I’ve been meaning to write our birth story for a couple of weeks now, and I can only hope I vaguely do it justice. Sleep deprivation and the constant demands of a newborn make this whole blogging thing a bit of a challenge.
Thankfully, my husband wrote in his journal and was sweet enough to share his entry with me, so I will be lifting a lot of this story from him. To set the scene – I had been having somewhat regular contractions all week long, starting on Monday or Tuesday, leading up to the Sunday when our son was born. We started timing them and they were generally 20-30 minutes apart all week long. On Saturday afternoon, they were only 10 minutes apart, and stayed that way for several hours, up until I went to bed, and continuing during the night. We had seen my OB on Friday, and he had scheduled an induction for Sunday night based on our son’s large size. I was hoping that labor would start on its own before then. And it did.
I drank raspberry leaf tea, I walked around, I sat on the ball, I made chocolate labor cake and ate a lot of it. I doubt any of those things caused it to get started, but Sunday morning I woke up at 5 am and contractions were only about 6 minutes apart. I got showered and dressed, continuing to time them, and they were a mere 3 or 4 minutes apart by the time I woke my husband up and told him we needed to call my OB and let him know it was time.
Now I’ll try to give you the short version. We got to labor and delivery at about 6:30 am. Contractions were continuing, but there had been no sign of my water breaking. They checked us in and took us to the L & D room that we would be in all day long. John contacted my mom and sister to let them know we were at the hospital, and they made their way over to join us. My doctor came to check me at about 8:00 and I was only 1 cm, but about 80% effaced. And amazingly, my water started to break on its own right then. Dr. M helped it break the rest of the way, and it was a pretty crazy sensation to have all this fluid pouring out of me without any control. He wanted to put me on pitocin, but I asked if we could see how things progressed now that my water had broken. He said he’d come back in a couple of hours and see.
Fastforward to about 9:30, contractions were still consistently about the same. I was 3 cm and the baby was at -2, so Dr. M said it was time for pitocin. I didn’t put up a fight, and I kind of wish I had. But the pitocin was connected to my IV, and an internal monitor went in, which meant I wouldn’t be able to get up and walk around through my labor the way I wanted to. This is when I knew things weren’t going to go the way I wanted them to go.
Contractions started to get really intense, and I was squeezing the hell out of John’s hand. I started moaning with the contractions, and things started to get insane. The pain was way worse than I expected. It felt like someone was crushing my uterus with their bare hands. The contractions were right on top of each other. The nurse told me that if I was going to get an epidural, I should let them know asap because the anesthesiologist would be going into surgery shortly and would be unavailable for a couple of hours. I really hadn’t wanted to go for pain meds, but I took an honest look at myself and knew I would be asking for them eventually, so I might as well do it sooner rather than later. I told them I wanted the epidural.
The actual administration of the epi was pretty scary. I had to hold perfectly still while they injected something into my spine, in between contractions, which were still right on top of each other. But once the epi kicked in, it was such a massive relief. I could finally relax and watch the monitors and not feel any real pain. Some time went by like this, and when they checked me I was at 5 cm.
The next thing I knew the nurses were all around me, putting an oxygen mask on my face. I was shaking, and I had a fever. They didn’t tell me this right then, but the baby’s heart rate had dropped dramatically. Eventually they determined that I couldn’t lie on my left side because it was causing cord compression, which was putting the baby in distress. So I had to stay on my right side pretty much the entire rest of the labor. The complications were not related to the epidural, but more likely to the pitocin, which was making my contractions so intense and close together that the baby couldn’t handle it. They dialed back the pitocin and the epidural a bit. Things calmed down, but I was scared. Hearing that the baby’s heart rate had dropped put me in a whole different frame of mind.
I’ll admit at this point I felt a bit disappointed in myself. I had planned to go natural, and suddenly I was in the middle of one of those cliche stories that you hear about, and I started to worry this might end up in a C section. I still had a fever, but I wasn’t shaking anymore. I was relaxed enough to have conversations with my mom, sister, and husband, but it was punctuated by fear and concern and a good deal of self-esteem loss.
Finally after a grand total of about 11 hours of labor, my OB came back again at the nurse’s request. I was at about 8 cm but the baby was still at -2, and now there was meconium in my amniotic fluid. It was time to get the baby out, but he wasn’t descending. This meant it was time for a C section. I really, really, really didn’t want a C section, but at that point I just wanted my baby out safely. After the multiple heart rate issues, my fever and shaking, and now the meconium, I wasn’t going to argue. I was ready to have him out, as it was clear my uterus was no longer a safe haven.
Our son was born at 6:14 pm by C section. The surgery was scary and strange, but very quick. I started shaking uncontrollably afterwards, which everyone assured me was normal, but it meant I couldn’t hold the baby even when they moved us to the recovery room. My husband held him close so I could kiss him and look at how beautiful he was. I was nauseated and threw up once in the recovery room, and they kept giving me meds, for the nausea, for the shaking, for the pain, for who knows what. Eventually I stopped shaking enough and was able to hold and nurse my baby boy. Unfortunately I don’t remember nursing him for the first time, which really upsets me, but I’m pretty sure it happened in the recovery room.
They gave him his APGAR test (he scored a 10!) and his first bath, and I lay there and watched, trying not to cry too much. I was just so glad he was here, and I was ready to let go of the unwanted C section and just accept that things don’t go the way you want them to sometimes. It’s just a part of life.
We didn’t give our boy his name until the next day. Here he is, little Ethan Harris M, on his first full day in the world. We were in the hospital for four long days, but now we’ve been home for a week and a half, and we are starting to get the hang of this parenting thing – I think. I’ll post about the trials and tribulations of breast feeding soon. But for now, I am going to go snuggle my little boy.