Wednesday, August 17 I headed to my doctor’s office for my 38 week visit. I was hoping for good news, that I was far enough along to warrant delivery with a little help (i.e. breaking my water). I did a 30-minute NST, where I only had one or two contractions. However, I was dilated to about 3 1/2 cm. Plus, Dr. Te said there was a concerning deceleration of the baby’s heart after I had that one big contraction. She wanted me to go to the hospital to be monitored for an hour. If the baby was having any issues, I would be induced immediately, if not, she would induce me the next day, because of my history of precipitous delivery. After being monitored, everything looked fine, but I was dilated to a 4 1/2. The hospital was also completely booked on Thursday, and after a consultation with Dr. Gavilra, Dr. Te decided to go ahead and induce me. She said, “I could send you home, but you might be back tonight.” After Ben’s birth, I fully supported the decision.
I texted Christopher to come on over (he works about five minutes away), and grab my bags out of the back of the van. First time I actually had packed a suitcase. I had the cameras, the car seat, even a few DVDs. Dr. Te said she’d break my water immediately, but after Ben’s super-fast birth resulted in a NICU stay, I asked whether we should go ahead and do an epidural, not only for pain relief but also to slow down the delivery. Dr. Te said it was up to me. “I can break your water now and we’ll be done in 20 minutes, or you can wait for the anesthesiologist.” I opted to go for the epidural. We ended up waiting for several hours, as the anesthesiologist was in a C-section and had a few other patients in line. No worries, we watched a few episodes of The Good Wife. Eventually, the anesthesiologist placed the epidural, and I asked him for the lowest dose possible, so I would be effective when it came time to push. I thought he did an excellent job, as my legs and abdomen were almost completely numb, but I still felt pressure with each contraction. Dr. Te came in around 7:30 and said, “Sorry, I have to do a c-section, and once I break your water I’m not leaving. Be back in an hour. We’ll have this baby by nine.” No worries, I felt great, and we were just relaxing. The nurse started a low dose of pitocin to get my contractions in a good rhythm. Finally, at maybe 8:30, Dr. Te came in and broke my water, and after 15-20 minutes I started feeling a lot of pressure. I quickly moved from 6 cm to 7, and then at 9 I was feeling ready to push. My nurse called Dr. Te in, and then another nurse. I soon realized that they were acting calmly but urgently, and my ears perked up to the sound of the baby’s heart monitor. It sounded weird, and I realized it was dipping down significantly with the contractions, which were coming fast and hard now. The umbilical cord, which we knew was wrapped once around his neck, was getting squeezed. I was pretty concerned but Dr. Te and the nurses were on top of it, moving me on my side to alleviate the pressure on the cord and telling me to push the baby down. After a minute or so, Dr. Te said it was time to get the baby out, and she used the vacuum while I pushed and in 30 seconds, he was out. They put him on my chest and waited until the cord stopped pulsing (about 90 seconds) to clamp it, and Christopher cut it. The whole thing was over in no time, and despite the little scare, the baby pinked up right away. He was born at exactly 9 p.m., so Dr. Te’s estimation was right on the dot. Christopher also noted that it was midnight in South Carolina, where we had been married exactly 10 years on the 18th.
***Correction: Christopher says I got my epidural at 6:30 and Dr. Te broke my water at 7:30. So it’s possible I am remembering the whole thing as happening a lot faster than it really did.
It was an incredible experience, because for the first time I got to hold the baby for a long time. He was very alert after birth, and even nursed right away. I couldn’t believe how tiny he was, only 6-3 and 18 inches. Good thing I worked so hard to gain all that weight. It was a bit like Gavin deja vu, as Gavin weighed just one ounce less and the birth experience was so similar.
The next few hours were both exhilarating and exhausting. The epidural didn’t take too long to wear off, and I drank a ton of water so I could use the bathroom and ask them to remove the IV. The baby nursed so much I thought my nipples would fall off. I started having killer “after birth” uterine contractions while nursing, which apparently are worse with each kid. Christopher dozed off. I ate a sandwich, and kept nursing that baby. Finally, at 4 a.m. I was so tired I asked them to take him to the nursery, and slept for two hours.
So I decided to post the video of the birth, as well. Two disclaimers: one, contains some birth-related graphic content. Like, I let my kids watch it, but if you are squeamish or don’t know me that well, you might want to skip it. Second, I don’t want to hear anything negative about pitocin, pushing on my back, or vacuums. You know who you are.