Warning: I’m not about to glamorize Dorothy’s birth story. This will be a long post. There will be words that could make you uncomfortable, such as those that refer to the female anatomy and the occasional curse word. I’m also going to include photos (tastefully). While there is nothing pretty about giving birth, the end result may be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever done in my life.
I’m not really sure where to start.
Everyone says you forget about the ailments of pregnancy and the agony of labor after the baby arrives. I’m shocked to say that everyone is right. However, I think the only reason I forget is because my brain has made an executive decision to block out the memory for my own sanity.
During my pregnancy, I read birth stories online to try and wrap my head around what I was about to do. Dorothy’s birth was a very personal experience for our family, however I feel that it’s important to put the story into words. Not only do I hope that this post will be a keepsake for our daughter in the future, but I hope that my experience will help other first time mothers try to understand what it’s like to bring a child into the world. I’ll never be able to accurately and/or eloquently to describe my experience, but this is my wholehearted attempt.
If you read my 40 Weeks update, you already know that Dorothy was 1.) six days late, and 2.) scheduled for eviction. And that’s where her story begins…
— Tuesday, October 29 —
The day of my induction was actually very normal. I slept in late. I went with Courtny to Chipotle for his weekly lunch date with the guys. Courtny played video games all afternoon. I watched reruns on television.
What is most bizarre is that I wasn’t nervous or anxious at all. In fact, I was the complete opposite of my normal self – I was extremely calm. Actually, looking back, I was in complete denial.
My mom came to our house shortly before we left for the hospital. Courtny and I made the decision only the day before to ask my mother to be in the delivery room with us. Previously, I was adamant that I only wanted myself and my husband in the room when our baby was born. We were the only people there when we made her, and we were the only people who needed to be there when she came into this world. But, sometimes a girl just needs her mommy, and this was one of those times.
So, at 5:30 p.m., we headed to the hospital in what was probably the most surreal car ride of my entire life.
Within 10 minutes of arriving at the hospital I was in my room, in a gown, hooked up to monitors and given an IV port. I was still only 2 cm dilated (FYI, natural induction techniques do NOTHING), so I was given the Cervidil insert overnight to ripen my cervix in preparation for induction the next morning. Now, I still have no idea what it means to “ripen” a cervix, but apparently it worked.
We didn’t know what to expect from that point on, but it was quickly sinking in that we would not be leaving the hospital without an infant… and that, folks, is sobering.
So, our evening consisted of Courtny and Mom being fascinated by my contractions monitor (this continued throughout my entire labor), and me trying to watch television with a 30-second audio delay. Exciting, right?
— Wednesday, October 30 —
While I tried to get comfortable in my tiny hospital bed in the midst of all the monitors, poor Courtny slept on the floor of the labor & delivery room (the provider recliner was made for a midget, not my 6’3″ husband). I had cramps, and they were nowhere near painful, but they definitely didn’t provide for a restful night. By the morning, we were both exhausted and overly anxious about the day.
Finally, at 7:30 a.m., we got the show on the road.
I was still only 2 cm dilated, however my cervix was favorable and ready to be induced (again, whatever that means). My doctor broke my water, and then started me on the dreaded pitocin. The look of shock/horror on Courtny’s face when the doctor used what he describes as a “giant, scary crochet hook” to break my water is pretty much the last clear moment of the day for me.
Now, I had done research on pitocin, and as I mentioned in a previous post – the thought of a pitocin induction with no epidural scared the crap out of me. Everything I had read said that pitocin contractions were immediate, unrelenting, and even more painful than natural contractions.
Guess what? It’s true.
I immediately couldn’t think, couldn’t move, and couldn’t communicate. It took every ounce of my focus to just survive through each contraction. I also immediately needed my mom and Courtny – so much so, neither of them could even take a bathroom break during my next eight hours of labor.
As many of you remember, the entire reason I was having an induction on this specific day was because the Head of Anesthesiology would be working and could personally take care of my pain management. Originally, I was told by my OB that this anesthesiologist was confident enough to attempt an epidural despite my spinal fusion. But when he visited my room that day, I was told what I subconsciously already knew:
I don’t even have epidural space in my spine.
Therefore, there is no possible way I could ever get an epidural.
So there I was with pitocin-induced contractions and extreme back labor, and pretty pissed off that I was led to believe I would be able to have an epidural. Not that I hadn’t planned on trying to go natural, but tell that news to any woman in active labor and see if their reaction would be any different than my own.
The anesthesiologist was actually awesome (and later became my BFF), and went to work calling different hospitals and universities to explore what could be done for me. In the meantime, however, I was all over the place:
I was in the birthing bed.
I was on the exercise ball.
I was in the whirlpool birthing tub.
I was squeezing my mom and Courtny’s hands so hard that I may have broken them.
I was throwing up.
I was yelling at Courtny to press harder on my back.
I was yelling at Courtny not to touch me.
I was getting through every contraction by saying, “ow” approximately 50 times
(and on especially bad ones, I was apparently throwing in a few curse words to emphasize).
I was progressing at a quick rate of about 1 cm per hour, and thankfully my doctor made the decision to turn off the pitocin (not that it made the contractions any easier). My contractions were about 30 seconds apart from the very beginning, so there was really no relief for me at any point.
Somewhere around 6 cm, the anesthesiologist returned with the decision to attempt a “saddle block.” This is essentially a type of spinal anesthesia that produces sensory loss in the buttocks, inner sides of the thighs, and perineum – and was last popular in the 1960’s. The point is to numb your lower region for pushing… and it did numb my ass…but it literally did nothing to ease my contractions. Thanks again, back labor.
I finally got to 9 cm, and my contractions were on top of each other. The nurses must have thought we were close to having a baby, because they actually started prepping the room.
An hour later, the doctor came to check my cervix (and presumably, have me start pushing).
I was still at 9 cm.
2 hours later?
Still at 9 cm.
Nearly 3 hours later?
Still at freaking 9 cm.
And to make things even better?
Dorothy was posterior (sunny side up).
My doctor, my nurse and the anesthesiologist all came into my room at this point to discuss my options. I think they genuinely felt bad for me. They gave me three choices:
1. You can have a c-section.
2. We can continue to try and flip the baby.
3. We can wait until you get to 10 cm, and then push… but know that you’ll be pushing for 2-3 hours with a sunny side up baby.
It was at this point that I gave my clearest response of the day.
“Oh hell no. I want a c-section RIGHT NOW.”
I’m not even kidding when I say that within five minutes, I was wheeled into the operating room (they tried to ask me if I could walk. What kind of question is that?!). I’m pretty sure they threw the sterile suit and mask at Courtny as an afterthought.
Thankfully the anesthesiologist was able to place a spinal (that’s when he became my BFF), and Courtny was allowed in the operating room with me. Also, my new BFF took some priceless photos for us throughout the surgery.
Like this one. Below is the face of someone who has never been more thankful for drugs.
My doctor told me once I was in the operating room that more than likely I would have ended up with a c-section regardless of my choice, due to my cervix swelling from being “stuck.” That’s when I puked on her. Don’t get me wrong, she was a very nice lady, but I felt infinitely better after getting her back in a small way.
Going through a full labor without an epidural, only to end up with a c-section is almost funny. Almost.
In a thankfully routine c-section, Dorothy Laura was born at 4:17 p.m. She weighed in as the heavyweight in the nursery at 8 lbs. 4 oz., and 22 1/4 inches long.
From this whole experience I learned one very important thing (other than always, ALWAYS opt for the drugs)…
This is Dorothy’s world. And we just live in it.
C-section recovery is no joke. Luckily, we have friends and family like YOU. Over the last 16 days, so many people have visited, sent their well wishes, brought meals and given gifts. We’re humbled, honestly, and so thankful that our daughter already has a “village” that loves her.
So, if you made it this far, thank you all for being a part of Dorothy’s arrival. We are so appreciative.
Love, The Cotten Family