips or including them while timing my contractions. And then my husband had an epiphany.

What if the cramps were actually small contractions?

Um, nobody ever told me that contractions can vary in intensity. I assumed they were all equally excruciating… Why was this information not on the list?!?!

Holy shit… There was nothing false about this labor, after all!

By the time we arrived to the hospital, my contractions were only a few minutes apart. Prior to the onset of my “prodromal” labor, I was barely a centimeter dilated.  At this point, I was 5 centimeters dilated and begging for an epidural. I have never seen nurses work so fast in my life. My blood was drawn, the IV was securely in place, and a stack of waivers were signed within minutes of entering triage.

Three hours later, it was time to call in the big guns. My doctor and her accompanying entourage transformed the room in a matter of seconds to prepare for Baby J’s birth, and after pushing through three short contractions, Baby J popped out. Thankfully, he landed in the arms of my OBGYN, and not the toilet bowl, which could have been a very real possibility had I held out on going to the hospital much longer.

I’ve got four words for you, Nurse Sharon…

False labor, my ass.

jbirth