Fourth Baby

I woke up to a painful contraction at 4:30 on the morning of my due date (June 26th, 2016). I walked into the bathroom and found that I’d barely needed to bother making the trip because there was such little urine. Stephen heard me flush the toilet so he came in to check on me. I had another contraction when I got back in bed. I could tell these were the start of something, but I wasn’t going to do anything until I’d had a total of five of them. I wasn’t timing them, but five happened in a fairly short amount of time (20-30 min) so I got up, told Stephen we needed to start getting ready and if they continued, we’d be heading to the hospital.

He shaved and I showered. I woke Maggie up so she could shower, too. Then we got Joshua up; he got dressed and packed his bag. Maggie made breakfast for her, Joshua and Samuel. I woke Samuel up.

The contractions were regular and they were about a four on the pain scale (1-10, with ten being the most painful) at this point. I called my doctor’s office after-hours line and then waited for a call back. I did my makeup and began thinking that it might actually be the real thing now. Dr. Moore called me within just a few minutes and I told her what was going on. She agreed that I should come in.

We were all ready to leave the house at 6:15am. They packed the van and we headed to the hospital. On the way, everything continued and I was moaning/deep breathing through the contractions. I was still scared that it could all just quit at any moment but it didn’t.

We arrived at the hospital at 6:45 and Maggie wheeled me up to labor and delivery while Stephen parked the car. The plan was that he would stay with boys (wander around downstairs, ride the elevator, etc.) while Maggie and I went to triage to see how much I’d advanced. I was taken to a little curtained area and hooked up to a monitor. My contractions were getting more intense (maybe a 5 on the pain scale?) and I couldn’t help but moan/vocalize somewhat to cope with each one. The nurse came back in after the third or so contraction and decided she better check me for dilation solely based on how I sounded, haha. I had told Maggie that we needed to cross our fingers and hope for at least 5cm but no more than 6cm (picky, I know); that way it would mean that I was definitely in labor but not too far along to miss the dose(s) of antibiotics I needed for GBS. Well, I was spot on – 6cm!! Maggie and I just looked at each in awe. We both knew it meant two things – we didn’t have to worry about GBS and her little sister was most certainly going to be born that day!

And so, they got me into a room down the hall and everything became official! It was about 7:15. I was quickly hooked up to an i.v. (oww, not fun) and my doctor whom I had spoken to earlier was paged to come in. I was handling the pain fine but it was starting to get real. After twenty minutes or so, I asked Maggie to switch with her daddy and to send him in to be with me. Stephen came in and I started feeling nervous; the pain was picking up fast (about a 7 at this point). He helped me to cope by pressing against my lower back with counter pressure; I felt bad for him because he was having to lean so much in order to do it. I began shaking as if I were cold.

By 8 o’clock, I started feeling a lot of pressure and the contractions were getting seriously painful. When the nurse checked me, I was 8cm. She reminded me that the intensity of dilating from 8-10 was coming soon and that it would all get better after that. Of course, neither of us could have known how wrong she’d end up being.

Dr. Moore arrived and within a short amount of time I was feeling the need to push. She said that things were busy in l&d and that I was one of four of her patients in labor at the moment, but that I was “winning,” lol. She checked me at about a quarter to 9am and found that I was fully effaced and dilated – ready to push if I felt the need.

I remember feeling so excited because I knew it meant that I was at the point where labor would feel productive, instead of just painful. But then I pushed…and it was the opposite of what I’ve ever experienced. It hurt terribly and it didn’t feel productive at all! It felt like I was bearing down against a brick wall. It burned in my lower ribs so, so bad. It was agonizing. I did this every few minutes for an hour and a half. I was still shaking.

During this time, my doctor tried to figure out the baby’s position. We knew she was head down but which way was she facing? And why was I in SO much pain? (10+ on the pain scale) And WHY wasn’t I making progress moving her down?

Finally, after 90 minutes, she suggested breaking my water. The bag was crowning instead of baby’s head, which made it impossible for her to determine her position. Even though I had adamantly expressed that I didn’t want my membranes artificially ruptured (AROM), it was always because I didn’t want any unnecessary interventions early on in my labor. I agreed that at this point it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

So, with my membranes ruptured, I tried pushing and it felt even worse than before. Dr. Moore checked me again and found that baby had moved up significantly and that she was completely on her side. She would have to turn a lot (and come down a lot) if I were to successfully deliver her, but it didn’t seem likely that it would happen in an amount of time that I could deal with. I had had no pain relief to this point, and the pushing (which happened whether I wanted it to or not) was unbearably painful.

The doctor asked me to push with contractions another four or five times. Nothing happened. I wasn’t making progress because of her position. Dr. Moore delivered my last baby and knew that I was all about natural childbirth, so what she said next really spoke volumes. She said I could try changing positions and see if we could get baby to come down, but that it wouldn’t be unreasonable for me to be “done” and go ahead and get her delivered if that’s what I wanted. She was talking, of course, about having a cesarean.

I looked at Stephen and he appeared almost relieved, but also like a deer in headlights. I asked him what he thought and we sort of rehashed what our options were. The contractions were still coming – and really close together – so our conversation was cut short. With the next breath, I agreed.

To this, Dr. Moore’s expression reflected her realization of just how bad it must have been for me. She looked shocked, and then determined. “Okay!”
Everything happened really fast then. Someone brought Stephen his surgery scrubs and told him when they’d come to get him. My nurse brought me a small, nasty drink that I think had something to do with stomach acid.

An anesthesiologist came in and talked to me. When he asked me if I had any blood disorders, I first said no, but then realized that having low platelets during pregnancy probably counted so I told him. Meanwhile, the severe pain from the contractions was making me vocalize loudly. I tried to keep from pushing because that hurt even more. I felt like I was completely out of control. The anesthesiologist walked over to my nurse and talked quietly to her. Then I heard her respond with, “No, her platelets are at 100,000 today. We ran a CBC when she got here.” I couldn’t believe my ears. My platelets had been dropping slowly over the course of the pregnancy and had been down to 96,000 at 35 weeks (five full weeks earlier) so by all counts they should not have been up. But they were. This is significant because it meant I could have a spinal block and be awake instead of being put under general anesthesia. It also meant that Stephen could be in there with me.

I was wheeled into the operating room while still loudly vocalizing and shaking violently. My body was not happy, lol. I didn’t know how in the world I was going to sit up and lean forward for the spinal block! I needed a lot of help getting into position, and once I finished with a contraction, the anesthesiologist started. It’s really not a big deal to have the stinging discomfort of an epidural when compared to the pain of labor.

Once he was done, I was helped onto my back. They put a curtain up and a warming device on my arms. I felt one more contraction and then everything stopped. The pain was gone and I could breathe. The shivering continued but at least I was no longer in excruciating pain.

The anesthesiologist talked a lot (in the best possible way). He let me know exactly what was going on every step of the way. I was asked if I felt anything and I said no, to which he replied that they had just touch me with a really sharp object so that was good! Wow, okay. I could feel the cold of the liquid they swiped all over my belly, but no pain.

Stephen was brought in and he sat down next to me. I’m not sure how long the surgery took or how long it actually took them to get her out but it seemed longer than I’d thought it would be. They told Stephen he could stand up and look/take pictures as she was being delivered. He excitedly did and then started telling me he could see her. He was so happy! And when we heard her cry, we looked at each other with awe and amazement. Our eyes watered. Our little girl, our fourth baby, had been born!

They lifted her above the curtain for me to see and then they took her to the little baby trolley. Stephen went with them and I really have no idea what all was going on. She cried a little but not as much, or as vigorously, as I would have liked. Turns out that she was just a really calm baby! They weighed her and found that she was 8lbs 10oz, my biggest baby yet.

The rest of the process was sort of a mystery to me. I stayed where I was and got stitched up while Stephen hung out with baby Elizabeth. When he brought her over to me, I was able to see just how much she looked like her siblings. What a sweetheart! We were so in love. Today, she is three and a half and an amazingly curious and adventurous little girl.

updated Dec 2019