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Ginny & Max- A unmedicated surrogate story

As a surrogate, all of my nesting instincts went into planning for the birth of little surro babe. I knew I needed to have Nicole present to document the emotions, reactions and strength during the birth both for myself and for the intended parents. As a previous c-section momma and then successful VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), I also was obsessed with proper positioning and alignment of my body for optimal vaginal delivery. I saw the chiropractor weekly for the entire pregnancy, but due to increased amniotic fluid surro babe was able to rotate between breech and cephalic positions fluidly. At one of my weekly ultrasounds we discovered he had flipped breech again at 37 weeks! I was so discouraged but also determined to not have a repeat cesarean due to positioning! I continued with chiropractic adjustments, started doing spinning babies maneuvers, talking to him, and even utilized moxibustion. I had been seeing the midwives at SSM Health in Madison, but then had to consult with an OB to discuss options like cephalic version in the event baby didn’t turn head down. The day before the scheduled version, which several people informed me was more painful than childbirth, surro babe flipped back to head down! All of my efforts to turn him had paid off!

The intended parents had attended all of the prenatal visits via Zoom and arrived in Wisconsin two weeks before surro babe’s guess date. It was such a relief to have them close by so that whenever labor started they would be able to attend. The plan was to allow labor to start on its own, but due to the increased amniotic fluid that continued throughout the third trimester, a 39-week induction was scheduled for June 15th. I was worried about an induction and how my body would react to Pitocin as I had experienced this medication with my first labor and recalled having so much pain that I could not cope through and feeling so alone. I expressed my fears with the intended parents, Nicole, my midwives, and my husband and knew they would all support me with wherever the journey of labor took us. We all kept hoping that surro babe would come on his own before the induction, but I woke up the morning of the scheduled induction still pregnant. The intended parents, my husband, and I all showed up with smiles on our faces for the 7:30AM induction on June 15th ready for whatever was to happen in the next 24 hours.

 We started the Pitocin with gradual increases to get a good contraction pattern going and in hopes that we could break my water at some point. With the extra amniotic fluid, it was difficult for him to get his head fully engaged so the nurses and midwives had me in all sorts of positions, squatting, and lunging trying to coax him down. At around 4:00pm when I had pretty much maxed out on the Pitocin level, he still was not fully engaged in my pelvis and I was still laughing and talking through all the contractions. The midwife did not feel that it was safe enough to break my water, as his head would still float back up during cervical exams which could allow his umbilical cord to prolapse below his head if they broke my water. I continued to be inpatient making comments that I was not in pain enough for this baby to be coming out, and it seemed we had such a long ways to go! At around 6pm we were going to attempt the amniotomy (water breaking) again, but the midwife was still feeling a little unsure about the safety of surro babe so we called in an OB for a second opinion. This OB was nicknamed “Daddy long fingers” for his long thin fingers, perfect for performing amniotomies! He felt safe enough breaking my water during a contraction when surro babe’s head was more firmly applied to my cervix. The warm gush in bed was like sitting in a giant pool of urine. So gross! After the rupture of the amniotic sac, we decided to walk the halls to further encourage labor progression.

Contractions started to pick up in intensity with the walking and surro babe applying consistent pressure to my cervix. My birth team helped me laugh and sway and distract me in between contractions. At this point, one of the nurses picked up on some decelerations on the fetal monitor that suggested that his head may be slightly rotated, so we did more positions to encourage him to rotate his head for an easier exit. The midwives came in to change shifts around 7pm and I was having to focus and breath through my contractions and had to admit to the midwife I had gotten what I wanted, which was the intensity of the contractions picking up. Nicole picked up on my vocalizations as sounding more “pushy” and we decided to try some different positions. The hope was that he would fly out with little effort like my second birth had, but that was not surro babe’s plans.

My birth team supported me with supportive touches, encouraging words, counter pressure, heating pad to my lower back, my birth necklace given to me by a friend, and cool wash clothes to the back of my neck. The intended parents were present the entire time and were holding my hand and even my legs. The NICU team was called in during pushing due to some intense decelerations in baby’s heart rate and I had verbalized that I felt something was wrong because he “wasn’t coming out” and couldn’t we do something to get him out faster to make sure he was okay! The midwife assured me that he was still safe and coming, but needed some more time and work from me. The NICU team was able to be dismissed shortly after because the heart rate decelerations recovered. Even during crowning surro babe took his time and sat with his head halfway out between a couple contractions. Talk about uncomfortable to have a baby’s head halfway out and trying to “relax” between your contractions!

Finally I was able to get him past that edge and his head was released and body followed very quickly! It was 10:19pm, I was done and little Max was here safely! A surge of happiness, relief, and sense of accomplishment washed over me. One of the dads was able to hold him skin to skin still connected to the umbilical cord! After the dads had a chance to hold him and soak in his perfection, I was able to put Max to breast to encourage latch and milk supply for my goal of expressing breast milk for him. I have told many people, that I felt the most supported during this birth. Although there were a lot of ups and downs with his positioning and excess amniotic fluid leading up to his arrival, the process of labor left me feeling empowered and wrapped in so much love! I am so fortunate to have created such a loving bond with not only Max, but both of his dads. It is so fulfilling to see them both so in love with their son and I continue to look forward to every update they send me every week!


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