The Birth Story

Early Labor – Amanda was very tough, aided by Sam’s kisses.

June 11th, our due date, had come and gone – everyone was surprised Dr. Snell let us go so far over. I was considered ‘high risk’ because of my chronic hypertension and had lots of extra monitoring the last couple of weeks because of a heightened risk for preeclampsia. She’d done research though and because the pregnancy had gone so smoothly she didn’t see any issues in waiting to start naturally. We did have a deadline, June 21 – then we induce full force. Starting with the foley catheter on the night of the 20th to get things going.

I woke up early on the morning of the 20th with rhythmic contractions – hooray! I stayed in bed a while timing and chatting with Sam. We got up and went to Starbucks, our last date as non-parents. And then the contractions stopped, false alarm.

That afternoon we made our way to the hospital and at 4pm they inserted the foley catheter. My dilation went from 1 to 3cm in about a split second. We were surprised by the contractions… how suddenly they came on and how strong the pain was in my back. Sam was a rockstar with the back counter pressure, finding the magic spot that almost made the pain completely go away. The plan had been to get the foley catheter and come back home but after monitoring for a while my blood pressure was still elevated. We were staying.

At 10:50p the foley fell out. The nurse with the long fingernails (ugh, don’t ask) checked and I was 5-6cm with contractions coming 2-4 minutes apart. Success, at this rate it looked like we wouldn’t have to have Pitocin. We finally moved to the birthing room – our third stop of the night (small monitoring room with fake bed, then small monitoring room with real bed were first).

My family was all there, taking turns coming in and offering a hand to squeeze or a cool washcloth for my forehead/neck. Dianne, our doula, arrived around midnight. She took over with the back pushes and hip squeezes to give Sam’s poor arms a break. I went to the bathroom and just sitting felt so much better, they let me try a birthing ball for a while too. The nurse kept coming in and adjusting the monitors – saying Pepper didn’t like this position. Finally they made me get back on the bed – try the right side, no, try the left side…

At 12:20a I was dilated 6-7cm. At 1:30a my water broke. I remember puking and Dianne saying that’s a good thing. I don’t know when exactly the pain got so bad that I started crying out and holding onto the bed like it was the only thing keeping me going. I did know that something wasn’t right, that it didn’t feel like anything I’d read about. When I had a moment between contractions to open my eyes I saw everyone in the room with pale, serious faces lit up by the monitors they were staring at.

Pepper was having scary variable decelerations in her heart-rate and my blood pressure was through the roof. Dr. Snell was watching the monitors from home. Sam was squeezing my hips, Dianne had her thumb on my forehead telling me to concentrate on that… to take deep breaths and get them all the way down to Pepper. I held my breath, moaned and pushed back against Sam and then, with what I imagine was every ounce of strength I had, I somehow managed to take a deep breath. They brought in forms for me to sign in case we needed to do a C-Section. I think that’s when I lost it, there was no way I’d be able to do this. I asked about an epidural – someone said Dr. Snell was on her way in, let’s wait. Dilated to 9cm, Dianne says it’s transition and we’re almost there.

At 2:30a Dr. Snell arrived. She checked my cervix, dilated to 9cm. She said, ‘oh, no wonder it hurts’ – Pepper’s head was facing my hip instead of forward or backwards like it needed to be for her to make it out. The official term is ‘transverse arrest.’ She asked me if I had an urge to push at all? No. She was very concerned about the variable decelerations – I’m not sure exactly what she said but it ended with me agreeing to a C-Section.

Everyone starts prepping. I’m wondering how many contractions I’ll have before I get the epidural. The anesthesiologist was going on and on and on about who knows what, sign this, agree to this. I felt like screaming at him to get on with it but couldn’t because I was gritting my teeth through another contraction. They’re pushing me down the hallway – contraction. We’re in the operating room and he’s saying okay I need you to sit up on the edge of the bed and curve your back towards me. I start to move – contraction – get to the edge of the bed – contraction. A nurse is holding me up as I hug her and he says ok, this is going to sting. I didn’t notice – contraction.

And then nothing. Dr. Snell asks if I can feel that – no, just warm and numb. I’m dilated to 10 and she asks me to push. No, that makes it worse. Dr. Snell and the Dr. on call start talking about another doctor, small talk – gossip almost. Nurses are behind us in the corner talking. I can feel tugging, my body being moved around. Sam is standing beside my head and I’m staring at a large blue tarp.

Then our sweet Pepper cried and all the noise in the room melted away. They whisk her over to a table and several nurses are wiping and suctioning and smiling. Smiling because they’ve just seen the most beautiful, most amazing little girl there ever was, obviously. Sam’s beside her taking photos and sniffling – I’m on an operating table a million miles away watching and patiently waiting. Sam has her and is walking towards me. Our cheeks touch and she’s so warm and the moment is perfect.

Born on the Summer Solstice – June 21, 2011 at 3:14am. 20 inches long and 7 pounds, 8.6 beautiful ounces.

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