We’ve had Dmitri in our arms for a whole 7 days now (well, sorta since he was born at 11:57 last Saturday) and already my memory of his birth is getting hazy. I’m assuming that means the after prego hormones that make you forget all the shitty things about pregnancy and labour are kicking in and since I don’t want to forget all the bad stuff (to remind me that I don’t want to breed again), I’m writing a fairly frank and honest post about our experience. If you don’t want to read about it (I don’t blame you), scroll down to the bottom to look at pictures of Dmitri.
So, onto the event, as I remember it. I’ll get Tyler to add any details i’m already missing.
Friday night we went to bed as usual. Dmitri was acting a bit different than usual in the womb. He was more active and moving low then wiggling back up. I thought that maybe he was just working his way down and that I would go into labour the next week or something. At the last appointment I was only 2 cm and 80% effaced so I didn’t think he was ready just yet. around 12:45 I was laying in bed tying to fall asleep when I felt this gush. I thought I had peed myself, something that I had managed to avoid during my pregnancy. When I felt a second gush I went oh fuck and jumped out of bed. I make it as far as the towel we keep on the floor for Noklop to play with and then felt another huge gush. It felt like a gallon of water came flying out of me when in reality it wasn’t even enough to soak the towel through. I clicked at Tyler to wake him up and told him my water just broke. He was kind of in denial and said ‘ Oh ok…so…can we go back to bed or…?’. I told him he can go back to bed but I’m gonna go hop in the shower because I’m disgusting. As I said that, more fluid gushed out of me to make my point. I think I took about half an hour in the shower at least because Tyler came in, more awake this time, and asked me if everything was alright and what we do next.
After my lovely but disgusting shower, I called the OB to see what they recommend and was told to wait at home till I have consistent contractions that get worse over time. I had no idea what contractions were supposed to feel like but at the moment I felt nothing so I wen’t back to bed. I watched Netflix for a while before I started feeling something. around 3:30 am and started timing them. They varied in time and intensity for a while but very soon went to consistently 3-4 minutes apart and getting a bit stronger. I called the OB again and she suggested I come in so we did. We arrived at the hospital a little after 5 am and went to triage to get checked and all that. I was only 3 cm and still 80% effaced, below the regular threshold for admission, but because my water had broken I was admitted. We met my nurse and then were left to labour. I thought that it would be Tyler and I for the majority of the time with people coming in and out to check but was pleasantly surprised that my nurse stayed with me the whole time. Well, at least till shift change.
Things kind of progressed in that the contractions got stronger but didn’t get consistent. sometimes they were 3 minutes apart but then there would be two back to back. I was given Fentanyl, which was wonderful for about an hour because I could doze a little but it wore off quickly and I didn’t like that. Around 11 am the doctor came to check me and there had been no change for the past 4 or 5 hours so she suggested we start Pitocin. I never wanted Pitocin as a way to induce labour but since I was already in it, I was fine with it. I did ask for an epidural at this point because Pitocin usually makes contractions stronger and closer together and I really didn’t want to feel them stronger than they already were. They were manageable at the time but anything stronger and I would have had a harder time with them.
Getting the epidural didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. It was more uncomfortable than painful, and that was a nice change. Of course, with getting the epidural, my contractions slowed down but they upped the Pitocin and they picked up and finally dilated to 6 cm by about 3 pm. I was optimistic that things were going to continue smoothly from here on out, by about 4:30 pm I was at 7 cm. The nurses had me change positions a lot and use different things to get things moving. I couldn’t get out of bed so they were brought to me. One was a giant peanut shaped rubber ball thingy that went between my knees. I liked that one because I could move my legs back and forth and it kept my mind off the shaking I was now experiencing due to the epidural. The other tool, I didn’t like. It was a beanbag with an indent for my bump to go in. The first it made me a little nauseous but it passed. It still wasn’t all that comfortable and I preferred to be on my knees. I was still able to be fairly mobile and could move around the bed with only a little assistance. I guess most people are stuck like lumps and need two nurses to help them shift but when a second nurse was called in to help, she wasn’t really needed. I think she liked me for that. It was either that or the 2 dozen cookies I brought in for the nurses. One nurse, not even one assigned to me came into the room to thank me for the cookies and asked how I got them to not be flattened out. I told her I add more flour than the recipe calls for. She kept chatting about the cookies for a bit and I remember thinking I’m glad she liked them but I’m kinda busy trying to force a baby out of me.
Around 7 pm was another shift change and this is where things started going downhill. My new nurse came in maybe an hour or so after the epidural started to not work. I think one of the positions I was in squished it a bit so the meds were displaced for a while. I was feeling the contractions full force and they were the most painful things I have every experienced. I have forgotten what they feel like now (thanks hormones) but I remember thinking they were just so awful and I wanted it to end.
So my new nurse comes in with me feeling the contractions. I think she thought that I had been feeling some pain the whole time because when both Tyler and I said I hadn’t been and that the pain was excruciating, she didn’t seem to think I was feeling them full-on. The epidural was still pumping meds, they just weren’t getting to the right spot. She wanted me to change positions to the beanbag again. I told her last time it made me nauseous so they gave me something to help with that. Well, it didn’t. As soon as I was laying on it I got super nauseous. I backed off of it up to my knees because that helped before but it wasn’t helping this time. I couldn’t even answer her when she asked why I was off and Tyler had to tell her that I was nauseous. Then I got sick all over that stupid beanbag which was super traumatic for me. The last time I had been physically ill was grade 7. Not even during my pregnancy did I let the nausea take over but this was too much. After that, my nurse seemed to take my complaints of pain and whatnot a little more seriously.
At around 8 pm, I was still stalled at 7 cm and still in a lot of pain feeling every contraction. They still weren’t getting regular and Dmitri’s heart rate was starting to dip after each of the big ones, which was normal apparently but I found it alarming. The doctor came in again and found I still wasn’t progressing so we had to talk about our options. They were pretty much keep labouring and hope things change and if they don’t, then we talk about a c-section. I never wanted an elective c-section. Elective meaning it’s been 6 hours and things are moving but slowly and everyone is impatient. I was obviously okay with a c-section if it was because one or both of us were in danger. We weren’t there yet. The doctor said she would check again in 2 hours and if there was still no progress, we would have to talk about a c-section.
Well, 2 painful hours came and went and of course there was no progress so she suggested we do the surgery because it was closing in on 24 hours since my water broke and that is a breakpoint at which infection becomes a real risk. Tyler and I agreed to the surgery and that is where my memory pretty much stops. I think my brain went ‘ okay you did what you could, it’s out of your hand, you don’t have to do anything anymore so goodbye’.
Stef’s Version of Events:
According to Tyler I was awake but not responding very much. He took a picture of me before the surgery while on the gurney that I don’t remember agreeing to. What I do remember is seeing Tyler in his paper scrubs before being wheeled to the O.R. Then I remember being wheeled in. Next I remember them sterilizing me and then I remember them saying they’re ready to cut. The last thing I remember before they finished was asking where Tyler was. It was very important to me that he be there, not because I was scared but because I thought they forgot him and he should be there to see the birth of his son. I remember nothing else until I heard Dmitri cry. His cry woke me from whatever daze I was in and I saw them bring him to the table to get checked and saw Tyler looking at him.
After that, I remember Dmitri crying and the nurses putting him on me and he instantly stopped crying. It was a pretty amazing feeling, as out of it as I was, I very vividly remember that moment. I was holding him, with the help of the nurses while they were trying to close me up. The pressure of them shoving my organs back in was pretty painful but it didn’t matter because I was holding Dmitri. I kept bumping elbows with the surgeon so they gave Dmitri to Tyler and sent them to the recovery room to finish the surgery. The next thing I knew I was in the recovery room. Tyler filled me in on what happened after they took Dmitri off me. Because my labour was so long, my uterus was pretty swollen. It started to tear so they spent an extra 45 minutes fixing the tears before they could sew me up. During this time, They sent Tyler and Dmitri to wait in the recovery room for me. I guess Tyler wasn’t given a whole lot of information and the nurses flitting about didn’t have much more to give him. I felt really bad for Tyler when he told me that. On top of seeing me in really rough shape and in pain for the majority of the day, he’s told there was a complication and to go wait outside. It’s pretty easy to think the worst at that point. He did say though that having Dmitri in his arms has a huge calming effect. It still does.
I woke up in recovery in a crazy amount of pain. They were trying to get a line set up for morphine but it kept backing up into the other bags and wasn’t working at all. I was shaking like crazy from the epidural and pain and I think just trauma of what I just went through. They asked if I wanted to hold my baby and as much as I did, I think I said no. I told them I was worried about shaken baby syndrome. Silly I know but to me, I was shaking so much that I was sure I was going to harm him. I think they just kinda laughed and put him in my arms. As soon as I had him, the shaking stopped. I don’t know what caused it to instantly stop but I assume some sort of crazy hormone release; or magic.
A nurse finally grabbed a morphine pump and got that set up and taught me how to press the button. It took quite a while for it to kick in. Or maybe it felt like a long time but was really only 30 seconds. I don’t know. All I know was I wasn’t in as much pain and I finally had my baby.
We got into our room around 2:30 or 3 and all 3 of us passed out instantly. After about 2 hours of sleep both Tyler and I were rejuvenated and ready to start our new life as parents.
Tyler’s Version of Events:
26Mar16 10:30-11:30 pm: After 6 hours of seeing Stef in ever increasing amounts of pain and an exponentially increasing risk of infection to both mother and child we had agreed to go forward with a c-section. We were told that it would only take 30 minutes to prepare the operating room, but it felt like ages. Stef was in severe pain and completely exhausted. It was very difficult to see her in such rough condition, but be helpless to offer anything beyond words.
26Mar16 11:30-11:57 pm: As Stef was wheeled into the operating room, I was told to have a seat outside while they prepared her for surgery and that I would be invited in as they begun. Instead of sitting peacefully I opted to nervously pace back and forth in the hallway, which seemed to make some of the nurses in the ward edgy. Eventually I was invited into the room to sit next to Stef, who had a screen covering her from the neck down. Stef looked very pale, and while she was somewhat responding to my interactions with her, it was clear that she was not entirely coherent. I bumbled around trying to comfort her while, when all of a sudden a cry erupted into the otherwise quiet room. It hit me like a ton of bricks “holy crap, I’m a dad” .
26Mar16 – 27Mar16 11:57pm – 12:20 am: The nurses very quickly and efficiently did their immediate health checks and then gave me a few moments to interact with him. As soon as I said my first words to him, he turned his head, stopped crying and stared right into my eyes. We just gazed at each other intently in silence for a little while when one of the nurses interrupted “Don’t you want to take some pictures?”. “Oh yeah!” I quickly snapped out of the baby induced daze, grabbed my phone and started snapping photos. The nurses resumed their newborn activities and Dmitri resumed crying. After about a minute or so the nurses offered to give Dmitri some skin-to-skin time with Stef, who was anxiously looking onward through all of this. After placing him on her chest, Dmitri immediately stopped crying and Stef looks visibly relaxed. The medical team gave them ~10 minutes together at which point the logistics of performing surgery on someone holding a baby became too difficult. The surgeon mentioned that Stef’s uterus had torn while removing Dmitri (related to the 22 hours of unsuccessful labor) and it would take some extra time to sew up. The nurses gave me Dmitri and sent me to a recovery room while they finished with Stef.
27Mar16 12:20am-1:30am: It was a stark contrast going from the busy, bright operating room filled with Stef and a regiment of highly qualified personal to suddenly being in a small, dim room with just Dmitri and myself. At first it was very calming to just hold and talk to him. However, in relatively short order Dmitri got hungry and began rooting around me looking for a boob to suckle on. This in turn reminded me that Stef still had a large opening in her midsection and recently experienced a complication during surgery. The prior calm quickly turned to anxiety as I pestered the nurse who had been coming in and out of the room for updates on Stef. Of course, that nurse didn’t have any magical channel to the operating room and so could only offer generic re-assurances. The surgery was originally scheduled for 1 hour, but ended up taking 2 hours. That extra hour of sitting feeling a bowling ball of worry for Stef, while simultaneously managing a hungry newborn, whom I had no hope of satisfying, might just have been the longest hour of my life.
27Mar16 1:30am-2:30am: When Stef finally arrived out of surgery a wave of relief swept over me. Unfortunately she was still in a lot of pain relating to the incision and cramps, and also still shaking from the leftover effects epidural drugs. All of this was compounded by the fact that she so far beyond exhausted. Luckily the shaking stopped the instant I handed Dmitri to her. Even better Dmitri instantly found the boob and quickly managed a good latch, which calmed both Stef and Dmitri. Soon after the after-surgery pain meds kicked in and we were all taken to the Mother-baby ward for the rest of our hospital stay.
27Mar16 2:30am – onward: Upon arriving at the Mother-baby ward all three of us quickly settled in after a long Night-Day-Night and got two of the best hours of sleep ever. Stef, who went to bed particularly ragged, woke up seemingly as healthy as any other day. I awoke to her feeding Dmitri with a big smile and all of the colour returned to her face. I couldn’t help but be in awe that after the litany of pain, mediations, sleep deprivation, hormones and emotional swings she endured over the previous 36 hours, here she was happy as a clam and thrilled to begin life as a new mom. Oh and Dmitri was looking pretty damn cute as well.
The hospital stay was pretty standard. people coming in and out all the time, little rest, and lots of talking to family and friends to let them know that we are all ok and even though it was a pretty rough ride, we got a fabulous prize out of it.