Andor’s birth story.
Sunday March 16th my water broke. Cal and I (and everyone else really) thought labor would begin right away. I took a shower and Cal set up the birth tub as we planned a home water birth. Then I crawled into bed and went to sleep, as every woman I know told me that it is better to sleep through the initial contractions than to stay up, as labor can be long and exhausting.
The next morning, when I woke, I was disappointed that nothing had happened. I called my midwives, who said it was within the normal for waters to break and labor not start right away. So I relaxed, and waited. Monday night I called one of my midwives, Susan, because it seemed to me that I hadn’t felt him move in a while. I was a little scared so she came over with the baby doppler and checked his heart. It was fine, he seemed fine.
The next day was the same. Waiting and waiting. No mucus plug, no bloody show, nothing. The baby still moved and we were still within the range of normal. We were just waiting for labor to begin. We waited all day Tuesday and still nothing.
Wednesday morning my midwife Celeste came over to check on things. We went over all the details, checked my blood pressure and my heart rate; I was fine. I laid down for her to check the baby’s heart rate and from the moment we heard it, we all knew something was wrong. His heart was just not beating as fast as it always had. We listened and listened, all of us hoping that the heart rate would increase, but it didn’t. It sounded labored and slow. Celeste said that the baby didn’t sound so good. We all agreed that it was time to transfer to hospital.
I was upset, but I practiced relaxing and breathing the anxiety away. I knew that getting upset wasn’t going to do any of us any good. I kept assuring myself and the baby that everything was ok. We were going to be alright. There was just a little bit of a change in plans. Occasionally guilt would wash over me, and I would wave it away, knowing that I had been a good baby grower.
We checked into the Emmanuel hospital labor and delivery ward that morning. Instantly I was hooked up to a baby heart monitor, a contraction monitor, they put an IV catheter, just in case, and they took my blood pressure and temperature. I was all of a sudden in the middle of what I thought was the worst case scenario. Intervention on a level I never thought possible.
They checked my dilation. I was at 1 centimeter with no effacement or thinning, which means I wasn’t even close to going into labor. This was worrisome because the baby was struggling. The hospital midwife suggested cervidil, a hormone that helps the cervix soften and dilate. It was inserted and I rolled over to my side and waited for it to work. We were all hoping that I just needed a little coaxing to start labor. I asked that the baby monitor be turned down so that I didn’t obsess over it.
Minutes later, three staff members come rushing into the room, the baby’s heart rate had taken another dive. I immediately got an oxygen mask and they were making me sit up and the midwife plunged her hand into me and retrieved the cervidil. That was that for trying to dilate my cervix. They thought that the baby had reacted to the cervidil. Later we all realized that it hadn’t. The hospitalist came in and started talking about induction and c-section. He was willing to wait and see what induction did.
The worst case scenario stuff again. I wanted to be at home, in a tub, in labor, with my man and no wires or smell of hospital. This was the most scared I have ever been.
The next step was pitocin. They wanted to see if I would go anywhere with an induction. I wanted to keep this birth as natural as possible so I opted out of an epidural. The contractions started off mild, and moved onto painful and I was hopeful because I thought we were dilating. Surely this pain had to be leading to something! When the hospital midwife came in to check my cervix, it was the same. Five hours of pain for nothing. No dilation. The baby’s heart was still reacting to every contraction, decelerating with every one.
I needed a break. I wanted to go home, my head wasn’t clear. I wanted relief from the wires, from the pitocin, and from the fear. I asked that I be able to take a hot shower and to think about my options. They agreed. Cal and I took a hot shower and I cleared my head. I thought it better that I continue with the pitocin but this time with an epidural. That way I could get some rest, and try to get him out without surgery.
The epidural went in and I had a reaction to the epinephrine shot they use to test the catheter sight. My heart rate went from 100 beats a minute to 155 beats a minute. The anesthesiologist just dismissed me and made it seem like it was all in my head. It was extremely frustrating, and just added to my escalating heart rate. Here I was adding chemical to chemical to myself and my baby and now my heart rate is totally out of control and this guy is telling me that it is impossible that it has anything to do with the epidural! I wanted to punch him, a lot. I hate it when doctors dismiss people out of hand like that. It’s rude, and frankly, it added to my feeling of helplessness. Fucker.
I wanted rest, I needed rest. We weren’t given the space or time to achieve it. Someone came into the room every few minutes to adjust this or type in that, leaving the door open, even when they left the room. After hours of trying to sleep, and frankly, not being allowed to, the hospitalist came in again, this time, they wanted to discuss c-section again. I called my midwife, who was at home resting, she said she’d be right there.
We were told that the baby was still reacting poorly to the contractions; that his heart was still decelerating with every contraction. Cal and I still wanted to wait and see what the pitocin did. We were holding out hope that the baby could come out the front door, as nature planned. We were shown a very short piece of the monitors print out as evidence that the baby was doing poorly. I was too tired to know what to think. I left it up to Cal, he has a clearer head. He said he thought we wait. So we did.
Celeste and Jess (my midwife and her apprentice) showed up Celeste asked me what I felt like I needed to get this baby out the front door. I told her that I desperately needed some rest to feel like anything would go well. She made it so. Just her presence there made the staff more conscience of the way they treated me. It was a shame that I had to have another medical professional there looking out for me for them to respect the fact that I hadn’t slept and that I needed to be left alone. Once she was there though, everyone backed off a little and changed their tune. They even changed their story about how they approached us about the c-section.
Hours went by and I got some rest. When I woke again, Celeste told me that if we were at home, she wouldn’t feel comfortable with the way the baby’s heart was beating. We all agreed that it was time to take more action and intervene. The baby wasn’t likely to tolerate labor; we needed to have a surgical birth. Once that decision was made everything is a blur.
Cal got scrubs to wear, and hairnets. I got wires taken off of me and replaced with more wires. I was wheeled into the operating room and given more drugs and a catheter. The anesthesiologist explained what was going on; told me about the crazy shakes that I would feel when the local wore off. Cal came in when I was prepped up. He held my hand. They tested me for feeling in my belly, made a line, and began to cut. I could smell burning flesh and I asked if they were cauterizing my skin. Yes, in fact, they were. There was a lot of tugging and pressure and I felt like they were removing my lungs when I heard Andor cry. Oh that cry. That beautiful cry. They showed him to me and I almost passed out. He was covered in blood and beautiful.
Andor was passed off to the person who weighed him and Cal went to be with him. I watched Cal and the baby and dozed here and there while they stitched me up. Once he was weighed and wrapped up, they laid Andor next to me and he spit bubbles at me and showed me his tongue. He was very alert and calm and he sure wanted some nummies!
After all was said and done, there was recovery time. I won’t go into that. Let’s just say that there were plenty of people doing plenty of things that we didn’t really think was needed for a couple of days and that I got them to release me just before the 48 hour mark. I had just as many battles with them during recovery as I did during the whole labor/birth and I wanted to get home as soon as I could so that I could actually recover.
And here we are, a week later, and Andor is doing beautifully and so am I.