Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Olivia’s birth story
*note – I did not keep exact track of time/events*
Thanksgiving day/weekend – I had lots of strong contractions on/off all weekend. I knew things were starting to gear up, but never became a solid pattern of labor, just on/off again. I found it a bit irritating but was hopeful it was helping me make progress.
Monday 11/28/11 I had my weekly appointment with Jody (my friend & midwife). She checked and found me to be 1 cm, very soft & 50% effaced, all good news. Baby’s head was in position and she was able to do a really thorough sweep of my membranes. Left office at about 10:30 and started having regular contractions shortly after. Went to Kohl’s to do a bit of shopping, took my time and walked around the whole store, contracting the entire time. I got a bit excited on the way home because the contractions were continuing despite sitting down – YAH! Got home, went for a walk, rocked on my birth ball as much as possible and did my best to stay busy. Contractions continued every 3-5 minutes most of the day. They did slow down a bit in the afternoon and I was worried they were going to peter out on me. At dinner time I texted Jody and ask her if I should go ahead and send John to work since I knew early labor could literally last days, she said to go ahead and send him. After dinner and about the time John headed off to work contractions really started to pick up. By 9-10 pm they got really strong and were coming every 2-3 minutes and I was starting to have to breathe through them. My original plan was to stay home as absolutely long as possible but I just wasn’t comfortable at home. Mom & cheyanne were both awake (and I love them and all but I felt like they were “intruding”) .
Finally at midnight (11/29/11) I had mom take me in to the hospital. Faith & Cheyanne both went too but as soon as I got up to L&D I had them turn around and go right home. I knew Jody would stay with me the whole time and that John would be on his way back and hopefully arrive by 4 or 5 am. (he knew what was up and had called ahead to Pocono to have them get him in/out quick so he could get back in time).
Got to L&D. Was at 2-3 cm and 80% effaced so my contractions were definitely doing something. I was also pretty dehydrated, which is why I think the contractions were feeling more painful & coming so close. It was a bit disappointing to show up still not in “active” labor but it gave me the opportunity to have a bit more freedom of movement since I was a VBAC and would have to be attached to monitors indefinitely once I was “active”. Got situated and got a good strip on the monitor (took a bit as I was dehydrated and baby wasn’t showing good variation so I had to eat & drink some to get her going). Then I got in the whirlpool tub to relax and hopefully ease some of the pain/tension. I really enjoyed the tub, but it slowed my contractions some and I have to admit I was thinking ahead of the pain & honestly feel like that was a big mistake on my part (thinking too much, instead of relaxing). Once I got out of the tub I talked to Jody about pain management, I was really feeling that my expectation of going “all natural” was just not realistic for me. She explained about the narcotics & epidural. I felt like going with the epidural was going to be safer for the baby. I was at 4-5 cm and still 80% at that point and they ordered the epidural.
John arrived about 4:40 am and shortly thereafter they came to do my epidural. Contractions had really started to pick up again by then and I was anxious for the relief and to maybe get a bit of rest before I got really going. They gave me a bolus of fluid before anesthesia dr. got there knowing I run a low blood pressure and was somewhat dehydrated, despite that I’d been drinking good since I arrived. Epidural placement went well, he had no problems. Things get pretty fuzzy for me from here …
I believe when they actually put the loading dose in the epidural is when the problem started. I remember telling the dr I felt a little “funny” but I couldn’t really explain in what way. He asked me some specific questions and I remember answering but then the next thing I remember was waking up groggy and having an oxygen mask on and a room full of staff. I was very scared when I woke up…
What I’ve been explained happened was that due to my volume depletion & my tendency to run a low blood pressure normally, the epidural caused me to totally bottom out my pressure. I guess I dropped to 56/35 and I passed out. John did stay in the room, off to the side and I’m sure was terrified. He said he heard the anesthesia dr. tell them to get us an OR and also asked for some other people to come, though I don’t know who/what. They gave me a lot of different meds to bring me around and stabilize my blood pressure. For the next while after I “came to” they continued super close monitoring and asking me specific questions about how I was feeling/etc. My labor nurse later told me that the Dr. was quite rattled by what happened and had said out of the room that he had never seen anything like that before. I know I cried a lot (and still do) thinking about Faith, John and the baby and worrying what would happen if things hadn’t gotten corrected so quickly.
For the next several hours we had to rest and let the baby stabilize from all the meds. She got the meds too of course and it caused her to go nuts in my tummy kicking & rolling around. She finally settled down and Jody talked to me about what was going to happen next. Since I couldn’t tolerate the epidural (they turned it right off obviously) and going to the OR under general anesthesia was a horrible option, I had to go all natural. I am going to be honest that I was extremely scared and still feeling so “off” from the other incident but I really had no choice in the matter. It’s really hard to face something like that when you feel the choice isn’t yours anymore.
At 10 am they started me on Pitocin. The blood pressure emergency had really petered out my labor and we needed to get baby out. Contractions picked up quick and once again I have to say things are really a blur. I will be honest that I am embarrassed by how badly I handled the contractions. I am sure I scared any sane woman to death with my screaming and begging for help. At times I was able to handle the contractions with breathing techniques but more often than not I was totally freaked out. My water got broken sometime around noon I think and we did find there was fresh meconium in the fluid, that scared me too, thinking of the baby & knowing that could be trouble for her. They assured me that they would have the NICU doctor there at birth to make sure she was alright.
Things did move really quickly considering this was my first “real labor” and dilation. I’m not 100% sure on time but somewhere around 2-3 pm I was at like 6-7 cms. Jody did finally give me some stadol hoping I could at least get a tiny bit of relaxation in between the contractions. I’ll be honest in saying I think it was a total waste, the highs of the contractions were so intense that even though the lows were easier it didn’t really help. At one point toward the end I got on hands and knees for some contractions to try and get the last little bit thinned out. Shortly after that I felt a lot of pressure and thinking back I honestly think I started pushing. At the time I didn’t think I was, but thinking back now I think I was pushing a bit with my contractions. I remember Jody asking me a couple times if I was pushing and I told her no, but I wonder now if I was subconsciously pushing. I asked to go to bathroom, it was so much more comfortable to be up and on the toilet than laying on the bed (that’s the absolute worst part of the VBAC having to have that constant monitoring). I went to the bathroom and Jody came in and asked again if I was pushing & I told her I was having a BM, I was only doing that. She said wait wait let me check. She checked me and I was complete. She told me to stop pushing and told me I had to get back up. I didn’t want to and felt like I had to finish going, she had to really force me to get up and get back to the bed. She checked again and sure enough I was complete, we did a test push and she quickly called the nurses & NICU doctor in.
I started pushing at 3:50 pm. I felt so empowered and motivated, the pain was horrible but at least I could now do something about it. It went QUICK and I could feel baby moving down and crowning. Jody had me feel the top of her head. I really don’t know much about what was going on around me, the whole experience was surreal. Olivia was born at 4:00 pm. And the first thing I said was “I DID IT”.
I have to admit I’m still somewhat in shock that I actually had my vaginal birth.
NICU Dr. suctioned Olivia quickly and got her right back to me. I was able to nurse her right away which was a fantastic feeling as well. Olivia nurses like a champ and I’m so thankful to my midwife & friend for everything she did for me. I was extremely rough on her and because of our friendship I know it was an extremely hard labor for her to go through too.