Meredith would have won the gold medal in the Olympics for longest labor if that were an event. HER LABOR LASTED ALMOST 100 HOURS!!! Yes, she is still alive and stronger than ever before. What an Olympian mama! You can read her version of her birth story here.
On Friday morning, Meredith sent me a text telling me she had been laboring sporadically for about 15 hours. I raced to Midland, which is two hours from Lubbock, TX. It was my first out-of-town birth and first birth center birth to photograph.
Waiting for things to pick up, Meredith went to her midwife to get an update on her progress. She disappointedly told me she wasn’t quite 1cm dilated, but 90% effaced. Deciding this could take days; I packed up and headed back to Lubbock.
Days went by.
Did I sleep? Not even a little bit. I was ON EDGE waiting to jump in my car juggling all my gear.
Sunday night she progressed to 6 cm dilated, but stalled for hours. Her midwife encouraged her to stop timing, eat, and rest.
Finally mid-morning on Monday her husband texted me to let me know they were transferring from the birth center to the hospital after her midwife broke her water. Meredith hadn’t truly slept for 4 nights, so I’m sure she was beyond exhausted.
When I walked in the hospital late that afternoon, Meredith had an entire tribe cheering her on. She had her husband, sister, mom, dad, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and good friend all supporting and rallying her through this marathon of all birth marathons. She was still only dilated at 6cm after getting her epidural. They started her on Pitocin to encourage contractions along.
When I walked in, she just smiled at me and told me that this birth was nothing like she had imagined it. She said she wasn’t sorry it was happening this way, because she needed the boost and, more importantly, the rest. As a first time mama and one hoping for a natural birth center birth, I was shocked at her calm and joyful manner. She embraced the journey and didn’t fear the outcome as long as it ended with her healthy son in her arms at the end of it all.
She moved quickly in the next couple of hours. This is from her blog:
- “[Meredith] got checked a few more times…[She] was an 8, then an 8.5, then a 9 and then a 9.5! Amazing! [She] was so happy. [She] was still feeling a lot of the pain [from] the contractions, but it was nothing compared to what [she] had been feeling before!”
At 10cm, Meredith pushed and pushed with her husband, mom, mother-in-law, and me all encouraging her through each push. She pushed to no avail even after laboring down on either side on a peanut ball. Finally the doctor gently explained that Titus wasn’t descending past her pelvic bone despite her efforts. She completely gave Meredith the choice to continue pushing or to go ahead with a cesarean.
At this point the medical team stepped out, and Meredith discussed with her husband, mom, and mother-in-law what to do next. I stepped back and just documented the moment. This was the first time I saw Meredith waver as a few tears rolled half way down her cheeks before her mom wiped them away. She confidently shrugged her shoulders and told her family, “I got to experience natural labor and pushing. Now it’s time to do whatever it takes to get Titus here. I did all that I could.” They decided to go ahead with the c-section.
They wheeled Meredith back to the OR and prepped her before letting Ryan and me in. The anesthesiologist was retiring in the next 6 weeks after 40 years of practice. He told me he had never once seen a photographer allowed in the OR in that hospital. It was definitely an honor.
Titus was born at 10:50pm after 99 hours and 50 minutes of labor. He weighed 8lbs and 7ounces! The glistening lights and blue drape of the OR is not what Meredith envisioned looking at when having her son, but her incredible journey through days of labor is a birth story she will be proud to tell her son years down the road.
Congratulations, Meredith and Ryan! Happy Birthday, Titus. Your mommy is so strong!