Carrigan's Birth Story
July 27-28th - I lost my mucus plug, had really bad sciatica and Braxton Hicks that turned into some of my first contractions but they never amped up or got closer together. They just fizzled out. Sienna (our doula) gave me a calf massage with sage oil as well as a lower back massage to help baby girl move down. Avery and I did our part too to help baby girl get here haha We all went on long walks, I was eating dates daily (apparently they ripen your cervix?) and I was drinking my red raspberry leaf tea more religiously than ever. I was never anxious or stressed about her getting here and I never got to a point where I was sick and tired of being pregnant, but we were excited so we thought why not try some of these “old wives tales” and see if anything happens haha
July 29th - 40 weeks exactly, baby girl’s due date. I started the day deep cleaning the house (I would later be grateful for this). Sienna (our doula) and I went to the gym and I walked uphill on the treadmill, as well as side to side, and finished with air squats (which I hadn’t done in weeks, but we were doing everything in our power to help baby girl get into position).
After the gym we went home and changed (also grateful we did this) and we grabbed FireHouse Subs for lunch before the doctor appointment we had with my OB. We are outside in the sun (because of COVID) and I downed a cherry Dr. Pepper. When we got to the hospital, both Sienna and I failed the initial temperature test because we were literally sweating haha they gave us a couple minutes and then took our temp again and we were better. I still felt hot as heck especially with a mask on. We made our way up to the appointment, met with my OB, everything was looking good. She mentioned an induction again (I tried not to roll my eyes) and then she went to check baby girls heart rate. It was so fast.
Last week Avery and I ate lunch before our doctors appointment, and her heart rate was high too. So at first I wasn’t worried. But then it didn’t really go down, whereas last week it had. Her heart rate at one point was 190...a happy heart rate is 140-150. I mentioned eating lunch just minutes before this in the sun and the fact that I had a Dr. Pepper and caffeine naturally makes our heart rates go up AND baby girl was really active and moving non stop (which just like us, movement makes your heart rate increase.) So I still wasn’t worried much.
They took Sienna and I to a separate room where they put a heart rate monitor around my tummy as well as a contraction reader. We stayed there for 20 minutes while they monitored me. Thank goodness Sienna was there so she could explain the machine/monitors to me and keep me company. I was having small contractions but wasn’t feeling them at all (which kinda took the nurse by surprise), but baby girls heart rate was still pretty high and kind of erratic. It would dip and then go high again, never really stabling out.
After the 20 minutes of monitoring there, they took me over to triage (labor and delivery) to have them monitor me some more. (Lol at how I thought we were just going to be in and out for a typical doctors appointment). We ended up being there for over two hours, hooked up to monitors and sipping on ice water. Eventually a midwife came in and said “we really suggest you stay in for an induction today.”
**if you’ve followed my pregnancy at all, you know an induction has been a major topic of conversation and frustration between doctors and I. They never presented me with a medical reason for me to be induced and I was adamant about not being induced UNLESS I had medical proof to do so. At one point they scheduled an induction even after hearing me say “no I don’t want one, and I won’t be there.” So my trust in doctors/midwives regarding inductions (or my pregnancy in general) had been kind of abused.**
So naturally my response was “nooo...? Why?” And the midwife proceeded to explain the monitoring charts they had produced in the past hour of having me hooked up. Baby girl’s heart rate was still high, still fluctuating too much, and we had been there for almost 2 hours now. If her heart rate were high because of caffeine or movement/activity, it would’ve evened out and returned to normal by now. I asked the midwife to have time to talk to my husband and Sienna for a bit.
As soon as she left, I wanted to cry. And I looked to Sienna almost helpless. She asked me to run her through the pros and cons of an induction. I didn’t want to refuse an induction solely out of mistrust towards doctors and abuse of trust in the past. If baby girl NEEDED one now then I wanted to do what was best, but because of past conversations with doctors about inductions, I wasn’t convinced yet that this was necessary.
We talked through pros and cons but Sienna finished with “heart rate is the one thing I wouldn’t ever take a risk/chance on.” After 20-30 minutes of processing what was happening and talking it through with Avery and Sienna, I had composed myself and re-situated my mentality about it.
When the midwife came back in, I asked if we could go home really quick to get our things (LOL I STILL DIDN'T HAVE A HOSPITAL BAG PACKED FOR MYSELF) and she said “I would highly recommend against it, we need to get you admitted and start the induction as soon as possible.” Nice. Now Avery has to run around the house packing everything. (Which he did like the champ he is).
We were admitted around 5:30, my doctors appointment that day was at 2:30. This is where I became grateful for deep cleaning the house earlier and changing out of work out clothes with Sienna before going to the hospital. Avery showed up around 6:30 with all of our things plus Chick-Fila for dinner.
I got hooked up to monitors again, and stuck with an IV in case I were to need it down the line. I wasn’t experiencing any natural contractions that I was aware of and didn’t feel like “she was coming” at all. We all ate Chick-Fila and got sorted out. Sienna went home to sleep because we knew (more than likely) baby girl wouldn’t be here tonight while Avery stayed with me and slept on the pull out couch.
We prayed together that night and I cried because this was NOT what I wanted to do. In fact it was the exact opposite. I was fighting an induction all pregnancy. And the last thing I wanted was to be hooked up to monitors. Baby girls heart rate had stabilized and was back to 140’s. That night they put cervadil in and I was 3cm, 50% effaced. So my body was already doing it’s thing naturally which was encouraging, but being in the hospital not in labor at all was still frustrating.
July 30th - they took out cervadil and checked me again. I was 4cm dilated, 50% effaced, but no contractions. The next thing they recommended was Pitocin. Yet ANOTHER thing I absolutely didn’t want.
This is where God started answering prayers though. A midwife named Cathleen came in, sat down, and said “so I know you didn’t want an induction to begin with, and I’m all for getting things to happen naturally, but you’re here because baby’s heart rate was a little too high for too long, her fluid levels dropped from 8cm to 4cm since you’re last ultrasound (2 days before my doctors appointment) and baby girl has dropped off her own growth curve” (she had been in the 7th percentile the entire pregnancy but was now in the 5th percentile). No one had mentioned her growth or her fluid levels...until Cathleen did today. Which was frustrating but also reassuring that an induction was the right choice. Cathleen continued to calmly explain our options going forward, answering every question we had, and laying out all of the risks of every option (this is huge. Every midwife/doctor should do this upfront). She was in no rush to leave and was literally the calm in the storm. She told us she was on staff until 8am the next day (instantly I became crazy motivated to have baby girl before Cathleen went home). We decided to proceed with Pitocin since my body wasn’t contracting on its own. So nowwww I’m connected to 3 things, 2 monitors, and an IV with Pitocin. Nice. Ask me if I was stoked about this haha Trying to sleep was uncomfortable, getting up to pee was inconvenient - it was all just frustrating.
The entire day went by, I was crampy but it wasn’t painful. Just like a sucky period (which let me tell you, I had not missed over the past 9 months haha). Every couple hours Cathleen would come in and check on us and was always jokingly frustrated with how chipper I was. Her words exactly, “I hate to say this but you’re not fulfilling my sadistic desires right now haha you’re not even phased by the Pitocin!”
We had Dairy Queen delivered, watched my 600lb life, I did my hair and makeup to feel a little more human and keep my spirits alive. If you don’t know, hospitals are not my favorite place. I’m not sure if they’re anyone’s favorite place but I specifically have never spent more than 30 minutes in a hospital for shots, so this is as a new experience and not one I really wanted to have.
By around 4:00pm they took me off Pitocin since it wasn’t doing much, and gave my body a break for an hour. We ate dinner, continued to watch TV, etc. Avery and I got a shower because I was unhooked from everything for the first time, and I started to cry. I’d been holding it in for the past 24 hours. Avery said “it’s okay to cry” and I just let it all out as he held me tight. Nothing about any of this was as I had prepped and not only that, everything that had happened so far was on my list of “no’s”. The shower with Avery was the first thing that I had imagined happening during contractions. But I wasn’t even having contractions. I was just in a hospital hooked up to things and having drugs put into my body.
After that cry in the shower, they hooked me up to everything again & got Pitocin started again. Sometimes your body will react to it the second time and start contracting, so that’s what we were hoping for, because the next step was breaking my water which I absolutely DIDN'T want to do. I laid back in bed hooked up to everything, put my headphones in and closed my eyes trying to focus on the words of the song “It Is Well”. Tears definitely came again, but I kept my eyes closed and tried to tune everything out. Sienna came over and ran her fingers through my hair, she knew this was all backwards from the birth plan we had talked about, worked towards, etc.
Still on Pitocin, nothing much was happening, we ordered IHOP because you might as well keep fueling your body since you never know what’s next or when you’re body is going to need to put in the work of labor. After 2 hours on Pitocin, it was now about 8:30, Cathleen came back in and we had already talked to her about the next step after Pitocin if I wasn’t progressing (which I wasn’t). Next up was to break my water and sweep the membranes.
Sienna had told me in regards to breaking my water that I may feel a pop or it may be a slight trickle. Cathleen looked at me and nonchalantly said “I’m gonna sweep the membranes 6 times okay?” I nodded, confident this would be doable, we would count down from six and I would be fine. I didn’t feel my water breaking, but I absolutely felt them sweep my membranes. Avery said this was one of the hardest parts to watch. It hurt like hell and I was holding onto Sienna & my midwives hands so hard trying to keep it together and grind it out, tears 100% fell from my eyes though.
After that, Cathleen told us that once the water is broken, it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour for labor to kick in. And if labor didn’t kick in, we’d have to look at/consider other options - aka a C-section. At this point I was just expecting the worst. But within 3 minutes, I was hit with intense contractions. About 5 contractions in, I threw up twice (shoutout to the chocolate chip pancakes from IHOP). Mentally I was preparing for contractions to get even worse since I was used to the typical labor that builds up slowly. These contractions were 2-3 minutes apart though and very very intense. I asked sienna at one point “are these real contractions?” to which she replied, “yes meg these are real contractions you skipped the early labor stage”. In my head I thought “oh thank God” because I truly don’t know if I could’ve handled any harder contractions.
The first couple caught me by surprise and all of the breathing and relaxing techniques I had practiced and learned went out the window. But with the help of Avery and Sienna, I was able to refocus and regain control over breathing and work my way through each contraction, focusing on relaxing my body and breathing down into baby. The first 10-15 seconds of each contraction were the WORST, so in my head, every time a contraction would start, I told myself “10-15 seconds. You can do anything for 10-15 seconds”.
I walked around the room at the beginning and would throw my hands around Avery’s neck and give all my weight over to him every time a contraction came. We would rock really slowly side to side while Sienna applied back pressure (literal life saver). Avery would remind me to let my uterus do the work and to breathe through it, following up with “good job baby”. (I’m a huge words person so he killed it). Then we went to the birthing ball for a good bit and I would sway side to side on it, Avery holding my hand and talking me through them, Sienna applying back pressure and also encouraging me & helping me stay focused. Eventually I tried standing up and leaning on the bed but after just one contraction like that, both of my legs went completely numb so I went back to the ball. Sienna later said this is a typical sign of reaching transition (the hardest but shortest part of labor) but she thought there was no way because I had only been in labor for 2.5-3 hours at this point.
Eventually I asked to get in the tub for a bit because I needed some relief on my tummy and knew warm water would feel amazing. Sienna had dimmed the lights and turned on her fake candles and for once I saw the mood shift into what I had imagined; safe, homey, & serene. I got in the tub and went through a couple contractions solo and then had Avery get in with me. Not long after he got in with me, Sienna said “Meg if you feel the need to poop you need to tell us okay?” Initially I thought “the last thing I want to do is get on the toilet right now” but then I quickly realized she was telling me to let them know when it’s go time. Not even 2 minutes later I stood up from the tub and said “I feel like I need to poop. I need to poop rn.”
I felt like everyone was going in slow motion. No one was moving quick enough for me. I got back into the bed and was checked - I was 9cm dilated. My body went from a 4 to a 9 in just 3.5 hours - no wonder the contractions were so brutal, they were getting work done. I started to push around 11:50am. I would push 2-3 times and then rest in between. I swear I practically fell asleep in between pushing. At one point I turned over and got on my hands and knees, sitting back into it every time I pushed. I felt the most productive in this position but my legs eventually fell asleep. Before turning back over, Cathleen asked me if I wanted to reach down and feel her. She hadn’t crowned yet but she was close enough to that I could feel her head with my fingers. That was the moment everything became reality and I realized how close I was to the finish line.
I got back on my back and at one point, I remember asking everyone if I needed to get in a different position or if this was fine, and both Sienna and Cathleen reiterated that I should do whatever feels best. Then Cathleen told me, “I’m gonna tell you to push at some points and I’ll tell you to stop at others. If you can listen to me, great. If not, that’s okay.” I remember thinking “I like Cathleen, I want to listen to her” but my body chose otherwise. Around 12:56 I pushed and felt her emerging. Cathleen started to tell me to stop but there was no way my body was stopping. Carrie arrived at 12:57am on July 31st JUST as the NICU team entered the room (as a precaution because of all of the monitoring). I later found out Cathleen asked me to stop because Carrie's hand was right next to her face and she was going to try and move it so she didn’t potentially cause me to tear. Luckily I just ended up with a scratch on one side of my walls that required 2 stitches.
4.5 hours of labor that went from 0-100 right from the get go. There was a point when I didn’t know if I’d be able to get in the bath or not and I didn’t know if I’d be able to go on with contractions without the comfort of the warm water. And in that little bit of waiting to get in the bath, I thought about an epidural. But I never once voiced it. I didn’t want an induction, I didn’t want to be hooked up, I absolutely didn’t want Pitocin, and I REALLY didn’t want to have my water broken; all things that happened for the sake of Carrie’s safety and health. The only other thing I didn’t want, was an epidural and it was also the only thing I held in my hands. I could choose to get it or not. It was never medically necessary. So I was determined to control the controllable’s and grind out my game plan as much as I could.
When they laid her on top of me, it was the most surreal and out of body experience ever. Everything else around me stopped. I was cold, I was shaking from the Oxytocin high, but she was there. This human I had grown inside of me for 9 months, was a real live little person that was now Avery and I’s.
She was 6lbs 9oz, screaming at the top of her lungs, 20 inches long and completely healthy. Passing all of her tests left and right. She latched almost instantly and that night she fell asleep on my chest. She’s a week old as I type this out and we’ve had to go back to the NICU for 2.5 days for Jaundice but she’s the healthiest, most content and calm little baby ever. Avery and I might be biased but we also think she’s literally angelic. She’s changed our lives already and we’re more in love than ever.