Okay – here it is – the long-promised story of Kenton’s birth, just in time for his one-month birthday:
If you love reading birth stories as much as I do, you should know – it’s not as dramatic as this emergency situation – but not as straightforward as this c-section story. And, now you have two more fun stories to read – you’re welcome!
It’s Memorial Day. I’ve given up on being mad-upset-disappointed-bummed that I’m still pregnant and am enjoying one last weekend – and a 3-day weekend at that! – with my man. We sleep in late, read the news on his new iPad and discuss our plans for the day: he has a tee time in a couple of hours and I’m going to finish nesting, cleaning, washing clothes. That night, we’re going to take his parents to our favorite restaurant in Scottsdale – Olive & Ivy – they’ve never been and we have a coupon. It’s going to be a great day!
After breakfast (eggs and toast – little did I know what a fantastic choice that was going to be! Protein and carbs, so smart!), I hit the shower. Before my beloved takes off for a ridiculously hot round of golf, he must take my 41 week bump shot. Because I want to look gooood in this last bump shot (induction is scheduled for Wednesday), I must have perfect hair. Also, in the back of my mind – I wanted perfect hair for those post-birth shots of Mom & baby. Since we couldn’t be quite sure when that would happen, I’d been much more rigid in my hair washing routine the last few days. I washed it in the morning so I would have to blow dry it – not at night when I would sleep with it wet and flat iron it into submission the next morning. I made sure to use all of my fancy-schmancy products, not forgetting a drop – JUST. IN. CASE. This particular morning would be no exception (SO I THOUGHT).
Just as my toes hit the bath mat after my shower – GUSH! Not the “is that or isn’t that” gush that hit a few days earlier when I sheepishly went to my OB office for a test that showed – “no, cute little first time mommy who is clearly OVER being preggers and ready to pay anyone who will listen any amount of money to GET BABY OUT… it’s not your water breaking, you’re still only one centimeter and that stubborn baby is way too high to even think about escaping anytime soon – see you for your induction next week.” This was definite WATER BREAKING. They say, you just know – and trust me, you just know. I promptly hopped back in the shower (convenient) as the gushing continued and I started screaming/crying, “Jason! Jason? JAAAAAASSSSONNNNN!!!!” I wanted to wait and show him, but he was taking his sweet time and when he was about half-way up the stairs, I couldn’t hold it in anymore – “Honey, my water is breaking! MY WATER IS BREAKING!!!” (Cue: tears of joy.) By the time he makes it into our bathroom, I’ve cycled through the “is it or isn’t it? Wow, this is a bit weird; actually it’s really cool, this means our BABY is coming… TODAY” and was overjoyed and ready to celebrate with my sweet hubby who stumbled into the bathroom (still pre-coffee) trying to wrap his head around this glorious-albeit-slightly-gross “breaking” news and I get the inevitable, “Are you sure?” “Yes, (sniffle, gulp) I’m sure. Sorry about your golf game.”
Up until this moment – 9:00 AM on May 30, 2011 – I’d had the most boring pregnancy in history. No complications – with me or the bebe. No major pregnancy symptoms to complain about. Even the fact that I was exactly one week overdue was textbook perfect. (Early on, my OB told me to tell everyone my due date was June 1st, not May 23rd. I should’ve listened.) But now… things were starting to get interesting. Instinctively, I knew my water did not look right. It was a dark yellow-brown. Water is supposed to be clear, right? Naturally, I did what any girl in my situation would do – I called my Dad.
My Dad is a family physician. He has sweetly taken every phone call, email and text message from me throughout this pregnancy and answered every question I’ve had with patience. In this moment, I was ready for another dose of that sweet, reassuring papa. Instead, my mother answered the phone:
Mom: “HellooOOOO??!!??!! Michelle, how ARE. YOU. “DOING” today???”
Michelle: “Mom, my water broke. Is Dad there?”
Mom: “What? I can’t hear you, there’s an echo.”
Michelle: “WATER! BROKE! DAD! NOW!”
Mom: “Oh, honnnneeeeyyyy!!! Are you serious???!!!” (tears start…)
Michelle: “WATER! BROKE! DAD! NOW!”
Mom: “Keith! KEITH! It’s Michelle, her WATER BROKE!!!!” (more tears)
My Dad, in his cool, calm self takes the phone and I explain the mysterious color to him. In that sweet, reassuring tone I was hoping for – he explains that the water is stained with meconium, which is not uncommon for a late-term baby. He tells me to call my OB’s office and then congratulates me – reminding me that with 24 hours, we’ll have a baby. Not to mention his first grandbaby (first for both sides, in fact!).
So, I call the OB office. Yes, it’s a holiday. However, I know that they have a triage nursing service answer their phones when the office is closed. My call doesn’t go through. Okay, try again. “Call failed!” What the… ?!?! We try about eight times, with the same result. Apparently, someone forgot to forward the phones. Grrrrreat. So, I call my dad back – who, thankfully, has the number for Labor & Delivery at our hospital. I speak to a triage nurse there, and tell her about the meconium-stained water…
Nurse: “Oh, yeah, come on in and we’ll check everything out for you.”
Michelle: “Come on in… ??? Now? Like, don’t pass go, do not collect $200?”
Nurse: “Yes, now, we need to check everything out. Come in as soon as you can.”
Michelle: “Okay, just so I understand, do I have time to dry my HAIR?”
Nurse: “No. We need you here as soon as possible.”
Fantastic! So, that blow-dryed hair clearly isn’t going to happen. Neither is makeup. Frightening. However, that’s the furthest thing from my mind in this moment. I grab the nearest maternity dress, throw a head band on my sopping wet head, quickly grab a few toiletries and start throwing panicky orders at my husband – who’s still trying to figure out how his perfect day off just got thrown into a tizzy so fast.
By 9:30, we’re at the hospital. (It’s thankfully very close to the Dream.) We’re put in a triage room and the tests begin. Among the first things I do is casually drop my dad’s name. BINGO! All of the nurses are so excited. How is he? Your Keith’s daughter?! Yes, special treatment – exactly what I was looking for. Thanks, Dad, for being such a wonderful doctor and genuinely nice person – so glad to take advantage of that for my own benefit.
Initial tests came back questionable. Baby had a dip in his/her vitals within eight minutes of being admitted… but then seemed to bounce back. So, we were sent walking – around and around the floor. Apparently, the whole water breaking scenario hadn’t clued my body into the fact it should start labor on its own. The nurses thought being vertical and on the move would help get things started.
That was a fun experiment that didn’t work. So, at 1:00 PM, we started Pitocin – the drug that gets those contractions going for you when nature doesn’t.
My “birth plan” was to not really have a birth plan. That’s unusual for this type-A planner, but I knew enough to know that babies sometimes have a mind of their own and trying to plan too much about the birth would end up a disappointment. I did, however, have three wishes:
- Epidural! But only after I got to 5cm on my own
- Delayed cord clamping/cutting. We opted against banking cord blood – so I wanted that good blood to pump into our babe’s body before we cut him/her off.
- Start breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth.
I ended up getting only one of those three wishes!
The first was dashed at 5:00 PM. After four hours on Pitocin, my contractions were getting more and more intense. They were two minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds. No one had checked to see how dilated I was for a while – but we were all confident things were moving along well, so I threw in the towel and my new BFF, the anesthesiologist came to my rescue. Getting the epidural was NO BIG DEAL. Seriously – I don’t know what some women are talking about when they say it’s a terrible experience. It was virtually painless for me and I experienced almost immediate relief.
The bummer? I was only two centimeters! Talk about feeling like a complete WHIMP! Oh well, with the epidural on board, we were able to increase my Pitocin and get this show on the road! Remember, my water broke at 9:00 AM – so I’m guaranteed a baby by 9:00 AM the next morning, now 16 hours away. This is when I started doing the math in my head. My water broke eight hours ago and I’m only 2cm. I have 16 hours to get to 10… that probably isn’t going to happen. Jason and I talked about that possibility and I told him I was sure we’d end up with a c-section. Of course, that’s not what we wanted. In fact, a c-section never even crossed my mind during pregnancy. You know those emails you get that tell you to “click here for more information on c-sections, just in case”? Yeah, I deleted those. Never read the c-section chapters in my pregnancy books and didn’t pepper my c-sectioned friends for info. The only miniscule amount of info on c-sections that I had was what we discussed in our birth class. And that was not a lot of prep for what was going to come!
So, with the Pitocin dialed up and me resting comfortably, Jason and I were left alone in our L&D room for what was sure to be a loooong night. I started to doze off – lulled to sleep by the rhythm of our baby’s heartbeat pulsing through the monitors next to my bed. Before I could fall asleep – that rhythm changed dramatically… slowing way down. I opened my eyes to investigate just as the door to our room flew open, our nurse rushed in – followed by a lot of other people.
First, they stared at the computer monitor and spoke in low voices, then they slapped an oxygen mask to my face and got more monitors situated to watch our baby. In the midst of this, I was very calm. From the moment we walked into this hospital – we knew we were in good hands. I had complete confidence in the team now surrounding my bed and was not worried at all. Until… I overheard a nurse say, “I just booked an O.R.” Then, the tears flowed. I had no idea anything was seriously wrong until then.
My nurse saw my tears and immediately comforted me. The baby’s vitals dipped, but bounced back. We turned down the Pitocin and things were okay – no need for tears. I was between 3 and 4 cm.
A couple hours later, we tried to increase the Pitocin again – with the same result. Dropped heart rate on the baby and the room suddenly fills with people in scrubs. Reduce Pitocin, baby bounces back.
Then, it happened a third time.
Apparently, the third time’s the charm.
My OB – who has one of the lowest c-section rates at this hospital – was coming in, to do a c-section. The clock had just struck midnight on May 31st. My nurse broke the news in a tone that made me suspect she expected me to object. Instead, I pulled the oxygen mask off my face and said, “Let’s have a baby!” I was thrilled. Something was wrong with my little one and he/she was about to be rescued. Frankly, I didn’t care how the baby came out – I just wanted him/her OUT.
Jason called our parents – who had just left the hospital an hour or so before, confident we were in for a long night. Now, they would have their first grandchild in less than an hour.
They wheeled me into the O.R. – where the temperature was set at about 10-degrees. Seriously. That was ridiculous. I was shaking so bad – my teeth were chattering and they couldn’t get my blood pressure because I couldn’t stop my arm from moving. I was also operating on no sleep and was dipping in and out of sleepy-consciousness. It was all quite surreal.
Once I was prepped, they let Jason in. He was to my left, my BFF from earlier, the anesthesiologist was on my right. My OB and another surgeon were on the other side of the tarp. There were nurses in the room too – one for me, one for the baby. However, I was acutely aware of several people I had not met who were also present – NICU staff. That freaked me out. Because of the meconium and crashing vitals – they were on hand “just in case.”
The anesthesiologist pumped me up with some new drugs. Then, my OB got started and I said, “OW!” Yep, felt that. More drugs. Start again. “OW!” Okey-dokey. They tilted the table this way and that to get the drugs better dispersed? And then, more drugs…
Anesthesiologist: “Do you feel anything now?”
Michelle: “Well, I do feel some pressure… can we chat about this for a minute… I’m nervous that maybe the drugs aren’t going to work… and I’d really like to not feel anything…”
Anesthesiologist: “What are you talking about? You’re already cut open. Baby is on its way!”
Michelle: “Wha? Uh, okay? Will you hold my hand?”
He didn’t hold my hand. But Jason did. Until, the “moment.”
The anesthesiologist (I really should try and remember his name. Typing “anesthesiologist” over and over is getting old!) said, “Okay, Dad! Stand up and start taking pictures of your baby!”
And, at 1:14 AM on May 31, 2011, this was the glorious sight on the other side of the tarp:
And the glorious sound I heard… screams. Loud, beautiful, angry baby screams. Then, the sound of those NICU people leaving the room. Praise you, Jesus!
Jason was snapping away. I was rejoicing in the sound of the screams. Finally, I heard someone say… “They were waiting for a surprise! What is it? Someone tell them what it is?!” I’m thinking, yeah, dangit, somebody TELL ME WHAT IT IS! Jason was too preoccupied with making sure he was documenting the blessed event – he forgot to look. This mystery person kept saying, “What is it? What is it?” And NO ONE was answering!
All of a sudden, my OB appeared from around the tarp – with my baby in her arms – and tilted the “parts” in my direction. “I don’t know, Michelle, what is it?!”
“IT’S A BOOOOOYYYY!” I said while beginning to full-on wail. (Which I’m having a tough time not doing again as I write this. SO, incredibly special!)
The little man continued to scream as he was scrubbed and cleaned. In fact, he only stopped when Jason went over and started talking to him. Upon hearing his dad’s voice, he stopped crying and immediately turned toward him – such an amazing moment!
Jason continued to bond with the baby while I was sewn up. That fantastic anesthesiologist insisted on taking our first family photo…
Yep, he should stick with medicine… and I really shouldn’t have been so worried about my hair.
After this was all over, we were told that Kenton’s umbilical cord was lodged across the top of his head… in what’s called an “Occult Cord.” Our OB surmises that every time I had a big contraction – the cord was compressed, compromising Kenton’s blood and oxygen supply. There was also a chance of developing Cord Prolapse – a life-threatening condition for mom and baby – if we had proceeded with a vaginal delivery. That’s why I missed out on #2 on my wish list – delayed cord cutting. Because of the emergent situation with his birth, the cord was cut sooner than we would have liked. Despite that – and needless to say – we are quite pleased with how things turned out. We ended up with exactly what we wanted – a healthy baby boy!
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