Before I even get into the birth story, I'll note that I loved all but 1 of the 5 doctors within my OB practice. I saw the 1 doc I didn't like twice, and both times she was in a huge hurry, she was rough with me during internal checks and she seemed annoyed that I asked her questions. Both times I left my appointments and cried in my car for 20 minutes before I could drive home, so I prayed that she wouldn't be the one to deliver my baby. I asked the other doctor that I liked best if I could find out which doctors would be on-call if I needed to be induced, and he old me that this particular doc WOULD be on duty for one of the shifts when the baby could arrive. He hoped, however, that I'd deliver before she came on duty, but that didn't happen. She was the doctor that ended up delivering my baby. I was upset about it, but she was fine when it came down to the actual delivery. I think the other doctor talked to her about my concerns because she was much nicer during my labor and delivery than ever in our previous meetings. My advice here is that even if you really don't like one doctor in a group OB practice, speak up to SOMEONE at the practice and try to resolve it before your delivery date. You don't have control over which doctor may deliver your baby when you go to a large OB practice, so its best to be okay with anyone who could possibly deliver your kiddo so you don't end up feeling stressed (like me) on the day-of. Trust me on this. I wish I would have addressed this sooner than the freaking day before I was supposed to be induced.
Also, I chose not to write a formal birth plan. I thought long and hard about this, and finally decided that as a full-on pragmatist, I'm going to do whatever it takes to get the job done in the moment, regardless of whether it's part of my "dream delivery" or not. I am a planner by nature and love making specific arrangements to get what I want, but I know that the birth of a baby isn't something where you can always dictate and predict what may happen. There are WAY too many variables and everything can change in an instant. I felt like it would be better to roll with the punches and stay open minded about what might need to be done rather than stress about arguing with doctors or pushing a "plan" that may not be realistic in the moment. Reflecting on my birth experience, I'm quite happy that I didn't commit to an extremely specific birth plan, as I'm sure I would have ended up disappointed in various aspects of my experience. I've heard of WAY too many birth plans that go up in flames the minute something unexpected happens during labor and delivery, and people end up depressed and regretful. I didn't want to be one of those regretful, depressed people, so I just notified my doctors of my preferences and said everything else will be handled on an as-needed basis. My requests were to have delayed cord clamping and skin-to-skin contact (even if I have a c-section) as long as both mom and baby were healthy and it was possible, I told them that I preferred not to be induced unless necessary. Aside from that, I left everything else open for whatever needed to happen, I wound up feeling very peaceful with the outcome, even though it wasn't what I expected. Over-planning your birth process may work out or may not, but more often than not, it doesn't turn out like you expect. Just roll with it and take care of yourself and your baby, regardless of what your "plan" says.
On to the birth story...
I had my 39 week OB appointment on Wed, 8/20 and I knew they'd want to discuss induction at that appointment. At my previous appointment, my blood pressure had been borderline high, but I had no other signs of issues and my non-stress tests showed that the baby was doing well. Nonetheless, they warned me that if my BP was high at my 39 week appointment, they'd probably want to induce me. At the appointment, my BP was high so they said they wanted to induce me starting that evening. I agreed to do it because my baby's movements had decreased and I was already worried about her. I'd also started to dilate a tiny bit (1/2 cm) and was 50% effaced. They scheduled me to come to the hospital's labor and delivery unit that night at 9 pm, but warned me to call 1 hour ahead of time to ensure that there was a room for me (apparently there was a Super Moon that day and they'd had a huge number of women arriving in labor).
|Me, just a few hours before I went to the hospital for induction.|
I called at 8 pm and was told that they had no room for me, and they'd call me when a room opened up. (Womp, womp...) At 11 pm, I hadn't heard anything so I called my doctor's answering service and asked if I should reschedule the induction for the following day. My doctor called back and said he wanted me induced ASAP, and would make sure that I was called the minute a room opened up. I got the call at 12:50 am, and Pete and I were at the hospital within 30 minutes.
When we arrived, we were told to wait in the main lobby of the hospital and a Labor & Delivery nurse would come to get us. We waited about 30 minutes, and in that time, 2 women arrived who were in labor and they were taken to Labor & Delivery right away. A nurse finally came out to see me and said that they had just given their last two rooms away to those ladies, and I'd have to wait longer for a room. She said she had no idea how long it could be, but they'd try to find me a space. I was NOT happy, since they could have put me in one of those open rooms if they'd come out to get me right when I'd arrived, instead of waiting 30+ minutes. However, I understood that emergent needs (i.e. ladies in active labor) were going to come before inducing me, which wasn't a real emergency. Hubs and I waited another hour, and the nurse came out again, saying that they still didn't have any space. She said I could wait or go home, but we opted to wait since we live about 20-25 minutes away from the hospital and I didn't want to risk them giving my room away again while I was in transit. I did tell her that I was frustrated that they had us waiting for long periods of time in a waiting room (which had no TV, magazines or ottomans, just hard chairs), where I could not sleep or even rest comfortably the night before my induction, so she offered to let us wait in a room where they do NSTs, which had reclining chairs. We went in there around 3 am, and I slept for about 2-1/2 hours. Around that time, Hubs went to the nursing station at triage (next door) to check on progress of finding us a room, and the same nurse we'd met with twice previously came to see us. She had a very rude attitude and said that if they had room for us, they'd let us know, so we didn't need to keep checking. Hubs was livid, but I told him to be patient. Once I finally got admitted, I didn't want to be labeled as a "problem patient" and treated poorly by the L&D nurses. At 7 am, two nurses came in and asked what we were doing camped out in the NST room, so we had to explain the situation to her. She'd let someone know we were still there, and mentioned that she had been working all night and no one mentioned to her that people were waiting for a room. At that point, I felt like we'd been dumped in a room and forgotten about, which was upsetting and frustrating.
We started packing up our things to go find someone in charge, and a woman came into the room, who said she was the L&D Clinical Manager. She seemed very nice and apologized profusely for our wait. She said they had room available for us right away, and within minutes, we were in a room. (She later brought me flowers and her business card, and she had several of the staff members who worked the previous night shift come and apologize to me for our experience.) The doctor met us there and started Pitocin right away (rather than the previous plan of placing Cervadil and waiting many hours for it to take effect before starting Pitocin). I began dilating right away, and my contractions got more regular and intense. Around 1 pm, I was dilated to 1 cm dilated and was 50% effaced. I began experiencing very intense contractions around that time, and they asked me if I wanted an epidural. I told them I wanted to wait until I was dilated to at least 3 cm before getting the epidural, since I had heard that getting an epi too early could slow down labor significantly. My biggest fear of getting an early epidural was the potential for it to run out before delivery, causing me to feel everything. The nurses assured me that this wouldn't happen, but I was still holding out until the pain was more intolerable. I did, however, accept IV pain medication, which was a big relief. I was checked again several times that afternoon and evening, and I was not progressing beyond 2 cm dilated and 60% effaced, even though I was experiencing intense contractions about 3 minutes apart. Laboring all that time and having no progress was so overwhelming and frustrating, but I just prayed that we'd see more progress soon. My husband was a wonderful labor partner. He gave me massages, held my hand, helped me breathe through the hardest contractions, and never left my side unless I told him he could and someone else (like my mom or sister) was there to take his place. After not progressing for quite awhile, my doctor came in and we agreed to stop the Pitocin at that point and consider that day a failed induction. He also told me to have dinner and take a shower, then they'd place Cervadil and start over around 11:30 pm. I was so disappointed, but understood. I was grateful to have some food and get a shower, but I kept having hard contractions and laboring throughout the night while the Cervadil was working. They even gave me Ambien to help me sleep, but I barely slept because the contractions were strong and I was nervous about what was going to happen next. Even though the labor was ongoing and induction was considered a failure, baby was doing great and was not in distress.
The next day, Friday 8/22, the doctor came in at 7 am and started Pitocin again. He also broke my water, and I immediately began experiencing even more intense contractions. My doctor said, "It doesn't matter how far dilated you are when you get the epidural. When you can't smile anymore, you know it's time." By 8:30 am, I had asked for an epidural because there was NO smiling going on, only cringing and crying through the pain of each contraction. Once the epidural was placed, I felt immediate relief and was grateful that I could still feel and move my legs and help roll my body from side to side. The nurses said that was a sign that they'd placed it really well. I kept progressing, and by 5 pm, I was dilated to 7 cm, 100% effaced, and was feeling a lot of pressure down low--all good signs. The doctor was sure that I'd have my baby that night. Around 9 pm, I told my nurse that I was starting to feel a lot of pain through my epidural, and they agreed to increase my epidural dosage. The doctor also came in to check me and noticed that I had not dilated beyond 7 cm, and that my baby's heart rate had started to dip a bit. They thought this was because she was descending into the birth canal, and every time I had a contraction, her head or shoulder was pinching off her umbilical cord, causing the reduced heart rate. Shortly thereafter, the anesthesiologist came in to increase my epidural dosage, which caused the baby's heart rate to drop significantly, She was officially in distress. I was also so numb at that point that I could no longer feel my legs or roll myself to the side to help improve her heart rate. Because of the baby's distress and a dip in my own blood pressure, I was told that I needed an emergency C-section and agreed to it. My goal all along was to do whatever it would take to keep baby and I safe, so that's what we were doing.
That was around 11 pm, and everything after that was a whirlwind. My family was ushered out, except for Hubs, and we were prepped very quickly. I later heard that the nurses lost Hubs for a few minutes because they forgot that they stashed him in an adjacent room while I was being prepped. The security guys and my parents were running around the hospital looking for him, but he was found not long after that silliness ensued. No one even told me about it until a couple of days after the baby was born, as not to stress me out or make me laugh (since I was all stitched up and laughing with fresh abdominal stitches really sucks). Thankfully Hubs was found and he was right by my side when the c-section began. I've never been so grateful to see him by my side or have him holding my hand.
Within 20-30 minutes, Avery Jane made her glorious arrival at 11:27 pm.
She was 8 lbs, 7 oz, of bouncing baby and measured 20.25" long. She ended up a Leo, like her grandma, with 33 minutes to spare. She has lots of fine brown hair, long legs, big feet, and a big noggin, just like her daddy. During the c-section, I heard the doctor say in a surprised tone, "That's a big baby!" and I started to worry. I'd never been told that she was getting big, even though I had lots of ultrasounds and visits to the perinatologist and OB. The OB later told me that she had trouble lifting her out of me, so she assumed she was over 10 lbs. Nope, just 8 lbs. 7 oz. Not a tiny baby, but not too huge either. Her head, however, was quite big and measured over 14" in circumference. The nurse told me that with that head size, I would have ended up with a c-section anyway since it would have been unlikely that I'd have been able to push her out.
The doctor did delay her cord clamping for 60 seconds, which I was happy about, and I couldn't help but start sobbing when I heard her let out her first cries. The doctors held her up over the drape so we could see her as soon as they cut her cord, and she was so healthy looking and cute (though covered in TONS of vernix). After they cleaned her up, they let me have skin-to-skin with her while the docs stitched me up, which was amazing. I was in total disbelief that this little life had just come out of me, and seeing her open her eyes and look at me during our skin-to-skin time, only inches from my face, filled me with overwhelming feelings of love and gratefulness.
Some of you have asked me what a c-section was like. Well, I honestly didn't think it was that bad. During the c-section itself, I began to shake uncontrollably, which startled me but the nurses said it was normal. I was given some meds for it, as well as for nausea, so I never ended up getting sick like some people do during a c-section. They also told me that I'd feel some pressure while they were removing the baby from my body, but I felt nothing. Zip, zero, nada. I also didn't have any issues with my incision. Moving around in the week following the c-section was painful and a bit tricky at times, but they used surgical glue and a new type of dressing, silver cell dressing, for my incision rather than traditional stitches and staples. My incision healed up beautifully you can barely see it 6 weeks later.
Overall, I was happy that Avery was born healthy and we had no major problems with the c-section. She did have a minor heart murmur right after birth, but it was almost entirely gone during her check up the following day. We'll be following up with pediatric cardiologist in November to ensure that it has really gone away.
Our hospital stay was pretty good, but not perfect. After being in recovery for 2.5 hours while we waited for the hospital to prep a post-delivery room for us, we got up there around 2:30 am and met up with my sister and parents, who waited for the chance to meet our little girl. After holding her and cooing over her, they finally left and we got some much-needed sleep. The nurses said we could send Avery to the nursery so we could get better sleep, but I asked for them to keep her in our room. She slept for a few hours while we slept, and Pete did a great job feeding and changing her while I slept off my pain meds. My hospital also gave us "quiet time" for several hours the following morning (which meant that no one came in for any reason), giving us uninterrupted time to be together with our new little girl. We both agreed that this was our favorite time during my 2.5 day post-delivery hospital stay.
|Skin-to-skin time. Now I know how a mama kangaroo feels.|
The rest of the time, we had visitors (my parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece, and my best friend) or nurses, doctors and techs coming in at all hours of the day and night. I sent the respiratory therapists away twice because they showed up at 5:30 am two days in a row, right after we'd just gotten the baby to fall sleep and I didn't want my breathing therapy to wake her. (I don't know why they bothered offering me breathing therapy in the first place since I didn't have any respiratory complications, but I guess it's standard practice.) I left the hospital on Monday, 8/25, and had been at the hospital for 4.5 days. I was SO ready for us to go home as a family of three.
I was surprised by a couple of things during our hospital stay. First, I was repeatedly told by friends and even the teacher of our childbirth class (which was offered through this hospital) to request extra postpartum pads, mesh disposable underwear, formula, diapers and any other supplies before we left. We were warned that they don't let you take home blankets or t-shirts, but the other items were supposedly available. When I asked for extras, my nurse told me that I couldn't have any additional items, only what was left in my room at the time when I was discharged. I had already run out of a lot of items at that point, so I asked her to replenish me a bit to get us through the remainder of the day before we were discharged. It was about 9 am at that point, and we weren't discharged until 3 pm. She brought me the bare minimum and acted like she was doing me a huge favor. She even said that she wanted names of whoever told me I could get extra items so she could call them personally and tell them that they don't do that. I was shocked! Not only is that rude and unprofessional, but also uncalled for during this type of experience. What was she going to do with names, call the and scold them? I sincerely doubt that. I've heard that most hospitals are pretty generous with these types of items, but apparently mine was not.
Second, I was surprised that the nursing staff wasn't more consistent about how they interacted and explained things to patients. Each nurse and doctor gave us a different answer regarding various things, from pain medication dosing and frequency to baby feeding techniques. One told us we could send the baby to the nursery for awhile so we could get some sleep, while the next nurse on duty said that wasn't allowed since our baby wasn't sick. One nurse said I was getting my blood drawn for the last time, then another nurse shows up a few hours later to draw more blood. Hmph.
I've now been home with Avery for 6 weeks. My parents came to stay with us for the first couple of weeks, which was a tremendous help. They're great with babies, and were very generous with their time. My advice to any new mom is to take whatever help is offered. Let people take care of you, and do the same for them someday if the opportunity ever arises. The biggest helps to me have been having someone prepare meals for us, do laundry and walk my dog. One of my friends also picked up my dog for 3 days while I was in the hospital and kept her at her house until the day before we came home with the baby. My precious dog was well cared-for and no one had to rush back to the house from the hospital to feed her or let her out during our long days. Again, take whatever help is offered!
I can speak to a million other facets of this experience, but I'd rather have you tell me what you'd like to know more about. Leave a comment, e-mail me, contact me via social media or send a carrier pigeon with a note about what other baby/pregnancy topics you'd like to read about.