My Birth Story: Things don’t always go as planned Part 2

Where did we leave off…
If you haven’t read part one of my version of the birth story, read that here.
For those of you who have, we begin on Thursday, January 13th. I had my pre-op appointment that day with Dr. McMillan and was disappointed to find out about the post-cesarean happenings, but Matt had planned an evening with Indian food and we invited our friends, the Soffes, over to partake with us. Matt was considering it his last culinary hoo-rah before the baby would arrive and wanted to share it. The Soffes came, we partook, and it was delicious. He roasted a whole chicken, folks. My husband is amazing. If you don’t already know this, then you probably a) don’t know him AND b) have never read our blog. Anyhow, delicious food, good company… the evening was a success. I had two more days of work left before the big day, and I remember mentioning to Matt that I just really wanted to be done with work, didn’t want the two more days.
Fast forward to about 12 am. I find myself awake and feeling the urge to use the bathroom- not uncommon for a woman as pregnant as I. I consider myself lucky in the fact that I usually only woke up once or twice to relieve myself during the night, probably a result of not drinking enough water. Here at 12am, I looked at my clock and realized that it was indeed 12 am and that this was my THIRD time getting up to use the facilities in the hour and a half that I had been asleep. Strange. I then also realized that the urge I was feeling was a little more of a pain than usually. Literally- I was feeling pain. Sharp, low pain. I used the restroom and went back to sleep, bothered that I had gotten up so many times already. Next thing I know it is about 12:45 and once again I am up with a low, sharp pain. So sharp that it gets me up out of bed, and in my sleepy stupor I once again head to the bathroom because that is what I usually do when my pregnant self wakes up in the night. As I wake up a little more I realize that I don’t need to go but this pain is a little persistent! I woke Matt up and told him I was hurting and that I was a little nervous- I hoped everything was ok with the baby. We talked about it briefly (“do you want to call the hospital?” “no.” “ok.” ) then went back to sleep. 1:15 arrives and wakes me up again with sharp pain, at which point the thought finally occurs that these pains could perhaps be contractions. I hadn’t thought too much about contractions since I had a schedule… I had a plan that no longer included labor. I continued to feel bouts of pain, which I can now identify as contractions, every ten to fifteen minutes. They woke me up, I jumped out of bed (cause it hurt less standing than laying down) and then wrote down the time because I knew at some point someone would ask me about it. Matt was in and out of sleep as I continued to jump out of bed, turn on lights, walk around, etc. 2:30 rolled around and I decided to call labor and delivery. I knew if I wasn’t going to have a cesarean they would have told me to labor at home a while, but since we knew at this point a cesarean would be necessary they said to call about anything unusual. The nurse there told me I could try a hot bath, drinking some water or a heat pack to see if it slowed the contractions or stopped them, so I told her I’d give that a try and call her later. I knew at this point that walking around felt better than laying down and that I wasn’t getting much sleep so I drank some water and jumped in the shower. The hot water felt good but didn’t slow the contractions. I pretty well knew at that point that the baby was going to come early, but since I knew that the process would be the same whether I went to the hospital then or in a few hours, I decided to my hair and makeup, shave my legs and get dressed. The last thing I wanted was to be dirty, since I wouldn’t be able to shower for a while after the surgery. Once I was all ready, had bags packed and was confident I didn’t want to labor at home any more, I woke Matt up and let him know I was calling the hospital and I felt like we needed to go in. It was about 5:30 am when I called them to let them know we were coming and how long it would be, and then Matt went ahead and showered too. It was all a little surreal.
Driving to the hospital was not at all what you picture. We weren’t rushed. There was no screaming. We just packed the car, calmly drove to the hospital and commented on how weird it was that we were going to have a baby that day. We arrived and went to the ER, since the regular entrance is closed after hours and an awkward orderly wheeled me up to the maternity ward. They weighed me in and immediately got me hooked up to monitors that showed fetal movement and contractions. Some contractions I was having without even knowing it! It was right around shift changes so we had quite a few different nurses at the beginning, but our wonderful nurse from the version, Diane, came in around then and switched with the nurse that had been assigned to me. We were super grateful because the nurse that had been assigned was WEIRD. She was super nice to me and to Matt, but made snide remarks about the other nurses and was rude to all the other nurses, and even the doctor, that came in! We were happy to see her go and so happy Diane would be with me in recovery, especially since she already knew about our whole situation from the version earlier that week. They let us know that the OR would be available in about two hours and we would be good to go. All this monitoring and testing and prep took a long time- we arrived at the hospital at about 6:30 am and found out and heard from the doc at 8 that they would go ahead and get us in around 10.

Hooked up to monitors and ready to go!
At this point (8am) I had IV fluids going already and I still felt pretty calm. I kind of knew what to expect- I knew it would be quick, I knew I didn’t really need to do anything, and I knew once I was stable I would get to hold my baby. The nurse continued to prep everything and right on time they took me in to the OR. Matt left to go put our stuff in the recovery room and was given some awesome surgical gear and I walked with Diane down the hall. Once I walked in the doors, things changed. I got anxious. Really anxious. I held back tears. It was so stark. There were machines and I couldn’t see the faces of all the people because of masks and the surgical table looked more like an altar for sacrifice. It was grim. To be honest, if I weren’t familiar with modern medicine I would think it was the scene of some initiation into a cult. I tried to keep things light and keep my mind off of my impending doom and talk about whatever I could. I talked to the anesthesiologist a lot. He was nice. He explained the process of the spinal and made small talk. Once they were ready to numb me up I lost it a little bit more. My voice was quivering but I was still holding it together- barely. They rolled me on my side, scrubbed with some iodine and inserted the needle. I felt a huge amount of pressure, like when I had the epidural earlier that week, but almost immediately my toes started to numb. Before he could even remove the needle I was commenting on how quickly it was working. They hurried and flipped me back onto my back so the medicine would distribute evenly and had my lay with my arms stretched straight out to my sides. Shortly after that Matt was allowed in the room and I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. He held my hand and I cried and told him I didn’t know why I was crying but that I was ok.
Everything was so foreign- the process had been explained to me so well and yet when it came down to it I felt completely disconnected. Most of the nurses I never met and they never talked to me. Thank goodness for the anesthesiologist who kept me updated all along the way on what was happening and asked how I was doing- otherwise I would have felt more like a cadaver than a soon to be mother. Matt held my hand the whole time as we both sat nervously. It was a bizarre feeling… I felt the pressure of the scalpel, of hands moving around, but I didn’t feel pain. The anesthesiologist warned me “now you are going to feel some pressure as they push the baby out”- boy was he right. That was the strangest part- feeling my belly (my HUGE belly) shrink back down. I remember thinking, “so that’s what my normal belly feels like.” I heard the doctor exclaim “all the pipes are working- she is pooping and peeing all over the place!” before I even heard a cry. I suppose that makes sense… she did come bottom first. Soon I heard that squawk of a cry and one of the nurses commented on the fact that she had hair. They dangled her dripping body over the curtain near my head and said “here’s your baby!” She literally was dripping goo right next to my face and was bright red, screaming at the top of her lungs, but all I could think and say was “she’s so cute!” I loved her then and there.
Getting checked out in the nursery
Matt went back with the nurses to the corner of the OR to clean her up, weigh her and all that jazz. He yelled back that she was 8lbs 9oz- what a whopper! I couldn’t believe I had a baby that big, and at that moment was grateful I didn’t have to birth all 8lbs 9oz of her. I’d been telling people all along that I wanted a big chubby baby, but I didn’t want her to get chubby until after she was born because it sounded so painful to birth a big baby. I guess in some twisted way my wish came true :)
As the doctor and nurses continued to work on me, Dr. McMillan declared to me that he figured out why she couldn’t turn during the version- I have a double uterus! His remark, “we weren’t trying to get her to change addresses, we were trying to change zip codes!” He’s a funny guy. Yep, my uterus is divided with a septum down the middle that separates it into two chambers, and this poor girl was squished into one of them. How I had six ultrasounds and it was undetectable was beyond me, but essentially the other chamber was just smashed to one side and she resided in the other. How’s that for a little birth surprise!?
Once she was wiped off they brought her back and held her to my face so I could kiss her and then they whisked her away with Matt to the nursery. It was about that time that the morphine they gave me kicked in, which I didn’t have a good reaction to. I threw up a couple of times, once in my hair, but I really didn’t care at that point. I started to feel really shaky though, and couldn’t keep my shoulders still. The anesthesiologist said he was going to give me something to help me relax a little, and that is the last thing I remember from the OR.
In the recovery room I was with Diane who was monitoring things as I dozed in and out. Matt came and checked on me at one point but they had to wait a little longer before they could bring my sweet baby in. I barely remember holding her for the first time, but I’m fairly certain I breastfed her at that point and she did great. Family came in and held her and I think I was in and out of sleep at that point as well, although at the time I remember thinking that I was much more alert than I thought I would be. That day is a blur. I remember that I was stuck in bed and that I had to wear these awful compression things on my legs. They made me sweat and they made my legs itch like crazy! I hated those darn things. They were the worst part of recovery.
The next day was my birthday! We had some awesome cupcakes that Candice picked up in Richmond and several people came to visit. It was a busy day with visitors, bathing and getting out of bed. I was doing great though, and so was our sweet baby. They had to continue to check on me at night to give me meds and also bring Charly in to be fed. We opted to keep her in the nursery because we were both so incredibly exhausted. I always thought I would want to keep her in the room with me, but I was honestly relieved to have someone take her at night so I could just sleep. Recovery is serious business!
Sweet Charly girl being held by grandma. I'm recovering in the background.

Sunday was a little more relaxed. The doctor on call came and checked me and said that if we wanted to we could go home that day. We thought we would be there until Monday so we were very surprised. We talked it over and thought that sleeping at home in our own bed would be a good change for us, so we opted to do that. That was our first mistake. We should have stayed the extra day…
The rest of Sunday went well. We packed up, had Charly checked out, arranged for Steve and Lori to come help us out at home, and my co-worker and friend Leonard arranged to pick us up from the hospital in a limo! Yep, we were riding in style!
Matt and I ready to get in the limo- I've still got quite a belly!
The hospital stay itself was pleasant, we had great nurses, and our sweet baby was doing awesome. She was breastfeeding like a rockstar and I was feeling great. Wanna hear more? Part 3 will tell you all about how things went down once we got home.

My Birth Story: Things don’t always go as planned - Part 1

I feel the need to chronicle this birth story starting around 36 weeks- partially because I was such a horrible pregnancy blogger, and partially because that is when everything started to change.
But first a little background. My pregnancy was all sunshine and rainbows. Seriously. Felt great. Easy appointments. Never got sick. I read lots of books and felt confident about birthing. Like everyone recommends, I had a plan. My undergrad degree was in Family and Child Development, so I knew all about attachment and had all sorts of ideas about how I would be as a parent and how I wanted everything to go. My birth plan centered around mobility- I chose an all-natural approach because I felt maintaining my mobility would help me feel empowered and in control and all that good stuff. I was envisioning this great culminating moment (following hours of painstaking labor where my dear husband supports me and gains a new respect for me because I’m a warrior woman), where they handed my baby to me, I lay her on my chest and start the immediate bonding. That was my plan. I’d breastfeed her and we would lay together in the hospital in bliss. Following this bliss I would become a super hip mom, who looked put together and had the most adorable child. Obviously I try to keep my goals realistic.
Ok, back to week 36: this is when the first stretch marks appeared. Yes, its true, I had no stretch marks to be found until week 36. I thought I was free and clear, but lo and behold they began to appear. Deep breath- “its ok” I told myself, “everything has gone so well, I can’t complain about a few stretch marks.” Then one day my feet started to swell. Gross. Every time I looked past my knees I was reminded of a rhinoceros. Another deep breath. Its almost over, then we’ll get to that bliss part.
My 36 week checkup was the day after the rhino feet first appeared. I went to a practice where I saw three midwives on a rotating basis. At this particular appointment I was meeting with B (who shall remain nameless)- the midwife who performed my first ultrasound (read about that trauma here). B rubs me the wrong way sometimes. On this visit B felt around and nonchalantly declared that she thought the baby was breech and that we should do a quick ultrasound to find out. Sure enough, B felt right, and this baby (which I had been told was in a perfect position for weeks) was sunny side up. When I asked what that meant for us she gave some short answers about manually turning her and burning Chinese herbs or doing headstands in a pool. We prodded more and found out that the OB could try a version, which would mean an epidural and a hospital visit, and if that didn’t work we’d get a cesarean. Now, I chose midwifery care for a reason- remember my plan?! I have a plan! B didn’t give us a lot of hope. She set up our next appointment with an OB we had never met and we left with a bad taste in our mouths. Cesarean had not even crossed my mind as an option. I had the perfect pregnancy, remember? I did some research on various exercises and spent my fair share of the Christmas holidays laying inverted on an ironing board- it looks a little like this...
I prayed she would turn. I made jokes about how stubborn she must be, but inside I was scared and frustrated. Despite all my ironing board time and research on breech birth, this little girl didn’t turn. I hate to say it, but for at least one moment I resented her a little for that. The completely irrational side of me wondered why my child would start our relationship out like this. How could she? Just be obedient child! Turn!
A few weeks came and went and this baby STILL did not turn. We met with the OB who answered all of our questions very thoroughly, and oddly reminded me of my dad with his quirky sense of humor. That itself was a tender mercy because it put me at ease several times. We scheduled an external version and Matt gave me a blessing the night before. Up until that point I had high hopes that the version would work but even higher anxiety about the whole process and the possible outcomes. After he gave me a blessing I felt much more calm and peace knowing that no matter what happened we would be ok and our little girl would be ok. That helped me through the entire process.
We showed up at the hospital at 8:30 am for the version. They hooked me up to monitors and our nurse Dianne (who was fabulous) told us about the entire process. Although it was a long day at the hospital, the process itself was quick. The OB did another ultrasound beforehand and discovered one reason this baby may not have moved- the location of my placenta. It was right between her head and feet near the top of my uterus, essentially preventing her from turning in either direction. Confused? Check out this picture- our baby was in the frank breech position.
He went ahead and tried the version anyway, but at that point Matt and I both had a feeling this birth would be cesarean. The version was unsuccessful. Remember that whole mobility thing? And the culminating moment? Yeah, no chance. So much for the plan. I put my efforts into learning about breastfeeding following a cesarean and learning what my options would be to facilitate bonding as soon as possible. I thought that way I could still reclaim my moment in my own way. I had my pre-op appointment on January 13 with the OB and he clarified my options for breastfeeding following a cesarean with the disappointing news that I wouldn’t be able to hold that sweet girl until at least an hour after she was born and that I would be in recovery with just my nurse for that hour. Not only would I not be with my sweet new baby, but I wouldn’t be with my husband either. It seemed at this point that I should get used to plans changing...
We set the date for the cesarean: January 18th. Perfect. 3 days after my birthday, just a few days left to wrap things up at work, and then baby Charlotte would be with us! Knowing when she was coming was actually part of the cesarean I really enjoyed because I’m quite the planner and a bit of a control freak. The irony of this entire birth story will become even more apparent once part 2 comes to fruition, but suffice it to say that I learned very quickly after all these changes that life doesn’t always happen the way you plan.

Ready for more? Part Two is here!