Birth Stories

42 hours--A birth odyssey for Ethan Shiloh

Friday, February 19th I'm feeling really good--I have energy and hubby just got me a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit from our favorite biscuit place...it's also my due date. We're getting ready to watch a movie and go to bed because he's on the night shift and we sleep during the day, but I start feeling "crampy". At 9AM I have what I know to be regular cramping contractions coming every 10 minutes, I email my midwife Sarita to let her know this is a different feeling and may be it--I'm excited to do a home birth! At about 11AM, I call the midwife to tell her my contractions have intensified and are coming at about 7 to 8 minutes apart. She contacts her birth assistant Melaine to be with me by 3pm. Carl is nearby watching over me, but napping ever so often.

By 2pm, I'm doing the dance and really starting to feel the contractions, they're 3-5 minutes apart. Melaine arrives, takes my vitals and waits with me. It takes several more hours for the contractions to get really interesting, where I can't sit anymore and have to keep moving. I can feel my baby descending and myself opening up. Carl just knows to get the birth tub out and ready to fill. I finally beg Melaine to call Sarita to come and check me...I want that birth tub! Sarita arrives 2 hours later around 1AM Saturday. She checks me and I'm 7 centimeters dilated--into the tub! What a wonderful feeling...my favorite position was a simple recline, occasionally getting onto my knees. The contractions still intensified, but the pain wasn't "as" bad. After about 2 hours, I start feeling pushy, but I let my body do the pushing, I'm not actively trying. Another 2 hours goes by and I get out of the tub to move around again--great feeling. I find a perch in front of my washing machine and hang on bent over through the contractions that are coming every minute and lasting 2 minutes.

Dawn breaks on Saturday and I'm thinking that I'll deliver soon. Not so...contractions were still intense and I've dilated all the way, but the baby hasn't descended far enough yet. I begin to lose my mucus plug. I went into the tub again later that morning and tried actively pushing with the contractions. What was left of my waters seem to break, but contractions were still just as intense. Baby's heartbeat and my vitals were checked every half hour...his heart was like a metronome and strong. I drank water and some gatorade and ate some crackers with cheese to keep up my energy. I'm still very active and upbeat, chatting between contractions. By the evening time, I'm in the bedroom leaning across my bed with Carl on the other side holding my arms with my contractions. We get into bed and he cradled me, helping to hold me up as I bore down pushing and helping me nap in between. The midwives and Carl take turns napping and being by my side. I didn't notice Sarita had been napping longest--she had taken down with a 24 hour flu causing her shivering and sweats! 

By 11PM Saturday, I'm tired and worried because through all my efforts, the baby still hadn't passed by my sacrum with several position changes. Sarita directed me in pushing, but to no avail--AND my contractions had slowed to only 5 or 6 an hour. By 1AM Sunday I had been in labor 42 hours, I called it. Sarita was unable to attend with me because of the flu, but Melaine and Carl, we went to Rockingham Memorial Hospital an hour away in Harrisonburg, VA. The doctor on call happened to be my old OB/GYN that I left before seeing Sarita...Dr. Visger gave me two options--pitocin to intensify my contractions or C Section. My instincts told me that I could not push this child out, so I opted for C section. As vehemently against C section as I was when I chose home birth, I was OK with this decision because I had given this everything I had.

I thought my C section was handled badly--and the following is a bit graphic, so please read with caution. Dr. Visger was a wisp of a woman and had only one female assistant in the OR. I'm a full figured girl, so when they started the surgery, neither of them had the upper body strength to hold my girth and get my baby out, and they began to panic. They had to call for another doctor, Dr. Richard Sedwick, to assist. But while they waited, they cut into me further, making a T incision where normally there is a horizontal opening...I will now no longer safely be able to have a VBAC. They continued tugging on me, starting to push me off the table. I began to vomit blood on Carl and myself because of the violence with which they were tugging. When Dr. Sedwick arrived, he found they were not using retractors or muscle relaxants (which part of the problem was my uterus had contracted over the baby). He was able to take control and extract Ethan from my narrow pelvis. I was told he was posterior (but I had NO back labor)...I believe that he was asynclitic where his head was diagonal in the birth canal presenting the largest portion of his head through the smallest part of my pelvis and got stuck. Because of the difficulty of the delivery, the nurse suggested to remove Carl from the room, but he shot her a look like "you and what army". Carl was called over to see Ethan, but was not shielded from my eviscerated body on the table--that image is burned into his brain and ruined any chance of a good birth memory.

Ethan Shiloh White was born at 5:51AM Sunday, February 21, 2010...7 lbs 6 oz, 21 inches long. His APGAR scores were poor, he was a 1, 5, and 8 respectively and had to be rescusitated via bag valve mask. I didn't know I had a boy for 5 minutes after he was delivered, but heard him cry twice. He was whisked off to the intermediate intensive care unit. I did not see my son for 10 hours. I was not allowed to hold him for 20 and not allowed to breast feed him even though he was stable. The morning after I held my son for the first time, he began to have seizures which we learned were later caused by 5 strokes and a left front skull fracture (we believe was received during the C Section). Ethan was taken to the NICU at UVA Children's Hospital in Charlottesville, VA. Carl followed him, and I was left alone at RMH wondering if my son would survive. I didn't get to see him again for 2 more days. Thank God for the Ronald McDonald house which allowed us to stay next to the hospital and get free shuttles back and forth to see our son for the week and a half he was there. We all came home on a snowy March 2, grateful to have our baby boy and each other after our unexpected experience.

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