Adaline’s Cesarean Birth Story
August 03, 2009 40 weeks and 4 days:
My husband had worked a midnight shift and came home at 7am. He got a whole 2 hours of sleep before I woke him up. I thought my water might have broken because my panties were all wet, but nothing else was coming out. I called the doctor and they told me to go to the hospital so that they could check my leakage to determine whether or not it was fluid. The test determined that it was not fluid. I guess that means I had just peed myself or maybe it was sweat or maybe both…yippy. I had a non stress test (NST) scheduled for the next day so they decided to do it while I was at the hospital. The baby was doing great. My nurse noticed that I was having regular contractions, so she did an internal and said I was dilated 3cm. She had me walk for an hour to see if there was any progress. I did and there was…she said I was 3+, maybe close to 4cm. Awesome. So she had me walk for another hour and then said I was 4cm. Because I lived over 40 minutes away from the hospital she decided to keep me there. Then the OB came in to check me for the first time. She said I was only 3cm but had me walk for another hour to see if I progress. I walked again. This time doc says there’s no change and sends me home. She said that I’m in early labor and she’d rather I labor at home (me too).
I was at the hospital for about 6 hours and I spent 3 hours of it walking around. I had an ultrasound scheduled for the following day at 8:30am to check the level of amniotic fluid followed by an appointment with the same OB.
August 04, 2009 40 weeks and 5 days:
My contractions continued throughout the night. They began getting stronger around 5am. By the time we got to my ultrasound appointment the contractions were 7 minutes apart. The ultrasound tech hurried since it was obvious that I was in labor. She said that the fluid looked good. We went across the hall to the OBs office. I had the same OB from the day before. She said that I was 4cm and she sent me over to the hospital which is right down the road. Now I regret going. I was really hoping to labor at home longer and that’s what I should’ve done, but I didn’t…I went straight to the hospital.
8:43am at my OB appointment
I was all checked into the hospital and hooked up to ivs and monitors by 9am. I had the same nurse that I had the day before. I told her that I didn’t want any pain medication and that if I changed my mind I would ask for it. She said that’s fine and never mentioned it again. Enter the doctor, whom I now refer to as “Dr. Sunshine”. She seemed to label me as a c-section as soon as she saw me and my husband. I’m 5’1, he’s 6’3 and I looked as though I was about to give birth to a school bus.
Dr. Sunshine sat on the edge of my bed looked at me and said, “Jennifer, I’m going to break your water. Is that okay?” I said, “No.” “I’m going to break your water, is that okay?” Again I said, “No.” She asked me again as if she was purposely ignoring me. I was telling this woman no and she was ignoring me, so I looked over at my husband for some help. I had previously told him that I didn’t wish to have my water broken. So I said, “Honey, she wants to break my water what do you think?” He was so excited about the baby coming and floating around in his baby bubble, so he just answered, “Yeah, sure.” What?! He later admitted to me that he wasn’t really sure what was going on (even though he was “top of the class” in Lamaze). So, with no help from him I once again told the doctor “No.” Then she asked me again. I was frustrated and I could see that she wasn’t taking no for an answer so I said, “Yes?”. That made her happy. She broke my water and it seemed as though I was leaking fluid on the bed forever. The nurse kept changing pads to keep me dry. No one told me if I was allowed to get up to labor and I never asked since it seemed like I couldn’t really walk with all of this water going everywhere. At some point the OB checked my dilation but I don’t remember whether or was before or after she broke my water.
Next in Dr. Sunshine’s bag of tricks was this little gem…”I don’t believe in pain.” She seemed to be checking me for dilation quite often and each time she did she kicked my mom out of the room. Every time she checked me she would ask, “Are you sure you don’t want something for the pain? I don’t believe in pain.” I told her no. Repeatedly. Every time she spoke to me she would use this loud, sing-songy, condescending voice as though she were trying (without succeeding) to comfort a small child, “Sweetie, I don’t believe in pain.” And she’d pat my leg. I kinda wanted to punch her in the face. No, I definitely wanted to punch her in the face (but I didn’t). Admittedly the internal exams were beyond uncomfortable, much worse than the contractions themselves. Otherwise, I thought I was handling the pain well. I was uncomfortable, it did hurt, but it was manageable. I was fine and I just wanted to be left alone. I never got to move more than sitting on the edge of the bed, but I was doing okay. Some time during all of this there was a shift change and I got a new nurse (but kept the same doctor…yippy-skippy).
I had read a ton about birth beforehand. Things were moving slow, but not too slow. I seemed to be progressing normally. My contractions were regular, they never stalled. They continued to get stronger, albeit at a somewhat slow pace. I continued to dilate and again never stalled. I had made it to 6+cm without medication. Then I overhear the doctor talking to the nurse about putting me on pitocin. I didn’t want to go on pitocin and I didn’t feel that I needed to go on pitocin. However, no one was asking me, no one was talking to me, and it gave me the impression that it wasn’t my choice. I don’t remember the details but I know I was talking to my mom and husband about the epidural and said, “I just want to wait.” Meaning I was open to potentially getting an epidural at some point but I felt that I was managing the pain well at the moment and thought I could hold off a little longer and see how it goes. However, the idea of being on pitocin without meds didn’t appeal to me. The nurse said to me, “If you plan on getting an epidural there really isn’t any benefit to waiting longer.”
Once again the doctor began pestering me about the epidural. At this point she also began to say how the anesthesiologist isn’t always available and sometimes they need to go to lunch and he might not be there when I want him. What, huh? That doesn’t even make any sense to me considering that they have someone available for emergency c-sections, but whatever. I was starting to get really frustrated. I was in labor, I was tired, I was in pain, and this woman was nagging me about an epidural. I just wanted to be left alone so that I could labor in peace. It was so noisy in my room. My sister and mother were in there talking to the nurse constantly. My husband, though quiet, was floating in his baby bubble excited to meet our daughter and oblivious to what was going on. Everyone was so excited that the baby was coming that everyone seemed to forget that I was confined to a bed in a whole heap of pain while trying to prepare to push a human out of my body. Between the doctor pestering me, the upcoming pitocin, and the room full of chatter boxes I agreed to the epidural. Once I had agreed to the epidural it couldn’t get there fast enough. I think I waited another hour before they showed up to administer it at 3pm.
I was afraid to get the epidural. The idea of that giant needle didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t like that they made my husband leave the room. I sat on the edge of the bed bent over holding on to the nurse. I was afraid I would have a painful contraction while they were trying to put the needle in and then I would move and mess everything up. I could feel them taping things on to my back. I didn’t feel the needle at all. The epidural worked almost instantly. It was great and yet completely horrible (the horrible part I’ll address later). Prior to the epidural I was so stressed out. It wasn’t the pain that was bothering me as much as the environment was. (Did you ever stub your toe real bad and as you’re bent over in pain someone asks, “Are you okay?” and you shoosh them? That’s probably because when you’re in pain you’d like it to be quiet so that you can concentrate for a minute until the pain goes away.) It was noisy in my room and the doctor had frustrated me beyond belief. But the epidural took that all away. Once I wasn’t in pain anymore I didn’t much care how many people were in my room or how noisy they were. I kept telling my mom she should bake the anesthesiologist a pie.
3:23pm Happy hopped up on the epidural
Dr. Sunshine returned to check on me and as she was giving me an internal said, “Now, that’s much better.” Since I wasn’t in any pain I didn’t tense up during the exam and it was much easier on her to check my dilation. She seemed quite happy now that I had the epidural, and ironically, she rarely checked my dilation after that.
Shortly after the epidural they started me on pitocin. No one asked me if they could give me pitocin and in fact no one even told me that they were going to, I just over heard it all. Had someone asked me I would’ve told them no, not that it would’ve made a difference. Pitocin induced contractions are supposed to be much stronger and therefore much more painful. I never felt a thing. Which brings me to the “horrible” part of the epidural for me. I’m the type of person that a dose of NyQuil can completely knock me out for days. I typically don’t take medicine for pain or colds because it makes me so loopy. This epidural was way too strong for me. I couldn’t feel anything, no pain, not my finger brushing against my own leg, and no pressure. I couldn’t move. I was practically paralyzed. Once I got the epidural I was suddenly extremely tired, I could barely keep my eyes open, my head felt weird and fuzzy. I had went to the epidural consult prior to going into labor and they had said that one should still experience some pressure or maybe even some mild discomfort or pain. That wasn’t the case with me. I had heard about hospitals that allow “walking epidurals” and others where you get to control the amount of meds you’re getting through a button. Because I didn’t plan on getting an epidural I had never asked whether or not my hospital had those options (they obviously did not).
Hubby and I after the epidural consult. We didn’t find it very informative. This is what we thought about it…
Some of you reading this may think, “No pain at all? That sounds awesome!” But I still had to push a baby out without being able to feel anything.
It was 6pm, I had dilated to 10cm and it was time to push. To be honest, I was a little confused as to what was going on. Another nurse had come in the room and the two nurses told me that we would do some practice pushing. I didn’t understand that this was “the big show” since the doctor wasn’t around. The nurses had to tell me when to start pushing and when to stop pushing since I couldn’t feel my contraction and I had no urge to push. I started pushing. I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t feel what I was doing and I had no idea if I was pushing hard enough because I couldn’t even feel myself push. I noticed I had a tiny bit of sensation near my tailbone and started to concentrate on that one area. I figured it was close enough to the target area to make a difference. I was in a reclined seated position, I wasn’t flat on my back, but I wasn’t sitting up either. My legs were in stirrups but one of the nurses and my husband were also holding my legs. I couldn’t change positions since I couldn’t move and no one suggested any other positions. The nurses did have me lean to one side or the other, but they kept my legs in the same place. After an hour of pushing Dr. Sunshine returned to check my progress. I don’t really remember her exchange with the nurses but she told me that she’d “let me” push for 2 hours. Then she went on to say something like, “Sometimes these things just aren’t meant to be.” I knew that women often push for several hours with their first baby so I felt it was too soon for her to make this judgment. And thanks so much for that awesome pep talk, by the way.
The doctor leaves and I start pushing again. Despite not being able to feel anything I must’ve been making some progress because they could see my daughter’s head. My mom, who was at the foot of the bed, later described it to me like this, “You would push and I could see the top of her head and then you would stop pushing and her head would disappear.” While I was pushing my mom kept receiving text messages from my sister who wanted to know what was going on. My mom had to finally go out to the waiting room and yell at her to knock it off. It’s a little distracting having someone at the foot of your bed receiving text messages while you’re trying to push. I still couldn’t feel anything. I worked harder than I had ever worked in my life. I focused on that tiny bit of sensation on my tailbone trying to poop myself in hopes that meant I was pushing properly (I did poop, by the way, and the nurses clean everything up right away so that you don’t even know that it happened. No big thang.) I prayed continuously as I was pushing. I wanted so badly to push her out.
Another hour went by and the doctor returned. She started talking again and I don’t remember exactly what she was saying. I said, “I thought you were going to let me push for 2 hours.” When she said that she’d let me push for two hours I thought that meant in addition to the hour I had already pushed leaving me one more hour to push. She had meant only 2 hours total. She told me that my baby was too big for me because she wasn’t fitting past my pelvic bone. She said that if I kept pushing the baby could get stuck and then they’d have to push her back inside and do a c-section. I wanted to keep pushing. I felt like I could do it if I had more time. Once again it seemed as though they weren’t really giving me an option. I didn’t trust my doctor at all. The nurses had been great. When one finally looked at me with a sympathetic face and said, “It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.” I trusted her expertise and agreed to the c-section. The nurse asked the doctor what she should put in the computer as the reason for the c-section and Dr. Sunshine told her Failure to Descend.
I was devastated. I didn’t want a c-section. Everyone else seemed fine. They were happy that the baby was finally coming. This wasn’t an emergency c-section. The baby was perfectly fine and healthy through all of this as was I. No one was rushing around trying to get us into the OR to save our lives. The transition seemed to happen rather slowly to me, at least a half of an hour went by. The moment I agreed to the c-section I became 10 times more tired than I already was. I kept nodding off, I could barely keep my eyes open. There was some waiting around for the anesthesiologist and my husband got into his scrubs.
Eventually they brought me into the OR. The doctor said that she would prick me (poke me? I’m not sure) and to tell her when I couldn’t feel it anymore. After that they let my husband come in. No one asked me if I wanted to watch the birth. I knew that I didn’t want to see them cut into me but if they could’ve lowered the curtain while she was coming out I would’ve liked to have seen it. They had my arms strapped down. I was so tired my eyes kept rolling back in my head. I kept thinking that I was going to fall asleep and miss my daughter’s birth. I had to work very hard to stay awake.
At 8:52pm my Adaline Rose was born, 12 hours after getting to the hospital. I don’t remember hearing my daughter cry, although my husband assures me that she did.
All I remember is the doctor commenting on how big she was and how I would be able to wear a bikini because I was “all baby”. I still couldn’t see her but I started to cry. My husband and the nurse came over to me to show me the baby. The nurse was holding her near my right hand. I grabbed her toe and said, “Hello, chubby baby.” And then they take her away. My husband goes with our daughter.
There were probably six people in the room as I was getting stitched up, but I’m alone. No one was talking to me. I heard them mentioning something about blood loss and then someone keeps telling me, “You’re fine, honey, we’re almost done.” I’m fighting harder than ever to keep my eyes open. I had never been more tired in my life. Call me dramatic but I felt as though if I closed my eyes I would never wake up. I thought I’d die right there and never get to see my daughter. Everything was fine, I was fine, but I didn’t feel fine.
I’m alone. I think a nurse was there, but I’m alone. It seemed like hours went by before I got to see anyone. In reality it was about a half of an hour. First my husband and mom came back and then everyone else came in shifts.
Some of my visitors in my room…
In addition to my husband and I there were 14 people there to welcome our baby girl. They all got to watch my little girl behind a glass window for an hour when I had barely seen her face. They knew her height and weight before I did.
This is only some of the people who were there to welcome Adaline.
She was 8lbs 6oz, 21.5 inches long, with a 13.25inch/33.7cm head circumference. That’s hardly enormous especially considering how long she was, although admittedly she was the biggest baby in the nursery.
After a quick visit for everyone to see how I was feeling everyone left except for my mom and husband. The nurse finally brought in my baby girl and I got to hold her for the first time. It had been 1 hour and 32 minutes since she was born. 1 hours and 32 minutes that went by where my helpless newborn daughter was laying alone without anyone holding her close. She was all swaddled up so I didn’t get to hold her hand, count her fingers or toes, or have any skin to skin contact. Shortly after that I got to nurse her for the first time. She latched on well. I don’t think that I nursed her for too long, in my memory it was all fairly brief.
My mom went home, they took the baby to the nursery and sent my husband to our new room. I was alone again and a nurse came to give me a sponge bath. I could move around on the bed now. It was time for me to go to my new room. She had me lay down flat on the bed and told me to hold onto my tummy (incision area?) when she rolled me over the bumps in the doorway. She was right, that helped a little. She gave me the same advice for when I needed to sneeze or cough.
I got to my room somewhere between 11:30pm and midnight. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything and while they told me I could have liquids (including milkshakes!) the cafeteria and everything else was closed. I was exhausted. They didn’t bring my daughter to me and no one asked me if I wanted to see her. I was glad because I was so tired I just wanted to sleep. They gave me Motrin and I took it in hopes that it would help me sleep. I didn’t sleep much between the pain and needing to nurse my daughter.
Adaline was born on a Tuesday and I went home on Friday.
11:18am Ready to go home…
Recovery wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good. I was in pain and I had difficulty moving around. Overall it was manageable. It was difficult and painful getting in and out of our king sized bed at night when I had to nurse. It hurt to laugh and to cough. I didn’t change any of my daughter’s diapers myself until we had been home for over a day. I just nursed her while my husband and mother took care of everything else. Thankfully we had no trouble breastfeeding and I nursed my daughter until she was 13 months old.
Dressing Adaline for the first time.
Sometimes c-sections are necessary, but I didn’t feel that mine was. If I hadn’t been badgered into the epidural I believe my pushes would’ve been more effective, without it I could’ve waited until I had a pushing urge, if I had the chance to refuse the pitocin my labor could’ve progressed on it’s own without potentially speeding up the process for the baby and my body before they were ready, if they wouldn’t have broken my water I could’ve walked around potentially speeding up my progress and therefore keeping the pitocin and epidural at bay, if a different doctor had been working they may not have intervened as much, if I hadn’t went to the hospital directly after my appointment they might not have broken my water, if I didn’t have an appointment that day I wouldn’t have went to the hospital so early and could’ve avoided the interventions, if I had hired a doula like I wanted to I could’ve avoided the whole situation. If, if, if. I was disappointed in my birth experience and I was upset at my doctor. I felt that I was forced into things and didn’t really have any control over the decisions being made. While I loved my daughter tremendously I had trouble bonding with her initially and that made it more difficult to take care of her when it was just the two of us. But she was just too big for me, right? Two and half years later the successful VBAC of my 9lb 6oz son would prove otherwise.
Now Adaline is a happy, healthy, beautiful, funny, smart, and kinda weird 2.5 year old. While her birth wasn’t what I’d expected, I am so glad that she’s here. I love her fiercely and we have an amazing bond. I can’t imagine life without her.
*My Birth Story: I was also born by cesarean.
*How Adaline got her name
*The meaning of “Adaline” and why we spell it wrong
*Adaline: All posts about Adaline.
*Our Infertility Story
*Pregnancy: All posts related to pregnancy, most from my recent pregnancy with my son.