Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Leo's Birth Story

 Caveat : I meant for this to be shorter. Oops!

The Lead Up

The weeks leading up to Leo's arrival were full of a lot of stress and anxiety for me. I spent quite a few posts complaining and waddled around the apartment twiddling my thumbs and trying different methods of bringing on labor (stopping short of castor oil). Naturally none of them worked and I am pretty sure that I got to the point where I wondered if the little guy was just going to refuse to come naturally. Despite being pretty darn natural and holistic my doctor seemed to agree and scheduled me to be induced on Tuesday, February 26th. I got pretty emotional about this but decided that since I would be over a week and a half overdue at that point, why not?

What the....?!

I didn't start noticing my Braxton Hicks contractions until the week Leo was due. They weren't too painful and were very infrequent and that was that. Around midnight on Friday (February 22nd - 'cause you're writing this down and all) I started to get real contractions! All I can say is that with a pain threshold like mine it was genuinely dumb for me to ever wonder But how will I know when I have a contraction? I knew! They were so intense that when I would have one it woke me riiiiight up so timing them was not difficult. But they simply had no regularity, nothing consistent in terms of duration or time between start to start. So I tried to sleep as best as I could (not happenin') and note the time when a new one would hit. 

I was relieved when Saturday morning finally came and I could give up trying to sleep. The day came and went with no change. I would have a few contractions back to back (sometimes even three in a row) but then have a huge space of time before the next one would hit. They were getting more intense and more painful all of the time but again, I have a low pain threshold so I just told myself to "man up" and keep on keepin' on. 

Saturday night was much worse and by the time Sunday morning came I knew I was not leaving the house for mass or anything at all. I sat on the couch or on the yoga ball trying to find some relief from the pain but sometimes the contractions were so hard that I would fall to my hands and knees. There may have been some tears. 

By the time Monday morning hit I was desperate. I had not slept since Friday and while the pain and intensity of the contractions had amped up there was still no discernible pattern! I called my doctor and went in to the office for him to check things out. So he takes a look and starts chuckling. 

"You know why you've been so uncomfortable?" he asks me. I simply give him a deadpan look in reply and he says, "Because the baby has dropped and you're 4 cm. When do you want to go to the hospital?" 

I started tearing up. I never thought I would make it to 4 cm without an epidural. Heck, I'm not entirely sure I would make it to 4 cm PERIOD! Somehow knowing that all of the pain and lack of sleep had been doing something made it all worth it. We scheduled check-in time for noon and I went home to Ben to finish packing (yeah.... I procrastinate) and take a shower. 

The Hospital

By the time we got to the hospital the contractions were coming more quickly and I had decided that I was G-O-O-D AND R-E-A-D-Y for that epidural, thank you very much! So we checked in and I got wheeled up to my (truly) very nice birthing suite. I had to have an IV (stupid StrepB) and monitors for the baby and whatnot but much to my chagrin the anesthesiologist was needed elsewhere and would not be available for awhile. It took about an hour (maybe longer) before I was able to have any pain medication. I was exhausted, in pain, and hormonal so naturally I cried. I was relying on the pain medication to help me to sleep until things got real and I needed to push and all that jazz. 

Anyways, I finally got my epidural (that needle in the back business did not hurt as badly as people told me) and began to fall asleep as Ben went to the cafeteria to get himself some dinner. The next thing I know three nurses and two doctors run into my room and start fussing over me. I am turned on my side and given an oxygen mask and can see by the fetal monitor that the baby's heart-rate is not doing well. Poor Ben returned in the middle of the chaos and I can only imagine what that must have been like. Eventually the heartbeat did normalize and the room cleared out, leaving an anxious Ben and me. I tried to fall asleep again, occasionally looking at the monitor in fear. Sure enough, we watched in panic as the heartbeat began to fall lower and lower. Again the nurses and doctors rushed in, moving me from my back onto my side and giving me oxygen. One of the doctors informed me that if it happened again I would need to have an emergency c-section. The only reason I was not having one then and there was that my doctor had said to give it more time. 

One of the best nurses in the entire world happened to be my nurse that evening. She seemed to like Ben and me a lot and stayed in the room with us, watching the monitor and me and talking to us about kids and parenting and life in general. After things had settled down for awhile and her shift had ended she had to leave and another nurse started her shift. During this time I started to notice that my feet had begun to tingle. At first I didn't pay any attention to it but as time went on the tingling spread up my legs and I started to feel the contractions again. They weren't painful in the beginning but I knew something was wrong. I told the nurse and she increased the dosage of the epidural but nothing changed (except for the pain growing). Eventually I asked her to get the anesthesiologist. She could see that I was serious and she tried to get him to come down. He refused. Just increase the dose, he told the nurse. It was not until I was a sobbing mess that the nurse was able to convince him to come to my room. When he did he examined my back and was shocked to see that the epidural had come out! He kept repeating that "This has never happened before" and assuring Ben and me that it was a fluke. Believe it or not I did not give a flying (la la la) that this was some freak accident - it had happened, it was happening, and it needed to be fixed! So I got a second epidural. He super-glued and super-taped that sucker in and after several minutes I had relief! 

So at this point we had been at the hospital several hours and I had progressed to 5 cm but that was it. At some point they broke my water and after my second epidural they gave me pitocin. Eventually things began to start progressing again and we arrived at the long-awaited moment.

Time to Push

My doctor was going to be there for the delivery but given that it was my first labor he decided to have a nurse be in the room with me for the first portion of pushing. For once I am going to spare you the details. Suffice it to say that after 3+ days of no sleep and 1 hr of pushing, I had gotten nowhere. I was told that I had 2 more hours of pushing before I would have to have a c-section. I was an emotional wreck. I had zero energy at this point and did not see how I could manage to keep pushing 2 more minutes, much less 2 more hours! Yet the idea that after all of the drama of the day I would be unable to have this baby naturally (relatively speaking) was a pretty devastating blow. I basically gave up and just laid there weeping. 

Lucky for me I had a doctor who was a real advocate. He came to my room and took over. I confess that the next hour was nothing but a blur. There was a lot of coaxing and encouragement from my doctor and Ben and a lot of pushing and unbridled emotionalism from me. I lost all sense of time and kept waiting to hear that I was headed for surgery. Then all of the sudden I heard this -

Doctor : "Are you ready?"
Me (in what can only be described as a tone of complete exasperation) : "Ready for what?!"
Doctor : "To meet your baby. Give me one more push."

For once I followed orders. And on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 at exactly 2:39 AM we were able to meet the precious son that we had waited and prayed for for so long.


  1. So happy you did not have to have the C-Section! The umbilical cord was wrapped around my son's neck and every time I had a contraction his heart rate would it was! And, honestly, I felt cheated for a very long time after his birth. But, ultimately, I came to my senses and realized that a healthy child was the most important outcome of all and I got over myself.

  2. Great story! Next time it will be a little easier because you will know what to expect and you can stay home a little longer and it would be as nerve racking. Keep your OB - he sounds like a gem. Might want to consider hypno birthing or water birth for pain management next time as it sounds like the epidural might have been what was distressing the baby. He is certainly a cutie.