Just a little bit of background to help the story… I’ve always had what we, in my family, refer to as “female problems”. Extremely heavy periods that could last anywhere from 5-15 days; horrible cramps before, during, and after my periods. At 19, it was discovered that I had a tumor that, while benign, basically took over my left ovary resulting in its removal. The same year, I also found out I have a bicornuate uterus, a strange but common problem. (A bicornuate uterus is a uterine malformation which can result in recurrent pregnancy loss, preterm birth, and malpresentation in birth.) I’ve been pregnant 3 times and suffered 3 losses – the last, in 2007, being twins which I lost about 2 weeks apart. While I know I’m young and sure haven’t struggled the way some women have with getting and staying pregnant, I do know heartache and this baby I’m holding in my arms now as I type this means the absolute world to me. I wouldn’t change a thing about the way he was born because the end result was exactly what I wanted: a healthy, beautiful child to hold and to love and to nurture. HOWEVER, many things happened that I have most definitely learned from and I will use my new first-hand knowledge to hopefully better my next birthing experience, should I be so lucky.
I was in labor for 3 days with EXTREMELY intense contractions but labor and delivery wouldn’t admit me because for a while the contractions would be 4 min apart, then they would be as far apart as 15 min and then stop altogether for an hour or two so the nurses didn’t believe it was true labor and told me not to come in again until they were 2-3 min apart consistently for at least 2 hours. I had gone in the night before I had Nicolas. The nurses were nice to me but they most definitely treated me like a first-time, “don’t know nothin'”, mom. Of course it didn’t help that my contractions all but stopped when I got there so they sent my husband and I home. So, the next day (the 3rd day of pain) by about 1pm, I REALLY felt like I had to push but my contractions were still as far as 20 min apart up until that point. That’s when things started getting crazy. At about 5 or 5:30pm, I went to pee and had my first “I HAVE to push!!” contraction and…. Something. Came. Out.
When I stood up, it was still attached- instead of my water just breaking like a normal person, part of the sac just bulged out and was just hanging! I WAS HORRIFIED! In everything I read, I’d never heard of that happening so, once again, I called labor and delivery and told the nurse what was happening and she said, “You need to call an ambulance!” – like I was some kind of idiot, even though it was them that had sent me home the night before. So then I was really freaking out and I called my husband, who was at work (thankfully he works an extremely short distance away) and then, for the first time in my life, I called 911.
Right about when Chris, my husband, came bursting through the door, I was starting to have another contraction and trying to give the dispatcher directions to our house. I just handed Chris the phone and laid down on our bed. Chris was freaking out on the phone and just repeating, “There’s a sac hanging in between her legs!” (While we can see the humor now, it wasn’t so funny then!) At this point, an ambulance is on the way and the dispatcher is now telling Chris that he may have to deliver the baby. He sent him around the house gathering towels, a shoe string, and safety pins. I was laying on our bed, having contractions, and saying, “This wasn’t my birth plan! This IS NOT my birth plan!!” I was by myself a lot because Chris was standing outside waiting for the ambulance as it’s difficult to explain to people how to get to our house when they’ve never been in the area so that in itself became an ordeal.
Finally the first response lady got there and then the ambulance with two EMT’s and they’re all excited because they think they’re going to get to deliver my baby and I’m like, “I’d rather not!!” (Side note: I LOVE the idea of home birthing, however, only if it’s planned!) They break my water and discover meconium which, apparently, made them unqualified for the job because then we had to wait for ANOTHER ambulance with paramedics to come and when they finally got there the plan was still to deliver right there in my room. Then my contractions started getting further apart and I still wasn’t crowning so the paramedics felt it was ok to transport me to the hospital (Thank you, God!!). (That was the bumpiest ride I’ve ever been on, by the way!)
We got to the hospital and into my room and I started pushing. And pushing. And pushing. And pushing. My contractions started getting even further apart so they started me on pitocin and gave me a “break” for a half hour but told me I could still push if I wanted to. Like I had a choice! I wasn’t happy about the pitocin but I didn’t know what else to do. Nothing else was going the way I planned and I just so desperately wanted everything to be ok. Of course, the pitocin just made everything feel more intense. The doctors came back in and I pushed and pushed some more. I have never been so tired in my life. At this point I’d already been pushing for a total of 3 hours and I just couldn’t do it anymore, or at least that’s how I felt at the time. The doctor suggests the vacuum and I didn’t want to but after a few more contractions with no progress, I said yes. She got the vacuum on his head and then told us that he was sunny-side up and she couldn’t get to a good area of his head to put it so the stupid thing wasn’t any good to us.
I felt utterly defeated. I was so exhausted. After some more pushing, the doc finally suggested a c-section. I cried and cried; this also was something I did NOT want, but really, what could I do? I pushed a little bit more but soon said yes to that too. I couldn’t imagine labor pains being anymore intense. Then they told me to quit pushing. I am not kidding you, but I learned that I would rather push for DAYS than fight the urge to push for 20 minutes! THAT was terrible! But then the wonderful anesthesiologist came in and gave me the spinal and after that, I was just fine. I just told myself to relax, that I was going to finally get to hold my son and my awesome husband was right there with me. Everything was going to be just fine. And, amazingly, it was.
They had to push Nicolas back up the birth canal in order to get him out because he was pretty darn stuck. Also, his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck three times. After he was out and crying and cleaned up and I was all fixed up, the doc told me that my pelvis was too small, that there was no way baby would have been delivered naturally, even under favorable conditions. She told me that when I decide to do this again, NOT to attempt a VBAC. She also told me that the reason my contractions were so erratic was because of my bicornuate uterus and that that happens to a lot of women with that particular uterine anomaly. That would have been handy information in the beginning—like when no one believed I was in labor—but whatever. I know now for next time.
After all that, I did finally get to hold my baby. For a minute, anyways, until our family all came in. And there were tons of them there to support us. It was really nice, honestly. I was so drugged up and absolutely love struck, I didn’t mind watching everyone pass him around, each of them also falling in love with him. It was the perfect way to end that crazy day! Poor little baby though. He had awful bruises on his head from the vacuum and from being stuck inside of me, but other than that, he was just fine and so tiny and perfect! My son was born Friday, August 12, 2011 at 11:49pm. He was 7lbs 15oz, 21 1/4 in long and his head and chest were both 14cm in diameter. We went home that Monday morning, after staying 3 nights. And that is how my boy Nicolas came into this world!
[I should also mention that even though I had a section, I was still aloud to have my baby in my room with me all 3 nights. He was so healthy and had NO problems what-so-ever. After all of my reading, I chalk this up to being able to labor prior to the surgery. We got to bond, our skin-to-skin time was so precious to me. And I also got to breastfeed, which I’m still doing, although I do supplement with formula because of weight gain issues. Now that I know what labor is like and that I can handle it, with no meds even, if I can’t find a doctor who is willing to do a VBAC, I will insist on going into labor naturally first if I ever get to do this again!]