So… I had another baby. 🙂
I have so much I want to say about the pregnancy and my decision to deliver in the hospital instead of at home this time, but for now I want to write up his birth story while it’s fresh on my mind.
On Monday, October 16 (38w3d), I woke up to a POP around 5:30am and I instinctively knew my water had broken. I ran to the bathroom just in time to gush most of it into the toilet. I tried to get up to go back to the bedroom to tell Chris to get packing, but my water just kept pouring out, so I had to holler from the bathroom to wake him up.
Because my labor started immediately after my water broke with Hannah, who was born only five hours later, and then my labor with both Becca and Liz was only about two hours long, we packed up our bags and headed straight to Spectrum Butterworth, arriving about 6:45am. Once in triage, they began monitoring my contractions, which were pretty weak but coming very regularly every six to seven minutes. I thought we were in business.
The nurse was getting ready to do a swab/scope to determine whether my water had indeed broken—of which I had no doubt—but around 7:00am I had a good, strong contraction and what was left of my amniotic fluid began pouring out in TORRENTS. We knew I had elevated fluid levels going into labor—my fundal height was measuring six centimeters too big at one point and an ultrasound determined it was all excess fluid—yet it JUST. KEPT. COMING. I had a lake of fluid on the bed all the way down to my ankles that then began overflowing onto the floor. It was quite impressive! I could not stop laughing as it happened. It was SO MUCH FLUID. I still think this is my favorite moment of my labor. (Is that weird?)
Needless to say, the nurse skipped the scope. She checked me; I was 3cm dilated and about 50% effaced, which was already progress from my check on Friday, when I was 2cm dilated and 40% effaced. The nurse also confirmed that baby’s head was right there, though he was still pretty high.
At 7:30am we were moved from triage into one of the two natural birthing suites available, the whole reason I switched from Mercy Health’s network to Spectrum’s.
My new nurse, Micki, and I went over my birth plan, and then around 8:30am an intern resident came in to see what was going on. I am not sure where she had a residency prior to this, but it was very obvious that she had never been in a natural birthing environment before. She immediately wanted to do an ultrasound to determine baby’s position, to which Micki responded, “Uh, we don’t do that here.” I explained that he has been head down the entire pregnancy and they just confirmed that his head was still down in triage.
The intern resident then asked why the amniotic swab/scope had not been completed in triage, to which Micki and I just laughed, since she had been filled in on my impressive waterworks display. Micki told her that wasn’t necessary, and the intern questioned her again just to be sure she understood: “So, we aren’t going to do a scope then?” “No.”
This made me extremely nervous that I was going to have to fight tooth and nail every step of this delivery, but either the intern took the hint that she had no idea how this worked and was not welcome in this environment, or nurse Micki kept her away from me, because I didn’t see much of her after that.
As the day went on, things not only failed to progress, they completely stopped altogether. Around 3:45pm, Micki checked to see if there was a second membrane that could be stalling labor, but there was not. I was still 3cm and only slightly more effaced. Discouragement began to set in, so I decided to take a nap since I had been up since 5:30am.
Around 4:45pm my OB, Dr. Hubbard, dropped by after her office hours to see how things were going and suggested I might try pumping, since nipple stimulation releases oxytocin, which initiates contractions. I also began walking the hallways in between pumping sessions, and I could not believe how much lighter my belly felt with all of that fluid gone. No wonder I was so miserable this pregnancy compared to my others!
Shift change was at 7pm, and I was very discouraged and embarrassed that Micki was headed out for the night and not only did I not have a baby in my arms, I wasn’t even in labor, after I had been telling her all day how insanely fast my labors are.
The night nurse was named April, and she had a very different personality from Micki, but I believe she was a Godsend as well. She is the mom of THIRTEEN kids, and so she didn’t seem phased at all by the fact that labor hadn’t started yet; she knew it would happen when my body was ready.
I continued alternating pumping and walking the halls all night, with no success. At the time I felt as if I was being pressured into trying to get labor started, but looking back and talking it over with Chris, the pressure was self-inflicted. I think Micki, Dr. Hubbard, and April were only giving me suggestions to try since I was the one getting discouraged that labor was not starting; they weren’t actually pressuring me into doing anything.
I took another shower at 10:45pm to try to relieve the back pain I was having (nothing new) and after that I laid down to rest a bit around 11:30pm. After more walking of the halls and pumping, I became increasingly discouraged, so I finally asked April around 2:30am if it was okay if I tried to sleep; I just didn’t want her to think that I wasn’t trying. Thankfully, she told me that was a good idea.
About that time I started getting cold even though my face and chest were on fire. I tried to sleep but could not stop shivering violently, so at 3:00am I asked Chris to climb into bed with me to help keep me warm. I tried to sleep, but sure enough, contractions started to regulate again, starting at about 10 minutes apart and rapidly increasing to about 5-6 minutes. I drifted in and out between contractions until I got sick of it.
By 4:30am the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and getting stronger, so I moved to the rocking chair to rock through them. April offered to check me somewhere in here but I declined because that sounded like the most awful thing ever in that moment. By 5:15am the contractions were less than 3 minutes apart so I moved back to the bed; I was starting to feel like I wouldn’t be able to move soon. I rocked uncomfortably on my hands and knees on a peanut birthing ball, sorry that I had broken my rhythm in that rocking chair.
By 5:45am I was clearly in transition. I began throwing up and chanting the cliche “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I’m too tired. I can’t do this.” Chris stayed very calm and right by side, telling me I was doing great and I was almost done.
I remember starting to feel the urge to push soon after that but I could feel myself holding back, basically like doing a Kegel, so I focused on slowing my breathing and began chanting “Let go, Karen. Let go. Open.” While trying to visualize baby descending.
It worked, and the involuntary pushing stage began, so April and Dr. Hubbard came in. I pushed for what felt like an eternity, but Chris said it was only seven pushes. Ha! To be fair, Becca came out in one push and Liz came out in two, so seven pushes felt like a million. I wasn’t shy about expressing my displeasure. There may have been some yelling. (Okay, judging by how scratchy my throat was for days after, there may have been A LOT of yelling.)
Then at 6:47am Caleb finally emerged, and my OB slid him up between my legs so I could see him; I was still on my hands and knees and didn’t feel like I could move yet. I immediately looked down to make sure he was a boy, which he confirmed by promptly peeing everywhere. Dr. Hubbard announced that he was a bit stunned, and I kept waiting for him to cry but he just couldn’t clear his passage ways. She let the cord pulse for a full sixty seconds and then asked if she could cut the cord to get him vacuum suctioned. I agreed since I was starting to feel panicky that he wasn’t breathing yet, but Dr. Hubbard stayed calm and even had Chris cut the cord.
They took Caleb to the warming bed and finally got him cleared out, where he let out a gurgly whimper and finally a good cry. He got a 7 or 8 on his Apgar rating at first but he was perfect after that.
Dr. Hubbard brought him back to me, where I finally rolled over and held him on my chest as he just stared at me. I sat there and cried, saying “You’re here. You’re here. You’re finally here,” so amazed that after months of the anxiety that comes with a rainbow pregnancy, he was finally in my arms, safe and sound.
Caleb Anthony Neumair was born on Tuesday, October 17 at 6:47am, weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces and 20 inches long. He’s perfect.