During my pregnancy I read lots. Many books, blogs, and internet articles. It was my first pregnancy and I wanted to be informed. When it came to the delivery, it usually always said one could have a “labor plan” but to know it was just a plan which could change. I thought of those words often. I wanted to have a vaginal birth (with epidural of course), but tried to remind myself that I may end up having a c-section and that would be all right. I must admit, as prepared and informed as I tried to be, I was a little nervous of the vaginal labor. I had been in the delivery room when my sister had both of her sons and vaginal births can be painful and long. My friends have also shared their delivery stories with me. Most of them had good deliveries, vaginal (mostly induced) and c-sections. Many told me the pain they went through with vaginal births, and the pain and discomforts of recuperation afterwards, from hemorrhoids to vaginal tears. The friends which had c-sections, most were planned, had positive experiences. They each told me the pros and the cons of each. Overall, I was aware both were safe, but a c-section required a longer (and painful) recuperation period for the mother due to the surgery. I just felt a vaginal birth was more natural and had read some theories on the benefits for the baby.
Since our baby is very likely the only child we will have, I think this was the reason why I wanted to experience a vaginal birth, in addition to the fact I considered it more natural. I had a very good and healthy pregnancy, without complications, so I was hoping my labor would be the same. By the beginning of the eighth month of pregnancy, my doctor began talking to me about planning for labor. We agreed we’d try to have a vaginal birth, but if necessary a c-section. We scheduled for me to be admitted to the hospital on the evening of my due date to induce labor. Should I had gone into labor earlier, I would have gone to the hospital to deliver the baby. The last month of pregnancy, I had weekly appointments, some included ultrasounds, and at each appointment I was checked for dilation. I was not dilating and our baby was not dropping. The doctor told me it was normal and I tried not to worry about it. The doctor did not want to wait past my due date to induce labor because by then the pregnancy was complete and due to my age. He did not want to risk any complications which could occur if we waited longer or of a still birth. I agreed to the induction. Many of my friends and relatives have been induced and it has resulted in successful labors. I have noticed though, that lately many of them end up having a c-section after trying to be induced for many hours. This is what happened to me. I had a plan, but in the end delivered our baby via c-section.
We arrived and checked-in at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Children at 7:30pm on Thursday, March 24, my due date, just as planned. We were excited! Hubby and I both had our hospital bags, and mine included the baby’s items. My mom joined us and my sister arrived a little later. After being set-up in my room on the delivery floor, I filled out more paperwork and the induction process began. I was aware my doctor, Dr. Barmeyer, would not be at the hospital that evening, but would come see me the next morning to see how I was progressing. I was seen by the doctor on call and cared for by the excellent nurses at Sharp Mary Birch. Within a few hours I started to dilate and a dose of the next medication, Pitocin, to help speed up labor, was given to me. I started to have contractions. I had pain, but it was bearable. The Dr. on call came in to explain the progress to us. That night, we stayed up late. Luckily, at Sharp Mary Birch they allow patients to have multiple guests in their delivery rooms at any time. It was clear nothing was going to happen that night. My sister offered to stay with me at the hospital. I figured my hubby had a long day coming up at the hospital with me, so I accepted my sister’s offer and told my hubby to go home, along with mom which was staying at our home, so they could both get a few hours of comfortable sleep. My sister slept in the room with me. It was a long night. I didn’t get much sleep because the nurses constantly came in to check on me and the monitors. At one point in the middle of the night they put the oxygen mask on me because the baby wasn’t as active as they wanted her to be, but they said she was healthy and doing fine. I felt the oxygen actually gave me energy, which was nice.
The next morning (Friday), my hubby and mom were back early in the morning. My brother and sister-in-law came to visit. My sister was there the entire day. I thought I would go into labor that day, so I applied my make-up to be prepared for the pictures, little did I know the plan would change. That morning I continued to dilate a little and get stronger contractions. I used the peanut ball throughout the day to try to dilate further. In the middle of the day, Dr. Barmeyer came in to check on me and give us an update. He said he wanted to break my water. He checked me for dilation, but at that point it was very uncomfortable and even painful when he checked me, so I would tense up. He said in order to break my water successfully, he’d like me to get the epidural. I was only about 3 centimeters dilated. The anesthesiologist came in to give me the epidural shot which was a bit painful. At that point, I was still calm, but feeling a little nervous to get the epidural when I was only dilated at 3 because I was aware it could slow down the labor process, but trusted my doctors judgement. Within a few minutes my legs were numb and I could no longer feel the pain of the contractions. Dr. Barmeyer returned within an hour and broke my water. I could feel the gush. Everything was progressing on track. Throughout the afternoon, nurses checked me to see if I was dilating further. Around 6:00pm, Dr. Barmeyer returned and checked my dilation. He told me I had only dilated a little more and he gave us two options. He said baby and I were healthy and doing well, so we could wait overnight, continue with the labor inducing medications and see how I progressed in the morning. Or, we could do a c-section right away (that evening). Even though Dr. Barmeyer was not scheduled to work the next day, a Saturday, he agreed to come in to deliver our baby. It was important to me to have Dr. Barmeyer deliver our baby since we’d had such a positive experience with him during our pregnancy and I trust him. My husband and I agreed to wait until the next morning. At that point, my biggest concern was our baby’s health and well-being, and the doctor assured me she was fine.
That evening my mom went to stay at my sister’s home and my hubby stayed the night at the hospital with me. I told my mom & sister I would contact them if anything happened overnight, otherwise they’d be back in the morning. I hardly got any sleep again. This night was harder. I had the epidural, so I did not feel the pain of the contractions, but I could tell things were not progressing in a positive manner. I had an excellent nurse that evening and she kept me updated. The doctor on-call came in at the wee hours of the morning to give me an update. She said I had some contractions which were stronger and closer together, which was a good sign of progress, but they had not continued at that rate. She reassured me baby and I were fine, and baby was not under distress. Throughout the night the nurse would put the oxygen mask back on me periodically. They also did a procedure to insert a monitor vaginally to measure the strength of the contractions more closely. Later, they inserted another monitor vaginally to listen to the baby’s heart beat more precisely by attaching it onto the baby’s head. This was the point when I realized things seemed to be getting complicated and I did not want to risk our baby’s well-being. Even though the doctor told me these procedures were part of the regular process and the baby was not under distress, I was starting to feel uneasy. I told my husband we better start preparing ourselves for a c-section. I think I said that to him to try to prepare myself emotionally for it. The doctor on-call checked my dilation and told me I had only dilated a little more. She suggested we wait to see Dr. Barmeyer in the morning to decide if we wanted to try longer or have a c-section. I had multiple hoses, monitors, and an IV connected to me. I felt this could not be a good sign.
The next morning, I was exhausted. My hubby was going to go home to shower, but we decided it was best for him to shower in the hospital room’s bathroom. It was a good decision because everything happened very fast that morning. I had been speaking to the nurses all night to confirm my progress. Later that morning, I requested some broth and juice since I hadn’t eaten solid food in more than twenty-four hours. When it arrived, the nurse told me it was best if I did not drink them so I could remain with an empty stomach. She was preparing me in case I needed a c-section. Dr. Barmeyer came that morning and he told me what I already knew, I had not dilated much and since my water had been broken for about twenty hours, he recommended we do a c-section. At that point the room started to fill with nurses and everything after that went by very fast. Dr. Barmeyer was calm, empathetic, and he explained what had happened to us. I appreciated his words and empathy. He knew I wanted to have a vaginal birth and was disappointed to need a c-section. My eyes started to fill up with tears. He told me I had done everything possible and it was admirable that I waited it out so many hours, that we gave it our best shot, but at this point a c-section was necessary. They started to prepare me for surgery, it was hectic, but Dr. Barmeyer remained calm during the entire process, which helped me try to remain calm. My hubby changed into the disposable overall the nurse gave him in order to be admitted into the operating room. We were told to pack all of our items since we would not be returning to that room after surgery, we would be moving to another room. Luckily, my sister had helped me put most of my items back in my bag the previous night. We had the video camera set-up in the corner of the room and a few items to pack away. My hubby packed, while the nurses continued to prep me for surgery. I wasn’t able to help since I couldn’t get out of bed due to the epidural, my legs were numb and for the surgery I received a larger dose of medication. I sent a quick text message to my sister to tell her I was going into surgery. She quickly replied that they were on their way. There was a moment of laughter for me, which helped calm my nerves, as my hubby was trying to put on the disposable overall, he was having a hard time putting on the booties over his shoes. For some reason, seeing him dressed up in the white overall, which made him look more like a painter, and him bouncing around trying to put on the booties made me laugh. It was good, I needed a laugh at that moment! As they were wheeling me out of the room, my mom arrived and gave me a blessing in the hallway, just outside the operating room. I was doing fine emotionally, until I saw my mom and then the tears started to flow down my cheeks again as I entered the operating room. She later told me Dr. Barmeyer took the time to explain what was happening to her, which helped put her mind at ease.
In the operating room, the anesthesiologist explained the process to me. My arms were tied down at the wrists to avoid any uncontrolled moves due to the anesthesia and a cover, similar to a curtain, was placed at the level of my chest. My hubby arrived in the operating room and the surgery began. I have flashes of the surgery and remember my arms and hands were shaking, and tears continued to fall down the sides of my face. I was calm, yet emotional. I felt a sense of disappointment and nervousness to be having a c-section. As much as I had tried to prepare myself mentally in case I needed a c-section, once the decision was made, it all happened so fast that I don’t think I had time to process what was happening. It was all kind of a blur, it still is. I remember seeing my husband next to me, the doctors and nurses explaining things to me, but it was lots to take in all at once. Plus, by then I had multiple medications administered. My labor was not what I had planned. I think if I had a scheduled (planned) c-section I would have enjoyed labor more, since I would have been emotionally prepared for the surgery, but it was just all so sudden. I remember Dr. Barmeyer telling my hubby to prepare the camera for the moment our baby would be pulled out and then my hubby standing up to take pictures above the curtain. Then, I heard our baby cry. I could not feel anything due to the anesthesia. I saw the nurses take the baby to our left and clean her up. They let my hubby place our baby next to me for a few minutes. I could see our baby being cleaned and checked just a few feet away from me. Then, my hubby went with the nurses and our baby to the nursery for further check-ups. It was nice to know our baby would not be alone and that my hubby was with her the entire time. I was sewn up and moved to another bed.
I was wheeled to the recovery room where another nurse received me and quickly started to explain the next process to me. With the help of another nurse, they continued the process of pressing (massaging) on my uterus to clear it of excessive blood. My friend Lorena had told me about this process, so I knew what was happening. I was still shaking from the anesthesia, which is normal. A few minutes later my hubby arrived with our baby. She was placed on my chest for some skin on skin time. She quickly started to look for my nipple and try to latch on. It was a very special moment. I was shaking so much I had a hard time holding her. Later, I asked my hubby to hold her since I continued to shake uncontrollably. It was also hard to see her since I was laying flat and my body was numb. Dr. Barmeyer came to check on me and explain the recuperation period. He told us that I’d be staying in the hospital for four days, until Tuesday.
Only one person at a time was allowed in the recovery room with me. My hubby traded with my mom, sister, and our family friend Susannah, so they could each spend a few minutes with me. Susannah shared a funny story about the birth of her daughter with me. It helped lighten things up for me since her story made me laugh. Later, I was wheeled up to the room where I would stay for four days.
I am appreciative of the great care the nurses and doctors gave us during labor, particularly Dr. Barmeyer. Even though things did not go as desired on my birth plan, our baby was delivered healthy and that is all that mattered. I was also doing well and on my way to start recuperating from the surgery. I now joke that I had prepared so much for labor and at the last moment didn’t even care about wearing lipstick and didn’t use the items I had packed to help with labor, such as my iPod, led candles, or my tennis shoes (since I didn’t walk around to try to help induce labor because I had an IV). At that point, all that mattered to me was the healthy delivery of our baby.
A few days after labor, at home, I was trying to reflect on my labor experience and the moment our baby was born. I wanted to record video of the delivery so I could go back and watch it later, but because it was a c-section only pictures were allowed. I looked at the pictures and tried to remember as much as possible. The tears started to roll down my face. I remember one of my aunts telling me she felt somehow disappointed that she wasn’t able to deliver her children vaginally and required an unplanned c-section with her first-born, so the others were also delivered by c-section. Like me, she did not dilate enough. I don’t want to feel disappointed, even though somehow I did. I want to think that it was God’s plan and simply the way things came to be, and be thankful for the blessing of our daughter, Alessandra. She was born healthy and overall my delivery was not complicated, just different from what I had planned. Baby is healthy and I am healthy, that is all that matters after labor, and for that, I am very thankful!
How was your labor experience?
The first night at the hospital.
Getting some oxygen & picture of the peanut ball.
The nurses had prepared the receiving table in the room for our baby & added a bow to her hat. We didn’t get to use this table after all.
After surgery we moved to a different room and I was able to enjoy time with our baby.
My sister was at the hospital every day and very helpful. She’s an amazing mom and our baby is fortunate to have her as an aunt!
My mom with Alessandra just a few hours after she was born.
Our baby slept in a clear bassinet during our stay at the hospital.
A few close friends came to visit us at the hospital. My friend Pilar with Alessandra.
We had See’s lollipops and chocolate cigars, as well as cookies and real cigars to share with our guests and the nurses/doctors.
My brother and sister-in-law brought us flowers on the second day we were at the hospital.
Our baby and I received lots of gifts from family and friends. The frame and balloon were gifts from my sister, Susannah gave our baby an adorable outfit, my friend Lizeth brought us a spring floral arrangement with a pink bunny, Pilar brought us a pink decorative plate with a poem, and my sister-in law and nieces brought us roses.
While hubby & I packed our bags, my sister helped dress Alessandra the day we left the hospital.
The outfit I chose for our baby to wear home was a gift from my sister.