July is birth story month at the Motherhood Collective. Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you. On January 6, 2012, I woke up at 2:30 am with what I was pretty sure were labor pains, but I had been fooled once and didn’t want it to happen again. I decided there was no need to wake anyone yet. I would record my contractions and wait until they were the 3 to 5 minutes apart for 2 hours (as instructed by the hospital). I was surprised I hadn’t disturbed my husband. Every time a contraction would come along I had to get out of bed. Luckily that early they were far enough apart I could fall back to sleep in between. It was about 4 am when they started getting close enough that I didn’t have time to fall back to sleep. I think it was about 5 am when all my moving around finally woke my husband. He asked if I was okay. I told him I was having contractions since 2:30 I remember saying, “I don’t think you’re going to work today.” As the contractions got closer, I tried to remember everything from our labor and delivery class. I was not doing a good job of relaxing through the pain. I’ll admit if I was able to relax during the contractions things may have gone differently.
At about 8 am I woke my mother and told her we were going to go to the hospital soon. I showered, let the dogs out and finished packing our bags. I tried to eat something since I knew it was going to be a long day but I was already nauseous and nothing was appetizing. Still I forced myself to choke down some Rice Chex and a couple pieces of banana. A little before 9 a.m. we were ready to go. Before we left, Jeff asked if we could stop at the bank he wanted to make a deposit. I know I said something along the lines of, “Uh, sure?” When on the inside I was thinking, “Seriously!?!?!?!”
No harm came from stopping at the bank first. We made it to the hospital and we in the Birthing Center Triage by about 9:30 am. I was 4 cm at that point. Elena’s heart rate dropped while we were in there. I knew what that meant; they would want to constantly monitor her heart rate, which meant I was going to be stuck in the hospital bed. I suppose I could have argued because part of my birth plan was to have mobility. Squatting was what was getting me through my contractions. Except, to be honest, I didn’t really want to argue. I knew I was in the homestretch, but anything could still happen. I’ve known a few people where the decreased heart rate meant the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. To me that was a very scary thought. I wanted to make sure we knew if her heart rate got too low so we could do something about it. But by not arguing I had a much harder time saying no to an epidural.
A couple hours after we got to the hospital, the epidural was administered. I was around 6 cm by then. A few hours after that I was at about 8 cm and thought Elena would be here by dinnertime. Sadly, she came much later. Thinking back most of the day is a blur. I don’t know if it was lack of sleep or lack of food that made it that way. I remember my nurses coming in frequently asking me to change my position because Elena’s heart rate dropped again or they lost her heartbeat all together. I got sick a few times, and I still don’t know if it was the epidural or the fact I hadn’t really eaten all day. Gelatin a meal does not make. Haha! I’m not sure I’ll be able to eat Jello again for quite a while. I will say this, the epidural did make relaxing much easier. It was like night and day. I could move my legs a little bit, but didn’t feel a thing!
It was at about 8 cm when my labor stalled. Epidurals can do that to you. She hadn’t dropped any and my contractions were not as effective anymore. They broke my water to see if that would allow Elena’s head to drop and apply pressure for better contractions. Once they broke my water they inserted an internal fetal monitor for a couple of reasons. First, they wanted a more accurate reading of Elena’s heart rate and second, they kept losing her heart rate so this was a way to ensure it wasn’t lost again. Even without the padding from the amniotic sac, Elena did not drop any lower and the strength of my contractions did not change. They started administering Pitocin to try and get the contractions going again.
Elena’s heart rate was still a concern but since the doctor saw some progress, he said we could wait and see if I delivered vaginally. Dinnertime came and went. I finally hit 10 cm. I don’t remember what time it was. I only remember it was dark outside, which doesn’t really mean much in January. The nurse didn’t want me to start pushing until she knew the doctor was out of surgery. So we proceeded to wait. Again my sense of time was gone by then, I feel like it was an eternity we waited. I was starting to feel my contractions, but by no means were they as bad as when we had first arrived.
It was finally time to push. By this point I was so tired and wasn’t even sure I’d be able to push. Elena was still high and they wanted to see if I could get her to come down by pushing. I pushed some and threw up between each push. Elena wasn’t budging. I was starting to feel really out of it and couldn’t catch my breath. While I took a “pushing break” the doctor came in to reassess the situation. He took one look at me and at Elena’s heart rate and determined it might be time to do a caesarian section. The ultimate choice was mine, but that was his suggestion. Although I had wanted a vaginal birth, I conceded. I didn’t feel like I had any energy left to continue and I was worried about Elena.
The nurses moved fast to get me ready for surgery. We had a couple of hiccups due to my allergies, but we got everything straightened out pretty quick. I honestly don’t remember much about going into surgery. I was given some additional pain meds in my IV and was asked to verify why I was there. I also remember a pediatrician introducing herself to me, but I don’t remember her name. They put up the blue curtain and that was probably the scariest part for me. My mother had mentioned what it was like for her when she went for her C-section and as soon as they set me up I understood why she felt the way she did. Along with the anticipation of meeting our child, I was full of anxiety. I was lying on the operating table that was not very wide with my arms stretched out at my sides. It didn’t hurt or anything, it just felt unnatural. It also made me feel like maybe I’m just a tad claustrophobic.
Jeff was finally let in to the OR and that helped me feel better. At least I wasn’t going through this alone. I still couldn’t wait to meet our little girl. I remember I wanted to see what was happening so I’m glad Jeff was able to take pictures. Believe it or not one of my favorite pictures is one Jeff took of Elena being pulled out. I think I will always remember what the doctor said once he saw her. He said, “You aren’t very big, just stubborn.” I had been afraid we were having a tiny baby since throughout my pregnancy I was told I looked small. But I wasn’t thinking that at the time, I remember saying something about how she’s like her parents. It was 10:33 pm when we heard her cry yet surprisingly that’s not at the top of my list for most memorable. I think the most memorable thing to me was actually hearing the wonder in Jeff’s voice as he pointed out what we “made.” I don’t remember the exact words he used but the sentiment just about brought me to tears. I was so happy when I saw how happy and proud he was. Just thinking about it puts a smile on my face.
I saw Elena quickly before they whisked her off. I don’t feel like I had enough time to get my emotions in order when I saw her that first time. I think it may have been relief. I spent my entire pregnancy worried something would go wrong. After it all, here she was and she was perfect.
Jeff left with the baby to the nursery. This part was probably the worst. Now that the baby was born, all I wanted to do was follow her out of the room, but I had to wait. They had to put me back together. And boy, that’s how it felt. The adrenaline was gone, and I was overtired. Not to mention I felt like I was fighting panic because that blue screen was not taunt and kept falling into my face. I just kept reminding myself once it was over I’d be able to join my family. My family - that was a great thought. Some people don’t like epidurals for C-sections they felt too much during the delivery and the rest. I can understand. I didn’t really feel pain but I was able to feel all the tugging, pushing and pulling to get me back to right. The doctor kept trying to hold a conversation with me. I’m not sure why, but I think it was supposed to help me feel better. I thought it was nice of him, but I really wanted him to just be done.
Soon after I was wheeled into recovery, I threw up again. Jeff came and sat with me for a while. I believe by this point it was close to midnight if not later. I wanted sleep, food and to really see my baby. I remember one of the first comments out of my mouth was about Elena’s cone head. I kept saying she shouldn’t have a cone head since she was a C-section baby. To me not having a cone head baby was the one advantage of having a C-section and I didn’t even get that. Even with her cone head, she was beautiful.
Our parents were in the room when I arrived from recovery. We took some pictures and they all took turns holding her. They left rather quickly since it was well after midnight at this point and knew we needed some sleep. It was around 2:30 am when we were finally able to try nursing, but that is a story for another day.
So there it is, our birth story. Not exactly the way I envisioned it, but the ultimate goal was met. A baby was born healthy and as safely as possible for the both of us.
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