Here is Part 3, the final part, of Addison’s birth story. Part 1 and Part 2 were posted previously as well as a brief overview of her birth.
After the nurse in triage told me they were going to admit me, she said it would still be awhile before there was a room available upstairs (btw, my official admission time was after midnight, which was my goal/hope for insurance reasons). I believe I was still in triage at 2 am, which is when the nurse came back in to check my labor process….I was now 4 cm dilated. Shortly thereafter, a room opened up for me upstairs, and the nurse came to get me to transfer me up there. She gave me the option of walking or using a wheelchair, and I opted for the walking. I wasn’t able to walk through the contractions and had to stop and lean against the wall when I had one, but being up–and really, being in any position other than sitting or lying on my back–was more comfortable to me, so we slowly made our way upstairs. She took me to the back elevators that I use every day when I’m at work, and I remember commenting on how weird it was to be using these elevators as a patient dressed in a hospital gown rather than as an employee in my nice work clothes and white coat. Good thing this was happening at night and not during the day when all of my colleagues and coworkers were there!
For those of you who are familiar with Prentice Hospital, the views from some of the rooms overlooking the lake are phenomenal, and I was originally hoping to get one of those rooms. We did not, and I could’ve cared less (not that there was anything to look at at that hour anyway). I was glad, though, to be in a much more more spacious and comfortable room as compared to the triage room!
When I met my nurse on the labor and delivery floor, I asked for a portable fetal monitor and tocometer so that I could move around freely. I’m not sure how happy she was with this request, because she warned me she would probably be in there frequently to adjust it, as they are very finicky, but it ended up only needing adjustments a few times in the beginning.
By this point, the contractions were really intense…the most intense discomfort I have ever felt. Every three minutes or so, I’d feel the wave of a contraction start to build. I was unable to sit or lie down because of the pain, so I had the bed raised up to a comfortable position for me to lean over, and when a contraction started, I would stand next to the bed and lean over it bent at the hips with my elbows/arms resting on the bed and my head down. Dean was half awake, lying on the bed/couch near the window, but as soon as he would hear me breathing heavy, he would jump up and start rubbing my lower back, which helped to mitigate the pain somewhat. This went on every few minutes for a few hours.
As the night wore on, I became more and more exhausted. Like, incredibly exhausted…probably the most exhausted I have ever felt, and that’s saying a lot given the years of getting up at ungodly hours to figure skate (when I was younger) or run before school/work and the 9 years of medical training I’d been through so far. I think it was a combination of the physical and emotional fatigue from the labor process thus far, having worked all week as well as earlier that day, and all the stress and relatively little sleep over the past few weeks from ending residency on night float and starting fellowship. I was so tired I was practically hallucinating. I would close my eyes for a few seconds in between contractions and immediately be in a dream world, only I was still half awake. It was weird. The only way I was able to close my eyes at all was when I was on the bed on all fours, with my head on the bed and my butt somewhat in the air, somewhat resembling Child’s Pose in yoga…sitting or lying down, as I already said, was out of the question because of the back pain. I must’ve been quite a sight whenever one of the nurses came in to check on me. haha.
I forced myself to get up a few times and make some laps around the hospital floor I was on. I told myself since I had held out so far on getting an epidural because I wanted to be able to move around, well then I better get my butt up and move around! So Dean and I took a few walks around the labor and delivery floor. He was sneaky and took a few photos (and a video) of me attempting to walk around, which I did not know of until the next day. I was a pretty funny sight, in my oversized hospital gown and Mizuno running shoes:
Looking stylish in my big gown and Mizuno running shoes strolling around the hospital! ; )
This picture cracks me up. I think I could fool people with this picture into thinking I was an old, hunched over lady walking around a hospital or nursing home! haha. Luckily the hospital had railings along the walls in the hallway. Whenever I felt a contraction coming on, I was unable to walk through it, so I’d grab onto the railing (which I’m starting to do here) with both hands and lean forward.
I think the OB resident came into check me at some point between 4 and 5 am. I was still only 4 cm. I was discouraged and overwhelmed by how much I still had to go. By this point, I didn’t want to walk around anymore. All I wanted to do was be able to lie down and sleep. If I was this exhausted now, how was I going to make it through the rest of this labor and then push this baby out?!
The hospital staff was great…they never pushed having an epidural on me, but they did periodically check to see if I was ready for one (I had signed the consent for one when I first got admitted). Each time I had said “not yet”. Finally, at a little after 5 am, I was ready for one:
1) I was in desperate need of some sleep and rest, particularly knowing I still likely had several hours of labor left and then had to physically push the baby out.
2) I had stopped or temporarily slowed down in progressing through my labor in regards to cervical dilatation, so the moving around didn’t seem to be doing much any more.
3) I was too tired to move around anymore anyway, so I no longer cared if I was bedridden
4) I had had enough of the intense contractions. I had several hours to “experience” what labor felt like, and I was now ready for some pain relief ….I felt no need to win any battles for length of labor without an epidural.
At 5:30, some 7 hours after the intense contractions had started, the anesthesiology resident came into my room to place the epidural.
Quick digression here on resident house staff: I am a firm believer that if you go to a teaching hospital, you better be willing to accept care from residents and fellows. Few things pissed me off more as a resident than when a patient demanded to only be seen by an attending. If that is your attitude, go to a community hospital or somewhere with no residents. I am no different than any other patient and was seen by both an OB resident and an anesthesiology resident, who were great. And honestly, in regards to getting an epidural, you’re probably best off having one placed by a resident rather than an attending. My guess is that the residents probably do a ton more epidurals per year than the attendings and probably do a better job!
So anyway, as I said, the resident came into my room to do the epidural at around 5:30 am. It was a super quick procedure (as I knew it was), and the only minor discomfort was the slight sting from the lidocaine (numbing medication) at the beginning…the much more uncomfortable part was trying to hold still when I was having a contraction while he was placing the epidural.
Once it was placed, he gave me a dose of medication, and my legs immediately felt warm and sorta tingly…then I felt my whole body completely relax, as I was suddenly pain free. Have you ever done the relaxation technique in yoga or elsewhere where they tell you to tense up all your muscles and then let go of all the tension and relax…that’s what it felt like. I had now idea how tensed my entire body had been for the past several hours until I got that epidural and was able to relax. It was amazing and the best feeling ever….like night and day. Suddenly, I was able to smile and engage and talk with the people around me. Most importantly, I was able to lie down comfortably and get some rest. I was literally completely pain-free, like I could barely tell I was having contractions, and they certainly weren’t painful anymore.
Finally able to smile and relax after the epidural. More importantly, I was able to nap and get some rest.
Me being able to sleep meant that Dean could, too, since he didn’t have to jump up every few minutes to massage my back.
Shortly after getting the epidural, the OB resident came in to artificially rupture my membranes to help the labor progress since my water had not yet broken. I was then started on a very low dose of pitocin, which I don’t think they ever had to increase considerably.
For the next several hours, Dean and I just rested, and no one came into check my cervical dilatation. Later on that morning I met the OB from the practice I went to who was working that day and who would most likely be delivering my baby. I had seen a few of the OBs in my practice, but I had never met her until that morning. Some people like to have had a longer, more personal relationship with the person delivering their baby, which I understand, but I honestly could’ve cared less…all I cared about was that the physician delivering my baby had good judgement and skills when it came to the delivery process. I did, though, immediately like the OB when I met her. She had a very calm, friendly demeanor.
She told me to let her know when I started feeling pressure from the baby’s head down below.
Later that morning, I started to feel pressure from the baby’s head and was wondering why no one had checked me for the past several hours. The nurse said the doctor would be in shortly.
At around 11:00, the OB came in and checked me and was like, “You’re going to have this baby within a half hour!” I was fully dilated and the head was low. OMG, I thought. Shi* just got real! I figured I was getting close to being ready, but I didn’t realize I was now ready to push the baby out! For the first time throughout this whole labor process, I felt nervous. I couldn’t believe the moment was here…the moment I had waited nine long months for. We were about to meet our daughter face to face.
“It’s go-time…let’s do this!” Dean took this right after the doctor told me I was ready to start pushing.
The nurse and doctor left the room for a brief second, and I suddenly felt a wave of nausea. Apparently, it’s very common to vomit during this “transition phase”, and that I did. Since no one was in the room except Dean, I yelled at Dean to grab a trash can or something for me to vomit in. He literally grabbed the biggest trashcan possible. The nurse walked back into the room with Dean at my side holding up the full sized trash bin (the kind the garbage people use) to my face. Haha. She quickly got a more appropriate smaller bin for me to use : ). Meanwhile, the doctor and nurse started getting the room ready for me to delivery, and then, before I knew it, they were having me push when I felt a contraction.
I was scared it would hurt when I pushed, but it didn’t hurt at all, so I pushed hard…I literally felt like the vein in my forehead was going to explode. While I was pushing during the second contraction, I noticed that I couldn’t hear the fetal monitor anymore. There was no heart beat sound. I started to worry. My OB remained calm, but I knew enough from my background that this was potentially concerning. She didn’t say much other than to tell the nurse to put a pulsox on me, but I did notice her looking over frequently at the fetal heart rate monitor.
At this point, I knew that during this third contraction, I HAD to push this baby out. You normally push three times per contractions…I still hadn’t pushed the baby out by the third push on that third contraction, so my OB told me to just keep on pushing despite the contraction having stopped. I did, and with two more pushes after a total of about ten minutes of pushing at 11:22 am, our baby Addison made her entrance into this world. She had APGARS of 9 and 9, weighed 7 lbs, 13 oz and measured 21 inches in length.
Addison was immediately placed skin to skin on my chest, and I got meet my daughter face to face for the first time. She was healthy, beautiful (ok, let’s be honest…as beautiful as a newborn baby can be having just been pushed out of a uterus through a small orifice…haha), and perfect. I have seen many babies delivered, and now I was able to experience the birth of a baby from the mother’s standpoint. It was a surreal, beautiful, and love-filled moment.
Me meeting Addison face to face for the first time, immediately after delivery (They do skin to skin contact with the baby and mom immediately after delivery). Amazing moment.
After a few minutes of skin to skin contact, they took the baby from me to clean her off, do her measurements, and give her her eye drops and vitamin K shot. I then asked my OB about the heart rate dropping during that second contraction. She was like, “yeah, if you hadn’t pushed that baby out quickly, we would’ve had to take more drastic measures.” She didn’t elaborate on what she meant by that, and I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to know, because I didn’t care. I was just happy Addison was out and healthy.
Proud Daddy Dean holding his (screaming) daughter for the first time : )
First family picture.
I must say, I felt like I had a very smooth and relatively speaking, easy labor. Sure, the hours of back labor were not comfortable, but it’s not like I was expecting labor to be a relaxing, comfortable process (although it sorta was after the epidural). Looking back, I don’t think I would have changed a thing about how things went. I’m glad I didn’t get an epidural right away. It’s not that I found the contractions an enjoyable experience, but for better or worse, I was able to experience the intensity what labor feels like…to feel my body taking over in a powerful, strong way to bring life into this world. It’s a beautiful thing what a woman’s body can do…to grow another human and then deliver it to this world…a miracle, in fact. Additionally, experiencing the intensity of labor with Dean by my side, helping me the best he could, was a special experience…we were in this together, as life partners and soon to be parents.
I’m glad, though, that I got the epidural when I did. It made the labor a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience. I was able to be more present in the moment rather than inwardly focused and was able to engage much more with the people around me, including Dean. Also, had I not been able to get some rest and conserve and regain some energy, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to push Addison out as quickly as I did, and who knows how things would have ended up.
Although I feel fortunate that the labor went as well as it did, I am most grateful for a healthy, beautiful girl. Having been a family of three for two weeks now, I can’t imagine our lives without Addison, and I can’t wait for the journey that awaits us as parents as we raise this little girl : ).