It started at around 2:30 am the night before, three days past my due date, when I started feeling moderate lower back pain every 40 minutes. I didn’t feel like it was time for the baby to come, so I decided to sleep it off and see what happened by the time I saw my OB at 9:30 am that day. She examined me, aka shoved multiple fingers up my vujay-jay, and discovered that I was one centimetre dilated. We had a conversation about what to do next, since further dilation could take hours, a few days, or even a week at that point. We decided that if the baby didn’t come by Friday (it was a Monday), I would have a C-section, or I could wait until over the weekend and they would try other methods (not exactly induction, which wasn’t possible since I’d had a C-section with my first daughter).
A little background information – as previously mentioned, I had an emergency C-section with my first daughter, Danica. I wanted another Caesarean with my second pregnancy, but Doc convinced me that I was a good candidate to have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) and that the recovery time would be much faster, so that’s what I went with. However, I couldn’t wait too long for the baby to arrive on its own because of this, so that is why we were on a timeline.
At 1:20 pm while having lunch at Montana’s, I was more frequently feeling sharp back pains and it was becoming too uncomfortable to sit upright. At that point I started to record every contraction (which I had determined they were, since I remembered this feeling from my first pregnancy), and they were 17 minutes apart. I had read multiple times that if they were five minutes apart or closer, I should go to the hospital. I decided to take a nap and see how I felt when I woke up. When I arose, the contractions ranged from four to seven minutes apart, and it was around 3:30 pm when we agreed to pack up and head to the hospital before possibly getting stuck in traffic. At about 5:00 pm we arrived. I was taken into triage for the doctor to again roughly invade my insides and find that I was now three centimetres dilated. I was admitted. Blood tests were done and my IV was inserted at that point. They couldn’t find the vein in both my arms so they put it into my hand, which was a little more painful, and I was advised to not bend it in case it broke or pinched a nerve or something. Great.
I was advised to ask for the epidural right away, because there was a chance the anaesthesiologist wouldn’t be able to come on time. At roughly 8:40 pm, three hours later, he arrived and gave me the epidural. Luckily my nurse was great and was able to snag him in between two lengthy operations. For a good 40 minutes I felt bliss from the painful and now frequent contractions. They inserted my catheter (“pee tube”) while I was already numb down there, a process I’m sure would be quite uncomfortable under normal circumstances. And then the nurse broke my water and started my pitocin drip, which would help speed along the process. At first this made me nervous because I wasn’t allowed to be induced, but they said it wasn’t the same process and wanted to have the baby out as quickly as possible in case any complications arose (the general risk of having a VBAC is that the former Caesarean scar could rupture, and the baby would lose oxygen and potentially die – SCARY!)
However, when the pitocin started to kick in, I started feeling the painful contractions again. One, two, three, four times I pressed that button for an extra hit of “epidural juice” as I like to call it, but I was still feeling the pain! Such constant, heavy, clawing back pain that I could barely lay still. I’d shake my legs after every contraction just to distract myself. At 11:35 pm, I was eight centimetres dilated. Two more hits of juice after that, and at 12:10 am they increased the dosage (which still wasn’t helping me at all). Two more hits after that, and in more excruciating pain than ever, and I was finally fully dilated at 12:45 am.
The doctor came in and told me to push after the next contraction. I asked her how, and she said to push as if I was taking the largest crap ever. After the first one, I yelled out, and they told me not to yell because it took away from the power of the push. It was then discovered that my baby was “sunny side up,” or her back was to my back instead of the opposite way, which is optimal for delivery. This was why my contractions were painful – she was positioned in a way that put more pressure on my spine. Doc said she would put her hand in and turn the baby downwards while I pushed. The next contraction came, and all I saw was a hand go in and disappear up to her elbow, and a lightning flash of pain as I screamed the loudest I ever have in my entire life. I quickly shut my mouth and gritted my teeth, and concentrated on pushing while the doctor’s arm was still inside of me. My mind got fuzzy and I felt light-headed. At one point, a flood of nurses started rushing into the room. Apparently they were having trouble finding the baby’s heart rate, which had suddenly just dropped. I heard the doctor tell the nurses to prepare the operating room for a C-section and I thought, frightfully, no, not again! Then I heard mention of forceps as, my husband told me later, they sliced me open to the anus and used the forceps to pull the baby out. It lasted 20 minutes. They put my darling baby on my chest, all bloody and slimy, and had to cut the cord instead of my husband in case there were other complications.
I was so relieved and hugged my cute little baby, and then they took her away to clean her up. They told me I had done a very good job pushing and, had it lasted any longer than that, I would’ve had another Caesarean. I thank God to this day that I didn’t have Caesarean AND vaginal trauma to recover from. They started to stitch me up. Half an hour, an hour later, I asked, what is taking so long? Doc then told me there was bleeding from my uterus, which had ripped somehow before I started pushing. I was in agony again. When I dared to look, I would see various hands and metal instruments going in and out of me. Needles slashing back and forth, sewing like mad. They couldn’t stop the bleeding. They told me that if I lost more blood and couldn’t fix it, I would need a blood transfusion and possibly an operation to sew up my uterus. At that point I broke down. I just want it to be over, I cried. I just wanted to rest and hold my baby and be at peace. They ended up inserting a latex balloon up to my uterus, inflated with 300 mg of water. Then they stuffed three cloths into my vagina up next to it. It was a little over an hour and a half when they finished sewing. They put me back on the pitocin drip (to this day I don’t remember why- something to do with stopping the uterine bleeding) and again I started to feel the painful contractions. I asked how long would I need the stuffing in there and for how long would I feel the pain, and they told me at least 12 more hours! I broke down again. I kept trying to shake my leg. I wouldn’t let go of John’s hand. I couldn’t even drink anything in case I still needed surgery, so I would sneak little sips of water to cool my super dry throat. They gave me morphine which still did nothing for me. 45 minutes later they told me to breastfeed Stella, and I tried but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even sit still, the pain was so intense, so I tearfully told them I couldn’t do it and to please take her away. It broke my heart. I probably had two more breakdowns in between then and 12 hours later. I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t allowed to eat. I was just writhing in pain the entire time.
After 2:00 pm the next afternoon, they finally deflated the balloon and removed the stuffing. The contractions ceased, and I was in heaven. The bleeding had stopped, and I didn’t need an operation. There were just the post-delivery complications to deal with, and I’ll leave those for next time.
I am blessed and thankful that my Stella Joan, 7 pounds and 9 ounces, came out happy and healthy, and I’m well enough mentally and physically to put it all behind me now. Happy 4 months my sweet baby girl!