My due date was July 6, 2012. I was working full time at a psychiatric facility for children. On June 27, I started to have contractions and went to the labor and delivery unit. I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant. They found me to be one centimeter dilated and 50 percent effaced—not awesome, but I was told this could be early labor, so I took my maternity leave the next day. This early labor was actually prodromal labor (early labor that does not progress and is sometimes called pre-labor). Several more visits to the labor and delivery unit without a baby left me discouraged.
I had a doctor’s appointment on July 3. The doctor said there had been no more progress. So he scheduled an induction for July 12 at 7:00 a.m. Contractions continued however until that day. I was so uncomfortable! I received a phone call on July 12 at 6:00 a.m. telling me that the labor and delivery unit had no room to perform my induction. I had been up all night with contractions, avoiding the hospital because I knew I would be in there the next morning. Not good news. But they called back at 11:00 a.m. to say they could fit me in at noon. My mom, best friend and partner were with me at home rubbing my back and giving counter pressure. I had awful back labor. At noon we headed up to the hospital, bags packed, ready to have this baby…. Or so I thought.
When I got up to the unit, they gave me a suppository of Cytotec at 2:00 p.m. and let me labor by myself for four hours. They checked me and I was three to four centimeters dilated and 90 percent effaced. They couldn’t give me another suppository because my contractions were too regular. So they wanted to start Pitocin. They started an IV and Pitocin at 6:00 p.m. That’s when things got real! Ouch! Two hours of that and I was screaming for an epidural. My doctor checked me and I was four centimeters, soft and stretchy. I got my epidural and he said he would be back in a few hours to check me again. The epidural was great. I was able to get some rest. It felt like it had been days since I’d slept that well.
The doctor came back at 11:00 p.m. and there had been no change. We opted to break my water to speed things up a bit. The doctor broke my water a little while later and then discussed some options. When my doctor broke my water, it had a lot of blood in it. He told us that it could mean a lot of things or it could mean nothing, but they needed to watch the baby and see what was really going on. They monitored the baby for what seemed like forever! Then a bunch of nurses came running into my room, hooked me up to oxygen and prepped me for an emergency c-section. The doctor came in for a quick minute, told me that he was afraid that my placenta has begun to detach from my uterine wall and simply said, “We need to get baby out now.”
Apparently my baby’s heartbeat had been dropping down into the 40s and 50s with every contraction and it wasn’t coming back up after the contraction. I was wheeled down the hallway to the operating room so fast, I was crying and my anxiety had taken over me. I signed the consent papers for surgery at 1:10 a.m. and my daughter was born at 1:20 a.m.
My mother accompanied me in the operating room. She had an emergency c-section with her first and she was there to talk me through what to expect and to keep me calm. Then I heard it! Her cry! My baby girl was here. I saw them carry her to the table to clean her. She was 7 pounds 13 ounces and 20-inches long. Her apgar scores were 9 and 9. She was a healthy baby.
The first thing I said to the nurse in recovery was “Will I always have to have a c-sections now?” She told me about vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). She also told me that the hospital I gave birth in allowed VBACs.
The next few days were so bittersweet. Between the pain of my surgery and the joy of my little lady, I was so blessed!
I suffered from severe post-partum post-traumatic stress disorder. Which is not often diagnosed! The trauma of my emergency c-section and the loss of my desire and dream to have a vaginal birth was too much. I felt like a failure even though I had this beautiful healthy baby. I felt nothing like a woman. I felt as if my body failed to do the one thing it was made to do. I sought treatment after months of struggling. I was able to breastfeed her, however, which helped me feel better about things.
I managed to work full time and breastfeed her up to 12 months. I studied and researched VBAC and I am determined to experience this my next pregnancy.
July 12, 2012 was one of the scariest days of my life. July 12, 2013 proved the same. Our daughter hadn’t been feeling well for days and had been vomiting quite regularly, so we took her to the ER at the hospital where she had been born. She was diagnosed as being in diabetic ketoacidosis and as having onset type 1 diabetes. She was a day shy of her first birthday.
My daughter’s first year was full of joy and laughter and it came to an end stuck in a pediatric ICU.
We are doing well now, but birth and parenthood is not like anything that is in a book or anything you can prepare for. We take it moment by moment and hope for a good day.
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Sarah Lynne blogs at A New Point of View: My Life After Cesarean Birth. She writes as an attempt to cope with her c-section and work through the emotions of it all.