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Baby Gins Birth Story

by Christa on November 30, 2013

in Baby Gins,Life Story

This will be a long one – just like the birth! I considered breaking it up into parts but really I’d just like to share the whole thing at once. Here goes.

As you all know, I had been rather anxious for our girl to make her way into the world. No secret – I was over 41 weeks and worried that I’d have to be induced once I hit 42. On Wednesday the 20th I was pretty sure I was in early labor – I was having strong contractions about ten minutes apart all day, but they fizzled away by early evening. I was still hopeful that Thursday would be the day – since I was always hopeful that the next day would be the day!

At about 3:30am on Thursday, I woke up to an INTENSE contraction, moaning in my sleep. I was very concerned that I wouldn’t know when I was in real labor since I had had false labor for so long. Everyone kept saying that I would know, and I did. I got up to go to the bathroom but the contractions kept hitting me in waves, about 4 minutes apart. I was getting excited and started puttering around the house. Shane woke up at 5:30 and I informed him that he would not need to report to work that day! Since the contractions were coming so close together, we started to get excited and Shane packed the car. I was hoping to labor at home as long as possible but since I knew that a) I had been in early labor all day Wednesday, b) my mom had 2 extremely fast labors and deliveries (your mom’s can be indicative of what yours will be like), and c) it was about to be rush hour in the rain in Houston, we decided to go to the hospital soon. The contractions were pretty bad – I was leaning on the bathroom counter, got on my hands and knees in the bed, and rocked in the rocking chair – with the dogs!

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First I called Monique, our doula and Bradley Method childbirth instructor to let her know we would be leaving soon and she could meet us at the hospital. Then we made calls to the parents to let them know it was BABY DAY!! My parents were planning to head down from Dallas immediately and Shane’s were coming the next day (ironic foreshadowing). Shortly thereafter we headed to the hospital (Woman’s Hospital of Texas) and I cursed all the bumps on Shepherd along the way.

Once there, they immediately wanted to check my progress. As I mentioned before, for the past few weeks I had been at least 4cm dilated and 70% effaced. When we arrived at the hospital, I was 4.5cm and 90% effaced, which was a little disappointing; I didn’t want to be at the hospital if I should really be at home. The Bradley rule of thumb is if you’re fewer than 5cm, go home and labor there. We decided to see what would happen if I walked around for an hour or so and took a shower, trying to get things moving. We made a few laps in the hospital atrium. Eventually I got checked again and they determined I was 5cm and still 90% effaced – good enough for me to say ok, this labor’s moving along, let’s officially get admitted!

Once I was admitted at least things got a little interesting. I’m telling you, the parts where I wasn’t in extreme pain were um…very boring. But during this time I got a hep-lock and since we were donating her cord blood to MD Anderson Cancer Center, the hospital took blood for them to test as well as the blood for my labs. Contractions were continuing to get stronger but really I was getting frustrated since they hadn’t settled into a decent pattern yet (and never really did). They were still about 4-5 minutes apart and a minute long.

Monique suggested I take another shower for 30 minutes – I don’t know why, but showers really bring on the contractions! It makes them pretty strong. My doctor stopped by (the office is right next door) and I remember being so relieved to see her! I really love my doctor and am so glad I changed early in my pregnancy – she was so supportive of everything I wanted to do and even just today called me at home to check in on me (more on this later).

Here is where things start to get really fuzzy for me – I’d ask Shane to fill me in but I don’t want to make him completely relive it! I remember that I stopped wanting to walk in the hallways because the contractions were so strong and I didn’t want to be a spectacle. It was strange that every time we were in the hallway, someone would ask if we needed a wheelchair or if I was ok. I’m in the Labor & Delivery ward! I’m in labor! That’s all; I’m fine. We asked later how many women have natural (unmedicated) childbirths at the hospital and learned it’s only about 10%. I’m not going to lie – it was painful. I’ve never felt that kind of pain before. Even now it is difficult to recall exactly what it felt like (thank you, Mother Nature, for not letting us remember).

Contractions suck.

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 But the in-between isn’t awful, just dreading the next one.  They came for days. Literally.

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I am very unclear on time frames. My mom and dad, Steph, and Aimee would all take turns being in the room with me (the staff later got pretty lenient on the visitor policy and would let me have an extra person or so in the room). My sister took one look at me and informed me that she would definitely be getting an epidural! Hah! I tried to put on a brave face and stay in good spirits between contractions to let my family know that I was ok with what was happening. I was constantly shaking thanks to the hormones! At one point I started laughing out loud at the end of a contraction because Monique was trying to tell me to put my head back and relax but it felt better to put my head down and focus and all I could think was that I felt like Chris Froome looking at stem. I shared this and tried to explain and I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was crazy.

Per my request, I was only monitored intermittently and they let me be in whatever position I preferred – here I wanted a nice sit.

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The doctor came in to do another exam and confirmed that I was 6cm and 100% effaced. Hearing that I was only at 6, I burst into tears. How had I been there for so many hours and only progressed 2cm? Shane and Monique tried to assure me that I was making progress – now that I was completely thinned out, all that was left was to continue to dilate. Unfortunately I had really gotten dehydrated. I needed fluid to bring the baby’s heart rate back down, so got hooked up to an IV to get just a bit of fluid in my system. It worked and soon after I was laboring in all sorts of different positions – across the birthing ball, sitting on it, on my hands and knees in the bed, draped across the bed. Anything to get comfortable. I was having AWFUL back labor and would generally not be able to say anything except, “MY BACK” during a contraction. The next time they checked me (a couple of hours later, mind you) I was at 7cm and they confirmed I was going through transition – the last part of the first stage of labor is going from 7 to 10 cm and is the hardest part but generally the shortest part (more foreshadowing). Then comes the second stage – pushing.

More awful contractions, more hours passed. Hours. At one point I requested that everyone but Shane leave the room. I don’t remember what we discussed, but here’s what I can tell you about my husband – he is as solid as a rock. He was the best partner I could ask for. He was constantly encouraging me, telling me how great I was doing, trying anything to get me to relax, putting ice packs or blankets on me, rubbing my back or my neck. I remember lying across the ball with a blanket draped over me and he was just brushing my hair back away from my face and it was the best feeling in the world. I felt so supported by him the entire time. It was nice to have a doula there, and the nurses were so supportive, and I love my doctor – but Shane was the most invaluable part of my birth experience.

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Monique came back in but I asked to please keep my family out since the way things were going, I did not want them to see me anymore. I was crying and drooling and shaking and panting – it was like a wild animal. I remember Shane laughing because he was feeding me ice like a dog. The next thing I remember was being at 8 centimeters…for a long time. I kept asking why I wasn’t getting to 10 if I was in transition – it wasn’t supposed to take this long, I knew it. I was showing ALL the signs of being in transition. I was extremely confused and people would ask what I wanted to do, and I would say that I didn’t know. I remember the nurse leaning over and saying into my ear, “If you ever wanted to ask your husband for anything special, now would be the time.” Funny, but I couldn’t come up with a witty response at the time. I just moaned that I didn’t know.

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At this point it was about 3:00am on Friday morning, so I had been in active labor for an entire 24 hours. I was convinced the baby wasn’t coming. I kept saying, “Nothing’s happening, I’ve been in transition for too long, she’s not coming.” The on-call doctor came to check me and when she confirmed I was still at 8cm, she told me she thought I needed to take some steps to progress. My options would be either breaking my water or starting pitocin. Well pitocin was the drug I was hoping to avoid the entire time, so I agreed to my water being broken. Basically the doctor uses what looks like a crochet hook to rupture the bag; I thought it would hurt but it actually felt great – so much pressure relieved. It also felt a lot like peeing myself, hah. But now I could feel the baby’s head even further down. I was encouraged that if I felt like it, I should try bearing down to try to dilate a little more. This is a part I’m still confused on looking back – I’m not sure this was wise. BUT, an hour later I was 9cm, so something was working. Even still, I should have been so much further – it should not be taking so long to get from 7 to 10!!

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Another TWO HOURS of total agony later, the doctor confirmed that I was still at 9cm. At this point I immediately said, “Ok. I want an epidural now.” I was DONE. I had been in active labor for over 24 hours and had had enough. It’s definitely a little unorthodox to get an epidural at NINE centimeters but um it’s also unheard of to be in transition for about 8 hours – that is usually the quickest part of labor, about 30 minutes to an hour on average. I was giving up. I wanted a natural birth, but I had reached my limit. I said, “I know my limit, and this is it. I have nothing left.” I started apologizing to everyone – to Shane, to Monique, to the nurse. Have I mentioned I had fantastic nurses? Alyse (the nurse on shift – I got three whole shifts, yay me!) took my hands and said, “None of us are feeling any pain. This is not our decision. You have nothing to apologize for.” Shane got annoyed and told me to stop apologizing, that I had done amazing for so long and I was doing great and that no matter what, the baby was coming and today would be her birthday.

I was giddy! No more pain! Just a few more contractions to get through while they set up the juice. Since I was so far along, they moved extremely quickly to get me some relief. The epidural was actually administered DURING a contraction – while I tucked over a pillow and squeezed Alyse’s arm so hard I thought I might actually break it off. It was NOTHING! And it was instant relief. I said in front of everyone, “Why didn’t I just get an epidural to begin with? So fucking stupid.” Well, I was trying to avoid a c-section – more ironic foreshadowing.  But now I was saved. I even told Shane that now I could relax and enjoy my baby being born. I have zero regrets about the epidural. I endured so much pain that lasted over an entire day and by all accounts I should have had the baby during that time. If only my body would have cooperated. The epidural finally let me relax and grasp what was happening – before that, time had stood still for me. I vaguely remember saying how long we had been there, that it had been over a day, and asking why the baby wasn’t coming, why wasn’t she here yet, why didn’t she want to come out of me, etc.

After the epidural – all smiles.  Just ignore the triple chin.

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Monique had to leave at 10am – I had taken up almost 30 hours of her time and we had never banked on it lasting this long. I wish I had had shit to do and could have left too! But since I had the epidural and was feeling no pain (you can still feel the pressure – I knew when I was having a contraction), it wasn’t a big deal at all. It was funny because the doctor had asked what my pain was on a scale of 1-10 before the epidural and I had said 9. She asked the same AFTER the epidural and I said 0. It was awesome. She said the next time I would feel pain would be when the baby’s head crowned – sounds good to me!

At 10:30am on Friday I was still a 9 (I know because I saw the timestamp on my mom’s text messages from Shane), the doctor decided I needed to get to a 10 ASAP. They would start pitocin to try to get me there. I asked if I could please just wait. They were so sympathetic since they knew how wrong things were already going for me and what we wanted for our girl’s birth. The doctor just looked at me and sadly said, “Christa, you should have had a baby yesterday evening. Now we need to make this happen.” They told me at this point my options were really either pitocin to force my contractions to come on stronger and closer together and get me to a 10 to push or opt for a c-section. Once they dropped that ace card, I was much more agreeable to pitocin.

The drugs were started at a low dose and slowly cranked up. I had been given a time limit of 2 hours to get to 10. I was arranged in a couple of different positions to get the baby to move down (she was still at zero station) and dilate me. I could definitely feel a lot of pressure at this point and would groan a little during a contraction but it was NOTHING like before. My mom and Steph were resting with pillows and blankets on the couch and chairs. Shane was standing near my head, talking with me to distract me. I was counting down the minutes to get checked again – I swear the time on my phone was not moving. Shane said to quit looking at my phone! Finally, finally, FINALLY it was time. I told Shane, “I’m going to be a 10. She’s super far down, I just know it. I’ll be a 10.” Before the problem had also been that my cervix was a little swollen on one side – this is the part where I’m not sure if that was from the early pushing or just the baby’s position. The doctor had hoped the epidural would relax me enough to get the swelling to go down.

My mom and sister left the room and the doctor came to check me again. I crossed my fingers and held them to my chest, thinking, “10, 10, 10, please be a 10.” I was a 9. My cervix was still swollen. The doctor said she thought the baby was in a slight occiput posterior position – basically, she was on her side and her face was up. This was not helping the swelling on one side and it meant it was unlikely I would actually reach 10cm, plus I was at risk of tearing my cervix (that was the scariest part). The doctor gently said that we needed to do a c-section. She left the room so we could allow the information to sink in.

I sobbed. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. I had done all the research and made my decisions. I had taken all the natural childbirth classes. I had been in labor for 30 hours, over 24 of which were with no medication or pain relief or intervention. And why had I chosen those things? To avoid a c-section – I was far less fearful of the pain of natural birth than I was of surgery. I just couldn’t digest that I had come so far to have this happen. I said aloud that this was my worst nightmare, my worst-case scenario. I said repeatedly, “I’m scared.” Shane assured me that he was there, that I was getting amazing care, that the doctors and nurses had done this a hundred times and I would be fine. I gulped back the rest of my tears and said, “Ok. Ok.” The doctor and nurses came back in and started to prep me. They let my family come in and get their stuff and say goodbye. My sister hugged me, Aimee blew me some kisses, and my mom was trying very hard not to cry and sort of failing. She just said, “I know.” She knew I didn’t want a c-section. This was bad.

Trying to put on a brave face for Steph’s camera.  I’m so glad she captured some pictures – most of these photos were taken by her.

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I started breathing really hard and everyone told me I had to calm down. At least I had the presence of mind to insist on getting a picture of Shane in his scrubs – I mean, wouldn’t you?!

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As they rolled me into the operating room, I told everyone they introduced me to that this was my first surgery and I was scared. It was a really bizarre experience because this was obviously what they live for – totally fun for them. I distinctly remember that Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” was blasting on the speakers and people were singing along. Party time? I got the drugs administered via the epidural and soon couldn’t feel anything at all. They used a special needle to prick me several times to see if I could feel it. I was shaking uncontrollably and hyperventilating as I stared at the two huge spotlights on the ceiling – the ones directed toward my abdomen. I heard them waiting for the doctor, then the doctor arriving, then someone said, “Ok, it’s go time.” I asked where my husband was. Well, actually, one of the nurses said, “Soooo, are we going to be bringing in the gentleman who got you into this situation?” Hah. Yes please.

Shane came in and sat next to my head, behind the curtain they had set up around me. I heard someone say the time of incision and couldn’t believe they had started already – all I could feel was pressure. No pain or anything, just lots of pressure and movement. I didn’t want to hear what they were saying and tried not to listen. I also tried to either keep my eyes closed or look at Shane because there was a lot of RED reflecting off of those spotlights above me. To distract me, he talked about what family trips we would all take together. We spent a lot of time planning. Ok, basically, we know everywhere we are going for the next ten years.

After what simultaneously seemed like an eternity and a split second, I felt a wave of anticipation as the doctor said, “Here she comes, almost here!” And then there was a moment that will be seared on my memory forever. They said, “Here she is!” and I felt my baby girl be PULLED out of me. Shane said, “She’s here, you did it, she’s here, I love you.” I was sobbing again and my arms involuntarily reached out blindly for her, but she wasn’t quite ready yet. They asked Shane to come around the side of the table while they wiped her down, weighed her, etc. and I heard her WAILING – that extra time in the womb really got her lungs developed!

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 I remember being so calm now that she was here. I waited this long, I could wait a couple of more minutes to meet her. The nurse walked around and said, “Ok,” and simply laid my daughter on my chest. I was still crying so hard and the first thing I said (ok, sobbed) was, “I’ve been waiting for you.” The three of us stood alone in the moment, and we told her how much we loved her and she stared at us and we marveled back and held and kissed her. Then we got a couple of pictures – our first family photos. I said, “This is the best day of my life.”

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We had her name pretty much picked out, as many of you suspected – but we needed to see her to confirm. Shane asked if she looked like a Rachel, and I agreed that she did. Her middle name is Audrey, named for my paternal grandmother. So when someone asked her name, I replied that it was Rachel Audrey. They needed to do a few more things with Rachel but then Shane could take her to see the anxiously waiting family while they repaired me and took me to recovery, where Shane and Rachel would meet me.

I spent the rest of the time in complete silence, just listening to everything going on around me. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it everything that had happened. While it happened so. slowly. it was now over in the blink of an eye. I was a mom. My baby was finally here.

I am planning to write about what came next and my reflection on having an unplanned c-section.  To say it was devastating would be an understatement, but I’m getting better.  Before I couldn’t think about it without crying and even as I wrote this, Shane suggested that maybe I wasn’t ready.  But the sooner I accept what happened, the sooner I can move on and even appreciate it.  My number one goal was healthy mom, healthy baby – and that’s exactly what we got.

And life is good.  Life is wonderful.

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Thoughts on an unplanned c-section
December 2, 2013 at 10:44 am

{ 25 comments }

Crystal@tgefastfitrunner November 30, 2013 at 6:25 am

You are a rock star! You have a baby! That is all you need.

But I could literally feel exactly what you went through reading this. Although yours was longer!!! we have similar friggin experiences, who would have thought. I later asker dr. Levin wtf, abd she said it can be a combo of our strong muscles and as first time moms, not relaxing enough for the baby to get that last bit open. Prob why showers help….to relax you.

Ps I am orderin an epidural when I arrive! No natural labor again. Haha.

Christa December 2, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Hah – I am with you on the epidural. I’m not sure that I would go natural next time around unless I could be guaranteed a time limit.

Stacey November 30, 2013 at 6:38 am

Healthy mom, healthy baby. And she’s beautiful! Shane is amazing, and you did everything you could. You worked so hard! Maybe this was just practice – for most of our lives as parents we won’t always be able to control what happens, but we can do our best and hope for the best. You have some healing to do, for sure, but you gave birth to a strong, healthy daughter. I am so in awe of you. Congratulations, and enjoy this time!

Christa December 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Thank you Stacey. I agree, Shane is the bomb. And yes, you’re right – we can’t control what happens as parents. Good point. :)

Crystal November 30, 2013 at 8:27 am

Beautiful story! You are so incredibly strong and should be so proud of yourself. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for you, but looking at your beautiful healthy girl should be reassurance that you did the right thing. I’m so glad you had a happy ending! She’s perfect. Congrats to you and Shane!

Christa December 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Thank you Crystal – you’re right, looking at her is enough to know the ending was happy. That’s all that matters!

Ki November 30, 2013 at 9:16 am

I’m bawling reading this. You are seriously a superhero for enduring that much active labor. And she’s here and gorgeous and healthy! Thank you for sharing with all of us, Rachel will love reading this when she’s older!

Christa December 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Thanks Ki – I want you to know that your birth story helped me more than you will ever know!!

Erin November 30, 2013 at 10:30 am

I laughed, I cried, and I am so happy that you are all healthy and happy! Jarrett and I cannot wait to meet Rachel! Congrats to you both. You will both be amazing parents!

Christa December 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Thank you Erin – stop by whenever! Rachel would love to meet yall!! :)

Aunt Tishy November 30, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Yes, my dear, life is good. Even though Rach didn’t exactly follow your plan, she arrived screaming! And as a former surgical nurse, it is a party when a baby is born. To be able to share such a blessed event with total strangers, the staff seem like family for that short time. I always took extra special care of my mommies when they arrived in the OR because they are scared and overwhelmed with the surgical suite. I was praying your surgical nurse and staff were as caring as I expected them to be. God has blessed you with that precious healthy baby and I give Him the glory.

Christa December 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

That is great to know! I love that they were celebrating. It was hard to do for me in that case but I’m glad they were having a good time and were confident in what they were doing!

Cat November 30, 2013 at 1:53 pm

oh, mama. you did all the right things, i’m so sorry natural birth didn’t work out. it was easier for me to accept as time went on. i quit wondering what could have been different. my obstetrician laughed when i asked him what i did wrong, and gently replied: your only mistake is thinking you were the one in charge. indeed. much love to you, lady, and to your gorgeous family. <3

Christa December 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I love that – that really speaks to me.

tara November 30, 2013 at 4:12 pm

seriously one of the best birth stories i’ve ever read! you’re a rockstar and handled everything so well, despite what was thrown at you. i teared up at the paragraph before the family pictures. congratulations again to your beautiful family!

Christa December 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Thank you Tara, that means a lot. We are feeling very happy despite the unplanned!

Leah November 30, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Oh Christa. I cried reading this, especially your response when you met her. Every birth is beautiful, and every birth is hard! What a strong woman you are. So glad that after all was said and done, you’ve got a healthy mama & healthy baby!! PS Rachel is my middle name…good choice

Christa December 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Haha, thanks – I’m so glad the name gets approval!! :) And you’re right, every birth is hard. I am giving mad props to all the women who came before me and those yet to come.

Caryn November 30, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Aww, I teared at Shane’s comment. I know it was difficult and frustrating and not what you wanted, but in the end, both of of you are healthy and strong! I am so happy for you. You’re a mom! Mazel Tov!

Christa December 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Thank you Caryn! Your message was so sweet and I appreciate it.

Dad November 30, 2013 at 10:24 pm

I admire and am in awe of both you and Shane. Shane, for being there and caring for you throughout the entire ordeal, never leaving your side for 5 whole days. And you, you courageous, determined, extremely strong gal. You took it to the max not knowing mother nature had other plans, but still you persevered and gave to us all a healthy,beautiful little Rachel. You two absolutely ROCK!!!! and are going to be awesome parents.

Christa December 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Thanks Dad. Thanks for all of the support and for being there :)

Jess December 3, 2013 at 8:43 am

Well, it really sounds like you rocked labor, even though fate had other plans for you. I know how weird it feels to have a healthy baby in your arms, but still feel a sense of loss and mourning over what happened during labor. Feel those feelings; there’s nothing wrong with them, and there’s no reason why you can’t both be thankful for your absolutely beautiful daughter while still feeling a little sad over the circumstances of her birth. Welcome to the adventure of parenthood!

Margaret December 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Congratulations on the beautiful baby!

Having never been through labor, I can’t really comment on your birth story or you C section thoughts, but glad you’re both doing all right now! I’m sure it can’t be easy to deal with the scenario that not only has physical implications for you, but just wasn’t how you envisioned an important moment being.

terra December 4, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this, lady! I’m not a mom, so I can’t comment on much, but I think you did the absolute best you could and I’m so proud of you. You’re a tough cookie and I’m so glad you’ve got a beautiful daughter and that you had your awesome husband there by your side! <3

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