Updated: Jan 27, 2021
On Tuesday November 24, exactly one week past my due date, I went in to see my OB for my final prenatal appointment and we went over the plan for inducing labour, which was to begin with a foley bulb insertion that same day and continue Wednesday morning with pitocin induction and breaking my waters.
The hospital was oddly very busy that day in labour & delivery (they normally don’t have more than one birth at a time, it’s a smaller hospital) so I had to wait until 3:00 to get the foley bulb put in.
I went home to rest and go over our hospital bags to make sure we were ready and went back to the hospital after a few hours.
We started with a non-stress test which told us everything was okay to proceed, but then my OB was needed to perform an emergency c-section for another patient so she inserted the foley bulb crazy fast and gave me a quick explanation of what symptoms are normal and what may be cause for concern before rushing off to surgery!
The foley bulb was insanely uncomfortable and caused me to start having contractions at around 5:00pm. After a couple of hours, I noticed some blood after I went pee that was outside of the foley’s catheter and I had remembered my OB briefly saying that blood inside the tube is fine but anything outside may be a problem. So I called in to labour & delivery and they asked me to come back in just to be safe. Matt and I packed up the car with all of our bags etc because we didn’t know if I was going to end up being admitted or not.
After a second non-stress test, it was about 8:00pm now and the nurse didn’t seem to think there was anything to worry about and thought I should just try peeing before heading home again to make sure there was no blood in my urine. Just as I was about to stand up I heard a little “POP” and looked down to see the foley bulb had come out!! Woohoo!! This was great news because it meant my cervix had dilated to a 3 or 4 (the max. a foley bulb can do). Since everything was okay, the nurse sent us home to try to get a good rest before being induced the following morning.
My contractions were a lot less intense once the foley bulb had fallen out, but they were progressing and getting closer and closer together. I was starting to worry we might have to go back to the hospital before we made it to the next day - but I was able to have a little rest and when I woke up, the contractions had slowed down again.
On Wednesday November 25 we woke up early and headed out to get my requested bagel from Tim Hortons and arrived at the hospital at 7:00am to be registered.
Once we got to our room, I got changed into my birthing robe and we started the pitocin induction around 8-8:30. My contractions came back and were very manageable so my OB came to check on me and broke my water around 10:30am. I was still at a 4 and had not progressed any from the night before.
As the pitocin dosage was increased over time, my contractions became stronger and stronger. I was breathing through them but was made to stay in bed for hours because the fetal heart rate monitor would not fully cooperate. It was getting harder and harder to push through the contractions when I wasn’t allowed to get up and walk around or move in general really.
With many attempts to fix them, the monitors did not get any better and we ran into a hiccup because the OB did not want to increase the pitocin until she knew she had a reliable heart rate for Dallas being monitored. At this point, it was around 5:30pm and my contractions were only 30 seconds apart so I started to get very tired to the point I couldn’t keep my eyes open or talk at all. I decided if I was going to make it through, I finally wanted an epidural even though it was my intention not to get one at all.
The compromise to start increasing my pitocin levels was to place a heart rate monitor into Dallas’ scalp as it is a much more accurate and reliable monitor. So we inserted the monitor and I got an epidural at about 6:30pm which brought me back to LIFE! Next, a secondary monitor was inserted to sit in my uterus and read the pressure that my contractions were creating. This contraction monitor had never been used in this hospital before me, so there were about 12 nurses in total in my delivery room watching the insertion of it because they needed to learn how to do it. It was quite the event lol.
Finally, we had working monitors and I was feeling so much better and full of energy and motivation to bring my baby boy into the world. The relaxation opened me up to about a 6, which was so nice to hear after being at a 4 for the entire day.
Then, another obstacle. My OB realizes that Dallas was facing the wrong way, sunny-side up. This can be dangerous she tells me and if he doesn’t drop down and flip, then I will likely need a c-section. My heart sank, this was the last thing I wanted to hear.
To my advantage, my epidural was done perfectly so I could feel my legs without experiencing any contraction pain. This was great because I was able to get up on all 4s to move and stretch as an attempt to get Dallas to turn the correct way and to drop down into the canal.
My OB would come in every 2 hours to check my progress, which was not very much for a few hours.. So no one believed I would be having a vaginal delivery at this point. I opened to an 8 but he was still sitting very high and wouldn’t flip. Around 10:30pm my OB gave me a “final warning” that if nothing progressed any more then I would need a c-section.
So for a total of about 4 hours, I stayed on my hands and knees swaying from side to side and going in and out of child’s pose. All of the fluid in my body collected in my thighs and they were about 4x their size and weight by the time I went back to laying on my back. Finally, I started to feel pressure that meant he was dropped down, but we didn’t know if he had flipped yet.
At midnight, now changing the date to November 26, my OB came to check my progress for the last time. “Oh he’s RIGHT there!” she said, “and you’re SUPER stretchy. You’re not fully dilated and he is still facing the wrong way, but you may be able to push yourself open since he is so low. If that works, I can attempt to turn him to get him out. Would you like to try that? That’s all I can do at this point, and if it doesn’t work or something goes wrong, then it becomes an emergency c-section.”
I had spent hours listening to bumpin’ music, singing and swaying, talking to Matt and listening to him talk to Dallas in my belly to try to convince him to come out the “front door” not the “sun roof” lol.
I was SO ready to push my baby out! I was determined and in a positive mindset even though no one else in that room believed I could do it.
The OB instructed me on how to push, and we tried a couple of “practice pushes” which opened me up all of the way! She said she would let me try to deliver him vaginally and turn him on the way out, but she couldn’t promise it would be successful. The nurses then helped get my 50lbs. each of fluid legs (lol) up into the stirrups and prepped the room for delivery.
My OB then said, “OK, now I’m going to give you a little talk about FORCEPS.” She said it in a tone that seemed like she was really saying, ‘I’m going to scare you about using forceps so you will give your best efforts to push this baby out.’
At this point, my uterus had given up and was no longer contracting but we couldn’t see that because this new internal monitor, stopped working. And because they were assuming I would have a c-section, they bumped up my epidural right before they got me ready to push and I couldn’t feel much of anything at this point. One nurse had a hand on my belly trying to feel for my contractions to tell me when to push, but there were no contractions to feel. The only way we knew when I should push was from the SLIGHTEST bit of pressure only I could feel from Dallas sliding down, so we based my pushing off of that.
After about 10 minutes of pushing, my baby’s head was out!! I was so against it before going into labour, but I reached down to feel his little head coming out and it was the coooolest thing ever!
Dallas turned as I was pushing, so he wasn’t sunny-side up anymore and we didn’t need forceps! I was smiling from ear-to-ear and with a big reach-in and pull -out from my OB, Dallas was born at 12:30am (his shoulders were stuck because he came out sideways so she had to pull him out)!
As I was holding my baby for the first time, I looked over at Matthew to soak in the moment and I realized that he didn’t look happy but I didn’t know why. I asked him if he was okay and he just said “don’t you worry about me, I’m fine. You’re bleeding, but it’s going to be okay.”
I was so focused on Dallas I hadn’t realized that the entire room was in a panic, nurses running everywhere and just a big feeling of tension surrounded us. I was hemorrhaging, and my uterus was no longer contracting to stop the bleeding on its own so there was a lot of work happening to stop the bleeding, make sure Dallas and I were okay, and also to stitch up my 2nd degree tearing while blood poured over my wounds.
Dallas was healthy and taken care of, that was my main concern. After a loss of about 1L of blood, I was a little light-headed, but they managed to stop the bleeding really fast, and I didn’t end up needing a transfusion.
I was on cloud 9 that I did not end up having a c-section (there is nothing wrong with them, it was just not what I wanted for myself) and that I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy so I wasn’t phased at all by the extreme events that followed. I think that Matt was terrified, though and that it took away from his experience of seeing his first baby born. I can’t imagine what would have been going through his head seeing all of that blood and the panic in the room, but he was so strong for me all day and was still worried about keeping me happy and calm above anything else.
After a few days, I started having flashbacks of my labour and delivery and it set in that it was a bit traumatic, and I was overwhelmed with emotion remembering that Matt and I didn’t have a special moment to admire Dallas together when he first was placed on my chest because there was a lot going on. I realize now that all that matters is that everyone was healthy in the end and it could have been worse. We still had beautiful moments later that day together as we began to learn about our new little member, and tried to rest and recuperate together.
I was so happy to be able to walk around only hours after delivery and to eat finally!! I will forever be blown away by the strength and resilience of the female body. Giving birth is by far the most incredible experience I have ever had, and I have never felt so empowered. We are magic!!
Here’s to you Dallas, our stubbornly late, but absolutely perfect baby boy. I am so lucky to be your mama and watching you blossom into a little person is the most rewarding job I will ever have.
Your Mama XO
Dallas Layton Howard
November 26, 2020
8lbs 4 oz and 21in of pure love ✨