It was August 6th and I was 5 days overdue when my water finally broke. I had just ate lunch and I had been feeling funny all day. I was pretty sure I was starting to have contractions but they didn’t hurt at all so I wasn't sure if I was going to labor or not. Around 2:45, I decided to call my ObGyn to see if I could come in to the office since I would rather pay for a doctor visit than for an ER visit after hours for a false labor. As soon as I hung up, it happened. I felt a sudden gush and it wouldn't stop. I sprinted into the bathroom. Amniotic fluid kept coming and coming but it was a dark olive green color which was no good. In my birth classes, this was stressed to be a worse case scenario. The green color means the baby had a bowel movement in the womb and per the nurses who taught our classes, that meant they can swallow or inhale their poop which can lead to a serious infection or even death. I panicked!
I called my husband and he rushed home from work. We immediately headed to the hospital and I was in tears the entire way. I was terrified that I might lose my little girl. It was a little after 3:30 when we got to the hospital admissions and I was so worried. I told the receptionists what was happening but they had absolutely no sense of urgency and assured us the baby was fine. One of the women I spoke to said that this happens all the time and it’s not a big deal and I shouldn't be so worried. I felt somewhat relieved but why did they make such a big deal of it in class?
Anyway, I got checked in through the triage and was sent to a delivery room. The nurses put me in the hospital bed right away, strapped me up to fetal monitors, and made me get an IV that I did not want. I protested some but I was still so worried about the baby that I just went with it.
My contractions started picking up speed and intensity and one of my biggest fears happened… back labor! It's the worst! Back labor is when the baby is coming down face up and the position forces the baby’s head to pass through your pelvis in a horrible, spine grinding manner. It hurt so bad… I mean I was doing that tear filled silent scream at the peak of each contraction and they were still a good 5 minutes apart. I wasn’t going to make it. I finally caved after a couple of hours and let the nurse give me a pain reliever called Stadol through my IV. I don’t take pain medications in general so this stuff really messed me up… I was high as a kite but I was able to go on for 16 hours in back labor with no epidural. It still hurt so bad but the medicine made it so I didn’t really care and it was almost as if I witnessing my labor instead of experiencing it. I’m not quite sure how to explain it but it was all surreal.
So 16 hours later, I had dilated to 9 and 3/4 centimeters and then it just stopped. We tried everything… walking, sitting on the toilet, leaning over on all fours. The nurse even went in and tried to manually move my cervix out of the way but it kept popping back. Nothing could get this kid to come down.
My contractions were so intense by then that they were less than a minute apart and some weren’t even completed before the next began. By this time, the doctor on call had changed and after the new guy assessed the situation, he offered an epidural and picotin so I could rest and we could get that last little bit of cervix out of the way and finally get this baby out.
The sun was coming out and I was exhausted and in so much pain. My husband looked like hell and my amazing doula had massaged my back through the entire night just to get me through. I knew she was exhausted too. We were all done. So I accepted the doctor's offer and I got the epidural. It kicked in almost immediately and I was able to sleep for about an hour and a half before the nurse woke me up… it was time to push.
I pushed every 1 to 2 minutes for another couple of hours but still no baby. This kid was stubborn! The doctor came in to check on us and he was concerned about my baby’s ability to recover from all the pushing and contractions… her little heart rate wasn’t recovering quickly enough and they were concerned she was going into distress. He declared he wanted her out in the next 15 minutes or they might need to take emergency action.
I didn’t realize what happened next until my husband told me the next day… the doctor checked the baby’s station (how far down she is) and he tried to manually rotate her head a little to help her pass through. In my mind and with the epidural, I just felt a lot of really uncomfortable pressure… my husband said the doctor literally had his entire hand inside of me wiggling around. No wonder it hurt! Luckily for us, the doctor said it was good news… she was low enough that he could assist in getting her out with forceps or a vacuum and I could avoid having a C-section. Since they’re better for the baby, I opted for the forceps which look like giant metal salad tongs. My heart dropped when I saw them in person!
The next 10 minutes were surreal. Everyone got into position and the nurses put my legs up in these giant blue stirrups that ran from the back of my knees to my ankles. (You can see them under the hospital bed in the above picture). The doctor was down between my legs getting the forceps ready… all I could see was a wisp of his fluffy gray hair. He told me to get ready to push harder than I ever had before and he started positioning the forceps which didn’t hurt to my surprise. I assume it was because everything was so sore and stretched out already by Cecilia's big head.
My contraction started to come on so it was go time. There was a collective “PUSH!” yelled by everyone in the room and I pushed like hell. It was the weirdest sensation! As she came out, I felt this overwhelming sense of relief yet I felt so hollow inside. The sounds are forever etched in my memory, more so than anything else I experienced during labor. I can still hear my growling scream followed by a gooey cracking sound as the doctor pulled her out, the gush and splatter of liquid of everything being released behind the baby, my husband's sacred voice urging the doctor to make sure I was okay, the sucking sound as they cleaned out little Cecilia’s mouth, and then, her first little cry. That was it. That moment… the moment I heard her. There was no pain and everything was okay. There was a hum of activity in the room as everyone started cleaning and the doctor was stitching me up. One of the nurses immediately brought Cecilia up to my chest and I cried as I held her for the first time. She made her official debut into the world at 12:01 in the afternoon on August 7th. She weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds 9 ounces and measured 19 3/4 inches long, all ten fingers and ten toes are present and accounted for.
As far as my birth plan was concerned, I was a little disappointed that I didn't have the all natural unmedicated labor I had wanted. Thankfully, I was realistic about childbirth and my main rule was that I would do whatever was needed for the health of my baby and myself. The most important thing to me was for Cecilia to arrive healthy and unharmed which she did.
It was a long 21 hour labor and I was wore out but no worse for wear so I honestly can't complain. Especially when the reward for all that hard work is this beautiful little baby girl!