#7: From Carvel to Yeehaw!


Location: Arlington, VA
Year: 2011
How pregnant: 36 weeks
First baby: Yes
Hours in labor: 12
Delivery type: Other
Medicated: No

Did you have a birth plan?

Yes! We wrote it at the suggestion of our hypnobirthing instructor.

When did you know you were in labor?

I thought I was in labor when I felt a tightening sensation - every five minutes or so - in my lower abdomen in the late afternoon. I called my doula, but she was certain I wasn't in labor because contractions weren't strong/frequent enough. (Boy, was she wrong!)

What happened before you went to the hospital?

I went to Carvel for a chocolate-vanilla swirl cone with my husband. Then I went to bed and was able to sleep through the contractions-that-I-wasn't-sure-were-contractions - until around 5:45 a.m. I woke up, went to the bathroom - and saw blood. I called my OB & was told to get to the hospital to see their doctor on call.

What happened first when you got to the hospital?

Getting to the hospital at 6:25 a.m. was easy breezy. No traffic and the maternity ward was quiet. I filled out a few papers and was hooked up to machines to monitor my baby's heart rate. That's when they realized that my water had broken (maybe when I went to the bathroom and found the blood?), the baby was frank breech, and his heart rate was dropping every time I had a contraction. Yikes. Time for an emergency C-section! Yeehaw!

What did contractions feel like?

For me, contractions felt like a tightening of muscles, like cramps. I expected the contractions to be painful, but they weren't - well, not until my water broke. That's when the contractions got a bit more intense.

If you had no pain medication, how did you manage contractions? Was it what you expected?

Once the contractions-I-wasn't-sure-were-contractions began, I started doing my "surge breathing," a technique I learned in hypnobirthing classes. I breathed in slowly, expanding my belly, for a count of 10 and out again slowly for a count of 10. While hypnobirthing didn't get me the intervention-free birth I was kinda-sorta promised, the breathing helped calm my nerves and listening to calming mantras put me in a great frame of mind to deal with the surprises this birthing had in store for me.

If your labor had an unexpected intervention (i.e. emergency C-section or forceps) how and why did that happen?

The doctor on call for my practice was a man I'd never met before, but I swear he's an angel sent down to me from heaven. Within 57 minutes I:  arrived at the hospital, got hooked up to a heart monitor, met the OB, discovered my baby was breech, signed tons of C-section paperwork while laying down and being shaved *down there* for surgery, threw my pie-in-the-sky birth plan out the hospital window, got a lovely shoulder massage from the doc while the anesthesiologist administered a spinal injection to numb me from the waist down for emergency surgery, and a healthy baby.

What happened immediately after your baby was born?

Immediately after surgery, I was wheeled into a post-op room where I met my son. During the C-section, I learned the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck - twice. By listening to the doctors and cooperating with their medical advice and putting my hopes for an intervention-free birth on the back burner, I walked away with a healthy son. Not only was he active in utero, he's insanely active as a child. The birth was comparatively easy; parenting a spirited child is intense!

Anything else you want to add?

A C-section isn't the end of the world! As long as you're in good shape - physically, mentally, spiritually - before the birth, recovery can be easy.

After the baby comes, if you feel angry or sad or both and feel like you'll be sleep deprived forever and why-is-he-eating-every-two-hours-and-it-takes-him-an-hour-to-eat-everytime!!! go to your doctor. Ask if you need medication for postpartum depression. I suffered for months without meds, though I really needed them around the third week or so postpartum.

Final question: How would you describe this delivery in one sentence?

From pain-in-my-gut to pain-in-my-ass.


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