Keeping Things Moving (Beth-Ellen’s birth story, part 8)

How long did we labor like that? I don’t know. I lived from contraction to contraction. Mary offered sips of water in between, reminded me to switch positions every half hour or so.

Whatever position we tried, I ended up the same. On all fours on the bed, facing the foot of the bed. On my knees on the bed with my upper body draped over the elevated head of the bed. Standing or kneeling on the floor with my upper body over the side of the bed. Always with my legs and back at right angles to one another. Always with Daniel providing counterpressure. Liv tried the double hip squeeze at some point in there and found it effective, so Daniel switched to that.

Are you feeling lost? Maybe you’d like to read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, and part 7 of Beth-Ellen’s birth story

On and on. Contraction after contraction. I started to feel desperate, but all I could articulate beyond my moos was “Oh, God, help me.” Mary picked up where I left off, praying a prayer I don’t remember now but that was exactly the trust-filled prayer I wanted to say if I could have spoken.

It must have been about then that someone wondered if I wouldn’t like to be checked. I acquiesced. I’d been wondering, but was afraid to ask lest I discover I wasn’t progressing and end up deeply discouraged. But now that someone else had suggested it, I gave myself permission to want to know.

9 centimeters. 90% effaced. With a bulging bag of waters.

Relief. I had been making progress. I would be able to deliver this baby. I started dreaming of “laboring down”, of the plateau some women experience when they’re fully dilated and before they feel like pushing. Some describe it as restful after the work of transition.

But even as my mind was dreaming of a break, my labor companions were urging action.

Could I squat during some contractions? Even push if I had any desire whatsoever to do so? Once the waters broke, surely the process would go quickly.

I squatted through one excruciating contraction and wouldn’t do it again.

They started talking artificial rupture of membranes. “I know you didn’t want this,” Mary said, “but I think you should consider it. I’m worried that you might wear out with these contractions. AROM could speed things along.”

Our team left the room so Daniel and I could talk about it. We did so in the bathroom, where I tried to pee. But I thought maybe I was starting to feel pushy and it terrified me. I pulled the call light and the staff rushed back in.

I resisted the mild urge to push (likely to the chagrin of my birth team!) Liv and the resident asked if I had come to a conclusion about AROM. We hadn’t, but I was worried about starting a timer, about ending up with another operative delivery. The resident felt that I was far enough along and the “timer” long enough that my risk wouldn’t be increased. He described the risks and benefits of delivering en caul, with the amniotic sac still intact.

We consented to AROM.

Careful to follow my birth plan, which had detailed that I did NOT give blanket consent for any procedure and that I expected to give individual assent for any and all procedures, Liv asked me to affirm that I was indeed consenting to AROM. The resident did the same, asking for consent and then, right before performing the rupture confirming: “So I’m going to rupture your membranes right now. Is that what you want?”

I agreed.

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