I consider myself to be a healthy and active person. Throughout the entire pregnancy I was cautious about foods I ate and I was a stickler for staying active even if I was just for a walk. Sam and I found out that we were to move to South Carolina halfway through the pregnancy. I had been seen at Premier Army Clinic and then on Ft Carson at Evans Army Community Hospital.
I started researching birth centers in the Charleston area once we moved. I didn?t want to go through the grind of normal hospital births with all their drugs, interventions, and pushes towards c-sections. I gleaned all my advice from information in documentaries and books. I considered myself to be well prepared for labor and birth (Like I knew what to expect?.)
So. Down the nitty gritty.
A few weeks prior to having LO, I had been feeling nauseated, sick, and just not right. It was nothing new?as I was used to morning sickness.
On Sunday November 18th, I woke up to pee at 4am and found some of my mucus plug in the toilet. For those of you who don?t know or haven?t experienced it, I equate it to a snot slug that?s very mucous heavy. I went back to bed and started feeling crampy?mild period-like cramps that wouldn?t leave me alone.
I woke up later that day around 10 and started timing the cramps. They went from being 7 minutes apart and lasting about 20-40 seconds long, decreasing to 5 minutes/30-50 seconds, and then leveling out every 4 minutes but lasting only 30 seconds long each.
Throughout the day as I was timing my cramps, I spent my time on my feet and bouncing on the stability ball. When a cramp would come, I?d roll into it or squat with it just to encourage the pain to make itself worse. I cranked up the music and danced around for a bit. I paced the house. I squatted.
I had called the midwife on call, Judy, to give her a heads up. She called me back around 8 and told me to come in to be checked at the birth center. Right after she called, noticed a LOT of bloody discharge in the toilet. Perfect timing! I had a few contractions on the road to the birth center.
She found me to be a nice 4cm in dilation and effacing well?progress from last week?s appointment. She then did a NST (Non stress test) where the two monitors were hooked up to my tummy to watch little one?s movement and heart rate. She was happy to see that LO was a ?happy baby,? very active, and jumping like a bean.
She gave me options of sending me home with an Ambien or giving me a natural injection there at the center to help me get through the night. I chose taking an Ambien home with me.
We got home and I labored all through the night while trying to sleep. I was tired but I had only been able to sleep between the contractions which were steady at 10 minutes apart from 8pm-7am. I was tired.
I woke up around 7am and took the labor cocktail.
I was unable to keep it all down and threw most of it back up a little while later. We loaded the car up again with all of LO?s goods. We made it to the appointment on time.
The midwives decided to let me labor at the birth center from there out. We settled into the birthing suite. We walked through all the different labor positions posted on the wall and repeated?and repeated?and repeated. Laurie was my midwife.
I labored all throughout the day in that room. Sam was absolutely amazing and helpful. He was there to let me lean into him, he held me while I squatted into his arms. He rubbed my lower back and hips when I started to have lower back pain. He breathed with me and calmed me down when I was starting to hyperventilate and get tingling hands and numb face. He was with me mentally and emotionally. I?m so thankful for everything he did. He was tired, as was I, but he pulled through and always ran to me when I was going through a contraction. I can?t imagine laboring without his presence.
I admit it right now: I am a moaner. During each contraction, I let out low moans. It seemed to help me get through them and focus on breathing rather than on the pain. I?m sure Sam got tired of hearing me moan all day long. It helped. Really, it helped. I apologized to my midwife for screaming so much and she said ?What screaming? This is nothing compared to some women.? Whew?
The midwife recommended me taking an herbal supplement to help encourage labor along with nipple stimulation late in the afternoon when very little progress was being made. I took 4 little vials full of a mixture of black cohosh and some other herbs I cannot recall at the moment. It tasted pretty much like maple cough syrup. Sam and I continued to pace the room trying different positions of labor. Labor pains were increasing to the point that they felt like very strong menstrual cramps that lasted about a minute long. I took a shower to relieve a little bit of the pain and passed some more bloody show.
Around 7pm, Laurie recommended the birth pool. She filled it up and I hopped right on in?as much as a laboring woman can hop. The water felt really good. Contractions started picking up a bit in intensity in the water because I was able to kind of squat in a leap-frog position in the water. I labored in the water for about an hour and then walked the room a bit. I got back into the water around 830 and then got out an hour later due to my legs getting numb from me kneeling in the water. I was making such good progress. Laurie and her nurse were in the room just waiting on the bed because they could tell I was nearing a pushing stage (apparently by the sounds I was making).
Laurie then suggested that since very little progress was being made that we should consider breaking the waters (the amniotic sac) to make the contractions stronger and fewer between. It was really a hard decision for me.
I had been a little discouraged because very little progress had been made. It was at this point that I was getting really tired and the first negative wave hit. We decided to get checked first and then we would break the bag.
As I was being checked, she put pressure on my cervix to try to encourage me to dilate more. This was painful but honestly not as painful as some of the contractions I had been having in the pool and in the room earlier. As I was going through the contraction, she continued to move my cervix and stretch it. After 3 contractions, she had me from 8 to ready to push out the bag and baby long with it. I hadn?t tried laboring on my back because I assumed it would be uncomfortable. During her stretching me out, my back didn?t feel so bad.
So. She told me to bear down and push with the next contraction. I was in the standard position that most think of when they are giving birth: On the back, knees up, deep closed glottis breathing. Sam was on my left holding my hand and encouraging me through each contraction pain. Laurie was sitting on the bed with me in between my legs.
I could feel things progressing as she worked on me and I was pushing. She kept saying ?You?ve got this. Oh yea. No problem.? Pushing felt good to accomplish something. After I pushed a few times hard, she redirected my attention to correct breathing and that helped things along. I had been letting air out of my nostrils instead of letting tension build up.
It got to the point where she knew I was going to birth the amniotic sac and then baby could clear the cervix. I pushed hard as she directed and then I heard her say ?Okay slow down, take it easy? and next thing I knew, I felt something push out of me, slide out of me?a quick expansion and then a loud pop. I Looked up just in time to see my sac burst all over my midwife. It was an explosion of brownish/greenish/yellowish fluid. Laurie just stopped dead in her tracks and pulled her hand out from me. She said ?OH that?s a lot of meconium. That?s thick.? She had a slightly worried look on her face.
I stopped contracting and just watched her. She sat frozen for a few seconds. She explained calmly that this was meconium and she?d be right back to change her shirt. She was soaked with meconium.
Sam later told me that it looked like a squid inking someone and that it was ?gross.? Like popping a water balloon.
She returned moments later with a fresh set of clothes on and she had me go one more contraction. She kept shaking her head through it and after the contraction was done and I was finished pushing, she said ?I think we need to have this baby at the hospital.? She helped me up and from here on out it was a whirlwind. I found out later that she wasn?t pleased that I had closed back from a 10 in dilation down to an 8. She was totally calm about informing us that we needed to go to the hospital but I could read her face and eyes that told me she was a bit worried.
We gathered up all our clothing and bags as fast as we could. I was still contracting hard as we walked out the door to the car. I was in a daze at this point. Laurie reassured us that baby was okay, but that with the heavy meconium, it would be best to have the baby at the hospital because she was uncomfortable with how it was progressing at the birth center since the bag broke.
We drove the mile to the emergency room.
I remember telling myself ?God is in absolute control. God knows what?s going on.? Sam reassured me the whole time that he was there and held my hand.
Sam pulled up to the doors and Laurie was waiting at the door with a wheelchair. I gingerly got out of the car and sat down in the chair. She had called the hospital and they were ready when we got there with paperwork and a room.
The minutes from the doors of the hospital to the room seemed like eternity?the elevator taking forever, the key card not swiping correctly to get us into the labor ward, etc. I asked her ?Should I push?? She said ?Yes, if you feel the urge.? I was in a little bit of denial and shock at this point?I didn?t feel the urge to push for a while after that.
I was wheeled into one of their labor and delivery rooms still in shock, confusion, and fear. I remember feeling so cold and disconnected. I was frustrated. I had made such good progress and was going to push out my baby when all of a sudden I was plucked from my ?Natural birth at a birth center? plan to ?Having the baby at a hospital? plan. I was still contracting. I tried to be quieter with my moaning during contractions but soon they took over. As the nurse in labor and delivery asked me questions and had me sign paperwork , I could tell I was in a melancholy mood. I was distant and cold.
The nurse on staff and Laurie both hooked me up to a NST monitor so they could monitor LO?s heart beat and movement. I was still contracting and it was hard for me to work through a contraction laying down on a bed. I hated it. It was so uncomfortable. Laurie kind of paced the room and watched the monitor not looking happy.
She explained that LO was having decelerations in her heart rate and wasn?t reacting to the contractions or any other stimulation at the time.
Laurie mentioned to me that if this continued, we would seriously have to look into having a c-section.
As I said, I was nervous, in denial, and upset. I had just went from being on the verge of birthing my baby at the birth center to now facing delivery at a hospital and even further?the prospect of a c-section was now viable. My preconceived notions about c-sections and my general distrust/hatred towards hospitals played a big part in my mental state at the ttime.
She had me go through a few more contractions and felt my cervix during them to see if they were even doing anything. This was uncomfortable to be stretched by the nurse on my insides during a contraction, but as I mentioned, it wasn?t as painful as just going through some of the other contractions alone. After them, she stood beside the bed with the nurse on staff and they both disapprovingly watched the monitor of LO?s heart rate. Laurie left the room a few times to call the OB that the Birth Center works with in situations like this. Sam remained by my side and was so supportive and encouraging, though I wasn?t all there mentally.
Laurie finally sat down on the end of the bed and said that we needed to seriously consider a c-section due to the decelerations in little one?s heart. It was after that point that my contractions came back in full force and I was rolled on my side. It was then that LO started to react to the contractions and Laurie pepped up and thought we could still ?do this thing vaginally.?
I was so tired. I point blank asked Laurie ?Should I have the c-section? Do you honestly think that is the best option for me right now?? She said yes, that it might be the best option.
I had been laboring for 12 hours previously at the birth center and for an additional 24 hours of early early labor at home. I was mentally out of sorts. I knew that I would never forgive myself if I tried to endure another 2-4 hours of contracting and pushing all to result in a very sick, disabled, or dead child. Isn?t it amazing how quickly the mind travels to negative outcomes and perspectives when in distress? All I wanted was a healthy baby and at that point, I threw my natural birth dreams out the window. I would sacrifice anything to make sure my child was safe and healthy.
I contracted a few more times but after one contraction, I threw up and it was solid green and yellow. After throwing that up, Laurie said ?Yea, we?re done here. I think it?s time to c-section.? I know it?s gonna sound odd, but I honestly thought I could die that night. I didn?t know what was going on, if I?d get poisoning from the meconium, or what. I was scared. I didn?t want to show it. I didn?t want to let my heart beat too fast because I didn?t want little one getting freaked out too and ingesting more meconium.
I looked at Sam and asked his opinion. He just wanted baby and me healthy and safe. I gave the word for the c-section. I can genuinely say I was at peace with this decision.
Here things started moving quickly. As I was contracting and moaning, people were hustling and bustling in the room. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me about the spinal block and to sign an agreement. Another nurse came in to shave me in prep for a c-section. She also was the one to insert the urinary catheter. It sucked?not gonna lie. It was after this point that I became so overwhelmingly uncomfortable. I was overtaken with the need to scream and writhe in pain. I didn?t care how loud I screamed or writhed?contraction with baby?s head pushing on the catheter inside me hurt like the devil.
That same nurse put on some leg wraps that would help prevent clots. They contract and let go every few seconds to keep blood flowing. She then wanted me to take an anti-nausea drink. Laurie said ?It tastes like a liquid sour tart.? Boy?it was worse than that. I like sour things but that drink was nasty. It was meant to keep nausea at bay from the anesthesia. Blech. The nurse told me that once I was done drinking that drink, we were ready to roll. I chugged the final bit and we were off.
I was contracting in the halls. Sam was holding my hand as we rolled down to the OR. I would open my eyes every now and again just to see lights or hear voices.
I was separated from Sam and they wheeled me into the OR. The doctor was pretty forceful in telling me what to do (move to the OR table, scootch my booty over, etc) but I needed it. I was out of my mind. I was cold and contracting. I was having a hard time coping with the pain of the catheter inside me and of the confusion of what was going on.
I somehow made it to the other table and sat up, ready for the spinal block. I leaned into Laurie, my midwife and stuck out my lower back. The anesthesiologist was very nice. He was very gentle and I have to say that it wasn?t a horrible experience. When he first fired it up, I felt a twinge of lightning run through my legs. It shocked me.
I then was laid down and the spinal block took effect almost immediately. Another very kind nurse gave me and oxygen tube to my nose. I started to feel calmer. I looked up at the lights. They were new and blueish in color?very pretty lights. I don?t know why I remember that.
The whole OR was very small, maybe the size of a living room. It was clean. New smelling. Bustling with people were busy helping other people and were cheery. I remember thinking to myself ?Holy cow. I?m going to meet my little girl soon. I just smiled. I couldn?t believe it. Even being in an odd position (like I was being crucified, arms out to both sides and stiff as a board) I was still comfy.
As I mentioned before, this was not the optimal delivery/birth that I had dreamed of. Still, it was overall a good experience looking back on it.
Dr. Martin and my midwife Laurie were to perform the c-section. They poked me a few times in my belly to make sure I couldn?t feel the pain. When I couldn?t, they started. The anesthesiologist talked to me for a little bit about Kansas and the dust bowl. Another nurse was admiring my hair. I kept a pretty lighthearted attitude at this point. I could be coherent. I couldn?t feel the pain. I knew for a fact that this result would yield my child.
Sam was allowed in after a few minutes of the surgery being started. We joked about not having a name for her picked out yet. I praised him and told him how thankful I was for him all through the day.
Pretty soon, I heard a nurse say ?She?s out! At 0:54! ? Another nurse said ?You won?t hear her cry because we?re going to suction out some meconium and let her cry naturally.? Soon, we heard her cry and we both just gave each other a squeeze. I was so happy and so relieved to hear her cry and that everything was okay! She weighed in at 8 pounds 3 ounces and was 20 inches long.
I don?t know if it was the oxygen, the pain meds, or the excitement of the moment, but I was just so thankful to have made the decision to get the c-section. I was no longer tired. I was alert and ready to meet my baby.
After a few minutes, Sam walked away from my head where he had been sitting next to me and took the camera to the other side of the room where she was crying and sputtering. A few camera clicks later and she was brought to the table where I got a chance to look at her and give her a welcome kiss. I could only call her an angel. She was perfect. She was chubby and swollen, still had meconium in her creases of her eyelids and hair, and she was kind of batting her lips and eyes trying to expel the meconium. After about 30 seconds of the introduction, Sam and the nurse with baby in tow went up to the nursery.
I gave Sam a kiss and told him I loved him. Dr. Martin and Laurie started to sew my stomach back up.
During the actual c-section I only could feel a little bit of pressure. There wasn?t any pain. Sure, I couldn?t move my legs and I was numb from about mid chest down. The whole procedure went relatively quick. Getting her out of me was the quickest portion of it and sewing up the incision took the longest?as you would expect.
When they were sewing me back up, they moved around my belly a lot and I felt a tad uncomfortable. I think this was because my organs were shifting and moving around my uterus, trying to find their rightful place again. I asked the nurse hanging around my head what they use to seal up the incisions through all the layers. She said stitches. I guess I thought that they might use some high tech glue or something?who knows!
As I mentioned, the nurses and doctors in the OR were very professional and personable. This made me feel so comfortable and I can look back on the experience and be thankful I was with that group of people. I went into the OR scared and came out smiling.
The nurses and I continued to joke around and it was pretty lighthearted in there after Dr. Martin finished stitching me up. He came to my head along with Laurie and I profusely thanked both of them. I felt like they should know that it meant the world to me that they both were so caring and alert at 1am to deliver my precious baby.
After Dr. Martin and Laurie left to clean up, I was left with 3 nurses. One talked to me about baby names that we hadn?t chosen yet and the other two cleaned up my belly. They finally took the sheet down from in front of me so I could look around the room. I was then wheeled back into recovery where I slept for a few minutes and talked to the nurse for the rest of the hour. Sam came into the recovery hall and showed me a few pictures of baby. I was so happy. For being drugged up for the procedure, I was surprised that I wasn?t more groggy. I was alert and happy.
Finally after an hour of recovery and good conversation with the nurse about birth plans, how she liked her job, and babies in general, I was wheeled up to room 205.
That first night, I couldn?t really sleep. I was propped up in bed with still numb legs and I was just so excited and I think still in shock of the fact that I no longer had an inside baby?I had an outside one and by golly I?d get to meet her soon!
Nurses came in almost every 30 minutes that first night to check on me, change my bed pads, and get vitals. I didn?t bleed a whole lot. Every now and again I would feel a little bit of rumbling in my lower belly and I assumed it was little one kicking. Whoops! Not anymore!
For the first time, Sam and I got to hold Little One last night ? about 20 hours after she was born. We went to the nursery in hopes of just getting to hold her and the nurse on staff wanted me to put her to breast to try to nurse and have an introduction session. For the next two hours, Sam and I sat with her in the nursery talking to her, skyping with family, taking pictures, and I tried to nurse her multiple times. She takes well to nursing but unfortunately I don?t have much to give her yet as my milk hasn?t come in and my colostrum isn?t heavy flowing. The nurse added a little drop of sugar water to my breast to encourage her to latch on well. She?s a champ! Little one was hungry and a little disgruntled with all the cords coming from her swaddled body, but we made it work. It broke my heart that I couldn?t give her the food I know she wants. A lactation nurse had come in that afternoon to talk to me about pumping and brought in a Medela electric pump for me to start stimulation with. I am hoping to be able to nurse her soon and not just tease her.
Recovery has been a slow process from the c-section. My midsection is sore and I have to remind myself to stand straight and take low deep breaths to work my lower abdomen muscles. I tell ya what?after having a basketball belly for 9 months, it?s an odd thing to look down or to feel that I am back to just being ?me.? The nurses have been so excellent at making sure I am comfortable and not in pain.
Looking back on this whole labor process, I am grateful. There was no way of knowing that I had a meconium saturated amniotic sac. THAT?s why I wasn?t feeling so good for nearly a month prior to giving birth! I labored from Sunday morning all through her birth Tuesday at 12:54am. I got a taste of both birth experiences ? getting to vaginally deliver and c-section. I was able to experience pushing and the feeling of accomplishing something there?feeling her stretch me a little to birth the sac and coping with the pain without medication or intervention. I was also able to experience the spinal block epidural and the speed/ease of a doctor?s hand in c-section. I would not change my experience. The uncertainty and fear that accompanied me after my sac had ruptured is one I will never forget. I do get phantom labor pains every once in a while, but I assume they?ll go away. I am so thankful for the end result?my little one.
This birth experience wasn?t what I expected and it was an awe inspiring event. Sam and I are both still so tired but so overwhelmed with joy and love for our little one. We hope she?ll be released from the nursery soon so we can spend all our time with her and really bond.
?It was tiring for me. I didn?t realize it would be so much physical work of catching her, holding her, etc. Didn?t realize I?d be so tired from not sleeping the night before and have it affect me. Neither experience is as bad as people explained it to be. It?s really not that bad. Being in a hospital, not that bad?Being in the birth center?not that bad. The only part I didn?t like was not being able to help. Like there were moments I wished we had just gone to the hospital sooner so I could feel like I was doing something.?
Sam, as I said, was so amazing. He was by my side the entire time and did not falter in courage, patience, and an upbeat attitude. He was upset being on the other end of the table?seeing me in pain but unable to help or relieve it. He helped me so much just by holding me, hugging me, and holding my hand through contractions and labor. I am so thankful for everything he did for me.