Week 42: When the Stars Line Up
I think Reagan decided to come because I drank decaf instant coffee. Seriously. I wanted something warm, and the only thing they gave me in the morning at the hospital was decaf Sanka, in an orange package that looked like it was from 1975. I had a few sips, and that’s when her heart decelerations started happening. Decaf?!? I’m outta here!
Our birth story is like every other woman’s. Not at all what you expected, no matter how prepared you think you are.
We went for our first of two ultrasounds on Tuesday, and everything was looking fine. On Thursday we scored 6/8, it looked like there wasn’t much fluid left. Our midwife said to meet us at the hospital following the ultrasound – we had enough time to grab a bite to eat at Rockin Johnny’s Diner. I’m glad we did – when we got to the Civic the roller coaster ride began.
We monitored baby’s heart rate, checked my bp, checked my cervix – still closed and about a cm to thin still. I was no longer a candidate for outpatient Cervadil, but it was recommended to start induction here, now. Up to the Birthing Unit we go…a sudden sense of indefinite time mixed with an impending birthday caught me off guard. This was it, this room would be where my baby came…but it didn’t feel real. Cervadil started, hubby went home to get some things for an unanticipated overnight stay. Here, I admit, I was emotional. I hadn’t thought at the ultrasound that I wouldn’t get another nap in with my cats. I was about to embark on the “hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life” as so many women have said, and instead of the excitement I had felt over the past 9 months, I was feeling apprehension and sadness.
The midwife told me my baby wasn’t small. The head was normal but the belly was big. I still didn’t really want to know how big – but I guessed 8lbs and she said that she would be “surprised” if baby was less than that. (I found out later that the tech had said the baby was over 10lbs…baby was 7lbs 5 oz.) Hubby returned, we got set up with a birthing ball and contractions were coming quickly, irregularly, and sometimes feeling like one on top of another. This was the Cervadil and not my body doing this but I breathed through the medicine and practiced relaxing. Time went quickly. In-laws came (bearing dinner!) and laughed, relaxed, enjoyed some time together. MIL should be a Doula, she knew instinctively how to quiet the room and help me focus during a contraction, what a Godsend. It’s funny, you want to laugh and play between them but when you’re in one, you just want people to shut the hell up!
Overnight the contractions slowed to about one every 5-6 minutes and I started to feel like the drugs were “wearing off” and my body was taking over. It was less intense in the morning but I was finally excited. The fetal heart rate monitor had been on me once every 2 hours for half an hour, and once for an hour overnight – the nurse explained that there were small decelerations of the heart at the start of a contraction but it quickly recovered so there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
Our morning nurse had me hooked up to the fetal heartrate monitor (which I was starting to dislike strongly) and we chatted – she noticed my green mala and asked if it represented anything. My friend gave me the mala after I told her about how I was praying to Gabriel and Raphael for a safe, healthy pregnancy and birth. We had a quick google on the Archangel Raphael – he is the patron of healers and those in need of healing.
Shortly after that, baby’s heart rate decelerated from a healthy 140 to 80 for about 7 minutes. I flipped and flopped on the bed while she jiggled my belly and we got it going again back up to a nice steady beat. Unfortunately this event meant talking to the obstetricians on duty about our induction plans and what might happen next. We removed the Cervadil and checked me – still not dilated at all. During this we had another deceleration, I asked hubby to get the Doula here, and things started happening quickly. I was told the safest thing to do was to have a cesarean section because baby wasn’t coping well with the induction process, and since I wasn’t even close to the magic 10cm, it was clear baby wasn’t going to enjoy the ride. Will I get to watch or can my husband videotape the birth? Will my Doula be able to come in with me? Depends on the surgeon but most likely yes. The midwife arrived, but she was one I haven’t met yet but had seen at the collective – busy day for births! Leap of faith…I signed the form to have the section around 10:30am and I was being whisked down the hall to the operating room. Not dramatic at all.
Tears….but because all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, I will be meeting my baby – in less than half an hour.
The OR is cold, it’s surreal talking to the anesthetist through her mask. I’m getting a spinal so I’ll be awake. I don’t want the cover down anymore, I’m staying strong but this is overwhelming and moving at lightning speed. The spinal makes my legs warm, then tingly, then numb. She tells me it’s working because they tested me thoroughly and if it wasn’t working I would not have liked it! Good. I can do this. I close my eyes and wait. I feel movement but no pain. I hear hubby’s voice in the room finally, what a relief! He is there with my Doula, they come to my head and comfort me, stroking my forehead between my eyes…they will let us video the birth! Movement and I hear someone say that I will feel a lot of pressure when the baby is birthed, like someone sitting on my chest, are you ready?…like nothing you can imagine, just keep breathing, baby is coming….and it’s over. I refuse to open my eyes, but I can hear that my heart beat is still beeping on the monitor. Hubby watches to find out the gender – girl!!…Doula asks if I can hear my baby crying…Hubby go to her, be with her! Time seems to stand still now, how much longer until I am done? Ten minutes, I can do this…marathon focus…and hubby returns with a little swaddled bundle of pink skin and red hair, holds her cheek to mine, I can feel her breath through her nose, can see her little red eyebrows furrow…she’s beautiful and I love her.
It’s a blur how I got out of that room and into the post operation area, but a naked pink baby was being put on my bare chest and suddenly I was a mother. The midwife helped me put her to my breast, she was very eager to feed. So much information all at once, so much that you cannot prepare for. My legs started coming back to life and we made our way to the post partum ward.
The hospital stay wasn’t uneventful – we learned how to bathe the baby, and swaddle, and oh yeah I got the shakes so bad that the “Race Team” had to come. HA! About 5 hours post op, I didn’t know why I was shaking and it was hurting my incision, so it was scaring me. Their initial thought was pre-eclampsia, but I had normal bp during the whole induction process and pregnancy. It wasn’t a seziure or convulsions since I was conscious and communicating fine during the whole episode. I was picturing a junior mint being the culprit. They ended up putting me back in the Birthing Unit with an overnight nurse to watch me. The next morning I had another event. This time, the nurse on duty got hot towels and after a few minutes I was calm again. Hrm…again in the shower, the shakes, but towels and a hot blanket did the trick. Blood tests came back with nothing. Later, the midwife would tell me that lots of women will get the shakes about an hour after birth – hey, you just lost a litre of fluid and a child, it’s a shock to your system. I guess mine was delayed. I don’t do well with major abdominal surgery I guess. (Who does?!)
Back in the post partum ward, getting breastfeeding going was a bit of a struggle. I had injured my left nipple on a bad latch and was beginning to feel like nursing was too hard…this baby needs food, has a phenomenal set of lungs, and loves to suckle, how do I know when she’s eating and when it’s for comfort? I gave her a soother instead of the breast, am I already a terrible mother? The Lactation Consultant who saw us earlier that day had us latched so easily, how the hell do we get that to happen again? Then something magic happened overnight – baby R figured out how to latch. Blew my mind – this little human has ideas and she will bring them to the table! She is teaching me already. With a good latch the pain wasn’t unbearable anymore, and the prescription had mostly cleared things up before we even left the hospital. My poor husband has seen more than he ever thought he would from me – emotionally and physically! He is my rock!
Overnights were magical, spending time with my husband and our baby, watching him sit with R on his chest between feeds. It was a suspension of time, and being out of our home element added to the surreality. When I finished a good late night feed he would super swaddle her and take her for a walk down the hall, gently tapping her back as she fell asleep – and we both could get 3 solid hours of sleep ourselves! The first time it happened we both woke up slightly in shock and checked to make sure the baby was still alive…we did it! She survived! LOL!
By the last day I could walk easier, but I was going to miss those bars they have installed beside the toilets! The midwife came to discharge us and gave me hope with a quick discussion about VBAC. I don’t know if I trust my body but I will cross that bridge when I come to it. It was a challenge getting pregnant and a challenge getting the labor process started, but I did grow a perfect little bean that passed all her hospital tests with flying colors.
They let us leave with it! She slept soundly in the car, and, classy gal she is, waited until we put her car seat down on the floor at home to totally shit her pants while still strapped in. Welcome home!