My baby girl was a week old on Thursday. I cried. All over her. Even with double mastitis and this damn UTI, I would pretty much kill to just stop the clock and stay here forever.
I figured since we’re already at the one week mark, it’s probably time to sit down and write her birth story before I forget all of it. It’s a total jumble in my head as it is. Fair warning, this is probably the longest post I’ve ever written and I’m doing it while sleep deprived and hormonal.
Labor started for me in the very early hours of the morning on July 22nd. I woke up feeling pretty lousy and having mildly painful contractions. I went back to sleep, figuring I’d know in a few hours if this was the real deal or not. When I woke around 7 am, contractions were still mild, but happening consistently about 5 minutes apart. Catch and I settled in for what we anticipated would be many hours of laboring at home.
Around 10 am, I got up to use the bathroom and there was a small gush. Our midwife and OB had both said to go straight to labor & delivery at any sign of fluid, but I really didn’t want to go so soon. I just wasn’t convinced. We decided to give it a bit more time and see if I had any more signs of fluid. 20 minutes later, I was sitting on the exercise ball and there was another small but undeniable gush. We headed to the hospital.
In the hospital, the nurse basically stopped short of rolling her eyes at us. She told us that she wished people would stay home longer and not rush to the hospital the moment their water breaks. She didn’t seem to believe me that I’d had a gush of fluid, and insisted that they would likely be sending me home. Conflicting information, much? Sheesh. I was seriously annoyed. It’s not like I wanted to be in the hospital any longer than I needed to be. I was only doing what all of my care team had told me to do.
Eventually, a midwife came in and examined me. I was 3 cm dilated, fully effaced, and there was a leak in my bag of waters, but it was small and high. They were keeping me. I was admitted, and after a bit of baby monitoring, they unhooked me and sent us off to walk around for an hour. When I stood up to get dressed, my water broke in a gigantic, bloody/watery insanely messy pool all over the floor of my little hospital room. It was just me and Catch, and we both stood there laughing as it just kept coming and coming and coming. Talk about a bizarre experience.
After our hour long walk, I was really ready to lie down again for a bit. Contractions were more painful, but still manageable, and I figured it would be a good chance to get some rest.
Around 5pm, I was really hurting. They unhooked me from the monitors again and wanted me to go walk, but I barely made it to the end of the hall before I had to turn back. When I got back to my room (after hugging the walls the whole time), I told the nurse I think it’s time for an epidural. I think she wanted to roll her eyes at me again.
Sometime before 7, the anesthesiologists arrived to do my epidural. It was right around then that I started shivering. I couldn’t stop my body from shaking. I told my nurse, but she wasn’t concerned. Catch was asked to leave, and I wanted to cry. I was so scared of the epidural, I just wanted her to be there with me holding my hand. Fortunately, the nurse could see that I was falling apart a bit and she stepped up her game, holding my shoulder and reassuring me the entire time. The epidural was finally in and they were testing it. I still felt EVERYTHING. Epidural number one was a total flop.
They pulled everything out, and tried placing epidural number two in the same place. All the while, I was terrified and shaking. I tried to focus on the reassuring grip my nurse had on my shoulder. After much fidgeting, it was determined that epidural number two was also a flop.
Again, everything was pulled out and they decided to try a higher position on my spine. My shaking was getting worse, and the contractions were getting harder to cope with. I was not in very good shape at that point. This time, though, they pulled through. I could feel the numbness starting to spread throughout my body. I was also starting to feel really weak. Catch was allowed back into the room just in time to see me turn ghostly white as both my heart rate and Charlotte’s heart rate plummeted. In a matter of moments, I was throwing up over the side of the bed. Catch stood there looking terrified and helpless. The anesthesiologists jumped into action, injecting something into my IV, and after a few minutes, my blood pressure was back up and things were okay again. It was a very scary couple of minutes, though.
As soon as the anesthesiologists cleared out, the midwife came in to do another cervical check and to place my catheter. I was 5 cm dilated at that point, which made me feel a bit better about the epidural. For whatever reason, 5 cm was the goal I’d given myself.
After that exam, my mom showed up. She was worried sick, so we allowed her to come in and sit with us for a little while just to show her that I was okay. Mom left sometime around 10 pm, and shortly after that, the midwife appeared again. I was informed that my temperature had been climbing ever since I was admitted and it had reached 100.3, which was the last chance to treat it with Tylenol and ice before I would be forced to start IV antibiotics. They gave me the Tylenol and packed me with ice packs.
I was also informed at this point that the baby’s heart rate had been consistently high, and they couldn’t explain it. I was told that they don’t generally worry unless it’s over the 160s, but that Charlotte had been hovering at 160 the entire time. They asked for permission to put an internal monitor on the baby so that they could get a better feel for what was going on.
Once that was settled, I was told that the epidural had stalled my contractions. This wasn’t news to me–we’d noticed on the monitor that my regular contractions had bottomed out and become totally irregular. They hooked me up to the lowest dose of pitocin and added an internal monitor for contractions.
I now have the following tubes & wires attached:
- Baby’s heart rate
- IV Saline
- IV Pitocin
- Blood pressure
- Pulse oximeter
But who’s counting, right?
This was the point where I started to realize that I was feeling my contractions. Next, I could feel my legs. Soon, my third and final epidural had failed completely. Just in time for the pitocin.
Over the next several hours, my nurse turned up the pitocin as frequently as she took my temperature (thankfully, the Tylenol & ice packs were working). I was miserable. When the pitocin was increased to the max dose, I was pretty sure death was a better option than the pain I was feeling.
I started feeling pressure along with the pain around 4 am on Thursday. A cervical check revealed that I was at 9 cm. At 5:30 am, I was wheeled into a delivery room and started pushing.
My memory of pushing is sketchy. Contractions were coming hard and fast, and I was in so much pain that I couldn’t focus. I almost passed out several times. The nurse did turn down the pitocin at some point, thank god.
Our nurse was incredible. She’d been with me all night and she was determined to see Charlotte’s birth. Her shift was over at 7, and she told me that I was having this baby by 7 no matter what. Her coaching and Catch’s encouragement and excitement were all that kept me going for the 90 minutes I was pushing. The nurse kept telling me she could see red hair. Catch, who had sworn for months that she would be an over-the-shoulder coach was helping to pour mineral oil as the nurse massaged my perineum. They were both rock stars.
Just before 7, the doctor was called in and suddenly the delivery room was a flurry of activity. The next thing I knew, her head was out and our nurse was on top of me pushing my stomach with her elbow. At 7:02 am, I felt a gush and heard a very weak little cry. Charlotte was placed on my belly for the shortest moment before I realized that my baby was blue and floppy and being rushed away from me. I couldn’t see them working on her, but Catch could. I kept my eyes on Catch, watching for signs that everything was ok, and she tried to reassure me. I heard a few more weak cries before the pediatrician arrived and she started yelling as loud as she could.
I have never been so relieved. The doctor said he saw no need to take her to the NICU, so she was placed back on my chest.
The OB finished stitching up my second degree tear, and then we spent the next hour snuggling our perfect little girl. I have honestly never felt anything like it. I was in awe of what my body had done. I was in awe of my wife, who was my rock through all those long hours. I was especially in awe of the miraculous little creature in my arms.