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My Birth Story


So, we’ll see how long this ends up being…. No doubt it will be just short of a novel, so I’ll apologize ahead of time. There will be a few TMI (too much info) parts...

For those of you brave enough to continue…

On Tuesday February 16, 2010 we checked into St. Francis Hospital in Cape. We were 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I had been in severe pain since about 12 weeks of pregnancy, so holding out this long had really been difficult for me! At my 40 week appt, I’d still had 0 dilation, effacement or dropping. My Dr. told me that I could induce that night if I wanted. However, as I have been told over and over by a Doula friend of mine how unpredictable inductions can be, and how I should really hold out to let things happen naturally, I decided to wait it out a few more days. I told him that I’d go for the induction on Tuesday night, since 40w 5d is when the placenta can start to die. I didn’t want to risk that!

DH and I had a huge dinner at Ryan’s before we checked in, per my Dr.’s orders. It was very yummy! While we were there, I overheard some little old lady say, “That girl looks like she’s ready to pop!”… No kidding lady, I’m past ready! I got checked in, they weighed me (total pregnancy weight gain: 25 lbs) and put into a LDRP room. These rooms are designed for labor, delivery, recovery and post partum. So, we’d get to stay in the same room the entire time (or so we thought).

I was hooked up to the monitors. As it turned out, I was already having contractions without the help of the meds, I just wasn’t feeling them. I was hoping that meant things would progress easily. When the nurse, Liz, checked me though, everything was still very high and closed up. I couldn’t believe it… almost a week late and still 0 progress. I was given my first dose of Cytotec (a cervical softener pill) at 8pm. I started having cramps almost immediately afterwards. My plan has been from the start to go without an epidural at all costs. I also planned to avoid any other pain meds, but wasn’t ruling them out completely.

I received another Cytotec dose every 4 hours. The first hour after each dose got more and more painful with each dose. The second hour was painful but slightly less so. I had to lie flat on my back for the first 2 hours after each pill. I could sit up, walk around etc. for the last 2 hours of each 4-hour block, so those last 2 hours were fairly tolerable. I sucked it up through the midnight dose, but by the time I got my 4am dose, I was in extreme pain. I finally caved and asked for some pain meds through my IV. I got some Demerol for the pain, and some Phenergren to help with the nausea and to help me sleep. That was wonderful.

From 8pm to 6am, I only progressed to 2 centimeters, but thinned out quite a bit, to about 80% effaced. It was nice to finally have some progress, but it sure was a heck of a lot of pain for that low of a number! At 7:00 am, Liz checked me again and I’d made it to 3cm. She decided to try to break my water. She said that she thought she may have punctured it, but couldn’t get the monitor onto the baby. I asked her what she was talking about, because I hadn’t wanted the internal fetal monitor. She said I didn’t have to have it, so she didn’t try again. I was glad, because her attempt had been pretty painful!

At 7:30am, my OB came in and actually broke my water. Pitocin was also started at this time. It was just a little trickle until I sat up about 30 minutes later, then holy cow! There was so much water; I soaked 2 of those hospital absorbent pads! After that, the contractions started to get more and more painful. My Dr. had to give special instructions to allow me into a bath tub after my water was broken, but since he knew I wanted to go epidural free, he said I could, and could move around etc. as much as I wanted to be able to achieve my goal.

So, DH filled up the bathtub and I got in for about 15 minutes. It did absolutely nothing to help with my contractions. I was actually shaking trying to get through them. So, I decided that I wanted to try to walk around a bit and try some different positions, sitting, squatting etc. to ease the pain. As I was walking out of the bathroom, I had another set of contractions. I was ‘cluster contracting’ and having 3 right on top of each other before getting a few minutes of a break. DH had to help me walk, well, practically carry me, out of the bathroom because I was trying not to pass out. I got back into bed and tried a few different positions in bed.

By 10:00 am, I was in pure agony. Every contraction was in my belly, my back and gave me Charlie Horse cramps in both legs. I was screaming into my pillow with every one. They were still coming in clusters, so as soon as I started to come down off of one, another would start up. I’d told DH to never suggest an epidural to me, and he didn’t. I’d also asked him to just talk me through it and out of the epidural for the first 3 times I asked for one. He was great about it, telling me that I was doing a great job, that it would all be worth it etc. He rubbed my back, massaged my legs etc. He was such a great support system.

The nurse came in and checked me again around that 10:00 am time, and I was only a stretchy 3 cm dilated. At this point, I almost just asked for a c-section. It had been well over 10 hours of pain and such a little amount of progress. I knew that if I were to keep progressing that slowly, and in that much pain, I’d never have the strength or energy to push out a baby! So, I asked for the epidural… and DH talked me out of it 3 times just like I asked. But the 4th time I glared at him and cried that I needed it, he said ok and informed the nurse the next time she came in.

I had to drink some grape flavored acid drink. It was seriously only an ounce or two, but the nurse had to put it to my mouth and DH had to hold my head up because I was too weak to do it on my own. A few minutes later, another set of contractions was so bad that I threw up… so much for that acid drink!

At 10:30, the anesthesiologist came in and started my epidural. My nurse, Marsha, had me lean against her while I got it. I had a few contractions during the whole process, and she was great about helping me through them. She’d told me earlier that she understood my desire to go without the epidural, so she knew I was feeling pretty defeated to have to get it. I have no idea why I didn’t get it sooner, I know I will next time I have a baby! The shot to numb my back was less painful that tweezing my eyebrows! It was such a little tiny stick! I guess my spine has some pretty small spaces between the bones, so it took him a while to find a good place to put it. I could only tell he was pushing on my back, or putting the epidural in when my whole upper body was being pushed against my nurse, otherwise I never would have known anything was going on back there.

It only took 100% on my right side, but it was such a relief, I didn’t care. It worked about 50% on the left side. About an hour later, he came back in and gave me a ‘booster’ in the epidural to try to get my left side numb. It helped, but still didn’t completely work. I was comfortable enough for visitors and DH’s parents, my parents and sisters were all there by that time. I was actually starting to enjoy the labor and get excited about meeting K, instead of dreading the rest of my labor. They also put in an internal contraction monitor at this point.

At 2:00 pm, I was checked again, and fully dilated and ready to go! I was shocked. I’d hear that epidurals could slow labor down, but for me, it only took just over 3 hours to complete the last 75% of dilation. What a shock! I remember saying to the nurse “wait a second… we’re going to start this NOW?!?” I was excited, but I’d really thought that we’d be in for a few more hours and I’d have some time to prepare for the pushing! She said that she was going to give me till 2:30 to see if K would drop down a bit more, because she was still pretty high up there.

So, at 2:30 we started pushing. I pushed and pushed and pushed for 2 hours. We tried several different positions and techniques. She said I was pushing great, and that I figured it out right away which can be uncommon for first time mommies. I even mustered up enough ambition to push 4 times through some of the contractions instead of the usual 3 times per contraction.

At 3:30ish, the anesthesiologist came in again to check on that darn left side. I could still feel enough in that side, so he offered me another ‘booster’. Even though it hadn’t really worked the first time, I figured it couldn’t hurt, so I took it. It worked! I was completely numb! Yay! At about 4:00 or so, the nurse said that K really should have been down further than she was with the good pushing that I’d been doing for almost 2 hours. At this point, I was running a very low fever and K was having some weird heartbeat things going on. Nothing dangerous at that point, but they started watching it very closely. I was put on an oxygen mask around this time too. Those things make you feel like you can't breath, even though they are supposed to do the opposite. Since there was 'trouble' they decided to call my OB to see what he wanted to do.

My OB was in my room by 4:15pm. He said K might be stuck, but that it was time for her to be born. He wanted to try to vacuum her during the next contraction. If she was going to come down at all, she would, if not, it was time for a c-section. Over the next 30 minutes, I pushed and he pulled. I felt crazy pressure as she was starting to crown, and my OB said “looks like we may have a toddler in there!”… umm, really?, say that right BEFORE I have to push her out?!

I started feeling my body push on it’s own naturally, so I went with it and pushed even when I wasn’t have a contraction. My Dr. told me one more good push and we’d have her head out. I saw him reach for something, and I was pretty sure it was the scissors to give me an episiotomy. I felt her head come out, not painful, just pressure thanks to the epidural. What I wasn’t expecting was to feel her shoulders ram me from the inside. That hurt! The cord was around K’s neck one time, and they figured that was the reason for the funky heartbeat. They got the cord unwrapped and told me another set of pushing would do it, but to wait for a contraction to do so. They laughed at me because I kept pushing on my belly to feel for a contraction. It was nice to be pain free enough to laugh with them at myself!

The next push and she was out at 4:45pm. I also felt like that was pretty uncomfortable. After she came out and I looked at her I just kept saying “ouch oh ouch oh ouch” over and over again. They took her over to the warmer to do her ‘new baby’ stuff, and she wasn’t crying.

I heard a nurse next to my leg ask my Dr. “What’s that?”… It was my placenta, coming out in pieces! I knew it could start to die when a person was over due, but I didn’t know it could fall apart! I asked him if I needed to push out the placenta, and he said to just wait a second, he was going to tug the cord to see if it cam out on it’s own. When he tugged the umbilical cord, it detached from what was left of the placenta! Since it was falling apart anyways, he just reached up in there and got the rest of it to make sure it all came out.

K still wasn’t making any noise. I asked my Dr. why she wasn’t crying and he said not to worry, some babies just don’t. At some point I said “Wait, it was a girl right?” He put my mind at ease and just talked to me while he stitched me up. I was cut in one place and tore in another. I asked him how bad the damage was and he said about average. I only needed two running stitches no idea how long they ran for, but he said with her size, it could have been much worse. They shouted out her stats: 9lbs 9oz and 21.5 inches long. But, still no crying. Her Apgar Scores were 5 and 6 out of 10.

I really started to freak out as I watched them work on her. They had put her on her belly and were smacking her back, picking her up and rolling her around, and still no crying. There were about 6 nurses around her at that point, and some woman in blue jeans. Turns out, that woman in jeans was the head neonatologist of the hospital. She’d been walking by my room on her way home when she saw all the nurses run in, so she came in to help.

The nurses started talking about taking K to the NICU, so they wrapped her up and brought her over for me to see. I got to hold her for about 10 seconds, and they had to blow oxygen in her face the whole time. Then they took her away. The neonatologist, Dr. Christian, came over and talked to us to tell me what was going on. She was very concerned about her color, her lack of breathing etc. So, she wanted to run some tests to figure out why. I asked her one question: “is she going to live?” That was all I could manage to say, I was crying and so upset. She said that at that point, even though K would have to work hard, she didn’t see any reason why she wouldn’t live. I needed to know if we needed to Baptize her then and there.

Over the next few hours, my sisters sent out texts and phone calls went out to pastors and family, all asking for prayers for our little girl. The prayers were heard and things went from horrible to not so terrible in a short amount of time. I sent DH to the NICU… I told him someone needed to be with our baby because she shouldn’t have to spend the beginning of her life alone. I didn’t know if they’d let him in or not, but I wanted him to be there if he was allowed.

Apparently, once they got her to the NICU and started their work-up, she got mad and screamed and screamed and screamed. They couldn’t get her to stop! So, they rolled her onto her belly and gave her a pacifier and she fell fast asleep. They saw that she had 3 open sores on the back of her head from the vacuum, and assume that those were hurting and that’s why she couldn’t stop screaming when she was on her back.

Her other issues: High acid in her blood, due to the cord being around her neck. A high white blood cell count, indicating an infection, though they never did figure out where that came from. Fluid filled and streaky lungs, most likely from being over due.

Dr. Christian stayed until midnight that night to work on and watch K. They did blood work at birth, 9pm and midnight. They took x-rays of her chest. By midnight, they decided that she’d need a Lumbar Puncture in the am. That was tough to hear. They flushed her blood, and that cleared up the acid for the most part fairly quickly. Her lungs were clearing, but still not taking in oxygen and absorbing it very well so she was on a nasal decanulator with 100% oxygen.

She was on oxygen for 4 days, and antibiotics for 7. She spent 8 days in the NICU.

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