Rebekah Thompson's boys, Seth and Andrew, are pictured.
Rebekah Thompson’s boys, Seth and Andrew, are pictured here. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

I wasn’t ready to have a baby at 35 weeks, but my baby was ready to be here.

My water had broken earlier that evening, so my husband and I headed to the hospital. I was hoping that we would be back home in a couple of hours since I wasn’t having contractions.

But when we got to the hospital we were reminded that I hadn’t had my group B strep test yet, and we learned that most of the time when the water breaks early it’s because there is an infection of some sort or inflammation of the uterus.

We decided to stay overnight and get a few doses of antibiotics. All night I hoped that labor would start on its own and worried that I might be sick or that the baby was sick.

Nothing happened. I had a few strong contractions but nothing consistent. My husband had to go back to work to finish up a job, so I sent him off the next morning and then hoped that labor would hold off until he got back.

I bounced on the birth ball, trying to get baby to come down lower and get contractions going. I paced the hospital room.

My doula came and we talked about my options, and what I was going to do.

When my husband got back to the hospital we decided to go home to try and relax. We hoped to get labor going using any natural ways we could. I hoped we would be back that night. I worried that we wouldn’t be back.

I tried essential oils, pumping/nipple stimulation, visualization, affirmations and more. Nothing was happening. I worried we might need a c-section if contractions didn’t start.

I emailed some family members and close friends and asked for prayer that labor would start naturally and that everything would be OK. My husband and I went to bed.

Still, nothing happened.

Again a few strong contractions but nothing regular. My water would leak every once in a while, with some bigger gushes after I was lying and stood, or after my baby moved a lot. All night I kept track of my temperature and monitored my baby’s heartbeat.

The next morning we went to Walmart to get a car seat and ran a few errands before heading back to the hospital.

A monitor picked up the fact that I was having some contractions. We decided we would start a Pitocin drip. That was something that I had always feared. Knowing that a labor augmented by Pitocin has a greater chance of ending in a cesarean section, it was not my first choice. However, none of the natural options had worked.

Nearing 40 hours from when my water had broken, delivery seemed a long way off.

I worried that the Pitocin would stress my baby. I worried that I wouldn’t handle it well. I worried that the Pitocin would make contractions way more intense than natural labor and I would end up with another intervention. I worried that maybe something was wrong with baby and that was why he was coming early.

I worried about almost everything. Having a preemie is worrisome.

The Pitocin began and it wasn’t too bad. Contractions became stronger within half an hour. They weren’t bad—they actually felt like normal labor contractions.

Within a few hours I called my doula and let her know she could come whenever she wanted. When she arrived I was starting to labor in earnest. My husband and doula offered encouragement and ideas. I wanted to be checked and was at a 7 (centimeters dilated) and almost completely effaced.

We turned off the Pitocin and I got into the tub. I worried that my labor would slow in the tub or stop completely since we had turned the Pitocin off. Thankfully it didn’t. By then I was completely in labor land. There was no time for worry. There was a contraction and there was a break, another contraction, another break.

Then I felt something I hadn’t felt before.

I needed to push. Right now.

My doctor checked me and I still had a small cervical lip. So she held it back while I pushed baby through. I pushed through another contraction and again felt something I hadn’t before—the ring of fire. I wanted to stop but I was worried, so I pushed through one more contraction and he was born.

Healthy and safe. He was like most other newborns. He breathed well on his own and he nursed well.

Maybe he just wanted to arrive early.

There was a true knot in his cord, so maybe that’s the reason for his advance arrival, but we’ll never really know for sure.

Rebekah Thompson and her husband live in Newaygo with their three boys. Andrew’s birth was her second vaginal birth after a cesarean. Rebekah wanted to share Andrew’s birth story with others to raise awareness of premature birth and to let women know that it is possible to labor with Pitocin and have an otherwise unmedicated birth.