I’ll first say that we are absolutely blessed to have our little baby girl with us. We (I) didn’t have the birth we expected and hoped for, but we DID get the healthy baby we wanted. I can’t believe Laina is almost one month old! I would love to tell you a different story, one not so scary, but this is our story and how Laina came into the world. Every birth story is beautiful no matter how things turn out and while our story isn’t what we hoped for, there is still quite a bit of beauty in everything that happened. Laina came into this world 12 days late, which surprised the heck out of me and just about everyone because I had a lot of signs of labor in the weeks preceding her due date, plus I was huge as heck and just thought she was going to make an early appearance. My instincts; however, were quite off! Her “due date”, January 2, 2014 came and went. Each day before that for about 2 weeks, I was sure she would be arriving. Anyways, after 1/2/14, I became bummed out and each day that passed felt like an absolute eternity! Phil and I did everything in the book to naturally induce labor….to no avail. She just wanted to hang out in my belly!
I had to schedule an induction for 1/14/14 which was just shy of 42 weeks. Not ideal, but my main fear was that if we waited too much longer, the placenta would give up. I was nervous about the induction because of their bad reputation and it just wasn’t what I expected or planned. I wanted to go into labor on my own. This all stressed me out, likely not helping the situation. Let’s fast forward to the morning of 1/14/14. Phil and I were pretty excited that morning, had some coffee, a bite to eat and called the hospital bright and early. They said to come on in and they would get things rolling. I had butterflies in my stomach and when we parked at the hospital, I told Phil how weird it was to be walking into the hospital feeling totally normal. I had the expectation that we would be rushing to the hospital, me in pain, Phil in a frantic rush! I was extremely happy though, to know that I was finally going to meet our little nugget, which that truly outweighed my dears.
We checked in, I changed into the hospital gown and my Dr. checked me. She said I was 1cm and 50% effaced….not even ripe enough for Pitocin. She decided to give me Cervidil and said since I was so late, it was likely that my body would kick into labor with the help of Cervidil and would begin to dilate on it’s own. And that’s exactly what happened…perhaps a little too quickly though.
The first hour was pretty boring. Phil and I sat there while I was hooked up watching my heart rate, the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. They were so minor I couldn’t feel them. It all felt so odd….sitting there, anticipating labor and not knowing when things would kick in, what it would feel like and how intense. After the second hour, they told me to eat food and go for a walk. That was when things got interesting and I started having contractions that not only could I feel, but I couldn’t do anything during them except breath. These contractions were unlike the one’s I had throughout pregnancy where I could easily hold a conversation and/or walk through them. I was finally getting excited! We get back to our room from our walk and things intensified pretty quickly. I could still breath through the contractions, but now needed Phil to massage me, hold me, whatever. I got pretty uncomfortable, pretty quickly and we tapped into everything we learned about handling pain management naturally. We danced, we showered, I sat on the toilet and at that point, breathing through the contractions was decidedly difficult. Slowly but surely all I could do during the contractions was take deep breaths in and moan/scream the exhale.
Then all I wanted was to lay in the bed and at which point, I had to be hooked up to the monitors for 15 minutes every hour. I remember laying on my left side, gripping the side bars of the bed, looking at Phil (who was desperate to do anything to make me feel better), while the contractions came and went and I could only moan/scream through them. After a good long while of the contractions coming every couple of minutes, I asked for something to take the “edge” off. Whatever they gave me didn’t touch the “edge” and only made me feel drunk. That was kind of cool for about 10 minutes until I realized the edge wasn’t being touched. At that point, my contractions were insanely intense and they came every minute and lasted a minute. So, yes, no break between the contractions. I could feel each one begin to subside and then it would peak again. No break. For an hour. It was the most difficult hour of my life. I couldn’t speak, I could only barely whisper and I told Phil I needed the Epidural. If I had breaks in between the contractions like a normal natural labor, I know I would have been fine. But no breaks and no end in sight had sent me and my body over the edge. At that point I believe my body was in shock and was shaking uncontrollably. (The shaking lasted several hours, by the way.) I wasn’t happy to get the epidural, but I needed some kind of serious relief. Before receiving the Epidural, my body felt the urge to push, and it actually did on it’s own. I had no control over the pushing and I was thankful a nurse was in the room at this point. Somehow, with several people holding my shaking and screaming body, the Epidural went in and in a few minutes I got relief. Around that time, the baby went into distress. With the peak of each contraction (that was happening every minute), the baby’s heart rate dropped. I remember very little at this point but I recall someone came into the room and stuck something in my thigh to stop the labor completely (Um, wait, what? There’s an “off” switch? I never heard of such a thing!). The Cervidil came out and the Dr. checked me. I was fully effaced but only 7 cm. My water broke, I had my bloody show and there was myconium in it as well. Awesome. Then I developed a fever. Which I passed to the baby. Awesome again. We didn’t know how much longer it would take for me to reach 10 cm, and then how long to push the baby out. With her in distress and with a fever, and with me still needing to progress a ways, all actions were pointing to a C-section. Unfortunately, when I learned the baby was in distress, I knew where we were headed. I will say that after all the work I had just been through I was absolutely devastated. But I also felt relief. Relief that very soon the baby wouldn’t be in distress. I knew something wasn’t right when my body started pushing on its own. While I’ve never been in labor before that day, I know what happens and our baby was trying to come out but my body just wasn’t dilated enough.
It wasn’t a “Code Red” emergency C-section or anything like that, but it was headed in that direction. Very quickly, I was wheeled out to the OR with Phil by my side. There were a lot of people in the OR and I was talked through every step of what the Drs. were doing which was very comforting to both of us and definitely made me worry less. I could hear everything and definitely felt safe. Because I had the fever and passed it to Laina, she had to be admitted to the NICU right away and stay there for 48 hours to be monitored and receive antibiotics. Phil was amazing by my side and every word was encouraging. When Laina was born, they lowered the curtain that separated us from the procedure and there was our baby, crying her eyes out. A slimy, chunky, cold, angry mess of a baby. I wanted so bad to reach out to her and sooth her cries. That was a bummer. Not being able to hold her immediately. Phil then went around to the other side to cut her umbilical cord (which was huge and thick by the way!). I wish he would write his version of Laina’s birth story. He’s got some great details! Then they cleaned her up and brought her over to us for a few minutes before taking her to the NICU. I touched her head and kissed her and looked in her blue eyes. She was perfect to us.
Then off she went to the NICU, while I got sown up. That seemed to take forever. Then sitting in the recovery room also felt like forever. I was still numb all over, I was still shaking uncontrollably, I was exhausted, but I was also reeling from everything that just happened. Once I finally got to see Laina in the NICU after some time in recovery, she looked painfully adorable. A full head of dark hair and lots of chunk (double chin)!! I put her to my breast right away and she took immediately. I’m thankful to say that she’s been exclusively breastfed since she was born (besides formula they gave her in the NICU in the middle of the night) and we are both doing really well with it! (Thank goodness that’s working out for us, haha!) I went over each day to feed her and we’ve gotten through several nursing hurdles, but are both still at it! I’m proud of both of us.
Throughout the entire day and when things got intense, and when things got crazy intense and took a turn for the worse, I never feared for Laina. I knew that no matter what happened, she would be fine and that very soon we would be holding her. I couldn’t have had a better partner for me than Phil! He did deep breathing with me (almost passed out himself), massaged me, held me, encouraged me, he did everything right. In the moment, I felt so out of control of my body and certainly felt like my body somehow failed me and Laina, but that has since passed. It wasn’t the ideal birth or the birth we had hoped for, but Laina came into the world peacefully. We did what had to be done so she wouldn’t suffer anymore and now we have a very happy, healthy baby with a wonderful appetite and sweet, calm disposition (she gets that from her daddy!). The appetite is from both of us! Truly, at the end of the day, when I hold her in my arms, how she actually came into the world doesn’t matter. She’s here, she’s healthy and so am I.
If there is a next time (I can so do it again), we will again be hopeful that we go into labor naturally. But not everything is black and white and we are thankful for technology that could give us our baby after all that craziness. Laina is happy and healthy.
Here is our family:
Family Photo courtesy of Rae Barnes Photography. All the others from Phil’s iPhone!