Since I'd been having contractions on and off for two weeks, I wasn't really expecting anything to happen. In fact, I was planning on calling the doctor to induce the following Wednesday, since my insurance would be running out at the end of the month, and we wanted to make sure we had double coverage for the duration of our hospital visit.
I took a shower at 6:30, with contractions about 5-7 minutes apart.
I went for a walk at 7:30, contractions the same, some much stronger than others, but still consistent.
Paul took E over to the nanny's, and we went for another walk. Things were still about the same, so when we got back home, we called the doctor. She told us to come to the office to do an exam and see if I was in active labor.
When we got there, she told me I was 6cm, and I needed to get to the hospital, probably sooner rather than later. We still had to stop at the store for a few things, then went home, picked up our luggage, had a snack, and headed to the hospital.
We arrived around 12:30 or so. My nurse, Helen Louise, reminded me of my friend Lucy. She had an awesome, dry sense of humor, which was nice. I got hooked up to the monitor, and got my first dose of penicillin, since I tested positive for GBS. I hate that stuff, but whatever.
Things never got awful. There were a few contractions that Paul had to help me breathe through, but nothing at all like when I was in labor with E. They never got any closer than about two minutes. It was pretty crazy. And my water hadn't broken yet. I was pretty sure that was why labor was so easy. I decided to forgive L for coming late and making me have contractions all last week.
I sat in the tub for a while, expecting to go into transition at any moment. Contractions were strong, but still about two minutes apart. I didn't feel the need to drop the f bomb, cry for my mom, or tell Paul to take me home (that's what I did with E). In fact, when it came time to push, I was surprised. I even ignored the urge for three contractions before I told Paul I thought it was time.
They covered me in towels and wheeled me back to the room. I climbed on the bed, looked at the clock and saw it was about 5:00 or so. Nice. I figured I'd have a 12-13 hour labor & delivery. Much better than with E. It must be true what they say about second children.
I decided to use the birthing bar. I was too tired from the hard labor with E that I couldn't squat when pushing time came, so I was determined to do it this time. I pushed about three or four times, and it hurt like a bitch. I felt like nothing was happening. I kept saying I couldn't do it, but Paul, Dr. Kawahara & Helen Louise assured me that I was, and things were moving along.
With the next push, my water broke. Out poured amniotic fluid and meconium. I thought it was strange that so much meconium would come out. I worried that because he was a week late, he was swimming in mec, and there would be complications with that.
With the next push, more meconium came out "like toothpaste," my doctor later explained. My doc turned about three shades of white. The nurse said something like "Is he vernal?" or "vertex?" or some medical v-term. At that moment, my doctor shoved her entire arm up my vagina. Well, maybe not her entire arm, but it sure felt like it. I was thinking that maybe he was facing the wrong way and she was going to turn him to face the right way. Instead, she gave me the bad news. "Dawn, your baby is breech - frank breech." Which means he was folded in half, with his feet by his head, and his little bottom coming down the birth canal.
I think I went into shock at that moment.
Within a minute or two, I had a shot in my arm that stopped contractions completely. I knew what was going to happen next and I was terrified.
They catheterized me, which is always a humiliating experience.
The anesthesiologist came in to explain what he was going to do and to get me to sign the release papers. I don't think I was really listening. Everything was spinning and all I could think about was the safety of my baby.
My main questions were about who would be holding our son after he was ripped out of me, and when I would get to hold him and nurse him. I was very worried about that.
I don't know how long it took for everything to get ready, but they wheeled me down to the OR, told Paul to wait outside and started prepping me for surgery.
It was cold and very bright in the operating room. The only other operation I've ever had was at the dentist to have my wisdom teeth removed, so this was all very new to me. And it was fucking freezing. And my husband wasn't there. Where was my husband? I kept asking for him, but nobody answered.
The anesthesiologist was ready to put in the spinal. I had to sit up and curl over my belly. Helen Louise hugged me close and whispered very gently into my ear, calming me. Since they weren't producing my husband, I made my doctor hold my hand through the ordeal. I'm sure she had to do other things. Thankfully, she saw my fear and obliged. And then I suddenly couldn't feel my feet. And I was even more freaked out.
Eventually, they let my husband in. That was a relief. They had him sit by my head. We held hands. I heard lots of weird noises, smelled something burning, waited and worried. I could feel pressure, but no pain. That was weird.
At 6:18pm, I felt a whole lot of weight leave my body, and second later, I heard my son cry. The doctor who performed the surgery (Dr. San Miguel) said "Wow, he was really breech!" (because apparently there are different degrees of breech) They held him up for me and he looked enormous. My first words were "Did I just give birth to a three month old?"
They cleaned him up, weighed and measured him. He peed all over the nurse, which was funny in the face of all the craziness. He weighed in at a whopping 9lbs, 9oz, was 20.5 inches long and had a head circumference of 15 1/4 inches. So, I probably wouldn't have been able to birth him anyway. At least not as a breech. If he'd been head down, things may have been a little different. Of course, if he had been head down, he may have arrived sooner.
Once he was clean, they took him and my husband away, and I waited while they removed my placenta and sewed me up. At first, I couldn't understand why they were giving me pitocin, and then remembered the whole placenta thing.
My placenta was on the front of my uterus, which had made it difficult for the doctors and midwives on my team to notice when he had turned breech. He was head down at the 20-week ultrasound, and I was being kicked in all the right places, so there were no concerns, and everything felt correct.
After I was put back together, I started shaking like a crazy fool. Probably from the shock. They covered me in warm blankets, and took me back to my room. I continued to shake for a good hour or so. At some point, my husband finally arrived with my son and I got to hold him. He was the most beautiful thing in the world, even if he did have a gigantic noggin.
The anesthesiologist told me that I would be able to wiggle my toes in about 45 minutes to an hour, and it would take about 4 hours for the meds to wear off. Every time the nurse asked me if I could wiggle my toes and I couldn't, I freaked out just a little bit more. What if I can never wiggle my toes? What if I'm paralyzed for life? How will I be able to care for my children? What will that do to my husband? I won't be able to hike, or ride my bike, or, or, do ANYTHING!
After about two hours, I could finally wiggle my toes, and I started feeling much better about that.
L had some trouble with latch. E was a natural, so I never knew that I didn't know how to teach a baby to nurse. The second night was difficult, as I fumbled with my nipple and a screaming baby. Luckily, the night nurse helped me out, and things got much easier from there.
He's a very easy-going baby. He sleeps well, has taken to his dad (and lets him soothe him), and when he's done nursing, he's done. It's very nice.
I think we've adjusted to the trauma, though I often feel like it's a little surreal and I was robbed of the childbirth experience. It also sucks that I can't go for long walks just yet, and I had to take some heavy drugs for a while. Healthy baby, healthy mama. That's what we are, and that's most important.
When I'm holding him and he looks at me and starts a little smile that shows his dimple, it doesn't matter anymore. I'll do anything for you, little guy. If sacrificing my idea of the perfect birth is what it takes to guarantee your health and safety, then so be it. Happy birthday, and here's to many more birthdays to come!