I woke up on Friday feeling tight in the stomach. “Tight” is the only way I could think to describe it. My mother-in-law was visiting from South Africa for the first time, and we all decided to go shopping and see the movie Sing that afternoon. Time went by uneventfully until after the movie let out. I was holding my 2-year-old old son during the movie because he had fallen asleep. My stomach kept on contracting with what felt like Braxton Hicks, so I let my husband Shaun hold him for a bit.
When we exited the theater, my 39-week gestational son made what I would describe as flailing arms and legs movements for about two minutes straight, causing me to topple over. My family was commenting on how “active” he was. We got into the car and were headed on a 45 minute drive back home. At this point I couldn’t even stand up straight. It felt like a constant Braxton Hicks contraction, and at the same time it felt like I had to use the restroom. My husband offered to take me to the hospital because we were so close at the time, but I said no because I wanted to go home to take a bath and grab my hospital bag. I decided to just see how I felt later on … and that’s when things got strange.
My stomach wouldn’t soften. It was constantly hard, and I still couldn’t stand up straight. I was trying to pay bill, take it easy in bed and eventually went to join everyone for a movie downstairs. That’s when I felt a gush. But it wasn’t a gush like my water broke, which I experienced with my older son. This felt like my period. And sure enough it was just that—bright red blood. I started panicking and woke my husband up. Shaking, I told him that something wasn’t right and what was happening was wrong.
About 10 minutes later we headed out. When we started the car the gas light was on and the mileage left wasn’t enough to get us to the hospital where I wanted to deliver, so we would have to stop. I think at this point I started to have contractions, but they weren’t able to be timed (as in they weren’t stopping). It was the constant pressure and hardening that was painful, but not as painful as I remember contractions being.
While at the Shell station, it was like a flood gate opened and the blood wouldn’t stop coming. I called my sister crying and panting and she said to call 911. We waited at the Shell station for the ambulance to come as I begged the 911 receptionist to tell me if this was normal.
Once I in the ambulance, they said we were headed to the hospital that was directly down the street from our house. It wasn’t my hospital of choice, but at this point I was so panicked I just wanted to forget that all of this was happening. We arrived, the nurses seemed to be a little panicked, and my husband was ghost white. No one would check my cervix to see if I was dilated because the blood was too much. The longest 30 seconds of my life was when they put the monitors on my belly and looked for a heartbeat. After moving it around three times they finally found one that was steady and not fluctuating. I think I screamed out of relief at that point, and my husband finally got color back into his face.
They said they were going to do an emergency C-section and began prepping me and my husband for surgery while they waited for the on-call doctor to arrive. They rolled me into the room first, and I remember all I could hear was them counting the surgical tools and feeling them tie my arms and legs down. This was near impossible because the pain I was in at that point was a 10 and turned to a 20 when my legs were straightened. The doctor stepped in, and I was yelling for him to help my baby, to get him out and that I need him out. He asked me if I needed to push, and I told him I didn’t know because no one had checked me to see if I was dilated yet. He checked and said I wasn’t far enough along.
While lifting up his hand, I looked at it in awe of the amount of thick blood dripping off his glove. He told a nurse to tell my husband he wasn’t allowed in because they were doing an emergency cesarean to try and save the baby—TRY?!
They laid all the wrapping and surgical items on my stomach, and I felt a cold blade touching my skin. The doctor made a motion to the anesthesiologist saying we needed to do this now. The anesthesiologist motioned to the nurse, and I was just screaming, “Save my baby! I can feel everything.” At that moment the nurse grabbed ahold of my windpipe and squeezed it until it all went black.
Next thing I know, I was waking up in the recovery room hearing all the sounds of the machines and a baby screaming. I could hear before I could see, and I asked if he was OK. My husband answered, “Yes he’s perfectly fine,” and I asked to hold him. I heard the doctor talking to my husband saying he made the incision at 1:20 a.m., and the baby was born at 1:20 a.m., too. I asked if everything was OK. He said, yes that he was able to save my uterus and that if I wanted to ever have more children, I would have to have a scheduled cesarean.
After that the day was a blur. The medication they had me on was causing me to fall asleep mid-sentence, and all I felt were mixed emotions of being elated with excitement that my baby was OK and feeling like I let everyone, including myself, down in some way. After all, this baby had me on bed rest from his second month gestation due to a placental abruption. He kicked me nonstop and made me not be able to eat normal amounts of food for the entire pregnancy. It was a less than enjoyable pregnancy when you throw in chasing a toddler at home, taking care of 12 special needs toddlers at work and having a husband gone because of work for five months of the pregnancy. It really took a toll on me. I felt like I should have been more grateful for it all and then none of this would have happened.
The report from the doctor said my uterus tore 4 centimeters in diameter, about 3 centimeters above where the cesarean incision was. I also lost 500 milliliters of blood, requiring a transfusion my third day in the hospital. My blood pressure never got above a 90/50 reading while in the hospital, so I was denied most pain pills for after my surgery. I ended up being allergic to all of the surgical tape and having hives on my abdomen for four weeks after my delivery. Overall this was a very traumatic delivery with the utmost amazing outcome. Baby Bodhi Rae was born at 1:20 a.m. weighing 7 pounds, 12 ounces. He was 19 ¾ inches long on New Year’s Eve. He is my miracle baby who I feel is my lifesaver. He has made me see what’s important and what there is to care about in the world. It’s family—born into or chosen.
Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!