The last few months of my pregnancy, Braxton Hicks Contractions were a regular occurrence. My abdomen would tighten for about a minute. Most of these occurred while I was doing something, and would subside if I stopped doing whatever I had been doing. I also had several each night.
At 40 weeks 4 days, on Monday, September 27th, I woke with slightly uncomfortable Braxton Hicks’. I got out of bed around 4:30 for my second bathroom trip of the morning. Before I was able to fall back to sleep I had an “upset tummy” feeling in my throat, then the baby started moving around like crazy, my back started aching and my whole tummy got tight and achy. This continued every 20-25 minutes. They progressively got closer together, and eventually I started timing them with the computer. They were randomly anywhere between 35 to 60 seconds long and 4 to 8.5 minutes apart. They never got consistent or developed any sort of pattern, and I didn’t feel any after 3:30pm. For dinner, I loaded the spaghetti up with basil. We went for a long walk. I swung on the swings at the park. We made love. All things to help get labor started!
Tuesday, September 28th, I got out of bed at 2:03 am for my usual trip to the bathroom. As I stood up my legs collapsed beneath me and I had horrible back and hip pain. Trevor helped me up off the floor, and held me up until the pain stopped because I could not move. Eventually I was able to make it to the bathroom where I noticed I was losing my mucous plug and I knew I was in labor. I had several more contractions in the bathroom, hoping my water would break over the toilet (with such intense contractions, I thought the baby would be coming quick!). No such luck. Eventually I went back to bed, but lying down was too uncomfortable. Trevor filled the bath tub up and I sat in it sideways and pushed my back against the side of the tub during contractions. Nothing seemed to help. I tried to relax, but the contractions felt the same as when I was tense. While I sat in the tub, adding hot water, Trevor got the living room ready and set up and began filling the pool. I realized me adding hot water to the bath tub was taking hot water away from the pool and finally got out of the tub and went and sat in the pool. I requested all hot water and directed it at my back during contractions. The sting from the hot water helped me focus on my skin rather than the back and hip pain. All too soon, there wasn’t enough hot water and we had to wait for the hot water heater to catch up. I would just fall asleep only to be woke up by another contraction.
Around 6am Trevor told me to “shush” as he was afraid the neighbors would hear and call the cops because he was murdering me! HAHA! I didn’t find it funny at the time, though, and very sternly told him NOT to tell me to Shush! Around 8 am, Trevor decided he couldn’t take watching me be in so much pain and started talking about going to the hospital for an epidural. A couple weeks earlier, I had made him promise not to let me go to the hospital because it hurt, and here he was encouraging me to go because he couldn’t do it. At this point I began to seriously consider it with every contraction, then after it was over I was fine and didn’t want to go. Around 8:30 we left. Traffic was horrible and we tried to take the back roads. It took us almost an hour to get there.
Around 11:30 I finally got the epidural. It was SO much better. I could still feel the contractions and a mild ache, but nothing like before. Unfortunately, with an epidural you cannot eat or drink and I was STARVING and incredibly thirsty. I chowed down on the ice chips and still managed to get sick several times. I knew by going to the hospital, I would no longer have a birth free of interventions.
The first slide down that slippery slope was the epidural. There are numerous risks involved with getting an epidural, but with the pain I was feeling with each contraction, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I was repeatedly checked for dilation and my bladder emptied, greatly increasing my risk for infection. Late in the evening the doctor started talking about c-sections. When we first met her, she said she only does them as a very last resort and to not worry about it. Then all of a sudden she decided that was a possibility. One of the risks associated with an epidural is a prolonged labor. The longer you are in labor, the more tired your uterus becomes. A tired uterus cannot effectively push a baby out, and is more likely to hemorrhage. I agreed to have my water broke in hopes of bringing the baby down. Thankfully, there was no cord prolapse, a risk involved with artificially rupturing the membranes. There was still no change and we decided to allow the smallest dose of Pitocin (another risk involved with epidurals). Along with the Pitocin comes an internal monitor to make sure my uterus is responding to the Pitocin. Not long after, the doctor told me I had a fever (in Celsius) and recommended antibiotics as it was likely the baby also had an infection. - - I did not know at the time that fever is a side effect of the epidural as it diminishes my body’s ability to sweat, making it harder to dissipate excess heat. - - I allowed the antibiotics and shortly after I felt the baby move and felt pressure to push.
I was asked if I had thought about any pushing positions and I told them I had planned to just go with what felt right. I pushed for two hours, on my back – the most convenient position for the doctor. Several times I asked to sit up and was ignored. The baby kept pushing its feet up over my ribs each time I pushed. The doctor thought this meant it was stuck and had Trevor push up on my back during contractions. They put a mirror up, and finally I was able to see the baby’s head. Ever so slowly we watched the baby get closer and closer.
Finally the head was out at the end of a three push contraction. I wanted to push the body out with the next contraction, but the doctor pulled her from me. I’m still irritated with the doctor over this. She was laid on my chest, and rubbed with the roughest receiving blanket I have ever felt. As she was handed to me, Trevor had seen that she was a girl and was speechless with disbelief. We were told her APGARS were 9 and 9 (Excellent). She was born at 10:03pm. I held her and told her it was ok, that she didn’t have to cry. We told her we loved her. Trevor cut the cord. The placenta came out in a big goosh, startling me. I received six stitches. She cried the entire time. Finally her daddy took her and calmed her down. Everything was so surreal and was happening so fast. She was finally here.
A nurse wiped her down, weighed and measured her, swaddled her and put a hat on. She weighed 8 pounds 7 ounces and was 21 inches long. She met her grandparents and aunt. After her visitors left, she was given a bath while I was helped to the restroom. I got sick, felt dizzy and my vision went wacko on me and I had to go back in the bed and lay flat. Her daddy supervised her first bath. Then she went to the NICU for half an hour with daddy trailing behind to have blood drawn for a culture (to find out if she had an infection), and have an IV put in and start antibiotics. When she finally came back I was able to sit up without feeling faint and we were moved to our postpartum room.
Trevor had come down with a cold, and went home after we were settled to try to get some sleep. It was after 3am. We had been up for over 24 hours. Something Trevor is used to, but not me. I was incredibly tired and but wide awake at the same time. I was afraid to hold her for fear of falling asleep and dropping her, so she spent the night alone in the bassinet next to my bed. We were disturbed several times for IV flushes and blood pressure checks, and I got almost zero sleep. Finally around 8am I was told how to order food.
A new OB came in, told me I had not had a fever and took me off the antibiotics and released me to go home. We had to wait for the pediatrician to come in. She decided that I had had a fever and refused to release the baby until the culture came back showing no infection. This irritated me. If I had indeed had a fever that indicated infection, I would not have been taken off my antibiotics. Infections in hospitals are very serious. The pediatrician convinced me that she was very bruised up and needed a Vitamin K injection. I requested Oral Vitamin K, but she was still given the injection as the pediatrician was convinced that the oral version doesn’t work. Finally I talked her into letting us move to pediatrics, and go home the next morning. After the pediatrician left, a nurse came in and I asked her if she thought the baby was bruised. She didn’t think so at all. This irritated me further. We were finally released to move to pediatrics at 8 that night. We gave her a first name right before we were moved - Kamrynn. In pediatrics, Kamrynn could receive her un-needed antibiotics in-room rather than being taken to the NICU.
We were finally released at noon the following day after Kamrynn’s last round of antibiotics and the culture came back negative for infection. She had never needed the antibiotics. Trevor dressed Kamrynn and loaded her in her car seat and we finally went home. That evening we gave her a middle name - Kay. Her daddy called the hospital to let them know her name and make it official.
Kamrynn is growing like a weed. She weighed over her birth weight at her one week check up. Breastfeeding is now going well, she has never had any formula – which is a huge goal for me through the first year. She sleeps well at night. Tolerates traveling, sleeping away from home, and having a lot of people hold her, like a champ. She got through her first cold, at two weeks, without any medication. At her two month check-up, she weighed 12 pounds ½ ounce (77th percentile) and was 24 ¼ inches long (97th percentile). After much consideration, we declined the two month shots and are dedicated to keeping her away from sick people for the first two years of her life (at which time she is no more at risk than those who are vaccinated).
Kamrynn is now 2 ½ months old, and this is the first time I have been able to reflect on her birth without crying. . I was so insistent I was not going to the hospital unless it was an emergency, that I did not fully understand the risks associated with each intervention, and was not able to make fully informed decisions… I could only proceed based on what the doctors were telling me. I did not fully trust doctors before this experience, and they did nothing to improve that. I must trust in myself and my ability to make decisions. I have decided I need to learn from this experience so I can better stand up for the next baby if we should be so blessed. I pray that future children will have a more peaceful entrance into this world.
Trevor tickling my feet. Lucky for him I couldn't feel it!