Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Caroline's Birth Story

Caroline Joyce Bindel made her dramatic premiere Tuesday, May 31. Before going to bed Monday night, I gently reminded Caroline that the May birthstone is emerald, and emeralds are mighty pretty. I told her if she'd prefer that birthstone over pearl, she had to make her move right away. Well, she listened!

At 1:30 a.m. I felt some pressure, heard a pop, and realized my water broke. I got up and called the hospital to tell them my water had broken but I hadn't been timing contractions. I decided to time contractions for an hour and call them back. I put in a load of laundry, finished packing my bag, and woke John up. He had to pack himself and put the car seat in the car. I showered, and by the time we were ready to go, my contractions were painful and about four to five minutes apart. I'd say we got to the hospital just as they were becoming unbearable. Since first-time moms often mistake when they are in labor or when their water has broken (?!) the nurses told us that they would be doing a "rule out" exam, to rule out that I was in labor or my water had broken. They put us in a labor and delivery room and told us someone would be with us in fifteen minutes. Nobody came for a long time, so John went and told them that I was really in pain and someone needed to check on me. When they tried to hook up the fetal monitor and contraction monitor, though, they discovered the computer in the room we were in was broken, so they moved me to another room. At this point, I was in a hospital gown. Since my water had broken, I had to ask for a towel to wear like a diaper so I could walk down the hall. How dignified! I'm not sure if the "rule out" exam ever happened or not. I remember running to the bathroom gagging but not throwing anything up. The nurse comforted me and told me it was normal. I was halfway crying, I think. I asked for some pain meds, so they hooked up the IV and gave me Stadol until the anesthesiologist could get there. When they told me later that he'd be another fifteen minutes or so, I asked for more Stadol. It didn't take away the pain, which was still quite awful, but it helped. I didn't see any way I could have been still for the epidural without it.

The epidural was amazing. I had planned all along to get one, but I didn't really know how well it would work. My sister doesn't think hers worked because she was still in a lot of pain. Mine worked wonderfully. John and I dozed for a while, waking up to talk occasionally. At one point, he got up to look at the information on the monitors and noticed the baby's heartrate was lower than earlier. He told me, and I told him not to worry because the nurses were watching from the nurses' station and if something were wrong, they'd let us know. I finished my sentence as the nurses came storming in and put oxygen on me and attached an internal fetal monitor to the baby's head. (They told me then my baby had a headful of hair!) They explained that we didn't need to worry because the baby's heartbeat was variable, meaning that it dipped when I had a contraction but it came back up after the contraction. They just wanted me to keep the oxygen on. They came in a few minutes later, told me to lie on my left side and stay there, as they called my doctor. I heard the phrase "decel" and realized they were talking about me. They said Dr. McNelis would be down in a few minutes to check on me, but we needed to be prepared for a C-section. The baby wasn't handling my contractions very well, and my contractions were becoming irregular and the baby wasn't dropping. They gave John some scrubs, just in case. Dr. McNelis told me they'd try everything they could with me to avoid a c-section, so they started pitocin hoping it would intensify the contractions and bring the baby down. It didn't work -- the baby was still struggling. The transition from L&D to the OR was fast and furious. They gave me more medication in my epidural and wheeled me in. John changed into scrubs and was sent to wait. He said that was hard because he didn't really know what was going on. Once they had me sufficiently numbed and were ready to cut, they brought John in. He had to stay out of the sterile area, so he stood by my head. The anesthesiologist chatted with John and me to keep us occupied during the cutting phase. He mentioned that very often in these cases, where the baby’s heartrate drops, the cord is wrapped around the neck. Sure enough, when they pulled her out, the cord was around her neck. Before she started the surgery, I reminded Dr. McNelis to be loud when she announced "It’s a Boy" or "It’s a Girl" since we didn’t know the baby’s sex. She said that would be John’s job. He did say "It’s a girl," but he can’t remember doing it at all. He keeps asking me if I’m sure he said it. John went with Caroline and the nurses to get Caroline cleaned up while the doctor finished with me. It was then that she found the reason for the distress during labor and Caroline’s not descending – her cord was tied in a knot! Recovery is going well.

We’re home and doing pretty well at figuring out sleeping and nursing and such. She’s a true joy!

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