Conner has been in this world for four weeks and six days. I am finally giving myself the opportunity to sit down and write the story of how he made his miraculous entrance. It was a rough ride, so readers beware...I do not want to scare anyone.
It was Monday, May 3rd. Dave and I went in for our 42 week ultrasound very anxious and hopeful that we would receive good news and things would start happening. He and I had been trying everything the past two weeks to get the ball rolling. I was becoming very uncomfortable, Conner was taking up a lot of space, I was retaining so much water I could not even make a fist, and I was exhausted. I was just looking forward to my son. We tried walking every night, moving around on an exercise ball, nipple stimulation, sex, raspberry tea, lunges, up and down the stairs - you name it we tried it. I was feeling what I thought at the time were contractions, but they were always mostly random, mostly painless, and would drop off by the time I woke up. So at that 42 week appointment, Dave and I were asked when we wanted to start induction as I was full term and had to be induced no later than the 6th. We were advised that it can be a slow process that can last a few days so we decided to make our admission into the hospital for the next day. We were in shock. Not only had we wanted to avoid induction at all costs, but we were actually making plans to walk into the hospital to have our son. So we went home. We packed our bags, cleaned the house, and picked fresh flowers so the house would smell good. I did all the laundry and made sure everything was ready for the arrival home of Conner. Really, we were both on such edge that if we didn't have these things to do we would have gone insane.
Tuesday came - we had our scheduled time to arrive at the hospital at 8am. We called, as requested, two hours in advance to make sure there was a birthing room available. Turned out there was not. We were devastated. We had worked up so much anticipation and were so let down. We were told to come in ten hours later at 6pm. So we waited... I slept and watched Bones on Netflix, and Dave went upstairs for a nap. Finally 4:30 rolled around and we decided to get ready, go grab a bite to eat, and make our way to the hospital. We sat down at Boston's for some pizza and talked about what we thought would happen. Went through our birth plan and discussed what was on our minds. Finally the time came to get to the hospital so off we went.
We arrived and were greeted with a huge birthing room equipped with a tub, an exercise ball, special bed, and all the equipment that goes along with having a baby. I remember staring at the bassinet that they place the baby in after he is born and thinking to myself, "my son will be in there". I was so happy. Once we were admitted, had the paperwork filled out and had met our nurse, we started the induction process. The midwife came in and checked my cervix which at this point had dilated to about a fingertip and I had not effaced at all. She gave me a vaginal suppository that was supposed to help along the process and I was told I could not get up for about a half hour. It was about 9pm at this point. Six hours went by - Dave and I talked, watched TV, and tried to stay positive as much as possible. We were both pretty awake as it is so hard to sleep in a hospital. Every hour you have nurses coming in and checking your BP, the baby's heart rate, my contractions, so I was up all night. At 3am the midwife came back to check my cervix again. No movement. We opted for another dose. I was so disappointed. I was not feeling anything, I was not contracting, and I was getting frustrated.
Another six hours went by and the midwives had a shift change. The new midwife came in at 10am and we decided to try a different vaginal suppository that was known to be a bit stronger. She checked my cervix and again nothing had changed. I felt like I was doing something wrong, that my body was failing me - and I started to get down on myself. I feared the worst and was beginning to lose sight of the goal. I was unable to move around a lot. I was strapped to the monitors, which was something I wanted to avoid from the beginning, but they had to keep an eye on Conner's heart rate, so I complied. I was able to wear my own clothes though, so that helped. It was a very busy day in the maternity ward at the hospital I was in. All the birthing rooms were filled and my midwife was assisting in another induction and another birth. Because I was not progressing into labor, I barely was attended to by her - not her fault at all, she was just busy. Finally after one more dose at about 2pm on Wednesday May fifth, my water broke. I was laying in bed trying to sleep and I felt a painful pop and a small gush. I remember thinking that I had never felt that feeling before and I realized what had happened. Dave was sleeping on a cot next to me and I woke him up whispering loudly, "My water broke! My water broke!” It took a few minutes for it to register for him because at this point he was a bit sleep deprived, but we started to get excited. I called in the nurse, she verified it, and I was immediately put into a gown, strapped back in, and told that things should start moving pretty soon.
I remember the next 24 hours so clearly that I almost don't want to write it down.
My contractions started almost immediately after my water broke. Dave was so ready and excited that I was in labor; he was on top of everything. Asking what I needed, being there to support me. The first two hours were so amazing. I was finally feeling pain and contracting almost every two minutes for about a minute straight. The contractions became increasingly more painful. I remember a strong feeling of intense pressure on my pelvic floor and there was no relief. The best I could do was to hang my arms on Dave's shoulders and rock back and forth with my knees bent, like we were slow dancing. After about two hours I tried different positions. I was on the bed on my knees, I sat on the ball with my chest on the bed, I even tried sitting on the toilet to see if that would provide any relief - it did not. My mother in law came to check on me and was there for about an hour of my contractions. She was a great help as well, and held my hand through some bad ones. Finally I called my sister, who I needed to have there, and she came when things started to really get intense. By this time I had been contracting about every minute and a half for as long as two minutes and was having a really hard time with the pain. I was crying and groaning - I could not find anything to relieve the pain.
Six hours of this had gone by and I decided that I wanted to try the birthing tub. I remember that I could not get comfortable and the pain was so intense while sitting down that the water was not helping at all like I thought it would. My senses would not let it in as my entire body was focusing on the pain. I continued to breathe through and relax my body as much as I could. I remember feeling like I was being torn in two and at the same time trying to let my body be calm and work through the contractions. Every time one would hit I pictured my baby coming down, my cervix dilating, my son being born, and these things inspired me and helped me work through it. I remember I had a picture of my backyard taken a few years ago that I used as my focus point for the pain. Finally, I broke. I looked at my husband and cried that I could not do it anymore. I wanted something to take the edge off. I opted for an IV narcotic. My birth plan was so disrupted by this point and I was in so much pain, I felt I had no choice.
Once the medication hit, I was not feeling any comfort. The only thing it allowed me to do was pass out between contractions. They were still coming about every minute to a minute and a half and were lasting some as long as three minutes. Dave and my sister told me that I would snore while I was passed out and talk in my sleep - my body was so exhausted that it had no choice but to shut down whenever it could. I went through this pattern for another two hours - sleep, contraction, sleep, contraction. I was in the bed the entire time and when they would hit it was so painful that I could not breathe or move. Every muscle in my body tensed up and I was inconsolable. I finally decided that I needed to use the bathroom and took advantage of the time between contractions to do so. I had one while trying to get up, one on the way to the bathroom, and three while I was in there. When I finally made it back into the room, I looked at my husband and told him that I wanted to be checked for dilation. The midwife quickly checked and told me that I had effaced 100% but was still only a fingertip dilated. I was broken at this point. I could not believe that after ten hours of full on labor that my body was still not cooperating. That was when I decided that I just could not handle the pain any longer and asked for the epidural.
Within a half hour of my request the anesthesiologist was in the room prepping me for the medication. I remember being so relieved that I just broke down and sobbed when she came in the room. I knew relief was coming and that I had made the best choice for myself. Within ten minutes of receiving the meds, I was laying down comfortably, feeling only pressure when I had a contraction, and smiling at my husband. I felt like I had fought a war. I was not going to let myself think about the decision I had just made at that point. I had said all along through my pregnancy that an epidural was not what I wanted, but where I was at that moment, nothing mattered except for the rest I was about to allow myself. Everyone was relieved. My mom and mother in law had waited out the entire evening in the waiting room and were so happy to hear that I was OK. My sister and husband who had battled the past ten hours with me finally had a chance to process what they had just witnessed, get some air, some food, and some rest. It was about midnight at this point and my room was full of hope and expectation. I was able to get some rest and I slept for about three hours while the nurse kept a close watch on my contractions and Conner's heart rate. The midwife came in at about 4am to check my cervix again. At this point I had actually dilated 4cm and had bleeding which I was thrilled about. I started to think about the next step and became so excited that I was going to start pushing, that Conner would soon be here, and that this would all be over.
Then, BAM... stall. At 6am I had not dilated anymore than I had at 3am and my contractions were causing a concern as they were very long and close together and Conner's heart rate was dropping during each one. The midwife kept a close eye and was very hesitant to introduce Pitocin as the contractions may become a danger to Conner. For about two more hours, my monitor was watched closely as the contractions came and went. With each one, the room became silent and the looks on the faces of the medical staff became worried. My sister was watching the monitor like a hawk and making sure that I was OK, and that I was not worrying myself. Dave was talking every one through with the nurse and the concern mounted. Again, there was shift change with the midwives and once the new midwife was briefed with my situation she swooped in and took over.
Once she looked over all the details of my induction and labor, took in the results of the monitor and the state we were in, things moved very fast. She told me that the contractions were causing distress for Conner and with each one his heart rate was dropping. Her prediction was that he was not descending at all and was causing my labor to stall, he could be too big for a vaginal delivery, he was in distress, and that I was in labor for too long. She checked my cervix and found that Conner was still very high up and I had not dilated any more. She offered the option of Pitocin but stressed that it would cause unknown harm to the baby. She looked me right in the eye and suggested that a cesarean section was the safest way to deliver my son.
I looked at Dave and began to cry realizing that not only was my worst fear coming true, but that I had to make the best decision for Conner and for myself. We decided to go ahead with the surgery. Within minutes, my birthing room was flooded with nurses, doctors, and information given to me at warp speed. I was told they were going to treat the procedure as routine and not as an emergency. I was given a number of drugs to help with the pain, my hair was tied back, my husband was given a pair of scrubs and I was wheeled away within minutes to the surgical room. In the room I was then transferred to the "table" as they call it. I was completely numb from the neck down and could feel nothing. They strapped my arms down so I looked as if I was placed on a cross and the procedure began. I was terrified through the entire thing. Dave was right there with me, holding my hand and talking to me about all the wonderful times we were going to have with our new son. He kept me focused on something other than the fear and gave me a safe place to go in my mind. In the meantime, I could feel lots of pressure. I was told that the incision would be made right above my pubic bone, Conner's head would be delivered first and then his body would be pushed out from my chest down. I could feel the doctors pushing down on me to deliver his body. The pressure was painful but lasted only about three minutes... then I heard it.
Conner's first cry was so loud that my family heard him from in the hall. Dave said to me that my son had been born and to listen to that cry. We both started to cry and I felt a sense of peace rush over me. He was alive, crying, and HUGE! Everyone in the room was immediately commenting on his size... 9 pounds 2 ounces. He just looked big! He was wailing and I could not have been happier. After they cleaned him up they handed him to me and I was able to hold my son for the first time. I just remember closing my eyes and saying a prayer thanking God. Conner was screaming in my ear and letting me know that he was there to stay. Turns out that the reason that he was not descending and that his heart rate was dropping was the cord was around his neck twice. With each contraction, the cord became too entangled stopping blood flow from reaching him - thus the drop. He also had an enormous head (thanks to my side of the family) and it would have been an almost impossible feat to have him vaginally. Luckily though, he was a big boy and his size and strengh helped him survive against the difficult birth that he had to endure. Conner was born at 10:16 am May 6th at 9 pounds 2 ounces at a length of 22 inches. He has his father's eyes, hands, and feet and my nose. He was a perfect baby...
They took him back shortly after that and I was stitched up and moved back to the birthing room. The entire procedure lasted about 30 minutes and I was able to sit up in bed and have visitors right away. First my mother in law came in with tears in her eyes telling me my son was perfect. Then my father, mother, sister and brother visited, and finally my husband and son. I was able to breastfeed right away and Conner latched on with no problems. This was the moment I had been envisioning in my mind for months. That first skin to skin contact with my little man. He was hungry and I was so relieved to have him safely in my arms. Nothing in my life will ever compare to that moment.
It was over. I was in recovery, my son was born and healthy, and we were being moved into an overnight room to spend time together, Dave and I, getting to know our little boy. Things were right in the world... Dave had mentioned to me that the pediatrician was having a few concerns that Conner's breathing was a little fast and that we were supposed to keep an eye on him. I remember sitting up in my hospital bed, proudly holding my son while my husband slept, and watching him breathe in and out and in and out... not knowing that the entire time he was struggling. Within the first hour of my son's life and our first crucial moments together to bond, I was told that he required additional medical attention and was whisked away in his bassinet for blood tests and x-rays.
I will tell the rest of the story in my next blog post... Conner is upstairs and he is hungry.