I know I have forgotten many details, and if you asked my husband, he’d tell you a different tale than the one I am about to tell. (Like, for instance, when the OB asked me if I wanted a c-section, I thought I had a choice. My husband says it wasn’t a question.)
Long time readers will know that I had been having contractions for a very long time. I was in L&D five times before the real deal. I had gestational diabetes, lots of pain and an early scare at our 13 week ultrasound. This was not an easy pregnancy. So it wasn’t a surprise to me at all that at my 38 week check up my OB took pity on me and asked if I wanted her to strip my membranes. Sure, I said, a little uncertain, but happy if this was the last effort in getting the baby out. We had made it past the 36 and 37 week milestones I had been aiming for, so on Tuesday, a day before I hit the official 38 week mark, she stripped my membranes.
I had a little cramping but didn’t feel too much for most of the day. Until that night. Around 9 I started to feel really bad, with worse contractions than I had in the past and they were closer together. My mother-in-law came over to stay with Future President and we drove to the hospital with our packed bags, fully expecting that this was IT. After three hours of monitoring, I had progressed from 3cm to 4cm but that was it. The contractions weren’t close together, even though they were painful. I was sent home with a morphine shot in my butt and medicine to ease the contractions so I could get some rest.
I slept from about 4am to 7am and woke up with scary amounts of blood clots and more pain. We drove Future President to my in-laws and went to triage again. Triage? Yup. I was beginning to think no one was really taking me seriously.
Let me pause to tell you about two absolutes I was sure about my entire pregnancy: I didn’t want a nurse I knew checking me or being assigned to me during labor; and I did not want to see a male doctor, ever.
As I was being wheeled into triage, I saw my former neighbor, nurse S, whom I also go to church with. Hi! I said. The head nurse took that as a sign I wanted S as my nurse. At this point, I was too tired and in too much pain to care that my first absolute had gone out the window. She checked me: I was still at a 4. Then she went to talk to the doctor…who was a man.
Dr. C came in to talk to me and without checking me said the words I had been waiting to hear: “You’re having this baby today.” The baby’s heart beat wasn’t great and with the clotting and history of gestational diabetes, he thought it was best to get the baby out. I was checked in to a real L&D room and given pitocin. And then I walked and walked and walked and walked. Not much happened. Then Dr. C broke my water. And then lots happened and I asked for an epidural, which was awful. SO MUCH PAIN.
I should mention now that over this whole process, from the first time Dr. C checked me, when my regular OB came in on her day off to check on me, each time they checked, they noticed that the baby was not presenting properly. Instead of feeling the top of his head, they felt his forehead. It’s called brow presentation and it’s not a good thing if you’re planning a vaginal delivery. There’s a chance that the baby could change positions in the birth canal, but that chance is small. By the time I had progressed to 10cm, the baby hadn’t changed positions and his heart rate was irregular. Because I was on my back and crying, I couldn’t see everything that was happening, but all of the sudden there was a lot of commotion in the room. I had tried to push a few times, so my husband and nurse S and the doctor were right around me, but then I heard medical jargon being exchanged and suddenly I had a shot in my arm to stop the contractions. It hurt so bad. And then I almost passed out. The room was spinning and I felt like I was going to throw up. My blood pressure was low and I was given oxygen. And that’s when Dr. C asked me if I wanted a c-section.
Of course I see now that this was not really a question. The baby’s heart rate was irregular, he was brow presentation, and I was exhausted. By then I had been awake and in active labor for 8 hours. I agreed to the c-section and was wheeled into the operating room almost immediately. The anesthesiologist, who I had been so unimpressed with a few hours before, showed up again and was amazing. She calmed me down even though I was shaking uncontrollably and almost vomited repeatedly through the procedure. In what was probably less than 15 minutes after being wheeled into the room, Junior made his appearance, and the way he was positioned confirmed that a c-section was the best choice. He cried and cried and cried, and it was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.
My husband held him up so I could see him. He was long and lanky and very, very small. Despite the gestational diabetes, I delivered a tiny baby. Yay me!
I was stitched back up and wheeled into recovery. But I couldn’t stop shaking. I didn’t want to hold the baby for fear I would drop him. The nurses told me the shaking was completely normal due to hormones and the c-section but I was really scared. After about an hour, the shaking stopped and I finally had enough confidence to hold the baby without assistance.
Neither of my deliveries were what I imagined. Both times my babies were taken away immediately for various reaons. But I’m okay with that because modern medicine is the reason I have two healthy babies.
A few hours later, my husband and I were in the hospital room waiting for Future President to come meet his brother. He had insisted on bringing baby a birthday cupcake and singing Happy Birthday to the new addition. Even though Junior didn’t have a name yet, we all sang to the baby and Future President presented him with a birthday present. It was adorable.
This pregnancy and delivery were nothing like I expected or anticipated. But here we are 6 months later, with a healthy baby and a (mostly) happy big brother. I am so blessed.