|Born Jan. 31, 6lbs 15oz, 20 inches long. Photo credit: Bella Baby Photography.|
For a variety of reasons, including borderline high blood pressure, my OB had decided in advance to induce my labor at 39 1/2 weeks. Two days before my scheduled induction, I went in for a routine appointment and fetal monitoring. Although every metric on the machines looked fine, something felt... off. Sam wasn't moving as much as usual, as much as he had even the previous day. A hot chocolate and almond croissant from Bakery Nouveau didn't change things, and neither did a quiet afternoon paying attention to his movements. When we spoke to our OB on the phone that evening, she recommended we come in for induction that night -- acknowledging that the decision was at least partly driven by our (non-evidence-based) anxiety. We got the call at 6:15 and were to report to the hospital by 8:00 -- oh, and hadn't eaten, packed, showered, or picked up my stepson from his after school care. After a whirlwind couple of hours, we arrived (barely) on time, ready to do this thing.
Once we got settled in to our birthing suite, things were much calmer. We delivered my stepson to his mother. We organized our belongings, having been told that induction can take days. My cervix was checked, and I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and given a couple of doses of misoprostol, a cervical ripening agent. I was checked periodically throughout the night as I began to have period-like cramps, but they were easy enough to sleep through, for the most part.
In the AM, they started me on Pitocin, which by noon had ramped up the contractions to fairly uncomfortable. I ate lunch and walked around the nurses station a bit. Greg went for a run, and by the time he got back I had quickly devolved into a bad place, vomiting and shaking with the contractions. Our doula was invaluable, suggesting positions and coaching me though the contractions that seemed to be coming fast with little opportunity for rest. After some time I labored in the bath, where my water broke, I continued vomiting, and ultimately managed to mutter the word "epidural". What felt like five minutes later the anesthesia team was there, providing blessed relief (I had gone into labor wanting the "opportunity" to labor unmedicated -- and as it turns out 5 hours of that is plenty for me). I was able to sleep for a couple of hours, which felt like heaven.
Around 7:15PM, the OB team came in and told us they were observing signs of fetal distress that they didn't like to see. They gave us a metaphor we could relate to: "Your baby is running a marathon at a 100m pace." They gave me 15 minutes of low-fi interventions to change things: an oxygen mask for me, extra saline in the IV, turning me on my side. When these didn't change the fetal monitoring metrics, they made the call: a C-section.
I was a little teary at the prospect of surgery and the change of plan from what we had anticipated, but also intensely focused on doing what was best for our son. The decision was made around 7:30PM; after a flurry of activity on many fronts, Samuel John was born via C-section at 8:15PM weighing 6lbs 15oz and measuring 20 inches long. Everyone in the operating room expressed great surprise when they found that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck four(!) times -- the purported cause of the fetal distress. The neonatal team toweled him off and checked him over, then he was brought to me to nuzzle while the surgical team sewed me up. He came out hungry and tried to feed on my chin and cheek, to no avail.
The ensuing two and a half weeks have contained lifetimes for me and Greg. New parenting is hard, recovery from abdominal surgery is hard, breastfeeding is hard. There have been (blessedly few) moments of near despair. Overwhelming all the sleep deprivation and bewilderment, though, I have a fierce love and desire to protect this little peanut, come what may, and to fix these fleeting moments in my mind.