Our son was due on July 13th, 2017. I’d like to point out that at 36 weeks pregnant our OB told me to take it easy to encourage him to stay in. We were afraid that he would arrive too soon!
Well, it looks like our Little Bear took our pleas a little too seriously because he did not want to come out. We hit 40 weeks, and at the OB office we discussed induction. I was hoping I could go into labor on my own to avoid interventions, but – it didn’t quite work out that way. Dr. Lee did not want me to go past 41 weeks pregnant. We were hopeful that induction wouldn’t be necessary, but still – no dice. We scheduled it tentatively for July 20th, and now here is where the story gets frustrating so bear with me.
In the last few weeks of pregnancy I developed insane pain in my pelvis and hips, to where I couldn’t put on my own shoes or step into a pair of underwear without first sitting down. It was excruciating to do anything at all. Even the simple idea of spending even more time pregnant made me want to sob uncontrollably. I was uncomfortable in every shape and form, and had to get up to pee every hour and a half at night. So between being overtired, in constant pain, and wanting to meet our baby – I accepted that I would need to be induced as a sort of light at the end of the tunnel! No such luck there lady. Take a step back.
My instructions were to call Labor and Delivery ahead of time to see if there was a bed available for me. Spoiler alert: there was not. On Friday July 21st, I was supposed to call them at 7AM, which would mean I would be induced at 9AM. I was content with that, and happily complied. When I called them at 7AM, the charge nurse requested that I call back at 1PM because they had gotten insanely busy. Okay, I wasn’t really happy but fully realized that it was entirely out of my control. So I called at 1PM as instructed, and the charge nurse requested that I call back at 5PM because they are still ‘very busy’. I completely understood this in the forefront of my mind, but I was also insanely frustrated for all the reasons I mentioned above. Again, I complied and just waited.
As a side note: if you haven’t felt supreme anxiety, waiting for someone to say you are allowed to come to the hospital so that you can have your baby is one way to do it. This was probably the most nerve wracking experience of our entire pregnancy. So close, and yet so far away, I suppose?
At any rate – you can guess that when I called back at 5PM there was still no bed for me, and I was told to call back at 8:30PM. The night nurse told me that they had me on their list and know I have been waiting a long time, but that there is literally no bed for me right now. Somehow, that felt better than just being told that they were ‘too busy’. I called back at 8:30PM – the final update for the evening, and the charge nurse advised that they had no space for me, but if something opened up, they would call. This gave me a sliver of hope – maybe someone would be discharged! I was told if I didn’t hear from them overnight, to call at 7AM tomorrow morning. It was just “raining cats and dogs…or rather, babies” over there, as one nurse put it. You know, I’m really glad everyone there is having their babies at the hospital – I’ll just be over here not having mine because you said I cant come. THANKS.
So, I received no call overnight (shocker…). I called first thing this morning at 7AM as instructed, and the first nurse I told my name to seemed to think that I was scheduled for a c-section on Sunday. I told her, “If that’s the case, it has never been communicated to me.” Then she told me that I was not on her schedule. Cue my absolute instant rage that I am very proud to say that I kept under wraps until I had more information. She put me on hold and when she came back after a few minutes she “printed a new schedule” and said that I am at the top of it. She then says, “Oh, you’re overdue. You were due the 13th, right?”
For those with delicate sensibilities, you may want to look away from the language I am about to use here. Then again, if you’ve been reading this blog you should be used to me dropping the “f” bomb. This is my birth story anyways, so…
NO FUCKING SHIT I AM OVERDUE, THAT IS WHY I HAVE BEEN CALLING YOU FOR OVER 24 HOURS. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM? Now, I did not say this to the nurse but, seriously – yes, I am aware how overdue I am. I am acutely aware every single time I get up to pee (every hour) and the intense pain I have even trying to put on a pair of underwear.
This nurse asked me to call back at 12PM, but said if something opens up she will call me. For some nagging reason (maybe my CSR background where I was constantly updating records?) I asked her to confirm my telephone number. She reads it back to me and…it is a number I have not had for over 3 1/2 years. So immediately in my head I am assuming that someone DID try to call me overnight on this number I have not had in years, and I have now missed my window.
I called back at 12PM on the dot, and they told me that I can come check in to be induced at 3PM. HOORAY. With our anxiety much lower (and excitement higher), Dean and I went and got lunch at Subway because I knew if I did somehow get into the hospital, they would not allow me to eat. We left with plenty of time to get there, except – there was a major activity happening at the beach and PCH was completely backed up. It was clear we were going to be about 10-15 minutes late. I called labor and delivery to let them know we were stuck in traffic and the nurse made a joke about giving away my bed. I was not laughing.
After we checked in, our nurse brought us to our room and did our intake/admission questionnaires, put in my IV (in my hand, which I hate but whatever!) and started my IV fluids first. I also had two monitors strapped to me – one to monitor contractions and the other that monitored the baby’s heartbeat. The pitocin drip started at 5:15PM and we were on our way!
My contractions started slow and felt like minor cramps, but I did start having some minor pain in my back. I ignored that, and every 30 minutes or so the nurse would come in and turn up the Pitocin and check my vitals. Of course at this stage, I STILL had to pee every hour or so which meant unhooking myself from all the monitors and walking into the bathroom en-suite while still in labor. Not exactly a party. My first cervical check was 3cm, 90% effaced, and the baby was in position head down. Fast forward four hours, and I was only at 4cm, same effacement, and the baby had moved to a higher position than he was before. It was around this time my contractions started coming harder and faster, and while the front contractions were not fun – my back was killing me. It was bearable in specific positions, so at the suggestion of the nurse I began to labor on my hands and knees. It was around this time that I contacted my doula, Stephanie, and asked her to meet us at the hospital. In the hour between me contacting her, they turned my Pitocin down because my contractions were coming too hard, too fast, and I was not making any progress. Did you know that if you are having back labor, it is likely that the baby is not in position and is probably “Sunny Side Up”? I sure didn’t, but this is an important theme going forward. When Stephanie got there around 10PM, my back labor improved slightly, I credit this to laboring on my hands and knees while she positioned my hips and rubbed one side of my back and Dean rubbed the other. This is where time gets fuzzy for me, because my pain obviously kept increasing. The next time I looked at the clock it was after midnight, and a nurse came in to do my cervical check.
I was still at 4ishcm, but fully effaced, and the baby was lower in the birth canal. Around 2AM, I had my next cervical check and the nurse told me that the laborist wants to break my water so they are going to dial back the Pitocin because contractions are likely to increase in length and severity. In case you need an illustration of how this is done:
Yeah. It is not a pleasant experience in the best circumstances, but while having back labor? I wanted to cut everyone. At around 4AM my pain shot up from around a 4-5 in severity, to contractions that I could not talk/breathe through. It’s bad enough to feel pain and contractions in your uterus, but the simultaneous back and front labor made it so I could not catch my breath for around a full minute, and my contractions were every 4-7 minutes. This is about when my pain shot up to an 8 on the hospital pain scale. It was here that I “requested” (read: insisted) the epidural, and after seeing my increased discomfort, the nurse grabbed the anesthesiologist quickly to do my epidural. In the short time waiting for the anesthesiologist, my contractions continued in their severity and when he walked in they told me I needed to sit on the edge of the bed and lean forward. My nurse (the third one of the whole ordeal, I forgot her name…) stood in front of me with her hands on my shoulders to comfort me and keep me still. Now, I know it’s good bedside manner for a doctor to walk you through everything that they are doing while they are doing it and not just jamming needles into your spine. But he kept saying things like, “Okay, the first thing you are going to feel is a big poke, alright?” He expectantly was waiting for me to reply to him. M’kay. On a good day, I dont want to talk while I am in pain. In the middle of active labor in my back and you’re putting a needle in my spine? I dont CARE what you are doing back there, just fucking do it and stop asking me questions. That being said, after the epidural started working I told him that I loved him. We checked my cervix one more time around 7AM, and I was at 6cm which was encouraging.
Seven hours went by. A full SEVEN, which meant it was now around 2PM. It was during this seven hour period that I kept needing to change positions from being on my right side, keeping a peanut ball between my legs, and then doing the same while laying on my left. This is when I started to feel sick to my stomach. Every single time I switched to my right side I would get a feeling of acid in my chest and throat, which generally happens to me when my stomach is empty and have a ton of medicine in my body. The acid would rise and then I would need to puke. It was like turning a light off and on again – nausea ON…nausea OFF. Dean was an amazing sport, he held the barf bag and my hair so that I could throw up. Glamorous, right? That’s love, ladies and gentlemen. He even helped me clean myself off when I missed the bag almost entirely the first time and puked on my blood pressure cuff and the front of my gown. Of course, because I could not eat, I was only offered me ice chips, juice, and broth. I tried the ice chips and juice, only to throw it all back up about 20-30 minutes later because of the overwhelming acid in my stomach. I also suspect the fentanyl used in the epidural was making me feel queasy. They even brought me a liquid medication to try and calm the acid down but as quickly as I swallowed it, I puked it right back up. This happened about 6 times over the course of a few hours, and the waves of nausea would make me dry heave and then throw up endless bile. Labor is realllllly cute you guys. After all of this, when I had my next cervical check at 4PM…I was at 8cm but the baby was even higher in my birth canal. Child, you are going the wrong direction! WHY?! I wanted to cry my eyes out. Due to my lack of progress, and the fact that we were now at almost at 24 hours of labor, the nurse tentatively tried to feel out how I felt about having a c-section. I appreciated her being so considerate, but also told her that I supported whatever was safest for me and the baby. The nurse said she would contact the OB on call, and update him about my progress (she had been in contact with him prior to this) to see what his advice would be. Prior to this conversation, our “plan was to increase the Pitocin” and let me try for a few more hours to see what happens. After about an hour the nurse came back in and told me that the OB on call would like to perform a c-section and that he would be coming in to speak to me as quickly as possible. She said, “either way, we’re going to have a baby! Let’s get you ready.” The OB on call came in and explained why he felt the surgery was necessary. I honestly do not recall what he said, except with the way my labor happened it could be that he was too big to come out, and although the baby’s heart was handling everything really well, he felt it would be safest. At this point, I was so exhausted and emotionally drained I was ready to consent and happily signed the forms for the c-section. Stephanie my doula offered to stay with us, but I told her that she had done enough (she had been there through it all for us) and told her to get some rest. I told her we would text her when I could and let her know how
Dean was handed his scrubs and I asked him to take a picture because they were telling him to wait in a separate room while they prepped me for the c-section. This was actually the scariest moment of the entire endeavor for both of us. Being separated like that was completely nerve wracking. All I wanted was for him to hold my hand. Later, I found out he had taken this picture for me:
There was a lot of laughter and chatter from the Doctor and the nurses, and they asked my RN how long I had been in labor. When she told them, everyone drew in a breath and said, “Wowwwww..” in a really sympathetic but amazed way. All three nurses told me what a warrior I was and how I did absolutely everything I could, “so let’s meet this little guy!” My second-anesthesiologist came in and was told how long I labored before topping off my epidural for surgery and told me, ‘Wow, you did good, Mama. We’re all here to help you.’ Dean was escorted back in and took my hand while they began the surgery. Of course, I did not feel them cutting into me but the weirdest part of the entire experience? I could feel the Doctor pulling on him and wiggling him to get him out. It was by far the weirdest sensation of my life, and I think I mentioned this to Dean. A few minutes passed by and then I heard, “Okay daddy, take a look at your baby. Look, look, look!” Dean peeked over the curtain and immediately started crying. I heard the exclamations of the whole surgical team. He was born 7/23/2017, at 6:36 PM. “Look at all that hair!”, “Look at those cheeks!”, “You just gave birth to a newborn toddler!”, “He’s GOT to be at least 10 lbs!”. My inner monologue went, “did he just say 10 lbs? How is that possible?” Then I heard our baby cry, and I just lost it. We are talking full ugly cry. Apparently, so did Dean, more forcefully than before. I tearfully asked, “is he okay?” and everyone assured me that yes he was okay, and a nurse brought him into my view so I could see him. He was beautiful. Dean went with the nurses to clean him off, and took pictures for us. They asked him if he wanted to cut the cord, but he couldn’t manage it through all his tears, the moment was too much. Then, in complete disbelief, I heard “9.5 lbs, 22 inches long.” Everyone exclaimed again. The OB on call said, “Well, we saved your vagina because you could not have pushed this kid out.” I laughed, and said that I appreciated that and that I ‘quite like my vagina, thank you’. What do you want from me? I just had a baby, my jokes and filter were completely off. But truthfully, thank you, OB. I am also happy that my vagina is intact. At our baby’s size, apparently his head was so big that it created a type of suction in the birth canal which is why when I was being checked they could feel his head going higher and lower. I was also told that his shoulders would not have fit through my birth canal – which is called shoulder dystocia. Apparently even if I would have got his head out, I would have needed urgent assistance to deliver his shoulders which creates a lot more danger for him. He could have had cuts, bruises, fractured bones or he could have even asphyxiated. Yeah, no thank you. My anxiety really would not have needed that.
Then the nurses brought him to me for the first time. The word “awe” comes to mind, but it doesn’t really come anywhere near the feelings that washed over me. The first thing I said was, “Hi baby. I’m your Mommy, I’ve waited my whole life for you.” I kissed his little head and Dean and I cried together. I told him that I loved him and we just stared at our son. Our son. We did it. Everything we went through led to this one beautiful moment, and my heart just soared. Nothing else mattered to me in that moment. Not the labor, not pain, nothing. Time stopped around us and I will truly never forget that moment for as long as I am alive.
Our Science Baby is now 5 weeks old, and brings us more joy than we ever could have expected. He has started smiling, coos when you talk to him, and loves to eat and poop. This is the miracle of science. We will forever be grateful to our amazing team of doctors and nurses (specifically, Dr. Cass).
I will write later about recovery, once I have had my second follow up appointment with my OBGYN. OH. And for the record – his feet? THREE INCHES LONG WHEN BORN. He also STILL kicks like crazy, and will often lift one leg up for no reason at all. That would be the foot that was constantly lodged in my ribcage, and it’s no wonder. He was running out of room in there!
Jen, Dean, and Sebastian the Science Baby