Near the end of my pregnancy I loved reading birth stories to get myself prepared and geared up for the day my little one would be comin’ round the mountain. I only read the positive ones, I didn’t want to go into the birth with any negative or scary images floating around in my mind. Now here I am, with our now two month old daughter resting like an angel in her rock n play, and I want to take a little time and tell my story while the details are still fresh. It’s a positve one incase you’re like me and avoiding reading anything too rough, but it definitely is not a perfect one (do those even exist?). It was a long labor so it’s only fitting that this would be a long story.
My due date was June 28th, so on Monday the 27th I had a late afternoon appointment with my OB to see how things were looking. My hubby had the day off because he started his two week paternity leave hoping and praying that little Miss wouldn’t be too far off from her expected arrival date. We went out to breakfast at our favorite spot and spent most of the day bumming around, finishing up packing our hospital bags, cleaning, making sure the guest room was ready for my sister who would be watching our dogs, etc. I was having regular Braxton Hicks for about a week, but nothing too strong, so I was pretty sure we wouldn’t get any exciting news at the appointment. I was so sure, we even went and rented some movies at the Redbox to watch that night. I got to see my favorite PA because my regular MD was at the hospital. They took my blood pressure and we were all surprised to find that it was elevated. When she checked my cervix I was at a 2 and still about 50 percent effaced from the week before. Because of my blood pressure, and because I was due the next day, she made the call to send me to triage just to be safe. I asked if we needed to grab our bags on the way, still really not letting it sink in that this could be it, and her response was basically “uh…duh”, haha.
Praise the Lord our bags were packed and ready, it took us about 30 minutes to grab our stuff, make some calls, and get down to the hospital. The triage area was quiet and it seemed like we were the only ones there (come to find out they were all upstairs having babies!). They had me change into a gown and a nurse started the basic tests including my blood pressure, which was even higher than before, probably partly due to my excitement and anxiety. My OB came in and did another cervical check because the notes hadn’t come over yet from my earlier office visit, and she discovered that I was now at a 4! She stripped my membranes and told me I was going to be admitted and that they were going to induce me right away because she was worried about my blood pressure being so high. Dread immediately washed over me at the word “induce”. This was the last thing I wanted, but I knew the health risks with preeclampsia would only get greater the longer the labor went on.
The nurse walked us up to labor and delivery, it was around 6:30pm at this point. When we got to our room I asked if I could change into the gown I brought, I didn’t want to wear the scratchy awkward hospital one. I was starting to feel cramps from the membrane stripping and there was some spotting as I gradually lost my mucus plug, so I knew things were progressing. I was not prepared for the onslaught of IV tubes and monitors that would soon be attached to me for the remainder of my time in L&D. They started a fluid drip, attached external heart rate monitors to my belly, and then came the pitocin drip. There was a nurse shift change around 7:30 pm and that’s probably around the time I started to feel my first contractions. There was a monitor that showed my contractions and the baby’s heart rate, I found it surprisingly calming to watch this every once in a while, and it helped my hubby to see when one was starting so he could rub my back. I was bouncing on a ball, breathing through each contraction like I practiced. At one point we walked the floor but quickly came back to our room after hearing the screams of women in labor all around us, we didn’t leave the room after that!
Throughout the night as I labored, the nurse would come in and check my blood pressure which was leveling out now. She was so calm and reassuring, showing me different positions to help manage the pain a little better. The downfall was having the belly monitors and IV tubes getting in the way. Certain positions would cause the monitors to slip off or break their connection so we were constantly adjusting them. I felt confined to one or two positions, standing and rocking, or sitting on the ball.The room was dim and calm, there was some house renovation show on in the background, and hubby even got to take a nap. The whole time I was freezing cold, shivering non stop. The nurse brought me a steady stream of warm blankets and socks. Turns out there was a thermostat in our room set to 55! If only we had discovered that earlier! Even my hubby was cold and he is NEVER cold.
The pitocin was still only at a drip of 1-2 but the contractions were very strong and getting really close together. With morning came another nurse shift change, and I agreed to a cervical check. I was only at a 5. It was very hard to not feel discouraged that I had only dilated 1 cm after 12 hours of labor. My blood pressure was still holding steady so there was some encouragement with that. They tried upping my pitocin but we started noticing some variations in baby’s heart rate as the contractions got too strong, so they had to keep lowering it back down to a 1-2. At this point my OB offered to break my water to hopefully help my cervix dilate. This was the strangest experience, to feel like you are peeing yourself on a bed and everyone is cool with it…just throw me a few more towels and move along. This is when the pain started to get very intense, but I focused on my breathing and making it through each peak of pain, celebrating at each end.
Late morning they checked me again and found I was still at about a 5, and with my contractions strengthening it seemed like babys heart rate was bottoming out. They decided to attach some internal heart rate monitors to her, and when they did my OB told us that she had a good head of hair! This was so bizarre to me, knowing she was right there! The new monitors confirmed that her heart rate was getting very low with each contraction so they ordered me in bed and to lay on my left side. Laying down made the pain so much worse, and I was ready for some pain meds now. They gave me Fentanyl through my IV and I had a moment to catch my breath and rest. I was starting to feel really weak and nauseous, we hadn’t had anything to eat since noon the day before. I talked my nurse into getting me some crackers but that was not enough. I wish I had thought to eat dinner before we left for the hospital!
About 18 hours in, my regular OB finished her shift, so in came a new one along with the news that we needed to do a C section because baby was starting to go into distress. I cried pretty hard at this news because I wanted so badly to give birth naturally and felt like I had already battled so hard, and honestly I was scared to death of surgery and worried about my baby. My epidural arrived and that was a breeze, I didn’t feel a thing except for a little pressure. It started working very quickly, they put in a catheter and I was bed bound, still feeling very nauseous and surprised at how instantly numb I was. It was 3:00pm and I was set to go, but then came the waiting as more urgent priority patients came ahead of me, my time slot was pushed back twice. I put in my headphones to listen to some music and tried to calm down and rest. I’m not very good at waiting and my mind was racing.
Finally around 7:00pm a team of nurses came to prep me and the anesthesiologist came in to adjust my epidural for surgery. I no longer could move my legs and the numbness was spreading into my arms and hands as well. They wheeled me down the hall to the OR, I was shaking violently but was reassured that it was normal. The OR was so intensely bright, there were about 10 people there ready, and as they put me on the table and hooked me up to monitors I just closed my eyes and tried to avoid looking at the equipment and prayed for courage and peace. They draped me from the neck down and then hubby was allowed to come in and sit by my head. I don’t remember much of them getting started or how much time had gone by, but all of a sudden there was a flurry of nurses all working together and I heard the surgeon say the cord was wrapped twice around the neck. It seemed like an eternity, and then a shrill cry pierced through all the noise. I looked to my left and saw my baby girl for the first time, even through my tears I could tell she was beautiful and absolutely perfect, born at 8:14pm on her due date, weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces, and 21 in. long. There was so much joy in that moment I forgot where I was. I couldn’t stop crying. It was so hard to watch them take her away to recovery, but I was so happy she would have her daddy there with her while they finished my surgery. All in all it took them about 10 minutes to deliver her and 40 minutes to remove the placenta and close me up. I tried my best not to fall asleep, but the drugs made that really hard.
I made it to recovery and finally got to meet my girl. They put her on my chest and life as I knew it was over. She held up her little head and found my face, I’ll never forget her look of recognition as she heard my voice and knew she with her mommy. The child I carried under my heart for 9 months was finally here in my arms. As a family we bonded, she breastfed and we held each other for comfort. My violent shaking stopped, I felt no pain and had no care in the world. We were there in our bliss for 2 hours before they took us to a room and we finally got something to eat around 1:00am, thank goodness the cafe was open. We were all beyond exhausted, so sleep came easy that first night. I was confined to the bed and still being monitored closely, so hubby had to bring the baby to me for feedings and he handled most of those first diaper changes- what a trooper. The next day was full of family visitors and so much joy and celebration. For so many years this little girl has been wished for, prayed for, and longed for. It is my greatest dream come true to be her mom, and I will cherish the memory of her birth forever. We feel so blessed and overwhelmed with love for this tiny perfect human being.