(Warning: TMI. This *is* a birth story after all. Also, if it seems disjointed, it’s because I’ve stopped and started it like 5 times. Turns out that writing a post with a newborn around is tough work!)
My due date, Saturday September 19th, rolled around without so much as a single labor sign. No contractions, no bloody show, nothing. On Sunday, my husband Luke and I went to the mall to get my iPhone replaced and I did a ton of walking. Still no signs. Monday during the day I felt a little ‘off’ but then things *really* started to happen Monday night, Sept 21st. At around 7pm I got some light pink bloody show, so I called my doctor to let him know and make sure it was okay. I started to get contractions at around midnight. They were totally tolerable, just mildly noticeable and weren’t really that timeable. Some of them were every 12 minutes, sometimes 7, sometimes 5. I stayed awake all night, unable to sleep through the contractions due to a combination of anxiety, excitement, and the discomfort. I woke up Luke at 6:30am and told him that I was thinking we may have to go to the hospital soon.
I was already scheduled for my weekly OB appointment at 10:15am on Tuesday, September 22. I decided to just stick it out until that appointment since things didn’t seem to be progressing anyway. We loaded the cars, packed up all our last minute hospital bag items, took care of our dogs, and then headed out to the appointment. My doctor did a quick ultrasound and saw that I had very little amniotic fluid. I’m talking no measurable amount here, which looked pretty dire. He said he wanted me to go in for an induction immediately, because of the risks of not having any amniotic fluid around baby are severe enough to warrant one. My doctor is super crunchy and has a very low rate of inductions except in cases with medical necessity.
At this point, I was pretty freaked out. I’d considered a lot of different birthing outcomes but for some reason, induction never even really crossed my mind. I figured that my doctor wasn’t going to induce unless we made it to 42 weeks and that odds were good I wouldn’t be pregnant that long, but I didn’t consider complications that could cause a necessary induction! So immediately I had to come to terms with the fact that we’d be starting the process of meeting our son, and I started freaking out about Pitocin and the cascade of medical interventions ahead. But alas, it was most important that baby was safe and if my uterus was no longer providing him the comfy home he required…it made sense to kick him out. My doctor then did a cervical check and saw that I wasn’t dilated at all. This was the most painful and horrible experience in my life to date. My husband held my hand but the pain was excruciating and it made me cry. I was pretty upset after this, and thus started my fear of all the rest of the cervix checks.
We went home and grabbed a few last minute items and ate lunch, and headed to the hospital. I checked into labor & delivery and was in my bed around 3pm. It took them a couple tries to get the IV started. They then inserted the Cervadil into my cervix to try to soften/dilate me. This nurse was more gentle than my OB was, and having the Cervadil wasn’t really a big deal. It was just a long cord hanging out of me and I couldn’t feel it while it was in there. It stayed in for 12 hours, and then I was checked again (painfully). I was only dilated to a 1. Cue my disappointment. My contractions were already horrible though. They started around 8pm and were pretty uncomfortable. They started me on the Pitocin around 5am on Wednesday morning and then the contractions intensified after getting the Pitocin.
Here’s where things started to get really hard for me. I started having extreme pain and anxiety around the pain and giving birth in general. I was bawling in pain, but I’d only dilated to a 3 after 5 hours of Pitocin. They’d tried turning my Pitocin up and baby wasn’t having it…his heart rate would drop if the contractions came too close together. I begged for the epidural, and got it around 10am. It took them 15 minutes to get the epidural in, which the nurse said was way longer than usual. They had a hard time finding the right spot. But once it kicked in, good grief I was in heaven. I was finally able to sleep for a few hours and relax. Unfortunately, around 5pm it was already worn off almost entirely. The anesthesiologist gave me a bolus through the epidural which helped a bit, but not in my right leg or my lower right back. I could also still feel pain in my lower right abdomen. I complained to the nurse and cried in pain and the anesthesiologist came back and decided to re-place my epidural. The second one went WAY faster and kicked mostly in with some exceptions along my right side.
At 8pm, things were rough. I wasn’t dilating, I was still at a 3 even after all that Pitocin and pain. Baby wasn’t handling contractions very well, and his heart rate was dropping after each one. The nurse came in and said that she had talked to my OB and that he was willing to give it another couple of hours to see if there would be progression, but that otherwise we’d have to think of a c-section. At this point, I straight up asked the question I’d been wanting to ask for hours – “Can I get a c-section and get this horrible experience over as quickly as possible?”. Basically my concern was that I’d end up needing a c-section anyway because baby was having distress with contractions and he had the low amniotic fluid issues, and the last thing I wanted to do was continue to labor painfully with no progression and then end up with a c-section. And hearing that my baby was having distress at all made me want him to get out ASAP. She called the doctor again and he was totally onboard with this option.
By 9:00pm, I was scrubbed, shaved, and in the OR for the c-section. It was less scary than an emergency situation, but they still moved with such speed that it scared me. I was given lots of drugs through my epidural and they tested me well to make sure I couldn’t feel anything, but I still felt SO MUCH during the surgery. I was trying not to panic, but being strapped down and feeling your stomach being tugged on was HORRIBLE. It felt like someone had put a sword through my belly button and was stretching my whole stomach apart using my belly button hole.
They pulled baby out and didn’t put him immediately on my chest, which scared the living shit out of me. Because of the big screen, I couldn’t see what was happening. My husband wasn’t saying anything. I heard baby make a sound, but it wasn’t a full out cry. Nurses were saying “congratulations!” to us, but I didn’t know how to reply because apparently something was wrong with him. Luke said that the nurses were giving him oxygen and that he was slowly becoming not blue, but it took a LONG time for him to cry. After he finally started breathing, they brought him over to me and took a picture. I was shaking, full of anxiety, and I could hear my heart rate dropping on the monitor. I felt like I was going to pass out so they gave me oxygen, meanwhile there was this horrible tugging and stitching. At one point, the anesthesiologist actually told me that the doctor had my uterus in his hands and was “putting it back in”. That did not make me feel better…for the record.
Baby was finally cleared and so Luke got to go back to our postpartum room along with baby and a NICU nurse. I laid there alone for another 15 minutes while I was getting stitched up. This was the worst part — I was alone and still wasn’t sure what happened to baby Henry, and my husband wasn’t there to hold my hand and I was feeling faint and cold and hated my arms being strapped down. Finally, I was done and they wheeled me back to my room where I saw this beautiful sight:
They brought him over to me and finally laid him on my chest skin-to-skin, about an hour after being prepped for surgery. He tried to nurse but was having troubles because apparently my nipples are too flat for him to get a good latch. The lactation nurse ended up giving us a nipple shield which helped out with that, and we’re still using it 1 week postpartum.
Things I didn’t know:
- I had no idea that I’d have to fight so hard to get pain relief. They didn’t want to give me a new epidural even though my previous one had failed/worn off. The nurse actually said to me “they won’t give you more pain meds unless you’re crying in pain.” Which I was. She also kept making me confirm that it was actual PAIN I was feeling and not just ‘pressure’, which was very frustrating because I know the difference…
- I didn’t know just how much I’d feel during the c-section. It wasn’t really PAIN, but a few times it did make me jump. It was a sensation unlike no other, and I really didn’t enjoy the birth experience at all.
- I didn’t anticipate how much discomfort I’d be in during the 2-3 days after surgery. It was pretty hard to get out of bed and walk, and going to the bathroom was difficult. However, that first shower was AMAZEBALLS.
- I didn’t know how much we’d have to fend for ourselves while in the hospital. I expected the nurses would be around to educate and lend support, but I found that they mostly left us alone to figure things out by ourselves. Of course, if we had questions they were totally cool with answering them, but in general aside from taking vital signs constantly they basically left us there on our own.
My husband has been amazing during all of this. He changed every single diaper in the hospital, he has been making sure I eat and get my pills. He’s getting up in the middle of the night to help me out. It’s just fantastic.
Aside from the first 3 days where we were in the hospital, I’m actually surprised with how easy the recovery has been. I have had zero pain from the incision site itself, just uterine cramping. I’m taking 1 Percocet every 4 hours and 800mg of ibuprofen every 6 hours, and that seems to be enough to fend off the pain. I even went for a 1 mile walk with Henry in the baby wrap yesterday, 1 week after giving birth. I was anticipating weeks and weeks of recovery, but honestly – this has been a piece of cake. Granted, I could be in a honeymoon period and it could suddenly get worse. But for now, this has been really pleasant overall and hasn’t hindered my ability to do much aside from maybe the first day or two at home.
Life with a newborn:
They say your life changes, and it’s impossible to explain just how much that’s true. Our #1 thought 24/hours a day is Henry. He’s sleeping pretty well, though at night he’s not using his bassinet (he’s falling asleep on my chest). During the day he crashes in our laps or in his bouncey seat. He’s such a pleasant baby that cries very little. He’s nursing so well, sucking like a barracuda and it’s just such a joy to spend our lives with him right now. Changing his diapers is easy, dressing him in adorable outfits is fun, and even sleep isn’t so bad. We’re not super exhausted. It’s great to have my husband off work for a month so we can do all this together. So far, I can just say that I have no complaints whatsoever with being a mom. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted, and I feel like I’ve finally fulfilled my destiny. Things just “feel right” now, and it’s wonderful.
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