As I head into the final weeks of my pregnancy with Morgan Riley, and anticipate her birth, I’m realizing that I have never really allowed myself to process Gavin’s birth – and deal with the emotions connected to it. Since immediately after birth Gavin was so very sick, and transferred to another hospital/NICU, I went into survival mode. We were in survival mode for the 10 weeks he was with us, and honestly, for many months after as well. I had planned a natural birth for Gavin, but ended up with a c-section (necessary) .. and didn’t even get any time to heal from it physically .. I asked (and was granted) release from the hospital less than 24 hours after the section so I could go be with Gavin. I walked long distances from the car to the University NICU where he was staying, and aside from getting my staples out a week after the section, didn’t have the time or energy to really deal with it. I did what I had to do, and that was get up and be there with Gavin. But I’m feeling the need to reflect on the entire birth experience, and try to move forward before I attempt my VBA2C with Morgan.
September 29, 2010
I had just turned 37 weeks and began having regular, crampy contractions in the afternoon. But because I tend to be crampy towards the end of pregnancy in general, I didn’t pay much attention. We went to dinner with my parents at California Pizza Kitchen, and I remember commenting to my husband on the way home that I was having regular cramps every 10 mins or so and that I was starting to think this might be early labor. They continued through the evening, and when we went to lay down and go to bed, they were getting more intense and I was unable to fall asleep. My husband called his supervisor and told him he would not be going to work the next day. I told Jeremy to get some rest, and I went out to the living room to listen to a hypnobabies track and relax since I couldn’t sleep. I got on MDC and told my October DDC that I thought this was it, I was in labor. The contractions were getting stronger and closer together but I was able to relax and stay comfortable through them. Around 2am they were getting stronger and closer together, so we called my Mom to make the hour drive over to watch Alex. She arrived about 3:30am, and I continued to labor in the living room until about 5am when they were coming very close together and we decided to head to the hospital.
Once we arrived at the hospital, I started feeling anxious and while hooked up to the monitors, my contractions slowed down considerably. They checked me and I was only 3cm, so we decided to go back home and let me labor more on my own before being admitted. Gavin’s heart rate was high, and did not do the normal decrease and increase they expect to see with a healthy baby.. but they allowed me to go home and we did not think much of it. We called my Doula, who happened to be newly pregnant and had a dr. appt that morning (she uses my same OB, and his office is connected to the hospital) – she agreed to check on me and hang around after her appointment if I wasn’t already back at the hospital.
September 30, 2010
So once we were back home, my contractions picked back up and I was able to labor in the living room while listening to hypnobabies. I was quite relaxed and handling everything well when I felt a huge gush .. I went to the bathroom and my underwear was filled with huge blood clots. It looked like large chunks of liver, and there was a ton of blood. I freaked out. I knew something was not right – I called Jeremy in and he freaked out at the amount of blood. We called the hospital and said we were on our way back, and for a moment considered going to a closer hospital (I was worried about an abruption or something) but decided to just rush to our hospital of choice. My contractions were hard and strong and since I was now scared and concerned about the huge blood clots (and still bleeding more) I was also not relaxed and hurting quite a bit. Once in labor and delivery I remember being so relieved when they hooked me up and we head Gavin’s heartbeat. I was so scared that something was bad wrong. I remember being hooked up to the monitor with strong contractions and it flashing “ADMIT PATIENT NOW” – Jeremy and I both got a good laugh out of that one.
We were put in a room and my Doula arrived shortly after 9am. Because Gavin’s heartrate was still high (and not ever going back down) they gave me an IV of fluids and wanted to keep me on a monitor. They did put me on a portable monitor which is better than being strapped to a bed since I was able to move, but I still had a box and iv pole attached to me. I was bleeding quite a bit and kept having to change pads, but needed Jeremy’s help in the bathroom. He sweetly helped me, and would change my pads for me while helping with the stuff attached to me. I was about 6cm at this point, and the nurses said I probably bled from dilating fast. I didn’t buy it, and to be honest, I think from the moment I saw those blood clots, I knew in my heart something wasn’t right. I was now having painful back labor, and wasn’t able to use my hypnobabies techniques to relax. Instead my Doula and Jeremy took turns putting pressure on my lower back while I tried different positions to get comfortable. I labored this way for hours – to be honest, I can’t even tell you how many because it’s all a blur. At some point in the late afternoon I remember us trying all kinds of positions to try and get Gavin to turn and get into a better position, but I just continued with painful back labor, and when I finally asked to be checked was at 9cm. I was feeling nauseous, but had no food in my stomach so ever so often I would have dry heaves and attempt to throw up. We all thought I was nearing transition, and I remember them setting up supplies, etc like I was getting ready to have him. But instead, the labor just continued, and I was not feeling an urge to push. Around 7pm I started to break – the contractions were intense and I had been stuck in this painful labor pattern for hours. I asked to be checked and I was 9, not quite 10cm there was still a lip of cervix left.
They could feel a bulging bag of water, and in desperation I agreed to let them rupture it to see if it would speed things up, When ruptured, there was meconium. For a brief while after my water was broken, maybe 20-30 mins, I got relief from the back labor. I felt refreshed, and like I could keep going like this (without that pain!) for a long time. But it didn’t take long for the back labor to return, and with a vengeance. I started to become desperate, and begged for an epidural. They said my white blood cell count was too high for one anyway, it wasn’t an option. They asked if I wanted morphine. I said yes. I took some pain relief and manged to sleep a bit in between contractions for about an hour. When the morphine wore off, I got back up and we tried some different positions again to try and get things moving. I was still stuck at almost 10cm with a tiny lip of cervix left. My contractions were intense and had been one after another for hours upon hours now at an extremely high intensity. I was still bleeding and leaking amniotic fluid so I had to keep a towel between my legs to keep from slipping on the mess.
I broke. I said I want a c-section, this baby is not coming out. The Dr. said he would like to try to manually move the lip of my cervix while I push during a contraction, because I was so close to having this baby vaginally. I agreed. It was quite painful, and I did my best to push during three different contractions while he moved my cervix lip. But it didn’t work. I was feeling so exhausted that I don’t feel like I pushed very strongly anyway – and we all agreed, it was probably time to have a c-section. One of the wonderful things about this is that the dr. let this be totally my decision – I was not pressured, and they would have allowed me to continue to labor had that been my wish. But I was done, and I knew this was necessary.
I was taken into the cold, sterile room and given a spinal since my white blood cell count was too high for an epidural. It only took a matter of minutes, and they had Jeremy in the room with me. I was so tired, that once I had pain relief in place, I started falling asleep on the table. I remember waking myself back up, not wanting to miss his first cries .. but hardly being able to keep my eyes open. Jeremy entered the room and they got ready to perform the section. The Dr. told me he was not going to be able to use my old scar from Alex, and then next thing I knew, they were pulling Gavin out. It was silent. He didn’t make a sound for what seemed like an eternity. I found out later he was floppy and didn’t breathe on his own, they had to bag him to get him to start breathing. Gavin was shown to me briefly, then taken to the NICU. I told Jeremy to go with him, and I was left in recovery for an hour. I fell asleep, exhausted.
When I woke up I was being rolled back to my postpartum room, where Jeremy and my Doula were waiting for me. I couldn’t believe she was still here (it was close to midnight at this point) and she pretty quickly gave me a hug and left. I wanted to see Gavin, but they told me to wait a few hours and then I could go to the NICU. I didn’t realize at the time he wasn’t breathing and they were in the process of putting him on CPAP and running tests because something was obviously wrong with him.
September 31, 2010
I fell asleep for maybe 2 hours, then woke up and wanted to go see Gavin. I asked for my catheter to be removed, they gave me some pain meds, and I got up and took a shower. The nurses were SHOCKED to see me up and dressed, but I was ready to go see my baby.
The rest of this story has been told, as this is when our nightmare really began …
Some of the things that come to mind when I think about this birth, and the VBA2C I have coming up…
1. I’m still traumatized by the amount of blood clots and blood that happened. I’ve yet to read where that is “normal” .. and hopefully it wont happen again, but I can so clearly remember the fear, the feeling something was wrong .. and my fear it will happen again.
2. The long, long, long intense back labor. I know Gavin was in a bad position and his head was huge. Rationally I know that’s why I had such long, prolonged back labor .. but I have the fear of it happening again. I literally hit my breaking point during his labor, and I’m scared it will happen again.
3. Faith in my body has been somewhat rattled. Our bodies are not supposed to grow a baby we can’t birth, right? But mine did. I feel somewhat broken, and my confidence is shaken.