Monday, September 9, 2013

Birth Story

After nearly eight months, I think I am finally ready to share my birth story publicly. Nothing out of the realm of the ordinary happened, but I was just a little bit traumatized and kind of embarrassed by the whole thing. And to be honest with you, there are some parts that I just don't remember.

Pregnancy was the best thing that ever happened to me. I felt better than I ever had in my life. No migraines, no bouts of vertigo, I was confident, sooo happy, and everyone is just so damn nice to you! In short, it was really great and easy, so I thought I was just made for it. After all, my dad comes from a family of 21 kids, and my mom from a family of 8.

My due date was January 7th, but that came and went without so much as a twinge in my belly. By the 14th, my OB started to talk about induction, which I absolutely did not want. I was not eager to smoke out my baby before he was ready. I had one last ultrasound to check that baby was still alright, and found out that my amniotic fluid was on the low side, so we would have to schedule an induction ASAP. Low amniotic fluid basically means that the baby could be in distress, so I was booked for a 7am induction the next morning. Well, my contractions started that night at our Starbucks. What a Seattle cliche! We enjoyed our last meal and night together as a family of two, and rode through the beginnings of my labour together. You don't really sleep well in the last month of your pregnancy, and that night was no different.

Before our appointment that morning, I was fully in labour and getting very scared and excited. So naturally, I curled my hair and eyelashes one last time, and we sped off to the hospital. My hospital room was amazing and luxurious, like something out of a movie. They broke my water and started me off on a little bit of Pitocin, which just slightly amped up my contractions, and things were going well. I was already 3cm dilated when I arrived. Everything was manageable until I reached almost 6cm, which is when I cried uncle and forcefully asked for the epidural. The pain at that point, felt like I was getting a white hot sword inserted into my abdomen, and sliced from side to side, over and over.

But that was when things changed. Since I couldn't feel the horrible white hot sword anymore, they were able to up my Pitocin... except the baby's heartbeat kept dropping with every contraction. The nurses and doctors figured that he was sitting on his umbilical cord and cutting off circulation, so they would stop the Pitocin and turn me like a rotisserie chicken until his heart rate went back to normal. This happened for nearly every contraction. Those nurses were incredibly strong to be able to lift me, because I was no little pixie at that point! They were having trouble monitoring his heartbeat and my contractions accurately with the external monitors, so they had to insert internal ones, along with the catheter that was already put in place after I had my epidural. That is a lot of tubes coming out of you, lemme tell ya.

That was when my temperature started to rise, and my blood pressure began to drop. Steadily. I had gotten an infection in my uterus, which can apparently happen when your water is broken and your labour doesn't progress quickly. So I was put on antibiotics, and they had to insert yet another tube into my uterus, to flush it with synthetic amniotic fluid, so as to keep the baby in as little distress as possible. I remember waking up to an oxygen mask on my face. I had passed out. I also remember being gripped with fear when the nurse looked at the screen and ran to the wall to slam on the call button to get a doctor in right away. I don't remember what they did.

By this point, I was so worried about my baby and his dropping heart rate, and my poor husband, who just looked ashen and wide-eyed and terrified. I was adamant about not having a C-section, because the thought of being sliced open horrified me. I also really wanted to try my best to get him out the way humans are designed to come out. 12 hours in, I still declined the C-section. I fought so hard, and I didn't want to give in yet after all that.

There was more struggling, more scares, more rotisserie chicken-ing, and I finally made it to 10cm dilated around 12:30am. But I think Noah had had enough. He ended up pooping in my uterus, at which point the doctor said we needed to get him out quickly, and if I started to push now, it could be another 2 hours before he'd actually be out, -if we could even get him out, since his head was so enormous! He had been in distress for 18 hours already, factor in the presence of the meconium, which is poison for the baby if ingested and inhaled, so a C-section was the safest bet.

I took one look at Brendan and we both knew we just wanted him out safely. I was so scared that I had already endangered my baby's life so far, due to my stubbornness and fear, and immediately agreed to be rushed into the OR.

That was my first operation, and it was undoubtedly the scariest hour of my life. Everyone in the OR was so sweet though. My anesthesiologist was very kind, but the spinal block gave me such bad chills. I was shaking so hard that I thought they wouldn't be able to make a straight incision. I was wrapped in some heated balloon-like contraption to keep me warm, but then the intense nausea kicked in. Plus I could hear the doctors talking about my insides ("Oh, she has fibroids."), and I was being pushed and pulled and pressed on uncomfortably. Then I barfed all over my own face.

Time passed, and finally, the baby was out! And all I could think was: "Is he alive? Is he alright? How's his heart rate?!" There were literally about ten more people in that operating room than there needed to be, because the whole NICU team was there to clear out the meconium from Noah's lungs and mouth. I just kept whispering, "Is the baby alive?" and I vaguely remember Brendan crying and telling me he was beautiful and looked just like me and just like him. I think he brought him over to me, but I was delirious with all the drugs. We also solved the mystery of the dropping heart rate: little man had his umbilical cord wrapped around his shoulder!

C-sections are supposed to be under an hour, but mine took a little bit longer because they had to give me a bigger incision. I was so swollen from all the drugs and fluids they had pumped into me for the last 18 hours, that my bladder had grown very large and difficult to get around. Also, Noah's huge head was already part of the way through the birth canal, so they had to push him back in, while simultaneously pulling, in order to get him out. But since it took so long, I think the spinal block had started to wear off, and I could feel an explosion of pain coming from my lower abdomen. It felt wrong. When they were closing me up, I just kept mumbling that it hurt, over and over, but either no one could hear me, or no one cared. Finally, Brendan forced a nurse to give me pain killers, because I never say that I am in pain. Only when I am actually in a lot of pain.

It was not the beautiful, romantic beginning to our new life with a baby that I had imagined. It sucked so hard. I was traumatized, in pain, doped up, and kind of embarrassed that I couldn't have a vaginal birth like a "real" woman. I know it wasn't rational, but that's how I felt for a while. At the same time though, there was a tiny little boy, and he looked like his daddy, and I loved him more than anybody ever loved anything.

I can look back at it now and be at peace with the way things panned out. Noah arrived safe and healthy, and that was all I cared about. It took a while for the pain of my incision to go away, and to get used to the huge responsibility and change, but we, like countless others, got through it. I can't wait to do it again in a couple years.

Our first picture together


  1. Oh Noah is so beautiful and so are you. I love these photos. Your birth story sounds vaguely familiar. In fact, I think Noah and Oliver and me and you were destined to be friends:-)
    It's funny how the birth process can be nothing like you expected and it can be slightly terrifying, but it is perfect just the same. Do it again in a couple of years? Why wait that long:-)

  2. I cried. Thank you for sharing. There are SO many unique stories!

    1. I really, really, really hope that I didn't scare you! xo