Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Adelaide's Birth Story

She turns one in a few days, and we just realized we hadn't written down her birth story! While Adelaide is perfect, her birth wasn't a wonderful experience. That said, it is what got her here and there are things worth remembering.

Adelaide Agnes, born 4:48am on April 30, 2021

Like Everett and Imogen, Adelaide's birth was a planned induction at close to 39 weeks gestation. Things were going mostly fine towards the end of the pregnancy, excepting the increasing anxiety Elizabeth was having. (This was in contrast to the endless, “well that’s unusual” things happening in the first two trimesters.)

We called the hospital when we were supposed to, but it wasn't a given we'd go in at our scheduled time. After a bit of a fire drill (the "can you get here within the hour?" kind), we arrived at the hospital the evening of April 29, 2021. 

Masks on, we got checked in. We were in the same room setup as when the boys were born. That brought back memories, to be sure, but it wasn't overwhelming. 

Pretty much right away, this birth was different. For reasons that weren't explained to us, they went about the induction a different way than previous times. Elizabeth was given oral misoprostol (which was a bit triggering after the D&Cs and failed medical miscarriage she'd been through). We had been trying to get some rest when the first big surprise happened - a gush of blood. Elizabeth had asked the nurse to stay in the room while she repositioned (the monitors kept coming off), and she felt what she thought might be her waters rush out. The nurse checked and told us it was blood. Soon after, a second gush. The nurse said she was going to call the doctor, and we tried not to panic.

A third gush. The nurse said something along the lines of, "one gush is fine, two is not great, and more than that is... concerning." Well, consider us somewhere between concerned and panicked. The doctor came to see us and assured us that baby looked good. That's great... but what is the plan here? Are we looking at a rising likelihood in a C-section? Is Elizabeth looking good? This was the first time in four deliveries where Elizabeth's well-being didn't seem to be on anyone's radar.   

During this discussion with the doctor, Elizabeth was having contractions that made it hard to talk. We asked for the epidural. At this point, Elizabeth was only dilated something like 2 cm, and details are fuzzy on what time in the middle of the morning it actually was. Sometime after 3am.

The anesthetist arrived and said very little. Someone told us Elizabeth needed to be seated, so we maneuvered into an awkward position having Elizabeth seated with her legs over the side of the bed, holding onto Chris's arms as he stood at the bedside. Silence. Working with tools, chatting about nothing. Elizabeth trying to stay still, and so letting out her pain by moaning and (eventually) pretty much screaming. Still, the anesthetist said very little about the procedure, how long things would take, what was next. 

Chris asked the anesthetist how much longer, and she said something about not being able to do anything because Elizabeth was moving too much. Keep in mind, she'd never actually asked Elizabeth to hold still, and we had been in this awkward position for over 15 minutes. When she couldn't take it anymore, Elizabeth yelled that she couldn't sit up anymore and had to lie down.  Chris told (yelled at) the anesthetist to stop immediately and let Elizabeth lay down as soon as the instruments were clear. Slumped against the headboard (with Chris as a pinched in barrier), the nurse announced the baby was coming and it was time to start pushing.

What. The. F.

No meds, time to go. In less than an hour Elizabeth went from 2 cm to baby out. We can remember that, because Chris did the math and said it multiple times that night. Elizabeth's doctor had wanted to be called in at delivery time (and was ready to take some people to task), but after reading the notes she realized why they hadn't called her in time. 

Elizabeth's assigned nurse showed up some time after Adelaide was born and said something about taking a break, thinking she had time. Was it just unfortunate timing why we felt so alone? Was that how no one noticed the contractions on the monitor coming fast and furious while Elizabeth tried to sit still for endless minutes hoping for relief that wouldn't come?

In a bit of shock from how the delivery went, the one thing that was always perfect was Adelaide. Beautiful, wiggly, nursing, Adelaide. Although nursing those first few days was incredibly painful. Not the nipple so much (although that wasn't a picnic), but the cramping that nursing triggered. That was why Elizabeth got a dose of oxycontin. 

In the Mother/Baby unit, the new doctor didn't agree with that pain management plan and wanted to try other things. Which, yes, we get it that overuse of oxycontin is a thing, but come on now. All Elizabeth wanted was to be able to nurse without being in scream-inducing pain... and she was given a hot water bottle to see if it worked (it didn't). 

The final frustration was the delay in removing the (painful) catheter. Thinking back, we're pretty sure it was put in before the epidural that never happened and then left in "just in case" despite asking multiple times to take it out. 

After Adelaide was thoroughly checked out (inconclusive hearing tests had to be repeated), we couldn't get out of there fast enough. Although Elizabeth's experience with this birth was by far the most extreme, staying out of the NICU was a major positive.

Not our favorite birth story, but one that we tell because it's important to advocate for both yourself and for your baby. And people giving birth - your partner needs to step up here. It may not be realistic for you to be able to advocate for yourself amidst the pain and fear that take over during labor. Partners, you're needed!

And Adelaide, you're here. And although you're worth it, we don't want anyone to have to go through a birthing experience like that. If hearing about your dramatic entry helps someone ask the right question or raise their hand at the right time, then it is worth it to share.

P. S. If you know someone going into labor soon, just buy them the FridaMom stuff (especially the squeeze bottle and the witch hazel liners).