On the morning of Thursday, August 22 at 7:45 am, I woke up with a very strange feeling in my back. They say “when you have your first contraction, you’ll know”, and that is so true. It was so different than any cramp I’d had this pregnancy. I was officially 6 days past my due date and, while I had wanted to go into labor SO badly, I was a little in denial that this might actually be happening. I went into the bathroom to find I had lost my mucus plug (EW.) and immediately had another contraction. “Ok”, I thought, “this is real and you’re going to have a baby, an actual human baby”. I told Will that he’d better stay home from work because this was it! The contractions came fast and furious, immediately coming 6-7 minutes apart. This caught me off guard because every birth class we’d taken told us that contractions in early labor can be super far apart and last up to 20 hours before they got that close together. I had to adjust my mindset real quick. The contractions were specifically in my back and very painful. The only thing that brought relief was having Will push against my back or push my hips together to open my pelvis. The dogs were anxious, I was anxious, Will was anxious. I thought I’d be more relaxed at this stage, but I was honestly just glad we had everything was packed and by the door. At about 1:30 pm and my contractions were 4 minutes apart. I said “I’m done, I’m not having this baby here, we’re going to the hospital.” and off we went!
On the way to the hospital the contractions got longer and stronger. We couldn’t find a close parking spot, so we had to walk quite a ways. Will offered to drop me off but I didn’t want to be away from him and have a contraction. I was quite the spectacle, having to lean against several cars, trees, and benches while having contractions. Poor Will, all he could do was rub my back and tell me we were almost there. Luckily, a nice stranger saw us struggling and got someone to bring us a wheel chair. I burst into tears from gratitude and fear that this was ACTUALLY real. I was whisked into Labor and Delivery where things moved briskly. Nurses in and out, got changed into a gown, blood pressure, saline lock, urine test, got hooked up to fetal monitors, checked the birth plan, made sure everyone had copies of said birth plan, answer medical questions, all while having contractions. Then, there was the cervical exam. Let me just say, 0/10 would recommend getting a cervical exam mid contraction. I was 4 cm and progressing, which was super encouraging. It was now 2:30 pm. After the trauma that was the cervical exam, we were all in good spirits. My parents arrived shortly after us and I felt better being at the hospital. Will was extremely supportive, we were good and everything was going as planned.
I continued to labor in several positions and pacing the room, breathing and praying over this babe I was about to meet. Will was an expert at suggesting a change in labor positions as he saw my pain increase, my mom was an angel with her words of encouragement and my dad was a ready to get me a popsicle or water whenever I needed. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to have this support system with me. I couldn’t have made it as far as I did without them. Contraction after contraction of back labor and raging hormones started to take its toll and my body reacted via vomiting. Cool. However, I felt empowered and strong. This is what my body had been preparing for for months. This is what my body was made to do and I’ve never felt more powerful. I was letting out my inner cave woman with groans and low “whale-like sounds” as Will calls them. I wasn’t worried about anyone else except for my baby. Hours and HOURS past. I had progressed to 6cm by 12:30am, a little discouraging, but I was thankful to have progressed. My incredible nurse saw how tired I was getting and suggested that my doctor break my water. This was not a part of my plan, as I wanted to labor as naturally as possible. However, at this point, I was too exhausted to care (burn the birth plan pt. 1). So, at 1:00am, doc broke my water. The back labor immediately intensified and I was in a crippling amount of pain. I was now 7cm and 100% effaced. Again, progression! I was encouraged enough to feel like I could continue unmedicated. Unfortunately, at this time, LLW’s heart rate had risen to a level that made the doctor and nurses uncomfortable. So, I was hooked up to fluids. Again, not part of the plan (burn the birth plan pt. 2).
LLW’s heart rate lowered, and they let me continue to labor naturally. The contractions were closer and closer together lasting almost 2 minutes and I was feeling like I just couldn’t do it anymore. My back muscles were so tight; I didn’t feel like I got any relief at all between contractions. I couldn’t breath through them; all I could do was involuntarily scream my lungs out. This part was particularly hard on Will, I think. He had to physically hold me up half the time and tell me to breathe over and over again as I writhed in pain. There was a point during these contractions where I looked him in the eye and said “Help me”. I could tell he wanted to tell me that I could get an epidural and no one would judge me. I could tell he wanted to take it all away. But, he knew that I wanted to do this my way and he could not have been more supportive. I will forever be grateful for his commitment to what I wanted. With tears in our eyes we knew something had to give or neither of us were going to make it.
After 4 hours of this (4:00am), my nurse checked me again and I was still at 7cm and my cervix was starting to swell. My nurse said “Honey, finish this contraction and we need to talk”. I began to sob because I knew what she was going to say. In my birth plan, I stated that I didn’t want to be offered pain meds unless I specifically asked for them. Up until this point, she had been amazing at resisting suggesting the epidural even when I knew she wanted to. However, she saw the big picture that I couldn’t see in that moment. The swelling was going to keep me from delivering naturally if we couldn’t get it under control. My options were an epidural, to give me rest, or a C-section. Will and I choose the epidural (burn the birth plan pt 3). At this point I didn’t feel the guilt I thought I would feel. Will burst into tears, looked at me, and said “Thank you”. He was done, just like I was. We had done our best. I so desperately wanted an unmedicated birth, but I wanted to have a healthy baby more. “On it!!” said my amazing nurse and within 10 minutes, the military-like anesthesiologist was wheeling her cart into my room. She looked me in the eyes and said, “I could hear you screaming down the hallway. You cannot be doing that while I do what I do. You HAVE to breath silently if you have a contraction while I do this.” Out of fear of her and desperation to have relief I held Will’s hands and grit my teeth while she did her thing. Within 15 minutes, relief overwhelmed me and I regained the confidence that I could still do this naturally.
After another hour, I was checked again and was STILL ONLY 7 FREAKING CM. Another sob fest, and I was offered Pitocin to see if that would dilate me the rest of the way. “Sure” I said, “bring it on” (Burn the birth plan pt. 4). My parents, Will, and I got some much needed recovery time while the Pitocin worked it’s magic. I was checked at 9:00 am and was 9.5 cm! WHOOOOOO HOOOOO! My nurse called the doctor and gave me another half hour to sleep. I took this half hour to pray over this baby I’d waited SO long for. I watched the heart monitor and thanked God for keeping baby safe during this labor. I thanked him for my amazing husband and parents. I spend that last 30 minutes soaking in being pregnant, breathing, praying, and preparing for my entire world to change in the most beautiful way possible. The nurse snuck in during those quiet moments, took my hand, and said “Alright, love. You ready?”, “Yeah”, I replied. “Let’s do this”. When she checked me again I was fully dilated! Happy tears this time.
It was time to push! Luckily, I could feel the contractions a little through the epidural. I had the urge to push and could work with my body! This is what I wanted so badly. To work with my body and help it do what it was meant to do. With Will on one side, the nurse on the other, my mom at my head, and my poor dad in the corner, I began to push like the primal woman I was! I pushed for 2 hours and made very little progress moving the baby down. She was stuck on my pelvic bone. The doctor came in, helped me push through several contractions, and tried to get the baby unstuck from my pelvic bone with his hands (thank God for the epidural). After 20 minutes of pushing with the doctor, he looks at me and says, “Alright, Shannon, here are our options. We can use forceps to guide baby out, or we can do a C-Section”. Will and I looked at each other “Forceps!” we said (Burn the birth plan pt.5). Then, it was go time! Three nurses came in, and the doctor set me up with the forceps (thank God for the epidural). The next contraction the doctor coached me through 3 pushes as he gently pulled LLW out. A few seconds of pressure and huge rush of hormones later at 11:37am on August 23rd, I hear Will say, “Babe it’s a GIRL!!!!”. “WHAT?!” I said as a burst into tears of joy and laughter. They laid her on my chest and I stared in awe of how absolutely perfect she was. Everything we had gone through in the past 27 hours was completely worth it. She was finally here and perfectly healthy. Winifred June Loustalot, 8lbs 7oz of God’s best everything.
Moral of the story: Never again will I type up my birth plan.
Though she be but little, she is fierce – William Shakespeare