Nov. 11, 2016
7 lbs., 10 oz.
21 inches long
Archer's delivery only lasted a few (intense) minutes, but the tumultuous story of his arrival started several weeks prior. My pregnancy lasted FOREVER (or at least it felt that way) and, even though I knew he could be late, I was on pins and needles looking for ANY signs of labor as each day passed by.
Oct. 31 - 40 weeks
Despite my best efforts to kickstart labor over the weekend, I was still pregnant on my due date -Halloween. This was good news for Kenlee because even though we had already participated in our local trick or treat on Saturday, I was willing to go out walking again so she could trick or treat a second time with her cousins (who live in another town).
My 40-week appointment was on a Wednesday afternoon. I was nervous/excited because I decided I would finally get my cervix checked and see what kind of progress I was making. Even though I'd had no other signs of labor at this point, I hoped maybe I would be dilated at least a couple centimeters ...
Well, my communist cervix (Kyle calls it Cervi the cervix) had other plans. It was locked up tighter than Fort Knox ... and the baby was so high I thought the OB was mining for gold trying to reach up in there. #OUCH!
I stayed for a growth ultrasound to be sure Archer was looking good ... and thankfully, he was. He was perfectly healthy AND perfectly content to stay in my uterus a while longer. I was instructed to come back in a few days for another check and ultrasound. "But you could still go into labor before then," the OB said, not convincingly. "I've seen women go from not dilated to giving birth very quickly."
I held onto that thought over the next few days. I tried EVERYTHING possible to induce labor naturally (except castor oil because that's dangerous and gross) ... but I only got a handful of contractions and a boatload of disappointment.
I started to hibernate so I wouldn't have to see or talk to anyone. Everyone and their brother had suggestions and/or opinions on what I should do ... there were also lots of well-meaning people "checking in" on me, but I didn't need checking, I NEEDED TO GET THIS BABY OUT, DAMMIT. I apologize if you were a victim of my hormonal outbursts at this point ... I was sitting on the edge of insanity.
Nov. 7 - 41 weeks
My appointment started with another ultrasound - a biophysical profile - to check Archer again and make sure he and my uterus were looking good. Yep. They were fine. I passed with flying colors.
When I met the midwife after, she checked my cervix again. BUT, like the OB the week before, she had to reach pretty high ... and she also declared I was still NOT dilated. NOT AT ALL.
This is where shit got ugly. U-G-L-Y.
I broke down crying and sobbing on the midwife. Thankfully, she was empathetic. I had hoped and prayed for a VBAC and knew I needed to go into labor on my own for my best chance of success. Why couldn't my body cooperate?!
At this point, the midwife explained my options:
- Wait it out. As long as baby and I were healthy, I could come in for non-stress tests every other day until labor started naturally. "I've seen patients go to nearly 44 weeks without a problem!" the midwife said. I know she was trying to be encouraging but there was NO WAY IN HELL I was waiting that long. And even with monitoring, there are many risks to mother and baby after 42 weeks. I wasn't willing to take those chances.
- Try an induction. "There is a chance it could work," the midwife said ... But the chances were slim. Even if I wanted an induction (which I didn't since Kenlee's was such an awful experience), the only option was to give me pitocin and hope for the best. Suppositories to soften the cervix are not allowed for VBACs due to increased chance of uterine rupture. And, with literally zero dilation, it wasn't possible to sweep my membranes or insert a catheter. They could hook me up to the pitocin for 12 hours and see what happened ... but if nothing happened I would still end up with option 3, which was ...
- Another c-section. The last thing I wanted but still the most appealing option I had. It was nice that my OB practice was willing to do anything to help me avoid a c-section ... but they were also completely supportive if I wanted to take that option and be done.
After lots of discussion with the midwife and my husband, I settled on option 3. But I wanted to wait until the end of the week, just in case Archer decided to come out on his own. We booked the surgery for Friday and hoped for a miracle before then ...
Nov. 11 - The Big Day
After I booked my c-section, I felt a sense of peace knowing there was an end in sight. There was a definite plan and I could stop wondering when I would meet my baby. Still, I shed a lot of tears in the days before surgery. I kept holding out for any signs of labor, but nothing was happening and I was sad that my VBAC hopes were dashed. I was disappointed in my body. And I was scared of having major surgery again. But, I knew I couldn't take the physical/emotional toll of pregnancy any longer.
The night before we went to the hospital, I barely slept. Kyle tried his best to comfort me as I randomly burst into tears. We didn't need the alarm when we got up at 3:30 a.m. (to leave by 4:30) ... after I showered and packed my bag, I went upstairs and kissed Kenlee goodbye. Then I came downstairs and had one last ugly cry. This was it. It was time to be done.
When we arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m., I was oddly calm. For being a naturally anxious person, I was surprised at how relaxed I felt as we checked in. Kyle and I were escorted to a room in labor and delivery, where the nurses swiftly started all the pre-op procedures and paperwork. Then my doctor came in and said the words I needed to hear: "I think you made the right decision."
At that point, I wasn't changing my mind, but it was good to be validated once more. The doctor's words gave me even more confidence and comfort as I walked down the hall to the OR.
Kyle waited in the hallway while I went in to get my spinal. The nurse held my hand as the anesthesiologist poked around in my back ... definitely NOT the best feeling in the world, but once it was done I felt the warm tingles in my feet and knew the worst was over ... or so I thought.
Once I was laid on my back, the surgical team started moving all around me, getting the tools and curtains into place. I remember thinking it would be nice if someone would talk to me while I was laying there waiting ... all I could do was sit there and stare at the ceiling, half naked and exposed ...
The next thing I knew, I wasn't staring at the ceiling anymore. I was looking at at least five people huddled around me, asking me to talk to them and move my arms.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" I said, woozily. "Did I fall asleep?" Nope. Apparently, I was completely unresponsive for a couple of minutes. My eyes were open but I wasn't talking or moving, and my blood pressure dipped dangerously low. My breathing was also shallow, and they were about to place a mask on my face to force oxygen into my lungs. Luckily, that's when I woke up.
I found out later that my spinal was either too strong or placed too high, therefore my chest was going numb, making it hard for me to breathe.
From that point on, everyone in the room started moving a lot faster than before. My OB checked Archer's heart rate and was concerned. They wanted him out. Like, NOW. Before they could even bring Kyle in the room, she had already made the first incision.
I could sense the panic in the room, which made me panic, too. Was I OK? Was my baby OK? Why were my arms so tingly? Was I going to pass out again?
I did my best to focus on staying awake. I made Kyle talk to me and told the anesthesiologist whenever I felt woozy - she kept giving me medicine to keep my blood pressure up and also offered some medicine to calm me down. But I didn't want to feel drowsy and fall asleep - I was afraid I would pass out again or not remember my baby's birth.
Well, it was kinda hard to fall asleep or pass out with a nurse sitting on my chest ... Apparently, Archer really wanted to stay inside because they couldn't get his head out. They tried the vacuum several times, but it wouldn't stick to his head. So the doctor and nurse started pressing on my belly and chest, trying to force him down and out. I shit you not, even though I could not feel any pain, the pressure felt like a WWE wrestler was pile-driving me into a mat. Clearly, this did NOT help with my breathing difficulties ...
After what felt like forever, Kyle finally said, "I see his head!" The doctor managed to pull Archer the rest of the way out, and I heard Kyle say, "He's here!"
Of course, I cried. Mostly tears of relief. THANK THE LORD, I WAS NO LONGER PREGNANT! But my blood pressure was still low and I was seeing stars and still feeling faint as they stitched me up ... I kept taking to Kyle, making sure he could see Archer on the other side of the room. I guess they checked him over pretty thoroughly because he wasn't crying right away. But after a few minutes, they wrapped him up and handed him to Kyle, who got to hold him the entire time as the doctor put me back together.
The rest of my time in the OR is kinda a blur. At some point, I remember looking at Kyle and saying, "You are soooo getting cut after this." He quickly agreed! Even though we'd already decided two kids was our limit, this scary c-section sealed the deal.
"Can you guys just do my vasectomy while we're in here?" he asked with a shaky laugh. He was joking, but I'm pretty sure he would have gone through with it right then and there if they offered.
Eventually, they finished putting me back together and I was moved from the OR table to a bed. I was still shaking as they wheeled me to recovery, where I finally got the chance to hold my baby boy, who was eager to nurse right away.
It was awkward at first, with all the heart monitor wires and IV tubes crisscrossed around my body. But as Archer and I laid skin to skin, I finally felt myself relax a little. The shaking slowed, and I let out a huge sigh of relief.
Later that day, after the shaking had worn off and a bit of color came back to my face, Kenlee came to meet her baby brother. She didn't say much at first, but the look on her face made my heart burst into a million pieces.
Our family was finally whole. Complete. Happy to be finally be all together. As every mother says, it was all completely worth it ... I just don't ever want to do it again. :)