Laurel's Birth Adventure

Here's the story of Laurel's entrance into the world.

As you know, we have been eagerly anticipating the birth of our daughter for months now. The nursery was painted, hospital bags packed, and my due date came and went. But no labor. We had to schedule an induction at my 41 week appointment, and were sent on our way to try some of the non-medical tricks, including, but not limited too, a fancy night out on the town, lots and lots of walking, eating eggplant, eating spicy food, walking up stairs, and duck walking. We were hoping to avoid medical induction, but the general rule of thumb is not to let a pregnancy progress past 42 weeks, for the safety of the baby. It was getting down to the wire at 41 weeks and 3 days, when I started experiencing some contractions. Hooray!

The First Part
We spent Tuesday evening at home, trying to relax through contractions. I wasn't able to sleep very much, and by 3:00 am, they were under 5 minutes apart, so off to the hospital we went to get checked. Unfortunately, I had not dilated much, and the contractions started waning a bit, so back home we went. They started to pick up again the next night (naturally, just as I was getting ready to go to sleep), and carried on through the night, so once again we went into the hospital very early in the morning to be checked. This time the contractions were more regular, and I was dilated enough to stay, so we checked into the labor and delivery rooms. Time passed very strangely on Thursday. M put on some music and we walked and hummed and swayed and massaged and got in the hot shower and all that other good labor management stuff. My contractions got more regular and more intense throughout the day and we had high hopes to have a baby by supper time. However, by the evening, I had really significant back pain and was not making any progress with my dilation. This can be a sign that the baby is in a bad position. We did some yoga to try to get her to roll over. Through all of this, M was the most amazing labor coach, and I felt really prepared for this stage of it. I was imagining meeting my daughter in a few hours and that thought was very comforting. It had been a long day, and we both started to doze off for a minute or two in between every contraction.

The Complicated Part

Then things started to get a little complicated, and a bit less "natural."

I hadn't slept properly in two days, so I was starting to get a little tired and a little dehydrated. My contractions were losing intensity and I still was not dilating any more. Nobody could figure out why. They could feel the babies head, the contractions had been strong enough. The midwife suggested some IV fluids, and starting on some pitocin to get things moving along. I felt better right away and was still able to move around the room enough to be comfortable. And then the contractions picked up. Good news, we thought! It's working. They very slowly continued to increase the pitocin drip. I started to feel a lot of pressure and the urge to push, so we paused for a minute to check my dilation and it Still Hadn't Moved. At All.

The Scary Part

How demoralizing. I had been laboring, unmedicated for several days and in pretty hard back labor since early that morning. M might remember the next part a little better, but I think what happened is that I had a very, very strong contraction that did not stop - an overreaction to the pitocin. They had to give me medicine to counteract the pitocin. The baby's heart showed something called a "deceleration", which can indicate distress. Suddenly our quiet birthing room was filled with people. They put an oxygen mask on me. We decided to try an epidural and take a rest for a little while. Originally I was not wild about the idea of somebody poking a needle in my spine, but at that moment it seemed like a very good plan. Plus, I already had an internal catheter monitoring my contractions, and an IV, so it wasn't like I was going to be walking around to manage my pain anymore.


The epidural turned out to be a good idea, although it dropped my blood pressure, which necessitated even more medicine. But it did give us a chance to rest. The midwife came back and we discussed our options...try more pitocin and hope that the epidural would encourage dilation, or do a cesarean. Because I had reacted strongly to a small amount of pitocin before, there was concern that it would stress the baby and lead to an emergency cesarean. We called in the obstetrician that consults with my midwives to hear her opinion. During our conversation, the baby experienced another heart deceleration in response to my contraction, and after checking my cervix once again, and finding no progress, we decided to deliver her via cesarean then.

I have never had surgery, never even been in the hospital before, so being a patient was a novel experience. Once we decided on the cesarean, things moved pretty fast. They changed my epidural to a spinal block, which made my legs feel like giant, lead-filled balloons. I had to have a catheter put in my bladder and wear an oxygen mask. M was given some surgical scrubs to wear. It was a "hurry up and wait" situation, since as soon as we were ready, there was some other emergency and the whole team ran off for a bit. I had to lay on my side to keep good oxygen flowing to the baby while we waited.

The Birth

Finally we were wheeled into the operating room, which was extremely well-lit and filled with people and machines. Everyone from the surgeons to the anesthesiologist was very good about explaining what they were doing. The midwife on call that night was awesome. She stayed with us through the entire thing, and took Laurel's first pictures so that M could stay with me and hold my hand. I was awake for the birth, with M sitting next to my head. As soon as they pulled Laurel out, we heard some reassuring cries. M was allowed to be with her as soon as the NICU team cleared her. After they weighed her, M brought her over to me. Then he took care of her while they closed me up.


It's on odd, odd feeling to have people tugging and pulling and slicing up your insides, all of which you can feel, but without the pain. Having an operation was a scary part of this birth that I didn't expect. The moments right after our daughter's birth were dizzy, nauseous, and uncomfortable for me. All I wanted to do was fall asleep, but I threw up instead. It felt like it took forever, but the whole thing lasted under an hour. We were wheeled back to the labor and recovery room where we had a chance to properly meet Laurel. They did another exam and attached a bunch of ID bracelets to her. Thankfully, she was doing great.


Everyone who told us how amazing having a child is was absolutely right. I think M would agree that Laurel is the best thing that ever happened to us. But she certainly didn't enter the world the way we expected. When they pulled her out, we confirmed that the problem was with umbilical cord compression - it was wrapped once around her neck and again around her shoulder, keeping her from descending properly into the birth canal. She was also facing the wrong way to enter the birth canal, so while they could feel her head during my exams, it was the wrong part. It turned out to be a very good decision to do the cesarean before it was a true emergency for Laurel.

Having had a complication-free pregnancy, I totally expected to write a different kind of birth story. But this is the story of Laurel's entrance into the world, and I think it taught me the first of many parenthood lessons. Your kids will pull all kinds of tricks you weren't expecting, and that you have to make all kinds of difficult decisions to protect them.


Heather said...

I've been waiting for this! Thank you for sharing her birth story. Sounds like a really long couple of days with the very best prize at the end. Laurel is so beautiful. Her Texas family can't wait to meet her.

Anonymous said...

So happy that you're blogging this, Katy. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I am in tears both from your scary experience and your joyful ending. Lots of love, Aunt DC