Saturday at 2 a.m., I was awakened by a sudden feeling that something was not right. Baby No. 7, and it felt so different. I swung my feet over until they slid off the bed and pulled myself into a more upright position. Ouch! I caught my breath, shallow breathing near panting—that hurt. The first phrase that ran through my head was from the children’s book, Madeline—”Miss Clavel turned on the light and said, ‘Something is not right!’” The “something is not right” phrase was feeling like a lot of pressure in the upper abdomen. I felt like I had a baseball in my diaphragm and sternum. My belly was tight and stretched like a football, but vertically, with a baseball towards the top. It was not nice and round like a basketball should be.
Pant, pant, pant—it was tricky to breathe with this new pressure. With my feet hanging off the bed, I slid my bottom off … off … off until my feet touched the carpet. I began my waddle to the bathroom. I thought using the bathroom would relieve some of the pressure. That didn’t touch it. In fact, my panting became worse. My head started to kick into gear. Stand up. Now, take as deep of a breath as you can—good—now hold it—and blow it out. Repeat! Calm, I felt calmer, but this pressure was so strange!
I needed to walk and find a more comfortable position, anything to relieve this new feeling. I went downstairs, paced, had some water, laid on the carpet in the dark and glanced at the clock. 2:23 a.m.—this was not working. I rolled to the side and noticed how soft the side of my belly was. It felt like it was empty. This was not right! I pushed myself onto all fours and reached for the couch. I pulled upward until my foot slid underneath me, and I was stable. I started the long, wobbly walk up the stairs.
I reached through the dark until my hand landed on Scott’s shoulder, and I shook him. Sleepy and rubbing his eyes, I told him to feel my belly. He did and pulled back his hand at once. Ugh … what was that? He reached for the lamp and clicked on the soft light revealing the strangely shaped bulge that was under my nightgown. He flew out of bed and said that we needed to go to the hospital to check things out. I suddenly became frozen to the spot as a wave of irrational emotion crashed over me. I’m 10 days away from my due date! I’m not having contractions. They’ll send me home. The Nazi nurse in labor and delivery will send me home. She will pat my hand and tell me in her sweetest voice that “babies come when it’s right and not when you want them.” All I could hear and see was that voice and the patronizing smile of nurse Helga! I wanted to agree, but I was too overcome with emotion to think clearly or to have much faith. My fear was that they would send us home because I was not having any contractions, and I couldn’t face that.
Overwhelmed—I did what most women do—I broke down and cried … sobbed a blubber, ugly cry mess really. Scott was calm. He did not interrupt me. He was comforting and asked if I would like a blessing. I agreed, and following the beautiful words, I began to calm down. Off we drove to Ogden. I was not allowing myself to think about anything except for the words in the blessing that I would be able to deliver this baby in the intended way.
Scott helped me out of the car and into the wheelchair. We had to go through the emergency room first since that was the only open door. I sat on my left side and leaned across the wheelchair trying to find a comfortable spot until we reached the fourth floor.
After checking in, the nurses brought me to the triage rooms to do the standard work up: asking about contractions, how long, what the pain is like, any leakage—the whole drill. All I could tell them was that something was NOT right and that I needed help. Those sweet smiles split across both of their faces. I knew the lecture was going to come next. As I lay on the table, the lecture started of “new moms” and “nerves” and “this happens all the time.” The sticky sweetness was making me nauseated. I kept glairing at Scott in a “I told you they would do this” kind of look.
“So, is this your first,” the nurse asked? “No! My seventh!” “Well, even on your second it can be hard to tell.” My head shot off the table and locked eyes with her, “My SEVENTH!” Her eyebrows raised up a bit. “Oh, sorry, I thought you said second.” Soon, I was set up, and the nurse checked me. She laughed and looked at me. She checked again and then said that there was “nothing there.” What? I said in a raised panic. She checked a third time and said she got grabbed by a hand or by a foot, but that baby’s head was not there! Baby had flipped to breech—not even a bum was there.
Her sweet, sticky smiled was wiped off her face. She became very serious, and she said she was calling the doctor. I immediately was overwhelmed with tears and fears. All I could think was that baby was in trouble and that this birth was NOT going to be like my other six.
I kept looking over at Scott for support, and he was very calm and just stayed focused, which helped to calm me down again, catch my breath and think, “OK, we can do this.” Quickly, the nurses got a hold of my doctor and handed the phone to me. “Hello?” “Hi April. The nurses tell me that your little one has changed its mind and would like to exit a different way.” I smiled, “Yes.” “Since he has decided to do this, I’m coming over, and we will talk about options.” I thanked him. And I knew that soon I would be in good hands.
The doctor arrived in 10 minutes and told Scott and I what my options were and what the procedures were going to be: 1) epidural, 2) turn the baby by pressing on my tummy, 3) break my water, 4) Pitocin, 5) deliver this baby. HOWEVER, if at anytime we needed to C-section then that was going to happen. I had 10 minutes to wrap my head around this new reality and to relinquish all control of this birth over to the Lord. I was officially a participant and had to trust in the plan that was going to unfold.
Epidurals and me … this could be a section by itself, but the short and fat of it is that my blood pressure drops with it. I mean really drops: 65/25. That’s why I labor until I’m dilated to about 7 or 8 centimeters. I’ve never started labor with the epidural first. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to feel my labor, help with pushing or anything. Regardless of these fears, it was time.
The anesthesiologist came in and up I was pulled to an upright position. My breath was caught in my throat. I could not catch my breath. I could not bend my back. Think about holding a 20-inch long, solid football in your diaphragm and trying to round over like a cat. The pressure was so intense I could feel the blood pressure throbbing in my ears. Finally, I was able to bend my back enough and hold Scott’s hand, so in went the needle. The cracking and popping sound—that snap—felt like a firecracker bursting in my back. It took away my breath! Soon, I felt the hot, wet rush of medicine race down my back and toward my legs. I took another breath as they placed the tape over my back and up over my shoulder. Finally, I was able to lay back and take in some deeper breaths.
The doctor returned. He was calm and reassured my mind that he was going to be successful with moving the baby. Gloves on and goop up the tummy. I closed my eyes and started a prayer but suddenly turned to Scott and told him to videotape it. I had to see what happening to me. Firmly, the doctor’s hands began to press down on my tummy. He was feeling for the positioning of the baby. Once he felt what he was looking for, he began to turn the baby with all his might. He pushed and turned and pushed baby into place.
My pain was incredible! I could not feel my legs, but I could feel EVERYTHING in my belly. A ripping, burning feeling was on my left side. I felt like my insides were like a piece of Velcro and someone was ripping them apart hook by hook in slow motions. Hot pain raced towards that side of my stomach. Ouch, ouch and … ahhh. I kept it to myself because I needed this to work! Just one more pull, pull, pull and the baby seemed to slip into place. The ripping, burning pain instantly stopped, and the pressure was off my lungs and diaphragm. It worked. The pressure was gone! Quickly, the doctor broke my water to make sure the baby would not turn again and slide out of position.
The first hurdle was now over, and it was onto the delivery. Usually, this is accomplished for me by a few hours of contractions, then some pain, an epidural when I’m about 8 centimeters dilated, a few pushes and viola—a baby. Not this time. After getting settled into the new labor room, I had happy contractions (thanks to the Pit), and I was smiling and laughing with Scott. It was all going to work out. Scott and I started figuring out boy and girl names, and we were just enjoying our time together. That was for about two hours. Then, it all changed …
Suddenly, I was not able to catch my breath, my contractions increased and then the pain! The pain was low on my right side. I thought that my placenta was ripping away from the uterus. It was that same Velcro ripping, burning sensation all over again! My bleeding increased, and it was very difficult to control. Then, I started vomiting! The moaning, more vomiting, more moaning—I could not breathe. The pressure was back again and up high! Baby had turned again! The doctor put one more firm pressure push on my tummy and slipped baby back into place.
My poor husband was watching me, hearing me moan and looking at me at my worst. Let’s just say that it was raw—raw pain, grief and emotion. I had never had this much pain or pressure in any of my deliveries. My legs were dead! But, I could feel everything. The epidural had not worked, and the ripping burning got more intense. All I could think was that I was going to have bleeding and bruising everywhere. This pain kept me right here and plenty scared. I knew I was in trouble, and the Lord was going to have to step in and finish this, but wow, this one was going to give me a memory.
Finally, I was in transition—baby was coming. I just had to push … but this was going to be tough job. Why? Baby turned again—sunny side up, or face up, meaning his nose was going to act like a hook and make for one final push of pain. My pain, coping with this news or him turning again and trying to push, was getting to me. I was out of strength. I was done. The nurses with all their coaching and encouragement were not going to get me to the end. In the end, I had to turn it over to the Lord. I handed it to Him and felt the strength to finish. Just one more push … push, push, push, hold your breath, hold, hold, hold, AHHH! Baby’s head was out! One more push. Push! It’s a … boy!
Rhetten Scott Giauque was born—reddish brown hair, blue eyes, big hands, long arms and long torso—at 10:38 a.m. I was relived! It was like the pressure in a balloon had finally burst free! I was instantly out of pain as I held this little, warm, wet body against my chest—little Rhetten.
Scott came up with the name during our “fun time” of labor. As soon as he said the name, I knew it was this little man. His name means “to rescue or to save” in Swiss. I loved the name because it reminded me of my childhood hero, Mary Lou Retton. (His name has a different spelling because I didn’t want the Utah accent to drop the /t/ sound in his name and make the /uh/ sound instead). Rhetten was born weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces on September 10, 2011. He is my 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 baby. I think that is how many times he flipped as well. I’m thrilled he made it! And I can safely say that he was by far the most painful of all 9 of them.
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!