The story below is by our Mama Storyteller – Cherise Marshall. Baby Nest would like to thank you for telling us your birth story about induction, the sacredness of bringing your baby boy into the world, and how to adapt when things don’t go “to plan.”
For all the mamas that may need be induced, may this inspire them to know, that with patient midwives and a solid birth team, birth can be beautiful and transformational even when started with an intervention.
Our vision for our birth
I wanted my birth to be as natural as possible with as few interventions as possible. I was hoping to have a water birth, but didn’t set my heart on it just in case it couldn’t happen. I had planned on laboring at home until I was no longer coherent, then had plans to go to the hospital with my midwife. I also planned to have a pain-free childbirth.
I told myself that pain is a mental thing and I could do this without feeling pain. My birth plan asked that no one would talk to me except for my husband. If my midwife or nurse had an instruction, they would tell my husband and he would tell me. I really wanted to focus internally and only listen for his voice. I wanted the birth to feel as similar to a homebirth as possible.
What I Did to Prepare For My Birth:
- Classes – Baby Nest Bradley Method Birth Class with my husband Cory, Breastfeeding and childcare class at Peace Health.
- Diet – Ate 6 dates a day, and drank Labour Ready Tea daily (filled with Red Raspberry Leaf).
- Podcasts – The Birth Hour and Pregnancy Podcast
- Websites – Evidence Based Birth, Spinning Babies,
- Used products – Ease the Way Birth Spray (and I didn’t tear or end up needing stitches at all)
- Services – Chiropractor and massages once a week for third trimester, acupuncture once.
- Exercise –Prenatal yoga daily, swimming 3x a week, Tummy Team physical therapy exercises to engage transverse muscle daily, Spinning Babies exercises daily, Baby Nest Birth class exercises daily.
- Read – “Childbirth Without Fear”, “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”, “Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”, “The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth”, “Unassisted Childbirth”.
- Spiritual – Prayed over the birth, read “Waiting in Wonder” devotional and “Supernatural Childbirth”.
Day before induction
I was diagnosed with Cholestasis, a rare liver disease caused by pregnancy which made me feel severe itchiness and can lead to meconium aspiration or stillbirth. My midwife from Peacehealth Famiy Birth Center, recommended that we induce labor immediately in the morning and it could take up to three days for baby to come. At first I was fearful, but then I realized that this was God’s plan for my child’s birth the entire time.
Once I accepted that, I got excited that I would get to meet my son sooner than I had planned. I did have to grieve letting go of the all natural birth I had planned. I was sad I wouldn’t get to see my body go into labor naturally, and it seemed like some of the preparation work I had done would go in vain. I had imagined how labor would go and was sad I wouldn’t get to see my body work naturally. I was also very thankful that we had caught the cholestasis in time and that baby would still be happy and healthy.
We arrived at our Vancouver, WA hospital and I prayed that God would make the room peaceful and calm. My cervix was dilated at zero! We attached a heart rate monitor and contraction monitor and my midwife inserted Cervidil for 12 hours to help ripen my cervix. I could not eat any solid foods and only drink clear liquids.
Cory and I watched a movie, played cribbage, and his parents came to visit. I felt irregular contractions which got me to 1 cm dilated. Next we tried Misoprostol for another 12 hours of not eating. All night long, my nurse had to wake me to readjust and tighten the monitors to pick up baby’s heart rate.
My cervix did not progress with the Misoprostol, so I started 12 hours on Pitocin, which produced stronger contractions. I had to lean over and needed Cory to put pressure on my tailbone. We took several slow walks in the hallway and I listened to my birth playlists.
When Michael Jackson played, all the nurses danced with us in the hallway. It was so motivating! Unfortunately, when the Pitocin wore off so did my contractions. At this point I was feeling exhausted but hopeful, having had 3 rounds of contractions and limited food and sleep for 48 hours.
My cervix was still just a 1 so my midwife started another round of Pitocin. We went for several more walks in the hallway while I pushed an IV and wore a machine around my neck to track the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. After a few hours on the pitocin I started shaking uncontrollably.
After 30 minutes, the shaking stopped. Our nurse said this was all normal and a sign of going into real labor. I had frequent bathroom trips and asked Cory to apply counter pressure to my back and squeeze my hips over and over again. I was nervous because of the shaking, but excited because it seemed like things were progressing.
Cory (my husband) was awesome!!! He got me food and anything that I needed including help during times of labor. It really helped having knowledge of coping with pain techniques that we had worked on together in our couple centered birth class.
He kept busy, holding my hand while I sat on the toilet, putting hot and cold packs on my back, helping me get in and out of bed, covering me with and removing blankets from me, pressing on my back, and squeezing my hips. He was so awesome!
Next my midwife inserted a Cook’s Catheter which is a saline filled balloon on either side of the cervix. We hoped it would cause dilation to a 4 and fall out eventually. It felt uncomfortable when I tried to pee. I asked Cory to hold my hand while I was on the toilet and it took about 30 minutes to urinate each time.
Cory massaged me all night, as I felt like I was experiencing real contractions. I had to moan through each one and the monitors showed regular and strong contractions. I felt out of it this entire day and honestly don’t remember much.
Without further dilation, we removed the Cook’s catheter and started another round of Pitocin. At 3:37AM, we walked in the hallway and I felt a gush of fluid rushing down my legs. We got back to the room, stripped off my clothes and my nurse noticed the fluid was clear. This was good news as meconium aspiration is one of the risks of Cholestasis.
Contractions started and stopped again. I prayed that something would work to avoid a cesarean section. My midwife did a membrane sweep, then I went on my 4th round of Pitocin. I felt strong and irregular contractions this time, but was frustrated because the monitor was not picking up any contractions. Walking in the hallway I started to cry out of pure exhaustion. Cory prayed over me and I was able to keep walking.
During this time, we did consider getting a C-section. At this point it had been 7 straight hours of pitocin and Cory and I were extremely hungry, tired, and emotional. We didn’t like the idea of more pitocin when that hadn’t been successful yet after 3 rounds. We asked about the risks of inserting the IUPC (internal fetal monitor) versus just getting a cesarean at this point.
The cesarean was tempting, knowing that 8 hours from now this could all be over and we would be holding our baby.
Our midwife told us the risks: cesareans had a higher risk of infection, baby having fluid in his lungs, it was considered a major surgery, I would need anesthesia which always has risks, and my recovery would be slower. The only risk of doing the IUPC and pitocin were wasting another 24 hours and going into surgery more exhausted than I already was.
After considering everything, we decided to insert the IUPC and try more pitocin. Because we were using an IUPC, we could no longer use the birth pool as it would interfere with the instruments. I was sad about this and asked that it be removed right away so I wouldn’t have to think about missing that experience.
At 11 PM, my midwife said we were almost 24 hours after my water had broken. She inserted an Intrauterine Pressure Catheter (IUPC) which could sense my contractions from inside my uterus and I continued with the pitocin past the usual dose of 12 hours.
MY CERVIX WAS FINALLY DILATED TO A 3! Cory was completely exhausted and needed to sleep, so my nurse helped me all night with the toilet, hot and cold packs, getting out of bed, blankets, and counter pressure. When Cory woke up, he read my labor letter to me. I had written this letter as part of my birth class and it was so very helpful and exactly what I needed at this time. I wrote about how God had prepared me for this and I could do it.
At 9:30AM, I was finally in active labor and my cervix had progressed to a 5. During each contraction I repeated this phrase in my head: “This is the best feeling in the world. It is bringing your son closer to you.” I labored on the toilet for a long time. At 12PM, my cervix had dilated to an 8. Now I started to moan, I felt like I had to poop, and at the height of my contractions, I felt my back arch and lots of pressure in my rectum.
I can honestly say I never thought about getting an epidural. I don’t remember feeling the sensation of pain. I remember feeling a lot of pressure and surges of waves, but I convinced my brain that they weren’t painful.
At 1:15PM, I remember feeling really powerful and calm while I was pushing. I felt like I had control, was responsive, and was more conscious during this stage.The pushing part did not hurt at all and was actually really exciting. I remember thinking I can’t believe I’m doing this and I’m doing so well. I started pushing by leaning over the back of the bed and vomited small amounts. I made deep, loud grunting noises I had never heard before.
At 2:35 PM, I tried the squat bar and birth stool but these positions hurt my tailbone. I was tired, so they said to lay on my side with my leg up. This position hurt my hip and was uncomfortable.
At 3:30PM, they told me to turn onto my back saying this position would help me to relax. My midwife rubbed oil on my pubic bone and pushed on a spot in my vagina to give me a place to focus my pushing toward. At 3:45PM I did ten hard pushes while everyone helped hold my legs up. Cory saw the head. I felt stretching, but it did not feel painful. He was face down, and then our midwife pulled him the rest of the way out.
At 4:13PM Henry was born! This is the moment I remember the most. I remember feeling him come out and feeling him wiggle back-and-forth to get out of me.The cord had already stopped pulsing and was white, so they told Cory to cut the cord. Henry didn’t cry at all, but he was fine.
It was a spiritual experience. I remember holding him and feeling so grateful and humbled that God would choose to bless me with this tiny little person that we had prayed for for so many years. We had struggled to conceive this baby for three years and miraculously became pregnant without any interventions. I couldn’t believe that God really had brought him here after so long. I remember saying, “ praise God, praise God”, over and over again and really feeling the weight of the responsibility God had given me to be this baby’s mother.
I only had a first degree labial tear that didn’t need stitches. At 4:15, the placenta just slid out. An hour later, I tried feeding him and he latched very well! He was weighed 7lb 2 oz and was 19.5 inches long.
What got me through this long induction?!
My relationship with God and the support of my husband were the biggest things that helped me get through this. I had total peace and calm that God had all of this under control. I had several friends and family praying for me.
I also really appreciated everything my birth class taught me about induction because I ended up using every technique possible. Because I had prior knowledge I wasn’t fearful and learning about interventions at the last minute. While I was in active labor, the thing that kept me going was repeating the phrase over and over again in my head, “This is the best feeling in the world. It is bringing your son closer to you.”
What I learned from my birth.
Childbirth does not have to be scary or painful.
My whole life I feared childbirth. I was scared it was going to hurt, be uncomfortable, I wished I could just adopt, that I would be unattractive, that I would need surgery, that I would die in childbirth, that I would lose the baby, that every possible horrible scenario that could happen would happen. My experience was not easy, but I can honestly say it was not scary or painful. I convinced myself before giving birth that I would feel nothing but power, love, and self-control. This was actually a bible verse I memorized: “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”. 2 Timothy 1:7
I was scared to tell any of my friends or family about my ideas on childbirth. I thought they would discard my thoughts as impossible ideals and I really wanted to believe pain and fear-free birth was possible. I am so glad I kept my ideas to myself. They got me through six days of induction and many hours of labor. My experience was hard work, the hardest work I have ever done, but I was mentally prepared and that made all the difference.
~ Written by Cherise Marshall, Mama Story-teller full of patience, endurance, presence and love.
Please share to help inspire others that may need to be induced. The world needs to hear more positive birth stories – especially ones that start with induction.