Larissa’s First Birth: 63 Hours of Labor, Supportive Team, Calm Mama, Transition from Birth Center to Hospital

This is one of those births where you are just in awe at what a woman’s body can do. While 63 hour labors are quite uncommon, this mama handled it amazingly well. She was prepared for whatever turns her birthing might take, and in this case, it was a transfer to a hospital with an epidural for the last couple of hours. Still a great birth!

Our handsome little Holland was born on August 24 at about 8:00 p.m. at Utah Valley Regional
Hospital. He weighed seven pounds and three ounces, measured 19 inches long, and made his
debut with a full head of hair. I don’t know if anything could have fully prepared me for labor,
birth, and motherhood, but I’m so grateful for the classes in which we chose to participate. I truly
believe they made all the difference. On Tuesday, August 21, at around 10:30 p.m., I decided to
ingest some castor oil to jumpstart labor. The taste alone made it a terrible idea. It did jumpstart
my labor, which may have been a good thing or a bad thing.

On Wednesday, at 2:00 a.m., I started having diarrhea and by 3:00 a.m., I said hello to my birth
show. From 3:00 to 4:30, my uterus began to go through surges and I timed them at an average
of one to two minutes apart and lasting 45 to 60 seconds each. I was able to talk through my
surges, but they were just painful enough that I had to concentrate through them. I thought they
might be regular enough to head on in to the birthing center. Also, we’re no experts at dilation,
but we thought we were able to estimate a measurement of about one to two centimeters. The
midwives at the birthing center were willing and kind enough to check me out, but ultimately
they knew we had a ways to go still. At home, the surges kept me up all night Wednesday night
through to Thursday. Mikkel did his very best to stay awake, but let’s just say that was one of
the loneliest nights of my life. Throughout the day on Wednesday and Thursday, I went on
lots of walks, practiced my breathing, and tried to stay distracted in between contractions. My
team—Mikkel, my mom, my mom-in-law, and my sister-in-law—were amazing in their untiring
support and indispensible to the whole cause. At about 4:30 a.m. on Friday the 24th, after Mikkel
had been timing my contractions on and off throughout the night, they were finally strong,
regular, and close enough to head to the birthing center. Besides dozing off a few times for three
minutes or so, time without sleep: approx 48 hours.

Apparently, there had been much more measurable progress that had occurred throughout the
night on Thursday because I had reached six centimeters upon arrival at the birthing center.
I immediately jumped in the tub and requested a chocolate milk from the fridge. All that
hypnobirthing was doing its job. I was able to breathe through surges and enjoy the time in
between by conversing, singing, joking, talking to Holland, and dancing in my diaper. During
this time, my team provided wonderful encouragement, positive affirmation, light touch
massage, and plenty of pampering and room service. I divided my time between the jacuzzi,
toilet, yoga ball, and spacious queen-sized bed. From 4:30 to 9:00, everything slowly progressed.
Dilation was very slow-going compared to the surge pattern I was experiencing. We agreed to
have my membrane released at 9:00 a.m. Things picked up pace a little from then until noon.
Then… transition.

Unfortunately for me, transition and “active labor” not only meant uterine muscle tension, but
also horrendous labor pains which included daggers piercing the muscles in my lower back and
legs, causing them to seize up. I tried with all my will power to relax, but when my uterus
surged, it was all I could do to breathe without hyperventilating. I know what pain is and I know
that all I have to do when I experience pain is relax. If that doesn’t work, then at least I can get
through pain by telling myself that all pain has an end and I can get through anything with
composure and if need be, tears. But when that pain started up, I knew . The surges alone might
have been manageable, but three more hours of surges combined with the rest of the pain in my
body was not helping Holland to descend. I threw up – thankfully mainly on the floor. The midwives were surprised that I had not dilated more than eight centimeters by this time. Upon inspection, they could feel that most of my cervix had thinned enough but a part of it was not thinned enough and was keeping the dilation process from continuing. More and more, I felt if I could only concentrate on relaxing instead of on the all-over pain and fatigue, then I could help Holland’s path open up. But it just wasn’t possible for us this time. As I sat on the birthing stool, I felt for sure in that position that Holland was so close to joining us. The midwives tried lifting the lip of my cervix over Holland’s head during my surges, but it ended up in vain. The midwives suggested that Mikkel and I spend some time alone to see if I could relax a little more. And so we spent a half hour or forty minutes as just the two of us trying to talk and cry our way through the struggle. I threw up again, but this time it was all over myself and the bed. I have never experienced not having control over my body and I was becoming overly exhausted and discouraged after almost four hours of transition. Thankfully, the midwives had already contacted Utah Valley Regional to give them a heads up before this time, without letting us know anything about it of course. But they were still doing everything they could and we honestly believe they were 100% devoted to making sure transfer to the hospital was the only option. They could see my resolve and dedication. They knew I knew what I could and could not handle. I finally felt like I had long surpassed my limit of physical strength and that even if I could tap some possible adrenaline reserve I had left, I would not be able to go on without shutting down. I made the decision to transfer.

The five minute car ride to the hospital lasted an eternity. Every surge was such a struggle to
just breath and the time between surges was only seconds. They took me in a wheelchair up
to the room where they got me hooked up to an IV and then they gave me an epidural. Mikkel
was holding my hand the whole time. As soon as the first surge hit after the epidural it was
remarkably less pain than it had been. The next surge just felt like pressure. I had never felt such
overwhelming relief in my life and tears began to pour from my eyes. After gaining control of
myself again I told my team and midwives how awesome they had all been. I felt like we all did
such an awesome job at the birthing center. We had been at the birthing center for about twelve
hours all together. I told my midwives that hopefully they next baby will be able to be born at the
birthing center. They had stayed with us at the hospital all the way until the on-call obstetrician
showed up to take over. (Esther even dropped by the next day to see how we were doing and she
wasn’t even working that day. We were very touched by her concern and dedication.)

I ended up talking to my family and took about a 30 min. nap. After the epidural my body
was able to relax and in just an hour my cervix was completely dilated and ready for Holland!
Around 6:30 p.m. the doctor came in and the staff got me all ready to start pushing. Mikkel and
my mom-in-law held my legs up while I pushed. It was awesome to see everything in the mirror
they set up. After just two pushes we could already see his head. My surges had slowed down
quite a bit and so I had to take advantage of each one, otherwise I was informed that they would
have to give me pitocin. Thank goodness it was not needed! After about an hour and a half of
pushing we had our precious baby! He had some meconium and was not crying as hard as he
should have been. They sucked some stuff out of his lungs and took him to the NICU for about
ten hours. Luckily they let me feed him at 3 a.m. and I was finally able to be with my baby and
have some bonding time.

Well, it was a long 63 hours of labor, but all in all it was an amazing experience! I look forward
to practicing Hypnobirthing with our next babies and trying for an all natural birth experience.
Holland Olson Davis is doing great and is steadily gaining weight! One of the most awesome
things I learned from Hypnobirthing was to be positive no matter what turn our birthing
experience took. Thanks Fiona for being an awesome teacher and for giving us guidance.



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