Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Beckett's birth story

As you know, we welcomed our son, Beckett Fox Schunke, into the world three weeks ago. Here's the story of how it all happened.
His due date was Friday, 11/11/11, and we got up that morning determined to be proactive in getting labor started. Matt stayed home from work because I'd been having some contractions the previous day, and I just had a feeling it was going to happen. We spent the morning walking around the art museum, then Forest Park, and finally the SLU campus, where I started to have real contractions around 2:30 p.m. (I'd been having a ton of Braxton-Hicks contractions since around week 30.) We headed home to relax a bit, and over the next few hours, the contractions continued to strengthen and get closer together, so we headed to the hospital around 11 p.m., when they were about four and a half minutes apart. I was still at 4 cm at that point (which was where my OB had measured me at my appointment the previous day), and they began monitoring me for about two hours, until a private room opened up for me. By then, I'd gotten to 6 cm, and things seemed to be going well.
We'd been hoping all along to have a natural birth for a number of reasons (first and foremost because it's almost always better for mom and the baby, but also for the experience of it, to avoid interventions that were more likely to lead to a C-section, etc.), but by the time we reached the hospital, I had started to have strong reactions to the hormones or adrenaline, which caused me to shake uncontrollably. Anyone who's ever tried a natural birth (or even gotten through a few contractions before getting their epidural) will tell you the only way you can really do it successfully is if you're able to completely relax your body and breathe through the contractions. Unfortunately, I was shaking so hard that it was impossible for me to relax, so every contraction was a nightmare. Plus, I was worn out from the day of walking and hadn't gotten any sleep. After several hours in the hospital, I was so exhausted that after each contraction, I would immediately fall asleep until the next one started a few minutes later. I was also Strep B-positive, so I had to be given doses of penicillin every few hours, which confined me to the bed, limiting my ability to change positions and move around to help with the contractions.
When the nurse checked me again around 6 a.m., I was still at 6 cm, and it was at that point that we decided to get the epidural. I wasn't progressing at all, despite my contractions getting much stronger and closer together, and I was so exhausted that even if I'd been at 10 cm and ready to push at that moment, I don't think I would have had the energy to do it anyway. If labor went on for many more hours (as it eventually did), I definitely didn't have the confidence that I'd have more energy then, which was likely to cause more problems for me and the baby, including an increased risk of C-section, so we knew the epidural was the way to go. And boy, did it make all the difference. After I got it, I was able to sleep for a few hours, and the shaking lessened significantly.
Around 9 a.m., the resident and OB on call tried to get us to agree to breaking my water, but we were hesitant to have any further intervention unless it was really necessary, so we had them call our OB, who agreed that we didn't need to do it. After that, they left us alone to see how things progressed. By about 3 p.m., I'd progressed to 9 cm, but my water still hadn't broken, so we agreed to go ahead with it in the hopes it would push me over the edge. Instead, I digressed, slipping back to 8 cm and slowing my contractions. After Beckett's heart rate started to rise a bit, which worried the doctors, we agreed to a minimum dosage of Pitocin, which did exactly what we needed it to — increasing and strengthening my contractions and getting me to 10 cm around 6:30 p.m.
At that point, my OB arrived, and we started to push. I only had to push for about 45 minutes, and it was a great experience. I had had my epidural for about 12 hours by that point, and it had worn off to the perfect level, where I could feel the contractions well enough to push easily but painlessly. I had a mirror so I could see what was happening, which turned out to be a huge motivator. I'd push like crazy during the contractions, and then we'd all relax and chat until the next one came around. It was great. (Have I mentioned how much we love our OB? She's fantastic. Though she's part of a group practice and wasn't the doctor on call, she came in to deliver Beckett and then visited us again our last day in the hospital. I actually miss our weekly OB appointments, and I'm looking forward to my six-week check-up.) The first thing my OB said was "look at that hair," and before we knew it, he was in my arms.
Beckett arrived at 7:32 p.m., after 29 hours of labor. Matt cut the cord, and the nurse placed him on my chest. He was perfect. Though it didn't go as we'd planned, I couldn't have asked for a better experience, and we are so thankful for our perfect, healthy, amazing little boy.


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I think it's always great and important to hear and to honor every mom's different labor story, because they are all unique and special. I also had a complicated labor (late baby, induction that didn't work, etc. etc.) so I can relate and sympathize. Be proud of your 29 hour labor, epidural, pitocin and all! You rocked it and you have a beautiful baby to show for it!

  2. such an amazing experience, isnt it? SO happy for you and your precious new bundle! :)


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