"And sometimes you have to just roll with the punches." Savannah's Birth Story
Below is a birth story that is near and dear to my heart. Savannah is an amazing woman, friend, and mother. I want to thank her for her vulnerability and sharing this story with us. She had her baby a few months into all the COVID restrictions and during a time of endless uncontrollable circumstances. I am proud and honored to have witnessed her strength through it all.
"I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant through a routine EKG. When my doctor told me, I was immediately filled with a complete array of emotions. Elatement, excitement, and then fear. Fear of how the father would react. Fear about how it would affect my career, which I was at the height of. Fear about how my conservative, southern family would react to the baby being biracial. Once I settled into the idea that I was going to be a mom, I went through my pregnancy mostly alone. The father had decided he wasn't going to be involved. Once I took the reins on my life and owned the idea of being a single mom, I was ready. I spent pretty close to every day researching, learning, pining over my baby.
I knew pretty early on that hiring a doula was the right move for me. Erika helped me craft my birth plan, stay positive, and stay ready for baby. My birth plan was to have a completely natural, vaginal birth with little chaos. With the exception of one incident with my baby not moving for an extended period, I had a very easy pregnancy, physically. But mentally, it was a lot for me. And in true 2020 fashion, COVID19 hit at my 6 month mark. Man, did that turn my life, and my plans, upside down. My baby shower was cancelled, which really hurt my heart. I spent the remaining 2-3 months of my pregnancy in a quiet fear. Thinking this danger lurked around every corner, I spent the remaining portion of my pregnancy at home, not daring to venture out unless it was absolutely necessary. I spent that time setting up my nursery, fine-tuning my birth plan, and preparing myself for labor.
As I neared my due date, I was approaching gaining 40 lbs, which on my 5'2 frame was hard on my body, both physically and mentally. The anticipation killed me, and it didn't help that I went into false labor a few times. I ate the dates and pineapples, I walked every day, I sat on the birthing ball, all in hopes of helping me go into labor.
At my last appointment, I showed signs of preeclampsia, so my midwife and I ultimately decided to induce me at 39weeks 4days. At this point, I was about 1cm dilated and 50% effaced, so my little human was taking his time. And remember, we are still in the throws of COVID-19, so once my midwife and I made the call that induction was our best plan of action, I called my doula, and we made plans for how this would go given all the restrictions set by the hospital.
So I was admitted (alone due to COVID restrictions) on a Wednesday night with plans to get a foley bulb inserted with plans to start a Pitocin drop the next morning at 6:30am. So I get settled in my room and they come in to insert the foley bulb, which was surprisingly not as painful as I expected. They told me best case scenario, I would wake up and be roughly 4 cm dilated. So I settled into the bed, excited to know that I would soon meet my baby.
So 6am rolls around, and low and behold, I had actually gotten to 5cm dilated, which was better than expected! So they gave me a small breakfast and started the Pitocen drip right on time, at 6:30. My doula arrived around 8, and soon after I started having easy but noticeable contractions. We continued to progress through the day, as did my contractions. Slowly and steadily. So noon comes around, and my midwife decided we need to break my water. So she shoved her hand up there and says "wow, he's got a head full of hair!" and that's the last thing I remember before a rush of strong contractions start. But, this was my plan, breathe through it, focus on the end game, and I can do anything for one minute. But man, those contractions were not easy. And they only got worse as the day went on. My best friend, Michelle, shows up and we are in full blown "I hate everything and everyone" contractions mode. I have no idea how far apart my contractions were at this point, but they seemed to come hard and fast, but baby boy still hadn't engaged enough to get excited. When the midwife checks my progress, I got less than desirable news. My body was tensing up a lot, and caused me to actually go backwards, down to 3cm dilated. So my midwife basically said "we either need to find a way to relax or consider an epidural. At this point, I had gone almost 11 hours completely naturally. I felt like I did everything I could, and I was proud of that, so surrendered to the fact that in order to keep with the goal of my birth plan, to give birth vaginally, we needed to pivot.
So they come to do the epidural, and I was having hard contractions every 2 minutes. The 15 minutes I had to sit still with my doula staring back at meanwhile having contractions AND getting stuck in the back felt like a lifetime. But after the epidural, it seemed like everything was going well! The three of us, me, my doula, and Michelle, all sat around playing cards. The epidural gave me the shakes but eh, it was better than those crazy contractions! So about 7:30pm rolls around, and my hand (which has the IV in it for fluids) starts to feel very cold. So I told my nurse, and all of a sudden it seemed like chaos erupted in my room. Turns out my IV had blown and I had not been getting fluids to me or baby. The monitor for the baby was showing some not-so-great signs, and before I had time to really even register what was going on, I had three different people rushing to get an IV back in me. And everytime they thought they got it in, it blew again. I look around and there is panic in everyone in the room's eyes. I started to feel tears well up, and I look over at m doula and she hides her panic and mouths "it's gonna be okay" and just like that, the panic had subsided. They got the IV back in, and things settled down.....for no more than 2 hours.
Every time the midwife came in, she would subtly comment that the baby was having a hard time. Apparently his heartrate would drop with every contraction. Turns out, he wasn't a fan of those suckers either. 9:30 rolls around, and at this point, the midwife is starting to worry. Conversations start about a c-section. When they finally decided that that was the best option to get my baby out safely, considering the lack of progress I was making, I was heartbroken. But at that point, the only thing I cared about was getting my baby boy out safely. I couldn't think about anything else. Once they start rolling me back towards an operating room is when it hit me. I was PETRIFIED. I had tears streaming down my face and I remember hearing someone say "she needs Erika, go get her now." So Erika, in all her scrubs and glory, rubs my hair and talks to me to calm me down as they start the surgery. I remember the doctor performing the c-section asking me what music I liked and I don't think I even responded. But he must have read my mind, because out came 90s hip hop from his speaker to remind me that I'm a bad ass bitch and I can do hard things. And after a few minutes they dropped the blue curtain, I heard my baby boy cry (and yet another comment about his head full of hair), and when I saw my baby boy through the clear drape, my world stood still. I was completely overcome by joy, love, elation, and relief. Nothing else mattered in that moment. He was out, he was alive, and he was healthy. They cleaned him up just enough, and brought him over to me, and he immediately grabbed my face. I was so overcome with emotions that they actually had to tell me to calm down and take a few breaths because my heart rate had jumped, which on an operating table, isn't great. They stitch me up, and back to recovery I went, with a 7lb 9oz perfect baby boy. I don't remember a lot of what happened after that. I don't remember what anyone said, I just remember being completely lost in this little boy who just changed my life in an instant. Even though my birth plan got shot to hell, not to mention I never saw a single nurse or midwife or doctor without a mask, I could look at my birth experience as traumatic. But when I think of my birth story, I think of the moment I first saw him. All the chaos, all the ups and downs, it was all worth it to me in the end. I'm now 4 months postpartum, and I'd be lying if I said that sometimes I feel sorry for myself that I didn't get to experience a natural birth, but I don't regret the decisions I made in those moments, and sometimes, you just have to roll with the punches. "
Moral of the story: Be flexible, get a doula, and surrender to the moments, because they are worth it all. <3