Miss Riley’s birth story – it was the most wonderful day of my life, so of course I want to share the story with everyone. However, this story has some very personal details, and I’ve struggled with whether I should divulge them to the entire Internet. If you would rather not know all the gory details, you can skip this post. Otherwise, read on because I’ve decided to share it all.
It all started on December 11th at 5pm. I had been wrapping Christmas gifts for a few hours and decided to take a break. As I walked down the hall toward my bedroom, I started to feel like my water had broken. I calmly went to the bathroom to check, and discovered my water had not broken – I was bleeding. A lot. I called Kenny right away to tell him we had to get to the hospital, FAST. During my pregnancy, I had been diagnosed with Placenta Previa, which means the placenta is lying over the cervix. In my case, the placenta had eventually pulled away from the cervix just enough for my doctors to believe that I could avoid having a c-section and deliver naturally. However, the placenta was still close enough to the cervix that there was a risk I might start bleeding during delivery, and depending on how much bleeding there was, this could be very dangerous for me and the baby.
So, off to the hospital we went. I had started having contractions immediately after the bleeding started, and I was convinced I would be admitted right away. I was wrong – the hospital staff did not seem all that concerned about my bleeding. Apparently, what seemed like a shitload of blood to me, was no big deal to the labor and delivery nurses. Even with my diagnosis of marginal placenta previa, they felt the amount of bleeding I had was pretty normal and not cause for too much concern (unless it got worse, of course). I was only 2 centimeters dilated, and after being told to walk around the hospital for an hour and not dilating any further, I was told to go home and come back when the contractions worsened.
Back home we went – contractions, bleeding and all. My contractions were getting worse, but the bleeding had actually pretty much stopped, so I labored at home for as long as possible so that I wouldn’t be sent home again from the hospital. By 4am I had had enough. My pain had been about a 4 on a scale of 10 when we had left the hospital, and now my contractions were a big giant TEN. I woke Kenny up and we began the arduous trip back to the hospital – the drive back was a special kind of torture – every bump, stop and turn was horrendous!
Back at the hospital, I was told I was 3.5 centimeters dilated. REALLY? I couldn’t believe that after about 12 hours of contractions, I had only progressed by a centimeter and a half. I was scared to death they were going to send me back home again when I heard the most wonderful words I could ever dream of… “you can have an epidural any time you want.” YES – Now Please!
Feeling good after the epidural
It still took a couple of hours to get admitted and get the epidural – all in all, I labored naturally for 14 hours. Eeep. Finally, with my epidural flowing, birds chirping, and angels singing, I was able to sleep. For about an hour. I was just too excited and nervous to really sleep. I kept looking at the monitor watching my contractions come and go. They never did get all that close together, but before I knew it, I was starting to feel my contractions again. The epidural was wearing off. The anesthesiologist came back in and said she was “topping me off.” Sure, whatever, as long as I don’t feel anything.
About two hours later, I started feeling pressure, like I needed to push, so I called for the nurse. Sure enough, I was finally 10 centimeters dilated. With every contraction I was feeling more and more. A few contractions later, I realized my worst fear – the epidural had now completely worn off and it was too late to do anything about it. It was time to push.
The next 45 minutes were the most surreal of my life. I had dreamed about the birth of my baby all through my pregnancy – I would have only Kenny and my doctor or midwife in the room and no one else – everyone else could wait outside – I didn’t want a giant audience. And I would not scream or moo like a cow, I would get an epidural, and would give birth quietly without losing my dignity. That was my birth plan. Simple.
Right. So the room was full of people – the doctor, a midwife I had never met before, my husband, my mother in law, and a slew of other hospital staff. Kenny told me later that at least two of the nurses in the room had just decided to come in to observe because they had never seen a natural delivery before. I had an audience. A big one. But I didn’t care – all I could think about was the pain. Oh, the pain! It was so extreme, I couldn’t do anything but scream – I had lost the ability to speak. All I could do was scream and moan and scream some more. Dignity was out the window.
In the end, I was glad to have all those people in the room – they were cheering me on, encouraging me to push harder, push harder… I could hear the nurses marveling that I was doing all of this without pitocin, without an epidural, and that I was doing this well without ever having done it before. I was miserable and wanted to give up – I wanted to scream at the doctor to stop and give me a c-section – but the crowd in the room kept me going, letting me know I was getting closer and closer to my goal, that it was almost over.
And then suddenly, it was… My baby girl was born at 3:56 p.m. on December 12th. I had labored for 23 hours, and had delivered my baby completely naturally without any drugs. It was not my plan, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I was flooded with endorphins, and just started weeping uncontrollably. My baby was so beautiful, and oh my god, the pain was gone…. I felt high with love and accomplishment. All I could do was stare at my baby and bask in the flood of emotions I was feeling.
So in love
I had absolutely no idea that I was actually in danger. The doctor was saying something about the placenta, and I didn’t care. I just wanted him to finish what he was doing so I could have my baby in my arms. All the while I was hemorrhaging. My condition had evolved into Placenta Accreta. My placenta was stuck to the wall of my uterus, and instead of detaching the way it should have, it was still attached and pumping my blood to a baby that was no longer there. The doctor had attempted to pull the placenta out himself (which was even more painful to me than the entire labor experience) but he was unsuccessful.
Next thing I knew, I was being whisked to the operating room. My doctor was saying “I’m going to remove your uterus if I have to, do you understand” and “do you agree to have a blood transfusion…” Finally, I was beginning to realize the reality of my situation. I could hear my heart rate on the monitors and it was way too fast. I looked over at my hand as they were strapping me to the operating table and saw that it was sheet white. I had a few moments then of absolute fear… my heart was beating so fast I thought I might have a heart attack and die…
They were moments from opening me up to remove my uterus and giving me a blood transfusion. But luckily, my doctor tried one more time to remove the placenta by hand, and this time he was successful. Let me just say – my doctor rocks!
I spent the night in the recovery room, and Riley spent the night in the nursery. It was a rough start for us – we didn’t get to bond right away the way I had hoped. And my recovery from her birth was long and hard. But we are both healthy today and that’s all that matters. I had a rough pregnancy and a rough delivery, but it was all worth it – every single bit – to have my baby Riley. I’d do it all over again for her if I had to, no question. That day is still the best day of my life – it was the day I met my daughter…