The Birth Story of Matilda Jae Whaley (Part 2)
Friday night, July 20th we headed into HFWB for an NST. Since the induction had been pushed back to "sometime tomorrow" we had to make sure little babe was cozy and healthy in there. My loving mother-in-law had taken Tegan overnight so we could have no other responsibilities except for resting and spending time together. Zach goofed around in a wheelchair while I rolled my eyes and enjoyed the glorious hospital ice. Babe was doing great on the monitors! We saw the midwife on call and she was able to get us on the schedule for the following day at 10am!
PRAISE THE LORD! HALLELUIAH! I CAN SEE THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!
Our induction started off in a wonderful and intentional way. Margaret, our doula and amazing friend met us there, helped get us settled, and Zach and I both napped while we waited for surges to pick up. Around 2pm I started to feel uncomfortable and was no longer able to sleep through them. A big reason why I chose HFWB was the tubs. This momma took a bath EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and I had seen the magic in a warm and relaxing bath for many of my past clients. So we got me set up in the glorious bath. And man was it amazeballs.
I labored in the tub for what felt like only a short amount of time but really it had been close to 4 hours. Throughout that time the pitocin was increased slowly to bring on stronger and more consistent contractions. I was handling them well and breathing through them. Zach and I even spent some alone time in the tub. Around shift change we had a new nurse who increased the pitocin from 6 to 8 and noticed I was trying to find a more comfortable position in the tub. She suggested leaning back against the corner with a pillow behind me. Turns out, Tilly didn't care for that position. It might have been a combination of many things but it was the perfect storm to give her decelerations with every contraction. Big enough episodes that I had to leave my lovely tub, lay on my left side in the bed with a oxygen mask on. Talk about needing to focus on my breath and find that inner peace. But I'm kinda happy this happened. A small part of me was worried that because of the anxiety I had felt during pregnancy would come up again during labor if anything like this would happen. But I found myself staying focused and calm during it all. It helps immensely to have your husband and doula rubbing your back, stroking your hair, and encouraging you that the baby is doing well. If they were nervous, they never let on. The pitocin was turned off and we chose to keep it off until Dr Prezzato was coming in a few hours later and talk with him about what had happened and how to proceed. It was the perfect opportunity for my body to take over and labor completely on it's own! From then on, each contraction was completely my own. It felt great to know that and experience that natural power of my body.
Throughout the night though, Margaret noticed my labor pattern wasn't quite looking as regular as it should. After watching me for a bit she suggested we do some Spinning Babies exercises to help encourage better alignment of the baby. Based on what she saw, we think Tilly was asynclitic. And let me tell you, this was a lot of work. Between the intense need for hip squeezes, she lunged with me and did this really funny looking but effective exercise called "shake the apple tree."
Another distinct moment in my labor I remember being checked and hearing that I was 7-8cm dialated. When I heard those numbers I cried. With Tegan I had stalled at 6cm for many hours and never progressed passed that. I knew I had made it over my first biggest hurdle. I may have said something silly like "call Dr so-and-so and tell him I made it past 6! My pelvis isn't broken!" My previous doctor from Tegan's birth had made some comments early in my pregnancy doubting my ability to vaginally birth my babies because of my pelvis. Hence why he was not attending this birth. This has to be one of the most self-affirming moments i've ever experienced. If you have been in my class you know how much I stress alignment and belief in our bodies ability. It felt really good to be proven right; but even better to know that our babe was well on their way.
To be honest, I don't remember much from Sunday except for the last hour before Tilly was born so I'll simply use pictures to depict the hard work we all poured into this experience.
With the intensity of the surges being so great the nurses were asking if I was feeling any pressure in my bottom. It was hard to answer because most of the pressure was vaginal. I started feeling the urge to push but there was a worry that I wasn't fully dialated and could cause my cervix to swell. Dr Prezzato checked and I had a bit of cervical lip in the front left and my secondary bag of water was still intact. My water had broken earlier in labor but I honestly don't remember when. After my water had been fully broken the need to push became something I couldn't help. I believe it was around this time that Dr Prezzato had mentioned that the baby was somewhat facing a hip and that we needed to rotate him/her. This involved me pushing though 2-3 contractions while holding my right leg up and and him manually rotating her head with two fingers. Then repeating this same thing while holding my left leg through 2-3 contractions. By now I was completely drained of energy. I had this incredible need to push very hard, harder than I had expected to feel, but without much energy behind each push. My pushes were no longer moving the baby but I was still expelling a lot of energy with each surge.
It was at this point that Dr Prezzato suggested 3 options: turn the pitocin back on to give my contractions a little boost to push this baby out, use a vacuum to assist in my pushes, or use both tools to help my push this baby out.
I have to be incredibly honest and vulnerable here for a minute. This was my least favorite moment. I was scared. I didn't want to put the pitocin back on for fear that it would cause a dip in Tilly's heart rate again and start a chain reaction for an emergency c-section. I was also scared of using a vaccum. As a doula I had witnessed this tool utilized in delivery before and while not every situation was life threatening, it was still a very intense moment that I didn't want for myself or my baby. It was at this point that I started talking crazy and I asked for a c-section. I was delirious. I was tired. I was scared. I couldn't look anyone directly in the eye and I had felt like I had lost all control of my birth. I felt angry that I was put in this situation even though "I had done everything right." Zach tried to encourage me. Margaret tried to encourage me. Patty the nurse tried to encourage me in her tough love way. And Dr Prezzato tried to encourage me as well. And I was having none of it. I was done. I had nothing left. I felt like if even if we tried one of those options, I still wouldn't be able to push effectively. I'm not sure how long everyone tried to convince me. At one point Zach went into the hall to talk to Prezzato and understood that if it were his wife, he wouldn't want her to have a c-section at this point either. Zach went into the bathroom to pray. He texted a few friends and family and asked them to pray as well.
Because I was insistent in demanding a c-section, they started the process of getting me prepped. I had the hair cap on, and they were giving me fluids through my IV, something that had to be done for the spinal. I continued to have the overwhelming need to push. After about 10 minutes of fluids I heard Margaret say to me "Danielle, I can see the baby's head move when you push. I can see about that much of head." She made a quarter sized circle with her finger and thumb. I promptly said "then get the vacuum! I'll do it for two minutes." I didn't know it but Margaret ran out of the room, down to the provider room where Prezzato was preparing paperwork for the c-section and told him I said yes to the vacuum. Before I knew it there was a team of people around me, the bed was being raised, and Prezzato was talking me through what he was doing.
I'm told that once the vacuum was placed and I pushed with the next contraction the baby's head moved about 1cm, the vacuum came off, and then I finished the work of bringing my baby into the world. It was almost as if feeling her head being moved slightly with the vacuum gave me the ability to focus my intensity and gave me motivation when I felt like I had none.
I felt her. I felt every little part of her body exit mine. I felt my body finish an enormous task it had put so much energy into for the past almost 10 months. They placed her on my chest and I waited for Zach to tell me boy or girl. His face made it all worth it. He was completely speechless. GIRL
I had no energy to cry. I just kept telling everyone I'm sorry and thank you. I knew they had all talked crazy Danielle off the ledge and I'm so thankful they did.
Matilda Jae Whaley entered the world at 11:22am on July 22nd. She was a whopping 9lbs 8oz and 21.5 inches long.
In the past 2 weeks I've had a lot of emotions about my experience. Beyond the typical postpartum hormones and complete exhaustion from the birth itself I have had a lot of things to consider, let go of, and embrace. I have always encouraged my students to use whatever tools necessary to positively welcome their babes into the world. Whether that be an epidural, induction, scheduled c-section, OB, Midwife, homebirth, hospital birth, doula, family, whatever they need. It has been hard but necessary for me to take my own advice. I don't feel guilty (anymore) about demanding a c-section. After the many hours put into this labor it makes sense that my mind would go there. I've been there before. I've had a positive c-section. And at that moment it seemed like the easier choice. But my body was shutting down from exhaustion and once I had that fluid, my mind cleared and I could think clearly.
I can't say enough how much I appreciate and love every single person who helped me do this. There is no way I could have done it on my own.
Yamile, our birth photographer. You seriously impressed Zach and I with your invisible abilities throughout such a long and arduous labor. Most of these pictures I had no clue you were capturing. You truly respect and appreciate the sanctity of the birth space and it shines through your work.
Margaret, you amaze me. I know this birth tested you beyond belief. You are truly called for this work. Not only do I respect the hell out of you and your pursuit for learning everything you can about supporting families, but you showed me so much love and support when I needed it the most. I love you.
Zach, you showed me an immense love like I've never felt before. The security and compassion you gave to me throughout this pregnancy, the labor, and even my recovery at home has been beyond what I knew was possible from a spouse. I fell in love with you even more through this whirlwind of a day and there's no one else I would want by my side.
Dr. Prezzato. Your expertise and patience made the biggest difference in the outcome of this birth. I know so many other providers who would have thrown in the towel and given me a cesarean. I also don't know many who would know how to manually rotate the baby in order to ensure a vaginal delivery. You gave me a lot of peace throughout my pregnancy by believing in me, my previous birth story, and looking at me as a whole person.
Birth Photography Provided by Yamile Branch Photography
Birth Doula support and Placenta Encapsulation provided by The Grosse Point Doula