Our Birth Story: Learning to Surrender.

My nature, for the most part, is to worry, collect data, worry some more, create multiple scenarios in my head, worry even more, make a plan for each possibility I can imagine, and then act. Works great in my profession, not so much in everything else. I spent most of my pregnancy in this cycle, but there really weren’t a lot of actions I could take, only to wait. From pregnancy to birth, my son helped me realize an important lesson: learning to surrender.

This baby had been breech the whole pregnancy. At 38 weeks, one day before we were going to schedule a section, he flipped head down on his own. So now we wait for labor to spontaneously start. The 40 weeks mark comes, and no signs of labor; 41 weeks and still nothing. Finally, the OB decides to schedule an induction at 41 weeks and 4 days. It’s funny because I was so through with being pregnant that I first felt relief from having “a date,” but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I might be failing him by not letting him come on his time. These 4 days of wait were full of tears. And at the last minute, labor started spontaneously. Here is the breakdown from labor till birth, beginning on the day of the induction:

3:33 AM – Bag of waters breaks on its own while I’m sleeping (alarm was set to 4 AM since we had to be at the hospital at 5 AM for induction)

4:30 AM – Hospital admission; little to no contractions. They say ideally baby needs to be born in 18 hours due to the risk of infection since the bag of waters had broken.

6:30 AM – There’s no sign of meconium in the amniotic fluid, so they feel good about just giving me Cytotec (ripening medication) and waiting. I was very tired so I slept through most of the first 3 hours.

12:30 PM – Second dose of Cytotec. Contractions are getting better, but still far apart and not strong enough. Here we started taking walks and I sat on the birthing ball for long periods of time.

6:30 PM – Not a whole lot of progress on being dilated, but everything else had progressed. The midwife wants to give me Pitocin, but I was a little reluctant because I was trying to avoid an epidural, and I knew I’d likely need both. One of the nurses suggests pumping to see if I can progress on my own and they are ok with that for another 2-4 hours. I walked as much as I could and did two long pumping sessions. The 18-hour mark is at 9:30 PM.

10:30 PM – I got to almost 5cm. They didn’t want to let me go in the tub before I was 6cm (threshold of active labor). At this point, I was very tired and the contractions were strong enough that I couldn’t move or talk during them. I was worried that I would not be able to handle pushing if I didn’t rest since things were progressing so slowly. We discuss several options and end up deciding to get an epidural with Pitocin. They give me fluids to prep and as the anesthesiologist knocked on the door, the nurse checked me and I had just made it into active labor. So we switch gears and begin filling the tub.

12:30 AM – The tub is finally ready and my contractions are clearly getting stronger and closer together. After a handful of contractions at the tub, I feel a lot of pressure and I know I can start pushing. I try pushing on the tub, but I can’t quite feel I have a grip or find a good position. The pain is crazy – at this point, the only feeling I have is that I’m not going to be able to do it. I get up and get on the bed, I’m feeling so much pain, I have almost no rest in between contractions and pushing feels like the craziest thing I could put my body through. I try several positions because they feel the head so close, I feel the head, the pressure, but I just can’t seem to push enough. Someone has the enlightened idea to use a squatting bar, and after that, in three pushes he was out.

02:20 AM – Baby is born, and I still can’t believe I was able to do it, I was in total shock. He is 7lbs 13oz, 21 inches, has a full head of hair, and a placenta shaped like a heart.

From a section to induction, to medicated, to finally an unmedicated vaginal delivery. Although at the last minute my birth preference was the final outcome, I don’t think I would have surrendered to birth in the same way if the process had been different.

Ana is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Out of passion for learning, she started traveling to all sorts of different places. Fifteen countries later, she has now settled in Baton Rouge and works for a local architecture firm. Graduate school at LSU presented her not only with tools to advance in architecture but also with a deeper understanding of the culture and geography of Louisiana. It is a fascinating state, and Baton Rouge, as its capital, does not disappoint. Ana is currently starting her journey to a country she has never been to before: motherhood (except if you count a dog, a cat, and a fish). You can find her coming up with a myriad of house projects, trying new restaurants in town, park-hopping with her beagle, or enjoying a good movie with her husband.

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