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Birth in a Military Hospital.. on the 4th of July!

On Thursday, June 28th, I had my 39 week appointment and my blood pressure was borderline high which, as it turns out, really makes people nervous. My actual induction started the following Monday, July 2nd, although they’d been trying to get me to agree to it since Friday, June 28th.

When I arrived at the hospital for the induction, they attempted to place a balloon past my cervix to help it dilate, because I was at a 0. After 3 failed attempts, I was admitted and opted for pitocin over cytotec because pitocin is IV and you can stop it if needed. Cytotec is either oral or vaginal, but once you take it, you can’t un-take it. The pitocin continued to run until the next night (Tuesday) when I was finally given a pitocin rest so I could take off the continuous monitors, shower, and eat. I was dilated to 3, thanks to the balloon, after another 5 tries and an incredibly old OB.

Tuesday I was given the option again of cytotec or pitocin, this time I opted for oral cytotec because I’d been on pitocin for about 24 hours and wasn’t getting far. After a few hours, they decided to turn on the pitocin also.

Wednesday morning, July 4 (my actual due date), I woke up to the night nurse introducing me to the day nurse and I felt a pop. I mentioned this to the nurses, but told them I didn’t think it was my water breaking - I was wrong, a few minutes later I felt the water and only a minute after that I started feeling the contractions and oh. my. God. I completely freaked out again (I forgot to mention I was extremely afraid and anxious didn't’ I? The first thing I said to Amanda when I met her was “I don’t want to do this” and I meant it. I had totally freaked out Monday night also, when they weren’t able to get the balloon in, not because it hurt - cause it did, but because I was so incredibly afraid and anxious - okay, back to the story). I was crying and couldn’t breath, couldn’t think, except that I didn’t want to do this, I can’t do this.

Bobby, my husband, heard all this and came to my side reassuring me that I could do this and reminding me how to breath, how to manage. I needed to pee but was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stand it hurt so bad so I asked the nurse if they had a bedside commode I could use - she said no, but she could get me a bed pan. I was absolutely not using a bedpan so I made Bobby come around and help me to the bathroom. Turns out I could stand and walk and when I got back to the bed I was having another contraction and noticed moving around and being upright helped a little bit.

And so began my labor, Bobby called Amanda and my mom but I only remember little bits. I remember leaning over the back of the bed and hearing people come in but I couldn’t look or talk - when the contraction finished I turned and said hi to Amanda and that I was so glad she was there. I remember asking about pain medicine and the nurse offering fentanyl (I really didn’t want an epidural, again not because I was trying to be brave but because I was afraid). I didn’t even really want to try fentanyl to be honest, I hadn’t had anything like that before and was pretty sure it would just make me feel gross drunk but I needed something and MAN once I got it, I could breath! I was still having major pain, but I could breath between the contractions and get a little bit on top of them. Then I started to get nauseated and throw up and then it happened during a contraction and I though omg, how can I throw up and have a contraction, this is just awful, but it wasn’t! The vomiting relieved some pressure from my cervix and I felt better while I was throwing up - how crazy, but bring on the vomit! I could vomit all day if it’ll help the pain like that!

At one point, I thought, I can manage this, I can do this. And then I noticed my blood pressure - it was low, really low and I knew they were going to quit giving me the fentanyl and I wasn’t sure I could manage without it for another who knows how many hours. Around this time, my midwife for that day came in and it was one I had met on Friday and then again on Monday and she was awesome with me and I trusted her. She checked me and I hadn’t progressed at all, I was still only at a 3 after 5 hours of labor. She talked to me about my blood pressure and my progress - she suggested an epidural even though she knew I didn’t want one because she thought my anxiety and fear wasn’t allowing my body to make progress. I remember Amanda saying I had been doing all the right things, I was up and moving and not lying in bed but things still weren’t moving as quickly as the providers would like.

The midwife said there was an excellent CRNA on (she also knew I was afraid of this) and she could ask him when he could place it. I asked if there was anything else in the between fentanyl and an epidural I could try. She said I could try demerol - it should last 2 hours instead of the 1 hour the fentanyl lasted. I didn’t want to try demerol, I don’t know why, but I was sure it would just make me sick. I told her okay, if the CRNA can do it now, I’ll take it. I half didn’t think he’d be available right away, but he was, so as it turned out, I was getting an epidural. This was so not the way I had hoped things would go, I still felt pressured and like my choices were being forced on me even though as a logical person, I know everyone, especially on that day, was only suggesting things they thought best and would fully support me in any decision I made.

The epidural was nothing - I didn’t even really feel it, but it was really amazing the difference once it started taking effect. I didn’t like the numb feeling, I knew I wouldn’t, but it was better than the pain I had just been feeling. I, of course, asked the CRNA a million questions and he was great in answering them all and I knew that they didn’t always work or could be one sided. Mine turned out to be mostly one sided, my left leg was completely numb, I couldn’t move it at all, but my right leg I could mostly feel and move pretty much like normal. I would’ve preferred being able to move them both and feel some, but it worked out.

After my epidural was placed everyone but my mom and Bobby left and we just rested. At shift change, I was introduced to my night nurse - who was amazing, and then got to meet my night midwife - who was equally amazing. I got so incredibly lucky to have had these two women for my delivery, plus Amanda! I was in good hands, and I felt safe and secure. The midwife asked if I wanted to be checked but I told her no, I could kind of feel the baby moving down and was pretty sure we had some time. She said no problem and we continued to joke and laugh and the environment was so peaceful and loving. I remember being so grateful to have everyone who was in that room with me and to be so happy and have such a calm feeling after being so afraid. I never would have guessed I would feel that way a few hours before I started pushing.

A few hours later, the midwife came in and we agreed for her to check me - she was surprised, I think, and said the baby was right there and asked me if I wanted to feel - ummmmm no, I think that’ll freak me out. Okay, yes, hell yes, who gets the chance to do that!? Her head really was right there and it was soft which made me happy! Its soft, it’ll mold, maybe I won’t blow up my vagina - and then everyone reminded me thats just the soft spot, the hard part is just a bit further back. Damn.

I didn’t want to push on my back, I knew that, and Amanda had told me she had ways for me to be off of my back, even on my knees if I wanted with her and Bobby’s help. The midwife suggested I do a couple test pushes on my back which I did and then asked to change positions. I decided on my side to start with which they all helped me get into - its so weird to have to rely on people just to move you to your side!

And then the real pushing started, it was so odd to feel it, but not feel it. I definitely felt like I was going to blow all the veins in my face and I didn’t want to tear - that was, of course, another fear of mine. So I pushed, but I tried not to hold my breath, I was not in a hurry, this baby had been rushed out from the get go, now we were going to take our time. Only a few pushes later, she was out, and looking right at me!

Oh. My. God.

It's a baby.

Its my baby.

It just came out of me.

How did that happen?!

How did my body do that?

What is the damage?!

They put her on my chest and I know there were people buzzing around everywhere doing all the tasks, but everything kind of slowed down. I didn’t know what to do, or how to move her, because I would have - I couldn’t see her, she was too close to my face. Then my midwife said, “you didn’t tear”.

What?! I didn’t tear?!

I think my fantasy birth just happened!

I was calm, and in control, and happy, and supported, and I DIDN’T TEAR!

Now I have this beautiful girl, person, human.


Its been a wild ride and even though I swore I’d never do that again, it really wasn’t so bad. You do actually forget (for just a minute) the pain and struggle when that sweet baby is placed on your chest - I was sure that was a lie, but its not.

And maybe childbirth isn’t something to be afraid of, not if you have the right people around you. If I could have Amanda again, I might just think about going another round…maybe =)

Thank you so much for sharing your birth story with us, Beth! And thank you to the extremely talented Danica Donnelly for these amazing birth photos!