A few days past her due date, Linda called me early in the morning to say that she had been having mild, irregular cramping since the previous evening. She was able to sleep on and off throughout the night. Contractions were becoming more intense and regular in the morning and her doula, Tamara, had arrived to be with her. When I arrived at about 7:00 am, I found Linda standing up and leaning forward during contractions and then sitting down in between to rest. She was breathing well and moaning through these moderately strong contractions. I checked her vitals and listened to the baby. A cervical check revealed that she was 6 cm dilated. All was reassuring so we settled in to wait for this baby to arrive.
Linda moved throughout the house during the rest of the day, trying various positions and movements to encourage progress and become more comfortable. Although contractions were coming regularly, they were still quite spaced out every 7-1o minutes or so. I suggested various herbs and homeopathic remedies to encourage stronger, more frequent contractions, so Linda began taking these at regular intervals. She alternated resting with active movement to encourage labor to progress. At about 1 pm, she was 7 cm dilated. We continued position changes and movements – hands and knees, walking, lunging, side-lying, leaning forward over the kitchen counter or against a wall, sitting on the birth ball, squatting, open knee-chest, showering – and the herbs and homeopathics. At one point we filled the bath tub and she tried laboring in there for a while, but the movement of the water made her feel nauseous so she got out after a brief time.
At 5:30 pm, she was 8 cm dilated. We continued the above movements and positions, with a focus on those that would encourage rotation and descent of the baby. She was so willing to try any positions that we suggested – it was inspiring to witness her determination and endurance. Contractions were still spaced out and slightly irregular, coming every 3-10 minutes. By 9:30 pm Linda was feeling tired and decided to try and get some rest – she felt that she could sleep in between contractions. We were all needing some rest at this point, so Megan and I set an alarm for every half hour to check on her and the baby, and tried to sleep a little in between each check. The baby’s heartbeat was reassuring each time and Linda’s vitals remained normal. At about 2 am, Linda got out of bed to walk and move some more. Linda found that contractions were stronger and more frequent if she was by herself in her bedroom, so we left her to it and only went in to check on her and the baby.
The next several hours passed in this way, and by 7 am Linda was just about fully dilated – a small lip of cervix, called an anterior lip, was all that remained. Linda started feeling an urge to push, so I encouraged her to try it out and see if she could push past the last bit of cervix. She pushed for a short time and I checked her again to see if there was any progress. Unfortunately, dilation had retracted back to about 8 cm and the baby’s head had ascended from the place where it had been before. Contractions were still rather mild and spaced out. This was a clear sign that something was not totally normal, so I initiated a discussion with Linda and her husband about transferring to the hospital. The baby’s heartbeat was completely reassuring all along, so we were not panicked or rushed. I explained the situation and why I felt that a transfer was a good idea. After this discussion, I left Linda and Jon alone for a few minutes to talk about what they wanted to do and decide together. They agreed to transfer, so we gathered everything they would need and cleaned up the house a bit. We arrived at Cayuga Medical Center at about 10:30 am and Linda was admitted to the labor and delivery unit.
The doctor on call was welcoming and kind. She checked Linda’s cervix and found it to be still about 8 cm dilated. She suggested pitocin to augment labor, as contractions were still moderate and spaced out at about every 5-10 minutes. Pitocin was started and within 10-15 minutes, we finally started to see a labor pattern consistent with the transition phase of active labor. Linda began breathing hard and moaning with contractions. She leaned over the bed or birth ball and rocked her hips with each contraction. Within several hours she was fully dilated and ready to push. I asked for a squat bar on the bed and Linda squatted down while holding on to the bar. She was amazingly strong and brave as she pushed through these very strong and frequent pitocin contractions. Edwin was born without complication shortly after 4 pm and went immediately on to Linda’s chest. What an incredible triumph for Linda after such a long ordeal!
Welcome to the world Edwin – you took your time coming and we are so happy to finally meet you! Congratulations Linda and Jon!
For more photos of Linda and her family, check out the Photo Gallery of BirthRoot Families.