The week leading up to my birth story was amazing, surreal and quite unexpected. It all began when I went in for what should have been a 10 minute quick check in for my 38th week of pregnancy. I had a quick heart beat check that was perfect and was told I was dilated 1 centimeter. My doctor measured my belly vertically and it had gone down 4 centimeters from the previous week (from 37 cm to 34 cm). She wasn’t too concerned and believed the baby had dropped farther, which explained the difference. To be on the safe side, she wanted to do an ultrasound and measure the amniotic fluid. She told me what she was looking for was the depth of the fluid. Ten centimeters is the goal, 5 centimeters means an emergency C-section is going to happen, and anything in-between can be acceptable. I was measuring in at 9.2 cm. She didn’t seem too concerned yet, so at that point I was still pretty calm and just taking her lead.
She wanted to give me a non-stress test again just in case. So, there I was sitting next to this machine all hooked up with the monitors around my belly, drinking water and apple juice and hanging out thinking, I'm fine. This is just overkill. Twenty minutes passed and I realized I had not felt the baby move or kick even once. We had just checked the heart rate so I didn’t think I had anything to worry about. I called in for the nurse; she checked what the machine was recording and went out to get the doctor. She came flying in, quickly reviewed everything and told me I was having contractions (although I wasn’t feeling them) and that after every one, the baby’s heart rate was ‘d-celling’ (decelerating) and that I was going right to the hospital to be monitored and that I would have to most likely be induced today and possibly have a C-section. She said, “Do not go to work. Do not go home. Go straight to the hospital. Be there in 15 minutes and have your husband meet you there.” I was stunned. I was due in to be at work at 10 a.m. My husband Aaron had just gotten to work. I had taught a spin class that morning. They even threw me a baby shower. We were ready, but not ready for this.
I don’t remember walking to or getting in the car. I do remember calling Aaron as I was pulling out of the parking lot. I believe I said something to the effect of, “This is serious. You need to come home. I am going to the hospital to be induced.” I do know his exact reply was, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” We were both in shock. I made a few more quick phone calls to work, mom, and even the YMCA to line up subs for my cycling classes as I was planning on teaching for at least 2 more weeks.
I got to the hospital and rushed up to Labor and Delivery. I called Aaron back on the phone to give him all the full details and tell him exactly what was going on. The nurses were expecting me and promptly got me into what would be our room for the next 4 days, Room #3203. They got me hooked up to the fetal monitor, put in an IV for fluids and penicillin for the Group B Strep I had (pretty common thing) and then we just waited to see what happened and how she would react.
Aaron showed up to the hospital not even an hour later with camcorder in hand and was ready to step up to be the best daddy, best husband, and best friend in the world. Shortly after, Dr. Olson called to tell me that the baby was looking good and at that point did not believe a C-section was necessary. She did, however, want me to be induced. She said I was at full term, and with the baby’s heart rate d-celling, it would be best to get her out as soon as possible to be on the safe side. We talked about the best options to induce and Pitocin was the only option I had at that point. Unfortunately, that was not what I had planned for. My personal research had shown that Pitocin can lead to more intense contractions which leads to further distress on the baby which then ultimately leads to a C-section, so I was pretty nervous about it. However, at the same time, I knew my birth plan was out the window and we had a new plan—and I trusted my doctor. We began the Pitocin within the hour and waited to see how my body and baby reacted to it. The doctor said it could really kick in with 20 minutes or it could take 3 days! Unfortunately, it wasn't something that could be predicted. So, we hurried up to wait.
Over the next several hours, I was hooked up to a monitor and IV, but was able to get up and walk around. Aaron and I made several trips around the L&D floor, we spend our time talking about our day, and how we jinxed ourselves the night before by saying we were ready for her. I guess she heard us loud and clear.
I don’t quite remember when my contractions began, but they began as what I would call mild menstrual cramps. They were very manageable and didn’t seem to be so bad (famous last words). Throughout the evening they began to intensify and I practiced my breathing, relaxing and focusing. Throughout the evening and night we had countless nurses coming in to check on me, baby and my vitals. Even if I had been able to fall asleep, I don’t think I would have stayed asleep with all the nurses coming in and out. Plus, with all the fluids they were pumping me with, I was up to use the bathroom every half hour like clockwork. At approximately 9:00 p.m., one of the nurses told me Dr. Olson was on her way to the hospital to talk to me. Aaron and I both knew what that meant—a C-section was happening that night. Aaron was so wonderful and supportive and told me not to react until she got there. However, I knew there was no other reason for her to come up at 9:00 p.m. in the evening. I was absolutely devastated. This was ultimately the last thing I wanted. I knew if it was best for baby, then it was what it was. But I still didn’t have to like it. Dr. Olson showed up and confirmed what we already knew she was there for. The baby’s heart rate kept d-celling and she thought it would be best to do a C-section. But while she was on her way from her house to come to the hospital, the baby had steadily improved. So she said we could wait a while longer to see what happened. At this point, I was a ball of nerves and I still wanted my natural, vaginal birth, but also wanted it to be over with so I could have my baby in my arms. I asked the doctor if we could opt for a C-section. She said yes we could, and that it would be a reasonable thing to do. I was glad to know my options and I said we would continue with our current plan.
At approximately 2 a.m., my water broke. A nurse happened to be checking my blood pressure when it happened. I told her, “Either my water broke or I just peed on myself.” It didn’t come out in a big gush like it does on TV or in the movies. It was just a little trickle. (I’m sorry—was that too much information?).
Over the next several hours, the contractions intensified with strength and frequency. At this point, I was happy I was still on track for a natural delivery. I knew it would be tough, but I knew I could do it. It was now about 6 a.m. and we were trying different pain management techniques like the birth ball, Aaron giving me a light touch massage, getting in the Jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi was the best! It was so relaxing and I was even able to talk DURING a contraction, something I wasn’t able to do out of the tub. Unfortunately, I was only allowed to stay in the tub for 15 minutes. Aaron sweet-talked our nurse into letting me stay in for an extra 10 minutes. He’s such a good husband.
By 10:00 a.m., the contractions had gotten very intense and thoughts of an epidural crept into my mind. Aaron and the nurses were wonderful and followed my birth plan requests by not even offering or mentioning an epidural. I think I was more nervous and concerned about the epidural itself, its possible side effects, and the catheter I’d have to get (ouch!). I kept my thoughts to myself a little bit longer and eventually told Aaron and the nurses I wanted an epidural. I was sure and I was ready. I was quickly checked and was only at 5 centimeters—halfway to 10 cm. I knew I was making the right decision for me. I was proud of what I had accomplished and I didn't need to be a superhero. I just needed to be a great mom and make great decisions for our baby girl and that was the first of many.
Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist was occupied with another patient and I had to wait for what felt like an eternity for her to come in. When she did, I was so relieved and excited to see her. She was wonderful and walked me through everything she was going to be doing. I followed her instructions and inserting the needle hurt no worse than getting a bee sting. I was surprised at how quickly it kicked in. The weirdest part was not being able to move my legs and having that “pins and needle” sensation. I was in such relief now that I was able to take a 90 minute nap. When I woke up, I was 8 cm dilated! The nurses told me that I progressed very quickly (they kept saying non-textbook) and that we’d soon be ready to go. Another hour later the doctor came in and checked me and I was at almost 10 cm. She was confident I was ready to begin pushing. I was told to push at the peak of the contractions; however, I felt a need to begin a bit sooner than that and I thought that the monitor telling me when the peak was wasn't going to tell me when to push. I was going to listen to my body. Aaron held my left foot with one hand, the camera in the other and was in charge of counting. I concentrated and did my best to follow instructions and get this little girl out. Apparently, the worst thing I said to Aaron was, “Count faster!” It took approximately 40 minutes and I was told I was good pusher for my first baby. It must have been all those spin classes! Aaron was brave to look to see the baby’s head coming out, and I was encouraged to feel it (it was so soft!) and before I knew it, she was here! I passed the shoulders and I got to do what was for me the most important thing in my birth plan and that was to catch her (with the doctor’s assistance, of course), and bring her up to my chest. It was the most incredible, euphoric feeling I could ever have imagined. All I could do was say ‘Hi’ to her over and over again. I guess it was my way of saying ‘I love you.’
Aaron cut the umbilical cord and we were officially parents. She was officially delivered on Wednesday, August 22nd at 3:16 pm. She was looked over by the nurses and doctor and was declared absolutely perfect.
We are so in love with our little Lorelei Marilyn. Let the adventure begin!