I woke up with cramps around 5:15am on the morning of June 20, 2012. Within an hour, I realized I was having consistent contractions spaced about 10 minutes apart. With a routine Ob/Gyn appointment scheduled for a couple of hours later, I figured I would wait until the visit and see what they had to say. I knew that it could be another day (or more) before the baby could arrive, but for the first time, I knew things were finally happening.
Luckily, my hubby had taken the day off so he was able to take a walk with our toddler to give me some time to do some things around the house: laundry, dishes, and blog posts. (Nesting gone wild!)
We went to the 10:45am appointment, and as the hubby and kiddo watched the cars from the window, I headed into the exam room. As the doctor sat down and asked me if I had any concerns, I mentioned the contractions, but also some other symptoms that had developed since the weekend. As she delved into my symptoms, everything turned upside down.
One of the concerns I had raised became a nightmare; a virus. It required lab work for a definitive diagnosis, but results, even at rushed pace, would not be available for 24 hours. Yet, if I went into labor with a vaginal birth, the baby could become violently sick and possibly die. In order to avoid the worst, it would be a birth by Cesarean if I had to deliver before the results came back.
Since I was already contracting, I was told to go home on bed rest to see if I could postpone labor. The hubby drove me home as I was crying uncontrollably. I had wanted a drug-free natural birth so badly, and now I was worried about my health and my baby. My despair frightened my toddler, and it was hard to contain my grief to spare him. I realized that we needed help, so I called my Mom to come up and help with our 2.5 year old. She was there within 90 minutes and managed to calm my son down so I could rest, and the hubby could make several medical-related calls. I was in bed by 12pm, and I tweeted this:
Yet, this little girl had her own agenda and she wanted to make her appearance. Despite laying down for almost 3 hours, my contractions became 5 minutes apart and stronger. I knew I had to head to the hospital. I tried heading downstairs to spend time with my little man as he had been crying for me; not easy with the stress, the chaos and a little boy that was scared because of Mommy sad and in pain. I had to keep pretending that my knee hurt, and smile through the pain, to not worry him. I made it until 4pm when I said to the hubby we had to go (now!) and kept it together…until we pulled out from the driveway.
It was a tough car ride with the contractions now 4 minutes apart. It seemed like every idiot was on the road, on the phone while on the road, or over 80 years old and driving 8 miles an hour. We got there (thank God) and made it to the Maternity Ward around 4:30pm.
With my tear-stained face and guttural moans, they knew I needed to be seen ASAP and were expecting us per our call that stalling labor was not meant to be. After questions, IVs and a bout of vomiting, it was clear cut that this baby was coming. The on-call doctor came in, the same one the delivered my son vaginally 2.5 years before, and brought me comfort in a haze of fear. I was 7cm and had to have a c-section.
Anyone who has had a c-section knows “The Walk” down the hallway and into a scary operating room. Having never had surgery, having planned a vaginal delivery, and having a fear of the unknown virus, I had a hard time keeping it together (which means I didn’t keep it together at all.)
However, in the interim, I felt the urge to push as the contractions became excruciating. They checked & found I was 10cm dilated. The concern at that point (krikey, the concerns were stacking up) was the risk of a c-section was actually greater than the virus transmission. However, because the baby was not in the birth canal after all (strangely, my water hadn’t broken, which ended up being a huge blessing since she was protected) the c-section began. They attempted a spinal, but with my luck as it is, it was not taking. The pain rivaled the contractions, which I was still having. A backup anestegeologist was called and she managed to complete the procedure so I could be prepped for surgery.
The hubby was brought in and they did a test cut to start the c-section. However, I felt the slice across my belly. We waited a few more minutes and they tried it again. I felt it again. (It was not a sensation I wish to repeat.)
They whisked the hubby out of the room as the doctor put an oxygen mask over my face, which caused me to panic. I couldn’t feel my legs, I felt suffocated with the heavy face plastic, and had the knowledge I wouldn’t be able to hear my little girl cry for the first time.
With nine medical staff on hand, she was born less than four minutes later (at 5:58pm-just 90 minutes after arriving at the hospital) to avoid the general anesthesia having an effect on her. My husband was in the hall & heard her first cries. She was fine. He got to see her 5 minutes later & spent quality time with his little girl. However, I later learned that they followed some of my birth plan and enabled skin-to-skin contact between the baby and me. (You can see the picture here.) When I did wake up, the first thing I saw was the nurse standing next to the bed in the recovery area with my daughter in her arms. Despite all I had gone through the past eight hours, it all melted away when I held her for the first time.
These two nurses were so amazing from the time I walked onto the maternity ward. I cannot begin to tell you how their medical and emotional support helped me through it all, as well as the love from my fantastic husband. My nurse Laureen (right), that took me in when I first arrived, was still with me. She got me through the pain and fears. Kathleen (left), who arrived for the surgery, was wonderful to my husband. As she was running to and from the room before surgery, she assured him I was okay as he could hear my screams down the hallway.
It seems like a drug-invested big blur, but I am blessed that we are all doing well so far. (Update: I did have the virus. Because I spoke up, and they were on-top of everything, and a blessing from God, we saved her life.) So despite the fact it’s in the wee hours of the morning as I write this post, I wanted to capture what I could remember. The anesthesia (that made me feel like I went to a great party without actually being able to do that) has finally worn off and the pain meds have kicked in. So I’m feeling pretty good (and am loving my ice chips). Yet, I’m counting down the hours till I can get a Starbucks non-fat decaf iced Latte and a huge chocolate chip cookie. (Just sayin’.)
I’m devastated that things went the way they did. I wanted to avoid post-pregnancy pain and have a natural, drug-free birth, but Laureen made my day by saying that I have the knowledge that I made it to the pushing phase drug-free, and I’m taking comfort in that fact….and the fact that I have this new amazing family of mine with an amazing medical staff to thank. That is what really matters.