Ruby's Birth Story: Part Two

[Part One]

Even though my water was leaking, I wasn’t having contractions, so at 6:15 PM they started me on Pitocin. Two hours later, I had progressed to 3 centimeters, and by then my parents and sister arrived. I really wasn’t feeling much, so with worship music playing and the lights dimmed, we all happily chatted and I shrugged my way through the discomfort of the contractions.

But the Pitocin finally kicked in, probably around 9:00, and that’s when everything from our birthing class came back to mind. Thomas coached me through contractions, counting for me as I tried different breathing techniques. I remember at one point they were so intense, and I couldn’t focus with family laughing and talking. After a contraction subsided I put up my hand as if to say “stop” and said, “If you hear Thomas counting, I need it to be quiet!” Wide-eyed but with all the love in their hearts, they each gave me a hug and skirted out to the waiting room.

Shortly after they left the room, I was checked again. No progress. Contractions were coming one on top of the next with almost no chance to catch my breath, so I cried mercy for the epidural.

When I got the epidural after 10:30 that night, my water broke all the way. I’ll never forget that sensation – I was sitting upright, holding Thomas’ hand with the anesthesiologist at my back. A contraction hit right as I rounded over my belly, and I grimaced, “Oh gosh, here comes the rest of it!” I watched as the sheet beneath me was soaked in an instant, then spilling onto the floor. It’s comical to think about it now; Thomas backing up to get out of the splash zone but never letting go of my hand. God bless him.

The contractions started to dull as I lost sensation below my chest. But I was told that losing my water sent the baby into distress. They stopped Pitocin, too, to get her heart rate back to normal. That’s a lot of what I remember for the next 4-5 hours: moving, monitoring, adjusting fluids, manipulating the angle of my hips with a peanut ball, continually stopping and starting Pitocin. They’d try flipping me onto my side to see if the baby’s heart rate would tolerate it, but I was limited to one position in bed that kept her happy.

They thought perhaps she was compressing her cord, so they did an amnioinfusion, where they fill you up with fluid again so the baby floats off of the cord. Around 3:00 in the morning, I texted family and friends: “If you’re up, please be praying. Baby is not tolerating the Pitocin very well. When they back off the Pitocin to let her calm down, my contractions go back to four minutes apart – not fast enough for good progress – and it takes time to get things revved up again. Since my water began to break around noon yesterday, we’re up against the clock to get her out.” 

Thomas and I slept on and off… I don’t remember much. I knew my family had gone home for the night to sleep. What I remember was after 7:00 AM with the shift change, meeting my new nurse and getting checked again. They told me I was getting close, at 8 or 9 centimeters, but that it didn’t look like the baby was moving down as she should be.

The details are hazy here, but then I do have some memories of total clarity.

I think we texted family, telling them I was preparing to push.

I remember my doctor very honestly telling me that she wanted to let me push to see if I could get baby girl moved into position, and if things didn’t look good she would make the decision to take me into a c-section.

I can almost relive the moment Thomas and I had a moment to talk, as he stood by my bed, holding my hand, looking to me with eyes that begged to know what I was feeling, what was going through my mind. I told him I had total peace. That with a rough night of monitoring both me and the baby, I kind of assumed things were complicated and I’d end up in surgery. I remember telling him how grateful I was, despite the outcome we looked to be facing, that at least I’d experienced it all – contractions, my water breaking, and soon, the opportunity to bear down and push with every ounce of energy left in my tired body. If her first breaths didn’t happen in that L&D room, if I didn’t get to watch as she left my body and entered this world, at least I’d never wonder what all of those other experiences were like.

Sometime after 8:00, it was go-time. With the nurse on my left, Thomas on my right, my legs were supported and I held my breath to push. Seconds later, “we’ve got meconium,” my doctor said, matter-of-factly. With her free hand, the nurse quickly reached up to the walkie-talkie piece at her collarbone and informed someone outside the room. I had friends whose children had aspirated on meconium (a newborn’s first bowel movement, basically) but hearing that didn’t cause me much concern, in the moment. I figured I’d push and push and push and she’d be here, and then we’d deal with whatever else was going on.

Minutes passed and with swiftness and purpose my doctor said it was time. Baby Girl wasn’t moving, the meconium-stained fluid meant that she needed to get out fast, and we were headed to the operating room.


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