I was in early labor for about 3.5 days. No consistency to my contractions, and in fact, I could hardly call them contractions. It was more like pelvic pressure rather than contractions with a beginning, middle, and end.
After a few days of this, and being about a week overdue, I finally agree to scheduling an induction. Not the path I wanted, but this was getting ridiculous! Would I be in early labor forever?!
Sure enough, the morning of the induction, I woke up to consistent contractions, about 10 minutes apart. The pain was manageable, so I was feeling good about perhaps able to see this through as a drug-free, vaginal birth. An hour and a half later, I was suddenly having contractions at 4-5 minutes apart. Time for the hospital, quick!
Luckily, the hospital is only a 10 minute drive away. They got me settled in Triage, and when they checked me, I was already 9.5 cm dilated, ready to push soon. Holy smokes, get this lady into a delivery room!
I began pushing. And I continued to push… for 3 hours. The baby didn’t move an inch! The doctor gave me an option: do a C-section now, or get an epidural to get some rest and push for another hour. I chose the latter.
I wonder if I will always look back on that decision with doubt and guilt. An hour later, still no progress, and I was being prepped for surgery. But something didn’t feel right. I was experiencing the most intense pelvic pressure and nothing would alleviate it, not the epidural, not another bolus of meds, nothing. I was in more pain than at any point during my labor and pushing.
Turns out my pelvis was too small for my baby to fit through. They had to dislodge her from my pelvis to pull her from me during the C-section. She was born completely limp and non-responsive, 8 lb 2oz and 23 inches long. An MRI a week later seemed to indicate that she had a minor stroke.
But within minutes after delivery, she was resuscitated, whimpering, and being whisked to the NICU. I was emotionally shut down. My husband nearly passed out. He went with our baby girl to the NICU, and I went through the most terrible discomfort with the surgical team reorganizing my organs and stitching me up after the delivery.
Our baby girl continued to improve hour after hour. It was looking very promising. She was transferred to Children’s Hospital and given hypothermia therapy for possible neonatal encephalopathy… basically put on a cooling mat for 3 days to bring down her core body temperature, slowing her metabolism, in an attempt to minimize any brain damage. It has very positive outcomes, so we quickly gave consent.
Visiting her while she was on the cooling mat was rough. Our poor baby girl! They put her on a slight morphine drip to make her comfortable so she wasn’t constantly shivering, and to help with any head pain.
After 3 days, she was pulled off the cooling mat successfully and eased off the morphine. She was on an IV for nutrition, but a few days later, she took some of my breast milk by bottle, so the IV eventually came out. They still have her on a feeding tube to supplement what she takes orally because she isn’t quite taking enough orally for the doctors to feel confident she would get sufficient calories on her own at home.
Now, a little over a week old, she has not exhibited any seizure activity from her continuous EEGs. She’s peeing and pooping, crying and burping, fussing and quietly observing, falling asleep to my lullabies… everything you would expect a healthy newborn to do! She is our lovely, beautiful, charming baby girl! We will have to watch out for potential motor skill problems in a few months, but even if she has trouble down the line, we are SO VERY HAPPY to have her in our lives and doing so well despite her difficult start. We hope to get the feeding sorted out soon so that we can take her home and celebrate!