Hannah's arrival into this world certainly was not how I pictured it would be but I wouldn't change a thing about it because we both made it through the process healthy and safe. Troy has said since we learned that we were having a girl that she would make her arrival on her terms like most women in my family approach things (ahem!). Hannah did just that indeed. (I'm not going to leave out any details below so be prepared for some graphic content and a long blog.)
Our story begins at exactly 3 pm on Thursday, December 22. I was taking a nap on the couch and woke up to a trickle and thought there's no way I just went to the bathroom. I went to the bathroom and sure enough discovered that my water had broken. I had been having a few contractions throughout the morning but nothing consistent or "painful" (it's all relative people). My mom had gone out to run some errands and of course Troy was at work although they were getting out early for Christmas at 3. Luke was taking a nap. I immediately called Troy and said, "My water just broke. I'm not kidding." His reply, "I'm on my way." We talked for maybe 15 seconds, which in hindsight I find kind of funny. I then called my mom and told her to which she said she would be home as soon as she could. I continued to stay in the bathroom because well my water had broken so you can imagine what that means.
My mom was home about 3:15 and Troy was home about 3:25. I have to say that they seemed more panicked than I felt. But that was before my contractions started coming. They came on fast though. I would say by 3:40 I was having one every 5 minutes if not closer together. Troy and I gathered the last of our things and left the house about 4. About 10 minutes down the road I realized I forgot my purse with my wallet and that I also didn't have the phone number to call the midwife (yeah I know, great things to forget). I insisted that Troy turn around so we could go back to get them. Let's just say he was less than pleased with me because I was squeezing the daylights out of his hand every 5 minutes with my contractions.
Fast forward to our arrival at the hospital around 4:45. I guess first of all the rest of the car ride there was uneventful after turning around. We checked in and the nurse checked me. I was surprised to only be at a 3. I figured with the length and intensity of my contractions I would be further along. We were then in the triage check-in room for what seemed like forever. Troy tells me it was about an hour. My goal of not having an epidural until I was 5-6 cm was out the window at this point and I had already requested to have one when I got to the labor and delivery room. My contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting at least a minute. I was very proud of myself for remaining relatively relaxed and breathing through them by either looking at Troy or at this tiny little hole in the wall. Troy later told me that he was watching the baby's heart rate through my contractions and was slightly concerned at how low it was dipping. He didn't want to worry me at that point and also wasn't sure he was understanding the monitors correctly. Troy did a wonderful job comforting me during this period but I could see in his eyes that he didn't like watching me be in pain.
We got to the labor and delivery room around 6:15. I was so happy to have moved out of the triage room--I had had a very hard time getting comfortable in that bed and had basically sat on the edge of it because I couldn't stand because of the pain as well. In the labor and delivery room I sat on the birthing ball immediately and starting rocking back and forth. The relief was truly wonderful. Because I was positive for the Strep B virus, I was started on antibiotics immediately. Since I had already requested the epidural it was also not too long in coming although I'm not exactly sure when I got it--I would guess about 7:15. Getting the epidural was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be (again all relative). I started to feel relief almost immediately on my left side but it didn't take right away on the right. Let me tell you that's a very strange feeling. For some reason my IV was also being difficult and not flowing properly. Thankfully they didn't ever have to redo it (I hate getting IVs). I was also grateful that after a small adjustment it appeared that my epidural was starting to kick in on the right side about 9.
Throughout all of the above, the nurses were showing some concern about the baby's heart rate. At first she was handling the contractions very well and then something changed and she wasn't tolerating them as well. The nurses were constantly having me change positions to see if she would like a different position better. Troy and I were also concerned at this point because we were both watching the monitors and could see the heart rate decelerations of the baby. We said several prayers and asked for the healthy delivery of our baby girl.
About 9:15, Dawn the midwife on call, came in the room because she was concerned about the baby's heart rate. She explained that she hadn't checked my progress again because they were waiting to get the second round of antibiotics started and she wanted to reduce the amount of potential infection introduced. She also explained that if the baby continued at this rate she would most likely check me early and there was a chance the baby wouldn't tolerate labor to delivery and I could have a repeat c-section. This thought had already crossed my mind and it didn't scare me; my only concern was the health of the baby. As I said, Troy and I had been watching the heart rate monitor and it was scaring me more at this point. Her heart rate would vary between over 100 and as low as 55ish (that's very, very low for a baby).
About 10 minutes later Dawn decided to go ahead and check me. I watched her face the whole time. I knew there was something wrong when her brow furrowed and she looked at the nurse and said she wasn't sure what she had felt. She checked again and decided that it was the baby's forehead and nose. This is definitely not a normal presentation and was concerning. I asked if there was any way to turn her and she said she didn't think so but she would check with the OB on call. She also told me I was at 5 cm and 90% effaced--still quite a way to go with all of these concerns.
Dawn came back after consulting with the OB and said they didn't want to try and turn her for a couple of reasons. One, my water was already broken and there was no cushion for the baby and the umbilical cord and two, they were concerned about damaging the nerves in her neck. At that point I asked how concerned to be. I didn't get a very straight answer, which made me worry even more. I then asked when a decision would be made about a c-section. She said we would know the answer much sooner rather than later.
I don’t think either of us realized how soon it would really be. The baby’s heart rate continued to decelerate and stay low for too long. Things started happening super fast at this point. The OB on call came in along with the several other people that I don't know whom they were. Dawn had been having me change positions almost every minute to find one the baby would tolerate better. It wasn't working. She looked at me and apologized and said this wasn't going to work. I was okay with that but I broke down because I was so concerned about the baby. One of the nurses gave me a shot to stop my contractions since the decision had been made to move onto a c-section. Once the contractions slowed down the baby's heart rate settled down a bit and she was doing better. Finally, we had some positive news on that front.
The new concern became my epidural. I wasn't 100% convinced it was completely working on the right side. If it wasn't working completely they would have to put me out during the surgery. I definitely did not want this nor did Troy since he wouldn't be allowed in the operating room at that point. The anesthesiologist added a bunch of drugs to my epidural and Troy got into his scrubs. Troy and I said good-bye and I was wheeled off to the operating room.
Can I say that lying on a table exposed to a whole bunch of people you don’t know isn’t a feeling I enjoy in the slightest (who does, right)? The doctors were just waiting to make sure that the right side of my epidural was working properly at this point. Once they determined that it was, Troy was able to join me in the room. I have to say I was beyond grateful that I did not have to be put to sleep. Compared to my delivery with Luke, one of my only expectations that I really did not want to give up on for this delivery was that I be able to have immediate contact with our baby girl. I truly felt that as long as I could have that I would be okay with how this delivery played out (aside from us both being okay, obviously). One other side note about having a c-section—having a spinal is 1000 times better than having an epidural. The amount of pressure you feel with an epidural as compared to the spinal is unbelievable. It’s not painful but quite uncomfortable.
As soon as Troy was in the room and seated by my head, the c-section got started. Throughout the surgery, I was shivering constantly. My body didn’t like the drugs very well and they were making me very tense. That magically disappeared when the doctors announced that it was getting close. Troy and I were so excited to meet our baby!
Finally our baby girl was here! She didn’t cry right away which made me a bit nervous but then she let out a large wail and I knew everything was okay. As she was delivered one of the doctors said that the umbilical cord was around her neck twice and also around an armpit once. There was no way she would have come out vaginally. As I mentioned before, she was definitely doing things on her terms.
Hannah Elizabeth Johnson arrived Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 10:22 pm weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces at a length of 20 inches.
Troy went to watch the nurses take care of her while they continued to work on me. In a few minutes Troy brought the camera over with a couple of pictures for me to see—my first look at our beautiful daughter. Of course, Hannah was perfect.
In only a few more minutes, Troy was able to carry her over to me where I was able to give her a kiss and gaze into her eyes. Absolute pure love and joy!
The doctors continued to finish the surgery and the nurses finished cleaning up Hannah. Dawn was sitting with me this whole time while Troy watched over Hannah. Dawn was also very kind to take a bunch of pictures of Troy and Hannah along with all 3 of us. I will treasure these as we only have a couple from Luke’s delivery.
Finally the doctors finished up with the surgery. We were ready to head back to our recovery room. Another great joy for me was carrying Hannah from the operating room back to our room. I was so happy to have her in my arms. I know I gazed at her and saw nothing else for a long time!