At some point they stopped the Pitocin because my contractions were getting too intense and affecting the baby’s heart rate. He was recovering well from the contractions (once the contraction stopped, his heart rate went right back to normal), but better safe than sorry. I got checked again a few hours after I got the epidural and guess what? STILL ONLY 3 FREAKING CENTIMETERS DILATED.
My obstetrician came to visit me mid-afternoon on the 30th – she had been monitoring me and calling in orders remotely from her apartment – and we started having the seemingly inevitable c-section talk. Labor wasn’t progressing on its own and the Pitocin wasn’t great for the baby’s heart rate, so she was uncomfortable re-starting it. She gave me a choice: we could continue to wait and see if labor would start up on its own or we could move forward with a c-section.
While having a c-section was the last thing I wanted, especially after a what felt like a thousand and one interventions, I really didn’t see another option. I was comforted by the fact that my doctor was equally baffled that we were at this crossroads; there was no indication during my pregnancy that I would have anything but a “normal” delivery, and she was even supportive of me going completely med-free if I wanted. Matt and I talked it out for a bit and made the call to have surgery.
At this point things actually started moving quickly! Before I knew it the nurse was prepping me for surgery and Matt was in his little sterile jumpsuit thingy. They wheeled me into the OR and administered anesthesia via the epidural tubing. Remember how I said I had some “hot spots” with the epidural and could still feel contractions? Well, the anesthesia didn’t take. Thankfully the doctors did a number of tests to make sure I couldn’t feel anything, and after I said, “OW! F**K!” a few too many times, they realized it was time to try something else.
The anesthesiologist removed the epidural tube and administered a spinal block – a shot of anesthetic right into the cerebro-spinal fluid that numbs your lower half really quickly. I’ll be honest: I was a little scared of being awake during the c-section – I’ve only had minor outpatient surgeries in the past – what if the anesthetic wore off? What if I could feel them cutting me open? Once I got the spinal block, however, it was smooth sailing – I didn’t feel a thing. I was extra-relieved that the spinal block worked, because the next pain management step would have been general anesthesia. Going completely under is much riskier than local anesthesia, not to mention the fact that I would’ve missed Liam’s birth completely.
Once I was prepped and comfortably numb, they brought Matt into the OR and started cutting me open. Before I knew it, they could see Liam – the doctors kept commenting on how much hair he had! – and at 5:07pm, a few minutes after surgery started, my boy was out. Since I had a giant sterile curtain blocking my field of vision, hearing his first screams was music to my ears.
The first photo of Liam and I, taken about an hour after he was born.
As they were getting Liam out and sewing me up, we discovered why labor wasn’t progressing naturally or with the help of Pitocin: Liam was in a transverse position with his head wedged in my pelvic bone.
( source )
On top of that, the umbilical cord was wrapped around him THREE times – twice around his neck and once, really tightly, around his abdomen. The cord wrapped around his abdomen may have caused some of his heart rate drops during labor and probably would’ve resulted in an emergency c-section had labor progressed naturally.
I’ll be totally honest – I did NOT want a c-section for a number of reasons: longer recovery time, likelihood of repeat c-sections for future pregnancies, not to mention the whole major surgery thing (I asked my doctor how many stitches I had, and she said there are so many, they don’t even count the number of individual stitches on top of the stitches, I also had 17 staples). I was also concerned about rushing into a c-section and not giving my body enough time to labor naturally; it seems that doctors are a lot more surgery-happy these days. It was incredibly comforting to know that though it wasn’t my preference, delivering Liam via c-section was the safest, smartest option for both of us, and I have no regrets that we made the choice we did.
Phew – just writing this (and reliving one of the longest days of my life) was a mini-marathon! Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you have about labor and delivery – I’ll answer as honestly as I can based on my experiences. The one thing I can say with certainty is that despite the craziness that was Liam’s delivery, I would (and hopefully will!) do it again in a heartbeat. I love this little man more than I ever thought possible, and being a parent has changed our lives so tremendously for the better.