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The Birth Story of Finley James Tetrault

December 8, 2014

So, let me preface this by saying that this birth story is being written from the VERY BEGINNING, to include my journey towards understanding my body and womankind in general, all the way through labor and delivery.  I am writing all of this out because I want a place to come back and reflect should I experience these struggles again and I also think that this topic is something that a lot of women experience but don’t actually talk about.  I think it is SO IMPORTANT to talk about these issues and to help women understand that we are all different but all of our bodies WORK.  In my journey to get pregnant my biggest fear was that my body was BROKEN, that I couldn’t have babies and that I spent my whole life trying NOT to get pregnant so when the time came to actually get pregnant the ultimate irony would be that I was incapable of doing it.  I also want to state that I won’t be gory, but the details from this point forward may be graphic for some, so YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

About 2 years ago, I was taking the pill like most young women in America, and I noticed that I was no longer able to have a cycle.  I gave it one more month before I tossed in the towel and sure enough, no cycle in January 2013 either.  I decided to go off of the pill to see if that was the problem and I was still unable to have a cycle off the pill.  I began to get really worried…where was it!?!  Normally, you miss a pill and your cycle shows the next day, here I was 3 months and nothing.  I began investigating…

After countless tests at the doctor’s office, I decided to take things into my own hands.  I knew that my body was out of its normal equilibrium and started reading a book called WomanCode to try to bring my body back to its normal stasis.  I also started doing something called seed cycling to bring my 60 day cycles down to a normal range of days.  My cycles went from 60 to 45 to 31 days on the seed cycling protocol!  I couldn’t believe it!  My strategic eating and nutrition supplementation was working and my body was responding accordingly.  After my 31 day cycle, I expected to have a 28 day cycle next because this was the optimal cycle length that seed cycling was striving for.  I tracked my ovulation the entire time and day 14 came and went with no ovulation, so did days 15, 16, 17…25, 26, 27, 28…you get the picture.  I was devastated.  What the heck was going on?!  And when day 31 came and went and no cycle, I lost my mind.  I was going to do a full on hormone cleansing diet after my cycle showed because there had to be an answer for our struggles to get pregnant.  We had been trying for 6 months at this point (although we only had 3 chances because I was having 60 day cycles), and no luck.  Then, one night (around day 48) I had a dream that I got a positive pregnancy test.  The next day, I figured I would take one (it had been a while…why not?) but expected it to be blank like all of the other hundreds of tests I had taken 🙂  But it wasn’t…and that is the beginning of Finley James’ journey into our loving arms.

My pregnancy was very uneventful and in all reality, very easy.  I know I was lucky to have mild discomfort during the 1st trimester (I called it the HCG hangover…I really just felt mildly hungover for about a month), no problems with our baby’s development in utero, and no other aches and pains.  I was able to work out up until about 2 days prior to my delivery and I was so thankful for that.  The only thing I wish I had known in hindsight was to just allow myself to be blissfully happy.  I was so afraid to allow myself to be happy for the fear of discovering something terrible during an ultrasound or blood test or whatever.  I wish I could have just allowed myself to be a bit more carefree.  I finally got to this point around week 30-32…I knew everything was going to be just fine and I just needed to relax and enjoy what was left of being pregnant.

So, back to the deets.  I was 41 weeks and 3 days when I went in for my second NST and everything was great; however, my fluid was cloudy and I was only dilated 1 cm, 60% effaced and the baby was at -2 station.  He was also still posterior.  I decided to allow my midwife to strip my membranes and then spent the next 48 hours doing spinning babies exercises to try to get him to flip anterior.  I started having contractions about every 5-7 min (mild ones, but real ones!) and they lasted about 1-1.5 minutes.  This started about 24 hours after the membrane stripping and kept persisting through my next NST.  On Wednesday, I was pretty disheartened that Finley hadn’t arrived yet because I was up against the clock and feeling pressure from my midwife to induce via Foley Bulb on Thursday night.  I was an emotional wreck trying to decide how to proceed…did I allow them to induce me?  Did I hold out until baby decided to arrive?  I had my second NST at 41 weeks and 5 days and the medical team became slightly concerned.  Finley was getting “excited” enough for them.  He needed to elevate his heart rate by 15 bpm over his baseline heart rate and sustain that elevated heart rate for 15 seconds, but he was only holding it for 10 seconds.  This meant he FAILED the NST.  This really made me angry because I didn’t understand what that 5 seconds he wasn’t sustaining for meant and didn’t feel that I got a good medically founded explanation.  After that, we did a Biophysical Profile and everything looked great (fluid levels, etc), but my midwife still felt we should induce Thursday night.  I had her strip my membranes again and left sobbing, totally torn about what to do.

That day, I continued to feel  the normal contractions and they were definitely more noticeable, but I was so distraught that I just kept ignoring them.  Hubby suggested super spicy Thai food for lunch, so he picked some home and came home from work to eat with me.  We also watched some funny videos to try and lift my spirits…this one was my favorite 🙂  My friend Andrea also asked us to come over to dinner at her house so we could unwind, hang in the presence of great friends and company, and eat delicious food.  Before that I had my one final ditch effort at going into labor:  acupuncture.  I went and saw the acupuncturist (if you live in Dayton and are pregnant and up against an induction, GO SEE HER!!! She has a 48 hr guarantee of sending you into labor :-)).  Because of my tight deadline (induction within 24 hrs) she amped up my session and gave me STEM treatment along with some pressure points for turning the baby.  I had contractions during the procedure like I expected but didn’t feel all that different afterwards.  I did not have high hopes that anything I had been doing thus far would work.  We went and hung out with Andrea and her husband, had lots of laughs, delicious food and a glass of wine to help me unwind.  It was the perfect “last supper” although I didn’t know it at the time!

We called our Bradley Instructor on the way home to talk about options for delaying induction and felt really confident about postponing the induction if we had to deal with that the next day.  I went to bed at 11:30 PM and still felt the exact same.  If I only knew I would be waking up at 12:30 AM in labor, I would have gone to bed earlier!

I woke up at 12:30 AM with the most insane urge to go to the bathroom.  I actually thought that I had been poisoned by Andrea 😉 (we talked about putting Castor Oil in the food to help speed things up!) or that I had the flu or something.  I went to the bathroom and back to bed, only to feel the urge to go to the bathroom again about 2 minutes later.  After 3 trips to the toilet, I noticed that these trips were all about 2 minutes apart and that I was moaning…not normal for me.  It was at this moment that I figured I should start timing my bathroom trips.  Sure enough, the moaning was about 1-1.5 minutes long and occurred about every 2-3 minutes.  These were contractions??  They were nothing like I expected, although I knew I was still in the early stages of labor.  I was experiencing my BIG clear out. The other thing I did not expect in labor was my body’s desire to clear EVERYTHING out…cue:  incessant vomiting.  It truly felt like I had gotten a really bad stomach bug!  I woke Hubby to tell him I thought I was in labor and he told me to lay down and rest if I could.  I told him I had to move through contractions and they were really close so I didn’t think I could rest.  He called my doula and she suggested a bath, so he drew one for me and I was able to catch a few minutes of shut eye in there.  I had to get out after about 10 minutes because I was shivering uncontrollably (something that also continued throughout labor!).  It was at this point that I knew this was for real and that we should finish packing our hospital bags.  I left out things like underwear and coming home outfits because I didn’t know what would fit or what the weather would be like…it was great because it gave me a task to focus on!

Hubby called my doula at 2:30 AM and told her we wanted her to come join us in laboring at home because things were getting a bit more heavy.  I had started vomiting and was having back labor at this point and we could use the extra set of hands!  She showed up around 3:30 AM, walked straight into the house and began working her magic immediately.  For any of you in Dayton that are in search of a doula, get with me for her contact information…she is out of this world amazing!  She proceeded to apply counter-pressure and massage my back to combat the back labor I was having for the next 12 HOURS of labor.  Hubby and I were SO thankful that she was there.

I decided I wanted to leave for the hospital no later than 6:30 AM to avoid rush hour traffic, and I’m so happy we left when we did.  I felt much more secure once we got to the hospital and the labor tub they had for me was amazing…way better than what I had set up at home!  I had about 3-4 contractions in the car on the way to the hospital and thought they would be terrible, but they were actually not bad at all.  I just kept moaning low and keeping my whole body as limp as I could.  My doula rubbed my knee to comfort me through them as she drove.  The contractions REALLY intensified when we got to the hospital and I had about 6-7 on the way from the car to the Labor and Delivery Ward.  I was insistent on walking the whole way and CLIMBING THE STAIRS!!  I thought it would for sure help the baby drop and he sure did!  He was at zero station, almost +1, and I was dilated to 6 cm, 90% effaced.

The worst part of the entire labor process was the fact that I had to stay still for an NST when I got to the hospital.  They needed a 20 minute read and I was NOT comfortable staying still.  Eventually, they realized this wasn’t going to happen, so they gave me a mobile monitor and things got much better.  Most of the NST was taken as I sat on the toilet 😉  I also didn’t want an IV, but since I had been puking so much, I figured this would be a good thing.  I got a few syringe fulls of saline (to allow me to stay mobile) and some Zofran to combat the nausea…that didn’t work all that well, but luckily my stomach was empty :-/

Once the NST was done, I was allowed to get in the labor tub and OH MY GOODNESS was that divine.  Unfortunately, I was so comfortable in the tub, that my labor stalled…for 5 hours.  My midwife had me get out of the tub and move around, doing exercises through the contractions (not fun) and then when I still hadn’t gotten past 7 cm, she announced she thought we should break my water.  I quickly agreed…although to begin with I didn’t want this to happen because it was an intervention, but after 12 hours of labor I was definitely OK with this intervention.

This got very intense after my water broke, but I still felt I could handle them until about an hour before I made it to 10cm.  I never actually though, “I need an epidural!!”, but I did start to lose control during the contractions.  I was reminded to keep my moans low and to stay loose.  I said a few times, “I don’t think I can do this!!”  “I think I’m dying!!” and this quickly alerted me that I was going through transition.  I knew I was close to the end and my birth support team reminded me of that too.

Before I knew it, I was at 10cm and cleared to push.  I thought I would LOVE pushing, but I actually found it really frustrating.  I was mentally berating myself about how terrible I was at pushing because I had such a tough time getting his head out!  Little did I know that I was naturally birthing a 10 lb baby.  After 40 minutes of pushing, my midwife announced that I needed to get the head out on the next push because they couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat (he was really low in my pelvis), so I pushed with all my might and definitely felt the ring of fire.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I think it is because I had been stretching for the last 40 minutes.  When Finley’s head was finally out, I looked down and thought I had pushed out his whole body (his head was THAT BIG), but then my midwife said, “one more push and you’ll have his body out!”.  I barely pushed, in fact I think I could have sneezed, and there he was!  A BIG warm squishy baby right on my chest…I was in awe, and Hubby teared up looking at his new baby boy.  The first thing I asked, “Does he have all 10 fingers and toes!?!?!”

My birth experience was so so amazing.  I actually told my husband I didn’t think we could top it ever again (although I hope we can!).  My husband was amazing and so sweet during all of it, my doula was fantastic and so crucial to the whole production…I love her dearly!!  My midwife, oh my midwife, how I loved her.  Any military members or dependent wives that are delivering at Wright Patterson AFB, Jane Vesel is your key to an amazing birth experience.  If you want to go naturally, she will be there to support you and I felt that I couldn’t have done it without her.  Despite how long this narrative is, I actually skimmed over quite a few details (I need to go feed my baby!!), so if there is anything else you have more questions on, feel free to contact me with them.

Bottom line though:  I have never been more amazed with my body before or proud to be a woman.  My body DOES work and I can grow a baby, naturally deliver a baby, and feed that baby all with my body (just like Jim Gaffigan says).  I want to apologize to my body for always thinking that it wasn’t good enough, or skinny enough, or strong enough.  I now know that I am good enough and my body is amazing.  I couldn’t be more proud to be me 🙂  I hope that every woman that wants to have a baby is able to have this experience too because it is the most empowering experience in existence! Girl power!



6 Comments leave one →
  1. elwood826 permalink
    December 9, 2014 4:08 am

    Yeah! Congratulations to your sweet family. You will be wonderful parents.

  2. Courtney Gesualdi permalink
    December 9, 2014 1:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Alyssa, it’s an amazing story. I’ll over-share if you’ll indulge me – we’re not at the point of trying yet, but I, like you, am fairly certain that something will cause us to have trouble getting pregnant or we just won’t be able to. We’ll take it as it comes, but it’s a comfort to know that (1) I’m not the only one who feels this way at our age and (2) it can be a very, very happy (and incredibly cute) ending, even if it takes some time. Congratulations on your very precious family (and double-congrats on a 10 lb natural birth)!!

    • December 9, 2014 2:51 pm

      Thanks Courtney! And I’m the queen of over sharing so never worry about that with me 🙂 I think it is a very common fear so you definitely aren’t alone there. I think if you can put that fear in the very back of your mind and just expect it to take 7 months to get pregnant you’ll set yourself up for much less disappointment. Also, I got pregnant 1 year (on the nose) after going off the pill, and 1 year is a pretty standard period of time to normalize your body after BCP. It will all work out exactly like it should. I laugh with Jeff thinking of how we couldn’t have timed Finley’s arrival any better if we tried!

  3. Jamie permalink
    December 18, 2014 12:33 am

    I’ve finally gotten around to reading this whole thing. Your story about getting pregnant sounds very close to ours – I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t cycle, and got so frustrated to the point of taking a break for a while, only to find out we were finally pregnant. An easy pregnancy, but very rough delivery and recovery. I’m so happy to read that it was a good experience for you! I can’t wait to meet Finley 🙂

    • December 18, 2014 1:29 am

      Thanks Jamie! We did have similar getting pregnant stories! Its amazing how when you finally relax it happens 🙂 now to remember this with my next pregnancies!

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