Not as expected: The birth of Eleanor Rose
Pretty much every day after 37 weeks, I would wake up and wonder if it was going to be the day we would meet our daughter. Then with each passing day, I got more and more nervous, especially as I waved goodbye to 37 weeks, then 38 weeks, and then passed the 39-week mark. I began to think she wasn’t going to come on her own and just set a date in my mind, saying that’s when we will meet her. For me, I’d been saying October 3 for a while, which would put her at 40 weeks, 2 days.
But that day passed, and the next day passed, and the next day. By the time I got past 40 weeks, I was done. I was frustrated that she wasn’t coming and that nothing (sex, walking, bouncing on a ball) was helping. At 40 weeks, 2 days, I had an appointment and a non-stress test that went fine, and I scheduled my next appointment for October 7.
At 40 weeks, 4 days, I went to my cousins wedding. When she first told me the date, I told her I probably wouldn’t be there because I expected to have a newborn. Joke was on me. My extended family was surprised to see me still there. Baby wasn’t showing any signs of showing up though, so I decided to make the best of it and have at least one more night out.
I planned to ask about an induction at my 40-week, 6-day appointment. I wanted to do my best to induce labor naturally, but selfishly I was over it and wanted to meet her. I wondered if I would even know if I was really in labor. Anytime I would feel off—crampy, nauseous, etc.—I’d wonder if that was it. I’d heard that when the time came I would know, but still I wondered.
So I woke up on Sunday morning (40 weeks, 5 days), got up and used the bathroom, and as I was climbing back into bed, I felt a small gush. I went back to the bathroom, wondered if it was my water breaking, but assumed not since I wasn’t having contractions, and I knew it rarely happened as a first sign. I changed my underwear, put a new pantyliner on, and climbed back to bed (with a towel down on top of the sheets in addition to the one underneath). Every time I moved, I would leak a little. After 30 minutes, I got up, changed my underwear again, put on a heavier pad, switched towels, and slept for about 45 minutes.
When I got back up, Rob was up, and I told him that I thought my water may have started to leak. Ten minutes later, I was sitting on the couch and felt the little gushes and got up with my empty cereal bowl in hand and then started to run. I didn’t make it to the bathroom before I had soaked through another pad, another pair of underwear, my shorts and still had fluid running down my legs. I yelled for Rob and then started laughing. He walked in and I said, “Uh, so I’m pretty sure my water just broke.” He said, “I’ve never known you to pee yourself, so it must have been.”
I got in the shower, and then called the on-call doctor while Rob took a shower. We finished grabbing some last minute stuff and headed on in.
I was still leaking a ton of fluid and sat on two towels on the way there. Rob pulled up to the maternity entrance, and even though I was capable of walking, I got into the wheelchair. When we got to the triage room, I had leaked more. I was checked and was still at the 3 cm I had been at my last appointment. They mentioned Pitocin, but I wasn’t ready to go that route yet, so I asked for more time.
By 3:00 p.m., we had been in our labor room for a little while ,and I agreed to start Pitocin because I still wasn’t contracting. I had some issues with the on-call being rude about my decision to wait, and I was really upset about it and couldn’t stop crying. I wasn’t against it, but the fact that she mentioned it even before I was ever to the hospital and constantly pushed it made me mad. I will say that the nurses were amazing and really advocated for me. So I started it a little after 3 p.m. on the 6th, and they slowly upped it until I was at 10 cm about 12 hours later. Hearing I was complete was awesome.
At around 9 p.m., I got my epidural. I was 5 cm. I could feel those contractions coming on had Rob call the nurse back in. She could tell the pain I was in, and asked if that was what I wanted. I said yes, and the anesthesiologist came in. Having to work through contractions during the placement was kind of rough. Then the pushing started. I pushed for a few hours in different positions, using different techniques, but nothing was happening. I was feeling pressure, and her head was visible when I pushed, but she just wasn’t moving anymore.
The doctor left the room, and I said to Rob something about being okay with a C-section at this point. He was okay with whatever I wanted. I was exhausted. My back was really hurting, and I was falling asleep in between pushes. I was going on 21 hours since my water broke, and I was done. I was almost 41 weeks pregnant. I didn’t want to have to go that route of C-section, but I didn’t feel like a vaginal delivery was going to happen. So when the doctor came back in and said something about just not making progress and a C-section, I said I was okay with it.
I was wheeled to the operating room, and they started to prep me the rest of the way before Rob was brought in. I didn’t see this, but apparently they had a timer on the wall that started when they cut into my stomach, and they stopped it once Eleanor was out. It took under 7 minutes, which Rob thought was cool. I didn’t feel pain other than my back really hurting still at this point. I couldn’t feel much, just some pulling and pushing in my stomach. I don’t think they ever said that she was coming out, and I didn’t feel anything different when they pulled her out.
But then we heard her cry. I was unprepared for that moment. I guess I never thought about it, but as soon as I heard that cry, it made me cry. I looked over at Rob to see tears in his eyes as well and had to look away, or I really would have been sobbing. Even writing about that moment is making me cry. In that moment, when she first cried, everything else seemed to fade away, cliche as that might sound. The pregnancy losses of last year, the worrying if baby was going to be okay, the labor that didn’t go how I wanted it to—none of it mattered.
At 6:39 a.m. on October 7, 2013, Eleanor Rose was born.
The first several days home were pretty rough as far as pain goes. Getting in and out of bed and trying to take care of her and myself was awful the first several days. It’s gotten much easier, though. I had this picture in my head of how labor would go. I’d have contractions, go to the hospital, they would either break my water, or it would break on its on, I’d push, and she’d be born vaginally.
Instead, my water broke, contractions didn’t start on their on and had to be helped along, I pushed, didn’t make progress, and had a C-section. I’m grateful that she is healthy. I just didn’t have the birth I thought I would and may never get to experience a vaginal birth. I know that’s putting the cart way before the horse, but I hope that I will get to have that experience someday.
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By Kelly Urban