There are two November births in my immediate family, all birthdays but one in November in my mom’s immediate family, and three birthdays and two anniversary celebrations on my dad’s side. Even though the month is jam-packed with special occasions, November 28 is still a day that Graham doesn’t have to share with anyone else (at least for the time being).
I had a great pregnancy. I had no morning sickness, I was able to work out regularly through 34 weeks, and I felt a general sense of calm and peace about the way our lives were about to change forever. I generally try to take control of the way things go in life, but being pregnant really helped me to let go and just do whatever the baby needed. Other than the iron pill I hated but dutifully took every single day, I thor- oughly enjoyed each milestone, flutter, little kick, aggressive kick and overly personal questions from strangers that were thrown my way.
I always made fun of Kip for saying he was jealous of my experiences, but he was right in knowing that he would never really understand the feelings that I tried to explain to him as our little boy was growing inside of me. It’s truly an incredible process … at least until your due date passes. Then you’re two, three, four days past due with no dilation or contractions to give you hope that the end might be near. My positive attitude was starting to wane each day. I would walk into work and everyone would give me a pity look, and by that point I was beyond frustrated.
Overdue and out
On my due date, our doctor promised me that he wouldn’t let me go more than a week late. We would schedule an induction for the following Monday, and he would call me later with details. When he called, I was notified that the hospital couldn’t schedule me until the following Tuesday evening for induction, with a probable Wednesday delivery. (Friendly tip to all OBs: Please do not promise a pregnant woman an end-of-pregnancy date if you can’t deliver—pardon the pun.)
After whining to Kip about this, I decided to take matters into my own hands and try all the rumored “things” that help you go into labor. Typical Amy. I used essential oils, pressure points on my wrists and feet, walked the stairs on my lunch, and I am embarrassed to say that I ate three whole pineapples in only four days. Of course, I was not in control, and this baby boy had other plans. To my dismay, I decided to just be OK with having an induction date that was further away than I cared for. At least it was still in the month of November.
The third day past my due date, I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Shocking, I know. Unfortunately, I spent the next two hours trying to make my baby move. I couldn’t feel my active little boy, and I freaked out. I drank some orange juice, ate a candy bar and tried eggnog—anything to wake him up, so I would know he was OK.
In the following four hours, I only felt him twice. I called my doctor on the way into work, and he had me come in to have a fetal monitoring test. Sure enough, my baby’s heart rate was around 100-110 beats per minute. When he was being pressured with a vibrating massager, his heart would rise up to a normal range, but when he was left alone, his heart rate would drop back down.
My tech told me the doctor would probably send me to the hospital since I was already overdue. (Another friendly tip: Don’t tell an overdue pregnant lady she’s probably going to have her baby that day if you don’t know that.) After 20 minutes of monitoring, the baby woke up, and his heart rate went back to a fairly consistent normal level. The doctor said we didn’t need to do anything that day. Stubborn little boy was just playing tricks on his mom, but I was relieved that he was just sleeping.
Thanksgiving came and went, and I notified my work that I would not be coming back in the next Monday to prepare for induction on Tuesday. I spent Saturday watching football with friends, and although there were a few more episodes of low activity with the baby, I was always able to get him to wiggle around to let me know he was OK. Then, it finally happened.
Ready, or not
Around 1:30 a.m. I woke up and felt a little discomfort, but I thought maybe I just needed to change positions. When the pain came back every few minutes I actually thought I could possibly be having contractions. I wasn’t sure because the discomfort seemed to be there all the time. It would be more intense and then lessen, but it never really went away. I woke Kip around 2:30 a.m. and told him I thought I was having contractions, but I was having a hard time timing them because I couldn’t tell when they started and stopped. I started trying to guess based on the worsening and lessening of the intensity, and it seemed that they were every 3-4 minutes. My doctor had told me that if they were every 4-5 minutes for an hour straight, I should go to the hospital. I knew that I needed to wait as long as I could at home, but I also seemed to be having contractions pretty close together, as far as I could tell.
Around 4:30 a.m. I told Kip I wanted to get checked out, so we grabbed the bags and in we went. I got hooked up to the fetal monitor in the labor triage area and sure enough, my contractions were every 2-3 minutes. I felt a little proud of myself for being able to listen to my body. However, I was only 1 centimeter dilated. The baby’s head was facing up instead of down, and his position was not producing the appropriate pressure to help me dilate. The nurse told me to walk the halls for an hour and see if I would progress, so they could admit me as being in active labor.
During our walk, I made frequent stops to lean over and stretch my lower back to relieve discomfort—and frequent stops in the bathroom because my body apparently didn’t want anything to remain in my system. The contractions were getting more uncomfortable. They were so close together, I didn’t have much time to feel “good” before another one started. After the hour, the nurse told me I was still at 1 centimeter even though my contractions were every few minutes. Because I hadn’t progressed in dilation, the on-call doctor didn’t want to keep me, as it would be considered an elective induction. She offered me a sleeping pill and recommended I try to sleep. I was incredibly frustrated and angry. How was I supposed to sleep? When was I supposed to come back? I was following my doctor’s instructions and was being sent home!
I went home in tears. I tried to rest but instead ended up spending a few hours moaning, vomiting and losing bowel control. The joys of childbirth! I did finally lose my mucus plug, and I was able to take a shower before my mom and Kip told me I should go back to the hospital. Desperate and hoping for good news, it was about 11:30 a.m. when we went back to the hospital. Thank the good Lord, I was 4 centimeters dilated, and the doctors would keep me this time. However, my contractions were 1 to 1.5 minutes apart, and the baby’s heart rate was not getting the time it needed to recover from them. His heart rate had dropped down to the 90s, 80s, and at times, it was dangerously lower.
Again, I felt justified in having been so miserable. I kept saying to Kip that it wasn’t supposed to be like this. I’m pretty sure that he thought I just had a low pain tolerance, but I knew better. I was told we might need to do an emergency C-section if the baby’s heartbeat still wouldn’t recover properly from the contractions. I really respect all those ladies who want natural births or at-home births and truly think it’s incredible for those who are able to experience that, but my “plan” from the beginning was to get an epidural. I think my medical background always made me feel more comfortable with having a birth in the hospital, and I was so glad I was confident with my decision as we waited to hear if the baby was going to be OK. The doctor said we needed to wait until we knew if I would need a C-section before I could have any pain medication of any kind. The only birthing goal I ever set for myself was to deliver a healthy baby in any way that was the safest. C-section was fine with me if that is what had to be done. I was not in control of my body or this baby, but I trusted my doctor.
After a little time in triage that felt like a million years, the baby’s heart rate started to recover, but only if I was on my right side. My OB would not be delivering our baby, but the on-call physician from our office was very nice. He decided it would be best to keep laboring and put off surgery unless absolutely necessary. As long as the baby was fine, I would labor away, so into a delivery room we went.
About 2 p.m. I was finally given my epidural, and the rest of my awareness returned with it. I could breathe, I could think, I could talk again! It felt like me again, and it was amazing. My crazy fast contractions now only felt like pressure, and by 4:30 p.m. we progressed to 7 centimeters. As long as I was lying on my right side or on all fours, the baby’s heart rate was cooperating. If I was lying on my left side or my back, his heart rate would drop almost instantly. But if it meant he was safe, I would do whatever I had to do. I was able to nap a little during this time, and having been up since 1 a.m., I took full advantage while apologizing to my mom and sister for being boring company.
Once I was “myself” again, Kip finally agreed, once and for all, to my favorite name, Graham Henry! We finally had a name! I’m pretty sure he thought I earned the final say, and he was right! I was even more ready to meet our baby Graham! But Graham wasn’t ready yet.
From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. my progress slowed, taking all three hours to get from 7 centimeters to 8 centimeters. With Graham still being flipped face up, his head wasn’t helping me dilate like it should. My options were to get Pitocin and try to force progress with medication or a C-section. The doctors were not sure Pitocin would be a good option with the temperamental heart rate we had been working with all day, and they didn’t want to make it drop again by forcing him into a stressful situation. But the doctor decided to try Pitocin, so I kept laboring, even more thankful for that epidural.
From 8 to 11 p.m. I progressed to 9.5 centimeters and was told they would let me try to push while the doctor tried to turn Graham’s head at the same time. I was exhausted, almost 23 hours into labor, but I was ready. After 40 minutes of pushing and multiple unsuccessful attempts to turn Graham around (resulting in an episiotomy) I was informed that Graham was stuck. The doctor couldn’t even get his fingers around his head at all, and it was such a tight squeeze for him that he was concerned that the stress a normal delivery would put on Graham’s heart would be a bad option. At last, we would go to surgery for the long-awaited C-section. I was OK with a C-section if that was the safest option to get Graham into my arms.
I felt such a calm in the OR knowing that our little boy was really about to be here. I was so excited and never once felt that I was taking a path that I didn’t want. All I wanted was what was best for Graham, and I knew I had given it everything I had getting to that point. There was no guilt, only relief and thankfulness.
We watched the clock in the OR as they opened me up. November 28. A full week past due, a date that not one friend or family member had guessed for his arrival, and a date he didn’t have to share with any other celebrations. The best day ever. At 12:13 a.m. the doctor pulled him out from behind the sterile drape. There was a sound like a suction cup being pulled off a wall, and the ring around his sweet little head showed the evidence. I had gotten him good and stuck, but thankfully, he was safe now.
The quick flash of his face was so surreal, and a moment later we heard his first cry. That’s when it hit me, he was here! I’m a mom. Kip is a dad. We have a real, human baby. I gave Kip the OK to leave my side to go see our son and take pictures and videos. I wanted him to experience this to the fullest. I had definitely experienced birthing to the fullest. I labored without medication for 12 hours, labored with medication for nine hours, took Pitocin, pushed, and finally ended up in surgery.
The doctors shouted out his length and weight. Kip came back to show me pictures as they sewed me up, and then the nurses brought Graham over for Kip to hold. I was so proud of him and so in love with the little boy that I was really seeing for the first time. Once I was moved to recovery, I was given my little boy to hold. He was perfect. As we sat there in the OR in the early hours of the morning, we were a family.
Graham Henry was here, and it was better than I could have ever known.
Meet the Meyers
Home: Powell, Ohio
Graham now: An almost 18-month-old who is chatty and always active
Family furball: Dexter, a 7-year-old Weimaraner
Just for fun: Traveling to visit family and friends around the U.S. as much as possible and preparing to welcome our second child in November
Milestone memory: Taking Graham to the beach for the first time was pure joy! He could not stop smiling or dancing in the beach wagon, and he loved getting his toes in the water! (Totally worth the two- hour plane ride with a 10-month-old.)
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 email@example.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!