May 27, 5-ish AM
When the nurse told me I wasn’t yet three centimeters, I nearly fell off the bed. How? My contractions had been three minutes apart since at least 1am, and were now so intense I couldn’t talk through them. Even the thought of being told to go home depressed me. Aaron tried to boost my spirits, and the triage nurse encouraged me to walk and move around to help speed things up while she looked into getting me a room.
Around 7am, I was checked again. This time I was three exactly and so I was admitted. OSU Medical Center required continuous fetal monitoring, no matter how much I protested. The plan was to keep me up and moving as much as possible, and I asked for a telemetry monitor so that I could carry out that plan. What I didn’t expect was for technology to malfunction 15 minutes after getting the telemetry unit, forcing me into bed with wires keeping me tethered to the spot. I worried that this would interfere with labor – one more intervention on the checklist towards a possible c-section.
By this point I was begging my doula to call my nurse. The hospital had assigned me a nurse, but over a month before this my doula had been in touch with an OSU labor & delivery nurse who was very VBAC friendly. She agreed to be my nurse when the time came, and said she would even come in on her day off if need be. The assigned nurse seemed pleasant enough, but she was not happy with my wishes to follow the birth plan sitting on the front of my chart. She also blew her first IV attempt, wasting my best vein. My doula called Kim, and she was there by 8:30am. While I knew it was Kim’s day off, I wouldn’t find out until later that it was also Kim’s birthday.
At 9am, I was reaching my pain limit. My contractions were already nearly on top of each other, less than three minutes apart and lasting over two minutes. I again foolishly hoped that this meant the end was near, and if not, visions of epidurals danced in my head. Kim checked me, and announced I wasn’t quite at five centimeters yet. At that point, I declared in a loud, serious voice, “Get me the epidural then.” I had advised my team to not let me consider an epidural lightly, but not even Aaron argued with me at that point. Of course, it could be because he wanted to regain some feeling in his hand again.
I originally didn’t want an epidural, because I knew it would keep me bed-bound, but seeing that I was already stuck in the bed, it seemed like the best option. I knew I was risking yet another intervention down the slippery slope to c-section, but I also knew that in some slow labors an epidural can help speed things up. The happiest moment of the day thus far was when the anesthesiologist came into the room at 9:45am.
The next several hours are a complete blur for me, but there were two ongoing incidents that bear mentioning. First was the baby’s complete and utter lack of respect for contractions. Normally, the uterus contracts, the baby’s heart rate responds by increasing, indicating that the baby is a little stressed out by the squeezing. Totally normal response, everyone is happy. This kid, however, never showed any changes in heart rate. She was cool as a cucumber the entire time, prompting hospital staff to freak out regularly.
She also liked to stretch and shift away from the fetal monitor, making it impossible to detect her heart rate and sending Kim into my room several times to readjust the monitor and forcing me to wear an oxygen mask to help the baby. Trust me – she didn’t need any help. She was simply relaxed through all of this. She could be the zen master of zen masters.
At least three times I remember them bringing a loud buzzing device in and holding it against my belly. The purpose is to scare the hell out of the baby to see if there is a change in heart rate. Change in heart rate=good. Each time they did that, I felt her jump out of her skin, and her heart rate increased, but then she calmed down and went back to sleep. Labor did not bother her at all.
The other recurring event throughout the long morning and early afternoon was the frequent visits from the anesthesiologist at my request. I’ve always had an ability to metabolize drugs quickly, and apparently epidurals are no different. The epidural completely wore off three times. Even with my little button to push if I needed more medication, it still wore off three times. Nothing like being totally pain free and then suddenly having it all come rushing back at you. Aaron had to remind me about my breathing and help me through until it could be adjusted. It was only re-up’d two times, though, because the third time I was already close to pushing. I’ve seen very little surprise from an anesthesiologist, but he was surprised.
Around 2pm, the resident came in and offered to break the amniotic sac. I never got to experience the water breaking or anything like that. Nooo…apparently it was the amniotic sac of steel. I refused, and then had to deal with a pouty young resident demanding to know why. I reminded him that the baby was still at a high station and I was only eight centimeters. I didn’t want to risk a cord prolapse and a fast lane rush to surgery. I was happy to let it happen on its own. He skulked out of the room, not coming back in again until he was summoned.
Around 3pm, Kim declared that I was at 10 centimeters. I already kinda knew that, though, because the epidural had worn off, and the pain had shifted to a whole new sensation: the urge to push. The resident came back in, asking if he could now break the sac, and I let him, seeing that the baby’s head was completely engaged and ready to go. The resident asked me for a trial push to judge how well I’d be able to push. My one trial push produced a look of panic on his face as he left to call the doctor, with strict instructions to Kim to not let me push. 10 minutes later, he was back, telling us that the doctor was stuck in traffic and was still 20 minutes away. Oh, and don’t push.
Honestly, looking back, I should have flipped him off. I was not consciously pushing at this point, but my body was trying to push. It was taking all of my energy to try to hold it back. I was asking Kim how many babies she had caught due to late doctors, and asking if she was ready to catch this one. Kim was rushing around, getting everything set up and ready, while I gritted my teeth and tried to will myself not to push.
Finally, the doctor walked in around 3:45pm and quickly suited up. It wasn’t my regular doctor, but one of her partners. She looked at me and said, “Dr. K sent me an e-mail telling me you might go into labor this weekend and attached a copy of your birth plan. She was hoping you’d be able to have the VBAC – she’ll be so excited when I tell her that you did it.”
Second happiest moment of the day came when Dr. H told me to go ahead and push. I remember everyone around me – Aaron, my doula, Kim, the doctor – telling me to push, placing their hands on me, etc., but I can’t remember any specifics because I was too focused on getting her out. It took two pushes and she was out at 4:00pm sharp. That first push was horrendous, though. Her not-so-little head crowned just as the contraction ended, leaving everything in a rather painful stretched out manner, waiting for the next contraction. I gave it everything I had for the second push, which is probably what caused the second-degree tear.
They placed Mira on my stomach right away and covered her with some blankets. That was the third happiest moment of the day, and the one to trump all others. She gave a gurgle and a short cry to let us know she was breathing, and then went quiet as my arms wrapped around her. Her eyes squinted in the light to study my face as her tiny hands reached towards my chest and grabbed handfuls of my gown.
We waited until her cord stopped pulsing, and then Aaron got to cut the cord, something he wasn’t able to do with Cordy. Mira cried a little at being unwrapped for a moment. The only other time she cried in the delivery room was when they took her to the warmer to weigh her and clean her up. As soon as she was brought back to me, she quieted again and immediately began breastfeeding. Aaron remarked on how long her fingers and toes were, and he was right – she had monkey toes.
So quiet, so peaceful. She was content with this moment in her life. It was such a stark contrast to Cordy’s birth, where she was pulled unwillingly from me by c-section, shrieking at her change in situation, pissed off at the world from day one. Mira got to do it all her way, waiting until she was ready to be born. And while labor was certainly not one of my favorite moments in life, pushing her out felt so much more “real” than the hidden delivery behind the drape in a c-section.
Mira and I both had slight fevers post-delivery, and as a result the rest of my birth plan got thrown out the window. She was taken to the nursery for bloodwork and to have an IV placed for antibiotics while I waited for hours and asked when I could have my baby back. Her fever never reappeared after that first hour, but the hospital still insisted on the IV and antibiotics for her entire stay. Yet Mira didn’t complain much, and was overall a quiet baby those first few days.
She didn’t get her name until very late at night on the 27th. Aaron and I debated if Miranda was the best fit for her, but none of the other names we had fit well, either. I still wonder if there was a better name for her, but as long as I could keep the nickname Mira, I was content with Miranda Ann.
And now, today, my baby is two years old. Where did the time go? Also, where did that quiet, peaceful newborn go?