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Comfy cozy: The birth of Vivienne C-Section

Comfy cozy: The birth of Vivienne

"It was confirmed—the boy I thought I was having for nine months was a girl."

On January 9 at 9 a.m., Vivienne Lani Dinh was born, weighing in a 7 pounds, 11 ounces and measuring 21.5 inches long. All the anticipation and waiting for nine months, and she was officially here—we couldn’t have been happier or felt more blessed. Here’s how it happened …

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a “baby person.” I’m not the person who goes running across the room to hold someone’s baby. Babies see me from across the room and start crying. I warned my husband early on that when we had kids I wasn’t going to become “that mom” who is a complete nut and “oohs” and “ahs” over her kid. My niece, Emma, was born nearly five weeks to the day before Vivienne, and I was smitten with her—but that still wasn’t going to change my mindset.

My husband and I decided that we would not find out the gender of our first baby. We chose two family names—Louis after my grandfather or Vivienne, my grandmother’s middle name. We planned on a Hawaiian middle name to pay homage to our home away from home—where we were engaged, married and have spent countless vacations.

Throughout months of people analyzing how I was carrying, old wives tales and the Chinese calendar, I was completely convinced that I was having a boy. Ultrasounds came and went, and we held strong. Bets had been made regarding the gender, birthdate and weight. None of this seemed to bother me or increase my anticipation, as we had a lot of distractions with our recent relocation and renovation.

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However, after week 36 the anticipation started making us crazy. Everyone, and I mean everyone, started asking how the weekly appointments were going. “Are you dilated?” “What did the doctor say today?” As each appointment went by and there was no progress, I became more and more anxious. When my mom was expecting me the same thing happened: She went to her weekly appointments with no progress and eventually was induced with an emergency C-section.

On my due date, Thursday, January 7, I went to work just like any other day, except much more confident that nothing would happen that day because the studies I’d read said that I had a less than 5 percent chance of going into labor on my due date.

I work as a nurse practitioner, and I was still having a normal, full day of clinic. When I was seeing my last patient I thought I might have had incontinence. It was definitely not my water breaking because, according to statistics, your water breaking is low odds. I went into the restroom and returned to my office to finish things up because it was my last day of work prior to maternity leave. The incontinence continued to happen! I then thought, OK I’m not crazy, I am definitely not having my bladder leak.

I called my doctor’s office and the triage nurse suggested I just head to the hospital to be evaluated. While I was on the phone with the nurse I sent a text to my husband to fill him in. By the time I was off the phone with the doctor’s office, my husband had arranged for me to be picked up from work. I refused his offer; I felt completely fine and was still hesitant to believe that my water broke. I didn’t want to make a production out of nothing.

As I was leaving work I got the “classic” gush of the water breaking. (It is not very comfortable walking around with water trickling down your legs.) Luckily I found some plastic in the trunk of my car and laid it down on my seat. I drove to the hospital with my heart nearly beating out of my chest and waiting for the awful contractions that I’ve heard so much about.

I met my husband in the hospital lobby, and we walked up to the Labor & Delivery triage unit together. The nurse did my exam and confirmed that, yes, my water did break. She called my OB/GYN group for orders and was told that we were going to start the “induction process.” I found out that one of my favorite doctors in the group was on call that weekend and I thought, the stars had aligned; everything was going to work out in my favor. I had an easy pregnancy and was hoping for the same with the labor and delivery process. Because we finally had the green light that the baby was coming in the near future, we told our families. It was nearly impossible to keep them home that night, but there was no reason for them to come and wait because the induction process is just that: a process.

That evening I started with the insertion of Cervidil to help dilate and thin the cervix. The Cervidil stays in place for 12 hours, so they did this overnight. I could rest while it was in place. They were also doing routine temperature checks to make sure there weren’t any signs of infection with the water breaking and infrequent cervical checks to minimize the risk of infection.

The next morning, as planned, we proceeded with Pitocin to help start the contractions. Well it was a long, exhausting day. My nurse encouraged me to get up, walk the hallways and bounce on the birthing ball. So I did this all day while at the same time the Pitocin was titrated up. I started having contractions, but they weren’t unbearable. We finally got to the highest dose you can be on without having internal monitoring and my OB/GYN came to talk to me. She proposed holding the Pitocin long enough that I could eat dinner, then restarting and increasing again with hopes that the second time would be more effective. She assured me that before the end of the weekend I would have my baby.

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It was late evening when the Pitocin was restarted. I began walking the halls and bouncing on the ball, but this time my energy level wasn’t what it was 12 hours earlier. I got to half of the full dose of Pitocin, with contractions less than two minutes apart. Now when walking the halls I had to stop to breathe when a contraction would start. I was growing increasingly uncomfortable and exhausted. So at nearly 2 a.m. I asked my nurse to do a cervical exam. She gave me the bad news that there was no change. NONE.

I felt completely defeated and that I couldn’t have done more to get things moving. I know that with the induction process and having your water break you can’t go on forever as the risk for infection continues to rise the more time that passes. Per my request my nurse contacted my OB/GYN for her recommendation. The OB/GYN recommended having a resident come and place internal monitors, so we could find out the intensity of the contractions and continue to increase the Pitocin.

I had a room full of people still there at this point, and we discussed the recommendation. Although the internal monitor carries a low risk for introducing infection, I’d already had Pitocin running for nearly 24 hours with no progress at all. I didn’t feel very confident that anything was going to change and in the back of my mind I kept thinking about my own birth story when my mom was in labor with me.

I asked the nurse to contact my OB/GYN again and ask if it would be unreasonable to either hold Pitocin for a few hours until she came in that morning, let me get some rest and then re-evaluate OR at this point would it be unreasonable to consider a C-section. In my gut I felt that I was heading this way, and I would rather go this route without it being emergent. The nurse came back saying the OB/GYN would be in first thing, and my C-section was scheduled for 8 a.m.

 

My OB/GYN came to see me early Saturday morning. I asked her if she felt like a C-section was truly in my best interest, now thinking I might have been overzealous in my request. She assured me that given absolutely zero progression, a C-section was nearly unavoidable at this point. Now I was super anxious—the only surgery I’ve ever had was my wisdom teeth, and I was nervous enough for a vaginal delivery. Now I was having major surgery in mere minutes. Then I thought about what was at the other side of the finish line, not only did I know my baby would be there and healthy, but also after nine months I would finally know what gender my baby is.

I went to the OR alone for the spinal while they got my husband in scrubs. The OR team was great. For the entire procedure the CRNA talked to me, which kept my mind off of the surgery. Then I was told I would feel a lot of pressure and literally within seconds I heard crying.

The OB/GYN asked my husband if he wanted to tell me the gender of our baby. It took my husband a few seconds, which felt like years to me, but he said, “girl.” Well, he can be a prankster, so I looked around at everyone for confirmation that this wasn’t one of his jokes. It was confirmed—the boy I thought I was having for nine months was a girl. I would have been happy either way to have a healthy baby, but as the oldest child myself, I was hoping history would repeat itself. I was thrilled.

Then we could tell our families. My husband and I had previously agreed that we wanted to tell all of our immediate family in person. The nurse put a hat with a bow on Vivienne, and when our families came into the recovery room (four at a time) they found out that there was a new baby GIRL in the family. I think there were tears shed by nearly everyone, as they were also convinced that I was having a boy.

I have heard mixed reports of how women initially feel towards their babies. Some say that it took them a while to feel a connection, and I have also heard that it was love at first sight. I would have to say I was so in awe of the whole process that it took a minute for it to all soak in. When it did I was head over heels for this little creature.

I was later told by my doctor that there wasn’t any reason for her to not come on her own, she wasn’t too big, nothing anatomically wrong, she was just comfy and cozy where she was. I know a lot of people who would have been terrified by the C-section process, but just follow your gut. Do what’s best for you and your baby with the advice of your doctor.

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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 birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!