Birth Story of Alice Bernadette DeWolfe

The first contractions started about 12:15 am on March 12th. Somehow, I had always known she would be born on her due date, despite the odds. What I didn't expect was how long it would take.

Of course I tried to figure out if the contractions were the real thing... I tried timing them; they were about 15 to 20 minutes apart, but really random in timing and intensity. However, they were strong enough to keep me from sleeping, even though I was really tired, having just turned out the light to go to sleep (Mike had already drifted off). About 3 am, after getting up and down a few times, I decided to tell Mike what was going on (there had been no break longer than about 20 minutes between the contractions). I still thought it was early and I might be able to sleep, but by 5:30 am I couldn't take just laying there any more. I waited until 6 am. and called Jacquie (my Doula) to get her opinion on whether this was real. When I told her that I couldn't keep down breakfast she said "Sounds like you're going to have your baby today."

Around 8 am, I paged Dr. Jones and she suggested I come in to see her at the office around 10 am. By now the contractions were still irregular ranging anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes apart, and getting stronger. When she checked me I was 90% effaced and 2 cm. dialated (hurray!). Mike and I decided to go home and I would try to get some rest as I knew I would need my strength later.

Well, long story short, I still couldn't rest and I was not keeping any food down. I had planned to walk it out, but the last thing I felt like doing was walking. About 1:00 we decided that the contractions were strong enough that we should just go to the hospital. We phoned Dr. Jones and Jacquie to let them know, and Jacquie arranged to meet us at the hospital.

I checked in at 1:50 pm. The check-up showed that I was still only 2 cm dialated and that I was in danger of dehydrating, so I tried to drink plenty. The next three hours found the contractions increasing steadily in intensity and averaging about 6 to 7 minutes apart. When Dr. Jones arrived about 5:30, I was at 4-5 cm., but by now I wasn't holding down liquids and the Dr. suggested a glucose/saline IV to keep me hydrated (something I hadn't wanted) but finally conceded to.

By 7:30, the contractions were so strong and I was so weak I hit a wall. My legs were shaking from exhaustion so I couldn't stand up anymore to work through the pain of the contractions (now 6 minutes apart). The nurses changed shift at 7:30 and the new nurse bundled me into bed onto my left side. By now I was really losing it, but the Dr. told me I was at 7-8 cm.

After another hour of what felt like hellishly frequent and intense contractions (Mike later told me I was sleeping between each one for 2-3 minutes), I was still only 7-8 cm. Dr. Jones suggested adding oxytocin to the IV to speed up and intensify the contractions for the last 2-3 cm. I agreed, hoping I could get through the pain with just the nitronox.

The oxytocin drip started at 8:55 and they also hooked me up to a fetal monitor. By 9:20, the contractions really started to intensify, and for each one I would take a couple of breaths in of nitronox to keep myself focused on breathing and moaning (low moans really helped!) through the pain. An hour later, I started to feel the urge to push but I was not quite at 10 cm. Luckily, it only took another 3 to 4 contractions to get there!

Once in the home stretch, my whole outlook changed. I was able to abandon the nitronox and with some instructions from Dr. Jones (and lots of encouragement from the others!) I was able to push at my own pace to move the baby down the birth canal. Surprisingly, this took just over an hour! The last few pushes required a little more coaching from the nurse but I was so determined to have the baby the same day I worked extra hard to birth her! Just before midnight, her head popped out and moments later, Dr. Jones clamped the cord, Mike cut it, and announced it was a girl!

She was placed on my bare chest and covered in warm blankets. The rest was mostly a blur (the placenta came out with the next contractions, and Mike & Jacquie duly inspected it with Dr. Jones -- I had NO interest!). Alice had an AGPAR of 9/10, and seemed to be healthy & happy and fairly alert. I had minimal tearing (two tiny tears, only one required 3 stitches -- this really surprised me later when I found out she was 8 lbs 11 oz!), and otherwise was exhausted and happy.

We were able to stay in the room for about an hour, before the baby was checked, I was able to clean up, and we were moved to the "mother and baby unit" (maternity ward). About 2:30 am, Mike left me and Alice to rest.

By the way, I could NOT have done any of this without the constant (and I mean 10 hours of constant) support and encouragement from Mike and Jacquie and the very helpful nursing staff (especially Linda who got me at my worst) and all the great work and attention from Dr. Judy Jones.