Read Part 1 of this story here.
It was the morning of Wednesday, June 23rd. I had already been in labor for 36 hours, and been in the hospital for 24. But in a stroke of kindness, my nurse had given me the gift of eight hours of sleep, and I woke up refreshed and ready to face the day.
The day, however, was slow to get going, and I began to regret being knocked out and having my intense labor subside to the intermittment contractions that had characterized the first day of labor. Around 10am or so my nurses suggested I try using a breastpump to help stimulate my hormones and maybe get my water to break naturally.
The pump worked like a charm. One hour later, my water broke in a gush that made me laugh with joy. Finally, some tangible progress! Soon after my water broke, my body kicked it into high gear, and the contractions started coming fast and hard.
Several hours later, and the nurses started to fill up my birth tub so that I could have a water birth (my preference). I started to labor through the really hard and painful contractions in the water, which really helped, given that I was completely unmedicated.
I also was so grateful for the one-on-one care I received from my nurses who helped coach me through the hardest contractions and reminded me that I could do it. I think the next time I have a baby I am definitely going to enlist a doula, a labor support person, to help me because I really needed the one-on-one support of the nurses, and I wouldn’t have had that if there had been anyone else laboring at the same time as me in the birthing center.
Then, the bad news. My midwife checked my cervix again, and although I was pretty close to fully dilated and fully effaced, my cervix had swollen up and there would be no way to birth the baby unless my cervix swelling went back down.
So I was hooked up to a saline IV; the liquids were supposed to help bring the swelling down. In the meantime, I waited, and rolled through each contraction, hoping that the next would finally bring me to the pushing stage.
At around 7pm my midwife finally gave the green light for me to start pushing! I still had a small “lip” on my cervix, but she thought they could maybe push it out of the way while I bore down. The room was all set for delivery, and I started to push. Magnanimously, I was told. But no movement. Olivia was down in my pelvis, but would not budge an inch further.
The next suggestion by my midwife was to have me transfer back to regular labor and delivery, hook me up to pitocin, a drug that helps stimulate heavy and strong contractions in the body, and give me an epidural to help me relax (and because pitocin induced contractions are AWFUL!) I agreed, given that it was now 48 hours after the onset of labor and I was dog tired and discouraged.
The transfer was miserable. It was only a few halls over, but yowzers, when you are in the heavy contractions of late labor and transition. Yikes. Getting that epidural was heaven.
After getting the pitocin drip in place, my midwife left me for about an hour to let me rest and let things kick in. By then it was maybe 10pm or so, maybe later, I’m not quite sure. Everything was starting to blur together by that point.
When my midwife returned, she and my nurse hooked a bar up to my bed and had me grab hold of it at every contraction and push with every ounce of strength in me. They also called in my obstetrician to observe my pushes and Olivia’s head to see if I was making progress. An hour of crazy pushing later, and nothing. Zero. I wanted to cry. All I wanted was to be done and be holding my baby.
My doctor suggested I move to the operating theatre and have a c-section. He said he could have tried forceps to move the baby, but my cervix still had that lip on it and Olivia’s head just seemed jammed in there. He was afraid he would do damage, and that a c-section was the best option.
I was so beat, I agreed.
Within an hour I was prepped and ready and wheeled over to the operating theatre. Michael came in with me, and stood by my side as the doctor cut me open. At 1:52 am, 56 hours after the onset of labor, my sweet daughter was pulled out of my womb. Finally! She was not a happy camper those first few minutes!
Mike went with Olivia to get her cleaned up and weighed and measured while I was stitched and wheeled to recovery. About an hour or so after delivery, Olivia was placed in my arms for her first breastfeeding. Despite the fact that I was shaking uncontrollably from the anesthesia and surgery, and the fact that I was bleary eyed and ready to pass out for lack of sleep, it was a thrilling moment.
And for everything that DIDN’T go right with the birth, here was my perfectly healthy baby, who latched on perfectly for her first taste of milk. I was euphoric.
Four days later, we were discharged; ready, after a week of living in the hospital, to finally start our lives as a family. And ready to see what all the fuss about living with a baby was all about! I hope you will join me the next few days as I explore some of the monetary impacts Olivia has had on our lives, and the ways we have found to minimize that impact while enjoying and loving our daughter.
Read about Olivia’s Name here.