Eleanor Mae | February 3rd, 2015 | 10:51 pm | 7lb 15 oz | 21 in
I've seen a lot of people writing up their birth stories for their kiddos, and I didn't really think I'd be one of them, but here I am. I wanted to share it because I don't really mind people reading it, and I'm sure some folks are curious how it went down. I also wanted to remember it for myself, and for Eleanor. I actually took little notes on my phone during the day, as I knew some details would probably be lost on me once she was here. I want to note that didn't have a specific birth plan going in. I figured I would more than likely get an epidural at some point, and otherwise, I planned to take things as they came and heed the advice of the doctors and nursing staff.
During my last few appointments leading up to E's due date of January 22nd, my doctor checked for dilation and effacement, and to see if her head had dropped down further into my pelvis. Come almost 41 weeks I was still only just barely 2 cm dilated, so we scheduled a two part induction for 41.5 weeks.On Monday, February 2nd, I was scheduled to go in to the doctors office at 4:20 pm for a balloon catheter to be placed, to mechanically open the cervix overnight, if I was still just at 2 cm or less. I was, so my doctor placed the balloon in, and I was walked over to Labor and Delivery in the building next door. The balloon wasn't painful, I just felt pressure. I was glad that we were trying non-medicinal induction to begin with, though I knew pitocin would be the next step in the morning.
Kyle and I never had an opportunity to tour L&D at the hospital in Waco (just the one in Temple, where we took the birth class), so checking in on Monday evening was our first time past the reception desk. Our room was huge and very nice. The nurse came in and I got into my stylish hospital robe and into my bed. Nurses then came in to get me hooked up to the IV, which I wasn't aware was going to happen right away as it seemed like nothing was going on (but it makes sense, as anything could happen at any time, and they had to start fluids in preparation for the next steps of induction). Folks always have a difficult time finding where to hook me up to IVs; my hands don't seem to cooperate. I was stuck three times with the last time finally working. The nurses assured me that the IV would hurt more than an epidural going in, and they were right (I felt nothing from getting the epidural, and when I wrote most of this two weeks later, my hand was still sore from that IV).
I was hooked up to monitors and IV, listening to E's heartbeat, feeling pretty calm and comfortable. With the balloon in, that evening I felt my first few contractions low in my belly (and the monitor confirmed that these were indeed contractions, hooray!). Nothing painful, and I didn't continue to feel much into the night. Once everything was settled, Kyle left to go get us a late dinner (Panera). While he was gone, the anesthesiologist came in to talk to me and go over everything, and have me sign a form. Kyle and I ate, and though I wasn't feeling very hungry at all, I knew I wasn't able to eat past midnight, so I made sure I ate as much of my sandwich as I could. After that, I sent Kyle home for the night so he could be with the animals and probably get a better sleep than on the hospital bed/couch. I settled in to try to sleep and get as much rest as I could (with the assistance of a sleeping pill).
Even so, I got maybe an hour or two of sleep. I don't remember being uncomfortable or anything, I'm just not great at sleeping in the first place. The balloon came out on its own just past midnight (as it was meant to when it had done its job). I was scheduled to start pitocin at 5:30 on the morning of Tuesday, February 3rd, so Kyle returned to the hospital around 5 am. The nurses hooked the pitocin up to my IV, and gradually increased it at both 7:30 and 8:30 am (at least those were the two times I noted). At 8:45 am my doctor came and broke my water, which was a bizarre feeling (and I just imagined if it had happened on its own while I was at work or in bed or something). Contractions definitely picked up at that point. They weren't too strong or painful to begin with, but after an hour and a half during which the pain, frequency, and strength of the contractions really increased, I was ready for an epidural. The anesthesiologist had advised I not wait too long before requesting one, as it can take 30 minutes or more for him to get there to administer the epidural. He was in fact busy with a c-section when I requested it, so Kyle and I did get to put some of our birth class breathing skills to use (I preferred to be standing up to manage the pain).
I received the epidural at 11 am, without any pain or problem, and I felt pretty great. The nurses also put in a catheter, since your legs go numb and you obviously can't get up to use the restroom. One of the weirdest things was my legs being numb for hours. I felt like they weighed about 600 lbs, and it was weird having the nurses have to move and position me (if you know me, you can imagine it being weird for me to not be able to do something myself). I wasn't able to eat still (in case they would have to do a c-section), but I was pleasantly surprised when they brought me a couple popsicles throughout the afternoon. I'm not entirely sure how we passed the afternoon hours. I read a little and napped a little. I remember I started to get quite hungry, and gradually got more uncomfortable with not being able to move and just waiting. I remember getting the chills and getting quite cold; turns out this was also accompanied by a fever up to 100.8, which was a little concerning for the hospital team. There was a bit of an infection developing inside my uterus, which is a big reason why doctors set the time limit of 24 hours for getting the baby out once the water is broken, so I was given antibiotics.
During a check at about 2pm, I had dilated to about 5 cm, which was exciting progress. But, I wasn't getting much further than that at subsequent checks. The nurses repositioned me a couple of times in the evening to try to get E down further, and to get contractions, which had been inconsistent and not to the strength level they needed to be, stronger and more on track. They also put in an internal monitor, so they could tell the strength of the contractions, not just see when they were happening, as the external monitor shows. Later in the evening, my contractions were reaching the strength they needed to be at (it was cool to watch the monitor, because I certainly couldn't feel anything). However, come 10 pm when my doctor came to check again, I was still at 5 cm and hadn't made any progress there in the last 8 hours or so. While my temperature had gone down, that combined with the infection risk factors that had popped up, led my doctor to call for a c-section. For whatever reason, it wasn't looking like E was going to cooperate with my body and make her way out.
Once the c-section was called for, things happened really fast! It wasn't an emergency c-section, but I think Kyle and I were both surprised when surgery preparation started right away, as we hurried and texted family and friends the update. Several nurses came in to prepare me, and give Kyle his outfit and instructions. The anesthesiologist came back and adjusted the epidural meds to make me numb up through my abdomen. I was wheeled over to the surgery room, thinking it was nice for me to see outside of that room for a little bit. I was transferred to the surgery table and staff were busy getting ready around me. I don't mind medical things or some pain, but naturally, once I was on the table with my arms out, I got really nervous and started shaking quite a bit. I tried to calm myself down and breathe but it didn't work too well. The anesthesiologist stayed up at my head, and he was very comforting. I heard the team count their instruments, and all in all the atmosphere was very calm and casual. Kyle came in to sit next to my head and give me a hand to squeeze, which I certainly did.
The procedure was not without pain. All of the intense pressure, pulling, tugging, and shifting, translates to a bearable pain, and is a most bizarre feeling. I couldn't tell where in the process they were, but I first knew she was out because there were exclamations about how her eyes were wide open when they pulled her out; she was staring right at the doctors, which they said never happens, and seemed to amuse everyone. Immediately after, I heard her cry, and my tears started flowing. I saw them bring her over to my left side, taking her to be checked out. Kyle had a chance to watch that process, and he was able to briefly bring her over for me to see. I can't remember exactly what was wrong, but the nurses heard something off in her breathing, and they had to make sure the infection during labor hadn't impacted her, so she was taken to the nursery to be thoroughly looked over and tested. I didn't know what to expect or when I would see her again. The doctors continued working on me, and I heard them exclaim that the placenta was very big (I would have liked to have seen it). This was the most painful part of the surgery, and I threw up down the side of my face and into my ear.
They finished the surgery, and Kyle went to watch what was going on with Eleanor, while I went to a recovery bay for the next two hours. Every 15 minutes or so, the nurses would press hard on my abdomen- that was also very painful. I was pretty groggy and very tired; it was hard to keep my eyes open. Kyle came back to sit with me after a while and let me know that all was well with Eleanor. After the two hours, I was wheeled into what would be our room for the remainder of our hospital stay. I still didn't know when they'd be bringing E to us; around 3 am they wheeled her in, and I got to hold her in my bed for the first time.
For the next two and a half days, I stayed in that room with E, while shift after shift of various nurses took care of us, ran tests, and checked to make sure immediate recovery was going well. We also had visits from lactation consultants, who helped me figure out the whole new world of nursing. I didn't sleep for most of our stay in the hospital, but I didn't feel overly exhausted. Kyle stayed in the room with us as well, leaving a few times a day to check on the animals and/or get food. I didn't feel too terrible; I think I was more enthusiastic and able-bodied than the nurses were expecting when I was first able to get up (and also using less pain medication than is normal), so they had to tell me to take it easy and go slow. For the most part, I felt pain when I was moving up and about, though it was a bit difficult to find a comfortable position in the hospital bed. Also, my legs and feet were swollen to an extreme level, and it actually became painful and difficult to move because of that. On Thursday afternoon, they finally took the IV out, and I was able to shower that evening, and change out of the hospital gown, which made me feel more like a person again. With a c-section, the hospital stay is at least 48 hours, but since Eleanor was born so late on Tuesday, we were told check-out probably wouldn't be until sometime during the day Friday. Friday dragged on, as we were just waiting for the last check from the doctor to let us know I was good to leave. Finally, later on that bright and sunny Friday afternoon, baby and I were able to emerge from the hospital and head home.
All in all, I feel we had a pleasant and easy experience. Kyle and I were calm and collected the whole time, and we were easy patients (so say our nurses). I don't mind at all that I had to have a c-section; the only thing I found myself a little sad about was that I wasn't able to hold her on me immediately after she was born. We aren't entirely sure why Eleanor wasn't making her way out, but everyone is just glad she made it and is happy and healthy!