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Tobiah's Birth Story

A birth story written by Tobiah

Ever since I can remember I have always had such a strong desire to experience birth because I’ve always been fascinated with what our bodies can do. In college I even went through training to become a doula myself. I have always wanted to feel spontaneous, natural labor because I wanted to know how it would feel to bring a person into the world solely relying on my body’s ability to deliver a baby. My birth story didn’t really look like the birth I had always envisioned for myself but I can honestly say it was the best experience of my life and I wouldn’t change it if I could.

Just before 35 weeks pregnant I started noticing itching in the soles of my feet. I didn’t think much of it but I had a gut feeling I should message my doctor just in case. Later in the day I got a call from the doctor asking me to come in and get blood work done to test for something called ‘Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy.’ While I waited for the lab results I read as much as I could about Cholestasis and listened to Cholestasis birth stories and podcasts to mentally prepare myself in the case that I did end up getting diagnosed with Cholestasis. After a few days I got the results back and the bile acid levels that they had tested were just under the diagnosable limit. Since I was still experiencing symptoms I asked the doctor to do another blood test just to be certain my levels had not gone up. After nearly a week the second round of lab results still had not come back but my gut told me to ask my doctor to run one more round of testing. A week later On September 2nd the results came back with levels high enough to diagnose me with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy and my doctor recommended I be induced just 6 days later on September 8th. Throughout my entire pregnancy I felt a great deal of anxiety but even though this diagnosis was a lot to process I didn’t feel anxious, I felt like induction was the right decision.

The induction date was set and on the morning of September 8th I was admitted to the hospital. Upon admission I was hooked up to monitors and an IV and given my first dose of Cytotec for dilation. After 20 hours and 5 doses of Cytotec I was finally 1.5 centimeters dilated and 70% effaced and ready for a Foley Bulb to help dilate me further.

After about 4 hours and a surprising amount of pain I was dilated 5.5 centimeters. At this point I was feeling relief from the pain and was so excited because I knew that meant I was getting a lot closer to meeting my baby. After removing the Foley Bulb, the doctor was ready to start me on Pitocin to get things moving but I had asked if they would give my body some time to see what would happen, which they honored. I was hoping at this point my body would take over and I would be able to naturally dilate the rest of the way. For the next 10ish hours I worked hard to do everything I had learned from my birthing class and my doula; I was walking (when not attached to the monitors), I was bouncing on my ball, and moving as much as possible. Additionally I wanted to make sure that the baby was in the best position possible; everytime a nurse or doctor checked me I always asked, “what position is he in?” When I was checked at about 10:30 pm on September 9th I had only dilated another .5 centimeters. This is when the doctor recommended we start Pitocin. I was extremely nervous about starting Pitocin because I knew the contractions could potentially be more painful but I agreed because at this point I was going on almost 2 days at the hospital and I knew I had tried everything I could to get my body to continue labor naturally.

At 11pm Pitocin was started and I had very mild contractions throughout the night and I was able to sleep through them without any interventions. By 6am my contractions were deemed not strong enough and I had only dilated to a 7. At this point the doctor recommended breaking my waters to continue progressing. I was nervous, but it had been almost 48 hours and I was getting restless and ready to move things forward. This was when it got real. Almost instantly the contractions started and the intensity of them went from what felt like 0 to 100. Almost immediately my contractions were rolling one into another with little to no rest in between. I was exhausted and uncomfortable and so after only 3 hours I decided I wanted an epidural. This point was mentally really difficult for me because I felt like all the interventions that I didn’t want were out of my control; my induction was medically necessary but in my mind the epidural was not a necessary part of my labor (though in hindsight it was a crucial part of my labor).

After the epidural was placed I was still able to feel pain, mostly in the right side of my body and at this point I was feeling fairly defeated. Everything I had envisioned for myself was not happening and on top of that, the epidural that I so badly wanted to avoid was not working as much as I was hoping it would. However, after some time and increasing the pain medication the edge was taken off and I was able to relax and fully dilate to 10 centimeters within about 4 hours. Once I was dilated I was anticipating bearing down and waiting until I felt an urge to push but at about 2 pm it was suggested to try a couple practice pushes which I realized was bringing the most relief from the contractions. Since I was feeling such relief from the contractions I decided I wanted to continue pushing. During the first few pushes the doctor came in and assessed me and my pushing and said to me, “okay, your pushing looks great, I’ll be back in an hour to check on you.” And I remember thinking that there was no way it was going to take a whole hour of pushing. I was feeling confident I would be meeting my baby in less than an hour.

During the first hour of pushing I felt amazing, thanks to my doula teaching me how to push, I felt very confident and was so happy with the amount of pain relief I was feeling. By the second hour of pushing I began to get tired and kept thinking, “okay any push now he is going to come out.” I remember looking at the clock and thinking, “okay by 2:30 he is going to be born,” “okay by 3pm he is going to be born,” “okay by 3:30pm he’s going to be born.” By the third hour I could tell the nurses and doctors were beginning to get concerned with how long the pushing was taking. At one point the doctor came in with the ultrasound machine to check on the baby’s position to make sure he wasn’t in the anterior position, which thankfully he was in the optimal position. The entire time there was a voice telling me everything was going to be okay so I continued to push. My doula coached me through every contraction and push for the entire 3 and a half hours and finally at 5:42pm my sweet Iver was born.

The feeling of holding Iver for the first time was something I can barely put into words. It felt like my entire world changed in an instance. Right before he was born, my doula looked at me and said something along the lines of - the person you’re supposed to be is about to be born as well - and the moment he was born I knew this was what I was supposed to do with my life; be his mom.

In the days leading up to Iver’s conception I was on a walk outside and I spoke out loud to the universe and said, “I’m ready for what is supposed to be for me.” I was going through a period of time where I was happy enough with my life but it felt like something was missing. When I said I was ready for what was supposed to be for me I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant, in fact I was actively trying not to get pregnant. But the moment I held him in my arms I knew this was IT.

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