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Tickling, Trust & Threat of an Episiotomy
a Bradley Birth Mom Shares Her Story

Traveling to the hospital was not a big deal at all, we left when the contractions were picking up but not no unmanageable. My water broke at 8:20 a.m. on my birthday and contractions started with some regularity about 2 hours later. Russ came home from work around that time and we spend the afternoon relaxing, eating and at 7:30 p.m., we left for the hospital. We got checked when we arrived and I was 80% effaced, my cervix was soft and I was 0cm dilated. Our midwife told us to get walking so we made laps around the hallway.

Around midnight she came in to let us know that she was going to go rest since we might be at this for awhile and she had already delivered another baby earlier in the day. She said that soon as one of the birthing suites opened up we would be moved there but until then we were going to stay in the triage room where we had been laboring. Russ and I rested and labored there until one of the nurses offered to let us use the shower. We decided to give that a try and that's when contractions really started to intensify. At about 3 a.m. I finally looked at Russ and told him I had to get out.

Once we got to the room I told him someone needed to get Kathy for me. I wasn't sure why but I knew I needed her. When she walked in she asked what was going on and I could barely talk but told her that things were different and I felt a lot of pressure. She asked if I had the urge to push and I said yes (I couldn't stop if I tried). She checked me and I was only 5 cms dilated. On the next contraction she told me to go ahead and push and she helped me dilate. I went from 5cm to 10cm in two contractions. At that point they had put the fetal heart rate monitor on but it kept slipping off and they couldn't get an accurate read. When they could, his heart rate was in the 80s. Kathy looked at Russell and I and told us that the baby was upset about something and that she didn't know what so we had to try and get him out quickly.

The OB on call was brought into the tiny triage room and she agreed with Kathy that something was going on. With every contraction they had me try another position and at one point Kathy even tickled the baby's head to get his heart rate to jump up to normal levels. She and the OB did everything in their power to make sure we had the birth that we wanted - even if I was lying in bed in a triage room and not in one of the beautiful jacuzzi in a birthing suite. The room was getting crowded and they wanted a neonatal nurse in the room so they started wheeling me to the OR - the only available room on the floor.

I heard the nurses pushing all the equipment in the corner to make room for my bed. Kathy and the OB worked relentlessly as I pushed. Finally, Kathy told me the baby needed to come out and we couldn't wait any longer. His head had been halfway out for multiple pushes and he just wasn't budging. She knew that I really didn't want an episiotomy so we compromised and she gave me lidocaine, hoping that it would be like an "insurance policy" against it. Four big pushes later and Riley wasn't any closer to being born so I looked at her and told her to do whatever she needed to do.

One quick little cut and Riley slid right out with the next push - his hand right next to his cheek! As soon as they took him out, I knew it was a boy - despite having no inclination one way or another for the 9 months of my pregnancy. They put him on my chest, he had APGAR scores of 9 and 9, and gave me quite a bit of time with him before the nurse checked him over. He breastfed very quickly and is a real champ with that now. Russ was absolutely incredible. He spoke for me, kept me calm and most of all, supported me. In the rare times he was away from me when I had a contraction, they were definitely more painful. I could not have done it without him. And yes, I did laugh multiple times during labor.

Even though going into labor the last thing I wanted was an episiotomy, I realized in that moment that Kathy would not have suggested it if it wasn't urgent. When she came in to check on me the next day after having some time to think about our labor she told me that multiple times she and the OB were about to prepare for a cesarean when Riley would give her just enough information to tell them he was okay. She said with his heart rate where it was, at any other hospital I would have been a stat section. I wholeheartedly believe that if I didn't have Kathy I would have had a section. She managed it so well and said that she was running purely on instinct. She has worked with the OB for more than 15 years, so I think their relationship and the trust that OB put in Kathy was what made the difference.

Kathy expected his cord to be wrapped around his neck but it wasn't so we have no idea why he was upset but he's here now and absolutely perfect. Just to show how uncommon an episotomy is at Phelps Memorial, our second nurse came in halfway through the day and asked if we had one, and when I said yes, she said, "I've worked here for years and I see maybe 5 a year! What was that baby doing?!" I laughed but it did make me realize that it was absolutely necessary and better than the alternative. For the record, it wasn't NEARLY as bad as I thought it would be. 

Copyright 2013, Tara Picket. Used by permission.

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Last modified: 02/18/14

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