Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Circle of Life

After recently having my second child, I find myself thinking about the "circle of life."  As the old saying goes, "nothing is certain in life except death and taxes."

My oldest child was born exactly 100 years to the day after his great grandfather (my grandfather).  I remember thinking the day before that this coincidence was not going to happen.  However, at 3AM, at 39 weeks and 1 day, my water bag spontaneously ruptured.  I waited in the hospital for several hours with no contractions until they started a pitocin drip (to get contractions going) and eventually an epidural.  As the day progressed, I kept thinking that this baby better come before the end of the day.  After two and a half hours of pushing, my little guy entered the world a little before 10PM on what would have been his great-grandfather's 100th birthday.

My second baby was born the day after his great grandfather (my husband's grandfather) unexpectedly passed away.  We got a phone call late in the evening on Thursday night saying that his grandfather was rushed to the hospital.  My husband reluctantly left me (heavily pregnant and contracting off and on) at home with our older child to see his grandfather before he passed away.  He was at his bedside along with other family members when he passed away early on Friday morning.  It was sad especially since he had appeared healthy and still had his sharp mind.  One of the last times that we saw him was at my older child's birthday a couple of months before.  I am fortunate to have taken many pictures that day of my toddler and his great-grandfather happily smiling for the camera.

Despite the sadness of losing a family member, there was still the excitement at the impending birth of the newest family member.  I had been contracting off and on for more than a week before the baby was born.  I did not have any consistent or overly painful contractions but they would be noticeable.  I had also been doing my non-stress tests twice a week which showed contractions but nothing major or consistent.  I was definitely uncomfortable and ready to "get the show on the road."  If I did not deliver naturally, I had a scheduled induction at 40 weeks, 1 day.

I lost my mucous plug at around 10:22 on Saturday morning.  I was 39 weeks and 4 days along.  I went about my day as usual.  I did notice more frequent urination as the day progressed but no consistent or overly painful contractions.  I made spaghetti for dinner and settled down for an evening of watching the olympics.  I watched the Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte 400m IM race at the olympics.  After the race, I went to the bathroom.  I sat down on my bed (which my husband wisely made me cover with a chux pad) and watched Michael Phelps' interview about his reaction to missing a medal with a fourth place finish.  As soon as that interview finished, I felt pressure and then a trickle of fluid ran down my left leg.  It was 9:45PM and I knew that my water had broken.  I rushed to the bathroom and sat on the toilet.  My husband asked me if he should call my parents.  I told him to call his parents because they had to drive 44 miles (which takes 45 minutes to an hour) to get to our house to get our older son.  I called labor and delivery at 9:48PM and was placed on hold for 8 minutes!  They were apparently busy and told me that it would be a while before a nurse could talk to me.  I had no contractions at that point and since it took 18 hours from when my water broke to when my first baby was born, we all thought we had plenty of time to get to the hospital.  They wanted to make sure it was amniotic fluid and not urine.  Since I had just urinated right before my water broke and the fluid resembled coconut water (the closest thing I could think of), I was pretty sure it was amniotic fluid.  I got off the phone with L&D at 9:59PM.

My husband brought me a bowl of spaghetti and water despite having had a small bowl of homemade strawberry ice cream (which I made the day before) about 30 minutes before.  I shouldn't have had ice cream with my gestational diabetes but this late in pregnancy, I figured, why not?  With my first child, they also told me to eat something before coming in since they would not let me eat once I got there.  I was famished during labor with my first that I wanted something substantial in my stomach.  I know its gross to eat while seated on the toilet but I sat on the toilet for a few minutes so as not to get amniotic fluid all over the house.  I then realized that I should be ready when his parents got to our house.  While I was getting ready, my husband loaded our bags into the car.  That was when the contractions started.  The contractions started around 10:15PM.  I had my husband start timing them since my phone was getting one last recharge.  They were initially 10 minutes apart.  By the time we left for the hospital at 10:44PM after my in-laws arrived, they were five minutes apart.  I sat in the car with no seatbelt (my pain was intensifying) and I told my husband to not get into an accident since I could not buckle my seatbelt.

My husband dropped me off at the emergency room entrance at 10:50PM (luckily we live very close to the hospital) while he went to park the car.  When I arrived at the security counter, I was having painful contractions and had difficulty walking.  They let me sit in a wheelchair and wheeled me right to the check-in counter.  They checked me in at 10:52PM.  My contractions were painful so they immediately took me to labor and delivery triage.  I arrived at labor and delivery triage at 10:55PM.  They made me stand while they checked me in.  At that point my pain was getting worse so they directed me to a bed to sit in.  My husband arrived at that moment.  Of course, he forgot the bags in the car but at that point, the pain was so bad, he could not leave me.  He had to help me change into a gown and help me get a urine sample.  They hooked me up to the monitors and my contractions were right on top of each other. They asked me what number baby this was for me and I told them that it was my second child.  They immediately called for a doctor.  The nurse told me that two other mothers had come in earlier that night who had delivered their second child very "precipitously."  As we were waiting for the doctor, the nurse tried to test the fluid to make sure it was amniotic fluid.  When the doctor arrived, she told me that I was already 8cm!!!!!!  I was shocked!  I was only 2 cm at my doctor's appointment only 5 days before and I did not have contractions until about a few minutes before.  I begged for an epidural and she said that I may not be able to make it in time for one.  They asked me if I felt the urge to push and at that moment, I did not.  The nurse told me that some people get stuck at 8cm and are able to get an epidural. I would just need to be able to sit very still.  If the pain prohibited me from sitting still, I would not be able to get one.  The nurse and doctor exchanged a few words and at that moment, they decided to rush me into a delivery room.  All of the rooms were occupied so I got stuck in a tiny "back-up" room that I remember seeing during our hospital tour with our first child.  It was something like out of a television drama.  They were literally running down the hall with me on a bed and all of these people scrambling to the room.

Once in the delivery room, they started yelling for a warmer for the baby and had me try to move to another bed.  I was in so much pain at that point I had difficulty moving to another bed.  After crawling to the bed, I began to try to process what was going on.  We had just gotten to the hospital and they were preparing me to deliver a baby!  I wanted my epidural or at least something for the pain!!  They told me that I had no time to wait for an epidural or an IV for pain medication.  The doctor told me that I would be able to say that I had a "natural birth."  I DID NOT want a natural birth but at that point, I guess I had no choice.  I was not mentally prepared to do it without medication and it was quite intimidating to me.

The pain at that point was intense.  I remember hugging the railing on the left side of the bed and saying that I was "going to puke."  The thought of that bowl of spaghetti was beginning to haunt me.  They scrambled to get me an emesis basin.  My husband held it in front of me.  At that moment, the doctor asked me if I had the urge to push.  I DID and they immediately told me to get on my back and scoot my bottom toward her at the edge of the bed and put my legs in the stirrups.  This of course was impossible since the pain was intense.  My husband then grabbed one leg and the nurse grabbed another and they told me to start pushing.  I gave one push.  I looked at the time and it was around 11:20PM.  I started getting a tingling sensation in my extremities.  Everyone told me that was because I was hyperventilating and screaming.  Things were so crazy that the nurse had to even hold the fetal monitor against my body because it would not stay in place with my writhing in agony.  It's crazy what the most intense pain that you've ever felt would do to you.  I seriously thought about yelling at them to just cut this kid out of me since that surely would be less painful then the waves of contractions that were happening.  I also thought that I was going to pass out from the pain.  Yes, it was that bad!  They told me that I need to redirect my energy away from hyperventilating and screaming to pushing.  It was like a lightbulb went off in my head.  I remember that from my first birth and decided to "take the bull by the horns" and use my energy to push.  I asked my husband if he could see the baby crowning.  I pushed for 2.5 hours with my first child and I wasn't about to start pushing for that long with that kind of pain (this is why I looked at the time when I started pushing).  My husband told me that the baby was coming out.  I pushed once more, then another three pushes in a row and then felt them pulling the baby out.  Since I had an epidural the first time, I did not get to experience that sensation.  It is amazing but once the baby was pulled out, the pain stopped!  Our little baby boy was born at 11:27PM.  1 hour and 42 minutes after my water broke and 35 minutes after we arrived at the emergency room.

They immediately placed the baby on my chest and delayed the clamping of the cord as I had requested.  My husband and I had discussed previously who would get the honor of cutting the cord.  I was going to cut our first child's cord but since he was born with thick meconium, I couldn't.  Since I missed that opportunity, he let me cut the cord this time.  It was an amazing feeling after the gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension and precipitous pain-medication free delivery to finally be able to hold my baby in my arms.


  1. Congrats on delivering naturally (whether it was intentional or not)! You are so very brave. How fortunate you are to experience childbirth "both ways"! I can't quite wrap my head around that kind of pain since I had an epidural with my baby. I had somewhat of a short delivery as well with her--a little less 8 hours, which I'm told is fast for a first baby. The nurses told me that for our 2nd we should camp out in the parking lot because it's going to be even faster! I think you have experienced the true meaning of that first hand. Can't wait to meet the little one! Congrats again.

    1. Thanks!! I don't think I had a choice about being brave or not! LOL!!! It was going to happen without pain medication regardless if I wanted it to. I can't believe people choose to experience that kind of pain! It did make for a quicker recovery but I'd rather have the help of advances in science and medicine to help me out! It is hard to describe the pain but it was by far the most intense pain I had ever felt. Yes, a second baby can come very quickly. My husband kept telling me that but I couldn't believe that it could happen that quickly without any contractions! I guess preparation is the key!

  2. Wow...nice story! Pretty brave to do natural birth. My cousin's daughter was born on my deceased aunt's birthday. I wonder how these occurences happen? Take care, Tracie! - michele n.

    1. Thanks, yes, I do not know how these coincidences happen. I guess there are people out there making these things happen! I'm sure many families have stories like this. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. If this had all happened on Thursday night when my husband went to see his grandfather, I could have very well had a home birth! I don't think I would have gotten to the hospital in time since I would have waited for my husband to come home. I had no idea labor could progress that quickly without contractions!