Here it is – the birth story you’ve all been waiting for. It is edited a bit for public consumption.
Warnings and caveats: From what I understand, my labor and delivery were in no way typical. Do not be afraid, people who have yet to be pregnant and are contemplating it. Your labor/delivery will be nothing like mine! I promise!
As you know, I was at that stage in my pregnancy where, although I knew that I was inevitably going to give birth, I didn’t really believe it and was convinced I was going to be pregnant for the rest of my life. I’d been having more and more contractions the last three weeks before Alvie finally made his public debut, and each time, they petered out after an hour or two.
In the overnight time between April 7 – April 8, I woke up about 2 am and could not go back to sleep. Not because I was having contractions, but just because I was having my periodic insomnia that has plagued me throughout the entire pregnancy. At about 5 am, I decided I was starving and went downstairs for a peanut butter, jelly & cheddar sandwich. (What? It’s delicious!)
I fell asleep on the sofa downstairs at about 5:30 am and woke up about 7:15 with my cat poking me in the head and meowing quietly. And then I had a contraction. It was different than any of the previous contractions I’d had, but still didn’t feel exactly like I’d expected. I got up to pee, thinking that maybe I just really, really needed to go. Halfway to the bathroom (and a note for those who don’t know me – I do not live in a house large enough to have a bathroom in a different wing…this was a short trip), I had another. And not too long after, a third.
I grabbed my phone to start timing them – and they were coming every 90 seconds and lasting between 45 & 60 seconds each time. For the uninitiated, a contraction is timed from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next (like a wavelength), so 1 minute contractions 1.5 minutes apart, mean you have a break of ~30 seconds when you’re not contracting.
It took me 3 contractions to get up the stairs to wake up the architect.
He was a bit…flustered. I instructed him to call the doula and the midwife on call at the hospital. I started to put on my “going to the hospital” outfit, and the minute I got my yoga pants on, my water broke.
Every time I tried to put on something new, more fluids! Finally, my mom handed me a skirt (at some point, the architect woke her up), and that’s what I ended up wearing to the hospital.
I talked to the midwife on call, and she said that since I was a first time mom, I might be in labor for awhile, but since my water had broken, I could decide if I wanted to come to the hospital or labor at home. We chose hospital.
At this point, it’s about 7:45 and I’ve been in labor for a half hour. We grabbed all of our stuff (fortunately, everything was ready to go), fed the cats, and got in the car.
Laboring while driving is not so much fun, but we made it to the hospital. I was wheelchaired up to the labor floor and installed in a room. Our doula showed up a few minutes later, and the nurse and midwife also made appearances.
I was checked for dilation, and was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced (or something like that). They put on the wireless baby monitor and ordered the birthing tub.
At this point, the order of events of the day gets a little hazy. Because my contractions were so close together, I was already getting tired. I sat in the regular tub for awhile, and that helped a bit. Then I labored out in the main room while waiting for the birthing tub to get filled. I know I laid on the bed for awhile, and had a little pudding. I was very thirsty – probably due to the breathing.
The contractions were incredibly intense, and because they were so close, I couldn’t get my centering and visualizing exercises to work. I was having a lot of back labor.
At one point – before I got in the tub, my water broke (I know! Again!) – and this time, it was a significant amount. The midwife said that the first breaking was probably just a big leak, and that my membranes hadn’t actually ruptured before. So glad that I came in anyways! There was meconium in the amniotic fluid, which meant that they wouldn’t let me deliver in the birth tub, but I could labor away in there.
Finally the tub was full and I hopped (ha!) in. The water felt great, and having someone apply pressure to my back + the warm water helped for awhile. At about 11ish, I started asking for an epidural. The architect & my doula convinced me to wait for a little while longer. At one point, I remember telling them that I was not a Zen butterfly.
After a while, the tub was no longer super helpful, so I got out. The midwife checked me again, I was 9 cm dilated – it was just before noon at this point. Apparently, that is pretty decent progress! It was time to start pushing.
So I pushed.
And I pushed.
And I pushed.
Every time I pushed, Alvie’s heartrate would drop, so they started having me push only every other contraction. Not pushing is wicked hard, by the way. WICKED HARD. Throughout this whole labor, the contractions remained about 90 seconds apart, so I was getting pretty tired.
After 3 hours of pushing and no progress, the midwife suggested now was the time for an epidural. They wanted me AND Alvie to have a rest for awhile. I knew the anesthesiologist who did my epidural, and that was a bit weird.
The epidural kicked in, and, with the exception of my left butt cheek, everything went numb.
I texted a couple people to let them know I was in labor, and then took a 45 minute nap.
I woke up & was joking with my mom, the architect, and my doula, when the nurse came running into the room telling me to roll over.
I said, “just a minute” and she said, “no! roll over now!”
Apparently Alvie’s heartrate was dropping again – this time for no apparent reason. Finally, his heartrate stabilized – once they got me on all fours. (And let me tell you – rolling over onto all fours with an epidural is not easy.)
At this point, they sent in an OB surgeon to have me sign the consent forms for a c-section, just in case. We were going to try to push one more time to see if Alvie felt like coming out before doing a caesarean.
Before I could even push, his heartrate dropped again. I later found out that it dropped to about 30. Which is not good, unless you’re giving birth to an endurance athlete like Lance Armstrong.
This is where everything gets really hazy.
The architect was instructed to suit up, and they started wheeling me to the OR. People were talking about whether or not to give me general anesthesia, or just up the epidural.
The baby’s heartrate was not coming up, and things just sped up. They started pumping me full of tons of drugs, and I was completely numbed. They set up the curtain, and opened me up. It was less than 10 minutes from the second the c-section was decided until Alvie was removed – 5:39 pm to be exact.
They took him out of the room so fast – and to the adjacent NICU room. The architect hadn’t even finished putting on the scrubs and they led him to that room instead. Fortunately, once they cleared the meconium from his lungs, he was perfect. (9,9 Apgars, bitches!)
I, however, was not so perfect. They couldn’t get my placenta out, and because my labor had been so quick and intense, the bleeding was a bit much, too. It seemed to take a really long time to remove the placenta and get the bleeding stopped – but I have no idea how long it was, really. It was weird feeling them massaging my uterus to get it to shrink.
All this time, I had no idea what had happened to Alvie, and was so drugged up that I was having trouble asking for an update. I didn’t know if he was okay – or even alive.
Finally, the nurse figured out I needed an update and let me know that he was just fine. She went to his recovery room, and took some pictures and brought them back for me. When I saw the first picture of the architect holding our son, I just started crying.
About a millenium later, I was done and wheeled to the recovery room. A few minutes after that, the architect came in holding our son, and they laid him on my chest. I was super shaky from the drugs, and my arms felt like jelly, so I couldn’t hold him, but it was the most perfect moment of my life.
A while later, we were all wheeled to my maternity room where we would stay for the next 3 days.
Recovery was a bit difficult – in addition to recovering from abdominal surgery, I was also recovering from blood loss AND from being in labor for 8 hours.
I feel that I can now speak to several different birthing experiences! I went through labor & pushing completely drug-free! I had an epidural! I had a C-Section! The only thing I didn’t really experience was the actual pushing the baby out part.
Even though I did end up with an urgent c-section, I am still checking off “natural birth” (on my 2012 goals) as a win, since had he actually come out, I would have done it sans drugs.
We’re not really sure what caused the heartrate problem. His head wasn’t turning properly to come down through the birth canal, and it was theorized that the cord was pinched between his head and my pelvis.
At first, I felt bad about the way things went. I felt as though I had done something wrong that made it impossible for him to be born naturally. However, the more time that passes, the more I feel A-OK about how it all went down. After all, it’s the end results that matter, right? And how can you feel bad when this is the end result:
We went home last Wednesday, and I am finally starting to feel like a regular, albeit sleep-deprived, person. I had a lot of edema in my lower half of my body post-surgery, and that is finally almost all gone (I am wearing jeans! They are maternity jeans, but I haven’t had them on since I was 36 weeks pregnant, so this is a win!).
The doula was fantastic, by the way. She was so worth every penny. She kept me going throughout my regular labor/pushing, and when I went into surgery, stayed with my mom. She was amazing. Really, really amazing.
It was also great to have my mom here for the first few days after we came home – she was so helpful.
So – that was Alvie’s exciting and dramatic entry into this world. Let me know if you have any questions about the birth.