We arrived at the hospital at 9:45ish. The first thing the staff said when they saw us was that they were not used to seeing McDonald’s bags on the labor and delivery floor. I wasn’t aware that I shouldn’t be eating since going into labor. I told Mike he could eat my chicken. They even made me give up my cup of water! The next thing I did was tell them that this baby was five weeks early and that she had Trisomy 18. They calmly directed me to the VIP suite and told me that JoDee would be our nurse.
When I got to the room, I told our escort (perhaps a CNA) that there was blood mixed in with the water. She looked in the toilet and said that a small amount of blood was normal. She assured me that the nurse would evaluate the situation. I will mention now that during labor the nurse was mildly concerned about the bleeding. She said that it was a bit more than should be expected. After the delivery of the placenta, our doctor determined that the placenta had torn (placenta abruption). Knowing this now confirms to us even more that Hope’s birth was nothing short of a miracle!
At this point, I will also mention that, although the C-section vs. vaginal delivery debate had been a terrible stress for me, I felt very calm when I arrived at the hospital. I didn’t consider a C-section and I was confident that a vaginal delivery would be just fine. As the contractions started to progress, I did ask for an epidural. I was assured by my nurse that the epidural would in no way impair my alertness at the time of the baby’s birth.
During this time, Mike called his family who live 3 hours from us. They left their home at midnight. My family lives only 20 minutes from us, but when Mike called them, he found out that my parents were 2 hours away on a weekend getaway. Fortunately, we were able to contact them quickly and they were able to leave by 11:30 PM.
Well, the first time the nurse evaluated me, she found that I was dilated to a 3, 80% effaced and that the contractions, although weak, were 3 minutes apart. Everything progressed rapidly!
Hope was born at 2:18 AM—only 4½ hours after arriving at the hospital. Here are a couple things that happened in the meantime. I am not sure of exact times, but I think I have got the sequence right.
- A monitor was put on both my stomach for the contractions and on the baby to monitor her heartbeat. I was thrilled to hear her heart beating at 130bpm, but I felt that the normal pressures of labor and the inevitable fluctuations in her heart beat would be very stressful so we decided not to monitor the baby. I had a calm and peaceful assurance that Hope would be born alive and for that reason I didn’t question removing the monitors. (As I reflect on it now, I wonder how I did it.)
- I told the nurse that I would like an epidural. I asked, however, if there was any chance that the epidural would affect my alertness. I wanted to be 100% alert and aware during whatever time my baby was alive. She assured me that the epidural would not affect me in that way and the anesthesiologist gave me the epidural.
- I had dilated to a 5 the next time she checked me.
- Mike and I took a nap.
- I woke up from the nap with a great deal of pressure.
- JoDee came in and asked how I was doing. I told her I was feeling pressure. When I described what I was feeling, she quickly checked me. It seemed like we were all of the sudden in a quick and urgent mode. I was now dilated to a 10.
- JoDee got the room ready and called the obstetrician.
The doctor arrived at around 2:00 AM. Immediately before she was born, he informed me that he would like to do an episiotomy because I was already tearing on the inside. I was quick to agree, knowing that this could speed up Hope’s arrival. On the next push, her head was out. One more push and her entire body was out.
Mike cut the umbilical cord. She cried! Her body moved on the table. I suppose that these moments were the only ones that I wouldn’t classify and calm and peaceful. I am not saying they were bad; it is just that I was so overwhelmed by the sight in the mirror of my daughter alive! I cried out a bit and even hid my eyes in Mike’s side. I was so overwhelmed by the sight of Hope—alive!