My childbirth

My childbirth experience started around 2 in the morning on Sunday, December 1. My water broke at home after a night where my stomach had felt hard for hours. I was evidently in labor and didn't know it.

I called my doctor because I noticed some brownish staining in the fluid. She told me to come to the hospital now because that may be meconium (baby feces in the amniotic fluid), and they would want to monitor the baby. So off I went.

My doula met me at the hospital, and I got settled in. The pain wasn't too bad, my contractions were coming in steady waves. The doctor confirmed that there was meconium, which isn't all that unusual, occurring in about 25% of births. Some babies have their first bowel movement before birth, but they like to monitor the baby for distress when that happens.

A lot of women walk around dilated 1-2 cm in the final weeks of pregnancy. Due to the stenosis, mine hadn't dilated at all at my last doctor visit. When I arrived at the hospital, I was dilated to 2 cm.

They started an oxytocin infusion because they wanted to speed up my labor. Even then, my discomfort was manageable. But I wasn't dilating.

After a few more hours, my doctor decided that she was going to try to coax my cervix to open more. She placed her fingers inside my cervix and quickly separated them, loosening the scar tissue. Suddenly, I was 6 cm dilated.

However, my blood pressure was another matter. It took off and skyrocketed, and the doctor was worried about that, as was I. We talked about it, and I agreed to get an epidural. Epidurals typically cause blood pressure to drop, and that would be helpful in my case. My labor was far enough along that it wouldn't stop my contractions and slow his birth.

After the epidural and a few more hours, I was at 8 cm, and they would see the top of my son's head. No, wait, that's not the top of his head...it was his ear. He was not in the right position!

She tried to push him back gently and see if he would reposition, but he wouldn't. And then the pressure from messing with his head started making my cervix swell. It actually began to swell closed.

My doctor decided to have me push to see if that would help. I pushed several times. Suddenly, my doctor said "stop." The meconium had increased so much that she was worried the baby would aspirate it. If a baby aspirates meconium during childbirth, he can get a respiratory infection.

My cervix was swelling shut, the baby was stuck in his awkward position, and it had been 18 hours since my water broke.

She announced the dreaded "C" word--cesarean section. She knew I was opposed to it. I cried. My doula leaned over and said, "Every baby has a different birth story. This is just how his story goes." I gave in.

After I was prepped, they cut into me. I felt a lot of tugging, and then my doula told me, "He's out!" I didn't hear anything. Then I heard him cry, and they brought him over to see me. I touched his cheek and he opened his eyes. He was real, and he was okay.

Cervical stenosis can slow the dilation of the cervix, but once the scar tissue is loosened, progression is rapid. It was amazing to go from 2 cm to 6 cm in one second. I joke that I had two labors for one childbirth--full labor to 8 cm, and then a c-section. The most important part was that both of us were fine.