Welcoming Riley Ogenyi: A Birth StoryBy Ejiro Ogenyi
Published: May 19, 2015
I had always wondered if I would know when labor hit. My doctor described actual labor contractions as originating from your back and my Lamaze class teacher had assured my husband and I that we would know. By week 39 I wasn’t so sure anymore because both weeks 37 and 38 were rife with Braxton-Hicks contractions that had me feeling like the real thing. I was also having a rough time of it from a comfort perspective. I was waking up two or three times a night to empty my bladder and sometimes I needed help rolling out of bed. I still practiced Yoga most days and I could tell the difference on the days that I didn’t. And through all of this I was working.
It was the 7th day of the 38th week and I had a doctor’s appointment to check my progress. I was convinced that I must have dilated a little bit, all those fake contractions and all the discomfort had to count for something. Unfortunately, nothing had happened. The little one was still high and my cervix was as shuttered as it ever was. My doctor decided that it was time to start the induction conversation. She didn’t think it was a great idea to go past 41 weeks and I agreed. The kid was weighing in at 6+ lbs at 37 weeks and I didn’t want to risk him getting too big. We scheduled the induction for the 13th of April and the process would require me to go for testing before hand, go to the hospital the night before, and then get induced on the morning of the 13th.
The 7th day of the 38th week was also my last day of work, and I planned to get some self care in before the baby came. I had scheduled a hair appointment to get twists that would last at least 2 weeks and I’d also scheduled a spa day for a facial, manicure and a pedicure for the next day. I kept up with my yoga practice and I started stepping outside my door for walks to see if we could get things going because in my ideal world and birth plan I preferred not to be induced.
On Sunday, the 2nd day of the 39th week, I woke up and did a 20 minute yoga practice. My husband and I went grocery shopping to stock up the fridge and I spent the day cooking up food and cutting up vegetables to ensure that the fridge was stocked with as much healthy fare as possible. Then we parked in front of the T.V. to binge watch Netflix shows. This was our normal Sunday routine. My husband, Sunday, cooked some of his delicious stew and had just turned off the stove and returned to join me to finish up The November Man and we eventually passed out.
Then, at 9:07 PM, I felt a gush of water down there.
My first thought was, I guess I wouldn’t have to wonder when labor hit. And my next act was to yell to wake Sunday up and tell him my water broke and that he should bring a bucket. I was on the sofa and felt that walking to the closest bathroom would track amniotic fluid all over the living room floor and I wasn’t interested in that clean up. I sat on the bucket in front of the sofa, and I called the doctor’s office. I was told to go to the hospital as was expected.
We were well prepared for what came next. The hospital bags had been packed for weeks and by the front door. It had snacks, clothes for mom and dad, and camera equipment. Once my water stopped dripping, he put the baby’s car seat and the bags in the car while I went up the stairs to get phone chargers, wipe down, and change. I came down and we drove to the hospital with my hype song (Shekpe by M.I. ft. Reminisce) playing on repeat to get my mind right.
We got to the hospital and made our way to the Woman and Child wing. There were no forms necessary as we’d already pre-registered when I was 7 months pregnant. We gave them my name and it was time to get things rolling. The first course of action was to sign consent forms and for the nurse to check to see if it was actually amniotic fluid that was dripping down my legs. Then I got settled into a delivery room, changed into a gown and mesh panties and got hooked up to an I.V. line. By 10 PM we were all settled in.
Surprisingly, I had dilated 2 cm between Thursday and Sunday and the doctor wanted to give me another three hours to see if I would progress naturally. Unfortunately, three hours later, I had only opened up another ½ cm. This meant that it was time to bring in the big guns – Pitocin or synthetic Oxytocin was administered to help move labor along. I’d heard stories that the drug made contractions come harder and faster and boy were they right.
They increased the amount of pitocin every half hour to an hour. Each increase brought on what my husband and I started to call the adaptation period. The pain would be intense for a while and we’d do everything from slow dancing, walking around the room, walking me to the bathroom for a pee break, and the trusty double hip press to get me through it. After a while, I could manage the pain and my husband could get a break. This went on for about 8 hours – from 1 am to 9 am.
I was at about 5 cm dilated at the 9:30 am check and the contractions were on top of each other. The adaptation period for the last increase seemed never ending and we tried everything in our toolbox from all the things we’d tried before to bringing in pattern paced breathing and my husband making sure I focused on something when contractions hit. But nothing seemed to be working. At some point I asked for a bucket to vomit in and to be taken to the bathroom to pee at the same time. Sunday pointed out that I had to pick one, and vomiting was it. After letting it go, I realized that I needed something for the pain. We took some time to talk it through.
I wanted to go through labor without the epidural, but it was looking like that wasn’t going to happen. My other pain relief option was going to last about two hours and couldn’t be administered once I was past 6 cm dilated. It didn’t make any sense because we would be right back to where we were right then. It was in that moment that I had to accept the fact that an epidural, though not part of my ideal plan, was needed to get me through the rest of it and leave me feeling strong enough to enjoy my baby when he came.
At 10 AM, I asked for the epidural and my husband held my hand while I rode out contractions and waited for the anesthesiologist to show up. At 10:20 AM, he showed up and Sunday was ushered out of the room. The nurse held me while the doctor got me all squared away with the pain meds. It felt better within what felt like a few minutes and it was just then that I realized how exhausted I was. I proceeded to pass out and only woke up when they came to check me. Sunday was also able to get some much needed rest. In the moments before I dozed off, I knew that I’d made the right decision.
Just over three and a half hours later, it was time to push. The only things I could feel below my waist were a slight pressure in my back when contractions hit and the nurses fingers in my lady parts telling me where to push. It was in this moment that I was grateful for the flowery language that a lot of my yoga teachers use to describe the breath. You see some yoga teachers use visualization to help you open up your breath by saying things like “breathe into your back” or “open your breath up like the wings of a butterfly.” I personally don’t use that language when I teach, but I just might in the future because that visualization helped me follow the instructions of the doctor and nurse. She put pressure against where she wanted me to aim for with my pushes, and I would inhale and focus on exhaling in that direction.
It took 22 minutes. 22 minutes of listening to my caregivers instruct me on how to push. Overall, after 40 weeks of waiting and 17-½ hours of labor and relying on the support of my husband and caregivers, we got to meet the most precious gift of all. Our son. Riley Ogenyi.
If you’re new to EJ’s chronicle of her journey to motherhood, find out what you’ve missed and catch up on the series here — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11
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