Friday, February 24, 2012

The birth of Baby Girl

Warning: this post will contain pregnancy and labor talk and pictures of my C-section. I won't post the bloodiest ones, but a C-section is still a medical procedure and you may not want to look at it. It's OK, I didn't want to experience it either.

My pregnancy with Baby Girl was very different from my pregnancies with the boys. Both of the boys' pregnancies were very similar to each other: I was in and out of the ER and hospital with preterm labor several times with both, and on bedrest from roughly the fifth month on with both. Both labors were very quick after my water was broken (done by the doctor with both boys). In fact, Mr. Man came approximately ten minutes after my water broke. So you understand why I spent most of this pregnancy worrying about precipitous labor, not to mention obsessing over every twinge and every Braxton-Hicks contraction (and those started early).

My pregnancy with Baby Girl was very different than my first two pregnancies (hello morning sickness for all three trimesters), and that left me unsure of what to expect for labor. I joked with my OB that I'd either give birth in the bathtub or it would take forever. As it turned out, it definitely wasn't the former but it wasn't exactly the latter.

My water broke naturally, at home, on February 11. B was out helping a friend move and I was home with the boys. I was walking down the hall, felt a gush and froze. I knew immediately it was my water; I've heard some people say they thought they were wetting themselves but that was definitely not my experience.

After I held my breath for a minute to make sure the baby wasn't coming right that second, I went into the bathroom to wait for B to get home. Luckily he walked in about two minutes later and immediately wanted to go to the hospital. I wanted to wait since I had had zero contractions, but he won out and we called my mom to come stay with the boys.

I was dilated to four and 75% effaced at my 32 week checkup. When we got to the hospital I was dilated to almost six and I think they said 90% effaced. We got to the hospital around 6:30 PM; everyone was expecting a baby by midnight. She, of course, had other ideas.

B and I took laps around the maternity ward off and on for a few hours, taking breaks for Baby Girl to be monitored. Contractions started at some point after we got to the hospital, but they weren't any worse than the ones I'd been having for weeks. I got into the tub for a while and tried to relax to trick the contractions into coming. I bounced and rocked on the birth ball. Every once in a while there was a contraction I needed to breathe and hum through, but most of the time it wasn't necessary. The contractions didn't get stronger, didn't regulate and didn't get closer together. We gave up and went to bed.

The next day we repeated our laps in the hallway but the contractions, when they were there, were still weak. If anything, walking around made them better. As soon as we woke up B and I started to contemplate the dreaded P word: Pitocin. I'd read all the horror stories about Pitocin-induced labors. The contractions get really bad really fast, the nurses crank the Pitocin unnecessarily, if you have Pitocin you're more likely to request an epidural because of the pain, etc. It all amounted to your birth experience being out of your control, an idea I hated. We wanted to avoid if at all possible, yet at this point I was still dilated to six and my water had been broken for over twelve hours. I knew that doctors don't like women to labor with broken water for more than 24 hours. (I later found out that my doctor prefers 18 hours but was willing to let me go 24; I don't know if 18 hours is industry standard now or what.) I was also put on antibiotics as soon as I got to the hospital to help stave off any impending infections. Probably a good thing given that I've always had lots of infections during pregnancy.

Around 1 PM B and I decided it was time for the Pitocin. While one nurse was talking to me and answering all my questions about the Pitocin the other nurse was on the phone with my doctor, who felt we couldn't wait too much longer and wanted me to start Pitocin at 2 PM. I was started on the lowest dose around 1:30. No contractions. An hour later the dose was doubled, then doubled again an hour after that. I think around the third doubling was when contractions finally started, but once again they were weak. They got slightly worse--I was breathing and humming through all of them--around 5 PM, but I was only barely dilated to seven. Given that this was my third child, dilating one centimeter every twelve hours was unexpected, to say the least.

The most painful part of the natural portion of my labor was when they inserted an intra-uterine pressure catheter to measure how effective my contractions were. They were registering on the external monitor, but they barely registered at all on the IUPC. That was when the C word started being mentioned as a real possibility. Up until that point I hadn't really considered it. Why would I need a C-section? This was my third child, I had had two natural and fast labors and, although I'd been told to take it easy just in case I had no risk factors this pregnancy. No ER visits, no preterm labor, nothing. The odds that I'd need a C-section seemed so low as to be negligible.

At 6:30 PM I was still dilated to seven and we made the decision that it was time for a C-section. My water had been broken for over 26 hours at this point, nothing was happening and it didn't seem that any labor breakthrough was imminent.

The prep for the surgery was different than I expected. I walked into the operating room on my own, for instance, and B wasn't there at first. I guess they wait to bring the father/support person in until things are all set. They didn't bring him in until after the doctor had made the first incision; I felt bad for him for having to see that until he told me later he wished he could have watched the whole thing.

I think the spinal block was the part that had me most afraid. Needles in your spine equals scariness. But the anesthesiologist was great. He explained every step of what he was doing and told me what to expect ("OK, now you'll feel warmth rushing down your legs" was the one that stuck with me most). Since I hadn't really been in pain I didn't particularly feel any relief when I got the spinal block.

Baby Girl was born at 7:44 PM on February 12. After the surgery when it started to wear off my legs were tingling like they were falling asleep, but I couldn't move my legs to "wake them up," which was annoying. It was also kind of difficult to nurse Baby Girl effectively, but I did my best. She roomed in the entire time and I was up and around, catheter removed (yuck, although it didn't hurt) by 3 AM that night.

Enough text; on to the pictures. Here's B and the top half of my face.

That's my OB on the left. He did a great job with everything.

Gooey baby.

Mad baby.

She cleans up really well, doesn't she?


  1. first of all - LOVE the new design! I opened the page and literally gasped!

    Now, I'm going back to read the post.

  2. She is GORGEOUS! Can't believe everything went so slowly! But you have your sweet baby girl and that's what's important!