This is a really long post, just to warn you.
Oh the joys of pregnancy: blood tests that come with false positives, nausea, getting “fat”, finding out that your baby is breech, trying a chiropractor to get baby to turn so you can deliver vaginally, spending lots of time lounging around at the doctor’s for non-stress tests…
We knew around 32 weeks that Dominic was breech. I tried my darndest to get him to flip around: kneeling on the couch with my forearms down on the floor, handstands in the swimming pool, even chiropractor visits. We chose not to try an external version because it can put you into premature labor, may not succeed and is extremely painful. My doc thought the chance of it actually succeeding for me was incredibly low because I was a first-time mom (no room for turning) and because Dominic was so low down in the uterus (she could feel his bum at appointments).
Because he was breech, this meant c-section. The upside of knowing this before-hand is that I had time to accept that this would be how I would deliver him. Of course, it wasn’t the way I had wanted it. I wanted to deliver him naturally. I had my good friend, Karen, as my doula, I had gone to class with Nathan, and I thought I was tough. Now I had to be tough through a c-section.
At 39 weeks—the Friday before Thanksgiving, I had my last visit with Dr. Kinghorn (my ob) and we talked about the game plan. I was thinking that perhaps we would wait for the Thanksgiving weekend and schedule the c-section the week after. She was thinking that we should schedule it that weekend, either on my due date or the day before. And then she did my usual checkup and told me she wanted me to get an ultrasound right then.
She said that my uterus had either dropped or not grown much from the last appointment. If it was because of the later, we would deliver the baby that day. I almost started to cry, sitting there on the butcher paper, in my appointment. I was not prepared for that. I was just using my lunch break for this appointment and then going back to work.
Instead, I went downstairs for an ultrasound and a non-stress test. As I was waiting for the elevator, I sent Nathan a text that there was a chance we would have to do the c-section today, but I didn’t know for the next hour. I waited for a few minutes in the lobby of this doctor’s office and then went back into the room with a big screen on the wall to watch another ultrasound. The tech started out and showed me, yep, there’s his head right up under my rib cage: still breech of course.
Everything turned out okay as far as measurements and they sent me over to the other side of the office for my non-stress test. The doctor did tell me that the amniotic fluid was a little low so she wanted me to come back again first of next week to check that. I shrugged my shoulders and climbed onto the lounging seat for the non-stress test.
During that test, the nurse told me that I was having contractions, but nothing regular or close together. Okay, I guess. I left and went back to work, with an appointments scheduled to check amniotic fluid on Tuesday, check in with a midwife on Wednesday, and c-section scheduled for Friday morning.
Nathan and I told family to plan on meeting our baby on Friday. I told my boss at work and let him know that I was going to count Tuesday as my last day of work (and use Wednesday as a day to simply relax and spend time with Nathan as he had Thanksgiving break). Then we enjoyed the weekend.
On Tuesday, I was working from home and had the non-stress test scheduled during my lunch break. I drove the short block and a half to the hospital, rode the elevator up to the third floor, and checked in. The nurse came and led me to the back to start with the ultrasound part where they check the levels of amniotic fluid. They measure the pockets (or black areas on the screen, for you technical people) in each quadrant of the uterus. As the nurse was doing this and I was watching on the screen, I could tell that she was hardly finding any. She said she was going to go and get an ultrasound tech to see if she could get more. She couldn’t. The nurse told me that she would call my doctor about this and it was possible that I would need to deliver today. Oh great.
She hooked me up to the monitors and went to call the doctor. She closed the curtain behind her, but of course, I can hear through the curtain. She called Dr. Kinghorn’s office and found out that she was downstairs in labor and delivery. She called down there and left them a message then came and told me that she would leave me on the monitors until she got a call back from Dr. Kinghorn. I tried to take a nap. That didn’t work so instead, I watched the monitor and saw when I had contractions (I didn’t feel them). Baby’s heart rate looked good.
Eventually the nurse came and told me that she would take me off (I had waited around 45 minutes on the monitors), and I went into the bathroom. When I came out, Dr. Kinghorn was standing there in her scrubs. She told me that she had scheduled me for a 7:00 p.m. delivery that night so go home and eat a small meal and then don’t eat anything else.
Wow. So much for waiting until after Thanksgiving. I just barely kept from calling after she told me this. She put a hand on my shoulder and told me to see me soon.
I went home and finished the work day, then packed the rest of the hospital bag and didn’t eat any dinner. I was pretty nervous, but felt better when Nathan came home from work. We sat around watching the clock.
A little before it was time to go to the hospital, our friends, Jim and Kasey came over so that Nathan and Jim could give me a blessing. It was peaceful and a good spirit prior to heading to the hospital. I felt calm now.
At the hospital, we met up with Karen and went to check in with the nurses. They wandered us around trying to figure out which room to put us in and eventually picked one. I changed into the cute gown and climbed onto the table to be put on the monitors and hooked up to IVs. My head was starting to kill. I was getting an awful tension headache, starting from the back right of my neck. Ugh.
Once the nurse had me on the monitors she looked over surprised. “You’re in labor,” she said. Sure, whatever. I looked over at the monitors and saw that the contractions were at regular intervals and much longer than previously. Oh, who knew? Not like that matters with a c-section, sigh.
We waited around for about two hours while they finished other c-sections (apparently it was a very busy day at St. Mark’s) and cleaned the operating room. It was a long wait and my headache was really killing me. Eventually Dr. Kinghorn came in to check on me and then the anesthesiologist introduced herself as well.
Once it was time to go, they had all of us walk down the hall, dragging my IV with me, towards the operating room. Nathan was dressed up in some sort of disposable, clean blue thing that was a one-size-fits-nobody, and Karen had one on, too. (We had to get special permission from Dr. Kinghorn and the anesthesiologist for her to be in there as my doula.) We walked to some double doors where the nurse told Karen and Nathan to wait. Nathan gave me a kiss and in I went.
The table in the operating room was so skinny. It was perhaps the size of an ironing board. And the room was freezing. They had me sit up on the table and lean over, the gown open at my back as they prepped for the spinal block. My teeth were chattering from the cold. I couldn’t help it and was worried I wouldn’t be able to hold still enough while the anesthesiologist stuck a huge needle in my back. (By the way, it’s really annoying to keep on typing anesthesiologist.) After the shot, which wasn’t too bad, they had me lie back on the table and put my arm on these little extensions that stuck straight out. I felt like I was lying on a cross. Thankfully, they didn’t tie my arms down. Dr. Kinghorn came in at this point and got mad at the nurses because I was lying there freezing. “Get her some warm blankets,” she said. They complained that they were all out. I imagined, at this point, that Dr. Kinghorn rolled her eyes at them as she got on the phone and called somewhere for blankets. Before long, they were laying blankets across my arms and chest. It helped some.
A nurse explained that she was putting in the catheter now. Ugh. That was uncomfortable and it got me worried because I didn’t think that I was supposed to feel that. Wasn’t I supposed to be numb from the ribs down? Somebody, at one point, told me that they were going to poke me with something sharp to check if I could feel it. I could feel the pressure, but not the sharpness. Apparently this was good, but it did not put me at ease. Nathan and Karen were now in the room and Nathan sat down right next to my head.
I started feeling tugging and pressure and it was not a good feeling. Nathan leaned over and started saying things into my ear about how I was doing such a good job. I started breathing in for two seconds, out for two seconds, counting in my head to try and keep calm despite this incredibly uncomfortable experience. I’m guessing that it was 5-10 minutes before the anesthesiologist told Nathan to stand up and see our boy’s birth. They tugged a bunch, I tried to breath, and then he was born. I heard crying, but all I could think was, “is he okay?” I asked Nathan, in between my attempts at breathing, “Is he okay? Is he normal?”
Karen came and sat by me so that Nathan could go over with our son. This was where the operation became really painful. It started to hurt a lot around my ribs and then I had shooting pains into my right shoulder. I complained to the anesthesiologist and she told me she’d give me some more drugs. I didn’t notice a difference. At one point I also felt very nauseous. I think they gave me something for that but I don’t totally know.
Nathan came back and sat with me, holding Dominic next to me and telling me that I was doing great. It was unreal that this baby next to me was ours. Amazing. I wanted to cry, but was afraid that it would cause my body to shake with any sobbing and I didn’t want to move. I held it in.
I don’t remember how much longer the surgery went. I know that it was much longer after Dom was born than it was to get him out. Finally, though, they said they were done and were moving me onto a bed to roll into recovery. Thank you. On the upside, my headache was now gone.
And that’s when I finally had the chance to hold Dominic, help him to nurse for the first time, and spend some time with Nathan. It was going to be a long night of throwing up, thanks to pain killers, but for that time, I got to cherish just being with my own family. Can you believe that? I have a family now. Not just a couple of newlyweds. Pretty crazy.