My Story: Susan Foege, birth story #1

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My Story: Liam was expected to join us on December 4, 2014. My joke was that December 1 worked much better for our schedule, so let's go for that one! Well, turns out the joke was on me. The due date came and went with not much progress. I had learned that I shouldn't rush these things, I should wait, it isn't that odd to go that overdue, especially with the first. But it didn't seem like anyone else agreed. We did what we thought was best and continued to wait. We got to the one week past date and my doctor wanted to push things along with induction. I was able to convince them to at least wait until 2 weeks to get the ball rolling, if it doesn't on it's own.

And then that time came. Tuesday, December 18 at 3:00 PM – that was the time they were going to “intervene.”

I wasn't thrilled. I was quite bummed. I wanted to go into labor on my own, stay at home as long as I can and then go from there. Tuesday at about 11:30 I started to feel a contraction – or as I told Sean, something very different from what was going on. And this time, they were coming at a consistent pace. They weren't really intense, but it was something! I was so happy I at least started to labor on my own. We made our way to the hospital and hoped a bit they would just let me hang out and see how things went. We got checked in – thankfully, Sean remembered to ask for the room with the tub in it (couldn't deliver in it, but we were able to at least labor in it).

So, after laying in bed for a couple of hours while I answered silly questions and was monitored and poked and proded, it was time for the Cervadil induction. They inserted the Cervadil in me and I was then told at that point that I had to be monitored for the 12 hours the insert was in me. I was only told by my doctor that I needed to be monitored for the first 2 hours (in bed) and then 20 minutes of each hour after that. So, great, here we go – I am stuck, I have to follow their rules, I can't make my own at this point, we are on the train – the train we hoped to avoid of intervention, drugs and who knows what else that will be out of our control. We expressed our “unhappiness” to our nurse in a nice way – she understood, but told us that this was the policy. I also couldn't get in the tub, however at least when I was hooked up to the mobile monitor, I could get in the shower. So, yes, I was able to get up and move around after 2 hours, however, they were still monitoring me – so much for as little monitoring as possible! And the worst part was as I was walking, the device would have a hard time reading the baby's heart rate, the nurse would track me down to adjust me and we couldn't walk very far. 

The nurse must have told my doctor and midwife (switched doctor at 36 weeks due to this doctor being more on board with the natural methods) because soon they were down checking on me, apologizing for not knowing that was the new policy. I felt at bit better at and ease, like maybe we can stop the train and get back on our course of action. I continued to labor throughout the night, sleeping at times, showering, falling asleep between contractions, etc. 

It was then 5:00 AM and it was time for the Cervadil to come out. The nurse pulled it out and checked me at that time – I was 3 cm. I honestly think this had nothing to do with the drug and I would have progressed this much or more if I was able to be at home or more mobile than I was. I asked if I could get in the tub, however, the doctor wanted me to wait until I was 4 cm. Since my progress was slow, we (the doctor strongly suggested) agreed to start Pitocin at a very low level, to see if that would speed things up a bit. I continued to walk, shower, try many different positions and do anything else I could to get the ball rolling. After a while, they wanted to check me again – I was on board, I was hopeful I was going to be able to get into the tub and labor in there – c'mon 4 cm! And I was – finally – 5 cm and I think it was 80% effaced. They stopped the pitocin, I was finally not on any monitors or anything and I got into the tub. 

Now, at this point, I am not sure how much pain I should be in as well as where the pain should be. I was in the tub for over 2 hours and it was time for me to get out and get checked again. I was hopeful, and in retrospect, shouldn't have stopped moving at that point. When the doctor finally came down to check me, I was still at 5 – no progress, or hit my NAP. But at this point, it was Wednesdayat 7:00 PM. I had been having contractions for 30 hours or so and I was beat. It was hard to hear I was stuck at 5, even though I know that isn't a good indication of anything. 

And then it was time to “talk.” Never a good thing when your doctor says that. We have a few options, she says – first of all, you need to sleep. If I wasn't going to get any sleep, I was going to be no good when it came time to push. And second of all, we need to get this going – I had been in labor in over 24 hours, how much longer could I go? So, the options, of course, included drugs – epidural and pitocin, the 2 things I was hoping to avoid. Granted I had a bit of pitocin already, I really was hoping that was all I needed and was really not wanting the epidural. But everyone was right, I needed to sleep and so did Sean. We went back and forth about it, we called some people to talk about it, we talked and cried about. I felt like I was quitting, giving up, failing my plan if I gave in and got the epidural. However, there would be no way I could handle the contractions with pitocin (strengthens and shortens time between contractions) and get any rest, especially in the second night of all of this. 

So, with an awful feeling inside of me, I agreed to get the epidural. It was right about the time of a shift change, which sucked – I loved my nurses, they were great, they were on board with my natural ways, they were understanding...but not this new one – she didn't know me yet, she didn't know my situation, there was no way she could understand how it felt to have this shot in my back after I had tried so hard to do everything else right. How could this be happening? How could I be in this position? I sat there, with tears rolling down my cheeks, trying to go back and retrace my steps, seeing what I could have done different, wishing Sean was there to hold my hand and cry with me. They made him leave the room – the only time he wasn't with me. And it was the hardest time to get through.

I think maybe they thought it hurt, which is why I was crying, they were small talking like I wasn't even there, it was awful.

I had lost my fight to do this without pain medication and the one who I needed there the most had to leave the room while strangers got to poke me. I cried a lot that night, while the epidural was happening, after it happened, when Sean came back into the room to comfort me – I was beyond consolable. Now I was stuck in bed, needing to be monitored and needed a cath since I can't get up to go to the bathroom. I felt awful about myself, wondering why I couldn't do it on my own, wondered why this was happening if I did everything else right, wondering why I didn't get my chance to prove that I could do it without drugs.

Oh, and I did forget to mention that at some point, Liam turned, so it was face up – so even better – back labor for all that time! Before the epidural, the doctor tried to get him to turn, pushing and proding on me like an experiment, hoping this would get him to move down a bit more and get him in a better position. So, finally the epidural kicked in, I felt nothing, I didn’t feel my legs, I couldn’t move them, it was terrible. In a way, it was great, I didn’t feel anything, but I knew that wasn’t how I wanted it. I wanted to feel it, I wanted to feel the pain from my contractions, I wanted to know I was getting closer. I was woken up about 5:15 by the nurse who was going to check me again. At this point, I was about 8 cm. This was great news to me, feeling rested and hopeful that I could let the epidural run out so I could feel when I wanted to push. I believe it was at this check that my water broke as well. Again, couldn’t feel that happen since I was still feeling the epidural. So strange to not feel a rush of liquid leaving your body. I rested a bit more, contracted a bit more (from what the monitors said) and felt like I was getting closer. The new nurse came in, she was the nurse I had yesterday and she had mentioned that the doctor had a busy day, so we were going to deliver between a few other deliveries. 

At this point, I was lost, I didn’t know what I wanted anymore, I didn’t know how to handle anyone telling me things and I naively thought that what everyone was telling me was right, that they were on board with me and my plan. WRONG! It wasn’t until later when I was talking to Sean did we realize how much they worked to fit me in the “schedule.” The nurse started the Pitocin again, she said she wanted to get the out of my contractions and it seemed like a fine idea. In retrospect, a terrible idea. Looking back now, she really gave me this to speed things up to get this baby out of me, because of their schedule, the baby was still fine, I was still fine…no reason other than their time line to push things along. One thing did work for me, I did let the epidural run out just at the right time to feel the urge to push. However, I didn’t fully listen to myself as far as when to push and for how long. I fell into yet another trap of them telling me when to push. They could still see the contractions coming, the Pitocin was bringing them on stronger and quicker. If I still had the epidural going, that would have been fine. However, at this time, I was feeling my legs, able to move them…and not able to rest. Not able to relax between contractions, not able to focus on calming myself down, the contractions just kept coming, over and over, more intense and more difficult to work through. 

At this point, I had been pushing for about 30 minutes, not that long, but pushing at a very intense and difficult rate. I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, like I wanted to give up. I was aware there wasn’t anyway I could give up at this point, however, I was done. I was exhausted, I was tired, I was emotionally drained. Nothing was working out as planned – this wasn’t supposed to hurt so bad and wouldn’t have had I not got this last dose of Pitocin. The doctor asked if she could use the vacuum. Liam was stuck in not sure a great position and she wasn’t sure that he would come out without. I also think she wasn’t sure I was going to be strong enough to keep going, however I gave in. I told her to do it. Around this time, she also performed an episiotomy, which we had written in our birth plan not to do. Nice, right? Sean saw that happen, I had no idea. In the end, Liam started to make his way out. He had turned and was facing down, however, at some point while he was coming out, he turned to move his shoulder down in the way. He finally popped out, causing a 3rd degree tear, which we feel may have been less without the episiotomy. And with much resistance, Liam Joseph Foege entered this world on December 20, 2012 at 2:29 PM. He was 7 lbs. 14 oz. and 20 inches long. He was also 2 weeks and 2 days late.

But he was here, and he was placed on my chest immediately. He was awake and alert and very aware of what was going on. He cried a bit and just laid with me. I cried a bit, Sean was so happy to see our little guy…we almost forgot we had to name him, maybe because we both knew he was going to be Liam before he came out – we strayed from our rotating names. I felt happy that he was awake and aware of things, felt like the drugs perhaps didn’t have the effect on him that I thought they might have had. In the end, we had a wonderful, healthy baby boy – Sean said he saw something in me change as soon as he was placed on my chest. I know that every time I see Sean look at him, there is a look that I have never seen.

Looking back, there are a million things we would have done different. Could we have put off the induction longer? Could we have denied the second dose of Pitocin? Could we have prevented the episiotomy? Had I been able to labor at home, would I have progressed quicker? What if I wasn’t stuck in bed?

I guess you live and learn right. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful I have an amazing little baby boy that is healthy and happy. I have a family and friends that were concerned about me and my new family. And I got to go through the toughest thing in my life with the man that means that most to me. He didn’t leave my side for the 50 some odd hours of labor and birth. He was there the whole time (unless they made him leave) and put up with sleeping on an uncomfortable chair with his back issue to be there with me. He did everything he could, he spoke up every chance he could and all he wanted was for me not to have pain. He was the most wonderful and supportive coach I could have had and I feel closer to him that I ever have after having gone through this. See, I can explain this to everyone and no one will understand like him, no one else was right next to me during it all. Just him. And while we didn’t want to spend that long in the hospital, I am grateful for the time I got to be with him and the love I felt from him. I am also so grateful for my new family that I have. Liam is a joy, even when he is crying. He reminds me to forget about all these details and enjoy the moment with him. I watch him sleep and eat and look around and I know I am reminded that he is here and he is healthy and happy. And he reminds me that while things didn’t go according to plans, plans are meant to be broken, from here on out. 

After the birth, we went through a nursing strike that lasted a few months, I cried more than I knew possible during that time - no one I knew seemed to struggle as much as I did. We got through it and learned so much for our second little one - here is her story.

Susan Foege | Colorado | Mama to Liam - 2 and 1/2, Cora - 5 months | Connect with Susan here on her personal blog

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