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Love at first sight: The birth of Ellie C-Section

Love at first sight: The birth of Ellie

"It was an out of body experience. I felt like I was coming in out and of it."

The birth story of our beautiful daughter is a bit of a saga, but I want to write it all down (not that I will ever forget) because I want to remember all of the small details.

Saturday, August 1, I woke up early after a restless night (it had pretty much been a week of restless nights except for one blissful Unisom-fueled full night of sleep). My mucus plug had come out. It was a good sign. I wanted to go into labor, so I was happy about this. I knew it could still be some time, but at least it was a step in the right direction. I had also been having what felt like cramping for a few days. That cramping got much more consistent from Saturday morning, all through the day, and that night it got more painful. We spent the day together watching TV, going in the pool and timing my contractions. Around 8 p.m. I thought the contractions were about five minutes apart. I didn’t want to labor through the night without an epidural, so we went to the hospital. My doctor was going to be out of town until Monday, so I would be seeing someone else.

When we got to the hospital they checked me, and I wasn’t even dilated 1 cm. I was disappointed. I had been in so much pain I thought for sure I was further along. They told me I could stay for a bit or go home. I decided to go home. On the way out the doctor told me that my doctor was back, so whenever I came back she would deliver my baby. That was good news.

Rodger and I went home, stopping at the grocery store for Benydryl, which the doctor said I could take to help me sleep. The contractions were still painful, but I was hopeful I could get some rest. That didn’t really happen. I spent the whole night back and forth between bed and the shower just working through my contractions. I couldn’t believe how painful they were. I think the Benydryl may have taken some of the edge off—but not much. I was getting scared about how bad it was going to get, and I couldn’t sleep because I was just waiting for the next contraction to come. It was finally morning, and I thought the contractions were about four minutes apart.

When we got back to the hospital, they checked me. I was still only at a 1. I found out I had been calculating the contractions incorrectly, but they said I could stay and admitted me. We got moved into my room, and I labored through the morning. The nurse gave me two Phenol shots throughout the morning hours. (They said I couldn’t have an epidural until I was dilated to a two). Those were such a relief. The pain from the contractions was so bad. I breathed through it all day thanks to Rodger, my mom, my aunt, Vickie, Jenn and Rodger’s sisters who all took turns helping me. It meant so much to Rodger and me to have all of these people help us.

Throughout the day they checked me, and I hadn’t progressed at all. I was still at a one and not effaced and the baby hadn’t dropped. Around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., the nurse told me I should get some Pitocin. This made me nervous because I have heard terrible stories about it, but the nurse assured me that it would just be a small dose and that it wouldn’t be too painful. So I went for it. By then the contractions were so bad. When the Pitocin set in, they didn’t get more painful, but they were much closer together. The nurse could see that I couldn’t take much more and said I could have an epidural. This was such a relief to hear. I hadn’t slept much since Friday morning, and I was exhausted.

I got my epidural around 6 p.m. They don’t let anyone in the room with you, so it was just me, the nurse and the anesthesiologist. He was nice and explained everything. I was nervous but just wanted relief. It was over pretty quickly, and the relief was immediate. Rodger came back in. I told him that it was a miracle drug. I was looking forward to getting some sleep. The doctor also gave me some medicine for my stomach.

We were resting when the nurse came in and said that the baby’s heart rate was too high. They said it can go up because of the medicine they gave me for my stomach and the medicine they gave me for low blood pressure. So, I felt terrible about that. The nurse gave me an oxygen mask, and Rodger and I were up for the next couple of hours just watching the heart rate machine. It was the scariest part of the day. It finally went down, and we both got some sleep. They checked me throughout the night and said I was at a 3 and 100 percent effaced.

The nurse came in Monday morning and said the doctor would be in later to break my water. She checked me again and said I was at a 2 (so apparently I never was at a 3) and still 100 percent effaced—but only at a negative two station. When the doctor came in later she broke my water and said that there was meconium in the fluid. That meant I would have to deliver within a certain time. She said she would give me until 6 p.m. to dilate more, and then we would have to decide if I needed a C-section if things hadn’t progressed.

The afternoon went on, and one of the main things I remember is that my left leg was freakishly swollen. I got more rest. I was so hungry and thirsty but was only allowed some ice chips in case I had to have a C-section. Throughout the afternoon the nurse checked me, and I had gotten to a 4. She kept telling me that a lot first labors move quickly after the water is broken. The nurses were all so encouraging. All afternoon I wavered back and forth between wanting a vaginal birth and just wanting to get it over with by having a C-section. I was so exhausted that I didn’t know how I would ever push.

At 6 p.m. the nurse came in and checked me. I was at a 5. She called the doctor and the doctor said she would give me until 7:30 p.m. If nothing happened, they would take me for a C-section. Rodger and I talked with my family about a C-section and how that would go. So I was semi-prepared. Truly from the beginning I figured this would be how it went, so I wasn’t surprised.

At 7:20 p.m. the nurse was in my room and the doctor called her and told her to check me. Nothing had changed, so the doctor said she would come in for the C-section. The nurse also told me that I had a fever and the baby’s heart rate was high again. They started getting me ready for my C-section. Rodger and I were pretty scared at this point, but I just wanted it to be over and to hold my baby. The nurse gave me a liquid to drink for my stomach and a ton of paperwork to sign. They told me many times how everything would go, and I met with the anesthesiologist. I felt like I was in good hands. They gave Rodger scrubs to change into, and they took me into the operating room to get me prepared. They gave me more drugs to numb me. I was so sick to my stomach that I threw up all over myself. My doctor came in and talked to me, and Dr. Grady, who I’d seen for an appointment the week before, assisted her with the operation.

They finally let Rodger in, and I remember it was very important to me that he knew I threw up. I really didn’t know if they had started the operation as I couldn’t feel or see anything, but I could hear them talking to each other. I kind of felt like I was still waiting for them to get started and all of a sudden I heard my baby’s scream. She screamed right away and very loudly. It was such a relief. I just cried and cried. I was so happy she was out and healthy. And that I wasn’t pregnant anymore and was actually going to get to meet our daughter. She was born at 8:13 p.m., weighing 7 pounds, 11 ounces and measuring 19 inches long.

We didn’t get to see her right away, which was disappointing. They were cleaning her up. Around this time things started getting really painful for me. It was so much pressure, and I felt like I could feel everything. It was an out of body experience. I felt like I was coming in out and of it. But during one of the times when I was awake, I was in pain and screaming. Rodger stayed sitting next to me trying to help me. They finally brought the baby over to us and showed her to me. The nurse saw me and said, “That explains the light hair.” I guess she had only seen Rodger up until then. They told Rodger he had to go into the recovery room with the baby. He felt bad leaving because I was in so much pain and still screaming.

Before they showed me the baby I had heard the doctors talking about my ovaries, and my doctor asked me if I had ovarian surgery previously. This was so odd to me, and the whole time they were sewing me up I was worried that I had ovarian cancer. When they were finally done, the doctor came over to me and said that I had a very narrow pelvis, and I wouldn’t have been able to give birth vaginally. Next time I could just schedule a C-section. I asked her what was wrong with my ovaries, and she said that I was missing my right ovary and my tubes were closed at the end.

After this they took me to recovery. I was still in so much pain—but not too much—so I could still tell everyone I saw that I only had one ovary. The nurse had to push out the blood clots which made me scream out in pain. They gave me more medicine and over the next hour the pain slowly went away. It was still painful but was at least bearable.

Rodger told me everything that had been going on in recovery and told me that the baby had the cord wrapped around her neck twice when they took her out. This made me feel like it was the right thing that I had a C-section.

I finally felt strong enough to hold the baby. It was a great moment, and I was so happy. I wish I hadn’t had a C-section if only for the fact that I would have held her right away and wouldn’t have been so out of it when I met her. But the fact that she was safe and healthy was more important. I was so happy for me and my husband to be together with her. It was love at first sight.

The nurse said our families could come in a few at a time because they were going to move us to my room, and visiting hours were over. It was good to see everyone, but I was still pretty out of it.

I am still processing this experience as I find myself having new feelings about it. But regardless of how she was born, my feelings for her are just so strong. I love her so much. And I love my husband. I am so in awe of the life we created together. We are so blessed to get to be her parents.

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!