After an arduous 42 weeks and 1 day of pregnancy, I finally became this pumpkin’s mama 11 weeks ago:
Now that some time has passed, the trauma has begun to dull (hell, I have started plain forgetting things), but I’d like to share the verbose story of Mr. Baby’s birth with you all. Sorry, lots o’ words and few photos. And, in all honesty, a bit dry in parts.
If you are currently pregnant, maybe skip the rest of this post. Or, if you just don’t want to experience that TMI that inevitably accompanies birth, same to you. I ain’t holdin’ back, y’all.
Proceed at your own risk.
Mr. Baby was due on July 14th.
Ten days after his due date, I wrote this exasperated post about his tardiness.
On that same day, I had my last prenatal appointment with my regular doctor’s counterpart, Doc V. Because he was overdue, I had already had two NSTs (nonstress test) and ultrasound to check amniotic fluid levels that week to confirm that Mr. Baby was doing fine in utero (and he was). My doctor (Doc B) would be on vacation the next week, and the baby would most certainly be born under Doc V’s care.
We discussed induction, with the fetal mortality rate of overdue babies being mentioned (which jumps 100% after 42 weeks…from 2 to 4 out of 1000. Very low odds, but still disconcerting). Doc V offered to strip my membranes but she could not reach them. I didn’t know it yet, but this is where the cluster began.
I spent the day thinking about whether induction was a good idea. I had heard so many horrible things about pitocin, and feared its intense contractions would not allow me to stick to my plan of a “natural birth” (as opposed to unnatural? Chestburster, anyone?) without pain relief medication, which I expressed to the doctor. She told me it would be possible before administering pitocin to use some cervix ripening drugs and if labor did not start on its own, I would have the choice to go home and try again.
I decided we should go ahead for the following Monday, but then I kind of freaked out. I still wasn’t sure it was the right choice, even though I was miserably uncomfortable. I was afraid and kept thinking that the baby wasn’t ready yet. If he was ready, I would go into labor, right? So, I asked if it would be possible to induce later in the week instead (the answer was a sort of exasperated “I don’t know”).
After more discussion with Mr. 5, I decided to go ahead with being induced on Monday at 8:30 am. Despite the birth positive Lamaze based class, Ina May’s wise words, and my wonderful doula, Morgan (who was so awesome and indispensable) I went into the hospital on July 27th a bit excited, but mostly afraid.
The unknown is one of the scariest things I can think of.
Day one: not much happens
We arrived at the hospital and the first dose of Misoprostol was administered. We were told that this cervix ripener had a 30% chance of starting labor. Contractions started, but were far apart and irregular. They weren’t too bad, but, still: ow.
A few hours later, they decided it was time to consider a second dose. In order to do so, however, they would need to check my cervix to see if I was dilated.
Remember how Doc V wasn’t able to strip my membranes because she couldn’t reach? Yeah, well, before Mr. Baby was born I had no fewer than one dozen hands up my crotch before ONE person “found” my cervix, which was extremely posterior. And seriously, for fuck’s sake, those exams are not just uncomfortable; it felt like someone was trying to shove a baby INTO my vagina.
Well, they never did find that there cervix on that round, but decided to go ahead with a second dose of Miso. More contractions, but nothing regular to write home about. We ended the evening around midnight with a round of Cervidil.
Mr. 5 and I sent my doula home, and we both went to sleep.
Day two: the clusterfuck solidifies
I awoke at 6:00 am thinking “oh crap, I peed myself. Wait, why I am still peeing if I’m awake? (uh, and why would I think I was peeing in my sleep?) OH FUCK MY WATER HAS BROKEN.” And there went the hope of ‘if the cervix ripeners don’t work, you can go home and try again later.’ I was committed. There WOULD be pitocin. Once the water breaks, they want to see a baby within about 24 hours, due to the possibility of infection.
Shortly after, the baby’s heart rate dipped dangerously. It was presumed that the now absent cushion provided by the bag of waters was causing the baby to lay on his umbilical cord. After I was re-positioned, it went back to normal.
I’m not exactly sure what happened the rest of that morning, but they didn’t start me on pitocin until 1:30 in the afternoon. I know that because I remember almost every moment that The Devil’s Drug (a nurse corrected me, saying “No, it’s the BABY drug!”) was coursing through my veins. The contractions intensified, but still remained fairly irregular.
Doc V showed up at 7:30, after her day at the clinic to see how things were going. I told her that I would like an epidural, which was completely opposite of my original plan. I just couldn’t stand it anymore. In an attempt to support my birth plan, she said “how about I go home, have dinner, put my kids to bed and come back around 10:30 and you can decided then.” I told her I had already been thinking about it for two hours, but agreed to her plan.
THE DEVIL’S DRUG, I SAY!
By this time, a petite resident with short, tiny fingers had finally found my cervix. I had doubted her abilities, but she lived up to her reputation as the cervix sleuth. Doc V also checked, and I despaired when I found out that I was only 1 centimeter, 90% effaced after everything that had happened the day before, plus that day’s 6 hours of pitocin. There were tears.
The pitocin was increased, and after about an hour I requested some sort of pain relief. I decided on a narcotic, on which I still felt pretty much everything, but gave me a hazy “I don’t really give a fuck” sort of attitude.
The doctor came back as promised and I requested the epidural again, which she was going to recommend anyway so I could hopefully relax and let the pitocin do its work overnight. And it was delightful.
What was not delightful was that the baby, while head down, seemed to be slightly malpositioned. To help open up my pelvis, I spent the night with a peanut ball between my legs.
I was 3 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. Wait; I was 90% before! Yes, that’s right: same person evaluating my cervix and it was regressing. Seriously, Mr. Baby did not want to GTFO.
Day three: Are you shitting me? + a baby!
Doc V came back in the wee hours of the morning to check me again. Because of the delightful epidural, I felt nothing. However, SHE felt something. Something she said she had never experienced before and thought was a baby’s hand, COMING THROUGH MY CERVIX. And seriously…all I could think was…are you shitting me?
They called the tiny handed resident back in to also check on the situation and operate the ultrasound machine, since she was the most experienced in the room with the latter. It was determined that they were feeling the balloon from my catheter through my vaginal wall.
I gotta tell ya, that just seems like somebody really fucked up. I was also not happy later that they had to place TWO damn catheters, but the problem bulge they felt was solved after the first was removed.
Then, my heart started racing, and my temperature increased. Those one dozen hands up my crotch hadn’t helped, I’m sure. They started me on IV antibiotics to help with the infection I seemed to be fighting. Now the clock was really ticking.
Because this happened, my baby would also be put on antibiotics and spend at least the first two hours in the NICU.
My heart dropped.
I was so physically and emotionally tired from everything, but not tired enough that I couldn’t see the writing on the wall. I wanted to give up right then and ask them to just cut the baby out of me. I didn’t say it, though, and I knew it was better to try.
It was suggested that an internal monitor be placed to determine the strength of the contractions, to make sure they were effective. I did not want it; I said no. There had already been too many interventions.
All the while, the epidural had stopped working on my left side, and no amounts of pushing the “extra juice” button did the trick, and I had been using my labor breathing techniques for the last couple of hours. They had pumped the pitocin up to 24, and we were told the max they like to administer is 30. Once they realized the pain I was in, the anesthesiologist was called back and my epidural was increased.
I was then introduced to Doc S because shit be takin’ too long and it was now Doc V’s day off. Yes, my THIRD doctor and second at the hospital.
I was checked again and only at 5 centimeters.
The baby’s heart dipped again.
I was kind of out of it and didn’t know exactly what was going on, but heard that they had shut off the pitocin. Mr. Baby’s heart rate stabilized, but he did not regain heart variability. That is, instead of a lower heart rate while resting and higher while moving, it just stayed at a slightly elevated, constant level.
I was 7.5 centimeters when they called the surgeon, who said “If you can get to 10 centimeters and push this baby out in 15 minutes, you can have a vaginal birth.”
20 minutes later, I was shaking, and she was cutting me open.
Then I heard “Oh my God…” come from her lips. I didn’t say anything, but I’m sure my terrified eyes said it all. I freaked.
I thought my baby was dead.
As it turns out, in his distress he had shit all of his meconium out whilst still inside of me. Relief at that knowledge.
Seriously, though, let’s talk about the shitty bedside manner of this well seasoned doctor: ARE YOU SHITTING ME? I know this is all routine for you, but it’s not for me and I can fucking hear you!
The baby was born at 9:11 am and I had joined the Sisterhood of the Abdominal Episiotomy. The latter being the last thing I thought would happen. I felt cheated out of the experience of vaginal birth after 45ish hours of labor. I felt like I hadn’t really given birth at all. I have since come back to reality a bit, but I still feel like I missed out.
The silver lining: his head was in the 99th percentile. Ha! :P
Mr. Baby was immediately whisked away to be evaluated by the waiting NICU team, due to my IV antibiotics. He hadn’t cried yet. Mr. 5 and I waited while they began to stitch me up.
After what felt like forever, we FINALLY heard a cry. Relief again.
The lead of the NICU team came over to let us know how he was doing “Well, his heart stopped, and it took two tries for us to intubate him. We’re going to keep him under evaluation for at least six hours to make sure there are no seizures, which could indicate brain damage.”
The surgeon then assured me that he was not limp and had a heartbeat when she pulled him out of me, and that it’s quite possible his heart stopped when they suctioned his lungs to clear any meconium.
And then I got the one thing on my birth plan that worked out: to see the placenta. Doc S knew how scary all of this was and I am grateful to her for the distraction.
From there I went off to recovery. Mr. 5 was able to see the baby after about an hour, but I did not even get to see my baby up close until about three hours after he was born. My whole bed from recovery was wheeled in and I only got to peer at him through the plastic of his isolette.
I knew it was for his own safety and good, and I was grateful for the great healthcare we have access to, but I mourned not being able to hold my newborn baby immediately on my chest after birth. It is the one thing that still makes me very emotional about the whole experience; the other thing that makes me feel cheated.
They hadn’t been able to get an IV in my poor baby; they poked him six times before starting a main line through his belly button. Because of this, he had to stay in the NICU for 48 hours. Once I was able to get up and into a wheelchair, a few hours after surgery, we got to go see him again and hold him for the first time.
He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. After all I went through, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about him or the experience in the aftermath. Cheesy as it is, he was worth it, and the rest is all noise. I love him so. After those 48 hours, he was able to join us in my hospital room. Two days later, we all went home.
We are both well; no lasting effects that we know of for Mr. Baby. For me, per the WTF protocol, I got a staph infection in my incision about three weeks postpartum, but antibiotics fixed that. Thank God all around for modern medicine.
45 hours of labor + 1 C-section + 6.5 days in the hospital = 7 pounds 15 ounces of the sweetest baby ever.