* Warning – this is a long post. Proceed with caution and a coffee. Maybe wine. *
I’ve been semi-avoiding this post, but I feel like it has to be written before I forget the events of Clara’s arrival entirely. I know there are quite a few women out there expecting babies and reading this blog, so maybe this post will be interesting to someone!
Basically, Clara’s entrance into the world did not go as planned. Not that I expected it to go exactly as planned, but it was like way, way off the mark.
Tim and I did everything we could during my pregnancy to ensure we could have as natural of a birth as possible.
We went to the classes. We I did Hypnobabies. I read lots of books. I talked to women who had all types of births and soaked in their wisdom. We felt very informed and we also felt like a natural birth was not only optimal for Clara, but also for me. By ‘natural’ I mean that I wanted to avoid as many medical interventions as possible. I also wanted a water birth. I didn’t have a super involved birth plan, but we did have one with a few bullet points that basically said not to push drugs on us and to get us in a tub if at all possible.
Well, this plan was pretty much destroyed right from the beginning.
At 40 weeks pregnant I became convinced that this baby was never going to come out. I told everyone I talked to that I just didn’t feel like ‘Bumpy’ was ready to come into the world. Bumpy hadn’t dropped yet and seemed to be wedged quite comfortably in my rib cage, which (I’m about to state the obvious) is nowhere near my vagina where (s)he needed to come out of. At this point I was pretty certain Bumpy wasn’t in the optimal position to come out so I went to the chiropractor at 41 weeks to get adjusted. I had an induction date and I was really hoping not to make it to that point. I wanted Bumpy to decide when to come out!
At 41 weeks + 2 days, I woke up at 7am to go to the bathroom. As soon as I started trying to lie back down in bed (I say ‘started’ because at 41 weeks pregnant, everything is a process) my water broke. It was definitely a gush and not a trickle, so there was no question in my mind what was happening.
Here’s a learning point: If your water breaks, get the heck into the shower and let it continue to drain there!
What did I do? I just stood in the bathroom saying ‘eewwww’ over and over again. I eventually put on a pad and soaked through it moments later. I repeated this many more times, because as soon as I would stop ‘leaking’ I’d move and more fluid would come out. Our bathroom floor was covered, but thankfully, I didn’t get the fluid on anything else and it eventually almost stopped.
We contacted our doula immediately, who told us to let her know when contractions started. We also waited a few hours and called our midwife around lunch.
The problem was, contractions never started.
At that point in my pregnancy I was actually having consistent contractions (every 9 minutes or so) but those were more like Braxton Hicks contractions which I had been getting since 28 weeks. I knew we weren’t close to the ‘real deal’, even though my water had broken.
Tim and I spent the morning getting the hospital bag together and generally running around a lot. We also watched a lot of Modern Family while I bounced on our yoga ball. I was trying to move around quite a bit to get this labor thing started. It didn’t work.
At 3pm we went to the hospital (at the midwife’s request) to get the amniotic fluid looked at to insure it was clear and that the baby wasn’t in distress.
In triage they confirmed that I was getting contractions every 9 minutes and that the amniotic fluid was fine and so was the baby. All good news! However, they also told us Bumpy was still not near my pelvis. The midwife told us that maybe during active labor Bumpy would be pushed into place. I remained skeptical. They told us to go home and try to do as much as we could to get labor started (walk miles and miles) if we still wanted to try for a natural labor.
So home we went to walk around! It was nice to walk a few blocks and actively doing something instead of sitting around, but it was a bit frustrating that Bumpy still seemed to have his/her own agenda and it did not involve making a journey through my pelvis.
We finally stopped walking, ate dinner, and turned on more Modern Family. Around dinner time, my mom came over to take Ozzie to her place. She had no idea we were in labor – I didn’t want to tell her because I didn’t want her being anxious all night!
At about 10pm we went to the hospital (at the midwife’s request) to get this labor thing started. Our group doesn’t like a woman’s water to break and to not have labor progressing after 12 hours, so that’s why we went in.
We checked into the hospital and a massive storm started outside – it was beautiful. The check-in process took forever and I have no idea why, but let me tell you, if I was in labor I would have wanted to kill kick someone.
Finally, I was checked-in and the midwife came to see us. We decided to try nipple stimulation to start contractions (still trying to avoid meds!), so they hooked me up to a breast pump. OUCH. It hurt a TON. I mean, it hurt my nipples, my uterus was fine. I have no idea why it hurt so bad, but breastfeeding doesn’t hurt me at all and now I’m terrified to try pumping again. Anyway, the nipple stimulation did indeed start contractions.
Unfortunately, one of my contractions was 2 minutes long and Bumpy’s heart rate dipped. Her heart rate recovered after the contraction was over, but the midwife was not happy with how the baby was reacting to the contractions.
Plan B was to get me on Pitocin.
I did not want to go on Pitocin, not at all. Unfortunately, we didn’t exactly have an abundance of options. The goal was to start me on Pitocin and if the baby didn’t respond well, yank me off of it before the baby went into distress. In this way, they could more closely monitor us and control the contractions.
Well, this meant no water birth, because they needed to constantly monitor us.
This made me a little sad, but I was still optimistic and happy that after all of these weeks (41 and counting!) I would soon meet Bumpy!
They hooked me up to Pitocin (it was maybe around midnight or 1am at this point) and honestly, the rest of labor was pretty much a blur. (I know what happened mainly because Tim was able to help recall events.) I started to feel painful contractions and we called our doula to come in. Then the contractions got REALLY painful. We tried everything to get me through the pain: Tim and I went into the shower together for 30 minutes or so (dragging our IVs with us), I tried lying down, standing up, leaning over, sitting on the exercise ball… it all sucked. Meditating was the furthest thing from my mind. I just remember that the best advice from my doula during a contraction was ‘relax your shoulders’ and the best place to get through a contraction was in the shower.
This convinced me that I would have REALLY liked the tub where I could have been semi-floating in water. All I wanted to do was be submerged, darnit.
Another learning point: If you have the option to labor in a tub or shower, at least try it. I’m convinced I would have loved it and I definitely loved the shower.
I wish I could have stayed in the shower forever, but I was getting super hot and tired of standing, so back to the bed I went. I was so freakin’ tired and really wanted to rest between contractions, but there was no time between contractions to rest.
After 7 hours or so of contractions, I demanded drugs. And by ‘demanded’ I mean I told everyone that I simply couldn’t do it anymore. I was so tired. I had been up 24+ hours and just couldn’t function anymore. I knew I wouldn’t be able to push even if I got to that point. Tim waited for an hour after I first said I couldn’t do it, and then he agreed that meds were a good idea.
Also, I still didn’t feel like Bumpy wanted to come out. No part of me felt like pushing. I felt no pressure at all, which was very frustrating! After all of that, I was only at 4cm dilated and the baby was still head down, but stationed well above my pelvis.
Asking for the epidural was such a defeating moment for me.
First we tried an IV painkiller, but that didn’t work at all. I barely remember it even happening.
When I asked for the epidural, I was told the anesthesiologist was right next door so it would be about 10 minutes. An hour later, I was still having contraction after contraction with no drugs in sight. It was awful. I felt so defeated because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to have this baby without a lot of interventions, and I was so tired and I was so frustrated that I was still in such pain. More than anything though, I was tired. I would have a contraction and just think ‘noooooo please no.’ I knew we weren’t progressing and I just wanted it all to stop for a while. I wish I could describe my level of exhaustion, but all I can say is that it was worse than how I felt after any marathon.
At some point, I started throwing up at the height of the contractions. Not every single one of them, but through quite a few of them.
Finally, I got the epidural (it was no big deal and Tim was able to stay in the room to hold me still) and it was amazing. All the pain went away but I could still feel pressure and didn’t lose complete feeling in my feet or legs so I had limited mobility. I remember our doula telling me that it was great I could move my legs, because that would help during the pushing. I remember thinking that I had absolutely no urge to push, and just didn’t feel like that was ever going to happen.
The goal was for me to be able to sleep (so I’d have energy later to push), but that didn’t happen. The pressure I could feel during each contraction was enough to keep me awake. But, since I wasn’t in pain during contractions, I was able to lie down and rest my body. Also, our doula and Tim could take naps, since they had been awake all night with me and were tired, too!
Sidenote: Even though I loved the epidural because I was so exhausted, I would not choose an epidural in the future without first trying a drug-free birth. I didn’t like not feeling the contractions and felt a little removed from the whole experience. I also didn’t like not being able to move around and I didn’t like the monitoring. Plus, there are some risks that come along with epidurals that I’m not necessarily comfortable with. However, in our situation, I didn’t physically feel like I could keep going through labor and have any energy left to deliver the baby.
The next few hours were a blur. Nurses kept running in because our monitors would start beeping, but I was too tired to care.
Learning point: If you don’t absolutely need to be monitored, don’t be continuously monitored! It is awful to see those contractions coming and I’d tense up before they even started.
At some point I know they checked my cervix again (7 cm, 95% effaced, baby was still at a -2… meaning she hadn’t locked into my pelvis) and then after a few more times of the monitor beeping and the discovery that I had a fever of over 101, my midwife told me this baby was coming out via c-section. I don’t remember any of this very well. I know that Tim was sleeping while the monitors were beeping and I was admiring how he could sleep through it.
Once they said ‘c-section’ everything happened super quickly.
Before I even had time to process everything, they wheeled me into the OR. They transferred me to the operating table. I just remember thinking the room was so bright. I was so tired. everything looked so medical.
Tim showed up in scrubs and held my hand. The nurses and doctors introduced themselves. The anesthesiologist was also there. My midwife was in the room, too. Then an argument started over my placenta. My midwife was telling the doctors I wanted to keep it (I wanted to encapsulate it), they said that it needed to be tested for infection. I really appreciate my midwife trying to stand up for me, but we lost that battle. It was so frustrating that even this was not going to go my way.
I started throwing up during the procedure, which was not so awesome. Do you know how difficult it is to puke while lying on an operating table?! It is DIFFICULT. Someone held a container for me to turn my head to throw up in, thank goodness.
I was not expecting the c-section to be as painful as it was. While I couldn’t feel the incision, I could definitely feel them stretching me open. Also, Bumpy was still up by my ribs, so they had to put a TON of pressure on me to get the baby down. I felt like they were crushing my rib cage. At one point they had to tell Tim to let go of my hand because I was squeezing it so hard that it was affecting something or other.
They kept telling me that I would feel a ton of pressure and then that would mean the baby was out, but I honestly didn’t even care at that point. I was sick and I was tired and I was not at all focused on the baby. Plus, I felt like the procedure was taking forever and I was so beyond done with the whole experience. I know this sounds awful, but it was the truth.
Finally, after a ton of pressure, they told Tim to stand up and see the baby. It’s weird being told you delivered a baby but to not hear or see the baby. Tim stood up to look over the curtain and announced ‘It’s Clara Jane!’ but then immediately sat back down with tears in his eyes. I thought he was just super happy, but evidently Clara was blue, limp, and not moving, so Tim was (understandably) scared.
The doctors and nurses immediately took Clara over to the table at the side of the room and started calling all sorts of people into the room. I vaguely remember that, and thinking it was strange.
Learning point: Wear your contacts into the operating room if you’re getting a c-section! I kept thinking ‘everything is so blurry and I want to see my baby’ as I tried to turn towards her. (I had labored in glasses and obviously those aren’t allowed in the OR.)
After that, I lost all memory for a while.
This is what I was told happened. It took the doctors 2 minutes to get Clara to breathe. She came out of me with a fever and was in a bit of shock. (I’m telling you, this baby did not want to come out!). Tim went to hold her for a while, which I’m really sad that I missed witnessing this event. They stapled me up and sent me to the recovery room where I ‘woke up’. The weird thing is, I woke up with my doula and Tim next to me, and they told me I hadn’t been sleeping. They told me they had tried to let me be skin-to-skin with Clara right after she was born, but I kept throwing up so they took her away. It makes me so sad that I don’t remember this and that I wasn’t able to even have her with me after her birth.
Tim informed me that he had contacted our parents when I was going into surgery, and they were in the waiting room. They brought my mom into the recovery room and we told her we had a girl named Clara Jane. We brought Tim’s mom in and told her the same. This was my first happy moment of the past 30+ hours!
Finally, I was ‘released’ and they let me see my baby. It was so exciting to see her, but I felt so disconnected from this little being. I couldn’t even believe she came out of me! She was in NICU for observation because of the whole not breathing and fever thing, so she had her own little IV and I was all hooked up, so it was quite the process just trying to hold her. We tried to breastfeed right away and she latched on like a champ. I was amazed at that and it was the best part of my day.
Then the grandparents came in to see her and the rest is history…
I already talked about my next few days in the hospital, and I’ll do a recovery post later. (Maybe even tomorrow!)
Here are my final thoughts on the experience:
- I’m convinced Bumpy was never planning on coming out, ever. I really don’t think my body would have ever started contractions. After the c-section, our midwife informed me that the baby was transverse, and could (probably) not have come through my pelvis.
- Although my water breaking led to me being induced, I’m glad that Bumpy still picked her due date.
- If I’m blessed enough to get pregnant again, I would still very much try to have a natural delivery.
- I really hated our entire experience those few days in the hospital – there was nothing magical about it. I know that I shouldn’t say that, but it’s how I feel.
- That being said, I am so so so happy that we had excellent medical care. I’m completely convinced that Clara (and possibly me) would have died without the help we received. I am sad we needed the care, but everyone who worked on us was excellent.
- After it was all said and done, Clara and I were able to check out of the hospital on time – completely healthy. I cannot even express how thankful I am for that.
- But, I still feel like I am justified in being sad by our labor and delivery experience. People like to tell me ‘at least you have a healthy baby’ which is true but I feel like it’s kind of a separate issue. I think of it like having an absolutely disastrous wedding after spending forever dreaming and planning for the perfect day. Yes, you may still end up married, but it’s still okay to be disappointed that the day wasn’t what you had hoped for, right?!