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When Birth Doesn't Go As Planned

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Founder, Sharmin Karim, shares her birth story of her son during COVID-19.

My goal was to plan for as natural of a pregnancy and birth as possible - my son and his birth story had other plans. 

My childbirth experience was not what I had planned - it was long, painful, fun, and beautiful all the same. We had hired a birth doula with the intention of laboring at home and having as natural of a birth as possible. Unfortunately, my son had other plans and was not interested in coming out despite trying all the things (spicy food, exercise, curb walking, nipple stimulation, sex). You name it, we tried it. My OB/GYN would not allow me to go beyond 42 weeks, so at 41 weeks and 5 days we checked into the hospital to begin induction.

We had all the interventions possible to try to get my son out. I had two membrane sweeps prior to being induced, and neither did anything. Once I got to L&D they started me on Cervadil and then checked my cervix twelve hours later. I was barely one centimeter dilated. Next, a Foley Balloon was inserted into my cervix, breaking my water. Then we waited… for almost fourteen hours, after which I was given the synthetic hormone Misoprostol to help move things along. Aside from some discomfort from the balloon, I was relaxed - we were in a comfortable room with a TV, Friends reruns were on, we were chilling. Our baby, nor I, were in a hurry. Whenever I didn’t have to be hooked up to a monitor, I’d go and cuddle with my husband on his pullout couch. It was actually a fun bonding moment for us.

Four hours later, the Foley Bulb/Balloon was taken out and I was barely two centimeters dilated. I was now at the 42 week deadline and my L&D team was done letting things try to progress on its own. They started me on Pitocin that morning, low doses at first and then kept cranking up the dosage amount every few hours. I was starting to feel the pain and couldn’t lay still any longer.

We had planned to manage the pain through natural coping mechanisms - we had a birthing ball with us so I began to sway my hips and bounce around while zoning out to music. But the contractions from the Pitocin kept getting stronger. We called our birth doula and told her she needed to come to the hospital now. I convinced the L&D team to let me take a shower, as water has always calmed me down. The pain was somewhat manageable while under the water. But once I got out, I was struggling. My husband was rubbing my back, and my birth doula had arrived with her TENS unit in an effort to manage my pain without medication. A midwife came in to do a cervix check and I was only four centimeters dilated after 9 hours of Pitocin. 

I was exhausted and I felt defeated - all that pain and I still wasn’t in active labor. My body was shutting down - I was nauseous, shivering from the pain, and had a low-grade fever because by now my water had been broken for almost 24 hours. I finally relented and got an epidural. Almost immediately, my body began to relax. But mentally, I was struggling to reconcile my birth plans with what was actually happening. I started crying with my doula; I felt like I had let her down and let myself down. In retrospect, those tears released me from all that I had planned and envisioned for our birth and allowed me to focus on what was actually happening - that my body and baby needed rest. I fell into a deep slumber and woke up a few hours later. My cervix was checked and I was eight centimeters dilated. 

After that, it was a relaxed and fun atmosphere in our birthing room. I was laughing, joking around with everyone, singing Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It’ song. It was a good time. My legs were still numb from the epidural and I chose to not get any more pain medication. We were in active labor for about one hour, pushed for about another hour, and then my son was born exactly at 42 weeks! It was the most amazingly beautiful experience of my life. 

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