I got to thinking the other day about how I want to chronicle the birth story of our new little one and have also been reading about the experiences of other moms. It’s neat to hear about each person’s experience and it made me realize that I never really wrote down Isabella’s birth story because I didn’t have a blog then.
So, I’m going to remedy that today!
With Isabella, I was a new mom and very nervous/excited/confused, especially given my history. I had no idea what to expect but had a clear birth plan in mind. I was adamant that I was going to have a vaginal birth with no drugs.
Oh how naïve I was…
She was a week overdue. At the point we surpassed her due date (9/25/09), we went ahead and made an appointment to induce on 9/30 if she hadn’t come on her own by then. The doctor didn’t want to go too much longer than that and I was certainly ready to be done with pregnancy.
CJ and I had been sneaking in several date nights knowing that those would slow down dramatically once a little one came in to the picture.
One date night, on a carriage ride. I was so big and miserable.
By the way, that mark on my forehead is a scar from a procedure I had done just a week before to remove a possibly cancerous mole.
On the night before the induction, CJ and I decided to go out for one last date night. We had dinner at the Texas Roadhouse and I ate all kinds of yummy things including an appetizer, lots of bread (mmm, cinnamon butter….), all of my entrée and dessert. I specifically remember making the choice to get a Diet Coke too. I had been pretty strict about not having caffeine during the pregnancy but by this point I thought, why the heck not!
The food was yummy and we enjoyed ourselves but it was getting late and I was tired and anxious. On the drive home I felt some wetness down below, which wasn’t entirely strange (hey, these things happen in pregnancy) but it felt like more than usual. I was just sure that my water had broken.
I called my doctor and she said to be safe I should go in to the hospital. So we grabbed our stuff and off we went! We got checked in and led to a room where the nurse did a litmus test to check the fluid and discovered that, no, my water had NOT broken. By this time it was nearly 10 p.m. So we had a choice – go home and come back in 7 hours or stay the night. We decided to have me stay the night while CJ went home to sleep. We said our good-byes and then I was alone.
And scared. I knew I was in good hands and safe but there was a big fear of the unknown. I watched a little TV and then closed my eyes but got very little rest. You try sleeping in a hospital bed while 41 weeks pregnant and see how comfortable you can get! Plus the nurse came in every few hours to check on me.
When 5 a.m. rolled around I was already tired but ready to get the whole thing over with.
They hooked me up to the machines and then gave me the Pitocin. I don’t remember the timing of everything but it does take a couple hours for the contractions to really kick in. In the meantime, I waited.
You’re not allowed to eat or drink anything but ice chips and the occasional popsicle during labor. And the popsicles are limited to like 1 every couple hours or so. The 2 popsicles I had were like heaven on a stick. I’m actually not a huge fan of them but that day, they were a gift from God.
Soon I started to feel the contractions. They were manageable at first and CJ and I did some laps of the maternity ward, stopping occasionally when a contraction would hit.
At some point the doctor came and manually broke my waters. The warm gush of fluid felt very strange. The contractions became more frequent and severe and I just wanted to stay in my room and cry. Oddly, the most comfortable place was sitting on the toilet! The nurse said that was normal as sitting over the opening helps to relieve some pressure. I sat in the bathroom for a long time…until they made me come out. At one point my mom came in the room and sat with me while I rocked in the rocking chair.
I remember one point where mom was chatting away and I was in another world. The contractions were really close together by then and I was in constant pain. It felt never ending.
I tossed the idea of a drug-free delivery out the window at that point and asked for an epidural. I was only 2 cm dilated though so it was too soon. But they could give me something that would essentially put me to sleep for a while so that I wouldn’t feel anything. Yes please!
I think I slept for a couple hours. A few times I awoke to the sound of CJ and my mom talking but then went right back to sleep.
Finally they woke me up, checked again and said I was ok to get an epidural. The anesthesiologist came, put the epidural in and a few minutes later I was much more comfortable.
Another surprise I had was that my doctor was hardly around, other than when she broke my water. I was working strictly with the nurses, who would call and update the doc. In the movies and on TV, the doc is there for everything but in real life they just come in for the end. I was disappointed by this at first because I love my doctor but the nurses were amazing and I was in very good hands.
Around 3 p.m., I was dilated enough to start active labor. They told me to push when instructed (since I had an epidural I couldn’t feel the contractions so we had to rely on the machines hooked up to my uterus to tell us when they were coming) and I did. But because everything south of the border is numb, it’s hard to tell what you’re pushing and how hard! We tried many different positions and techniques but to no avail. They had me rest for a while and try again. Still no progress.
At this point, I had lost all modesty. When you’re pushing, you basically have your legs spread eagle and the whole world can see your business. There are nurses and residents coming in and out of the room so privacy is thrown out the window. One of the positions they had me try was to get on my elbows and knees on the bed and push that way – butt straight up in the air. There was one resident who walked in as I was like that and boy did he get a full moon! Poor kid will probably never be the same again…
After 5 or 6 hours of pushing and getting nowhere, they called the doctor in. She checked and discovered that Isabella was turned backward and was essentially stuck in the birth canal. She said I could try some more pushing or just have them do a C-section. She recommended the C-section. By that point it had been 16 hours since they induced me and I was ready to be done. I opted for the surgery.
From there everything moved super fast. They whisked CJ away to get him gowned up and ready while at the same time prepped me.
The doctor left to get scrubbed in and make sure the room was set and 10 minutes later, we were headed to surgery. CJ almost missed it. He got back to the room as they were getting ready to move me and quickly hopped on his phone to update Facebook with the latest news (he had been posting throughout the day). They were like, come on dad – there’s no time for that!
We got in to the room and they transferred me to the table and then strapped my arms down (which is normal procedure). The combination of the epidural and other anesthesia they gave me did something weird that caused my body to shake. Like I was uncontrollably cold and shivering non-stop. They said that happens sometimes and not to worry. They started the procedure and the next thing I knew the doctor was saying, “Oh what a beautiful baby!” And I heard what would soon become a familiar cry.
The nurse took Isabella, wrapped her up and handed her to CJ. He brought her over to me and leaned her close so that I could kiss her (since my arms were strapped down I was unable to hold or touch her). I whispered “Happy Birthday baby!” through tears and a quaking voice. They asked what her name was and we looked at each other and both said “Isabella Kathleen”. We had 2 names picked out but we instantly knew when we saw her that Isabella was the perfect one. Unfortunately we were both so caught up in the moment that we forgot to ask someone to take a picture! The nurse whisked Isabella away then. CJ didn’t know if he should stay with me or go with the baby. I told him to go.
They took her off and did all the testing and physical exams. Of course I was not there for any of it but CJ took lots of pics and I’ve heard that she was wide awake and alert the whole time.
Her poor little face was swollen from being stuck in the birth canal for so long!
She still makes this face sometimes when she cries. I hope she never loses that little turned down lip because it’s so darn cute!
Meanwhile, they stitched me up and wheeled me away to recovery. After about an hour or so the medicine wore off and the shaking stopped. I was so glad. The whole day was tiresome enough but the constant shivers really exhausted me. They eventually took me up to our room at which point I was finally able to hold my little girl.
She seemed so tiny to me and I was scared (I knew absolutely nothing about babies – didn’t even know how to change a diaper!) but yet, it all felt right.
None of it was what I pictured or imagined but it was how it was supposed to be. Looking back, I know that one can have the best laid plans but in the end, we really have no choice in how the delivery goes. It was hard and exhausting and scary but also something I will never forget and would do again in a second because it brought me my very special, smart, sweet and silly Isabella.
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1 Year Later | Home Sweet Home | Weeks 12 and 13