Harper Marilyn- Birth Story

It was almost like my body knew she couldn’t handle labor.  I had prodromal labor pains for 2+ weeks with little to no dilation progress, and little babe wasn’t descending into the birth position.  I wasn’t getting much sleep because labor pains would wake me up in the middle of the night.  Every appointment I went to leading up to her birth I felt discouraged when I left wondering how long I would have this false labor until we would get to meet our baby. 

Then, at 40 weeks and 2 days my water broke.  It was a Monday night and I brought Hank to the farm to feed Anna.  We decided to go for a walk around the grain bins with my mother-in-law.  We didn’t even make it one lap and I stopped in my tracks because I knew my water had broken.  It was pretty similar to Hank’s birth where my water broke at home, but not nearly as much fluid as I had with him. 

I was in denial, thought I had possibly peed my pants, but I remembered with Hank after about an hour of my water breaking contractions started to pick up and I knew I was in labor.  So, I called Josh to let him know it was time and everyone says second babies come faster so we better be prepared to head in fast if contractions picked up. 

Hank stayed with grandma and grandpa, and we headed home to grab our things, but I still wanted to make sure I hadn’t just peed my pants.  I kept having water leak, but no labor pains that were stronger than what I had been having over the past two weeks with the false labor.  I was very hesitant to go in.  I remember how it was with Hank, and I knew the contractions weren’t strong enough.  I cleaned the house, did some bouncing on the ball, nothing made the contractions stronger. 

We decided to go in anyways after about 5 hrs since my water had broken to make sure the baby was okay, although I could feel movement in my belly the whole time.  We got to the hospital and they did a test to make sure it was my water that had broken.  Thank goodness it was, otherwise I would’ve been pretty embarrassed, but the contractions still weren’t coming. 

They admitted us, and said to keep trying the exercise balls, peanut balls, leaning, walking, spinning babies, anything to kick start labor.  Mind you, it’s like 1 am at this point.  Josh fell asleep on the tiny couch in the labor and delivery room.  I kept trying exercises for about an hour before I decided I needed rest too.  

I crawled into bed pretty exhausted and feeling defeated because my labor pains hadn’t gotten any stronger.  When I was checked by the doctor on call I was only 2cm dilated.  The next morning nothing had really changed, so by 7 am they started me on pitocin.  I was disappointed in that moment my body wouldn’t do what it was supposed to.  

After I was on pitocin for a bit, my midwife checked me and I still wasn’t making progress.  They told me my water hadn’t fully broken by itself, so she finished breaking my water to help the progression. I was on pitocin for 4 hours before the pain got to a point where I didn’t feel like I could manage and I was only at 3.5 cm dilated, so I opted for an epidural.  Baby still wasn’t descending, and they were starting to get concerned with her heart rate.  

Every strong contraction I had her heart rate would dip down dangerously low. They kept having me move positions, standing up, sitting down, laying on my side, and everything in-between.  They anticipated the umbilical cord was being pinched somewhere causing this. The only position that worked where the baby wasn’t stressed was me sitting straight up in bed, the worst position for labor to progress.  They put in an internal monitor on baby’s head to make sure they were getting a good reading of her heart rate.  

When they confirmed her heart rate was dipping with every contraction, they took me off of pitocin to stop the stress on her.  My contractions went back to the same as what I had before with all the false labor, not strong enough to progress labor. I sat there feeling even more defeated. 

My midwife came in and prepared us for a c-section. She said they rarely do them, but with the pitocin turned off, I wouldn’t be having strong enough contractions on my own to dilate.  I cried, feeling so defeated.  In the moment, I was sad I wouldn’t get the birth experience I had hoped for, knowing this is the last baby we plan to have.  My midwife is very hands on with mothers and with Hank I was able to pull him out and up onto my chest and Josh was able to announce the gender to the room.  That was the experience I was hoping for with this babe.  Through all the emotions, I knew the most important thing was to keep our baby safe, no matter how they were born.  

We sent out texts to our loved ones to pray.  Both Josh and I were very worried and wanted our rainbow baby to make it here safe.  Even with my epidural I could still feel every contraction and since the monitor was a bit delayed I could tell Josh to watch the baby’s heart rate as every contraction hit.  She was doing okay as long as I was in the sitting position, but both of us were on edge with every contraction.

My midwife wanted to try one more thing before a c-section.  Since they broke my water completely, the baby was under more stress with less room/cushion in the womb.  They thought she was most likely being stressed with the umbilical cord being in a weird position and possibly being pinched somewhere.  

They decided to do an amnioinfusion where they basically re-filled my uterus with saline water so the baby would have more room.  I sat in the position that kept the baby the most comfortable and just waited while I watched my belly basically re-inflate since losing my water… It was such an odd feeling.  They weren’t sure it would work, but my nurse was so nice and gave us the hope we needed.  

My midwife came back in, not looking super hopeful, and checked me again.  She said with a contraction she was able to stretch me to a 6.  She kept her hand in me and with a sweeping motion she worked to see if she could stretch my cervix more.  After only a couple of minutes, she looked at me in a bit of shock.  She said my cervix “melted away” and after the light sweeping I was at 9.5 cm.  She told me this never happens and called it “divine intervention.”   She asked if we had been praying… and that’s the moment tears rushed to my eyes.  And she said before leaving the room to give me a little more time to progress, “we’re having this baby.”

Josh and I anxiously sat in the room together and with every contraction I continued to have him keep an eye on the baby’s heart rate.  A very short time passed, maybe 10-20 minutes, it’s hard to tell when you’re in the moment.  I started to feel pressure.  I didn’t say anything because I wanted it to be real.  The pressure built very fast, so I told Josh and we called our midwife back in.  Josh and the midwife each took one of my legs and had me try one push.  

The midwife stopped me fast because the baby was right there.  She ran out and got the team of nurses, my doctor was there with a vacuum just in case, and there was a team of neonatal doctors and nurses since she had been under stress.  We had quite the audience!  

They had me push and with 2 contractions, she was halfway out.  Water sprayed out with her and almost hit Josh in the face.  I reached down and pulled her up onto my chest and my midwife asked, “what do we have?!” I announced “A GIRL,” through extremely tear filled eyes.  Josh cut the cord really fast and they rushed her over to be analyzed because she came out very stressed.  Josh went with her as they checked her oxygen levels and made sure everything was okay.  She came out with a lot of meconium in her fluid, showing how stressed our little girl was during labor.

We were told the umbilical cord was wrapped up and over her shoulders and then down and around her stomach.  She was tangled up in there which is most likely why she couldn’t engage for birth and was so stressed through the labor process. 

While they were making sure Harper was okay, I delivered my placenta… it was much easier than I remembered with Hank.  My midwife was in awe once again because I had an abnormality on my placenta.  I had a velamentous cord insertion… this happens in 1% of singleton pregnancies.  A normal umbilical cord is inserted into the middle of the placenta and enclosed in the amniotic sac.  With a velamentous cord insertion, the cord inserts itself into the amniotic membrane and the baby’s blood vessels are left unprotected as they stretch across the membrane. 

This is something that can be picked up on an ultrasound, but with Harper they didn’t see it, probably because my placenta was on the front and the sac was towards my back.  A velamentous cord insertion can cause problems with baby and mom, but we were lucky.  If my water had broken where the chord was inserted into the amniotic sac, Harper most likely wouldn’t have made it out alive.  

It gives me chills to tell this story.  I still can’t tell it to my friends or family without crying.  We are so thankful she’s here and she’s safe.  The Lord was most definitely watching out for us through the entire pregnancy and delivery.  Now that she’s here, she’s healthy as a horse and we are both doing great.  We praise God we have our rainbow baby here safe with us.

Stop scrolling if you don’t want to see a picture of my placenta…

Here’s a picture of the velamentous cord insertion. My midwife made sure I took one.