It took me about a year to be able to share Olin's birth story without getting teary-eyed. Holy Cow, birth can be traumatic. I was a week past my due date and still wobbling around on the trails in Seattle. We had a birth plan, and it was romantic! I was going to soak in a tub, listening to our carefully selected playlist, with candles all around. We would have this baby within a few hours and would be celebrating with a glass of wine.
On July 22nd I had to excuse myself from the table because “I had cramps.” Our guests laughed at me and said, “No dear, you're having a baby!” They anxiously waited in the kitchen playing trivia as my contractions became more and more painful. I was happy to have the distraction, yelling answers from my bedroom. I texted my midwife and doula to let them know I was in the early stages. Over the next few hours our doula sent me texts about how terrible and trying her day had been and that she'd do her best to make it to the birth center. A little annoyed, I wished she wouldn't make it. I was having contractions damnit, I didn't want to know about her problems!
As the contractions became stronger and closer together over the next few hours, I called my midwife. She suggested we meet at the birth center around 11pm. The birth center in Seattle is like the cleanest, swankiest hotel room I've never stayed in. I wasn't too far dilated, so our midwife suggested we get some rest before things progressed. After an hour or two, I couldn't lay down anymore. Our midwife came in the room to let us know that our doula had shown up and was asleep in the next room. For what seemed like forever, I did laps around the birth center, climbed up and down the stairs, and lunged up and down the stairs. While the contractions were strong, I was not progressing. Then the vomiting and diarrhea started.
Our doula finally graced us with her presence and while I was glued to the toilet she asked if I “wanted a touch.” I wanted to punch her, but instead said no thank you and that I needed privacy in the bathroom. When I was finally able to make it out of the bathroom she sat across from me eating banana chips, crunching so loudly I thought it might be my breaking point. My husband asked her to go get us some coconut waters. I had already gone through two IV bags of fluids and still felt so dehydrated. She left and my midwife asked if I'd prefer her to not return. ::Hell yes, G! Get her out of here!::
It had been over ten hours at the birth center by this point, so G suggested we break my water to try to speed things along. There was meconium in my water, G soon suggested we transfer to a hospital, and that taking our cars would be fastest. It was late afternoon and pouring rain. My father pulled his rental car up to the door, and I hooked my fluid bag to the coat hanger. It seemed like we hit every pot hole over the 10 mile drive! G had already notified the hospital that we were on our way. When we arrived, they rushed me to the maternity ward in a wheel chair, straight to our own room. G helped my husband with the paperwork.
I couldn't talk, I couldn't walk, I couldn't think! “I can't talk to anyone until I have an epidural!” G agreed, saying I'd need all the rest I could get if we were still going to have a vaginal birth. They made my husband turn away as they administered the epidural. Sweet Jesus, was that the most painful thing I've ever felt! But then there was immediate relief and I held the anesthesiologist's hand, who I had only minutes ago barked at. After the most heartfelt thank you, he laughed and told me I was doing just fine. I slept for what felt like a day, but really it was no more than two hours.
They started me on pitocin and over the next few hours I sat loopy, not feeling a thing but exhaustion and hunger and occasional contractions and definitely not progressing. After a while a doctor came in the room to explain that we could try for an assisted birth using a vacuum, which could end up in an emergency c-section, or we could just go for the c-section. We were already so far from our birth plan, but the last thing I wanted was a c-section, so we agreed to try for an assisted birth.
The doctor left the room and within minutes returned with what seemed like an army of doctors in face masks and rubber gloves. She looked like she was wearing a welder's mask and I couldn't help but think, “this is definitely not what we signed up for!” Now it was time to push! They were yelling at me, but I couldn't feel a thing. It had been 37 hours, but Olin arrived after only a few minutes of pushing. The room erupted in laughter, I just gave birth to a 10.7 lb baby! They immediately laid him across my belly and I couldn't believe how big he was! He could just about hold up his head and looked to be 2 months old already! They then cut the cord and took him to clear his passageways. When they brought him back to me, I handed him to my husband and demanded someone give me the box of Cheez-its on the counter that had been taunting me for hours. I may have passed out holding that box of Cheez-its.
I had a really hard time healing with the episiotomy. In retrospect, I definitely had postpartum depression, and it didn't help that Olin was colic for the first three months. My milk supply was too much and they definitely did not emphasize how painful breastfeeding is in the course we took. All these feelings of depression and exhaustion mixed with awe and thankfulness that although his birth did not go according to plan, Olin was a super healthy baby.
We moved East when Olin was only a month old. We tried for another a few years later and mourned the loss of a pregnancy at 8 weeks, which happened to be our first anniversary. After three months along in our third pregnancy, we decided to leave Maine and move to Montana. We were super impressed with the birth center, attached to a small hospital here in Whitefish. The Women's Center was just across the parking lot and we lived 5 minutes away. On October 16th a friend suggested I go to the birth center to make sure my water hadn't broken, after confiding in her that I had been leaking for two days.
Our doctor said to head over for a quick test and to check my cervix. I was having contractions, but they weren't intense and were far apart. A nurse said I was 5 cm dilated (I was not), but my water had not broken. It was a slow night, all of the rooms were empty. We could stay there and wait to progress or we could go home and return later. We had a friend in town so we met him for dinner. He ended up staying at our apartment with our 3 year old so we could both go back to the birth center that evening. When we returned, my contractions stopped completely. My doctor suggested we start pitocin and said she'd return in the morning to break my water if nothing happened.
We both agreed I was going to have another large baby and it would be better to get him out sooner than later. Over the next few hours, three different mamas came, screamed, and fell silent. Needless to say, I was awake the entire time and jealous because I was about to have another stubborn, giant baby. My doctor returned around 7 am to break my water. At this point she checks my cervix and I'm really only about 4 cm. She breaks my water anyway and says she'd return. My contractions begin to get stronger and closer together, but I got this!
All I wanted was a water birth with my first, they look so painless and relaxing in all of those YouTube videos! After only a minute in the tub, I realize it is not for me! My contractions became so intense I couldn't move during them. I told my nurse I wanted an epidural. I was not about to be in pain for another 20 hours or so, again. The nurse called for the anesthesiologist. I told her I needed to get out of the tub. She looked at me and asked if I felt like I needed to poop. Bashfully, I said yes and that I was pretty sure I could make it to the toilet. She laughed and told me the baby was on his way so she called my doctor who happened to be across the parking lot.
The anesthesiologist arrived and directed me to roll over on my side. As I rolled over I knew little Waylon's head was coming out, and he was coming fast. My doctor heard screaming and came running, the anesthesiologist was too late to help with pain, but he was definitely there to lend his hands and a pediatrician who happened to be there came running in to help.
Waylon was stuck under my pelvic bone with the cord around his neck and he was not breathing. Everyone was yelling at me to push and I was screaming and pushing as hard and as fast and as long as I could! Someone in the room suggested I turn onto my hands and knees. I saw the look on my doctor's face and knew that as impossible as that seemed to me at the moment, I needed to turn as fast as I could. He came out but was not breathing. They quickly put him in an incubator and fully resuscitated him. He was not breathing for three minutes and I kept asking if he was alright without any response. My husband took my hand and told me everything would be okay, that he would be okay. He started breathing again and they rushed him for an X-Ray and to keep him on oxygen.
They couldn't see any damage on the X-Ray, but he definitely couldn't move his arm. After they monitored him for 6 hours in the nursery, he was able to return to my room, where they continued to monitor him every hour. He was 9.7 pounds and otherwise healthy. We could take him home after 24 hours. His arm quickly regained mobility. The hospital director later came to sit with us and explained what happened was what she called a key hole effect. Because Olin was so large, my body was set up for his delivery and turning on my side gave Waylon a perfect exit route. Nothing that happened prior to me rolling on my side had any effect in how things turned out.
My recovery was so much easier this go around. He is now the happiest baby who laughs and smiles all day long. We have two happy healthy boys and our family is complete, no more scary birth stories for us!