My Birth Story

Attempting my birth story again. First time didn’t go so well…. just got caught up with little details and facts. Hard to write when you have finite time before your babe starts needing you again.

Friday 2/17/12 @ 38 weeks, six days: I’m 100% effaced and about 2 cementers dilated. Dr. R says she’ll be at the hospital Tuesday — she hopes she sees me there!

Sunday 2/19/12 @ 39 weeks, 1 day: Water breaks sometime between 11:00 PM and midnight. I get up to pee, go back to bed, feel a trickle. Go to bathroom, and I gush. I tell Stacy, he says come back to bed and get some sleep. I can’t. I leak/gush several more times before finally getting up and calling my mom, and texting Megg and Nicola the good news. No contractions that I can feel. Decide to finish packing my hospital bag.

Monday 2/20/12 @ 1:45 AM: Still no contractions. My mom tells me to call the doctor, Stacy says no – get some rest. He knows that as soon as I call them I’ll have to come in. I start to get nervous about it all and wonder why I’m not having contractions. I finally call the doctor. I lie and say my water “just broke” but I’m not having any contractions. He tells me what I already know — you still have to come in. Stacy and I take our good ol’ time doing this.

3:00 AM-ish: We get to the hospital. Still no contractions, still leaking fluid. I get settled in, Dr. H checks me, says I’m 2-3 cementers and paper-thin. Baby has good heartbeat, so I start to walk. I alternate walking and resting, though I never entirely fall asleep. My parents arrive and I walk the halls with my mom. We listen to the woman next door as she pushes. I’m immediately jealous. The next five hours go by with painless contractions. Stats still look good.

8:00 AM: Dr. H. checks me. I’m 4 cementers dilated. I’m not progressing fast enough and he wants to start the “go juice” aka: pitocin. The dreaded P-word. I know where this is going. I also know that my favorite doc is coming in at 8:30 (female Dr. H), so I try and hold off. I know she will take care of me and let me labor the way I want. (After all, she actually TOOK a copy of my birth plan when I met with her at 38 weeks!) I ask for a little more time. He sighs and allows. Yay!

8:30-9:00 AM: New doc on duty – female Dr. H. She obviously has talked with male Dr. H. Once again, Pitocin is suggested. She makes is sound so necessary. I relent.

10:10 AM: They start the IV drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. I am now hooked up to fetal heart monitor and the IV drip. I labor by my bed.

10:35 AM: Up the Pitocin to 2.

11:35 AM: Up the Pitocin to 3. Blood pressure is great: 118/71

12:20 PM: Up the Pitocin to 4.

1:20 PM:Pit at 5 now. Still laboring naturally and it’s starting to be painful. Also sneaking bits of a rosemary roll from Wegmans and some HoneyNut Cherrios. Doc catches me – she is not happy. Dr. H. checks me. 4 cementers dilated and I have a “bloddy show” — keep laboring!

4:00 PM: I am 5 centimeters! We celebrate! At this point I am in a lot of pain. Contractions are steady, though I couldn’t tell you how long they last and how far apart they are. I know they are irregular. I’m having a lot of pain from Tidbit moving around. She’s kicking and squirming and every movement causes intense pain.

6:30 PM: 1st dose of Stadol. I don’t know why I’m given this — I think to rest. Everything seems fuzzy here. All I know is I’m in a lot of pain and it’s been over 24 hours since I’ve slept. I fall asleep in between contractions.

7:30 PM: Wake up to the most intense pain I have ever felt. I’m now on my hands and knees on the bed screaming as the contractions come in quick waves, about a minute and a half apart. I get a 2nd dose of Stadol to help with the pain, and now I’m falling asleep for literally 30-60 seconds until the next contraction hits. ABSOLUTELY. EFFING. PAINFUL.

8:00 PM-ish: I am 8 centimeters! Pitocin is at 9 mg. Killer pain.

11:00 PM: No change – still at 8 centimeters and -1 Station (the real bummer). Dr. H wants to see things progress faster and suggests intra-uterine pressure monitor coupled with slightly increased Pitocin to ensure stronger contractions. I don’t know why the internal monitor was necessary, but at the time it seemed right. Oh hindsight! Dr. H. tells me I’ll need to labor in bed, on my back, so an epidural is strongly suggested. I agree. I was prepared for laboring naturally, and I did so ALL DAY LONG on the increased Pitocin, but I was not about to do so on my back without being able to move. She also said the epidural would help me relax and sleep and I might progress better because of it.

Tuesday 2/21/12 @ Midnight: I get the Epi, and it’s great, minus the horrible itching all over my body. Itch, itch, itch. I can’t relax or sleep – I just want to scratch! They give me something for the itch and it goes away. I sleep.
P.S. – Not before they re-insert a new pressure monitor because the first one wouldn’t work.

All hooked up. Pitocin drip, epidural, and intra-uterine monitor. Plus side – now I can rest. 

1:00 AM: Pitocin is now up to 13mg. Gina is Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

~2:00 AM: I am 9 centimeters dilated! Baby is at 0 Station! Yay! Dr. inserts catheter for me to pee. BEST. THING EVER. Vaginal birth seems likely!

~4:00 AM: nearly full dilation. I am to start pushing soon (around 5 AM).

5:15 – 7:15 AM: I push for over two hours. Tidbit doesn’t descend past the ischial spines.Nothing happens except a swollen vagina (yes, I can say that word even though others think it shouldn’t be said). I push, push, push. The strongest pushes every. They are so good. I give them my all. I’m holding my chunky thighs and the nurse is counting. I push on my back. I push on my side. I push on all fours. Tidbit doesn’t want to come out.

7:30 AM: Doc comes in and checks me, stays while I push a few times. No descent. She suggests the C-word. She’s comforting and motherly. She knows how badly I do not want a c-section. She knows how badly I didn’t want any of this — just a nice, natural birth. She tells me I can keep pushing if I want, but that she doesn’t think the baby is going to move. I push a few more times – maybe 30 minutes or so with no progress.

Doc once again suggests – encourages – the c-section. She tells me I’ve done great. I’ve done everything right, there’s nothing I could have done differently. She says to me, “It’s time to meet your baby, Gina.”

I break down crying. Here I’ve been stuck for almost 30 hours in a windowless, tiny cell trying to coax Tidbit to come on out. I’ve been hooked up to machines and IVs for most of that time. I haven’t slept or ate for a very long time. The pushing has exhausted me. I’m utterly demoralized. I’m afraid of the surgery, but more afraid I won’t get to breastfeed. I’m afraid of the recovery and of the possible postpartum depression.

“Not to mention the complete and utter trashing of her entire birth plan, which we all took so seriously.” (Stacy writes this later in his journal of the labor.)

It’s very emotional in my room. There are several nurses in there ready to prep me for the surgery. They are crying because I’m crying. The doctor, Stacy, and my parents are comforting me. But everyone is sad. The doctor tries to lighten things up, get me excited about meeting Tidbit soon. All the nurses take good care of me and I’m wheeled off to the OR.

OR: It’s surprisingly calm and pleasant. The next doctor on duty is Dr. R. and she is there to assist with the surgery. She’s the doc who checked me on Friday. I remember — it’s Tuesday morning. The anesthesiologist is great – kind and gentle. He takes care of me, asks about the baby, talks about his girls, and makes a few jokes. The OBs are making a few jokes while they do their stuff.

Gina on drugs. 

And then at 8:17 AM she makes her entrance into the world. She’s a whopping 8lbs 4 ounces, 21 3/4 inches long. No doubt a bit swollen from the drugs (same with me). I hear her cry momentarily, but Stacy says she’s fairly peaceful while they clean her up and take her stats. Stacy says she looks good and soon after they bring her over. The anesthesiologist unstraps my arms so I can hold her. It’s a great moment, though I’m not as emotional as I thought I’d be. (Or as I imagined I would be when I envisioned birthing her naturally.) She’s beautifully ugly, just as all newborn babies are. All wrinkly and awkward looking. Just how you would look if you were ripped from your residence of the past 9 months. She’s just staring at me with huge dark steel-colored eyes. It seems like I’m holding her forever, but I suppose it was only a few minutes. I have to throw up, so Stacy takes her to the nursery and the anesthesiologist puts a little tray by my mouth.

Dr. R. holding Tidbit and Dr. H. on the right. They did an amazing job. 
Tidbit arrives! 8lbs, 4oz. 21 3/4 inches long. 

Our first family photo. 
I was so happy to be able to hold and kiss my baby!

My mom getting to see Tidbit for the first time!

RECOVERY: I have to “recover” in a separate part of the hospital because there were SO MANY women in labor that day(s). I’m there longer than I want, but fall in and out of sleep. I’m on a lot of morphine. I’m finally wheeled up to the room where I’ll spend the next four days (the other said of the hallway from where I labored). It’s a room with a window and a view of Beaver Stadium and Mt. Nittany. It’s a nice change from the two days I spent without seeing the light of day. My family is there — Mom, Dad, Jim, Karen (Stacy’s mom) and Les (Stacy’s dad). I finally get to have my baby and I immediately (with the help of nurses) get her latched on to me. It’s a bit tricky, but it’s works with moderate success. I’m a little out of it from the drugs and my legs are incredibly itching, but I’m happy holding my new baby girl, Johanna Marie Tibbetts.

Mama and Tidbit

A couple of after thoughts:

Most of you know that I wanted to have a natural labor and spent a lot of time researching and preparing for that. So it shouldn’t come as a shock as to how disappointed I was to ultimately end up having a c-section. I can’t say honestly that I think it was necessary. The whole time I labored, Tidbit nor I were in any danger. Her heartbeat remained steady the whole time. I think it’s silly to say, “I have no regrets about how it happened.” Of course I have have regrets about the experience. I regret not going back to bed after my water broke. I regret letting the doc start me on Pitocin. I regret letting the doc do an internal monitor. And I regret not trying to push for longer. And I was totally unprepared for the lack of clarity I would have during the whole labor and the immense vulnerability I faced when dealing with difficult decisions. I regret not having a doula there to help me make informed, non-emotional, sleep-deprived decisions.
Ultimately though, what happened, happened. And luckily for me, my recovery was (and continues to be) smooth sailing. I’ve had no complications. Tidbit latched on and nursed right away. But I do believe things could have or should have gone differently. And I do strongly believe that if I had had a homebirth, I would have birthed her naturally (undoubtedly after a long and steady labor). I’ve never been one to hide my feelings and this experience is no different. I can’t pretend to be happy about something that I am not happy about. I cringe and hold my tongue when people tell me that all that matters is that I have a healthy baby. Of course I’m happy about that. I love my daughter and I enjoy all my moments with her. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t mourn for the loss of my vaginal birth. And I think the only people that understand that, truly, are other c-section mamas. For now I will love my baby. And when the next baby comes along, I’ll definitely do things differently.

Additional note: I forgot to mention somewhere in here that Tidbit was posterior, and probably brow presentation, although that was never confirmed. Dr. H. told Stacy after the surgery that when she pulled Tidbit out, there was a loud “POP” sound. And the poor girl had a major cone-head for a while. It’s totally possible that she never would have come out on her own. I’ll never know.


About Gina Marie Thompson

writer • mom • trail runner • cheese slinger • educator • social justice crusader • seeker of love & beauty• living locally • I CHOOSE LOVE ❤️
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