I was pretty confident that I'd be able to pull off a natural hospital birth, especially considering how much I had prepared. I took a Bradley class, hired a doula, created a detailed birth plan, and made my wishes abundantly clear to my OB. Top it off with the fact that on the night of Aug. 3, I was already having some early labor contractions. To me, at least, there was still hope!
And then, on Aug. 4, I went to get Prostin gel administered to my cervix as a last ditch effort to avoid an induction scheduled for Aug. 8.
Everything started out pretty routine. I was strapped onto the monitors in the maternity observation ward at the hospital at around 10 a.m. The nurses started a 20 minute strip and said that the whole thing would likely take less than three hours. I was pretty happy with that, thinking that I'd be home shortly after lunchtime, with plenty of time to try taking some castor oil.
Then, the OB on duty came in to check my cervix. I was a little disappointed that there was no change — I was still "a very soft but long 1 cm." Then came the news that would change everything: The monitor was showing I was already having several mild early labor contractions, and the baby's heart rate was slowing during each one. "Decels" they called them. I was kind of confused at first. I thought that it was something that happens at times during normal labor, but the OB said that it would be common during perhaps Transition and Second Stage, but decels in Early Labor meant that something wasn't right.
So, he called my OB, who then came down and gave me the news. I was going to have a baby today, likely within the next couple of hours. I was going to need a C-section if we were going to make sure the baby and I were both going to be safe.
Immediately, I burst into tears. To me, this was the worst possible outcome. Not only was I going to have to go through a C-section — the exact opposite of everything I indicated in my birth plan and against everything else I'd planned for — but my baby boy was in somewhat eminent danger, too.
It took my husband and I a while to soak it all in. We were finally going to meet our boy, but it was in the absolute worst conditions. We were at the whims of doctors and nurses who were trying to comfort us with sterile explanations and jargon.
We were both elated and heartbroken at the same time.
The only real comfort came from our doula, Lara, who rushed to the hospital to attend the birth. Although she'd never attended a C-section, I really don't know what we would have done without her emotional support. It was such a whirlwind, and I felt so out of control throughout the whole thing.
They hooked me up to an IV and wheeled me into the OR, where I was given an epidural and then prepped for delivery. Everything after that was kind of a blur until I heard our boy's first cries. I was so incredibly grateful to hear his voice, and know that things were getting at least a little easier to handle.
But it was so agonizing to see him moved to the warming table, just a matter of feet away, and not being able to hold him, nuzzle him, or have his skin against mine. It wasn't until he was already swaddled and cleaned off that he was placed on my chest with the help of my husband and Lara.
Hot tears streamed down my face as I looked at my boy. He was so beautiful and amazing. I fell in love with him instantly.
It took what felt like forever for them to suture me up and dress my wound. It was an eternity, or at least it seemed that way because I desperately wanted to hold my baby.
Soon enough I was moved to a gurney, and my boy, Cooper, was handed to me. I stripped off the top of the gown and placed him on my chest. It was like a powerful drug, his smooth skin against mine. We then moved to post-op observation, where our journey began. We started breastfeeding as soon as we could, and that's when they told me his stats: 10 pounds, 3 ounces, 20.5 inches long with at 15-inch head. When the OB came in to follow up, she told me that not only was his distress likely caused by his size, but he also had his cord wrapped around his neck twice and there was some meconium staining in the amniotic fluid.
In any case, while I'm still mourning the birth I didn't get to experience, I'm glad I have my amazing son in my arms.