Preface: This is a super intimate and detailed post about my semi-traumatic birth experience. I not only want to be able to remember the experience for myself, but I also want to share it with those who are interested.
[40 weeks, 5 days] It was a normal Sunday morning — breakfast was over and I was sitting in the kitchen feeling anxious that yet again, no signs of Jet’s arrival had happened the night before. After having to be induced for my first birth with my daughter Indie, I was really hoping to experience spontaneous labor this time around. I had a very normal and uneventful pregnancy, and all appointments past my due date had produced normal findings as well. We were all just waiting for whenever he was ready to come!
That morning, the anxiousness was becoming a bit overwhelming and so I decided to call my midwife to chat through the concerns I was having (namely, it seemed I was experiencing less fetal movement and I was worried about some of the risks that are associated with carrying a baby well past its estimated due date). She decided it would be best for me to come in so they could check on him and make sure all was continuing to look good! We also planned to do an initial cervical sweep to see if it would help get things moving.
Given the timing of when she could meet me at the hospital, I had to kind of rush out of the house. The plan was for me to go alone as we all thought I would be coming back just a few hours later (… and you can obviously guess where this is now going ;)). Indie was about to go down for her nap and so I didn’t really get to say goodbye to her like I wanted to before going in but again, I wasn’t too concerned as I thought I would be coming home later that day.
Unexpected News at the Hospital
After arriving at the hospital, they started to monitor Jet’s movement. His abnormally infrequent movement caused them to want to do an ultrasound. Just a few seconds into the ultrasound, my midwife informed me that I would not be leaving the hospital. There was barely any amniotic fluid left in the sac and we needed to get Jet out sooner rather than later.
As you can imagine, I was very shaken up by this news. I was incredibly sad to be alone in that moment, to not be able to hug Indie one more time, and to get this information about my son’s condition. I called Caleb right away and he was able to get to the hospital very quickly as our incredible neighbors hung out with and loved on Indie until my sister and brother-in-law could make it in from out-of-town.
Labor & Delivery
For the next 12ish hours, we did all we could to try and naturally induce labor (movement, balloon catheter, breaking the water) but just like his sister, our little guy was staying put. At 5 AM on Monday morning [40 weeks, 6 days] we started Pitocin. My care team really wanted Jet to come out so we could not wait any longer for labor to naturally start on its own.
For most of the day, I labored with slow, gradual progress. It was incredibly intense. One little weird thing I don’t want to forget is that I held and stared at a tiny newborn diaper while I was laboring! I kept picturing Jet’s little legs in the diaper. That visualization, along with Bridget Teyler’s meditations, helped me endure the intensity.
At 2 PM, Jet’s heart rate began dipping with every contraction. As time went on, it was taking increasingly longer for it to come back up and I could tell my care team was becoming concerned. All of a sudden, his heart rate dropped and then it actually stopped. Before I knew it, all the lights in the room were on and there were several doctors moving all around me. They were talking to each other and as chaotic and terrifying as it was, it was also this beautiful picture of care, wisdom, skill and love. They were like one giant puzzle, all the pieces moving and working together in unison to help baby Jet in a time of great need.
I’ve never felt more scared than I did in those 30 seconds when there was only silence coming from the monitor and not a heartbeat. While trying to move into different positions as instructed, my midwife told me that we were probably going to need to do an emergency c-section to get Jet out as soon as possible. I had so many thoughts running through my head but the greatest and most terrifying was that I was going to lose my son.
As the team came in to wheel me to the OR, Jet’s heart started beating. We paused the cesarean plan and my midwife and the OB on-call (who I’m convinced was a literal angel), recommended amnio infusion (putting fluid into the amniotic sac), turning off the Pitocin, and administering terbutaline (relaxes the uterus and stops contractions). After those steps were complete, they then recommended that I get an epidural. Their thought was that if we start Pitocin again and the same thing happened with Jet’s heart, we wouldn’t need to do an emergency c-section as I would already have the numbing medicine in me. Instead, they could just increase the medicine for the surgery and I could be awake for the c-section (instead of asleep/going “under”).
Once the epidural was complete, we restarted Pitocin and, as expected, Jet’s heart rate continued dropping with each contraction. They didn’t know why it was happening and I remember my midwife and OB being so torn over what was the best course of action. Ultimately, it seemed they felt a cesarean was the safest option for Jet. Before moving to the OR, they decided to check me one more time (they both checked separately just to be sure) and surprisingly, things had REALLY progressed! Jet was so close to coming and they felt they could safely increase the Pitocin one more time to help him make his final descent.
Well …. they were RIGHT. I’m so thankful for their wisdom. After just one short hour from that point, Jet arrived safely and I’ve never, ever been so relieved in my life. Following the delivery of the placenta, my midwife discovered that it had, indeed, stopped working at some point in the days before Jet was born which explained the low amniotic fluid in my sac. It’s not super common and there really isn’t any explanation for why it happens.
To conclude, I have to say that I am so, SO grateful to my incredible care team and also, that I’m proud of myself for trusting my intuition that Sunday morning. We are soooooo grateful to have Jet here with us and now, six months later, we can’t possibly imagine our life without him.