elena’s birth story: part two

(You can read part one here.)

On the night of your birth, your mom and dad arrived at the hospital hoping to hear that active labor had already started.

Contractions were consistent, yet painless, for the past 48 hours. At five minutes apart, they seemed to occur too quickly to still be considered early labor.

Your mom was hooked up to a fetal monitoring system so the nurses on duty could track her contractions and your heartbeat for a few minutes.

You hadn’t moved at all that day, and when the sound of your strong and steady heartbeat filled the room, it immediately eased your parents’ worries.

Contractions were steady enough to be considered active labor, yet at only 1.5 centimeters dilated, the nurse said they couldn’t classify it as true active labor yet.

Your mom and dad couldn’t be too upset, though.

After all, your little body that had moved so very much over the past few weeks was once again facing head down, right where it should be.

Discussion began on how to start the induction. Because your mom was straddling the line between early and active labor, they said she wouldn’t need any drugs to start things off, but it might be helpful to break the water to get things moving faster.

And just as your mom was thinking of how she’d convince the staff to let her wait it out a few more hours to see if labor progressed on its own, Lisa, the midwife, arrived.

She hurried into the room, clutching print-outs of the fetal monitor activity.

“I don’t like what I’m seeing here,” Lisa said. “Your baby is handling the contractions well, but the heart rate decels after each one ends.”

Lisa thought the late decels may be due to an aging placenta. You were now 12 days past your due date, and because babies receive oxygen from the placenta, she assumed you just weren’t getting enough anymore.

“Lie on your side,” she instructed. “We’ll have to hook you up to an IV and give you an oxygen mask for the next 10 minutes. That can help fix the issue – but if not, we’re going to have to do a C-section. The heart rate is dropping too low and you aren’t even in active labor yet.”

And just like that, your mom and dad’s plans changed once again.

fetal monitoring

Your mom held the oxygen mask to her face and tried to still her body, hoping that by calming herself she could lower your stress as well.

But after ten minutes like this, your heart rate was still dropping dangerously low and the news was not good.

“We’re going to have to do a C-section,” Lisa said.

Tears slid down your mom’s face and she nodded her head in agreement.

Your dad grabbed her hand and gave her a kiss on the forehead. “It will all be okay,” he said. “We get to meet our baby so soon.”

Terbutaline was administered to slow down the contractions that were causing you so much pain.

“You’ll need to take out your braids,” they said. It was standard protocol to remove everything but the hospital-issued cap and gown.

c-section prep

Your mom undid the “labor braids” she had fashioned earlier that day – a stark reminder that she wouldn’t be going through labor after all.

Various staff members came into the room to introduce themselves and explain their role during the surgery.

And within just a few hours after arriving at the hospital, your mom was wheeled into an operating room to be prepped for surgery while your dad waited outside.

There’s nothing romantic about a C-section.

The room was sterile. The lights were bright. And strange techno-pop music was playing  overhead.

“Will someone change that ridiculous music?” she remembers them saying.

She leaned over to get the spinal and held hands with a woman whose job, it seemed, was simply to hold her hand.

Your mom’s eyes were closed tight and she was furiously counting to ten over and over again in her head.

“You’re doing great,” said the hand-holding woman. “Do you do yoga? You seem so calm.”

Your mom’s eyes flew open.

“I do, but I am not calm at all.” she assured her, tears rolling down her face.

Your mom thinks the hand-holding woman felt bad for asking after that.

She wanted to stay calm to keep you calm, so your mom focused inward once more and went back to counting to ten again and again.

The minutes seemed to fly by, and it wasn’t long before your dad came into the room.

The sight of your dad immediately brought more tears to your mom’s eyes.

“I don’t know why people electively sign up for this” she whispered to him. “This is awful.”

Your mom didn’t feel pain, but she could feel pressure and knew the surgeon had started the C-section. She started to shake and your dad says that her face went pale white.

“You’ve got to keep her calm,” said the hand-holding woman.

Your mom doesn’t remember what your dad said to her after that, but she closed her eyes and just listened to his voice.

“The baby is almost here,” the surgeon’s voice called from over the drape.

Your dad peeked over.

“They’re pulling the baby out!” he said to your mom. “This is it!”

And then your mom heard the best news of all.

“It’s … It’s a girl!” your dad cried. “We have a baby girl!”

elena

Your mom didn’t say anything back, she just cried and cried. This time, though, they were tears of happiness. You were here. You were finally here.

“One, two, three, four…”

The surgeon was counting from behind the drape.

Baby girl, your constant flipping and moving in the last few weeks had caused the cord to wrap around your neck four times.

You were immediately brought to a warming table to be assessed. Because you missed out on a trip down the birth canal, mucus and extra fluids had to be expelled from your lungs right away. Your initial Apgar score was 1, and quickly climbed to 6, and then 8.

The medical team knew your parents had wished to have a natural birth and let your dad have skin-to-skin contact with you as soon as you were breathing on your own.

skin to skin after c-section

Let’s just say, your daddy is a hairy guy.

You loved it, though, all snuggled in his chest. And now, at just two weeks after your birth, he can still calm you down just by holding you like that.

skin to skin with dad after c-section

After your mom was stitched up, you were placed in her arms.

Because of all the drugs received during the surgery, your mom’s memory wasn’t the greatest, but she’ll never forget that moment.

c section

There was never an issue with the placenta. It was the cord that had caused you so much pain and stress. As your mom’s contractions sent you further and further down the birth canal, the cord just kept pulling on you tighter and tighter.

“Your family is really lucky,” a nurse said to your dad a few hours later. “I’ve seen a lot of stillbirths this way.”

On the day you were born, you were finally head down – just like we hoped.

On the day you were born, your mom finally started labor – just like we imagined.

On the day you were born, you arrived in the most medicated way possible – not at all like we planned.

On the day you were born, you were born.

And that’s all we really wanted anyway.

elena 1 week old

celebrating one week of life

You are one special girl.

elena rue
born august 5, 2012 at 10:23pm
7lbs, 15oz & 21.5 inches long

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