Let me start by saying the key to all birth plans is flexibility… and my birth story is no exception.
I spent the months prior to my due date carefully writing my detailed birth plan, and taking natural birthing classes. I chose the Bradley Method because it was what my mother had used and I wanted to walk in her footsteps. I loved reading stories of other mothers feeling empowered and in tune with their bodies as they welcomed their children into this world. I was so excited for my turn that I had my hospital bag packed months before my due date, just in case. I welcomed the contractions I had in the evenings, envisioning each pain bringing me closer to seeing my son.
As the weeks ticked by I prayed for positive news from my OB… this week I would show progress, my cervix would FINALLY start to prepare for his delivery. Yet each week brought the same statement, “no change”. My due date was no different, I went to the OB and she said those two disappointing words one more time, she then went on to schedule visits for the following two weeks predicting my son would stay put a while longer. Scared I was headed for an induction I desperately searched my resources looking for natural methods to start labor, but found nothing I hadn’t already tried… lots of walking, sex, orgasm, nipple stimulation, teas, spicy food even pineapple.
The next day I woke up and showered, determined to get some labor inducing exercise in. However, as I sat on the couch brushing my hair I suddenly felt as though I was leaking. Despite my medical knowledge I wasn’t sure what was happening, the third trimester offered too many options… So I waited. Not only did the leaking persist, it increased. Excited and a little nervous I called my husband, he needed to come home and pack (unlike me, he had decided to wait until the birth was imminent). Immediately I realized all my expectations were about to change. My birth plan involved laboring at home with candles, music, my yoga ball ,and a warm bath; then showing up at the hospital just in time to push and deliver our son.
Once at the hospital, now 6 hours after my water broke, still no sign of contractions– I was still VERY comfortable, aside from the fact that anytime I would walk it felt like I was peeing myself. Having my water break without the onset of labor meant I would have to be induced. It also meant I was now fighting the clock– once the amniotic sac breaks the risk of infection increases significantly; most places try to deliver the baby within 24hrs and induction is a slow process.
Over the next 17 hours the wonderful doctors and midwives would try everything to get my body to start dilating. I was given Cytotec (a pill placed at my cervix to chemically induce change), then a Foley bulb was placed (they literally fill a balloon with fluid to put pressure on your cervix and induce dilation). The contractions were strong and I was sick from the pain, but my yoga ball brought relief and I charged on focusing on all Ihad learned. Finally, Pitocin was started and aggressively increased. My son’s heartrate dropped and my movements were restricted, the pain became unbearable. I was informed I still wasn’t dilating. I felt defeated, every other woman in my immediate family had given birth without pain medications; now my only chance of avoiding a C-section was to get an Epidural and allow my body to relax.
About 20 mins after the epidural was placed I finally had some relief from the pain. Exhausted, physically and emotionally I desperately tried to sleep. Four hours later, the midwife announced I still had not made any progress, I began to panic. Furthermore, if I didn’t make progress soon I would need a C-section. Fighting back tears of fear, feeling robbed of the birth story I wanted, my husband and I came together and prayed. We asked God for wisdom, guidance and His help to keep our son and myself safe. Feeling at peace I tried to get more sleep.
Waking from my short nap I instantly knew something was different. There was increased pressure in my pelvis with each contraction. Excited and scared I asked to be checked again. Her eyes met mine as she announced I was 7cm. I fought back tears of joy as relief rushed over me. My body wasn’t broken, I COULD do this!
From that point on things moved quickly. Less than 2 hours later, I had a sudden realization something was changing. I was overwhelmed. My husband alerted the nurse who checked me and quickly began prepping the room as she proclaimed it was time to push. I followed my body’s lead in and less than 10 minutes later our son was born.
As I laid in the delivery room, a rush of emotions covered me. This is my son. I am a mother. I did it. I realized that while nothing during the past 48hrs had gone as planned and I had received almost every intervention possible, his delivery was incredible. My body is not broken. I am not weak. And I regret none of the decisions I made that day because the most important goal was accomplished: my son and I are healthy. It truly was a moment I will forever cherish.
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Dr. Patricia Bast was born and raised in Southern California. After earning her bachelors degree at UC Irvine, she went on to graduate medical school from Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Northern California. She then returned home to Southern California and became a resident in Pediatrics at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital. Dr. Bast is now raising her children and loves working part-time at a pediatric clinic, watching her patients grow and thrive.