My labor began on September 4 around 2 p.m. I remember feeling excited that it was actually happening. I had prepared for this. I was ready. My plan was to labor at home as long as possible, as I was hoping to have a vaginal delivery without an epidural. Early on in labor my husband stayed at work, and I walked around the neighborhood with my mom trying to keep things moving. After timing them for several hours we were at four minutes apart with them lasting about a minute—and getting more intense. After this had been going on for more than an hour, Joe called our doctor. She informed us to take our time, but that it sounded like we should head to the hospital.
My mom, Joe and I arrived at Labor and Delivery around 11:45 Thursday night. It was very busy, so we had to get checked into a triage room to wait for a larger room to open up. When the doctor came to check me, I was only dilated to 2 cm and 80 percent effaced. This was very discouraging. I had been 1.5 cm and 50 percent effaced at my doctor’s appointment that morning. He knew I didn’t want to have medical intervention unless absolutely necessary. He said I was still in early labor even though my contractions were mimicking active labor. The doctor was so kind and made me feel like my pain was very real and intense, and it wasn’t just that I was a big baby. He suggested I walk around the floor for two hours, and he would check me again.
Walking continued to get progressively harder, but I did my best to stay moving in between contractions so my body would start to respond to the contractions that were continuing to come four minutes apart. Much to my disbelief, no change had taken place when the doctor checked two hours later. So we walked some more. My legs began to shake from the pain and fatigue, so we went back to try and rest. I began to labor on my side, and my mom and Joe took turns pushing into my back during contractions. They were continuing to come fewer than four minutes apart, but the pain continued to intensify. All of a sudden the contractions started to spread out and ease. With still no change to my cervix, the doctor suggested that I go home, take a hot bath to see if the contractions continued to ease, and get some sleep.
When we got home it was 6:30 a.m. My mom and Joe went to get some rest, and I took a bath. The bath allowed my contractions to slow enough that I was able to get two hours of sleep before my contractions woke me back up. Now they were coming between 7-10 minutes apart. I was watching for any change in intensity or a downward pressure as the doctor had told me before coming back to the hospital. I tried to walk around the house and rest when I could, but nothing seemed to be working. The contractions were too intense to sleep but not intense enough to head to the hospital. I even took three baths to find some comfort or space between contractions, but that stopped slowing anything down. Also, with only two hours of sleep and already laboring for 24 hours, my emotional and physical energy had really begun to drop.
At 6 p.m. Friday night I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I was ready to head to the hospital and see what my options were. After arriving at the hospital, which was once again very busy, we were put into a recovery room to wait to be checked. When the doctor examined me I was only 3.5 cm. At this point I was so emotionally spent and discouraged, I didn’t know what to do or say. My idea of what labor was going to be was completely out the window, and I only wanted her to be there and the pain to stop. The midwife said I had two options: to slow down labor with a drug to help me sleep or to take Pitocin. The idea of being in labor for more days was not an option for me, so I knew I didn’t want to slow anything down. Taking any drugs was not in my plan, but I knew it was my only option.
At around 9 p.m. they started me on an IV of fluids and informed me they would begin the Pitocin shortly. After finally being able to move into a delivery room, my contractions really began to pick up strength and speed. My energy to breath through the pain had gone, and I was having a hard time relaxing into the contraction. I just felt like I was fighting against the pain. I was laboring on my side in bed, and my mom and husband would take turns applying counter pressure against my lower back. I remember several times saying, “I can’t do this anymore.” I hadn’t even had the Pitocin yet, and I didn’t know how I was going to be able to handle more pain and have the energy to push. I looked straight at my husband and very clearly said, “I want an epidural.” This was not my intention going into delivery, but I knew it was the only way I would have strength to push the baby out. After this many hours of labor I was determined to reach my end goal of a vaginal birth.
A few minuets later my husband came back and told me they would be right in. He was my hero! Getting an epidural was something that always scared me. Not because of the usual reasons one might have, like the giant needle going into your spine. But because the idea of feeling stuck to the bed and side effects of itching and headaches sounded like more discomforts when labor is uncomfortable enough. Here’s the thing about being in labor … I was totally fine with discomforts. The epidural was the best decision I’ve ever made. I was able to talk, laugh, joke and sleep! Yes I did have some side effects like itching, but it only lasted for a little while. And itching is much better than the pain of contractions!
Immediately after receiving the epidural they checked my progress, and my cervix was finally doing its job; I was at 5 cm. We decided I no longer needed the Pitocin and that we would just break my water instead. They told me to rest, and they would come back to check on me in a few hours.
Around 2:15 a.m. they came in to check me again. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing—I was completely dilated! I had dilated 5 cm in two hours, which seemed like a miracle when it had taken me 32 hours to dilate the first 5 cm. Because I didn’t feel the urge to push yet, they said they we would wait an hour before we started unless I felt like I needed to before then.
About an hour later in walked my doctor. “I hear we are ready to have a baby,” she announced. After getting me into position, I began to feel very dizzy and nauseated. The doctor told me to take my time, and we would push as soon as I was ready. The nausea passed, and I said I was ready. The doctor turned to the nurse and asked, “Is that mom or baby?” The baby’s heart rate had dropped rapidly. They both came over to me and helped me turn from side to side trying to see if maybe the baby had just rolled on top of the umbilical cord. After no change she asked if I could get on my hand and knees. With a lot of effort we were able to get me turned over, but nothing was changing on the monitor.
While helping me lie back down, the doctor was explaining to us that we needed to go to the OR to have a C-section. Before we could even process what she had said, there were two other doctors in the room, and they were wheeling me out. She told my mom and husband to stay there, and they would be right back for him. My room was the farthest one from the OR. On the way the doctor explained to me that everything was going to be fine, but it was going to go very fast when we got in the room—so they could get the baby out right away.
As they pushed me through the operating room doors, my doctor left to scrub in. The room was bright and had a calm but frantic energy. It was filled with about 10-15 people all doing things around the room. Several surrounded me and lifted me onto the table. Before they had even fully put the partition up between my upper and lower body, I felt them cutting into me.
Within what felt like less than 60 seconds, the baby was out, and I heard her little cries. They took her right over to an area to my left where four doctors were checking her. They kept communicating with me every step of the way. I kept getting peeks at her between the doctors and nurses, and I felt tears rolling down my face. She was perfect—wrinkly and swollen but perfect. It wasn’t until I heard my doctor say someone go tell dad that I realized my husband hadn’t even made it into the room. I was told later that from the time they wheeled me out of the delivery room to when the nurse came back to tell my mom and husband our baby girl was born, maybe 10 minutes had passed.
Neva Rebecca Camhi was born at 3:43 a.m. on Saturday, September 6, 2014. She was 7 pounds, 11 ounces and 20.75 inches long.
An hour after she was born, I was in recovery feeling very sleepy and cold. I had been in and out of consciousness for the past hour, but seeing my baby girl in my husband’s arms was the most beautiful sight. He placed her in my arms, and I was able to get her to latch.
In the end, they didn’t know why her heart rate dropped, but she was here healthy and beautiful. I’m so thankful that I had chosen to get the epidural, so I was able to stay awake during the C-section—and they didn’t have to waste another second before they could get her out. Her birth might not have gone as planned, but what part of parenthood will? Happy and healthy is all that matters, and we had our little family.
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