January 27, 2007
I had been hospitalized at 26 weeks for softening of my cervix which was then determined to be pre-term labor, thankfully the contractions stopped after being medicated. After four full days, I was discharged with medication (nifedipine) to take while on bed rest to discourage contractions.
On Jan 27th, 2007 (30 weeks) I woke up at 6am to take my medication, I felt very wet and feared my water had broken. I went to the bathroom and found that is wasn’t water, I had been bleeding during the night. Trying to keep calm, I woke my husband and he called Kaiser while I called my mom for a ride to the hospital. I arrived around 7am and my mom and I went to labor and delivery. I was brought to a triage room and given hospital garments to change into. The bleeding had slowed down but was still enough for them to be concerned and I was admitted and placed in an L&D room. My mom had to go to work, DH was watching the boys, so I was to call with any updates. At around 9, I was checked and found to be at 5-6 cm dilated, I had an IV put in and had to be flat on my back, very uncomfortable!
Despite the Mag sulfate, my labor couldn’t be stopped and I was told be as still and calm as possible, my water hadn’t broken but was bulging. I was getting constant cervix checks and found to be at least a half a centimeter further every time and I was getting more and more worried about Rowen. This was way too early to be in real labor, I didn’t even feel any contractions! None were noted by the staff either, but my cervix just continued to dilate. The nurses weren’t at all supportive or sensitive as I tried to alert my DH about what was going on, talking over me and truly making it difficult for me to have a conversation. Mind you, I had allowed her plenty of time to do whatever she needed before I made any phone calls. My next call was to my doula. I tried my best to ignore them while letting her know what was happening, she became even more annoyed and did it again. My doula told me she would be there with me as soon as she could, her husband had just taken her car for an errand but she would come and before ending our call, made me promise not to sign anything before she got there. Sadly, it was too late for that and I wish now I had called her much sooner instead of debating it.
The OB arrived at around 10am, I was 8cm dilated. She said all of two statements to me: who she was and that I would not be allowed to deliver a footling breech preemie vaginally and I would have to have a c-section. There was no discussion about risks for the surgery,the anesthesia or anything. Despite my questions and protests to wait for my support person, I became invisible. When the Ob reappeared around 11:30, I was fully dilated. It was prep time. I couldn’t believe I was facing the one thing I had always wanted to avoid during pregnancy, the dreaded c-section. This was so wrong, I didn’t want this but I knew Rowen was too small. All I could think of was the premature baby my mom had before she got pregnant with me. How thin my late sister’s skin had been during her vaginal delivery and losing almost all of her skin along her back. She lived for a few weeks, but after one major complication after another, she passed away. I pictured that happening to Rowen and I just couldn’t… “Lord, I really don’t want to do this but… Just please… Let us both survive this surgery, I’m so scared they’re going to screw up and one or both of us won’t make it.”
The nurse instructed she was going to insert the catheter when suddenly, I had very painful cramping sensations. I waved her off and said no, she got irritated and fussed that I had to have this done. I begged her to please wait until after the cramping subsided. She got pissed, forced my legs apart and proceeded to shove it in. I screamed and began to cry. I will never forget the look on her face, the look of contempt mixed with some amusement. “Why are you acting like that?” “It couldn’t possibly hurt that much, stop whining.” “It hurts,” was all I could reply through my tears. “No, it doesn’t. You’re just being a drama queen, catheters aren’t painful.” (Side note: I’m a rape survivor; having my legs forced apart and having a foreign object shoved in reopened a floodgate I had closed off years before. Not only did I have to reprocess the rape but also this incident too, my trust in the L&D of hospitals has been shattered.) After that I was shaved, redressed and next thing I know I had papers shoved in my face. It wasn’t long before I was being wheeled off to the OR.
I was terrified when I was given the spinal, I was sure they were going to mess up and injure me somehow. Thankfully, it was fine, I was being poked and asked if I could feel it or not. It took what seemed like forever before my answers went from yes to no. Once surgery was under way, I kept as still as I could, again fearing that something would go wrong if I moved. I’m listening to them talk about nonsense as I’m being operated on, trying desperately to listen for the only sound I really want to hear. The anesthesiologist stood at my shoulder, telling saying he sees little feet and legs out, he then disappears around the curtain. I finally heard him, the tiniest little squeak of a cry, my eyes filled with tears. Rowen’s here!!! He sounds so tiny, I begin to cry, I can’t see him, they won’t bring him around the curtain. Some guy pops his head in, “your son is here, he’s okay!” He’s gone again before I can even react.
Nausea had set in and I said I was going to be sick. I was told to hold on, I would be given something for that. The next thing I remember is being wheeled into recovery, not long after that, my doula came in to see me. It’s here I find out that my mom and DH were there, at the nursery with Rowen. I’m glad he had company. My doula told me she had arrived just shortly before the I got to the OR but they refused to let her in. I apologized, I felt it was my fault for everything, she hugged me and told me I had done nothing to apologize for. My DH came in, my doula retreated to give us privacy and went out to alert the nurses to assist me. She demanded that I be allowed to see Rowen before they had him transferred. The staff that came in said I had to be able to move my legs before they could allow that. You better believe I moved my legs ;), despite how heavy they still felt. By the time I saw him, Rowen was more tubes and monitors than baby, I couldn’t make out any features. All he had free was a tiny hand, I held his fingers and he squeezed back. I told him I loved him and to be strong. It was time for him to go and I refused at first, my husband swears to this day that I snarled at the transport team but I don’t remember doing that. Rowen was wheeled off to the waiting ambulance for a level 3 NICU. I was happy to know I would be transferred with him eventually. The OB came in to check on my progress, I looked like I was doing quite well. She chose right then to inform me about the type of c-section I received (Classical uterine incision) and added that I would never have a vaginal birth again. My doula told me later that “never again” wasn’t entirely true but finding a care provider would be difficult. She followed me out when it was my turn to be transported to the same hospital Rowen was sent to. She told me not to worry about the contract anymore, just to consider her a friend and give her a call whenever I needed to. She then hugged me and promised to check up on me within a couple of days. The hospital stay was a humbling one, it was hard being a roommate with someone who could room in with their baby. I was by Rowen’s side every minute until shift changes, he was so tiny but very strong. I was proud of him for breathing on his own. 🙂 When it came time to go home a couple of days later, I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye the way I wanted to. It was a shift change and he was under bili lights. I told him I loved him through the nursery window and with a heavy heart, I walked out of Kaiser with empty arms.
Four months later, during a home visit, my doula gave me a card and encouraged me to give the lady a call when I was ready. The number was for my local ICAN chapter leader. Six months after my c-section, I made the call, and I’m glad I did. 🙂
I hope to add a VBAC story one of these days! 😀