Penny’s Birth Story by Rebecca Hutcheson

At 41wk3d (Thursday, July 10) we went in for a non-stress test at the doctor’s office. My blood pressure is high and there is protein in my urine, (baby was testing absolutely fine). We are sent to the hospital for an induction (not in my Birth Wishes either but excited that I would get to meet my little one soon). I was 1cm, 60% effaced and baby was high at -3 station.

That evening they put me on Cervidil and started Pitocin on Friday morning. [My blood pressure had already lowered by later that evening.] By Friday evening there was no change in my cervix and the baby was still very high. I was disappointed that nothing had happened but thought definitely by tomorrow there would be a change. I kept thinking that people say “don’t plan your birth because you can never plan what’s going to happen.” I remember thinking and saying to my husband that “I know you can never know what labor will be like, and I know it won’t always be like this, but I didn’t expect it to be boring.”

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Before the second day got started a nurse said that the OB wanted to come in before the midwife. I was instantly worried and told my husband to be ready to call our Doula, Jessica, and her apprentice, Kristen. I was worried because I didn’t want to be told that I needed a C-section when we had only tried one day of induction and we were both reading perfectly healthy. [My blood pressure already returned to normal and the baby was showing NO signs of distress.] I was also worried because during my pregnancy I didn’t see any of the OB/GYNs in the practice because I was planning a natural birth and I thought Midwives were the best way to achieve that.

The OB came in, checked me [still no change] and immediately started talking to me about a C-section and how the labor wasn’t progressing and I was way overdue. I expected this, but what he said next I never could have anticipated. He started telling me that the chances of having a natural labor were pretty much 0ut and that the longer I waited the more likely I was to end up with a “dead baby.” I was blindsided. He proceeded to tell me that I could leave the hospital and return home, but that I “would return a few days later with a dead baby.” He used the words “dead baby” so many times it was nauseating. I was terrified but I knew that the baby was healthy, just late. I told the OB that I wanted to continue with the Pitocin. He didn’t seem happy but left. As soon as he left the room I told my husband to call the Jessica and Kristen. I was terrified but I would be damned if I let that man scare me into major abdominal surgery for absolutely no reason.

He came in a few hours later to check me and when I told him I didn’t want HIM to check me but the Midwife. He seemed to take it personally and continued his “You’re just going to end up with a dead baby” rant. He also said that I wasn’t dilated enough to try and break my water and labor wasn’t progressing so a C-section was really our only option. Oh and we could still go home but we would return with a “dead baby” but that “Hey, I told you so.” We told him we wanted to think about it. He left the room and came back in a few minutes later. When we told him we still hadn’t made a decision (my sister had just come to visit and we had talked to her rather than discussing our new “options”) and were trying to find out more information he started questioning us and asking us what our “other resources” were (my husband is a professor with access to medical journals but he didn’t know that). At one point he looked at my 6-month pregnant doula, Jessica and asked, “Are you the Doula?” She said “Yes” and he asked “How long have you been doing it?” She said “A while” and he replied “Have you ever seen a cesarean performed on a dead baby?” That was the last straw. I was already crying because of other things he had said. We told him we still weren’t ready to make a decision and he tapped my leg and told me to go home and that it was our decision because he didn’t get “paid by the hour.”

We immediately started sobbing. It was probably the hardest day of my life and my husband’s so far. To be clear the baby was still not showing any signs of distress. We were scared and angry. When the midwife came back in we told her we didn’t want to see him anymore and that he was not welcome in our room.

It was difficult, but we decided to stop the Pitocin and waited until a new OB and Midwife came in the next morning at 7am. The new OB/GYN and Midwife were a complete 180 compared to the monster we saw the night before. I think they also thought/knew that a natural delivery wasn’t likely but they were willing to let me try by breaking my water as a last ditch effort to get the baby here. It started to work but by the time I was 5-6 cm later that afternoon I couldn’t handle the pain. Although I hadn’t felt much of the contractions the past two days, I believe my uterus was exhausted and I opted for the epidural, hoping it would relax me and take me the rest of the way. By 2:00 Monday morning I had stalled at 7.5cm/80%/-3 Station.

It was time for the C-section. I tried to fight it but the Midwife was very calm and explained to me that it was time. She wasn’t angry or condescending. Nevertheless, I started to cry. I tried to ask for more time—2 hours, 1 hour, 30 minutes. My husband was very supportive and told that I had fought very hard and that it was okay to get the c-section. It made me feel better and I knew he was right. I said “okay” and they started getting everything ready. I held Jessica’s hand very tightly. The operating room felt surreal. There were people everywhere and I felt so drugged up and was shaking uncontrollably (from the epidural). But then I felt some tugging and heard her cry. I remember feeling happy and sad at the same time. They took her to clean her and I couldn’t see her for a few minutes. I didn’t know how to feel. Then they brought her to my cheek and I touched her hair and said “hey sweetie.”

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She was born on July 14th at 3:55am, 8 lbs. 8 oz., 21 inches and was still PERFECTLY healthy. She latched and breastfed immediately (20 minutes later in recovery). I know that in the end, I tried my all at a 3 1/2 day induction. I don’t regret anything, even the C-section, even though it wasn’t in my plan. My daughter is beautiful and healthy and we can’t be more grateful.