As I woke from sleep that Monday morning, I immediately began making mental lists of all the things left to do to get ready for this baby’s birth. Not like I hadn’t been awake most of the night anyway at nearly 42 weeks pregnant one tends not to sleep well. You know, with the big HUGE belly and all.
I needed to make arrangements for someone to watch my 5 year old and one year old. And I need to arrange some kind of birthday party for the littlest one as she JUST turned one the day before. There was laundry to do, dishes to catch up on, toys to pick up, dinners to prepare and freeze. Being so overdue, I was scheduled to be induced the next day and I was NOT looking forward to that. I had been induced before and the Pitocin contractions were so much stronger than natural contractions. However, the baby's welfare was most important. I had had several NonStress Tests over the last few days because of a malformed placenta. According to ultrasounds, it was oddly shaped and had “calcifications” on it. We wanted to make sure it was adequately supporting the baby. Also, her older sister had been born by emergency Cesarean section so this was going to be my first VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). My doctor had offered to simply schedule a repeat C-Section, but my memories of that horror were still too fresh.
My original due date was June 6. June 12th was “Free Fishing Day” so we had gone to the local fish hatchery to take my 5 year old son and his cousin fishing. June 13th, we had driven an hour one way to spend the day with family for Great Grandmother’s birthday.
I heard my toddler stirring in the other room at about 6:30am, so I swung my legs over the side of the bed and sat up. A little gush of fluid surprised me. When you are that pregnant, you can never be sure if it’s amniotic fluid or an “oops!” It seemed to stop and I had no real pain, just some light cramps. So I fixed the kids breakfast, packed the kids’ clothes and took my time calling the doctor.
I left the kids with my neighbor to check in at his office. By 9:15a, it was confirmed; the leak was amniotic fluid. I was directed to go straight to the hospital; Do not pass go, do not collect $200! I still had no contractions, so I drove myself to the hospital and waddled around the parking lot some before going in to Labor and Delivery.
While I waited for my best friend T to arrive, I changed into my favorite Santa Claus nightshirt. It was 10:30a before my mother had picked up the kids from T's house and she was free to rush to my hospital room. I still didn’t have any contractions. The nurses were having a difficult time using the external monitor because of my size so they asked if they could use an internal monitor; placing an electrode on the baby’s head and a catheter-style wire inside the neck of the cervix to check the pressure of the contractions. It was in place fairly quickly and the baby’s heart beat thumped out loudly in the echoing room.
T stood by me constantly as I took a warm shower and walked the halls. As this was my third child, I knew what I wanted in the way of a “birth experience”. Sitting in a straight-backed chair had helped with the discomfort with child number 2 and I knew I did not want to be constantly tied to the bed as I had been with child number 1. As you can read in their birth stories, neither was the joyous experience I had hoped for. I wanted to make this one different and special. However, I knew that there were certain “policies” the hospital HAD to implement, such as an IV heplock in my hand “just in case” and a prescribed timeline for labor progression.
My husband’s boss had contacted him by cell phone at a pickup station 3 hours away. He was a truck driver and we thought he would have plenty of time to make his scheduled stops and get home. By noon, he still hadn’t arrived and the doctor, stopping by on his lunch to check on me, decided to start me on IV Pitocin to get the contractions moving along. He was concerned about the risk of internal infection due to the ruptured membranes. I agreed, thinking hubby would be coming soon and things would take off slowly and build.
OH not so. The contractions started fast and hard; so hard that the baby’s heart rate would drop dangerously low. When the contraction ended, the heart beat seemed to rebound well, so the nurses let it go for the time being. It did scare me, however, and the pains were coming so quickly, I was having a hard time coping.
I wanted to get off the bed and find a chair to sit in, but because of the dipping heart rates, the hospital staff would not let me leave the bed. I tried sitting up on the bed for quite a while with my friend pushing on my back, but it didn’t seem to help much.
Finally my husband arrived at 3pm (just 30 minutes before she was born)! The nurse kept asking if I wanted anesthesia, over and over, when I had told them in my birth plan AND face-to-face when I was admitted that I did not want it. I had done this twice before without an epidural and I knew I could do it. But the repeated asking wore me out and I broke down crying; telling her I didn’t know what I wanted anymore. She offered to check me to see if an epidural would be a possibility and SURPRISE, discovered I was at 9 ½ centimeters dilation and about to deliver!
Things went very quickly from there. The nurse ran to call the doctor and he arrived within 10 minutes. He checked the dilation for himself and said “Don’t PUSH! I’ve got to change.” He was wearing a dress shirt and tie.
At the time, I remember thinking “Oh, Yah! RIGHT!” but I just yelled at him to hurry.
To his credit he was back in less than 5 minutes, tying the drawstring on his scrub pants as he ran and giving me the go-ahead.
I have always been a very loud, verbal person. From reading I had been doing, and experience from my previous births, I knew that it would be best to verbalize more of a deep, throaty grunting noise so that’s what I did. Three pushes later, out she slid; Gorgeous #3, weighing 8 lbs and 13 oz, 22 ½ inches long with a 16-inch diameter head!
Her Apgar scores were 9 (at one minute) and 10 (at five minutes). I thought she looked just like her daddy. As I caressed her dark hair, I noticed a fantastic cowlick on her forehead that causes her hair to grow back on the right side. I’m sure when she grows to adulthood, it will look quite glamorous. For now, she hates it that her hair won’t “lay down”.
When the doctor lifted her up to my chest, I looked down and discovered that the internal monitor wire was not placed ON the baby’s head, but IN the baby’s head! The wire had been poked into her poor little scalp and they actually had a bit of trouble getting it out. I was NOT happy about this little bit of “misinformation”, but it was too late to do anything about it.
The entire labor, starting with the Pitocin at noon had taken just under 4 hours as she was born at 3:53pm. I only needed one small stitch but had quite a time with post-partum hemorrhage as my older daughter’s birth had been just almost exactly one year previously. I received injections and lots of painful massaging to help stop the bleeding and was in recovery for about 6 hours. Baby, for some reason, had a tough time regulating her body temperature and so she needed a little extra TLC post partum as well. She was wrapped in extra blankets from the warmer and they requested we hold her very closely and keep her bundled.
I was moved to the post-partum room at about 10pm that night and my husband left at midnight for another truck trip. We were discharged the next evening.
Little Girl was a voracious nurser, however her mouth was shaped differently and she had trouble latching on correctly. Within a week, my nipples were blistered, split and bleeding. I only lasted three weeks nursing her; finally giving up after a horrible breast infection with a fever of 105. She now suffers from allergies and eczema and I sometimes wonder if that isn’t all related. The postpartum depression after this birth was not as severe as with my second child, but still a very real presence. The difficulties with nursing didn’t help the situation at all.
She was and is a very happy child. Every picture I have of her as an infant shows a glorious grin. She has an incredible artistic ability and spends hours drawing, creating, coloring and sketching. Her ideas and descriptions of ordinary items and feelings often cause me to take a different look at life. I am blessed to have her in my life.