Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Benson's Birth Story

It was 2:00 am.
We groggily turned off our alarms, which were simultaneously blaring,
and rolled out of bed to get ready to go to the hospital.

I was frustrated and edgy as we walked out into the misty, dark night and got into the car.
I was 8 days past my due date, and it had been by far my most difficult pregnancy.
We had moved across the country in the middle of the pregnancy and left behind the team of midwives, the clinic with free childcare, and the top-notch hospital I'd experienced with Maxwell's birth to live in a state where midwives are not allowed to deliver in hospitals and I'd had a number of laughably ridiculous medical experiences.
After my ideal birth experience with Maxwell, it was a bit of a let-down for me.
I'd been having all the early signs of labor for the past 5 days, but nothing consistent had started yet despite my efforts to get things going.
Fitting that the cherry on top of this very challenging pregnancy was induction because the baby wasn't coming on his own according to the doctor's timeline.

And I was dreading the induction.

After experiencing 2 unmedicated births and 2 births with an epidural (one of which was an induction),
I had learned that there was a night and day difference between my birth and recovery experiences.
I'd had a terrible reaction to pitocin, and the more medical intervention given, the worse off everything seemed to be--for me and the baby.
My birth plan had gone out the window and I was trying desperately to hang onto whatever bits and pieces I could, but doing so was only increasing my frustration.

I knew logically that my feelings were ridiculous.
I was about to meet our son!!!
It didn't matter how he got here as long as we were both safe!
I knew I needed to let go of my frustration and let the excitement set in, but try as I might, I couldn't get over my disappointment and annoyance at the decisions that were being made that I felt I had little control over.

And so I blinked back tears as I stared out the window into the dark night, the light drizzle of rain matching my mood.
We walked into the Women's Pavilion at the hospital and were greeted by a very friendly receptionist.
Why the powers that be think 3:00 am is a good time for an induction is beyond me, but I glued on a smile and made conversation with the kind woman as she got us all checked in.

We settled into a delivery room, I changed into a gown, and a fabulous nurse began making preparations with us.
She started the pitocin a little after 4 am, finished checking us in, and got a feel for our goals for the birth.

And then she left and Sam went to use the restroom, and I was left alone in the hospital bed, listening to the rhythmic "click, click, click" of the IV as mild contractions punctuated the stillness.
I sat in that bed stewing over my many frustrations and as I considered my options I thought about completely surrendering my desires and embracing this experience wholeheartedly...including getting an epidural instead of fighting my way through the magnified induced contractions.
And oddly, I felt the greatest sense of peace descend upon me.
Somehow, fully letting go of my desires enabled me to let go of my frustrations.

And so, when Sam was settled back by my side, I explained my feelings to him and we agreed that I would go ahead and get an epidural.
We talked it over with the nurse and decided there was no point in waiting--I had made my decision and I didn't want to have to stew over it any longer. So she called the nurse anesthetist and within about 20 minutes he was in the room, ready to go. Contractions were only mildly painful at this point, and I was still dilated to 3-4 cm, which is where I was at when I arrived at the hospital.

The nurse anesthetist began giving me a very detailed explanation of many things that could go wrong with the epidural and freely told me of the bad things that resulted when they made mistakes.
He wasn't acting very confident!
And then he told me to let him know if I felt pain when the epidural was being placed, because that might mean he was off to one side or the other.
I started to feel a little anxious again about my decision with all of his warnings (and I kind of wanted to shout, "You CAN'T be off to one side or the other...you MUST do this right! This is my spinal cord you are working with!!"), but I nervously proceeded.
The epidural took much longer to place than the others I'd had and was quite a bit more painful.
But when does "pressure" become "pain?" It's one of those doctor distinctions that is beyond me.
So I gritted my teeth and finally everything was in place.
He started the fluid running and apologized that it would be cold because it just came out of the fridge.

And suddenly I was hit with the odd sensation of icy fluid flowing into my back.
And within a few seconds of the drugs entering my system, I was incredibly light headed and nauseated. I was on the verge of throwing up and I felt like I was miles away from everyone else in the room, looking at them through a tunnel.
Somehow I informed them that I felt lightheaded and they handed me a bag to catch potential vomit and told me to roll onto my side.
I clung to the side of the hospital bed, trying to stay conscious while focusing on breathing calmly.
After a few minutes things settled down and I felt a little more normal. The side I had rolled onto was very tingly and almost numb, while the other side had almost complete feeling. So I rolled onto the other side, and for the remainder of the labor, every time the epidural pump would go off and more drugs would enter my system, I was hit with another less severe wave of nausea and light headedness.
I always react strongly to drugs, but this was a new experience!

The doctor stopped by around 8:20 to break my water. I was still only 3-4 cm dilated, 60% effaced, and the baby was at position -3. "This baby just does not want to come, does he?" he remarked as he broke my water.
He then left the hospital and headed to an office several miles away.
It wasn't long before I started feeling contractions a lot more intensely. The epidural still wasn't very effective on my right side, so although the contractions weren't their full intensity, I could definitely feel them picking up.
Meanwhile, the baby's heartrate would disappear from the monitor every time I had a contraction.
Nurses were coming in every few minutes to adjust the monitor and try to get a better reading, but they could not get it to be consistent.
The contractions were beginning to require my concentration to breathe through, and when one particularly hard contraction hit I heard the baby's heartrate slow, then disappear entirely, then start again at a slow rate, and then pick back up as the contraction subsided.

That scared me.

It sounded more like he was the one having issues--not the monitor!
A nurse hurried into the room and told me that she was going to put a scalp lead on his head so she could get an accurate reading and see what was going on.
She bent down to insert the monitor and then said, "Or...we'll just have a baby!" A quick check showed that I was already at 10 cm and ready to deliver!
"I'll go call the doctor..." she said. "Try to breathe through those contractions!"

So I fought the urge to push and breathed deeply through the contractions as she called the doctor.
He arrived about 15 minutes later, thoroughly surprised by how fast things had gone after he broke my water, and a few pushes later he was holding up our screaming baby boy who immediately began urinating all over the doctor, the nurse, and me.
He was exquisite.
He was perfect.
He was worth every miserable moment of the past nine months
and every unrealized hope during labor and delivery.
Suddenly those sacrifices seemed a pittance when compared with the grandeur of his presence.
I'd do it all again in a heartbeat to have this sweet, cuddly baby boy with us.

We're so grateful to have you, Benson!


  1. Congratulations once again on the birth of Benson. I totally understand the anxiety that comes with being pregnant and delivering a baby. You are such a trooper!


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