My big boy Colton will be 4 years old tomorrow, which means I’m sitting here wondering how time has gone by so quickly. Since I’ve never actually fully shared his birth story, I want to write it now. So, here it is: Colton’s Emergency C-Section Birth Story, only 4 years late.
Finally Sharing This Story
Those of you who’ve been following me awhile know that I shared Blair’s VBAC birth story shortly after she was born. Having a VBAC [vaginal birth after cesarean] was super important to me, and I was so excited to share the success story with all of you.
Yet it’s been 4 years since Colton was born, and I’ve never shared the emergency c-section birth story. His birth was traumatic for me and, honestly, just not what I had envisioned for the 9 months leading up to the big day. It took me a long time to come to terms with it, and, quite frankly, I couldn’t wait to get the c-section scar erased off my body forever. [I finally did, after having a tummy tuck a couple weeks ago.]
As a first time mom, I didn’t know much about what to expect during labor. Sure, I’d read the books and spent a lot of time on baby websites, but every mom knows you don’t truly know what labor is like until you’ve done it. My doctor advised me to head to the hospital when contractions were 3-5 minutes apart for an hour. That was basically it.
The Big Day Arrives
Around 1:00 a.m. the day [night?] after Colton was due, I started feeling contractions. I was so excited and thinking, this is it! We’re finally going to meet our baby boy. I had no idea this was the start of an emergency c-section birth story. I tried to rest, but I was too excited. I tossed and turned for awhile while timing my contractions. They didn’t hurt terribly, but they were definitely there. Around 5:00 a.m., I woke up my husband and said it was time to head to the hospital. We got dressed, packed up the car, and headed in.
The drive to the hospital to meet our little man was surreal. It was early enough that it was pitch black outside, but the streetlights illuminated the snowflakes gently falling from the sky. My contractions stayed consistent as we pulled up to the hospital around 6:00 a.m.
After checking in, we were set up in a triage room and I was hooked to the monitors. After about an hour of monitoring, the nurse announced that while I was having contractions about 3 minutes apart, they “weren’t strong enough” to progress dilation and that I would most likely be sent home. She just had to call my doctor first to confirm.
The First Wrong Turn
Well, turns out my doctor wanted me to stay because I had one slightly-above-average blood pressure reading a couple of appointments ago. Plus, she “was going to induce me on Monday anyway.”
In hindsight, a few things wrong here: first, I don’t think one abnormal BP is cause for concern in an otherwise healthy and normal pregnancy, especially since my BP was normal at the hospital. Secondly, it was only Wednesday, so there were still several days before Monday’s alleged induction. Third, and most importantly, I’d never agreed to the induction. She had brought it up at my last couple appointments strictly for convenience, no medical reason–so I had brushed it off, saying I would prefer to go into labor naturally.
All that said, I was a nervous and scared first time mom, so I stayed at the hospital. Looking back, I definitely think my c-section could’ve been avoided if I would’ve simply gone home and returned when contractions were stronger. Instead, I’m sharing this emergency c-section birth story.
Won’t Be Needing that Tub After All
We were moved from the triage room to an actual birthing room. The nurse showed us everything in the room, including the little bassinet for baby. I remember her saying that he would go over there to be checked after his skin-to-skin time with me. It sounded dreamy, and I’d even got a birthing room with a tub like I wanted. I’ve always loved water, so I knew relaxing in the tub would help ease my labor pains.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t get in the tub once. As soon as we finished our little tour of the room, it was apparently time to get me going on Pitocin. I’d read a lot of horror stories about Pitocin online, and I remember having a sinking feeling in my stomach as it flowed through my veins. Soon, I was in severe pain. And heading down the road to an emergency c-section birth story.
That’s not a phrase I say lightly. For reference, I labored naturally with my second baby for about 15 hours, progressing to an 8-9 without pain relief. After having my “Mommy Makeover,” I rated my pain at a 1 or 2 on a scale of 1-10.
All that to say, I have a high pain tolerance… but Pitocin was another animal. I really, really wanted to give birth without an epidural, but looking back, it was a losing battle. Once I was on Pitocin, I was stuck in the bed. There’s no way I could’ve progressed to being fully dilated without moving at all in labor.
Time for Another Intervention
The next step in my emergency c-section birth story is when my doctor came in shortly thereafter and suggested breaking my water. I overheard her mention to a nurse that she’d swept my membranes at my last appointment, which caught me off-guard because I was never asked about a sweep–and therefore, obviously never consented to it. My doctor had asked to check me for dilation, but no mention of a sweep.
I agreed to let her break my water because at that point, I would’ve agreed to anything to make this Pitocin-induced hell end sooner. I made the mistake of looking at the hook she was using and yeah, that was kinda scary. Having my water broke felt mainly like pressure, then just being really wet [kind of like I’d peed the bed], then a split second of relief when the pressure was released. You know, until the next Pitocin contraction hit me like a ton of bricks.
Unfortunately, there was meconium in the amniotic fluid, meaning that Baby had a bowel movement in the womb. I’ve read that is common in difficult labors, and I wonder if the stress of starting up such a high dose of Pitocin caused it [not to mention the rest of my emergency c-section birth story]. My doctor didn’t seem too concerned about it though, and advised me she’d check back in soon.
And Soon Another…
Soon thereafter, I asked [well, begged] for the epidural. And kind of cried when I saw the long needle they were going to stick in my back. But I knew I didn’t have any choice, so I sucked it up and finally… sweet, sweet relief. I’d already been stuck in bed, but now I could lay in [basically] comfort. The nurse had me rotate from side-to-side with a peanut ball between my legs every 30 minutes or so. I was actually her only laboring patient at that time, so we chatted for hours while my doctor came and checked periodically.
I was progressing–slowly. Looking back at all the interventions I’d had, that’s no surprise. But since I wasn’t progressing the “required” 1 cm per hour, my doctor ordered the Pitocin be cranked up. Unfortunately, Colton didn’t tolerate it very well–again, not surprising. [If you’re really interested in this kind of thing, Google “pit to distress.” It happens.]
Much of the day is a blur, but I remember my doctor coming in to say goodbye at the end of her shift. She checked me and said she’d see me in the morning. Soon, the on-call doctor came in, which was the one doctor I’d met in the practice that I did not really mesh with. My heart kind of sank when I saw her, and even more so when she immediately started discussing a c-section.
Being Told I was Having a C-Section
I was surprised, as neither my doctor or the nurse had mentioned anything about a c-section. I knew my progress was “slow,” but I was still progressing. Although we’d had a couple hiccups in labor, there was nothing truly emergent about the situation.
The on-call doctor agreed to give me 1 more hour to “try” to labor before cutting me open. Yes, 1 hour to progress from 5 to 10.
She was back 45 minutes later, berating the nurse for not having a catheter in me yet because the OR was available a little earlier than expected. I held back tears while the nurse shaved me in preparation for the c-section [which, by the way, I never actually consented to. I was just told I was having one, now. You know, because an OR was open.]. There were so many people crowded around my bed that I couldn’t even see my husband to talk to him or try to hold his hand for comfort.
My husband was given scrubs and told to wait outside while I was prepped in the operating room. The room was cold and bright. My arms were strapped down and a blue curtain hid the bottom half of my body from view. The anesthesiologist told me that the doctor was making the incision, and that I might feel some pressure.
No Support Person
Oh yeah, and my husband wasn’t even in the room. No one had bothered to get him. That’s the worst part of this entire emergency c-section birth story.
This doctor was so focused on unnecessarily cutting me open so she wouldn’t have to deal with me laboring, that she couldn’t even stop to have someone notify my husband that he could come in now. I was so shocked that I couldn’t really speak, but I gave the anesthesiologist near my head a look of panic. He then exclaimed, “Husband!” and someone popped out to bring him into the room [finally].
I felt better having my husband nearby. I felt a little pressure as they pulled Colton out of me, and he started crying immediately. Then, they took him over to a warmer and people crowded around him. I didn’t see him.
You’re reading that right: they didn’t even hold him up for me to see. Of course, I was strapped down, so it’s not as if I could move around to try to get a look at him on the warmer, either. A nurse commented, “he’s cute!” and I didn’t respond. Then, my husband said, “Can you see him?” and I just said, “No.” He took charge and said that I wanted to see my baby! The nurses quickly swaddled him up and handed him to my husband, who held him down by my face.
The nurse was right–he was cute. He was perfect. I couldn’t believe he was really here. Just as I was taking it all in, the nurses sent Colton and my husband out of the room. Once again, I was alone in the OR. I found out later that I had started to bleed a lot, which was worrisome.
The last part of my emergency c-section birth story [for now] is when I was wheeled into the PACU, where my husband and Colton were already waiting. I was so relieved to be reunited with my family. I couldn’t stop shaking from the anesthesia, which meant I couldn’t hold my newborn for awhile. Eventually, the nurse called an anesthesiologist back, who gave me another drug to stop the shaking. Finally, I could hold my little man.
This. This was the moment I’d been waiting for. At last, my baby boy was in my arms.
After taking it all in for a bit, I tried to breastfeed. I’ll admit, I wasn’t the most graceful in my attempt. I didn’t really know what I was doing, other than I felt like he’d been out for awhile and might be getting hungry. Babies are instinctual, though, and he took to it pretty easily.
And in that moment, I was proud. Proud that my body had carried him and nourished him for 40 weeks. Proud of surviving a less-than-spectacular birth experience. Proud of my little family–my baby boy, my husband, and me.
Our story doesn’t end there–I ended up with a nasty infection in my c-section incision, and we spent a long time in the hospital. But I’ve written enough for one day, so I’m going to leave this as is. Four years later, here’s my emergency c-section birth story from Colton’s birth.
In the end, 4 years later, all I can say is: the birth wasn’t perfect. But my baby boy is.