During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I ended up sleeping on the sofa at nights. It was easier to get comfortable there, and when I woke up a million and half times at night to use the bathroom, it was easier to go back to sleep out in the living room as my husband snores. The morning of my son's birth, I woke up around 4 a.m. with what assumed at the time was just a Braxton-Hicks contraction. I had never felt one, so I just assumed that's what it was, and a went back to sleep. I woke up around an hour later several more contractions, but still didn't think much of them. I tried to ignore them and went back to sleep. I woke up around 6:15 when my husband left to go running. I didn't tell him about the contractions, as I still assumed that they were just Braxton-Hicks. So my husband left to go running, and I went into our bedroom to try and go back to sleep. Well the contractions kept coming, so around 7 a.m. I decided that I should at least start timing them to see if there was any sort of pattern. Imagine my surprise when I found them to be around 7-9 minutes apart, and lasting for about a minute and half. I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 9:30, so when Joshua got back from running, I told him about the contractions and told him we should just wait for the appointment to see if we needed to head to the hospital or not. In the meantime, I kept timing the contractions and packed my hospital bag (I had most of the stuff laid out on our dresser, but we lived less than 5 minutes from the hospital so I hadn't been too concerned about having everything ready beforehand). I got ready, straightened my hair, etc, which was all a little difficult to do with the contractions that were starting to get progressively more intense and lasting longer. I don't know why, but I still thought it was almost silly of us to take our hospital bags with us to the doctor's appointment. I was convinced I was only in early labor or that it would turn out to be false labor. I even told Joshua that we could go out to breakfast after my appointment. Around 9:15 we headed to my doctor's office for my appointment. The nurse called me back and could see that I was moving slowly. She asked me if I was having contractions, how far apart they were, etc. She told me that the doctor would check me and then let me know what our next step would be. I had to wait about 30 minutes for him to come to the room, during which time I had several more strong contractions. I remember thinking that it would have been nice to have had my husband in the room with me at the time. When the doctor arrived in the exam room, he checked me, and imagine my shock when he told me that I was 4 cm dilated already. He was able to see some bloody mucous and said that I was most definitely in labor and that we needed to go ahead and check into the hospital. I was shocked! I was certain that the contractions were going to taper off or that he would tell us to go home and wait until the contractions were closer together. I had always heard 5 minutes apart was when to go, and while my contractions were getting more intense, they were still 7-9 minutes apart. While I was getting dressed, my husband who had been in the waiting room the whole time, overheard the nurse telling the secretary that the doctor was going to get his wish after all (He had originally wanted to induce me that day, but I had asked to wait, hoping to go into labor on my own. The doctor was planning on going out of town the next day, and thought it would be easier if I delivered on my due date).
We headed to the hospital (which was across the street) and checked in. They took me straight to my room after doing all the initial paperwork. We settled into our room and they immediately started hooking me up to all kinds of monitors (blood pressure, baby heartrate, etc). At this point we decided to call our parents and let them know. The nurse came in to take my medical history and Joshua stepped out to call our our parents. My mom was there almost immediately as she was at a meeting not far from the hospital. It took Joshua's parents and my dad a little longer to arrive. My dad came in briefly to say hi, as did his mom, but mainly it was just Joshua and my mom in the room with me. Around 12:30 my doctor came in to check me, and I was still at a 4. He wanted to break my water in order to get things moving. The contractions picked up a bit after that. He also ordered that they start pitocin in my IV line. After the pit was started, I felt an increase in the intensity and duration of the contractions. He told me that I could request pain medicine whenever I felt like I needed it. I held off for a while, but those pit induced contractions where too much to handle. Around 2:30 I remember asking for something to help take the edge off. They gave me a dose of Stadol, but it didn't feel like it did anything at all. I remember being frustrated because I couldn't get out of bed much to move around. I remember trying several times to sit up or adjust my position, but I had wires everywhere. I had to use the bathroom several times, and it was always a huge ordeal, because I had to drag an IV pole with me, as well as call in a nurse to remove my belly monitor, blood pressure cuff, and finger monitor (can't remember what that one did - oxygen?). Even when I was free of the monitors, I still had the IV pole. My nurse, who I really did like, would wait for me to return from the bathroom and then immediately begin attaching me to all the monitors again. Around 3:30 I caved and requested an epidural. It didn't take long for the anesthesiologist to arrive and get started. I was worried about the pain, but was surprised by how easy it was. There was a tiny prick of the numbing medicine, then I felt a tiny jab on my spine, almost like two of my vertebrae were separating. It was definitely a weird feeling. Over the next twenty minutes I could feel the medicine staring to numb the left side of my body only. I could still feel everything on my right side. I freaked out a little and called the nurse assuming that the epidural didn't take on that side. She suggested that I lay on my right side in order to get the medicine flowing better. It helped, but it was very frustrating to lay like that because my mom and Joshua were sitting in chairs on the left side of the bed which made it difficult to talk to them. The monitors and computers were on the right side of the bed, so that prevented them from moving the chairs to the other side of the bed. It took a long time for the epidural to take on the right side, so I was stuck having to look at the monitors. Instead of struggling to chat, I decided I should try to get some sleep, but every time I would fall asleep, my blood pressure machine would go off, squeeze my arm, and then ring a little tune when it was done. It was going off about every 15 minutes, which prevented me from getting any real rest. The nurse came in several times with orders from my doctor to increase my pitocin.
I'm a little fuzzy on the times my doctor came in to check me, but I definitely remember when he came in around 5 to do a quick check. He had just ordered an increase in my pitocin, and the baby's heartrate immediately declined, but it recovered quickly. When he came back around 7 to do his check, I was at a 9 but not all the way thinned. The doctor informed me that the baby was coming out sunny side up and that he wanted me to do a quick push in order to get the head through a lip on my cervix. Well when he tried to turn the baby before I pushed, the heart rate dropped again, so he told me to hold off on pushing until the heart rate recovered. Well it took a long time. There was at least 5 minutes of silence in the room before it was back to normal. I was terrified because I could see on the monitors how low the rate was getting, and each second felt like an hour. At this point I was really scared and could see that it was something serious based on how everyone in the room was reacting. The doctor informed me that the cord was most likely wrapped around the baby's neck, and that it was the cause of the heart decels. He informed me that he didn't have a good feeling about it and that since the baby was already in distress, that it would not react well to pushing. He said he didn't want to chance it, and wanted to do a c/s to get the baby out ASAP. He told me not to worry that he would have the baby out soon, and then quickly left the room to get prepped for surgery, and that's when I got even more terrified. The nurse (I had a new nurse by that point) was on the phone with someone and was demanding immediate assistance in my room. It was only a few seconds before a team of nurses and other medical staff came rushing through the door with carts and monitors. I was given an oxygen mask and medical staff ran around the room barking out orders to each other. My mom was asked to leave the room, and Joshua was given scrubs to put on while another nurse started shaving me. There was so much commotion in the room, and all I could think about was how my baby was in danger. After my husband was in his scrubs, I pulled him down to me and we prayed for the baby, and before I knew it, I was being wheeled back to the operating room.
Joshua was not allowed to go with me at first, so I was by myself in a very cold operating room while a team of about 12 people busied around the room. I was freaking out and shaking so violently that a very sweet nurse sat down near my head and started trying to calm me down. She ordered another nurse to cover me in warm blankets. I could hardly focus on what she was saying, but I managed to nod a few times. Neither the calming words nor the blankets helped very much, though. I just remember laying on the table being scared out of my mind that my baby was in danger. I had not mentally prepared myself for a cesarean. I was convinced that I would have a normal, vaginal delivery. And I especially hadn't prepared myself for the thought that something might be wrong with the baby. My doctor came in and was informed that I was still shaking so hard despite all their efforts to calm me down and warm me up. He told the nurse to give me some anti-anxiety medicine and assured me that everything would be ok. After a few minutes, I could feel the medicine start take effect, and my body stopped shaking. The medicine helped me feel better, but I immediately began feeling like I was going to fall asleep at any moment. I was struggling so hard to just keep my eyes open. I was so loopy, but I remember hearing my doctor and the anesthesiologist chatting about the anesthesiologist's recent fishing trip. He asked me a few questions and determined that my epidural was still fine, and that there was no reason to put me under for the surgery. I was still struggling to keep my eyes open, so I tried to focus on the baby instead. I said a prayer and tried to will the baby to hang on until they could get him out. I had been so convinced all during my pregnancy that it was a girl, but I knew in that instant that the baby was a boy. Joshua was finally allowed into the operating room, and he helped me to try and stay awake by talking to me. I was so mad because I was having to will myself to stay awake for my baby's birth. Because I was so loopy and out of it, I'm not sure how long this whole process had taken. I'm sure it was much faster than it all felt, though. My doctor informed that I was going to feel some pressure and that the baby would be out soon. Next thing I know I hear a baby crying and my doctor informing me that it was indeed a boy and that he looked just fine. I was so relieved and loved hearing that cry! He told Joshua that he could stand up and take a look over the curtain, so he did, but he quickly sat back down saying that he saw too much red for his comfort. Eventually they brought the baby over to my head so that I could see. I looked over at my husband, and he was crying. He gave me a huge hug and just sobbed. He had been trying to be so strong for me and was just so relieved that everything was ok with both of us. They took the baby away quickly in order to do all of their various tests and get him cleaned up. Joshua went to inform our families, and I immediately passed out from a mixture of exhaustion and relief, but mainly from the anxiety medicine that I had been fighting the whole time. I was out for a good while (I was told it was at least an hour) and woke up in the recovery room.
At first I didn't see anyone in the room with me, but noticed that the little plastic bassinnet was close enough for me to see but too far to reach. After a few seconds I realized that my dad was in the room with me as well as a nurse. I asked to hold my baby but was told that I couldn't until his temperature had stabilized. That's when I finally noticed the lights he was under. Joshua came back to the room, and family members took turns coming in to see the me and the baby. My mom just hugged me and cried. Finally, I was able to hold my baby after what felt like forever. He had been crying when they moved him, but immediately stopped when he heard me talking to him. I don't remember how long we stayed in recovery, but they eventually moved us into our postpartum room. Joshua and my mom hadn't eaten all day, so my parents left for a few moments to get food for them and for Joshua. I had been starving all day (and not allowed to eat), but fortunately I wasn't hungry at all at this point, which was good because I wasn't allowed to eat anything anyway). Our families hung around for a little while, but it was past midnight by this point so they left to let us get some sleep.
Me waiting to get to hold my baby
Finally getting to hold him!
Our family of 3!
Stay tuned for my next post when I'll discuss my emotions regarding his birth as well as what I hope to do differently next time.