Today Emerson is exactly 7 months old, and I’m finally sharing her birth story! A few weeks ago, I posted part 1 of my birth story. So if you haven’t read that, you might want to start there first. Because today, we’re jumping right in & picking up where I left off. And of course this post will be even longer than the last one, because this part is really the main event… So here is the “real” part of the labor & delivery with Emerson!
We left our house around 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning, 7/8/17, grabbed Whataburger on the way, and checked in at the hospital at 5 a.m. Luckily, it wasn’t too crowded at that time, so I was admitted into the triage area right away. But since my water broke at home, they had to do a test swab for “proof.” That was super uncomfortable. (SO much of the whole baby making & having process is just uncomfortable!) They were getting me all prepped and ready to be officially admitted, and while waiting for the results to come back from the lab, my waters kept gushing, so they were able to just “visually confirm.” They also checked to see how far dilated I was, and I was still only around 1cm.
I was then admitted to a labor & delivery room right at 7 a.m., and they wheeled me on over. I met the on-call doctor, Dr. Brickler, and got settled in. At the 8 a.m. shift change, Dr. Dixon came in & was updated on my status. From there, The rest of the morning passed pretty uneventfully. They monitored baby girl, I kept having contractions, and family started showing up. My parents & Grandmommie were both there, my sister & her husband came, Jeff’s parents stopped by, and my aunt & uncle were there as well. The nurses hooked me up to IV fluids & magnesium sulfate, and I sort of ate a little bit of lunch (hospital cheeseburger), and just laid in bed. Things started getting more painful late that afternoon, but I still wasn’t dilated very much, so we decided to start pitocin.
The contractions were starting to get pretty strong by dinner-time, and I realized I was actually having back labor, which was terrible. But since I wasn’t far enough dilated to start pushing (only around 4cm?), I took some stadol instead of getting an epidural. This continued all night long, and I was kind of in & out of it at this point, due to the strong pain meds, and pretty intense back pain. I remember also trying out one of those peanut things between my legs, but I hated it, and made them take it out. They were also having trouble keeping those little paddles on the right spots to monitor baby’s heart rate (she had her arms and legs both crossed in front of her chest), so they inserted an internal monitor which attached to the top of her skull, in order to keep track of all of her vitals. (She actually still has the scar from this!)
I should also mention, towards the end of my pregnancy (during the last 3-4 weeks or so), my blood pressure started creeping up. It wasn’t terrible, but they were watching it & kept making sure it didn’t get too bad. So then by the time I was in labor & suffering from painful contractions, it was even higher.
I was still slowly dilating, and got up to around 7cm dilated. I finally decided to go for the epidural around 11 p.m., but they warned that epidurals cause your blood pressure to tank so they needed to make sure they were monitoring that closely. However, since my BP was so high, they actually thought the epidural would just bring it back down to “normal range.” Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.
There was only one lady on duty giving epidurals that night, and it was finally my turn right at midnight. Jeff was able to stay in the room with me, but my mom & sister had to wait outside. You have to stay completely still while they insert the needle into your lower back, and it was extremely difficult to do so. We kept having to take breaks for contractions to pass, but it was finally in, and Mama & Megan came back into the room.
Things quickly went south though. I’m told I started talking incoherently, and that I kept saying my head was “swimmy.” (I do remember saying that, and I remember that feeling, and it was strange and scary.) And then I blacked out. For about two hours….(My mom helped me put the pieces back together, and helped me write these next three paragraphs.)
My blood pressure went from super high to incredibly low. I mean looowww, down to about 50/20 at the lowest point. There was an immediate flood of nurses in my room and a frenzy ensued to get things under control. Since Emerson was hooked up to the internal monitor, there was a NICU Pediatrician somewhere else in the hospital constantly monitoring baby’s vitals during all of this. There were nurses in and out of the room (my own personal nurse and literally every other nurse on the floor that night), working frantically to stabilize my blood pressure and get Emerson’s heart rate down. At one point, her heart rate was 285 BPM. My mom & sister were nearly panicked beyond control, and Jeff told me he was trying to remain calm for them, but internally he was also freaking out. (One tiny bit I remember was opening my eyes for a few seconds, realizing I was holding my sister’s hand, and looking up at her to see her panic-stricken face, then blacking out again.)
For the next hour, I was given shots of epinephrine every 30 seconds while they worked on me, trying to bring my blood pressure up. They stopped all the other meds I had been on during labor, and just concentrated on stabilizing both of our vitals. My BP finally started going back up, and my family and nurses started breathing a little easier. For almost two hours, my very dedicated nurse sat by my bedside and never left. She told my family that if she had to be in a room with a family non-stop, she was glad it was with mine! (She was absolutely incredible, and she got along great with us!)
During all of this time, my labor not only STOPPED, but it actually reversed. Around 2 a.m., my BP was around 90/60 (still kind of low, but much better), the doctor checked me out, and I was back down to 2cm dilated. That was very sad and upsetting after all of that, and I remember crying a little. So they finally started the pitocin again during the wee hours of the morning, and they kept being monitoring to see if it was working to get labor going again. But sadly, it wasn’t. However, I really didn’t want a c-section, and so that’s what I told Dr. Dixon at that point, and we decided to just keep laboring, and see where it led.
At the 8 a.m. shift change, Dr. McKinnie, who is my usual OBGYN and who I had seen during my whole pregnancy, came on shift. Dr. Dixon gave her the whole, long drawn-out story, and she came in to see me around 9 a.m. She checked me out, and I was only about 4cm dilated. She told me that we could continue to wait for me to progress more & dilate on my own again, but that might still take a long time, and we might wait another 10-12 hours, and maybe still only make it back up to 6-7cm. And then at that point, we could be in an even worse situation. She was also worried (and had mentioned this before during pregnancy), that my pelvis might be too small, and baby might not even fit through there, since I have a small frame.
So her strong suggestion was that we do an “unplanned c-section.” My waters had been “ruptured” for 30+ hours at this point, and the longer that went on, the higher the risk of infection. She was also worried that we could wait another 10-12 hours of terribly painful labor and contractions, and still end up having to do a c-section at that point anyways, if I didn’t ever make it to 10cm. I looked over to Jeff for his opinion, and he said he though we should do the c-section, but that it was completely up to me, and either way he would be right there with me the whole time. I didn’t like the idea at first, but I told Dr. McKinnie that I trusted her expertise, and if that’s what she thought was best, then that’s what we would do.
After 30+ hours of labor & pain & just lying around, things went at warp speed from this point on!
My whole family gathered around my bed, held hands, and we all prayed. I trusted that the c-section was the right choice, but I was still extremely nervous! At 9:15 a.m. (only 15 minutes since doctor first came in the room), Jeff suited up in his protective covering, and they wheeled me off to the O.R. Since I already had the epidural in my back, things got going quickly. They were able to pump in more meds, and lay me out for surgery, all within just a few minutes. Dr. Dixon was supposed to go home after the 8 a.m. shift change, but he stayed 2 hours extra after his shift ended, in order to help perform the surgery with Dr. McKinnie. He said since he had been through all of this with me for the last 24 hours, he wanted to stay and finish so he could see me through to the birth of Emerson! What an amazing doctor!
For those of you that have delivered babies vaginally (or for those of you that have never delivered a baby at all), c-sections feel weird. Pushing through labor & delivery must be super hard work (and part of me wishes I had had the opportunity to have tried that at least), but c-sections just feel plain weird. You are awake (and only sort of lucid), and you can feel them working on you. It doesn’t hurt, and you don’t feel the cutting, but you DO feel them pulling and tugging and just moving ALL the things around. I mean really, the best I can try to describe what it feels like, is like they’re tugging out your insides, end over end, like uncoiling a heavy rope that’s attached on your insides… It’s a crazy experience.
Anyways, surgery began around 9:25 (I would guess since I couldn’t see the clock), and Jeff was standing right beside my head. I felt all the weird tugging for about 20 minutes, my nose got super stuffy & my mouth got super dry, and it was so cold in the room even though you have warm blankets draped on your extremities. But then at 9:45 a.m. on July 9, 2017, Dr. McKinnie & Dr. Dixon both yelled, “BABY OUT 9:45!!!” (Typing that just made me tear up!)
I immediately started crying. I remember calling out to Emerson, telling her how happy I was that she had arrived, and that Mommy was right here. I kept saying her name over & over again, and I just couldn’t believe that she was finally here. They did the clean up stuff, let Jeff cut the cord, and then they brought her over and placed her on my chest. I was a sobbing mess at this point, but totally and completely FULL TO THE BRIM with love for that tiny girl. It’s a feeling you really can’t explain, and putting it into words is so difficult, because there’s just honestly nothing that comes even remotely close for comparison. I knew right in that moment that life would never be the same, and I would never stop loving this girl. This tiny creation gifted to me by a good and gracious God. This baby. MY baby. She was perfect, and she was ours.
(I decided I want to keep telling this story, but in another, third post. We ended up staying in the hospital for a full week after this traumatic labor & delivery, due to issues and concerns for both Emerson and I. And although I won’t go into alllll the details of that personal journey, I do want to share some of it. But for now, this is a good stopping point here.)