Lots of drama for this birth story! Would you have expected it any other way? The only item on my birth plan (besides the generic “deliver a healthy baby!”) was that I really, really, really didn’t want a C-section.
I’m sure you can see where this is going.
It now makes sense to me why most people choose to divide birth stories into two or even three parts, because this post is going to be obnoxiously long. Of course, I don’t really have time to write any of this. But I also need to write it all while it’s fresh in my mind, because I do want an accurate record that I can go back and re-visit in the future. Plus, I love reading other people’s birth stories, so I knew I wanted to share mine.
I’m going to break this up as much as possible. I started writing it long before I was induced, so the first few parts are boring. (Sorry). The action picks up on Sunday night.
Friday, June 20th (40 weeks + 2 days)
I woke up and took a shower at 6:30 with every intention of going to work. While I was blow-drying my hair, Eric complained of indigestion from the red sauce with onions that I had poisoned him with the night before. He said he was taking a sick day. At this point I was having a few contractions here and there, plus I knew I wouldn’t really have a lot going on at work. I decided to start my leave one day early. Immediately after making the decision, it felt like a weight had been lifted and my mood improved by 1,000%.
Eric and I went to a gigantic warehouse frame sale at 9, and I was happy that we didn’t have to wait for Saturday like we had originally planned, since all the good stuff might have been gone. We stocked up on frames for future baby photos and spent less than $100 for piles and piles of merchandise. I was feeling great! I was still having contractions at this point, but very sporadically, nothing sustained. We met up with my mom at the frame sale and she kidnapped me to take me to the chiropractor (remember him?). Apparently he had been bugging her to make me come in for an adjustment pre-baby, but I had just never gotten around to it.
I got adjusted and he did some pressure point stuff in my feet, and then my mom and I went to Starbucks. Weirdly, I had been wanting daily Frappucinos, and I knew my days of consuming that many calories in one sitting were drawing to a close. Then we stopped at my sister’s house to drop off some frames I had bought for her. My contractions at this point were definitely intense, but still sporadic. After watching me wince a few times, my mom scolded me and said I should be writing them down. She said to be sure to note the date and year because she still has some scribbled down contraction logs and can’t remember which kid each one is for. I recorded one contraction and time and then forget to do it for the rest of the day.
Back at home I quickly became bored just waiting for my OB/GYN appointment at 2:30. (Boredom is a big theme here!) I vacuumed the house (obviously). Finally, it was appointment time. I thought that maybe there would have been some progress since I was having so many contractions. But no…I was still only 1/2 cm, although the doctor said my cervix was “definitely thinner.” My blood pressure was high-ish again, and she said that if I hadn’t already scheduled the induction, she would have made me do it that weekend. This made me feel better, knowing that I wasn’t just being induced due to my own impatience, but also out of medical necessity.
I knew I didn’t want to go home and sit around. I went to the grocery store and picked up random items that I probably didn’t need. I went to the library and got one book, not knowing how many (if any!) I’d have time for in the upcoming days. Finally I went back home, and Eric and I decided to start watching LOST since neither of us had ever seen it. By this point my contractions had stopped completely, and she was moving around a lot. We went to bed around midnight.
Saturday, June 21st (40 weeks + 3 days)
The first day of summer dawned sunny, gorgeous, and not at all humid! The weather could not have been more perfect. I was immediately envious of everyone camping (my family and part of Eric’s family).
I wasn’t having ANY contractions in the morning. I’ll admit that it was kind of exciting to know that my potential Gemini baby was now officially a Cancer – many of my best friends, including my sister, are Cancers. That is a sign that I know I get along well with (not to discount Geminis, of course). I decided to embark on some unnecessary shopping trips to waste some time. Oh, and vacuum. And get a Frappucino. It was starting to feel like Groundhog Day.
I really didn’t do anything productive for the rest of the day…watched some more LOST. Stopped by my sister’s house to visit. Had my first real gluten-filled meal since September (pizza…and yes, it gave me an instant headache). I managed to convince Eric to have relations, thinking this could help bring something on since that’s what everyone kept saying. It had been A WHILE. But no…even several hours and many episodes of LOST later, no contractions, no nothing. We went to bed about 1 am.
Sunday, June 22nd (40 weeks + 4 days)
I cannot fully express the boredom leading up to this event! Eric and I were seriously just pacing around the house, trying to come up with things to do. He installed the carseat in my car. We sat at the kitchen table and stared at each other. We contemplated how the HELL we were going to survive yet another 12 hours with nothing to do. It was such a weird place to be – we didn’t want to start any major projects (trim painting, backyard clean-up, etc.), but at the same time, the gorgeous weather made it hard to justify a day spend vegging out in front of the television. This was so not how I expected it to be. I expected to be running around, throwing things in bags, bickering and panicking and trying not to forget anything as we hurried over to the hospital. In reality, all I kept repeating was Phoebe’s gem of a line from Friends: “The miracle of birth sure is a snooze-fest.”
At my appointment on Friday, my doctor said to be sure to eat a good meal before coming to the hospital, so Eric and I made plans to go out to dinner at Bonefish Grill for one last hurrah. The waitress gave us a free appetizer when we mentioned what we were on our way to do. I treated myself to bread and gluten galore, and it was glorious.
At the hospital there was a lot more waiting around, and we didn’t get sent back into our room to get started until several hours after our 8 p.m. arrival. Usually inductions start out in triage, but they were overbooked so we lucked out and got to settle into our birthing room right away. My birthing room team included Eric, my mom, my sister Ashley, and my sister Allie. Eric’s mom and sisters had plans of coming to join us once I was further along. A lot of people wanted to watch her come into the world.
I was very, very swollen and hadn’t been keeping up on my fluid intake as well as I should have been. The week prior when I went in for blood work with the whole high blood pressure incident, the nurse had such a hard time finding a vein to stick that I ended up with a giant, ugly black bruise on my forearm. Well, this time I was even more swollen, and the nurse trying to put in the IV was NOT FUN AT ALL. She kept looking and thinking she found one and pushing and pushing her gigantic needle into my hand – apologizing, of course, but meanwhile I was crying and trying not to scream out in pain. In the end it took three different nurses about 30 minutes and multiple stab attempts to get the IV in. I could have kissed the one who finally succeeded.
Monday, June 23, 2014
I was still only ½ centimeter at this point and it was determined that I had a “strong cervix,” so they administered Cytotec (vaginal suppository) to soften it and hopefully bring on contractions. I was to have another dose in four hours and see if I needed another. Everyone on my crew dozed off or kept me company watching TV.
Another dose of Cytotec. I had been experiencing mild contractions, totally manageable, and breathing through them. They sucked, but I was handling it. At my next check, I was pleased to hear that I’d at least progressed to 1.5 cm, but also frustrated at how slowly it was all going.
So much for stoic grace through the pain. HOLY FREAKING SHIT. It was around this time that the pain reached a point of unbearable, and I thought I had a high threshold. The worst part of contractions was the knowledge that right when you finished one, another was just around the corner, so even the short relief of the in between held a sense of dread. At that point I was still only 2 cm dilated, and the thought of the pain getting worse made me want to jump out the window. In tears, I
asked begged for the epidural.
The anesthesiologist arrived and I’m pretty sure I told him I was in love with him (he gets that a lot, apparently). Not going to lie – getting an epidural put in is no picnic. It HURT going in, and the nurse in charge of holding me still and soothing my hysterics definitely deserves a raise. But then, within minutes, the sweet numbness took over and everything felt wonderful. Contraction? What contraction?
They started Pitocin to move things along. After a small dose, I started progressing rapidly and my contractions were 1 to 2 minutes apart. Within a short amount of time (which of course I didn’t record), I was at 6 cm. Everyone started getting excited.
I should mention that L&D was very busy and throughout the whole night, we kept getting told that we were the least complicated and therefore least priority case on the whole floor. Minimal check-ins, minimal supervision. But then suddenly at 11:45, 7 or 8 doctors came bursting into the room like there was a fire. They raced over to the monitors and started yelling things at one another and creating a commotion and told me that the baby’s heart rate had dropped rapidly and dangerously and they needed to get it up quickly or we’d need to get her out NOW. I was totally panicked and the change in the room was instant. They turned me onto my side and put an oxygen mask on me. I started crying pretty hard because all I wanted was a vaginal delivery and most of all for everyone to witness it who wanted to see it, especially Eric. I just remember the magic of watching my nieces and nephew, not to mention my brother and sister being born. I really wanted that for Eric. Also, the fact that she was in distress was really scary.
Again, I stopped taking notes at this point, but it wasn’t a long time before my doctor came in and broke the news – we were going to have to do a C-section due to fetal distress. There are two doctors at my practice, and the one in charge of my delivery happened to be the one who is very against doing unnecessary C-sections. In other words, if she said it had to be done…well, it had to be done. I made peace with it in my heart and tried to prepare myself mentally for surgery.
They wheeled me back into the operating room and put up the huge curtain. In no time at all I was number than numb, basically everywhere from the neck down. Eric got to come in and sit by my head and keep my company. All I felt was a lot of tugging and pulling. I’m really glad that it wasn’t until afterwards that I found out exactly HOW they perform a C-section. I was picturing a nice little slit and then pulling the baby out gently. Only later was I told that all of my insides were removed and placed on a table. Uhhh… yeah. Gross.
Molly Marie entered the world with a small wail. At that point I was nauseated and numb and just felt weird all over, but I could kind of see her over on the little table with the NICU people and I could definitely hear her, which was reassuring. It occurred to me that I was torn open and could have potentially bled out and died. I asked God to spare me at least long enough to meet her, because it really wouldn’t be fair to make it so far and not even get to see her up close.
Eric and Molly left (they did come over and show her to me first, but I still didn’t get a chance to touch her). It took an hour to sew me up, an hour I spent alone, wondering about my baby, and listening to the doctor’s chat about this and that. It was torturous.
After they finished, I was wheeled back to recovery. Along the way I saw my entourage – a crowd of excited people including Eric’s mom and sisters, a friend, and everyone from the delivery crew cheering me on. I felt a sense of exhaustion at this point that is completely indescribable, though I tried to put on a brave face as they gushed over how cute she was. Back in recovery, I finally got to meet her, but I couldn’t even hold her in my arms yet because they were still numb and I could only move my head from side to side. Everyone took turns visiting me two by two and meeting the baby. It really was too much to comprehend at that point and honestly all I wanted to do was close my eyes and sleep forever.
Then finally, hours after her birth, I got to hold my little girl.
The recovery has been pretty painful. The first day I felt great – and couldn’t believe how great – but then my morphine ran out and I was stuck with nothing but Percocet and Motrin. My abdomen is very, very sore and my ankles, calves, and feet swelled up so bad at one point that it was hard to walk. Every day gets a little better.
And here is the absolutely terrifying part. Apparently the cause of fetal distress during delivery was a placental abruption, an uncommon and serious pregnancy complication where the placenta peels away from the wall of the uterus prior to delivery. This is one of those things that just happens, in my case not until actual labor, but it can cause significant risk for mother and baby during delivery. Pathology reported that my placenta was 20% detached. As my doctor said bluntly during a post-op visit in the hospital, “If we hadn’t done the C-section when we did it, your baby would have died.”
Sooo with that in mind, I’m not mad about it. No, the whole birth experience was not ideal, but my baby is safe and healthy and here, my pain will fade, my scars will heal, and this will just be that crazy story we tell about how Molly came into the world in her own way. Also, my doctor said that this was an isolated incident and my pelvis looked good, plus I was making good progression before things went south. She said I was an excellent candidate for VBAC, which makes me happy, because that’s something I would really like to try when we have another child. It’s funny, I was actually a C-section and all of my mom’s four other deliveries were VBAC. So it would seem Molly is following in her mommy’s footsteps.
And motherhood so far? It’s just what I would have expected and it’s better than I would have expected. I’m so overwhelmed by love that I can’t express it with words. Most nights I kiss her all over, and stare at her, and let tears fall all over her blanket and her tiny face because I can’t believe I get to be her mommy. She was worth every minute of the wait, and I would gladly do it all again a thousand times if it meant I got to have her in my life. I feel so, so blessed and so, so thankful. It’s like living in a dream world.
Stay tuned, because our post-delivery story (a.k.a. our 6-day stint in the hospital) has even more drama than her birth story! But alas, this post is creeping up on 3,000 words and I am barely able to keep my eyes open.
Here are a few more snapshots: