Before I get into Declan’s birth story, let me rewind a few weeks for you. At 38 weeks, I made the decision to switch from midwife care (and a planned home birth) to OB care (and a planned hospital birth). After having my iron be too low for a safe home birth since 28 weeks, and trying three different supplements and having reactions to all of them, I felt like switching to OB was the best decision for both Declan and I. Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up – let’s move along, shall we?
On Tuesday, October 11th I had my 40 week appointment at 9a. J had the morning off to come with me, and we decided to bring the bag with our clothes in it “just in case”. When they took my blood pressure it was pretty high – about 157/90. Keep in mind, my blood pressure had been stellar (like 107/74) up until 37 weeks when it began creeping upward. I was really anxious about having my cervix checked for the first time, so we thought it could be nerves, but I was sent over the hospital to be monitored more closely for a few hours just to be sure.
After two hours of having my blood pressure taken every 10 minutes and giving a urine sample, only half of my reads came back at a normal level and my uric acid was high. Basically I was brewing pre-eclampsia and my doctor felt it necessary to induce me, which I was comfortable with. It was 2:00p by the time I was moved to L&D and hooked up to fluids, pitocin, and the antibiotic I needed due to being GBS+. I alerted Jennifer (my doula) and Lindsay (my photographer) that we would be staying and told them I would either let them know when we needed them, or to plan to arrive around 5p, as we had been told that they would be in to break my water at 6p.
J and I hung out and I labored and watched movies until everyone arrived and we anxiously awaited for them to break my water. I could feel contractions happening at this point, but they weren’t painful or uncomfortable – just noticeable. At 6:30p they came in and broke my water, which basically just felt like I peed myself a thousand times over. Contractions really began picking up at this point.
I had some back labor that definitely picked up once they broke my water, and I started vocalizing at this point. Eyes closed and “hmm-ing” through my waves; I tried really hard to make sure I kept my face and jaw relaxed through everything. I didn’t want to tense up and stop myself from progressing smoothly. Either Joshua or Jennifer HAD to be there during my waves to apply pressure to my tail bone, since they started in the back and wrapped around to my sides. All the intensity stayed in my back, s0 heat and pressure were Godsends! I think at this point I was dozing off in between contractions. Jennifer just gave me her version of Declan’s birth story and said I was “very still” in between contractions, which makes me think that I was.
After a few hours, everything changed. My hmm-ing became low toned vocalization and which escalated as I progressed. I remember laboring on the birthing ball my hospital provided, then facing the back of the bed and using the hand rails for leverage. With being induced and on pitocin, my goal was still to do everything pain medication free, but I was more open to an epidural if I thought I needed one because of the intensity of the contractions. At some point later in the night, I asked to be checked because I wasn’t sure if I could handle things if they got too much more intense. The joke was on me because the nurse told me I was 7-8cm – too late for an epidural. My birth team was SO encouraging at this point, and kept reminding me that I was almost there! That it wasn’t going to get any worse that this. They were right.
Up until the last hour and a half or so, I labored on the bed. It was at this point that I could feel him moving down and began feeling very grunty and pushy. I was 9cm and a +1 station. Almost there! After a few waves of feeling grunty, I moved to the toilet. It was the contraction after I moved to the toilet that I knew he was coming, like right now. Throughout my labor, the nurse kept telling me “you’ll KNOW, it will feel different” and holy moly did it feel different. I moved back to the bed where we began practice pushes. That was over about as quickly as it began because he was crowning with every push. All that “push like you’re pooping” talk, it’s true. DO IT.
My OB was called, but my body had taken over and was pushing him out no matter what, so the on-call OB was paged. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the same OB we’d had a negative experience with a few weeks earlier after I went to the ER with huge hives all over my legs. Joshua was not happy with the way were treated, nor with the way he belittled our (amazing) nurse when she was 100% correct with her requests. Thank God my OB arrived with two contractions to spare!
Our beautiful son Declan Joshua McNamara was born on October 11, 2016, at 11:35p, after 5.5 hours of active labor. He weighed 7lb 13oz and was 19.5″ long. I received no pain medication, I pushed for a total of four contractions, and I ended up with a second degree tear that required stitches.
I’m so thankful to my amazing birth team for making my experience so amazing. To Joshua, for being my rock and never leaving my side, and telling me exactly what I needed to hear. To Jennifer Marsicano, our birth doula, for showing J how to help me in all the right ways. And to our amazing birth photographer Lindsay Petty, for taking photos and video that we will cherish forever.
We love you.