Thursday, January 04, 2007

Birth Story: E3

Baby Girl 3 was in a breech position near the end of my pregnancy. Despite doing various things to encourage her to move, she proved persistent. Dr M started talking about trying an external version or just scheduling a c-section, and an external version (which could set off labor) would need to be scheduled around the last week in December. Having been of the mindset that I’d be pregnant until the end of January, I suddenly found myself watching the last month of my pregnancy dissolving away. After much discussion, we decided to skip the external version and schedule a c-section…and hope and pray that the baby would turn and I’d go in to labor on my own.

All of this action caused us to snap to attention. We had a crib to assemble. We had a baby room to finish. I had some laundry to do, diapers to buy… and on, and on… Just like that Rob and the girls assembled the crib, painted the baby room, tore/scraped up both layers of old carpet, and installed a ceiling fan. The new carpet installation, which we’d avoided scheduling until we were SURE the room was ready, could not be scheduled until the day after the c-section. They put us on a ‘to be called’ list in the event they could work us in earlier, knowing our situation!

Having as much done as we could for the time being, we settled in to wait and hope that things would go our way. Grandpa Bob and Grandma Carol Rolves left for Hawaii on Christmas Eve. Carol made me promise not to have the baby before they got home (they were due home the week before the c-section), but just in case, she gave me a disposable camera to take pictures for them. I assured her that the baby wasn’t going to come before they got home, and if she did - like I wasn't going to share my pictures?

In the meantime, I played music down at my lower abdomen, I tried ‘cat’ stretches, I tried hanging my belly forward (kneeling on a chair)…I had a killer upper respiratory infection, so inverting myself was out of the question because I felt my head might explode. To help pass the time, Rob and I played a computer game called Myst III Exile. It was the third in a series of games we’d played over the last several years and was good for keeping our minds off our directionally-challenged baby. Finally, during the last week of December, I decided to call it quits on all the baby-turning efforts. I figured the stress I was putting on myself to keep up those efforts was probably canceling out any good that those efforts were having. I had spoken with Barb the doula and she’d made the very wise comment, “You’ll have the birth you’re meant to have.” So, we continued to work on Myst, solving the game just into the New Year. We joked that now that we’d finished the game we were ‘free’ to relax and have the baby turn.

I woke up around 3a.m. the morning of January fourth, needing to roll over and thus, use the restroom since I was awake. As I climbed back into bed, I felt some leakage and thought I must not have wiped well, or must not have finished going...or something. I trudged back to the bathroom and went some more…but it wasn’t really controlled by me… My shorts were wet from the leakage, so I went to the laundry room to grab another pair. As I bent to step into the shorts there was more fluid running down my leg…uh, oh! Back to the bathroom I went to wipe and check to see if there was any color to the discharge, and a quick smell of the toilet paper. I have no idea what I was expecting to smell, but I seemed to remember ‘foul odor’ on the list of things to check amniotic fluid for in the event the bag of waters breaks. I couldn’t smell anything, so I assumed all was well. However, with the baby still breech, I knew we needed to get to the hospital before labor began.

I rolled up a bath towel and put it between my legs before putting on my shorts. I crept into the bedroom and made my way to my lamp. “Rob? Rob, watch your eyes, I’m going to turn on my lamp. I’m not having contractions, but I think my water broke.” As I reached for my lamp switch, my hand hit the always-present cup of water I kept there….SPLASH! That got Rob out of bed! He thought THAT was my water breaking! I put something down to dry things, and we moved out to the kitchen to strategize. Amy and baby F were to come and stay with the girls when we went to the hospital, but at 3am on a Sunday morning? We decided to go with Grandma and Grandpa T. Calls were made by Rob, to the doctor, to Barb the doula, and of course to Mom and Dad. All were assured that I wasn’t having contractions, but the baby was breech so I needed to get to the hospital. Then we stood there for a moment, in shock. “I need to pack a bag!”

I went and dug out a bag and began tossing things in it. I jotted a note for the girls and for Mom and Dad – E1 had Sunday school at 10a.m., and we’d promised E2 pancakes for breakfast. I changed the towel between my legs, and changed into sweats. Mom and Dad arrived in record time, despite the cold, rain-slick road, and after briefing them on some things (including the spilled water – not amniotic fluid); we took off for the hospital.

Once there, we parked in the patient drop-off lot and headed inside. We had called en-route to find out what we should do once we got there. The doctor’s exchange wasn’t too helpful, so I’d called labor and delivery. They told us to stop at pre-registration and then head on up to the fourth floor. I was shown to a room, and after changing into a gown, we did all the paperwork stuff that needed to be done. Upon checking me, the nurses thought the baby was head down! I asked for an ultrasound to be sure…and sure enough she’d turned. YAY! I was hooked up to the monitors, and given IV antibiotics (since my water had broken). The hospital’s policy for having a vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean) was that I had to have an epidural in the event an emergency c-section was needed. In that circumstance, they could just turn up the dosage on the already-in-place epidural. I refused it. I did just fine with the vbac that was E2’s birth, thank you very much. Now we just had to wait for a doctor. Dr H was on call for my doctors, but he was covering both our hospital and another.

Wait, wait, and wait. My head was still stuffy and I was repeatedly blowing my nose like crazy. The nurses soon learned to ‘read’ the results of my nose-blowing on the monitors. Barb arrived some time later and she gave me a small bottle of eucalyptus oil – I would drip it on a tissue and put the tissue up near my nose in an effort to clear things enough so I could breathe. I had some Chapstick sent up from the gift shop since all the mouth breathing was leaving my lips really chapped.

Morning rolled around and Rob made some phone calls. He called his parents who were still on vacation in Hawaii with Christine to tell them they’d jinxed us by telling us not to have the baby while they were gone. He called Mom, Dad, and our girls to give them an update. And, he called Amy. Amy, bless her heart, drove from her house to our house to get my blow dryer and something else and delivered it to us at the hospital.

Dr H came through on rounds and decided we should wait to get things started (“Dust and water you…”). If I were to begin labor, we’d need a surgical team and an anesthesiologist at the ready in the event I needed an emergency section. If Dr H wasn’t available, I might draw a resident who would more than likely want to start pitocin. Dr H was totally in favor of vbacs and felt I had some time to wait for labor to start on its own, and by the next morning my own doctors would be on call again. Good news for me!

So, that left me resting uncomfortably, unable to breathe through my nose, feasting on a liquid diet, and wishing I could take a shower. I felt like I had a million bowls of bouillon water that day (one time they forgot the bouillon and it was just a bowl of hot water!), and Jell-O, and popsicles. They had a new ‘room service’ style menu that I could order from as much as I wanted, and I kept ordering one of everything they offered on the ‘liquid’ menu (except coffee – how the heck does coffee make the cut?). One of the nurses told me I could order more than one of each so I started ordering two Jell-Os, etc. Finally, around 5p.m., I’d begged enough and the nurse called Dr H to ask about food – I wasn’t going to be able to go another 24hours without real food, much less try to get any sleep that night. Dr H gave the go-ahead for one meal of REAL food and then it was back to liquids for me in the event I needed surgery the next day. WOOOHOOO! I ordered a cheeseburger, fries, tomato soup, chocolate milk, AND ice cream…and ate every last speck of food! Just as the food was being brought in, the new nurse on duty tried to stop it, not realizing that I’d gotten doctor approval. I would have been one angry, hungry pregnant woman if they’d snatched that tray away from me!

My next wish was for a shower. I was so focused on getting myself to the hospital; I didn’t take the time to shower before we left. My nurse finally, grudgingly, let me take one…although she made me promise to be fast – under ten minutes – because she really shouldn’t be letting me up…whatever. I soon realized what a sad state my packed bag was…no shampoo, no conditioner, no soap, no comb…I had make-up and clothes! The nurse gave me soap, conditioner and shampoo. Rob went down and got me a comb from the gift shop, and moved the car to the parking garage. I sat on a chair and was very quick – so quick I surprised the nurse that I was done already.

A roll-away bed was brought in for Rob. It had real sheets and everything! Quite a step up from the recliner thing he slept in after E1 was born. It was squeaky and hard, but it kept him horizontal. And thus began our long night of discomfort. I kept getting the various checks they do to monitor us pregnant women -although they did let me go a longer stretch throughout the night and just checked me when I’d get up to use the restroom. Which I did about every two hours. My head was stuffy and I couldn’t breathe, I was worried about what would happen if I went into labor soon, and worried about what would happen if I DIDN’T go into labor…it was a long night.


Lisa said...

Great story! Will have to e-mail Barb being that she's in the story.

owlhaven said...

I love birth stories!

Mary,mom to many

Nancy said...


Mary, I remember when I first learned what a birth story was and I've loved reading them ever since.