My pregnancy was relatively easy until the end. Imagine Nebraska in August…hot, hot, hot. My original due date was August 15, but after the ultrasound, it was moved to August 6. Well, August 6 came and went. I was too big to drive, so going to work was out of the question. My ankles and feet were so swollen that I could only wear my Birkenstocks. I had a check-up on August 10 and was elated to discover that I was dilated to 1 cm. Big whoop. My next appointment was a week later, August 17. My husband, Loren, felt so sorry for me, he took time off work to go with me and have a serious discussion about inducing me.
All that morning, I hadn’t felt quite myself, but I couldn’t pinpoint the problem. My intestines were cramping and I kept trying to go to the bathroom, but to no avail. So at 2:30 p.m. we made our way to the doctor’s office. She checked me and said that I was still at 1 cm., which bummed me out completely. She said that she doesn’t really go by the adjusted due date and didn’t want to induce me until the original due date had been missed by a week, which meant five more days’ wait! I didn’t think I could do it, but had to listen to the doctor’s wisdom. Well, luckily for everybody, I didn’t have to wait!
We went home to enjoy the air conditioning. I ate half a sandwich and tried to relax by watching television. I kept having intestinal cramps, so I called Mary, my doula, to see what she had to say. She said this might be the beginnings of early labor, so I should change positions, take a nap, take a bath, eat something; try different things to see if the cramping was just that or if they were contractions. This was my first baby, so I didn’t really know what to look for when contractions start. My friends had all said that contractions make your entire stomach tight, and that wasn’t what I was experiencing at all. So just for fun, I watched the clock to see how far apart these cramps were…they were regularly three to four minutes apart!
I took a bath then tried to catch a nap, all the while using Lamaze breathing. At 5:00 p.m. I got Mary back on the phone and she suggested we start preparing to go to the hospital. I hollered at Loren to take a quick shower, feed the animals, and told him we needed to go.
The car ride was pretty quick with contractions coming stronger. We had to pause outside the hospital to have one, missed the elevator because of another contracation, had one on the ride up, one in the hall, and yet another one sitting at the nurse’s station.
Mary arrived and told Loren to go get something to eat, because there wasn’t going to be time later. We were all pretty calm and just concentrating on breathing. We walked the halls for a bit, I got in the whirlpool tub (which I loved!), sat in the rocking chair and walked some more. The contractions were very regular and getting progressively stronger, and I would zone out after each one.
In my birth plan, I had said that I wanted to try birth without drugs, but wanted to have that option if needed. At 8 cm., I started calling for something to take the edge off and my husband said, “Should we listen to her?”
I yelled, “YES!” So after four attempts at inserting an I.V., I was given half a dose of Stadol, which gave me quite a bit of relief off the severity of the contractions. I stalled at 8 cm. for an hour, stalled at 9 cm. for another hour, and stalled at 9 1/2 for yet another hour. This was very discouraging news! At some point, my water was broken in hopes that this would help my labor progress.
The stalled progress was extremely frustrating, so Mary ran me down the hallway. Literally. With Mary on one side and Loren on the other, they supported me and we ran down the hallway between contractions. Finally at about 2 a.m., it was announced that I was at 10 cm. and could start pushing! What a relief that was! But the baby wasn’t coming down. So we ran the hallways again, rolled on the birthing ball, hung from a bar over the bed, and I got on all fours. Nothing was working to move the baby down and I was getting exhausted.
By 4:30 a.m., I started asking for a C-section. After checking and re-checking me, consulting the doctor and having her, too, check me, it was decided that we needed to get the baby out. There was a flurry of activity. I was wheeled into the operating room while still having contractions and pushing. I was sat up at the end of the table for a spinal and had one last contraction/push before the spinal took effect… what relief! I found out later there was meconium in that last contraction so it was a good thing we’d decided to go with the C-section. The doctor cut me open and announced, “I see his face!”
I asked, “It’s a boy?”
“Well, I guess I don’t know yet.” But a few seconds later, she made the announcement that we had a boy!
Decklan Andrew was born at 5:31 a.m. on August 18, 2000, weighing in at eight pounds, eleven ounces. He was taken to the NICU because the stress of having me pushing for three hours with him in a posterior position (face up), had created pnuemothorax (tears in the lungs). He was given oxygen and was placed on a monitor for two days. They were scary days because at one point, a really dumb male doctor came into my room at midnight and said he may have to have a chest tube put in. I was left with that news to absorb all night long by myself (Loren was at home getting a good night’s sleep). Decklan didn’t end up needing the chest tube and is now completely healed.
My son is a very happy, healthy, and energetic baby. I have been left with two battle scars: one from the botched I.V. and one from the C-section. But knowing that a hundred years ago we would both have died is enough reassurance for me to know that we made the right decision. I hope to try a VBAC for the next one.
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