Evie's Birth Story
I went into labor at 5 am on Sunday March 20th, with regular contractions. All day on Sunday they grew stronger, longer and closer together. After eating dinner with our families they finally progressed to five minutes apart and lasting almost a minute and a half. This went on for two and a half hours before we made it to Labor and Delivery at Methodist Hospital. We checked and waited for the nurse.
The news wasn't good. I was only 2 cm dilated and 60% effaced. The doctor on call said to check me again in two hours (at 1 am) and if I had not progressed to send me home. Meanwhile, I was still experiencing horrible contractions that had me gripping the bed rails and in tears. It was the worst pain in the world. After one hour the nurse checked me and again the news was not good. I had not progressed at all and would be sent home, despite the regular and excruciating contractions. My nurse asked me if the contractions were unbearable, I told her yes. Then she told me they were NOT unbearable and that I would know when they were. Yes, I nearly murdered her. I could not believe her insensitivity. I was devastated and cried. She then said, "we can offer you pain pills" which I did not the find to be a viable solution and refused.
Once we got home, I took a lunesta and attempted to sleep. Those of you who have been in labor know this was impossible. I spent most of the night in severe pain crying while Chris did his best to make me feel better. In the morning, Chris went to work while I tried my best to do everything to get the contractions to stop. NOTHING worked. I talked to my mom and she decided to come over to sit with me. I called my OB's office and the nurse suggested that I come in and let the nurse practitioner check me. Meanwhile, Chris left work to come home and get our stuff in the car.
Once we arrived at McDonald Murrman, they hooked me up to the monitors to see my contractions. The nurse practitioner checked me and according to her I was only 1cm dilated and 100% effaced. She went and got my doctor, Dr. Martin to double check. When Dr. Martin checked me she found me to be 4 cm dilated and my water about to break. She said (sorry for the TMI nature of this), "Oh yeah, there is a bulging bag there and she's 4 cm. Ok. You can go to hospital and have a baby today!" I seriously punched my hands in the air and said "YESSSSSSSSSSS!" and nearly cried with relief.
At this point Chris, my mom and I left for Methodist (Chris made it to McDonald Murrman at some point when they were monitoring my contractions). At this point I had been awake for roughly 30 hours (with maybe two or three 30 minutes spurts of sleep). Chris took me through Chic-fil-a since we didn't know the next time I would be able to eat. Once we arrived at Methodist and they admitted me the nurse took me back to our delivery room. I asked her if I could please take a shower because I had not had one since the night before and I was hot and gross. After my shower, she got me all checked in and sent for the anesthesiologist to hook up my epidural. I was terrified of the epidural but the CRNA was great and put me at ease. It really wasn't that bad and honestly it only hurt to get the lidocaine shot. Once the epidural was in and working, they hooked up a pitocin drip to speed up my contractions.
We then waited for a few hours while I progressed. Dr. McDonald (the dr. on call) came to break my water around 6:30pm. She didn't have to though, because it ruptured as soon as she went to check how dilated I was. Dr. McDonald was amazing and came to talk to me and check me every hour. I was very grateful that if Dr. Martin couldn't be there, that she was the doctor on call. I vaguely remember getting another dose in my epidural and it making me vomit (which is hard when you can't sit up).
This is when the fun started. My epidural wore off and for about 30 minutes I felt every contraction that I had. They were lasting about a minute and coming a minute and a half apart. In between I kept begging Chris for ice chips because my throat got so dry from breathing. He was amazing and didn't leave my side and helped me breathe through every contraction even when I didn't want to. I didn't want to dose my epidural again because I didn't want to throw up. After some urging, I finally agreed to a half dose to manage the pain.
At this point it was roughly 2 am. Dr. McDonald came in to check me one last time. I was finally dilated to 9.5 cm and she stretched me to 10. At this point Dr. McDonald began talking to my nurse in medical jargon which I didn't understand. Some of this was due to lack of sleep and some was due to the drugs! After a very long internal exam, Dr. McDonald told me that the baby was not progressing down any longer and that she had retreated back up into my uterus. She then asked me to push about 5 times. After pushing, Dr. McDonald asked me what size shoe I wore (which seemed a bit strange) and I answered a size 5. She smiled and then in a very roundabout way basically said that my pelvis was too small to fit the baby and that I needed to have a c-section. I looked at Chris and asked if he was ok with it, and did we need to talk about it. He looked at me and just said, if it was what we had to do, then we had to do it. I looked at Dr. McDonald and just took a deep breath and said, "Ok, let's do it.". She then said, "When I was in med school we had a saying, and it was of course just a joke, that if someone is five feet tall and a size five foot, then they have the pelvis of a five year old." We all kind of laughed and she went out to tell our parents that I would be having surgery.
After that things started to happen very quickly. I was given another full dose in my epidural, given a hair cover and wheeled to surgery. Chris was told to wait outside while I was prepped. During the surgery I remember very little. I could feel the pressure of the cuts and smell the cautery. I was so cold and physically exhausted I was literally shaking uncontrollably the entire time. After a few minutes, I felt the doctor deliver Evie. I waited to hear her cry. It didn't come. I started to get very agitated and started asking a lot of questions, most of which weren't coherent. I asked about her APGAR score and was told that they didn't know yet. They kept trying to get Evie to cry. She would let out a few feeble cries and then quiet down. They kept counting and I am still not sure why. Eventually I heard them call for a NICU nurse to come get her. Essentially because she would not cry she could not clear the fluid from her lungs. The NICU nurse came with an oxygen box and began to wheel Evie out. It was at that point I heard the OR nurse say, "Hey, why don't we let mom see her baby!". The NICU nurse paused long enough to take Evie out and show her to me from about ten feet away. At that point they took my baby away to the NICU. That moment was one of the worst in my whole life. I wanted to kick and fight and get her back. I remember thinking she just needed me and I could get her to cry. All irrational and completely impossible thoughts since I was incapacitated by the epidural and exhaustion. I remember very little after this except feeling the needle as Dr. McDonald was sewing me up and the CRNA and anesthesiologist bringing about three different drugs and dosing me so that I passed out briefly. I remember being told I was done and being rolled over and put on another bed and wheeled out.
At some point I was back in L&D and recovering. I begged the nurse for pain meds and begged her not to press on my uterus because the incision hurt so horribly. Eventually the NICU nurse came in and told Chris and me what was happening with Evie. She had fluid in her lungs and was on high flow oxygen, IV fluids and antibiotics because the fluid could be infection caused or just from the amniotic fluid. She then told me I would not be allowed to see Evie until I could walk on my own (I could ride to the NICU in a wheelchair but had to be able to walk first), meaning that of all my family I was the last to really get a good look at my child. It broke my heart but I told Chris to take the family up to NICU to see Evie. I told him I was crying but it was ok, and that the family should get a chance to see her. In that period of time, I was moved from recovery and into post partum. After another painful bed switch and test on my uterus my family arrived after seeing Evie. They brought me a picture which was the last thing I looked at before I passed out from the pain meds and exhaustion and the first thing I looked at when I woke up.
I told my nurse the next morning (after about three hours sleep) that I wanted to walk as soon as possible. She told me that most c sections wanted to wait as long as possible. I told her I had some pretty powerful motivation when it came to walking. I was up 30 minutes before I was supposed to and I barely toddled to the bathroom but it was enough to earn me a wheelchair and a visit to see Evie.
After 46 hours of labor, a c section and then having my child abruptly taken from me to NICU, I laid clear eyes on Evie and was allowed to touch her. I'll never forget how soft her skin was or how I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on. The moment Chris and I were married and that moment when I saw and touched Evie for the first time remain the two best moments in my life.
It was certainly not the birth experience I had in mind. I never would have picked such a long labor and a c section. I never would have thought Evie would have ended up in NICU being a term baby. Giving birth has me more than anything that things don't always go according to plan. And that is ok.
More on what we have been up to since our little bit came home from the hospital later...
Looking back (nine months later) on Evie's birth I am prouder than ever. Forty six hours of labor is hard hard work folks. I hear so many people talk about how strong and empowered they felt by choosing an unmedicated labor and birth. It used to make me feel like I was somehow inferior since I got an epidural (with only 11 hours left) and had an emergency c section. Looking back now I realize that I labored unmedicated and out of the hospital for thirty five hours. My body is amazing. I am so glad I was able to really experience labor, even though it was extremely painful I knew my body was doing an amazing thing. For me, it was really important to go into labor on my own, to experience it fully. I knew I was high risk c section going in and so I wanted to soak up every minute. I know I'll never be in labor again; all of my following babies (should there be any) will be born via c section. I'll know too then that my body has done just as amazing of a job as when I labored with Evie. I no longer cry when I think of the words, "you're just not built for having babies". Instead I think to myself, "Yeah. It's true. I have a teeninsy pelvis, no babies are gonna fit through there. So I'm not built for having babies, but I sure am built for being a great mom." And THAT is more important than how I get my child into this life.