Birth Stories

Janelle’s Birth Story: Meconium and Low Fetal Heart Rate

Editor’s note: We believe that all birth stories and all birth experiences matter. This post is part of an ongoing series of birth stories submitted by readers and fellow bloggers, featuring a diverse range of women and their birth experiences. Despite inconsistent fetal growth, meconium in the amniotic fluid, and a dropping fetal heart rate, Janelle and her baby girl were able to avoid an induction or emergency c-section.

If you would like to share your own birth story, please visit this post to learn how. ~Olivia

For the most part, I experienced the typical aches and pains that come with carrying a tiny human for 10 months. During the last month of my pregnancy, however, Adeline was not consistently growing each week. I was measuring a few weeks behind and that, coupled with the slow growth, had my OB a bit concerned. Because of this, we were going to be induced if I didn’t have the baby before 40 weeks and 4 days.

I had my membranes stripped at my 40-week appointment, and my OB suggested we do everything we could to keep up the momentum. As any good expecting parents would do, we Googled “How to naturally induce labor.” It’s safe to say we pretty much tried everything on that list. I got acupuncture. I got an induction massage (any excuse for a massage, right?). I went on long walks. I drank my body weight in red raspberry leaf tea. I ate spicy food. I did deep squats. I bounced on an exercise ball. Seriously – all of it.

And… something must have worked.

The day after my 40-week appointment. I started having consistent contractions around 5:15 pm. They started while we were walking about Houston Garden Center shopping for ivy for our backyard. When we got home I wanted to lie down, but Marcus insisted we go on a walk and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I obliged, and we set out for a 30-minute walk around our neighborhood. I was contracting the whole time, but at this point the contractions were manageable.

At 8:40 pm the contractions started to really pick up in intensity. I felt like a warm bath would give me some relief so I spent the next hour in the tub breathing through my contractions and listening to a special labor playlist I had created. I had absolutely no appetite, but for some reason thought peanut butter on a Ritz cracker sounded good. I took one bite of that peanut butter cracker, and it tasted terrible. And then I started choking – like literally couldn’t breathe – all while I’m still in the bathtub. What a ridiculous scene.

Then I felt like I needed to throw up (which is actually pretty common during labor). I got out of the bathtub, dripped everywhere, ran to the toilet and on my way threw up on the bathroom wall. I went to lie down on the bed to catch my breath from the choking/vomiting fiasco, and before I knew it I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. I got up and water was leaking down my legs, all over the carpet in our bedroom. My water must have broken. It was kind of red/brown in color, which meant there might have been meconium (baby’s first stool) in the amniotic fluid. We knew it was time to go to the hospital.

Marcus started gathering our bags, and it was my job to get dressed (which was quite a challenge in itself). We really thought we were completely packed, but in actuality, we had a ton of loose ends. We had multiple bags, a cooler of snacks, an exercise ball, pillows, etc. and they were not all in one place. All the while I am having serious contractions every couple of minutes that Marcus is stopping to help me though. Word to the wise – be more prepared than we were!

We loaded ourselves into the car at 11:15 pm, and right before we backed out of the driveway, Marcus grabbed my hand and said a quick prayer for our daughter and the delivery. He asked our God to keep the two of us safe and to give me the strength I needed to get her here.

The next hour was spent in the car – me timing my contractions on my app and focusing on my breathing, and Marcus trying to keep his cool as he navigated major traffic and road closures on our way to the hospital. Even with no traffic, we had a 40-minute drive.

We arrived at the hospital at 12:15 am and headed up to the triage floor. I was a sight to be seen at this point, moaning through my contractions in the hallway. When I got into the triage room, they checked me and thank goodness I was 8 centimeters dilated, 100% effaced and -2 station. This was such a relief, as it confirmed that my body had been doing a lot of work these past few hours and that the pain was getting me closer to meeting my little girl.

I was then moved down to the labor and delivery floor. I labored there with Marcus and my doula. My mom was also with us in the room. I labored first in the bed, some on the toilet, on the exercise ball for quite a while and finally laying on my side. Marcus talked me through every single contraction. My doula kept me positive, suggested different laboring positions and reassured me we were making progress. During the last hour I was feeling really intense downward pressure during my contractions. Almost as if my body was pushing the baby further and further down on its own.

After two hours of laboring at the hospital, they checked me again, and I was completely dilated, 100% effaced and ready to push. The midwife on duty broke my water again (supposedly you can have multiple bags of water). As we had thought originally, there was meconium in the water. Because of this they told me that if the baby didn’t cry right away they would not be able to give her to me, instead she would have to go over to the warmer to be checked out.

I started to push. After a couple contractions, Adeline’s heart rate started to drop, and it wasn’t recovering. The speed at which the room filled with doctors and nurses was incredible. Before I knew it, the hospitalist was in the room taking over for the midwife. If I wasn’t able to get her out in the next couple minutes I would have to be taken back for an emergency cesarean. They gave me oxygen between contractions and started prepping to put me completely under if they had to rush me back to surgery (since I didn’t already have an epidural going). They were prepping the OR. The anxiety in the room was undeniable, and I was more terrified than I had ever been.

My nurse leaned over the bed, put her face a couple inches above mine, looked me directly in the eyes and told me that this was my last chance. I had to push my baby out on this contraction, or this was over and they were going to take me back for surgery. I heard her. And I gave it everything I had in me. I have never wanted anything that badly in my life. And in that contraction, I pushed out her head.

The hospitalist used a vacuum to help guide out the rest of the body. Our baby girl cried for us. Loud and proud. I would get her straight onto my chest because of that beautiful cry. Marcus was able to cut the cord, and they handed her right to me. I couldn’t believe she was ours.

The first feeling I remember was relief. Relief that she was finally here. Relief that she was healthy. And relief from the intensity that was labor. Relief was followed by joy, excitement, exhaustion and an overwhelming love for my new daughter.

Adeline Faith was born at 2:55 am on March 19, 2017. She weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces and measured 19.5 inches long. I know I am biased, but I think she is pretty darn cute.

I am so thankful for my birth experience. It was hard work, and it had some very intense moments, but it is Adeline’s birth story. And for that reason I think it is perfect.

My name is Janelle, and I am a wife and new mother to a sweet baby girl living in Houston, TX. I blog at Route to Health and Wealth about healthy living, family life and little ways to save big! You can connect with me on Instagram at @janellerendon and Twitter at @Route2HandW.

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