Aislinn’s Birth Story — Part 2

Read Part 1 of Aislinn’s birth story here.

As soon as my OB said “c-section,” the room burst into a flurry of excitement. Surgery nurses came in and started prepping us. The incision area on my body was shaved, I got a hair net, I had to take out all of my earrings, and and I had to drink seltzer water to neutralize my stomach acid so I wouldn’t throw up during surgery. I was given another dose of epidural and my nurse placed a catheter. I said goodbye to my husband and family, and was wheeled down the hall.

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© Aislinn Noltie

As my husband waited outside of the OR room, I was transferred to the surgery bed. My abdomen was prepped and the blue sheet was placed just under my chin. Warm blankets were placed over my arms that were strapped to the edge of the bed. I was shaking so hard from nerves that the anesthesiologist gave me medication to calm me down.

Around 11:50pm, my husband was brought in and seated by my head. He held my hand as my doctor started the surgery. Every time she would cauterize a cut, my stomach muscles would involuntarily jump. At 12:07am, my son was worked out of the birth canal (with an audible pop!) and my doctor asked my husband to look over the curtain. At 12:09am, my son K was born and we heard his first cries.

K was given to the pediatrician, who did an initial look-over. My doctor had left the umbilical cord long so that my husband could cut it, which he did at this time. K was then brought over to me for a few seconds on his way to the nursery. I was sewn up, given more pain medication, and another dose of medicine to stop my shaking.

In the nursery, K had his heel pricked to check his blood sugars which came back at a 43 (units of measure unknown). The pediatrician called down to the OR to see if I had been transferred to the recovery room so I could breastfeed, but I was still in surgery. After 5 minutes, they checked his sugars again and they had dropped to 33. We were later told that around 30, babies can have seizures from low blood sugar, which is why K was given formula to bring his levels up.

I was eventually moved back to my original delivery room and was able to hold K for about 30 minutes, during which we attempted to breastfeed. Unfortunately, I don’t remember any of this. I’m not sure if it’s due to the medication, or the shock my body went through, but I have no recollection of those moments.

K was brought back to the nursery to get bathed and warmed up. I was moved to the mother and baby room, where we would stay for the next few days. My OB later told me that K’s head measured at 14.5 inches and was too big to fit through my pelvis. He also had broad shoulders, so even if his head had made it through the birth canal, there was a good chance they would have had to break his collar bone to fit his shoulders through.

At around 3:00 in the morning, K was brought into the room after getting his Vitamin K shot and eye ointment. We were told that his blood sugar level was not as high as the pediatrician wanted, but it was high enough for him to room with us.

At 6:00am, a nurse came to do another check via prick to his heel. Unfortunately, his level had dropped again, so he was taken to the nursery to get a sugar water IV placed to bring his levels up.

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© Aislinn Noltie

The nurses had a hard time placing the IV, so K had bruises in both hands, both feet, and both arms. As much as I wish I was there to comfort him, I’m glad they did it in the nursery. I don’t know if I would have been able to handle his cries from them poking him over and over again.

We were told that to keep his blood sugar up, we would have to feed him 2 ounces of formula every three hours, as well as try to nurse him and feed him any colostrum/milk I was able to pump. Feeding every three hours during the day wasn’t difficult, but the nighttime feedings were tough. K would want to sleep through at least one of the feedings, so we’d have to unswaddle him, tickle his feet, rub his back with cold hands…do whatever we could to keep him awake long enough to at least drink the formula. Pair this with lack of sleep and high emotions, and nighttime was a very difficult time for me.

For the first two days we were in the hospital, I wasn’t getting anything when I pumped. On the third day, however, I was getting a milliliter or two of colostrum that we’d suck into a syringe and feed K. I can’t explain how ecstatic I was when I started getting colostrum. It felt like my body was finally starting to do something right, something that would feed my baby and keep his blood sugar levels in check.

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© Aislinn Noltie

When K first got his IV, it was set to 16 (units unknown). We were told that every time his sugar level came back at 60 or higher, the IV would be bumped down two points, and once it was at zero, we would be able to take him off the IV to see if his body could regulate itself. Once he was able to go 24 hours without an IV, we could go home.

A nurse would come by every six hours to check his blood sugars with a prick to the heel. Some of the nurses were wonderful at pricking and squeezing his tiny heel quickly to get the blood, then allowing me to nurse him, but some nurses had a lot of trouble getting a drop of blood, which caused them to prick him again and make him wail. Eventually we learned that if his heel was warmed up with a washcloth for a few minutes, his blood would flow easier. By the time we left the hospital, both heels were purple from being pricked so often.

Eventually, K’s body began figuring things out, and we slowly started turning down the number on his IV machine. We did have a small bump in the road when his IV line became clogged, so they had to take him back to the nursery and place it in his other foot. Saturday morning, we finally turned it down to zero and he was unhooked from the IV machine. We were finally free to move around the room without having to worry about crimping the IV line when we’d swaddle him, or pulling it out when we’d pass him to visitors.

On Sunday, we were given the okay to go home, all three of us. We were instructed to continue feeding him formula, breastfeeding, and giving him any pumped milk every three hours until his follow-up appointment at one week old. At that appointment, we were told to stop the formula and only breastfeed.

While my labor and delivery was not at all what I had envisioned, I am forever grateful for the result. Things may have started off on a bumpy road, but I now have a strong, vibrant, funny 18-month-old constantly keeping me on my toes.

Aislinn’s Birth Story — Part 1

My birth story really started the afternoon of Monday, July 14 when I started noticing timeable contractions at 36 weeks pregnant. They weren’t painful, but they were 3-5 minutes apart and lasted around 45 seconds. We decided not to go to the hospital because it just didn’t feel like it was time. I also didn’t want to be that pregnant lady who came in thinking she was in labor when she wasn’t.

I continued having contractions all night, but was able to sleep through some of them. When my husband woke up on Tuesday, he asked if he needed to get ready for work or to go to the hospital. I still didn’t feel like I was in labor, but I figured since I had been having consistent contractions for over 12 hours, we should go just in case.

We arrived at the hospital around 7:00am. I’m pretty sure the ER nurses thought I was crazy for coming in because of how easily I could walk and talk, but they took me back anyways. When we got to Labor & Delivery, I put on a gown and was strapped to the monitors. My nurse checked me and said that I was still 2 cm dilated and about 50% effaced, like I was at my appointment the week before.

The monitors showed that I was having contractions, which made me feel reassured that I wasn’t imaging them. My OB came in and said that she didn’t feel like I was in labor, but she’d let me hang out for a few hours to see if anything changed since my contractions were coming every 5 minutes.

Around 11:00am, my nurse checked me again and said I hadn’t progressed, so we decided I would be discharged. L&D got busy right after this, which stopped my nurse from getting my discharge papers. During this time, my contractions started to increase in frequency and pain. I had to focus on breathing through them and they were showing up more intense on the monitor.

Around 1:00pm, my OB came in and said that she had noticed my contractions were increasing and she was worried I was going into actual labor. Since I was 36 weeks, it would have been okay for my son to be born that day, but my OB wanted to stop things if possible. She suggested giving me IV fluids in case my contractions were caused by dehydration, as well as a shot of pain medication with the thought that if we could get my body to relax through the contractions, they might slow down and stop.

The pain medication was a trip. I was warned that it might make me sleepy, but it made me feel like I was tripping on something! I would focus on a spot on the ceiling, but everything else in the room would continue to move. My words were slow and slurred, even though I consciously tried to speak clearly.

Around 5:30pm, my OB came in to check me. I still hadn’t progressed, so she allowed me to go home and rest with a request that I take the next day off work and decrease my hours from there on out.

For the next four weeks, I had steady contractions that were 5-10 minutes apart. Activity made them pick up, so I did a lot of lazing around when I wasn’t at work. Around the 38-week mark, I resumed normal activity since I was so close to my due date. At 39 weeks, I actively started to induce labor. I would walk every night and we had more sex in that week than we had the rest of the pregnancy. Even though K was so eager to make his entrance four weeks early, I actually ended up making it to my due date…and a few days past.

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© Aislinn Noltie

After four weeks of consistent contractions, my husband and I went to my last OB appointment at 40 weeks and 2 days where we decided to induce the next day due to my son’s projected size (he was measuring 8 lbs 6 oz at an ultrasound two weeks prior).

The next morning, we got up at 6:00am to head to the hospital and begin the induction process. Unfortunately, L&D had experienced a very busy night, so there wasn’t a room immediately available. We were instructed to wait in the L&D waiting room until a room became available.

Around 7:30am, my husband and I were brought into a L&D triage room to begin monitoring. Baby and I had to be monitored for 20 minutes before they were willing to start the induction process.

At 8:15am, we were brought into the labor room. I changed into the hospital gown, had my vitals taken, and had an IV started in my left wrist. We decided to do a Pitocin induction because I was already dilated between 3 and 4 cm, thus making any cervix-based inductions useless. Pitocin was started at the lowest dose and set to increase every 10 minutes until my contractions were steady.

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@ Aislinn Noltie

The contractions I had from the Pitocin were manageable, but I had intense back pain. Around 11:30am, I asked for my first dose of IV medications which made me feel as loopy as they did in our early labor scare.

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@ Aislinn Noltie

At 1:05pm, I felt a pop and a huge gush of liquid as my waters broke. The next few contractions were the most intense feeling of my life. I remember rolling onto my left side, clutching the side of the hospital bed, looking my husband in the eyes, and begging him to let me get an epidural. My nurse checked me and said that I hadn’t progressed and was still at 4 cm.

We waited an hour and a half for the anesthesiologist. As he walked in, my nurse checked me and announced that I had progressed to 8 cm! I figured that if I had progressed that quickly, I could go the rest of the way without an epidural, so we sent him away. There was a flurry of excitement; the nurses brought in a large table with all the equipment needed for delivery because everyone thought I would be delivering within the hour!

I labored another 1-2 hours, during which my body started spontaneously pushing. Everyone was telling me not to push, but it wasn’t something I could control. I would get a contraction and feel the muscles in my abdomen contract and push down.

My OB came in to check me and said that I was back at 6 cm, which was the most heartbreaking thing to hear. She said that my cervix was swelling from my body pushing, so she suggested getting an epidural to let my body relax. While we were waiting for the anesthesiologist, I got another dose of IV pain medications which let my body relax enough to labor to 7 cm.

I was so nervous about getting an epidural because I’d had four rough spinal taps in the past, but everything went perfectly. As much as I had hoped to have a medication-free birth, I had to admit that the epidural felt amazing and let me relax.

Around 9:00pm, my nurse checked me and I was dilated to 9 cm with only a bit of cervix lip left. She announced that we were ready to push, so we did a few practice pushes and the cervix lip moved. During this time, my epidural started to wear off, so the anesthesiologist was called in to give me a second dose.

I ended up pushing for over two hours. We got close enough that the nurse could see my son’s hair, but he got stuck behind my pubic bone. Around 11:00pm, my OB came in to check on our progress and started studying the printout of my son’s heartbeat. She told us that his heartbeat had started decelerating at the wrong time which was a sign that he was in distress. She checked me one more time and said that my son’s head was too big to fit through my pelvis. We decided that a c-section was the best course of action.

To be continued in Part 2.