Besides some minor issues (feeling queasy, being so tired because of having to chase after a toddler, some back pain, etc) my pregnancy was easy which led me to believe I would have an easy delivery, too. This wasn’t an unreasonable thought considering we practically special ordered my son’s delivery: he was born on the day we wanted him to, I went into labor at the time I wanted to, it took exactly 12 hours (that’s how long I thought it would) and besides having a short umbilical cord, it was a very easy delivery.
Of course, Max (that’s my second son’s name) had a totally different plan…
To begin with, I was determined to eliminate the clutter from our house before Max came. We still had some accumulated “stuff” that we hadn’t dealt with since before Milan was born. And I was actually getting a lot done and everything seemed to be on schedule. I had one week left of organizing and then I could focus on getting everything ready for Max.
On Tuesday, I was taking a break from cleaning out our huge, disorganized desk and was doing some laundry. While going up and down the stairs, I felt Max move in a weird way. Didn’t think much of it, so I fixed some ice cream while I waited for the laundry to dry.
But then Max seemed to keep moving funny. I started to think I was having Braxton Hicks contractions. I also almost peed my pants while sitting on the couch. I quickly realized that those funny movements were actually contractions and they were coming 3 minutes apart!
By the time my friend came and we got checked in to the hospital it was 1:30 am. Contractions continued to be about 3-5 minutes apart. By about 5 am, I decided to get an epidural. I really felt like I was slowing down the delivery. Although the pain wasn’t horrific, every so often a contraction would knock the wind out of me and then it’d take me about 15 minutes or so to really catch my breath. During the time it took to get back to normal, I was soooo tense.
In case you don’t know this, when you decide to get an epidural it actually takes quite awhile to get the doctor, get you prepared and get the epidural in. It took quite awhile with me because I got myself worked up and almost passed out. Eventually I relaxed and the epidural was done by 6 am. They checked to see how far along I was and I was at 7 cm. I talked to my friend that was taking care of Milan at 6:15 and then I decided to start meditating since I knew I still had quite a bit more work to do and figuring I had a few more hours before I would deliver.
While in a half-sleep meditative state, two nurses came rushing in yelling “don’t push, don’t push!” I didn’t even realize I had gone into the second stage of labor: pushing! I looked at the clock and it was only 6:35!
One of the nurses checked to see if Max’s head was fully descended. I will never forget the look on her face as she whispered to the other nurse. It turns out, Max was breech and already fully descended!
The funny thing is I told the nurse that checked me in that I had gone to the doctor that morning and told my doc that I had thought Max had turned again. But the doc checked me out and said all was good. When the nurse checked me she had said all was good. So either Max turned at the last minute or I was right and he had turned the morning before.
Anyways, they couldn’t get hold of my doctor because he was already on his way to tell him about Max being breech. They asked if we had talked about it and we had. I knew that my doctor would want to do a cesarean. So my poor nurse, by herself started wheeling me and the baby cart to the OR. They transfer me to the operating table and are trying to get me set up when Max’s heart rate stops!
My doctor starts barking orders at the staff, a nurse escorts my husband out of the room, he tells me that he’s going to DELIVER Max and I realize that more than ever I need to be strong. I take a look at my doctor, close my eyes and wait for instructions. I’m able to push most of Max’s body out on the first push. But then his shoulder got stuck. They got his shoulder out on the third push, but now his head was stuck. So a nurse literally gets on top of my belly and tries to push Max’s head while my doctor tries to guide him out. They instruct me to take the deepest breath I can and push like I’ve never pushed before… so I did. Max pops out!
I open my eyes and I see Max. He’s purple, you know the color of an eggplant purple! They put him on my belly so that they can cut the umbilical cord and his left arm just flops over. My heart sinks because I know that he’s not breathing and not moving.
The team quickly takes him to the corner of the operating room and they intubate him. He’s so tiny and purple and still not moving. I close my eyes and in a split moment, I’m thinking about all of the mothers that have lost their child during birth. But I quickly shake that thought out of my head and stare at my unmoving child. I started chanting (in my head) “come on Max, you can do it, you can do it, come baby.” Then someone says “we’ve got a heart beat.” And then he turned pink! I have never been so happy to see the color pink. But he still wasn’t moving. Then I started chanting “Come on Max, just move, just move, momma needs to see you move, just move your arm.” And as soon as I said “just move your arm,” he did!
I started crying. He still wasn’t breathing but they were breathing for him. I knew that it was just a matter of time before he’d be breathing on his own and I knew he was going to be okay. They let me get a good look at him before they took him to the NICU. He was so little, but he was alive!
They finished sewing me up and then the doors opened and I saw my husband. He starts walking towards me and bursts out into tears. For a moment, I froze because I thought that something was wrong. Then I realized that he was just overwhelmed by the whole experience. He leaned over, gave me a kiss and told me that Max was okay.
You’d think I would be ecstatic at this point but I wasn’t. We still needed to wait and see if there was any brain damage. The best way for them to get an idea was to analyze the umbilical cord and see the ph level. Then they’d know about how long he was without oxygen and if there was a high risk of brain damage.
Now to top it off, Max was born right at the shift change for all of the staff. The next hour was torture. As soon as the shift change was up, I sent my husband to go check on Max. By that time, my doctor came in and had the results of the umbilical cord. He was only without oxygen for about 4 minutes. I finally felt like I could breathe.
My son was alive, breathing on his own and the likely hood of their being any brain damage was slim. I still had to wait quite awhile before I could get someone to wheel me to the NICU so I could see my son. By the time I got there, it was about 3 hours since he had been born. I wasn’t allowed to hold him, but I was able to touch him.
In the end, I have a beautiful son that I absolutely adore. Of course, it would’ve been nice to have a less traumatic birth but all is well that ends well.