Oh, I’ve been meaning to write the birth story for so long. Don’t really have a great excuse, except the girl keeps me busy at home, and work has been busy. I have a little breather at work today, so let’s see how much I can get down. It’s a really good story … IMO. And lucky for me, my doula took notes at the hospital, so I can get the timing right.
Well, it started on Saturday, November 28th at about 10:30pm. Suddenly my underwear was wet. Not a big gush or anything, but not a few drops either. I wasn’t sure if my water had broken or I just peed myself. I mean, 38 week pg women do pee themselves. But I didn’t have that “gotta pee” feeling, so I had a suspicion it was amniotic fluid. I called my doula and told her. I said I felt fine otherwise. She thought I could call the dr or I could wait. I decided to wait. I didn’t relish the idea of taking a car service to the hospital ($40-50) only to have them send me home. I also called my mother. She said it was the same for her when her water broke with me. Just a trickle, no gush. I tried to relax and get some sleep, but began feeling crampy in my lower abdomen. This was where I’d been having painful round ligament pain for weeks, so I really didn’t think much of it at first. I expected my whole belly to tighten with contractions. (BTW, I never experienced that.)
I was crampy enough that I didn’t get much sleep. Kept going to the bathroom to check for anything happening, but nothing was. By morning, I was checking with Dr. Google. What do you know, it appeared this kind of cramping is an indication of early labor. I still wasn’t terribly concerned, as I really felt basically fine. Called the doula again and she said it was time to call the dr. I called and left a message, and the on call OB called me back. When I told him what was happening, he told me to come in to the hospital. He asked how long it would take me. I told him I could be there in about an hour. I truly thought they would be sending me home, but just in case I had to stay, I ate some Thanksgiving leftovers (in case they wouldn’t let me eat) and took a shower. I called my mother and told her I was going to the hospital. I had already decided and discussed with her that she should come after the birth. I complained about the cost of a car service to the hospital. (If I could get a metered cab in my neighborhood, it would be $20-25, but they are not available, so the car service is $40-50.) My mother said that if I felt okay, I should take the subway. I figured if I wound up staying, she could pick up my hospital bag on her way.
So, taking my sweet time, I headed out. I stopped at Starbux on my way to the subway. The nice young woman behind the counter, who’d been watching my belly grow for months, asked how I was feeling. “I’m okay. Actually, I’m on my way to the hospital. But I think they’re going to send me home, so give me a coffee and a blueberry scone.” I took the first train that arrived at my station going to Manhattan (I live near a hub). Sat down and sipped my coffee. Then the man next to me started coughing. Geez! I never got so much as a cold while pregnant, I didn’t want to get sick now. So I got up and moved to the other end of the subway car. When I got off the train, I took a taxi the 19 blocks to the hospital.
As I’m signing in at the L&D front desk, I can hear the OB on call talking about me down the hall, wondering where I was. It was now about 3 hours since I called. I was taken to an exam room and changed into a gown. The OB barged in before I was completely changed. Whatever. “So what took you so long?” I explained that I had something to eat and took a shower before leaving. He smiled and said he didn’t blame me for doing that. I got on the gurney, and he unceremoniously stuck what felt like his whole hand up me. “Your water has broken, but you’re only 50% effaced and less than a 1/2 cm dilated.” He said that since my water had broken over 12 hours ago, but I wasn’t progressing, we needed to move things along. I was staying, and they would start me on pitocin.
An IV was started and I was taken to a L&D room. The room was actually lovely. Nice big windows with a view of the city, and except for the monitors, the medical equipment was in a closet behind closed doors. Monitors were strapped on and the pitocin was started. I called my doula and she left to join me. I arrived at the hospital about 1pm and the pitocin was started around 1:30. I made a few other calls. Called my BFF who said she would come for a while. (She has her own donor baby who was nearly 14 months at that time.) The nurse was asking questions and charting everything. Of course, she had my age on the chart, so she said, “So you had an amnio?” The look of horror on her face when I said “no” was kind of amusing. Like she expected I would give birth to a 3-headed baby. “Not my old eggs,” I assured her.
I was very happy when my doula arrived. Even though I was still just feeling crampiness, Squeaker was not tolerating the contractions very well. With every contraction, her heart rate would drop. The nurse kept repositioning me, and occasionally had me on oxygen. My BFF arrived around 4. We all chatted. I was really feeling okay, and surprisingly relaxed. A little before 5pm the anesthesiologist came in to discuss the epidural and go over the consent forms. By now the contractions had become more painful, and I decided it was time for the epidural. It took about a half hour for them to be ready to administer it. They sent my doula and friend to the waiting room. BFF told my doula that she wished it would go quickly so she could be there for the birth. They were back in the room by 5:45, and I was soon feeling better. Shortly thereafter, the OB came in and did another internal exam. Nothing happening. Long and closed.
Around 7, the nurse inserted a catheter. Ick! 7:15 the OB came in and explained that they had lowered the pitocin because of Squeaker’s dipping heart rate, but it was better now, so they would increase it again. He said he would come to check my cervix again in a couple of hours. BFF had to go home to her babe and hubby. A new L&D nurse came on duty. I swear, she looked about 12, but she was great. I made some phone calls. Cancelled my acupuncture appt that I had scheduled to do some points to bring on labor. Obviously didn’t need that now! Left messages cancelling the chiro and the PT appt for my foot. Left a voice mail at my office informing them that I was officially on leave. They kept me on oxygen at this point to help keep Squeaker oxygenated, since they had increased the pitocin. Around 8:15 they turned it up more. An hour or so later the OB checked my cervix again. No progress at all. He estimated that it could easily take another 18-24 hours of pitocin to fully dilate. He also noted that I am narrow. (Something I’m well aware of, as I became accustomed to REs apologizing as they tried to insert the dildocam.) He said that even if I did fully dilate (which he wasn’t sure would happen), I might not be able to deliver vaginally due to this. Having discussed their c-section policy with my OB, I knew that the drs in this practice prefer vaginal deliveries. It’s a large group practice, so someone is always on call in L&D at the hospital. So there’s no rush to deliver before a shift is over. I asked the OB what he thought I should do. He recommended a c-section. I totally felt it was up to me. I was being monitored, and Squeaker was okay at the moment. But my priority was a healthy baby, not some mystical birth experience. I agreed to the c-section.
Suddenly I got nervous! Preparations began. Forms were signed. We had to wait for an OR to become available. I called my mother and told her she could start making her way to the hospital to meet her new granddaughter, but to please stop at my apartment and pick up my bag. I figured this would have her arriving shortly after the delivery. I joked with the OB that I was glad to have a dr who was older than me for a change. He laughed at that. (But as an aside, while prepping me in the OR, he asked why I waited so long to have a baby. “D’oh, I forgot!” Gee, does it take a rocket scientist to figure out why a single woman might wait before deciding to have a baby on her own?)
I was wheeled into the OR at 10:25. More anesthetic was administered through the epidural. Oh, my! A c-section feels weird! I think I felt everything but the incisions. It didn’t hurt, but I felt lots of tugging and pushing and pulling. At 10:40 my daughter entered the world and howled at her arrival. What an incredible sound! Of course, some tears were shed. As they toweled her off, the nurses told me how beautiful she was. They took her footprints and swaddled her, while she loudly announced her presence. I called out to her, “Hi baby. Mama’s right here.” Then she was in my arms. I was holding her within 5 minutes of her birth. On one side of the drape the OB was putting my insides back together, and on the other I was meeting my daughter. She stopped crying once she was in my arms. I stroked her perfect cheeks and told her how much I loved her.
Soon the epidural was removed and I was taken to recovery. I immediately felt like crap. Very nauseous. I felt like I needed to throw up, but when I tried to take a deep breath to retch, I discovered I couldn’t. The anesthetic went too high for me take a deep breath. This made me feel panicky. I knew it was from the epidural and would pass soon, but it still freaked me out. I retched a bit before the nausea passed, but didn’t actually throw up. Then the shaking started. I had heard of this reaction after an epidural is removed, but it’s still freaky. Shaking as if I was badly chilled, except I wasn’t cold. Just had to wait it out. Held Squeaker skin to skin. She nursed a bit, but was mostly content to snuggle. She was very alert. MY DAUGHTER! WOW!! My mom arrived to meet her. It was late, so she just stayed about an hour.
Then we were taken to the postpartum unit. They took Squeaker for about 20 minutes to clean her up a little more. I settled into my room and posted here (on my iTouch) that my girl had arrived.
There you have it. Our birth story. Better late than never.