WRITTEN: November 4, 2014
Eliza was born on October 14, 2014 at 11:19 AM, weighing in at 8 lbs. and 12 oz. and measuring 20 in. long. She came on her due date! Who does that??
For those who want a brief overview:
My water broke the morning of the 13th and I was induced shortly after. I labored for over 24 hours, but my labor failed to progress. Eliza made her debut via c-section.
For those who want all the details:
I began going to the doctor for my weekly visits starting at 36 weeks. At each of those visits the doctor checked for any progress towards labor. At my 36, 37, and 38 week appointments my body did not give much indication that labor was in my near future. I was not dilated at all during those weeks, and the baby was not descending (dropping). The doctors assured me this was normal, and that my cervix was “ripening”/ beginning to efface, which was good. Each week that went by I was more and more anxious. I truly felt huge, and I did not understand how the forces of nature would work with my body; i.e. I was really worried that Eliza wouldn’t be able to fit out of me. I expressed my concern to my doctor, and he assured me that I would be fine. I also expressed my anxiety to my parents, and they just told me the truth: “Erin… she is coming out one of two ways – If she can’t come out the old fashioned way, then you will have a c-section”. For whatever reason I really did not want to have a c-section; I wanted to deliver the old fashioned way, but I was excited to meet my daughter so eventually stopped thinking about it and focused on work until the big day arrived.
At my 39 week appointment I was dilated to one centimeter. PROGRESS! I was so excited, even if it was only one centimeter. The doctor told me I could make an appointment for the following Monday or Tuesday to get my membranes stripped to see if that would help speed my progress along. I made my appointment for Monday morning and went on my merry way… anxious for the weekend to pass so that we could get this process rolling.
I woke up at 7:30 on Monday morning (the 13th) to get ready for my appointment, and my underwear was a little wet (sorry… I don’t know how to put that more elegantly). I had to pee really bad when I woke up (sorry again… these are the woes of pregnant women… we always have to pee, bad), so I wasn’t sure if I had just peed my pants a little bit. I told Steven… and he wasn’t sure what to make of it either, so I decided to bring it up to the doc at my appointment. I ate a piece of toast and some fruit and left. The doctor tested for an amniotic fluid leak at my appointment, but he also wasn’t sure if my water had broken or not, so he sent me to the hospital to get an amnisure (a better test to determine if my water had broken). The nurse did her thing and I waited anxiously for about 30 minutes for the result.
The nurse came back in the room and told me, “It’s a baby day!”, and that my water was indeed broken. I had all kinds of thoughts swirling around my head:
– I would get to meet my daughter today!
– I’m scared of pitocin
– Am I ready to bring her home?
– etc. etc. It felt surreal.
I also kind of felt like I weaseled my way into the hospital. If your water is broken you get admitted right away, otherwise you labor at home until you are in active labor. I read several birth stories of others, and they all described their experience laboring at home: puking, falling over on the floor in agonizing pain, etc. This is what I expected that I would have to do, but instead I just waltzed on up to labor and delivery because I had a little leak.
I called Steven to let him know, and they insisted that I be wheeled into the labor and delivery room in a wheel chair. I really felt like I wanted to walk… I felt nothing, no pain, but they insisted so I sat down and was officially admitted at 10 AM.
I don’t remember if I was given the pitocin before or after Steven got there, but I know I waited for about an hour before I was induced. The nurse asked me if I wanted an epidural right away. I told her I would probably want one eventually, but that I wanted to wait it out. I was curious what labor felt like incase I would ever have to labor at home in the future. I also just wanted to experience it a little bit. The doctor came in to break the rest of my water, because I only had a small leak, and I was on my way.
Over the next 4 hours the nurse came in to check on me several times. I was still dilated at a 1 (aka no progress) and the baby hadn’t started to descend. She asked me several times if I wanted an epidural, and I gave in after 4 hours. I kind of felt like I sold out a little bit. At that point I could have tolerated more pain, but I just gave in.
After the epidural I felt like I was on vacation at a resort. The nurse brought me a popsicle, because I was starving (room service?)… plus I felt no pain. “This is awesome”, I thought. All of my friends told me it was smooth sailing after they got their epidurals, so I thought I was good to go for the rest of labor and delivery. Wrong… I wouldn’t get away that easy.
The rest of the night/ day was very much a frustrating blur. I didn’t make it to 2 centimeters until 8 PM. At 10 PM, I was still dilated at 2 centimeters (it had been almost 12 hours since they induced me). The doctor decided to give me an internal monitor to get a more accurate reading of my contractions. They also decided to up my dose of pitocin, which the baby did not respond well to – it caused her heart rate to drop, so they backed off of the pitocin. At 11:15 something happened with the internal monitor, so it had to be replaced. This made me nervous because more exposure from the outside to my uterus increased risk for infection, but I knew it had to be done. Around 11:30 I made it to 3 centimeters dilated. I was finally in active labor, and the staff told me I would likely progress faster now. I also started feeling my contractions again at this point, so I pushed the epidural button to inject myself with more. At 12:50 AM I made it to 4 cm, and by 2:30 AM I made it to 5 cm. The baby however was still at a -1 station, meaning that she was not making her way down the birth canal.
Things were starting to look up, but I could really feel my contractions, especially on my left side, even after giving myself more epidural. The nurse told me to back off from giving myself the epidural. I had been on the epidural for so long that my body was beginning to develop a tolerance to it, meaning I would need more and more to keep it working. She told me I would really want it when it came time to push, so I should try to bear through contractions as much as I could until then. It seemed like I was making progress, so I agreed.
I eventually made it to 6 cm dilated, but I did not progress beyond that for 3 hours, which is considered an arrest of labor. I was also really struggling though the contractions at this point. The doctor cam in around 5 AM and gave me some options:
1. I could throw in the towel, and he could perform a C-section: The longer I waited the higher my risk would become of getting an internal infection
2. We could wait for another hour to see if I made any progress, and we could re-evaluate then
3. He gave me a 3rd option, but it sounded a lot like the second. I don’t remember exactly what it was.
I told him I wanted to discuss with Steven and call my dad. I called my dad and he made me facetime him so that he could see the monitor to evaluate my contractions. They were not looking like good contractions, but he and I were both not wanting to give up on the labor yet, so I decided to wait for at least another hour. My dad was also concerned that I wasn’t being given an antibiotic to prevent an infection. I told him I would ask the nurse.
At this point a new nurse came on for her shift, and she was optimistic that she had some new tricks that would help my labor to progress. She gave me a different saline solution with sugar in it, and had me lie in a variety of positions. I told her my dad was concerned that I hadn’t been given an antibiotic, and she said they would give me one if I started showing signs of an infection.
By the end of the hour I was dilated to a 7!! It honestly felt like a miracle. I really thought the nurse was heaven sent, and that I was going to get this baby out of me ASAP. Wrong again. I started running a fever and I was finally given an antibiotic. I also did not progress beyond 7 cm for 3 hours again, and during that time I continued to feel contractions. I was so uncomfortable, and the baby still had not descended into my birth canal. The nurse kept telling me to try to get some rest, but there was no way. I kept staring at Eliza’s heartbeat. I was so worried about her… she was being subject to these contractions for almost an entire day now. I was also starving (they don’t let you eat anything but sugar, water and ice basically) and I was completely exhausted. I was getting so discouraged again and my contractions were really starting to hurt.
A new doctor came in for his on call shift, and he and the nurse told me it was time for a c-section. I was showing signs of infection, and it was getting to the point where it just wasn’t safe to keep this going. I agreed. I couldn’t take it anymore. The baby also had passed meconium, meaning she pooped in there, which also posed some further risk to her.
The c-section was also kind of a blur. They gave Steven some doctor clothes, put my hair in one of those awesome hair nets and started wheeling me down the hall on a gurney into the surgery room. I’d never been a surgery patient before, so this all felt very dramatic to me (even though c-sections happen all the time). The anesthesiologist came in and gave me a very large injection of epidural. They put a drape between myself and the doctors and Steven came to sit with me. I looked at him and said, “Tell me a story; distract me from this madness”. He was really cute and very overwhelmed too. “What do you think our baby is going to look like”? he asked. We spend the next several minutes talking about what we thought Eliza would look like, and they stared the surgery. I won’t say much about the actual surgery other than that it felt very weird. I was numb, but I could feel intense tugging and pulling at the same time. I was also completely dehydrated and starving, andI hadn’t slept all night. I thought I was going to pass out and never wake up, but I forced myself to stay awake. The next thing I heard was, “It’s 11:19 AM, and that might be how big this baby is!”. “Where did you hide this kid”? the doctor asked me. “Is she big?” I asked. “She is a good sized baby” he said.
The doctor also muttered something about a “bandl’s ring”. I’m still confused about what this is, but my general understanding of it is that it is some sort of ridge that formed between the upper and lower part of my uterus due to an obstructed labor. In other words, the ridge prevented the baby from descending down the birth canal. The doctor said there were 3 things preventing my labor from progressing:
1. My pelvis was too small for Eliza to fit out of
2. Eliza was posterior
3. The bandl’s ring
In other words, there was no way I would have had a vaginal delivery.
After the surgery, they gave me Eliza in a blanket. I was so overwhelmed and out of it, that it was hard to start bonding right away. I also only had her for a few minutes because I had to go to a recovery room for an hour. Steven stayed with Eliza, and she passed all of her newborn screenings with flying colors. She is certainly a healthy girl!
In the recovery room I begged for water but they would only give me ice. I had no energy, and eventually I was taken to the mother/baby part of the hospital to recover for a few days and to be reunited with Steven and Eliza.
The next few days were difficult. I continued to run a fever from the infection I got during labor, and I had to stay an extra day at the hospital until the fever subsided. At one point I broke down and cried. I felt so tired and overwhelmed and I just wanted to go home. I didn’t want to be sick… I was expecting rainbows and butterflies post delivery! I was also very swollen from head to toe from all of the saline/ antibiotic constantly being injected in me.
Finally on Saturday the 18th I was allowed to go home because my fever had subsided for 24 hours. The first several days at home were tough and I continued to run a fever. My parents were concerned and wanted me to go back to the hospital, which I really did not want to do. I decided to wait it out and I scheduled an appointment with the doctor. At the appointment we decided that if the infection got worse or didn’t subside in a couple of days, that it would be a good idea for me to go back to the hospital. The doctor was also a champ and talked with my concerned father over the phone.
Thankfully my infection subsided in the next couple of days, and the recovery has been going well ever since.
Labor and delivery was nothing like I ever expected. It was a lot more challenging, but as I’m sharing my experience with others I’m realizing that what happened to me is actually very common. I’m also very grateful for modern medicine. I wouldn’t have had my girl so safe and healthy here without it!
Here are some pictures we had from our phones at the hospital: