You can read Part 1 of Zoey’s birth story here.
One of my biggest disappointments with having HELLP was my loose birth plan went almost entirely out the window. I had envisioned being able to labor at home for a while, move around the hospital room, and get an epidural if and when I needed it. As a result of the magnesium sulfate, I was not allowed out of bed, had a catheter, and was required to get an epidural.
Carol, our nurse, encouraged me to get the epidural port put in, but not turned on, shortly after we arrived at the hospital. After two blood draws, my platelet count was dropping and if it fell below a certain number, they would not be able to give me an epidural for fear of bleeding out into my spine. Thank goodness for her suggestion! The next blood draw came back below that magic number, which meant that if Carol hadn’t rushed the anesthesiologist to put it in, I would have done a bedridden birth without drugs. I know women who are more warriors than I do this, but I was not ready for that kind of mental and physical work.
Around 2am, Dr. Bozeman started me on pitocin and broke my water. Then, it was a waiting game. Since I was still on magnesium sulfate, Carol kept the room cold because it makes patients hot. I also had to wear my glasses anytime I needed to focus on someone or something because I would go cross eyed (I have a very light prescription that I only use to drive.). There were numerous times where Rob and I would be in the middle of a conversation and I would just fall asleep. Thank goodness the US Open was on so he had something to do while I was passed out!
My body’s goal, as set by a third doctor, was to be dilated to 6 centimeters by 4pm or have a c-section. As the pitocin did its job, and contractions started to intensify, Rob applied counter pressure to my low back during each one, which felt amazing!
At 3, the anesthesiologist came to inspect my epidural port and turn it on to check it was working properly. I had him keep it on since I knew I was going to use it anyway.
By 4, I was feeling miserable regardless of the epidural. I was sure something was wrong and I was going to need a c-section. Within a few minutes, our fourth doctor, and the one who would deliver Zoey and take care of me for the next five days, arrived. Dr. Sonia, gave the good news that I was at 10 centimeters and in active labor! No c-sections needed and an obvious answer to why I was feeling terrible.
The pushing was rough. I had not eaten anything and had been on fluid restrictions for the past 24 hours. Remember that meal Rob made me eat before we left for the hospital? That was it. Carol put me on oxygen about an hour into pushing because I was so exhausted and my breathing was shallow and labored. Up until this point I had been on restricted fluids only, so half a juice and one or two popsicles was it since we had arrived at the hospital the night before.
Dr. Sonia, knowing I was upset about my birth plan not happening, asked me what sort of things I had wanted to see if she could make some of them happen. I think I fell in love with her in that moment. She let Rob do most of the coaching, contraction monitor watching, and leg support. She also let me push with contractions, which oddly came as two big ones in a row and then a 3-5 minute break.
It ultimately took over three hours for Zoey to make her appearance.
In the last half hour of pushing, as I was falling asleep and Zoey’s heart rate dropped between contractions, Dr. Sonia decided to use a vacuum to get her out. The second I saw her unwrapping it, I just started pushing and not waiting for contractions. I was done with birthing interventions.
Rob said Zoey came out so fast that Dr. Sonia missed the catch. Zoey was face up, which no one knew and contributes to why it took so long for her to arrive. We didn’t find out the gender ahead of time, so it was a special moment when Dr. Sonia held her up and said, “You want to know? It’s a girl!” and then plopped her on my chest for some immediate skin-to-skin.
Zoey’s 9:11 pm arrive on June 18 at 6 pounds and 20 inches left us with her on my chest looking up at me, instantly calmed, and one of Rob’s hands on her back and one on me. Suddenly, a family of three.
You can read Part 3 (last part!) here.2