Maggie’s birth story – Lucy’s version

June 8, 2009

I called my sister around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 13th, to catch up. We chatted for a while, and then I said, “Ooh, Ab, I gotta call you back – I have to pee so bad!” When I went to the bathroom and pulled down my pants, I looked down and saw that my underwear was absolutely soaked. I called Abbey back and said, “Either my water is leaking or I just peed my pants.”

That was the beginning!

I had an appointment with my midwife at 3:00 p.m. that day, but I called her anyway to make sure she didn’t want me to come in any sooner. Since I wasn’t gushing water (it appeared to be just a leak), she told me to just hang tight until 3. After the first leak, things seemed to calm down, so I puttered about nervously for the next few hours, getting my hospital bag packed and straightening up the house. At 2:30, my mother in law arrived to drive me to the appointment, and we headed out. Stupidly, I left my hospital bag at home.

Even though I was hopeful that my water had broken, I was afraid that it would end up being a false alarm and I would get sent home to wait another week or so for Maggie’s birth. There are three tests that can be done to test for amniotic fluid – two that can be done in an office, and one that has to be done in the hospital. At my midwife’s office, I got mixed results — one test was positive, and the other negative. My midwife decided to send me to the hospital to have the third test done. I called Matt, letting him know that we were on our way to Shady Grove.

At the hospital, the midwife ran the third test. Negative. However, my midwife didn’t really believe the results. She decided to run all three again, and we ended up getting the same results – one positive, two negative. Now we had a bit of a dilemma. There was a definite possibility that my water had broken, but it couldn’t be proven for sure. Not only that, but my blood pressure had remained high – a week’s worth of bed rest hadn’t brought it down at all. My midwife didn’t want to send me home given those two factors, but she didn’t really want to have me admitted if it wasn’t necessary. Ultimately, she decided that admitting me was safer than sending me home, and that she would begin proceedings to induce my labor.

At this point, it was near 6:30 or 7 p.m. In spite of my strong preference for a natural labor, I was beside myself with excitement at the prospect of FINALLY getting this show on the road! I was SO tired of being pregnant, and so ready to have this baby, that having an induced labor didn’t seem to be such of a bad thing anymore.

Once the decision to induce was made, things began to move quickly. I was admitted to the hospital, and wheeled out of triage over to a labor and delivery room – the place I would spend the next 20 hours. I took the opportunity to snarf down some apples, pretzels and granola bars, knowing that I would be prohibited from eating as soon as induction began. The atmosphere was festive. Matt decided to spend the night at the hospital with me – a decision that I questioned at the time but was ultimately very glad he made.

Around midnight, a nurse finally arrived with the Cervidal. The plan was to insert the Cervidal up my hooha in order to ripen my cervix, and leave it there for 12 hours. Once the 12 hours were up, the midwife would check my cervix and determine if it was “ripe” enough to begin the Pitocin drip.

Although the midwife advised us to get some sleep, Matt and I were too excited to get much shut-eye. We talked and laughed until 2 a.m. — it felt like being at sleep-away camp with my best friend. How on earth could we sleep – this was the LAST night that it would ever be just the two of us!

Reading a trashy mystery to pass the time while waiting for Cervidal

At long last, we passed out. Around 4 a.m., a nurse arrived to adjust the monitors strapped to my belly. As I lay back down, I felt a POP! and a GUSH. Whoa Nelly — my water had just REALLY broken!!! I immediately soaked the bed in water. I ran to the bathroom to pee, and discovered two things: the gush had washed the Cervidal out, and that there was meconium in my fluid. The latter was not good, but not necessarily terrible either; it simply heightened my midwife’s alertness for signs of fetal trouble.

I got back into bed. Within 20 minutes, contractions began.

One of the things I remember from our Lamaze class was our instructor telling us that labor pains weren’t really SO bad because you got a break between each contraction. During that break, you were in no pain at all.

Well, someone forgot to tell my body that little factoid.

My contractions never assumed a traditional pattern – instead, I experienced constant, unremitting pain for the next twelve hours. Sometimes, the contractions were really intense and the pain was much worse, but it never went away entirely. Frankly, it was torture.

Between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. or so, Matt and I suffered alone. I was overcome by nausea four times during those five hours, and threw up, and threw up, and threw up, and threw up. I think the vomiting – and subsequent dehydration – played a big role in how my labor ended up turning out, because I felt utterly depleted afterward; too weak to even stand up or change positions (in spite of the fact that I was receiving constant IV fluids). During these five hours, the only thing that even remotely helped me manage the pain was the breathing exercises that I learned in Lamaze. The tennis ball, birthing ball, and picture of Biskit that we brought with us were cast aside after I realized that they were useless in helping me cope.

At 9 a.m., Matt’s mom returned, bringing with her fresh energy and optimism. The woman was a godsend. I honestly don’t think I could have made it through labor without her — she was able to direct my breathing in a way that put me in a trance-like state. Unfortunately, the moment the spell was broken – by a nurse needing to adjust my monitors, someone asking me a question, or me having to adjust my position in the slightest – the pain returned, full force, and it was tremendously difficult to get back in the zone once I had been taken out of it.

in labor
My mother-in-law helping me breathe through the pain

Alas, after 12 hours of painful labor, we realized that the contractions were actually petering out and becoming less intense than they were six or seven hours before. Here, I blame the dehydration — because I was so drained and depleted, I didn’t have it in me to do the things that are normally helpful in stimulating labor, such as changing positions or walking around. I just absolutely did not have the reserves in me that I should have had.

At that 12-hour point, it had also been about 30 hours since my water had initially begun to leak. Given the fact that there was meconium in the fluid, that 30 hours had passed since rupture, I was still only at 3 cm and that labor was petering out, my midwife told me it was time to think Pitocin. She also offered me an epidural. I broke down in sobs. I had worked so hard – so hard! – to have a natural labor, but I just couldn’t deal with the pain anymore, and I knew that Pitocin would make it so, so much worse. Ultimately, though, I knew that I needed that epidural in order to make it through the rest of labor, and to give me relief so that I could sleep and restore some of the strength that I would need to get through the pushing stage. I gave the OK to the epidural and Pitocin.

The anesthesiologist whisked in and quickly did his thing. Within seconds, I felt a blissful wave of relief sweep over me. For the first time in over 12 hours, I was not suffering. The guy did an excellent job — I experienced total relief from pain, but could still move my legs and wiggle my feet. I hadn’t realized how much tension was in the room until I broke out in a big grin – Matt’s mom and Matt visibly relaxed and smiled too. And then, I fell asleep.

Three hours later, my midwife came in and checked me – 9 cm and fully effaced. Thirty minutes after that, I was at 10 cm and Maggie’s head was just a fingertip’s length away from crowning. My midwife asked, “Are you ready to have this baby?” HELL YES!!!

After the prolonged and unremitting pain of early labor, pushing was a joy. It was hard work – the hardest work I’ve ever done – but I knew that I was making progress with every single push. My midwife was amazing. Even though I’d had an epidural – a fact which normally renders women stuck flat on their backs in the lithotomy position – she worked to change up my positions to make my pushing as effective as possible. The hours sped by. I drank orange juice between pushes to give me a shot of energy – a decision which my poor mother-in-law would have the chance to rue later.

3 hours after I began pushing, I screamed and pushed with all my might – and Maggie’s head was out. I pushed again — and out came the rest of her.

I have never felt such joy in my entire life. My baby was here, at long, long last!

My midwife put her on my stomach, but warned me not to rub or stimulate her – she couldn’t breathe before the neonatologist had a chance to suction the meconium out of her lungs.

Here, events become blurry.

I remember seeing Matt bending over her, along with the neonatologist and other doctors, and hearing murmurs of concern that she was not breathing well. I remember wanting desperately to hold her, and cheering when I heard her cry for the first time. I remember my midwife telling me, “Your placenta just doesn’t want to seem to come out.” I remember all of a sudden not feeling so well – having darkness creep into my field of vision until the entire room went dark, feeling my extremeties go limp, feeling like I was about to faint, saying, “Guys, I think I need help – I think something’s wrong” – and then turning to my mother in law and vomiting up all the orange juice I’d had over the previous three hours. I remember people rushing over to me, my midwife suddenly working on me with tense urgency, and a doctor appearing at my bedside. I remember going limp, thinking “there’s nothing I can do. These people will take care of me.” And then – nothing.

I don’t remember my midwife rolling up her sleeves and burying her arm in me to go in and get my placenta out. From what she told me later, it’s a blessing that I was passed out when she did, because the pain of having your placenta yanked out of your uterus by force is worse than labor.

I don’t remember waking up – I just gradually became aware that I felt better. When I opened my eyes, Matt said, “Oh my God – thank God everything’s okay. I have to go get some air now – that was awful!”

Apparently what happened to me is called having a retained placenta. When it doesn’t come out on its own, you start hemorrhaging, which causes your blood pressure to dive. Mine was something like 40/20 when I passed out, and I lost four times as much blood as I should have. I am eternally grateful to my midwife and the medical staff at Shady Grove for acting so fast and saving me. Things could have ended very, very badly.

Amazingly, within minutes of waking back up, I felt fine, and at first I didn’t really believe that things had been as dire as they were. Maggie had totally recovered by the time I did, and I finally, finally got to hold my daughter in my arms, kiss her little face, and fall in love with her entirely.

just born
New Mama with her sweet, sweet baby

The end. 🙂



5 Responses to “Maggie’s birth story – Lucy’s version”

  1. Matt Says:

    Just reading that makes me tired all over again.

  2. ChiaLynn Says:

    That is still so fucking scary. So glad you’re okay. And that you’re tough. 🙂

  3. sheburtsy Says:

    I’m glad you stuck around, Lucy.

  4. Phil Says:

    Hmm.. Matt got a sofa thing to sleep on? All I got was a reclining chair.

    And damned if some dust didn’t fly up into my eye during parts of your story.

  5. MKD Says:

    “it felt like being at sleep-away camp with my best friend. How on earth could we sleep – this was the LAST night that it would ever be just the two of us!”

    How perfectly said.

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