Zae: The Birth Story - My Dream Birth, And What Really Happened

I went eleven days past my September 8th, 2015, due date. After three losses {which I talk more about here} every day had been a little triumph, but when that day came and went, I was more than ready to meet my baby and my patience was wearing thin. Between having to get up to pee 16 times a night, gulping air like a goldfish out of its tank {and still not getting a good breath}, heartburn, restless legs, leg cramps, and back ache, I was over being pregnant. {but I was so proud of my body for hanging in there for that long!}

I saw the doctor during week 40. She checked my cervix and declared I was 1 cm dilated. This show was on the road! {no, it wasn't. it really wasn't} We were back again at week 41. Two centimeters! My doctor wanted to schedule an induction for Friday, September 18th. Mr. 67 wanted to wait and see if my body would go into labor naturally, but my doctor was regaling me with stories about waiting too long, so I told her to go ahead and schedule it.

The night before the induction, Mr. 67 was snoring in his chair, having just done a back-to-back rotation {he oversees foreign language speakers in mission readiness training with the military} with about 4 hours of sleep in three days, so I let him sleep and packed the car myself. It started pouring as I was lugging out my bag and pillow. As soon as I finished, it passed. Go figure.

Despite my excitement and anxiety, I slept pretty good. I usually toss and turn when I have to do something important the next day, but even the baby seemed to know I needed some rest. I was up at 5:00 so I could call and make sure there hadn't been an emergency situation that bumped us from our slot. They said to come on over so I showered and got ready to go as it got light out. It was an absolutely beautiful morning. It was bright and sunny, warm with blue skies. A perfect autumn day.

Because of our history, we opted to see a doctor and deliver in a hospital. In a perfect world, I would have had a home birth without the use of pain medication. But my body is imperfect, and we wanted to leave nothing to chance. Unfortunately, this decision was not completely realized. Instead of an obstetrician, we were seeing a resident in the Family Medicine department. A choice I would go back and change in a heartbeat, as you will understand by the time you finish reading this.

We arrived and checked in through the ER at 7 a.m. They wheeled us up to labor and delivery on the fifth floor. I felt surprisingly calm considering I don't like to be the center of attention, and this day was all about me. {until the babe came, then I became invisible--which is more or less how i like it} Our room was spacious and bright. I changed into a gown, gave my birth plan to my sweet nurse Jessica, and waited for the doctor to come and begin the induction. It was finally happening! I couldn't believe that by this time tomorrow {nope} I would have a baby in my arms. We still didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl. {though I really, really thought it was going to be a girl}

My doctor administered the first dose of cytotec. Besides some mild cramping, nothing much happened. I spent the morning watching Netflix on my Kindle. My mom came and waited with us. By noon my doctor came and said I was still between 1 and 2 cm. {wait, are we moving backwards? I thought I was at 2 cm two weeks ago?}. I was given another dose and again waited. Again I felt some cramping but the contractions were not regular or very painful. At 4:30 I was still at 2 cm and Mr. 67 and I discussed going home and waiting to see if I went into labor over the weekend on my own. The doctor literally issued another dose as we were having this conversation. {seriously?} At that point we had to wait at least another four hours.

At about six o’clock, my mom decided to go home, since nothing had happened and it wasn't likely to happen anytime soon. We joked that if she left things would really pick up. It wasn’t five minutes after she left that I felt a stronger contraction. Daddy left to get something to get something to eat, and suddenly things were moving very quickly. The nurse that I'd had all morning, Jessica, came in for the shift change brief at 7:00. I didn't want her to go. I was comfortable with her mellow personality and genuine concern and willingness to help. The new nurse, Kim, was all business. {have you ever had a doctor or nurse who makes you feel like you're inconveniencing them?} Suddenly I was alone and anxiety came in waves along with the cramps.

The cramps turned into contractions that made it hard to use the bathroom or do anything but get through them. I was trying to fill out the birth certificate paperwork, but that proved impossible as suddenly contractions were coming every couple of minutes and lasting a minute. I draped myself over the back of the raised bed and tried to breathe through them as I texted Mr. 67 and said, “I need you!” Within only a minute or two he was there and I relaxed. He is definitely my rock. His job was to keep me strong and make sure everything went as smoothly as possible. I didn't want to have to think or talk, and he took over and let me go into my own world, bless his heart.

I was in a lot of pain, but somehow hours passed and it was eleven o'clock. My doctor came back and checked me again. I'd progressed to 3 cm. Maybe 4! Things were moving along, if slowly. I asked for some analgesic pain medication. I think I could have done it without any medication if not for two things: cytotec and that I had a spinal fusion. {maybe I'm deluding myself, but you have to be optimistic right?} I've learned more about cytotec, which scares me in hindsight, but at the time I was really trusting that my doctor was going to do what was best for me and the baby.

As for the back issues, in September of 2012, three years before the birth, I had had two diskectomies for a ruptured disc that were unsuccessful. {I will have to elaborate on this further at some point, as well. That nightmare event should have been enough to make me question everything a doctor says or does} After I had a spinal fusion which decreased my pain by a lot, but still left me with daily pain and stiffness. When the back pain started that night, it was so excruciating I asked for an epidural. I consider myself to have a high pain tolerance after having slipped discs for years, as well as fibromyalgia, but this was above and beyond what I could imagine. Specifically in a six inch section above my left hip in my back. After a very long hour, the anesthesiologist came and said that because of my fusion, the epidural might not work. I said a little prayer, because I wasn't going to make it like that for long. I was still at 4 cm, and besides the contractions, nothing else about my body was ready to get a move on.

Renee, the anesthesiologist, did the epidural. I was now tied to the bed, but the pain and contractions had been so bad I couldn't really walk through them anyway.  The epidural made everything go away for a little while. But it wasn't a long reprieve. I started to feel my toes and legs again, and the pain in my left hip/back started creeping back in. It seemed like she was constantly coming back to administer more medicine because the contractions were one on top of another and I couldn't get a break.

Time is passing by now, hour by hour, and I am exhausted. But, good news! The doctor comes back in and says I am at 9cm, with just a little bit of the rim of my cervix left! They keep asking me if I feel like I need to push, and I kind of stare up at them, confused. I don't think so? So I guess that's a no, because I would probably know if I felt like I needed to. They tell me to push anyway. Pretty soon I'm pushing and it seems like nothing is happening even though I'm pushing with all my might. When I feel like I can't do it anymore, she says the baby hasn't really dropped. So we take a break.

More time passes. The doctor comes back and they want to break my water. I remember seeing two doctors and the nurse standing over me, along with my mom, who agrees with them that breaking my water will make everything start moving along. I had specifically stated in my birth plan that I didn't want my water broken, but now all these medical people are staring down at me and I feel pressured, like I am wasting their time and they want to go home. My husband stops them and wants to wait {he was such a good advocate for my wishes} but they wear him down and we go ahead with it.

They break the water and it's got some meconium in it, which isn't unusual because of how long past due we were, but it really isn't bad. They let me be for a while in the hopes that things will progress and the baby will drop. Minutes turn into an hour and that pain in my hip is still driving me crazy. But, at 9cm dilated I feel like I have to be almost there, right? {wrong} The doctor who oversees the residents comes in with my doctor and asks if she can feel my cervix. She doesn't say much and I'm confused when they leave. I was expecting another round of pushing.

A little while later my doctor comes in and tells me I'm still at 5cm. Now I'm really, really confused. Can your cervix un-dilate? I am assuming it can since it apparently just happened. I look up at my husband in desperation and he demands a clearer answer. So, no, your cervix won't un-dilate...they made a mistake. What they think happened is that before my water was broken, the amniotic sac was bulging down through my cervix, causing her to believe my cervix was dilated. I hadn't even known that could happen. Had I known, I never would have let them break my water.

Now it's time to just wait. That was probably the worst part, because it seemed like Kim, the overnight nurse, didn't believe me when I told her the epidural was wearing off. I guess they had to use a lot of medicine. Every time I started to feel my toes again, I knew the pain was coming and there came a point where I was on the edge of breaking. I don't have much energy or endurance, due to the chronic fatigue that comes with fibromyalgia. I reached my limit somewhere in those small hours of the night.

I had eaten before the contractions had started. I begin to feel really nauseous and I heaved and heaved until everything was gone. I asked Kim for some mouthwash to get the vomit taste out of my mouth. She was gone for a long time, and when she came back she didn't have it so I asked again. When she forgot it again, Mr. 67 went out to the nurses' station and a lovely young nurse brought me some. {I was no longer allowed food or liquids, but I cheated and had a Lifesaver. It was that or an hour of vomit breath...I mean, come on!}

During those long hours, there was a time when I broke down completely. As we waited, I chewed on a couple of ice chips, but they tried to keep me from even that. By this point it had been about 12 hours since I'd had anything to eat or drink, and I'd vomited all of that up hours ago. I was so thirsty! A lady came in with a Sierra Mist at one point and I must have lit up like a Christmas tree. Mr. 67 politely tells the lady I'm not supposed to have liquids. {i tell her that was the cruelest joke ever played on a pregnant woman!}

I'd been awake for 24 hours. I was still in so much pain. I was emotionally distressed that I {thought} I had been staring at the finish line, only to find out I was back at the beginning. I remember turning to my husband once everyone was out of the room and sobbing, telling him I couldn't do it. Tears filled up my ears and my nose was so congested I could only breathe through my mouth, which was already so incredibly dry. I thank God I didn't have to do it alone. Mr. 67 held me and murmured comforting words during every painful contraction. I don't think I could have done it, if I hadn't had him there encouraging me.

The next few hours are a blur. They gave me an oxygen mask, which made the whole situation seem like some medical emergency, rather than a natural labor. They were watching the monitors, but they couldn't get good enough readings, so they had to use a fetal monitor that screws into the baby's head {their tiny, sweet heads!}. We had seen that monitor during the childbirth class, and we had both been shocked that they used something that screws into a baby's precious little head. They put another into the uterus so they could monitor the contractions. They talked about putting fluid back in and I was flabbergasted. {if they hadn't broken the water in the first place...} The baby's heart rate was showing that it was in distress. There was an anxiety-ridden period of wait-and-see after that.

I tried to get a little rest, but I have a hard time falling asleep anyway. I was finally about to drift off when I felt my legs getting tingly and I knew the pain was coming back again. This time, they dosed me really good, because I didn't feel anything after the sun came up.

Jessica, yesterday's nurse, came back the following morning and relieved Kim. Kim gave her the shift change brief and several times, instead of saying something out loud, she pointed to her clipboard. I exchanged a grim glance with Mr. 67. The next time my doctor came in, Mr. 67 had reached his limit. At that point, they knew they had made a few mistakes and they were walking on eggshells.

They brought in the on-call obstetrician to check me and talk about our options. Before she came in, I was scared and worried about the baby. When she came in, I felt an instant sense of relief. She was so self-assured. She came in and took charge. I was in good hands. Because of the failure to progress, and because the baby was showing signs of distress, we accepted her offer to do a C-section. I felt like I'd failed, a little bit. I wanted this experience to be so different, and it was nothing like I'd pictured. Instead of that moment of sweet relief at the end of a long labor, we were heading into surgery.

Mr. 67 waits outside the operating room while they prep me and give me a spinal. The anesthesiologist who did the spinal was so great. He must have asked me every thirty seconds how I was doing. They had to do a second spinal when I could still feel them pinching me. Just like they had to do second doses of the epidurals. They always have to do second doses of novocaine at the dentist office, too. Maybe it has something to do with having fibromyalgia, as that has to do with overactive nerves. {or maybe it's just because I'm 5'9" and it just takes more} So, completely naked in a room of about ten strangers {one of which is casually telling me she is going to shave my pubic hair}, they have me lie down on this really narrow table with my arms outstretched and tied down. {talk about feeling self-conscious and helpless}

When everything was ready, Mr. 67 came in and then everything moved really fast. After all night of waiting, it was over so fast that I wasn't expecting to hear the first cry yet, and when I did it was the most joyful moment of my life. Followed by the second most joyful moment, when she said, "It's a boy!" {for a moment I thought she was wrong because I was so sure it was going to be a girl. like, so sure I hadn't really thought of a boy's name. pregnant women can be so weird, right?}

So it was, at 9:58 a.m. on September 19th, two years exactly to the day that we'd lost our last baby, we finally had our dreams come true. They had a screen up, of course, so I didn't get to see the baby except for a quick moment as they brought him past and out into the neonatal area to check him because of the meconium that had been in amniotic fluid. Mr. 67, I can tell, is torn about leaving me, but I said, "Go with him!" and shooed him out of the room. I didn't want that baby out of his sight!

They cleaned him up as they stitched me up, which took about 20 minutes. I began to shake violently and the anesthesiologist covered me with warm blankets and I just quietly cried, feeling every emotion you could possibly feel in that moment, until my two boys came back in, together. We were both in awe of this little being who had just changed our world. We didn't have a name yet, but a day later we decided on Isaiah Mathias, and later began calling him Zae.

They didn't give me a chance to nurse him in the operating room. I'd asked about that in our birth class, and we were told was something we could do. Instead, Mr. 67 took him and held him skin-to-skin until they wheeled me back to our room.

I read a lot of birth stories before Isaiah was born, trying to be as prepared as possible. If you're reading this for the same reason, my advice is to have a plan, and a contingency plan in case that plan falls through. I felt going into the birth that I was pretty well-informed about what to expect. And that was probably true if it had been a straightforward birth. I would caution other women to educate themselves on interventions, and know when they are truly needed. Modern medicine is a wonderful thing, but doctors have their own schedules and life outside of the hospital, and the sad truth is that interventions are a huge factor in the soaring rate of caesarean births. There's some good information here.

When it comes to your body, don't let anyone else tell you what is right for you. I caved to the pressure and the so-called experts, but if I hadn't let them talk me into breaking my water, the whole event could have been much different. Only you know what is best for you.

If you haven't watched the "Business of Being Born", I highly recommend it. I had watched it before we went in for the birth, and I knew I didn't want pitocin because of potential side-effects on the baby due to unnaturally strong contractions. I literally had to fight my doctor on this and tell her repeatedly that I didn't want it at every appointment. Her answer was, "Well, we use it all the time." I should have known then that we weren't on the same page. I didn't want my water broken, which was right in my birth plan, but they made me feel like I didn't have any other option if I wanted to get things moving. When you are in extreme pain, your head isn't where it normally would be and you just want it to end. And of course, you want to meet your baby!

Despite the fact that our birth story wasn't what I would have written for us, I am forever optimistic, and all is well that ends well. It turned out that the baby was "sunny side up," which accounted for the excruciating back pain, and the cord was wrapped around his neck. Things could have ended far worse. I came through it a little emotionally drained and honestly a little traumatized, but I had a beautiful baby boy to show for it {and a big ol' Sierra Mist}!

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