My son is already over a year old, so my birth story has long passed. However, with the unexpected news of our second child on the way, I have been reflecting a lot on my first birth experience. I was so excited to be expecting our first child but was so scared of the labor and delivery part. I knew I wanted to go natural, no epidural and absolutely no c-section. Everyone knew this too. I was so proud when I told others I would not use an epidural. We also went to a birthing class where we learned breathing techniques and other methods to relive pain. I was ready; I even had my sock full of rice to use as a heating pad. So then we just had to wait and wait.
3 days past my due date I woke at 6 pm from a nap to find I had my bloody show with my back labor starting soon after. (My son was sunny side up and I was worried what this would mean for delivery, but my doctors weren’t concerned.) We were then off to the hospital, ready to finally have our baby. Once I was hooked up to the monitors, we were surprised to see my contractions were already 2-4 minutes apart, although I was only dilated 2-3 cm. After a urine test, the nurse said they were going to keep me. It was now 11 pm. It turns out they were keeping me, despite not being a 4, because they were having trouble keeping a read on the baby’s heart rate. Once I got to my delivery room the nurse informed me that I would have to stay in bed because of the baby’s heart rate. I begged to be allowed to use the birthing ball because it was part of my birth plan and for some reason it was something I was really looking forward to. The nurse said that I could but only for a little bit and then back into bed I go. I was very upset at this because I wasn’t going to be able to use most of the techniques that I learned. I especially wanted to walk around, use the ball, labor in other positions. In that moment it all went out the door. My birth plan was already going down the drain. After a few hours I decided to get the epidural since I was stuck in the bed and I really wanted to get some sleep.
Getting the epidural wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, even though I was shaking the whole time. I was then able to sleep a few hours, so was my husband and mom. The doctor came in at 7 am to see me and I was slowly progressing and my waters still hadn’t broke so they decided to give me pitocin to pick up the contractions in hopes I would dilate more. They then broke my water an hour later. Not long after this my epidural started getting spotty and I started having horrible pain. The pain was so overwhelming that I got sick. The anesthesiologist told me I had an infection. They had to give me an antibiotic and my baby would automatically have to go to the NICU to make sure the infection didn’t pass onto the baby. I finally made it to a ten but then the nurse told me a piece of my cervix was still sticking out so I wasn’t officially a ten and needed to wait to push.
After waiting some more I finally started pushing at 1:30 pm. I was pushing and pushing and pushing. The nurse went and got the doctor and told him I was pushing good but the baby wasn’t moving down. The doctor then got the vacuum to see if he could help guide the baby down. He was pulling so hard that the vacuum came off and almost hit him in the face. I was making a little progress because my husband told me that the baby had hair. I ended up on oxygen because I was having problem holding my breath during each push. I remember hearing my husband tell my mom look at her eyes. The doctor had me try lying on my side to push but the baby just wasn’t coming out. Finally they had me pause and wait.
It starts getting hazy here because I was already pushing for 3 hours and I was exhausted and out of it. They wanted me to not push on the next contraction because the baby’s heart rate dropped. When it didn’t go back up they said that’s it, we’re doing an emergency c-section. I was so out of it at this point I couldn’t even write my name on the consent form. Its crazy how quickly people start moving when you are racing to an emergency c-section to get that baby out. They pushed my husband to the side and said put these on. They shaved me, gave me a shot to stop my contractions and off I went. My husband never even kissed me bye. I was pushed into the operating room where they moved me onto the operating room table and they kept telling me to keep my legs together. Uh, it’s kind of hard when you have a baby’s head half way down your vagina.
They put some more meds in my epidural and started to test to see if it worked. When they asked if I could feel the poking on my stomach, I said yes, they asked if it was the same feeling as on my shoulder, uh I don’t know, I just know I feel it. I could barely keep my eyes open at this point. I remember the OR nurse saying “you need to focus, if you keep feeling it we are going to have to put you out.” After saying I could still feel it, they said they were going to put me under and the last thing I remember was the gas mask on my face. I woke up 3 hours later in the recovery room with my husband next to the bed. I asked him what did we have (we wanted a surprise), he told me we had a boy and I said I knew it! He still hadn’t seen him because he went straight to the NICU. Turns out our son was born not breathing or responding for a few minutes following his birth. My husband didn’t end up getting to be in the OR since I was put under anesthia. My doctor came to see me and asked my husband if he had seen our son and when he said no, my doctor took our camera and said I’ll be back. He came back with a few pictures of our son. My response was that he looked just like my husband. This is one reason I love my doctor, it meant so much to me but breaks my heart that was the first time I saw my son, was through a camera.
After some time in recovery they finally wheeled me to my room but my mom refused to leave the waiting room until she could see me. It was after visiting hours at this point. They wheeled me into a side room so my family could hug me and kiss me. My dad is not an emotional person but by the worry and concern in his face I knew I looked bad. I could tell this experience was just as hard on them emotionally as it was on me physically. After getting hugs and kisses, I got to stop by the NICU to see my baby. They had to wheel my bed in there and since he was bundled up I couldn’t even see his face. I was finally put in my own bed and told to get some sleep. I asked to see a mirror to see what I looked like but my husband told me I didn’t want to see, that’s how bad I looked. The next day I finally got to see the damage. I broke blood vessels in my eyes, my eye lids and all in my cheeks. Now I understood why my family looked at me the way they did. It was horrifying. Every nurse that I saw was like oh, you are the one that was pushing for 3 hours.
After starting to pump to get my milk to come in, I was able to go see my son. I had to get a wheel chair and they had to hook my pee bag, and all my IV’s and monitors to the wheel chair. But I finally got to hold my son and it was the most amazing thing ever. We also learned that day that our son had pulmonary stenosis. It meant his one heart valve wasn’t fully developed and was not allowing all the blood to flow through. It wasn’t life threatening but surgery was a possibility or at least an out patient procedure would need to be done to correct it. They also wouldn’t release him from the NICU because he wasn’t eating as much as they felt he should be. At one point I even had a nurse shove a feeding tube back up his nose. The scream he let out at the moment, broke my heart. Having our son in the NICU was horrible because although his vitals were good and besides the heart issue, which was clearly not bothering him, he had no other issues. The only thing they kept saying was he was not eating what they wanted him to. One nurse told us it shouldn’t matter; they don’t measure how much breastfed babies eat. I also experienced no breastfeeding help. So my son never learned to latch on properly.
After four days in the hospital they finally released us with our son. He would have to go see the cardiologist and he later received a procedure to correct his valve. Once we were home we kept talking about how that was the worst and most wonderful moments of our life. We still feel the same way a year later. Now I am facing the possibility of it happening all over again. My doctor’s are giving me the option to either try a VBAC or schedule a c-section. Before this would have been a no brainer but now I am really stuck on what to do. I want that natural birth; I want that experience of holding my baby right after birth, getting to breastfeed right away. I still think I can do it, but there is that fear, that fear of going through all those complications again. My husband wants me to do a scheduled c-section because he doesn’t want me to have to go through all that again, he also doesn’t want to go through the experience again. It won’t be an easy decision for me and we still have 7 months to decide, but I never expected to fear my second birth experience. I know there is the chance I could have the “perfect” birth or I could go through the same complications as with my first son, but as long as I end up with a healthy or even another NICU baby it’ll be worth it.