My story is a tad different from many women. I knew what I wanted from my birth experience. I knew from the very beginning that my body was made to do this so I treated my pregnancy as a blessing. In month 4 I went to my OBGYN and handed over the rough draft of my birth plan to see what their thoughts were. I was a member of a practice of 6 doctors, 5 women, and 1 man. The doctor during this visit sat down with me and said “You are going to need some sort of classes to help you get through your first birth naturally. Try either Bradley Method or Lamaze classes. But you’ll need something. We get a lot of women that want to do it naturally…..until they get into the labor suite. Women who prepare have a better chance.” That afternoon I got on my computer, contacted Melissa, the local Bradley instructor, and by 6 pm I was sitting in week 3 of a 12 week session. I got all the materials I needed and my partner, Anthony, and I looked forward to how the class would prepare us for the birth of our child. Weeks went on and on and Bradley Method graduation day came. After completing the course I started toying with the idea of switching to a birth center birth though I planned on a hospital birth. Unfortunately, due to my pregnancy history of anemia, I was risked out of that being an option. Because of this same reason I did not consider a home birth because our house was too far from a hospital should anything go wrong. I had my final birth plan approved by the obstetricians who were on call around the time of my due date, I had two wonderful doulas, bags were packed, and I was prepared to deal with a hospital staff who may scoff at my desires to do things naturally.
At 7 pm June 18th my contractions began. They were not bad by any standards and I was able to talk and move. I must have baked 6 pounds of brownies for the hospital staff to enjoy. Comfort was an elusive state for me. My labor was not painful, just very uncomfortable. No position was the “right” one. The night passed and early morning came. Megan, one of my fabulous doulas, was called at the un-Godly hour of 4:00 am. She arrived at 5-ish and sat up with us all night/morning as we talked and joked. Labor progressed and contractions started to get more rhythmic. Their interval timing decreased and I started to get shaky. When I began heaving and vomiting regularly with contractions Megan was sure I was entering transition and we should leave to the hospital where my doctors would be waiting for me. We called ahead and arrived at roughly 9:00 am. I went to the office of the OBGYN practice and had a vaginal exam. Charlie, doula number 2, met us here. At this time I was I was 4 cm dilated.
I was sent down to triage and family started arriving to await the baby’s arrival. I was hooked up to a monitor to assess my progress. In my birth plan I clearly stated I wanted AS LITTLE INTERVENTION and MONITORING as possible. Though, to be fair, they informed me an initial monitoring would be required to see “where in the labor process my body was”. While this monitoring session was taking place I started to notice it was quite lengthy so I asked if everything was okay. The nurse replied “Well, the baby’s heart rate showed a deceleration and we need to monitor it to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If we can go for a full half hour with no decells we’ll be in the clear.” Let me prepare you now…..this is where it all started. Also, keep in mind these monitors are highly uncomfortable belts that strap around the largest part of your belly and squeeze whether you are contracting or not
After further monitoring the OB on call, Dr. R, arrived and read the findings as they were being sketched out by the machine. Dr. R was not thrilled. She suggested we go ahead and move to a room and keep me on the monitors. I told her I would not like to stay strapped down in a bed and asked politely if this was a possibility. She was happy to put me on mobile monitors that were wireless and even waterproof so I could labor in the tub. When I arrived to my room the nurses were told laboring in the tub had been approved by my doctor because my bag of waters had not broken. Apparently a tub labor is very rare at this establishment. But they sanitized everything and when I was all “monitored up” I got in. When in the tub, covered with a towel, family members trickled in and out to say hello and comfort me. I was only allowed 3 people in the room at a time so many people traded off.
While the tub was a wonderful place for me, the nurses were having a hard time letting me enjoy it because every time the baby would move they could not clearly hear the fetal heartbeat and they were under the impression it was decelerating. They claimed this was happening “too often for their comfort”. So out of the tub I went. I was laid down in the bed for another vaginal exam, as it had been about 2 hours since the first one. Still 4 cm. At this point the staff was starting to get slightly annoyed with my wishes to be mobile. When they would leave the room I would get up and move to my heart’s content. I continued laboring in the best way I saw fit.
I decided the tub was where I needed to be so I got in. I also decided the monitors were a little too much for me at this point and they came right off. They were causing too much discomfort and unnecessary panic from the staff. Of course when there was no reading being emitted from the machine a nurse rushed in quite panicked until she saw me. She asked me to return to the bed, even though I was clearly in the middle of a contraction, she tried assisting me up. Anthony told her politely to please wait until I was finished with the contraction before trying to help me into bed. After the contraction ended I told her the tub was where I was going to stay and that if I absolutely had to, I would hold the monitor responsible for the fetal heart rate reading to my belly and move it as the baby moved to be sure they could hear everything properly. Straps were not an option any longer. They baby continued to kick the monitor as if to say “Get that thing out of here.”
Another hour passed and the nurses were getting quite worried about the baby. Charlie, my second doula, informed me “What they failed to inform you of is that heart decelerations are normal during contractions due to constriction and that a few are nothing to worry about.” She was reassuring me that everything was ok and to listen to my instincts about the baby. These instincts also reassured me things were perfect. My last little bit of confidence came from the fact that the baby was moving and that even when she moved you could hear a faint heartbeat coming from the machine at an obviously NOT slower rate than before.
Even so, Dr. R came in and informed me they were going to start IV fluids and oxygen. I told her no. Anthony told asked her “Why?” In my birth plan I specifically outlined IV fluids were not an option. She asked us why and my explanation was evidently not good enough for her. For the next 30 minutes Dr. R and the nurse argued with Anthony, myself, and Charlie about IV fluids stating they were needed to help keep the baby’s heart rate up. They did not relent just because a contraction came. They did not relent when Anthony and Charlie asked them to please stop talking to me during contractions. Eventually I consented to wearing an oxygen mask for a few minutes to get them off my back and they gave up about IV fluids. I then went back to mobile laboring and the machine kept pushing out readings.
After this oxygen treatment failed to work to their liking, they went off to a corner of the room. There was a decent amount of whispering as they reviewed my birth plan. Charlie informed me, after eavesdropping, they were going to start asking me to consent to things I previously told them I would like to avoid. IV fluids were once again brought up. I was asked to return to and stay in the bed. I did neither. I continued to move around. I continued to do what felt natural and right for me.
When Dr. R returned for the 5th time and completed the third vaginal exam I was still 4 cm. It had now been 5 hours. At this point the serious conversation which led to much insult towards myself began. I explained to the nurse who was “caring” for me that I disagreed with the reading coming from the monitor. I knew that movement was a good sign and told her “the heartbeat only decelerates when the baby moves into a new position and the monitor can’t get a good reading. I think it’s slightly misgiving.” She seemed to not hear a word and pressed on with the issue of heart decells. Anthony interjected with a similar statement to mine but she cut him of to say “We go to school for YEARS to learn to read these machines. I think I know when I see a decell in a fetal heart rate.” At this point we knew in what direction things were headed.
Dr. R started telling me that if there was no progression within the next few hours we would have to start considering breaking my bag of waters. In a previous office visit I asked how many hours they would wait during labor until deciding it was necessary to break the bag and this same doctor told me to my face “18 to 24 hours depending on the condition.” Again, it had been 5 hours. I didn’t object, just listened to what she had to say, knowing what I was willing to do to get my ideal birth. Contractions came and went, Dr. R and her nurse came down hard about starting interventions I was not comfortable with. Finally the exchange of words which can be called no less than a one-sided argument as I refused to let myself become flustered by their persistence came to a zenith when my own doctor, whom I hired, voiced to me verbatim “I can get an order of non-compliance to properly treat this child,” It was this statement which lead to my decision to go home.
I stopped talking. Dr. R said her peace. The nurse continued to monitor me and the baby. After a few minutes the nursing coordinator for the hospital was sent in to try and convince me to stay. She was very nice, but then again someone had to be in order to get me to stay. I knew I had to maintain with her my viewpoint that I needed to be in a caring and nurturing environment in order to properly deliver my child. I told her the hospital had been nothing but stress since the moment of my arrival and that it was my belief that this was the cause of my failure to progress. I told her there was no other option for me but to return home. I looked my doctor in the eye and told her I was sorry if she felt I was insulting her expertise, as that was not my intent, but for the health of myself and my child it was in my best interest to leave.
I can honestly say I don’t remember the ride home. According to Anthony I slept through most of it, awaking only when I had a contraction. At home our tub was sanitized and Charlie prepared me a wonderful lavender oil filled bath to labor in. I got in and slept a bit. After no more than 30 minutes my labor started getting much harder. My moaning got much deeper and new instincts came over me. I wanted to get out of the tub. I wanted to stand, I wanted to be on all fours, I wanted to sit on the toilet and try that. I could not get into a position I was okay staying in. My restlessness eventually landed me on all fours, with my head against a wall for support. Anthony helped me then sit and sat behind me to help me. After another 30 minutes of position “musical chairs” I settled on all fours again. While all this was happening my father was having a panic attack after listening to what the nurses and doctors told him while we were at the hospital. So he decided he needed to come into the bathroom where I was laboring with Anthony, Charlie, Megan, my mother, and my best friend to tell me I was being irresponsible and should get my ass back to the hospital. He neglected to recognize my calm efforts to tell him this was not the time and continued to upset me to the point of sending me into a contraction. It came on hard and, this time, with the sensation I needed to use the bathroom.
I looked at Anthony and told him to get Charlie and Megan. I told them I thought we should go. Since I had not yet experienced a feeling of “I can’t do this” and they didn’t want to leave too soon to the hospital and risk a repeat of that morning, they told me they thought we should wait a little longer. A minute later another contraction came on and I looked Anthony in the eye saying in all the seriousness I could muster, “We need to go now”. As I was contracting I reached back and felt the baby crowning along with a strong urge to push. I calmly tried to control my breathing and the head went back up into the canal. We packed into the car. Anthony drove his SUV as my mom rode shot-gun. I was in the back bent over the car seat on all fours once again. We sped off t the hospital hoping no cops would try and stop us while Anthony did 80 mph in a 40 mph zone. We ran one red light (after stopping and checking for oncoming traffic).
Halfway there the baby crowned again. I told my mom “Look.” She turned over her seat and said “Oh my God, that’s the head.” I was able to again, keep calm and let my baby go back in. As we had the hospital in view I finally felt the contraction that wasn’t going to be controlled. I told my mom to tell me how far out the baby was and she said “Ok the nose is out, you need to push.” I pushed and out came the head. One more push and I heard my baby crying. We were in the hospital parking lot. My mom proclaimed “He’s here! He’s here!” I said “It’s a boy?!?!” She replied “No! It’s a girl!!!” My daughter was finally here. Anthony flew out of the car to get nurses and doctors and after we got all situated on the stretcher with a crowd of onlookers amazed at the rare event of a “car-baby” we were wheeled inside. I kept my daughter held close with the umbilical cord still in tact as her APGAR scores were taken. Anthony cut the cord. I was given a small private room just outside of the ER to deliver the placenta. As soon as that was done Anthony carried in our daughter with the most awe-struck expression on his face. We looked down at her in pure amazement with full knowledge our lives had just been changed forever. Mirielle Airi Diez De A. She’s the love of my life. She was born at 6:54 pm on June 19th 2009 weighing 5lbs 10 oz and measuring 19 ¾ inches long. The smallest angel I’ve ever seen.