For those who enjoy reading birth stories, as well as for my own memory’s sake, I thought I’d post the story/details of Chloe’s birth. Since I had c-sectioned with Jack, I was essentially going to experience labor and delivery, etc for the first time!
The 39th week of pregnancy brought much eagerness to have Chloe on the OUTSIDE of me. I was definitely ready to trade the discomforts, tiredness and inconveniences of end-of-pregnancy for the discomforts and tiredness of having a newborn. I kept hoping that she would come a few days early, but given that for the latter half of the pregnancy I had this feeling that she is totally going to be “her mother’s daughter,” I suspected that she would arrive exactly on her due date (Oct 30th). Which I was fine with. Better than going late, I suppose. I just definitely did NOT want a Halloween baby! I passed the time making fun memes from various movie quotes that expressed how I was feeling:
I had pretty bad pregnancy heartburn:
As her due date approached, I was hopeful that she wouldn’t decide that she was overly comfortable in my tummy:
Also? Pregnancy hormones do crazy thing to a woman’s emotions. Not my favorite…
The morning of October 29th I was feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions. I had felt them for nearly a week prior, but these were very regular – nearly every 5 minutes – all morning long. Just simple “tightening” of my belly – nothing painful. But the fact that they were consistent and regular had me getting hopeful. As the afternoon wore on I noticed the contractions still coming every 5 min or so but with a little pinch to each one. Hmmm… hopefulness was increasing… After dinner Zach and I went for a walk and he noticed that the contractions were a lot closer together than 5 min. More like 2-3 min. Still not really painful, but consistent and noticeable. I was pretty sure this was the start of my labor. Chloe was going to come soon.
Went to bed around 11pm and woke up an hour and a half later feeling marked contractions. Oh yeah, this was definitely it. I kept my eye on the clock and they were still very regular (5-7min apart) and increasing in discomfort. I tried to rest / fall back asleep, realizing I had only gotten 1.5hrs of sleep so far that night. Yikes. I dozed/slept off and on for another hour and a half or so before the contractions forced me out of bed. Walking/being upright seemed to relieve some of the discomfort. I also called the midwife on call from my OB practice to get her thoughts. She encouraged me to rest as much as I could and let her know if things picked up speed. Back to bed I went but was only able to doze for an hour or so before the contractions really picked up and I knew there would be no more sleep for me. Zach woke up and I called the midwife back again. She suggested I take a shower to see if that slowed/affected the contractions at all. Not a bit. 15 minutes in a hot shower and the contractions continued at 2min apart, each one causing me to stop and breath through. It was definitely time to head to the hospital! Zach’s mom had arrived several days prior to be on hand to help with Jack so we were able to leave as quickly as we could gather our things.
We checked into the hospital around 5am and the contractions were good and strong and consistent. And painful. I was gripping Zach’s hand and breathing hard through each one. And desperately hoping that I was dilated to at least a 4 or so – enough that they would admit me. I didn’t want to be sent home! My concern was unfounded – I was at a 4.5 and actively laboring. There was no turning back now – Chloe was coming! I immediately asked my midwife when I could “responsibly” get an epidural, haha! I didn’t want anything to slow my labor, but I was also very eager for relief from the pain of contractions. She said the anesthesiologist was currently in the OR for a c-section and I was next on the list – realistically about an hour’s wait. Ok good. I could definitely handle another hour.
That hour actually passed fairly quickly since we finished up the tests and paperwork in triage and transferred to the L&D room and got settled there. It ended up being around 7:15am when the anesthesiologist arrived and administered the epidural. Maybe 2 contractions later and I was golden. Aaaahhh relief.
They checked me again and I had already progressed to 7cm! I was so relieved and excited. I had prayed that the epidural would not hinder or slow my labor at all and was therefore very thankful to see that it hadn’t. We spent the following 5ish hours pretty much just hanging out. I think Zach left for a short bit to get some food. I updated facebook and instagram… watched a movie… took a nap… they checked me around 12pm and I was at 9.5cm! We would be pushing soon – just wanted to give a little more time for Chloe to come further down the birth canal. At this point, my entire labor had felt like such a wonderful answer to prayer. It came on gradually yet consistently. I wasn’t left wondering if I was actually in labor or if/when to head to the hospital. It all progressed so wonderfully – the epidural had come at a great time (I was definitely ready for relief!) and yet wasn’t negatively affecting the labor progression. I was jubilant and ready to start pushing!
Around 1:30pm I noticed that the epidural seemed to feel like it was starting to wear off. The midwife came in shortly after that and said that since that’s what I was feeling, now would be a good time to start pushing so that I could at least feel a little bit as we went. Sounded good to me! One of the nurses said the epidural still had several hours to go before it would be completely gone.
So we started pushing. Now, since this was my first time, I had no idea what it would or was supposed to feel like and it definitely took some time to get the hang of it. Plus, it’s not like you push and immediately see or feel progress. It takes some time (at least it usually does for first time deliveries) to get that baby really moving. The problem was… within 45min to an hour, the epidural was pretty much gone. I was feeling every contraction full boar and the effect was BAD. Something you should know about me – and that I already totally knew about myself – is that pain does NOT motivate me. Some women can channel the pain, bear down on it, use it and push through. I can not. I am a HUGE wimp and pain debilitates, distracts and discourages me. No matter how much encouragement or prompting people offer, pain makes me shut down. This is one reason why I have never had an inclination to pursue an unmedicated labor and delivery. And I was very clear about that with every appointment with the midwives leading up to my delivery. Pain relieving drugs are my friends and I did NOT want to do anything without them!
So when the epidural wore off, it surprised me and I immediately told the nurses and midwife. Ok… called the anesthesiologist who came and gave me a booster dose of lidocaine. Prior to his arrival though, we attempted to keep pushing during several contractions but the pushes were weak and ineffective. But as soon as that lidocaine hit my system, we were off and running again. The difference between my ability to push with and without the drugs was marked, obvious and significant. Nearly everyone in the room commented on it.
We continued to push for another hour or so. It was slow going, as I still didn’t quite feel like I knew what I was doing. But we kept at it! Buuuut then the lidocaine wore off. Um, what? And I was back to feeling all the contractions (as they were now coming 2ish minutes apart). Placed another call to the anesthesiologist. When he came back the second time, he restarted my epidural and (I think) gave me another lidocaine boost. Again, marked difference! Back to pushing! At this point Chloe had made it most of the way down the birth canal but was “stuck” rocking back and forth trying to get past my pelvic bone. We spent a lot of time pushing and trying to get her past that obstacle. She eventually made it and began to crown. We could see her head full of dark hair! We made it through about an hour and a half of more pushing and…. you guessed it. Drugs wore off AGAIN. What the heck?! I could not wrap my brain around WHY the drugs were so short term?! Why aren’t they giving me something to carry me through to the end?!
It gets worse. So they call the anesthesiologist again. He’s not answering. They don’t know where he is. And apparently that was just the way it was. The nurses and midwife were extremely apathetic about the whole thing! Sort of just looking at each other like, “oh well… we can’t find him… guess we’ll just have to keep going without it…” Um NO. Where have you been for the last 3 hours?? I am useless when in so much pain! The nurses and midwife continued to remain passive and sort of just shrugged and hung out. Occasionally they asked me if I wanted to push, which I absolutely didn’t! It was everything I could do to concentrate on surviving each contraction! I tried once or twice but the pushes were so weak and pointless. It almost felt that Chloe was regressing, moving back UP the birth canal instead of down! For awhile I thought it was just taking time to track down the anesthesiologist again. Nope. No one was really doing anything. It was a little infuriating! The anesthesiologist was SOMEWHERE! There were 2 nurses and a midwife in my room. Why couldn’t they send someone to go find him and at least get my name on the list?! And for that matter, why is there only 1 anesthesiologist per shift??
So I basically laid there for 45+ minutes writhing and moaning in pain while no one really did ANYTHING. I had even vomited multiple times from the pain each time the meds wore off. It was AWFUL. Finally, Zach took the nurse and midwife out of the room and had a little chat with them. They were beginning to get concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to finish delivering this way, but Chloe was too far down the birth canal for a c-section. He explained that all their encouragement to push through the pain and all their convincing that we needed to just keep going was NOT going to work. We needed to get more pain meds in me – and not only that, but we needed to get a dose that was going to get me through the end of the delivery, not just a booster dose that was going to wear off in another 45 minutes! Now, the fact that Zach even needed to have this conversation with the nurses and midwife was a little ridiculous to me. It was OBVIOUS the effect the pain meds had on my pushing. I know my body and I know how I respond to pain. I had been clear about that up front. It was SO frustrating that this was even happening the way that it was!
As Zach was talking with the nurse and midwife, the anesthesiologist arrived. He heard the last part of the conversation about needing to give me enough relief to finish the pushing, however long the midwife thought that would be. It shouldn’t be long – we were so close! We had been able to see her head for a good hour! I was FINALLY dosed up again and the relief was nearly immediate. I was extremely tired and emotional at this point, but I was ready to be done. We started pushing again and within 20 minutes, she was OUT! After nearly 6 HOURS of pushing, she was born around 8:15pm on Oct 30th.
They placed her on my chest and it was literally all I could do to hold her. I was so exhausted, I just laid there with my eyes closed and concentrated on keeping my hands wrapped around her little body. I remember thinking to myself, “Andrea, you should probably at least LOOK at your baby!” I opened my eyes and looked down at her for a couple seconds before laying back again. After a minute or two they asked me “Do you want to do skin-to-skin? Do you want to try and nurse her?” Um, no. I actually told them to take her because I was afraid I was going to drop her. She could do skin-to-skin with Daddy. Zach held her for a bit, cut the umbilical cord and stood by while they did the standard tests, etc. and got her cleaned up. She weighed 8lbs 2oz and was 21″ long (Jack was 9lbs 1oz and 21″ long). I simply laid there and dozed off and on for the next hour while the midwife stitched up a small tear that had occurred at the very end. It felt like every part of my body was sore. My neck/shoulder had a horrible stitch that I later realized was a pulled muscle. For nearly 5 days after delivery, I couldn’t take a full breath in while standing upright because it hurt my neck/shoulder so badly!
By the time they had wheeled me into our post partum room, I was feeling more aware and alert and ready to hold my baby girl. We attempted to get her to nurse and she fed GREAT! Despite all the pain and difficult of the previous 6-8hrs, I was thrilled that at least she ate! After having so many feeding and subsequent weight issues with Jack, one of my biggest prayers for Chloe was that she would nurse well. And so I was so grateful that God answered that prayer.
I have to just stop and say that my husband was my hero through the whole thing. He never left my side. Except for going out to talk to the nurse and midwife (which was much needed!), he was right next to me, holding me up and helping me push every single time. He said all the right things at all the right times. He took action when action was needed. He supported and helped me and got me through. I was so relieved he was there for our daughter also when I was too weak to even hold her. He is my hero!
My recover afterwards was ROUGH. Even harder than my c-section with Jack. Every part of my body hurt for over a week. And even though Chloe nursed superbly at first, we had a little bit of trouble – mostly pain on my part – with her for the first couple of weeks. But advice and encouragement from a lactation consultant friend and a couple of visits to the chiropractor later and we were all good.
It was an extremely difficult delivery and I am so relieved it is OVER. Chloe Delaine is here and thriving and we are so happy!