It was 5:30 on a Saturday morning. I thought my water had broken, but I wasn’t quite sure because instead of a huge gush of fluid, it was a slight trickle, but the contractions that soon followed confirmed that I was most likely in labor. The contractions weren’t very strong and they were pretty inconsistent so I knew it would be a while until Vinni arrived. So I went about my day.
I didn’t have anyone to open Wild Orchid Baby for me that day so I decided I would labor at work for a few hours and then head up the street to Memorial after coverage arrived. I wasn’t nervous or scared, I was excited. I was going to meet my baby soon!
Labor and delivery with daughter Olivia was a breeze. I got to the hospital around 9am, was 6cm dilated by noon and she came right out after literally three pushes at 2:41pm. No drugs, no interventions, 3 pushes and my beautiful little girl was here.
“You’re gonna deliver faster with number 2,” people told me. “Labor with number two is much easier,” they said. So that Saturday morning I did my hair and make-up to look presentable in those first baby photos and confidently prepared myself for a second natural birth.
When I arrived at the hospital around 1:30pm, it was confirmed that my water had in fact broken. They did not check my dilation at that time as they typically don’t to avoid infection. One of the residents told me she wanted to start Pitocin because my baby should be delivered within 24 hours.
I stubbornly protested. They didn’t know how dilated I was. I progressed very quickly with baby number one. Why would I need Pitocin at this stage of the game? Can’t I try and labor naturally? My nurse, Michelle, listened to my points and agreed that I could make my own decision and avoid Pitocin, so I did. Her shift ended at 3pm and another nurse took over.
I was finally checked at 4pm and I was 4cm dilated. I was a little disappointed with this. I thought I would have progressed further by this point. My contractions were really starting to hurt and were becoming more intense. I carried on, laboring naturally, focusing on my breathing, walking, rocking, changing positions to get through each contraction. This nurse’s shift ended at 11pm and another nurse took over.
I had been laboring for 8 long hours since my last check. My feet were sore from standing and walking, but laying down made my contractions unbearable. I asked to be checked again thinking I was getting close, but to my dismay I was still 4cm. I burst out crying. All of that pain and exhaustion had gotten me nowhere. I hadn’t made any progress.
My nurse was very comforting and she suggested I try to get some rest. I asked for some pain meds and got a little sleep. At 4am I heard the word Pitocin once again and I surrendered. I also ordered an Epidural. I couldn’t take any more pain.
My nurse turned the Pitocin off around 6am because my baby’s heart rate was dropping. I was still sleeping. At 7am, Nurse Michelle was back on and I was once again her patient. She was surprised to see I was still in labor and could tell how upset I was to still be in labor too.
Her first act of duty was to help me brush my teeth. Then she emptied my bladder – a very extremely full bladder. So full, in fact that once she finished, my baby shifted position and his heart rate dropped drastically. She called for my husband. “Felipe, I need you to pull that blue cord out of the wall. Don’t panic, but a hundred people are going to run in here. I need help repositioning Erin to take the pressure off the cord and get the baby’s heart rate back up.”
I lay on the bed terrified and Felipe did exactly as instructed. Several nurses and doctors ran in and quickly flipped me over onto all fours. A heart rate monitor was stuck onto my baby’s head. Slowly, his heart rate improved. My doctor then suggested an Amnio Infusion. Because my water had broken and all of the amniotic fluid had escaped, my baby didn’t have a pool to float in. He was either compressing his cord or it was wrapped around his neck causing his heart rate to drop. The Amnio Infusion pumped fluid back into my uterus to give him a pool to float around in and keep the pressure off the cord.
I lay on the bed crying while the resident doctor inserted the Amnio Infusion. It was painful and I was tired of being poked and prodded with medical interventions, but I knew I had to do whatever it took to keep my baby safe. After the Amnio Infusion was in place, my baby’s heart rate improved and my doctor suggested we start the Pitocin one more time. I was only about 6cm dilated at this point. I agreed to the Pitocin and prayed my baby would be ok and would be out of me soon.
With the Pitocin, my contractions got closer and closer together and felt more and more powerful. I could feel my baby moving further down and I knew it was time to push. I waited a little while before I said anything though. His heart rate was stable and I didn’t want to change that. I remembered reading about a woman who gave birth to a baby while she was in a comer. Her contractions delivered the baby without her having to push. “Can I please be like that lady?” I thought. “Can my body just deliver my baby without pushing?”
Nurse Michelle came back into my room around 1:00pm and she asked how I was feeling. At this point I was so exhausted from pain, labor and crying that my right eye was swollen shut. Looking like Popeye with one eye closed, I told her I was ready to push. My doctor came and checked me. I was 10cm dilated. Finally.
“Ok Erin, it’s time for you to push. I do want to tell you though that if the baby’s heart rate isn’t tolerating the pushing, we’ll have to do an emergency Cesarean.” I nodded to show I understood and with my next contraction began pushing. I pushed again and I heard the monitors beeping, signaling baby’s heart rate drop. Nurses and doctors surrounded me, flipped me over onto all fours, pulled tubes out of me and my bed was rolling. They were running my bed to the OR.
I remember feeling defeated. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I was supposed to birth my baby naturally with strength and confidence like I had done before. And then I thought, what if I had agreed to the Pitocin when I was first admitted, before my amniotic fluid had drained completely, would my outcome have been different? Did my assertiveness to birth MY way ultimately make things horribly difficult for me and my baby? Did my efforts to avoid medical intervention ultimately lead me to major surgery?
I was transferred to a narrow bed in the OR. The anesthesiologist gave me a half dose of the C section medication. I felt loopy and delirious. I didn’t know where my husband was. I turned my head and looked at the monitor. My baby’s heart rate was back up to 120. My doctor looked at me and said “Ok Erin. You need to push that baby out right now or we need to do the C Section.”
Then I realized that this was my moment to birth my baby with confidence and strength like I had set out to do. I took a deep breath, leaned forward, with one eye open and pushed as hard as I could. I pushed again. And again. Nurses and doctors were yelling “You can do this Erin. One more push!”
I pushed again and he was here. The cord was wrapped tightly around his neck and he was whisked away to be examined. I looked to my right and saw my husband fully suited up in scrubs head to toe. Then I heard my little Vinni cry. The nurse held him up and I saw him for the first time. He looked exactly like my daughter had – perfect, with a full head of dark brown hair.
I on the other hand looked like a train wreck. 32 hours of pain and frustration will do that. But that one moment of triumph when I pushed Vinni out made everything ok. Vinni is here and he’s healthy and he’s ours <3