Nora's Birth Story
Updated: Sep 3, 2022
To the best of my ability, I have recalled Nora's birth and my labor and delivery adventure.
My induction was originally scheduled for 39 weeks to be safe, because Miles died at 42 weeks (with no real true reason, but a slew of probable causes that come with being over due). This was a decision made by my OB that I agreed with. In pregnancy after loss, I quickly learned that having a confident OB guiding me helped navigate the post traumatic stress.
I cannot stress enough to have a third trimester ultrasound, I had scheduled one for 36 weeks but the OB office was running behind and had forgotten so I made sure to put it on the calendar for the following week. At my 37 week ultrasound, my OB saw the umbilical cord around Nora’s neck, but said she could see good blood flow through it and it's common.
Well, I could not relax with that news because Miles’ cord was wrapped 2x tightly when I delivered him. So I got a bunch of opinions from my hypnotherapist and another trusted midwife friend and called my OB staking my claim to go in for an induction before 39 weeks and she met me at 38+2 (I believe).
Prior to this call I went on a walk in the woods with my friend and when she asked how I was doing I told her I was freaking out. I kept seeing a checklist in my head of risks - my age, I was 39 at the time, the nuchal cord, I had both gestational diabetes and group B strep (GBS+) this pregnancy, where I was told I didn't have either in my first pregnancy just two years prior. This OB claimed if you are GBS+ with one pregnancy, you are with all. I hadn't heard that before, which made me wonder if I was also GBS+ with Miles and never knew it.
Overall I was just anxious as heck to get this baby girl out alive. Each day now felt like a ticking time bomb.
I asked a lot about my planned induction as the weeks led up to this so I could envision how it would go. In my first birth, I had planned for a home birth so the hospital birth plan was all new to me.
A couple days prior to my induction, I was to go in and if possible have my membranes swept. You have to be at least 1cm dilated for this option. The cord information bumping up my induction changed this plan and a membrane sweep did not happen until after I was admitted to the hospital for labor and delivery.
The day of my new induction date I kept extremely busy. For one it was Bereaved Mother's Day -- of course it was. Earlier in the day I had a great visualization session with my hypnotherapist where I saw Nora riding a wave onto the land of the living. I even drew a picture to help me manifest this coming true. I made a mantra for each contraction to welcome Nora (I wish I could remember what it was now).
Then I attended an online workshop hosted by Danielle of @the.invisible.mama and Star Legacy Foundation San Francisco Chapter. Here I journaled to Miles, did a little breathing and stretching, and stitched a little heart for him, sewing his and Nora's initials on it. It was such a wild dichotomy that I was holding space for my dead baby on the same day of going in to have my next baby.
After that I went to a birthday party of my dear friend Maggie in her yard. I was clearly open to all the distractions and luckily my day was filled. Not long later, with Alex and my sister Julie in tow, we headed to the hospital.
My 85-hour Gentle Induction
I was admitted at 10pm on Sunday, May 2nd and after all the fun intake logistics and setting my IV, they started with cervidil, which is like a rubber band they place next to the cervix. The nurse can do it. That can be in up to 24 hours and mine was. It did very little. I progressed to maybe 2cm.
During our hospital stay, we didn't want to answer the common questions that, for us, were quite painful. "Is this your first?" and "how many kids do you have?" were NOT what we wanted to hear. We used a personalized hospital template to share Miles' story with the staff before they entered the room. It was such a great way to include Miles in Nora's birth without any awkward or insensitive questions.
Grab your own customizable Hospital Door Sign Template HERE!
I spent my first full day in the hospital walking the hallways and chatting with my sister and Alex and the nurses. Then I took cytotec at night, a tiny half pill, that I took every 6 hours for 24 hours. At some point my OB swept my membranes and while it's uncomfortable I was so ready to try to get things moving.
The morning after I started the cytotec, I had a fever and Nora's heart tones were in the 160s. Kind of high. Alex and I were both crying and scared, feeling very out of control to keep her safe even though I was on constant fetal monitoring. (Here is my post about electronic fetal monitoring)
Because I had tested positive for GBS, the OB said this was the reason for my fever and it was time to get the fever under control in order to calm the baby's heart rate, as well. So, I took tylenol and started on the antibiotics for the GBS.
After this bout of fear and emotions, we felt it would be a good idea to call my hypnotherapist in. She had agreed to act as my doula as needed and she came and did some calming reiki practices on Alex and me while I napped. We had the essential oils diffusing and everyone felt a lot calmer after she spent some time with us.
I began having some contractions in the night, but nothing unmanageable.
Day 3 was starting with a super low dose of pitocin and again very little progress, even though I had contractions of varying degrees on and off all day. What I was realizing at this point was that with both my births my body is slow to open. My cervix opens incredibly slowly. Possibly too slowly to keep my babies inside safely while my body is working hard laboring. I will note, with clear communication with your nursing team, pitocin is not to be feared. Things may begin to start fast and furious, or so I have heard, but this was not my experience.
Day 4, and I hope I am remembering this correctly, was breaking my water and inserting the foley bulb. I turned down the bulb insertion the day prior - I think it was just my intuition and hope that Nora would come on her own without it. I had the bulb in about 4-5 hours and holy shit it was painful, BUT this tool has a huge degree of benefit/support. My friend had her foley bulb pumped with 10cc of water and she went home and slept with it in. Not my experience - my OB put 80cc in mine, because she knew I had a super high pain tolerance based on my cervical checks and membrane sweep. She knew I could handle it, which I could, but at the same time I could barely walk it hurt so bad. Moving from the bed was really hard. After 4.5 hours, the nurse gave it a tug and I was dilated enough to pull it out without deflating it which brought me to 4 or 5 cm dilated. Huge win. My cervix does not like to dilate quickly. With Miles at 42 weeks and 37 hours of labor, I was still under 7 cm.
The next step was bumping up the pitocin slowly and we managed this with excellent communication with my nurse. My favorite nurse, Kelly, was back on shift and she told me she was so glad I hadn't had the baby yet, because today was the day and she would be attending my birth!
She kept bumping up the pitocin a couple notches over time and while the contractions strengthened it felt doable. They also had nitrous. Which I used to calm the mind at the beginning of a few of my contractions when things started to feel hard. Nitrous could be breathed in at my leisure and I controlled how much and for how long.
I sat on my birthing ball at the foot of my hospital bed, leaning on the bed and working through the much stronger and longer contractions. I ate some applesauce for energy, but puked it up not too long later. I decided it was time to take the pitocin down 1 notch, because everything was feeling pretty intense, and have some alone time in the shower - which Kelly happily agreed to.
I labored in the shower sitting on a towel on my yoga ball with the water hitting my back while I talked to myself, my body, and Nora. I also did a lot of standing with my head against the wall and moaning. The nurse peeked in and said “By the way you sound, your body is starting to take over this labor so the pitocin is no longer needed.”
She turned it down or off. I got out after about 45 minutes and laid on my side in the bed with a peanut ball - the position I most wanted to be in for this delivery. Contractions were pretty intense and I asked for something to take the edge off. The nurse gave me fentanyl which feels like drinking 2-3 glasses of wine. I was loose and loopy.
What felt like 30 minutes was closer to 3 hours and suddenly I felt a TON of pressure. I was yelling to the nurse, "Pressure! Pressure!" She checked me and said "Okay, baby’s head is right there. This is gonna feel like the hardest thing to do, but do not push until the doctor gets here." Luckily she got there in about 6 minutes. And doc said "Okay, push when you want." Of course I pushed with all the intention in the world like pregnant ladies do, and Nora's head was out in 2-3 pushes.
But once her head was out, the doc said “Alright there's that cord, it's PRETTY TIGHT” and I was scared thinking 'Fuuuuuuck that!' and pushed with all my might and Nora flopped on the table, my OB had Nora by the arm and exclaimed "Ooh Alright", while my OB was holding scissors about to cut the cord, but she didn’t have to after all.
Nora was born at 5:35pm.
My OB was able to honor wanting delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin and Nora did a bit of the breast crawl during that precious time. My sister was astonished by that and how smart and intuitive little Nora already was. My OB said the cord had stopped pulsing but I wanted to see for myself and asked for an extra minute or two, checked again and approved the white cord to be cut by Alex.
Next was the delivery of Nora's placenta. I have heard women say this is very painful too, but that wasn't my experience in either of my births. l think after the huge relief of delivering a baby, nothing compares to that intensity. My doctor placed the umbilical cord in the shape of a heart and we have a very sweet photo of it. My doula placed the placenta in a cooler with ice and I had it dehydrated and made into capsules and a tincture. I also had a watercolor print made of my placenta before dehydrating it and that print now hangs right outside of Nora's bedroom.
The whole induction was 85 hours of slow, steady, managed induction medication, preventative antibiotics, and communication with my birthing team. I was guided by my OB's recommendations, but never forced.
I did not take an epidural - this was a personal choice for both of my births, I did have a 1st degree ‘superficial’ tear, but I was up on my feet pretty quickly and never took anything for pain after birth.
After all of that, I ended up having Nora at 38+6. The evening before my original scheduled 39-week induction - BUT I am glad she got here safely, and without the 3rd trimester ultrasound, she may not be living here with us now had the cord continued to cause issues for Nora.
Nora was 6lbs. 8oz. and 20.5 inches (the same height as her big brother, Miles)
I was discharged the next day, but Nora stayed an additional day and a half due to jaundice and us choosing to keep her under the bilirubin lamps as much as possible.
We brought Nora home from the hospital on May 9th, 2021 - it was also Mother's Day.
Alex was a champion birthing partner yet again and he continues to always support us.
Anyone in the natural birthing space calling hospital births an inevitable "cascade of interventions" is being offensive to us women who need help birthing our babies safely.
Nora just turned 14 months old because of all of those necessary interventions, and I am grateful for each and every one of them even though I lead as non-toxic, sustainable, hippie, fragrance and medication-free life otherwise. I was humbled to see how necessary these measures can be in preventing harm to babies and ultimately saving so many lives.