And Then There Were Three {Part One}

I finally made it a priority to sit in front of a computer and get Ethan’s birth story written down. It did my heart good to relive it while I recalled all the teary and laughable details. After I had read all the right books, gone to the classes, and adamantly insisted on and planned for an all-natural, un-medicated birth, Ethan’s birth came as a shock. Not that I didn’t realize plans could change {I specifically called my birth plan, my birth preferences}, I just couldn’t fathom that every preparation could crumble away. It was a reality I wasn’t prepared for. Looking at Ethan’s birth in hindsight, I can freely say was an amazing experience; a messy, heart wrenching, exhausting experience, but amazing nonetheless.

At about 37 weeks this baby was beginning to feel real. We were going to have another human in our house! In our life! At any moment! Then November 8th came and passed and Baby Gooch began to shift back to an abstract thought. I had already started my maternity leave and every day I was focused on trying to feel any sort of contraction or indication that labor might start. Each night Dan and I went to bed saying “this might be the night!” {I especially believed it after a meal of bibimbap at a local Korean restaurant.} So we had our last night as a family of two. For eight days.

At 41 weeks my care provider schedules an ultrasound and a prenatal appointment as procedure. It was a beautiful November Friday that Dan met me for the ultrasound. The appointment was clinical and cold with minimal interaction with the technician. She performed her function in almost complete silence; only speaking up to say the baby looked great and seemed to be doing well. Whew! One hurdle down.

We headed over to what was hopefully our last prenatal appointment. They ran the usually gamut of questions. Yes, I’ve been drinking water. Yes, I still have ridiculous edema. No, I haven’t felt any Braxton Hicks. After the round of twenty questions and a bout with the blood pressure cuff, I found myself hooked up to the electronic fetal monitor and guzzling apple juice. After 30 minutes of squeezing that little red button every time Baby Gooch moved, I was feeling quite pleased with how our battery of appointments had gone. Baby and mama had a clean bill of health and we were going to start an herbal induction in the morning! Not that I was super excited to be drinking castor oil every couple hours, I was relieved that I was now able to actively pursue labor. Dan and I headed home for our truly last day as a family of two.

Enjoying a movie night together at home, I received a call from our midwife at 10:30 pm. She had gotten a second call from the ultrasound technicians. They warned her that I had low amniotic fluid and even my pockets were very low. She had conferred with a trusted OB-GYN and suddenly castor oil was not going to do the trick. The OB recommended that I check into a hospital first thing the next morning. I was devastated. Every word after “check into the hospital” could have been in Portuguese and I wouldn’t have known the difference. I had researched. I had made decisions. I had made plans. I didn’t want any interventions!! I chose a birth center so I wouldn’t even have the temptation! All of my best laid plans were crumbling. I was back to square one. I kept it together long enough to finish the phone call and quickly erupted in tears, clutching Dan’s neck. The fear of the unknown crept up on me. I was worried about a host of different variables. Was I going to need a C-section? Which hospital? What if I don’t like the doctor? Would our insurance be valid in Wisconsin? Would we be able to pay for the higher cost of a hospital birth?

I was just shy of crying myself to sleep, but I knew I needed a good night’s sleep. We woke up the next morning and silently pulled our “go bag” together. We decided to take our midwife’s suggestion and cross the river to check into Hudson Hospital. The 40 minute car ride, I was still silently freaking out and my husband couldn’t get over the fact that our son would be born in Wisconsin! He was already deciding that we would have to hide this fact from him lest he become a Packers fan. NOT what I want to be debating at this time, honey! And he doesn’t even care about football….

We finally arrived at the hospital and checked into a room. Before we had a chance to settle in, our two day nurses popped in to introduce themselves. In the same breath, they stated that they were going to “break my water and start me on Pitocin.” WHAT?! I just walked in! Do I not get to talk with a doctor? What about another ultrasound to check my fluid? The thin composure I was desperately hanging on to floated away. The dam broke. I was a hot mess. A hot, pregnant mess. Thankfully, my parents and my midwife arrived, got me settled down, and had the doctor come to walk me through the options. I finally came to terms that a slow Pitocin drip was the best option for me. I must interject that up until this point I had never been admitted in a hospital. Never. The IV freaked me out and I couldn’t watch the procedure. Ha. Child’s play.

So began the steady hours of Pitocin. Every couple hours the Pitocin would be increased, while I was hooked up to monitors recording my contractions and the baby’s vitals. Hours passed with Dan’s and my family popping in every so often. I stood; I sat; I lay down; I rolled on the birth ball; I walked. I felt like I was making progress. Nope. I couldn’t even get to a four. I was breathing, moaning, and taking the labor in stride, but Baby Gooch wasn’t faring as well. The staff was already cautious with my low fluid and Baby G’s heart rate would drop if we got a little too aggressive with my Pitocin. We would have to dial the Pitocin back, wait for him to recover, and continue increasing the dosage.

I had made it through the first day and night without much sleep but in good spirits and I was ready to see my baby on day two! I continued to labor through the day, gradually working up my Pitocin. I was able to take a bath, which felt wonderful, but it was a major operation to get me and all my wires and tubes into the tub. Not what I had imagined when I wanted a natural birth where I could move freely.

Around 3 or 4 in the afternoon of the second day my doctor decided we should break my water to attempt to stimulate the labor. My doctor started walking me through the process as I nodded my head in understanding. The she thought she needed to describe and show me the instrument with which she going to break my water. She started to hold it up for me to see while saying “It looks sort of like a crochet-“ I clenched my eyes shut and interrupted, “I don’t want to know!” I think that may have elicited a chuckle or two.

Ok, great, now we are cooking! I had my water broke, I was leaking mess, surely, we were going to fly through labor to a 10 in no time! A couple hours later they checked me again. I was in between a 3 and a 4. What?! Inconceivable! By now, the hours were beginning to wreak havoc on my mental stamina. I was starting to doubt that my body could perform this completely natural function. I was dreading another sleepless night. I struggled to find a comfortable position to hunker down for the night. The bed was just not doing the trick. I finally settled on one of the reclining chairs in my room. I leaned back, closed my eyes, and tried to at least rest my mind if sleep was going to continue to evade me.

Go to And Then There Were Three {Part Two}  for the rest of Ethan's birth story.
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