Brittany's Story | Part 1 | The Birth
I am so grateful when friends allow me to share their stories on my website. This is part one of my soul friend Brittany's story. In it, she shares about how important it is to have a team surrounding you that you trust and who trusts you and your choices. She poses some questions at the end that I hope you'll really think about and consider while you prepare for your birth. You can read part two, her breastfeeding journey, here. Brittany and her hubby live in Tennessee with their beautiful baby girl.
Leading up to my first baby girl’s birth, I was doing research about my options during childbirth. I decided that I wanted to try for a natural childbirth. I was surrounded by women who had conquered natural childbirth, and the research appeared to show the positive outcomes for natural childbirth. Regardless, I was open to the reality that things do not always go as planned, so I kept an open mind. I established care with the local Certified Nurse Midwives, created a birth plan, and prepared with my husband and doula. Even though the midwives deliver at the local hospital, I still was scared of having a hospital birth. I knew that in order to focus, I had to take the steps to process my fears and anxiety before I went into labor. So, I spent a significant amount of time processing my fear with my doula, my midwife, my friend Tamara, my mom and sisters and anyone who would listen. This helped me to relax tremendously the day my water broke.
I was 39 weeks and 3 days and I was sitting in my living room and felt a really intense cramp. I stood up leaned over my coffee table and said, “Please Jesus let this be it!” To my GREAT shock, a gush of water came down my leg and I knew that my water broke. I told my husband, we took a breath, and called the midwife. A significant part of my birth plan was to labor at home for as long as possible since I only lived 3 miles away from the hospital. In my appointments leading up to this wonderful day, my midwife told me to come in when I was at 311, 3 minutes apart, 1 minute long for 1 hour. I wanted to stay calm, relaxed and in my personal space for as long as possible. Unfortunately, since my water broke before my contractions started, I was put on a 24 hour clock by my care providers. It took everything I had to focus on the positive and not the fact that I might be induced if labor did not progress. Thankfully, the contractions started an hour after my water broke.
I labored at home for 12 hours and went to the hospital at 311, at 1:30 a.m. I did not know the midwife on call because she was the “overnight” midwife. I was so upset that I didn’t know her since I had built so much trust with my regular midwife. The overnight midwife was very socially awkward which was extremely uncomfortable for me. She had a VERY mousy personality and all I could think about was the fact that I was scared and I didn’t need a very timid, awkward person delivering my baby. When I got to OB triage they said I was only 1.5 cm dialated. At that point, I felt like I was in the movies where the scene just completely slowed down. I couldn’t think clearly. She kept asking me if I wanted to go back home, but the car ride was SO painful, I couldn’t envision going back home… but I couldn’t speak. I was in so much pain that I could not answer. SIDE NOTE: When they say you need a doula, an advocate, this is exactly why. The midwife then asked me if I wanted to just walk around OB Triage so that I wouldn’t have to be admitted and not be put on the clock. Again, I couldn’t speak. Instead, I vomited. My husband asked me what I wanted to do and my doula asked me what I wanted to do, and eventually the midwife said, “I think we should just admit you since you are getting sick.” So the decision was made for me and that was the only time I was grateful that the decision was made for me. I told the midwife that I was scared to be on pitocin and she told me that if labor didn’t progress that I had to get pitocin since my water broke.
I got to the labor and delivery room and had a nurse that was BRAND NEW to L&D. She also was very timid and nervous. My baby’s heart rate was dipping, which I knew was normal, but they wanted to monitor the heart rate. The nurse’s hand was shaking as she was putting the monitor on me. The midwife told the nurse to have me lay down to track the baby’s heart rate. Eventually, I asked the nurse if I could get up and she said no, and that the midwife told her that to monitor the heart rate that I needed to be laying down. In my head I knew this was wrong because in my prenatal appointments the midwives told me that I could move around while the baby’s heart rate was being monitored. But, my fear took over and trusted the “professionals.” That trust led me to being forced to lay on my side for four hours. This was all because the nurse did not know how to properly hook up the mobile monitoring device. Me, my doula, and my husband kept asking for the midwife to come in and she just wouldn’t come in. Eventually, I gave in and said, “If you force me to stay on my side then I HAVE TO get an epidural, everything I practiced allowed me to MOVE!”. My doula reminded me about my birth plan and told me to just wait on the epidural until the shift change to see how dialated. I was. So I decided that if I wasn’t getting an epidural then I needed nitrous oxide. The only way I get through that excruciatingly painful four hours of being forced to lay on my side was with nitrous oxide. It wasn’t that I couldn’t feel the pain, I kind of just didn’t care as much about it.
The midwife FINALLY came in at some point and said I was 3 cm dialated and that it was good news that I was progressing and that was the last time I saw her for four hours. Finally shift change happened and a new nurse and the midwife that I was most comfortable with was on call. She came in and once I saw her face I just started praising Jesus. She knew my birth plan, my fears, my hopes and it was such a relief to see her. She asked me, “How is everything?” And I just bursted into tears and said “they won’t let me get up, they won’t let me get up.” She said, “WHAT! Why? You can get up!” The nurse then hooked me up to the monitor and they let me stand up. The new midwife helped me with some exercises and movement. From that point forward, I was surrounded by an incredible team, so comforting, so skilled, and ready. I looked at my husband with grit and determination and said, "I can do this." Just three hours after they let me stand up, I was pushing and they could see the head. As I was pushing, the midwife told my husband to grab the baby’s shoulders. He did, and he delivered our sweet girl. He put her on my chest and that was the greatest joy of my life. She was just the most delightful and sweet little girl from the moment she was born.
With a little perspective, I know that I was very lucky to have followed my birth plan of not receiving pitocin or an epidural. But I am still left to wonder, what would have happened if they let me stand up? What would have happened if I ripped the monitor off and defied them, even if it was just to go to the bathroom? What would have happened if the nurse was properly trained like the dayshift team? These all seem like such simple questions with a little perspective. But in the moment, they are stressful, anxiety producing, and fear inducing. My doula was incredible the entire time. We never know what can happen during childbirth, and it was so amazing to have someone with a clear head advocating for me when I truly could not advocate for myself. My hope is that I will have my next baby (if that’s in the cards) at the local birth center so that I can have a greater sense of control over my environment and a well trained staff.