Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's a T-Rex! (T-Rex's Birth Story, Part III)

The oh-so-thrilling conclusion! Read Parts I and II.

We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. and completed Round Two of paperwork, cervical checks, the works. I was not any more dilated than when I left the hospital on Friday, but everything seemed softer, apparently, which meant it was more likely that the induction drugs would take this time.

The nurse gave me another dose of misoprostol and the DDH spent a couple hours pacing the halls, to no avail. Not only was I not dilating further, but I wasn't even having the mild contractions I had been having before.

So we got yet another dose. We watched A Knight's Tale, which apparently the DDH had never seen before (how is that possible?).

At about 2:30 Monday afternoon, the nurse checked me again. I was dilated to about a two now, but not having any contractions. She did, however, think that things were ready for the next step.

My doctor came in and broke my water about 3:30 p.m. This was it--one way or another we'd have this baby within the next twenty-four hours or so now. At this point they also hooked up the pitocin to get the contractions going.

And get going they did! I managed fine for awhile, watching an NCIS marathon on TV and trying to get a last bit of rest.

As afternoon turned to evening, however, the contractions became more intense--and more frequent. I couldn't find a comfortable position on the bed, so I got up and paced the room, but the contractions were quickly too intense to walk. I bounced on a birthing ball--that helped for awhile. I could get a good position, bent over and hanging onto the bed.

The contractions got worse and worse. They were lasting about forty-five seconds with only thirty to sixty seconds between them. We asked the nurse to review my pain relief options, and she did--not pressuring me at all one way or the other, but letting me know what was available.

I held out until eight o'clock before I knew that I needed something. We opted to get a narcotic drip first. This, the nurse said, wouldn't stop the pain but would help take the edge off so that I could handle it better. Unfortunately, it did mean that I needed to stay in bed in case I had an adverse reaction to the drug.

That helped for a little while. The drug, whatever it was, kind of put me to sleep, a sort of semi-lucid dream state, where I felt the pain but was sort of sleeping through it. I remember thinking really hard about whether or not I was talking and saying anything to the DDH--I knew I wasn't all there, and I didn't want to say anything stupid, but I felt the need to convey information. It was very weird.

Speaking of the DDH--he was amazing through this whole thing. He rubbed my back, held my hand, told me I could do it, watched all the monitors for me, talked to the nurses because I couldn't focus on much other than the pain. He was great.

My contractions were now constant. One would begin, the pain would ramp up, peak, and then as the pain from one contraction subsided the next would begin. I was only ever getting halfway back down the little pain mountain, with no chance to catch my breath or regroup or steel myself for the next one. I was half sitting up, clinging to the bedrail and the DDH's hand, still not entirely lucid because of the pain meds and just screaming and crying.

Luckily, those constant contractions were finally accomplishing something! The nurse checked and I was dilated to about a seven. This was about 9:30 p.m., maybe? Five plus centimeters in six hours; I don't know if that's good, but after taking five days to get the first two, I was happy with the progress.

Still, with three centimeters to go, I knew I wouldn't last. Maybe I'm just a wuss, but the pain was incessant and terrible. So I gave in and asked for the epidural.

It took another hour or so for the anesthesiologist to come, so the nurse gave me another dose of the other drug in the meantime. It really did nothing for the pain this time, and I was very happy when the anesthesiologist arrived.

I could barely sit up and move to the other side of the bed. I kept having to stop and scream as the pain got too bad. But I managed it, the anesthesiologist did his thing, and finally the pain stopped. My legs went numb slowly, but the pain in my abdomen stopped almost right away. My right leg and a patch of my lower right torso never numbed completely, so I could still tell when I was having a contraction even though it didn't hurt very much, which was nice.

The DDH and I took advantage of this time to get some sleep. It was very nice, really, to be able to relax and sleep while my body did the work, even though it was uncomfortable to have my legs be asleep and not be able to move.

Between about 1 and 1:30 Tuesday morning, the nurse came in, checked, and bam! I was a ten. She called the doctor and came to help coach me through pushing, since she thought I could start doing a little of that until the doctor arrived.

About this time, we noticed that T-Rex's heart rate dropped with each push. The nurse had me roll onto my right side and coached me through pushing from that position, as it didn't seem to send T-Rex into distress.

I pushed maybe five or six times before the doctor and other nurses arrived. Things moved quickly now, as they set up all the equipment and got everyone into position. At some point the nurse had them bring out a mirror so that I could see. This helped me focus the pushing on the right spot, since I could only partially feel it, and it was awesome to be able to see T-Rex being born!

With the doctor there in case T-Rex went into distress again, they had me return to my back. The nurse and the DDH helped hold my feet up in the stirrups and I pushed a few more times. T-Rex's heart rate was definitely plunging each time, but he was also crowning.

Everything moved so fast. It only took about three pushes after the doctor arrived before T-Rex's head popped out. The doctor was yelling at me to hold on and not push for a moment, but I could see his head out and I just wanted to get it over with and was determined to push him out now. I learned later that the cord had been wrapped around T-Rex's neck, but luckily the doctor was able to slip it off quickly, because one more push and there he was!

He was so squished and wriggly and covered in slime and adorable and mine. They handed him to me and I held him while the DDH cut the cord. I couldn't stop saying hello, over and over. It was 2:23 a.m. Tuesday, November 20.

The DDH went with the nurses over to the baby cart and watched them wipe him down and do the Apgar tests and things while the doctor stitched me up (I had a second degree tear). He weighed 8 pounds, 2.9 ounces and was 21 inches long. The doctor checked him out and though he lost a point or two for blue lips or something, really, he was perfect.

They gave him back to me and the nurse helped me position him to breastfeed. We sat there and he ate for 117 minutes--apparently the longest they've ever had a newborn eat! The DDH's mom and stepdad came in to meet him and hold him once he finished; then he was bathed and wrapped up. He had to hang out under the heat lamp for awhile since he had gotten too cold, but eventually he warmed up. The in-laws left and finally the three of us were moved to a recovery room.

We slept and ate and fed and marveled and entertained visitors all Tuesday.

T-Rex's hemoglobin numbers were high on his 24-hour bloodwork, so he had to be under the billirubin lights. They put tiny little baby sunglasses on him and set up a hood of lights over the cart where he slept. He was also lying on a blanket of lights, and he had to remain strapped to that when we took him out to breastfeed him, which was awkward. But after twelve hours with the lights his numbers were back up and we were allowed to go home.

My parents had arrived from Albuquerque Wednesday afternoon and helped us pack everything up. We were discharged about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, in time to go home, eat Indian food takeout, and for everyone else to get some sleep before Thanksgiving.

I had intended to try to go without the epidural, but I'm glad I got it. Being able to rest for a few hours allowed me to focus and I believe helped me push more strongly and quickly. Sometimes I still wonder if it was the best idea to go in to be induced, but I think that was the right choice, too. He did not want to come out, and though I'm sure I would have gone into labor eventually, I'm not sure how much bigger he could have gotten before I wouldn't have been able to birth him. I was able to avoid a c-section and he arrived healthy and strong. It all worked out, and now he's here, my handsome, happy little T-Rex whom I love.


  1. Awwww. I love birth stories. I'm so glad you finally posted it. What a different experience from mine! But they're all beautiful.

    The way you describe it, I'm pretty I would have taken the epidural, too. For me, the only reason I found contractions endurable was because I got breaks in between. Without them, I don't know if I could have done it, either.

  2. Oh Katie, I'm just so happy for you. I love reading birth stories, and this is a beautiful one. Your birth allowed you practice at one of mothering's most important skills, following your gut. You can rest easy every time you do! Amazing!