After Caelan was born, I wrote up his birth story right away. I started scribbling it down in my trusty purse notebook the same day he was born. I knew if I didn’t get it down right away that I’d forget things. Of course I told my family and friends about the birth and I shared my written version of it with a few friends, but I never posted it here.
Why am I posting it now, 2 years after the fact? In part because I plan to post baby girl’s birth story shortly after her arrival and I’m curious to see how the two stories are different (or the same!). So here we go…Caelan’s Birth Story.
At 3:30pm on Tuesday May 31, 2011 I was sitting at my desk at work when my water broke. I wasn’t 100% sure that’s what had happened (it wasn’t obvious like it is on TV!) so I spent the next 2 hours trying to decide what to do. I wasn’t having any contractions so I wasn’t in a rush. I had an OB appointment scheduled that evening anyway so I called Bill and he met me at the appointment. The midwife confirmed that my water had broken and she sent us to the hospital. We got to our room a little before 8pm. At 1cm, 50% effaced, I wasn’t any farther along than I had been the week before. The monitor showed I was having contractions 4 minutes apart but I couldn’t feel them. At my OB’s advice, we walked around the hospital for an hour or so trying to get the contractions going. We didn’t have much luck so around 10:30pm they started me on a low dose of pitocin to try to strengthen the contractions. The contractions were getting stronger, but not by much. Bill and I watched TV and dozed.
Around 2am, half a dozen nurses ran into the room. The baby’s heart rate had dropped below 100bmp. They shut off the pitocin, gave me an oxygen mask, moved me into a different position, and were saying to page my OB and get him in here ASAP. They gave me a shot in the arm (terbutaline, I believe) to try to stop the contractions and get the baby’s heart rate back up and it worked almost instantly. The whole thing was really scary because it came out of nowhere, but luckily he recovered. Apparently I had a couple contractions back-to-back and the baby wasn’t able to handle them. They decided to leave the pitocin off for awhile. Soon after, the baby had another heart rate drop, but this time it resolved on its own. My OB came in and said that the baby wasn’t handling the contractions well which was kind of odd because the contractions weren’t very strong and I had not progressed any further. He suspected a possible problem with the umbilical cord. He said if the baby had one more decel (heart rate drop), it would be a c-section. They had me sign all the forms for a c-section and the OB even went and changed into scrubs. They were going to wait a couple hours and see how the baby and I did without the pitocin, and then possibly restart it. They were also having trouble picking up the baby’s heart rate on the external monitor, so they switched to an internal monitor.
The rest of the night was uneventful so in the morning my OB (a new one since there had been a shift change) decided to start the pitocin again with the plan to increase it very slowly. Finally the contractions were getting much stronger and around 11am I asked for the epidural. After 19 hours I was finally at 3-4 cm! They said the anesthesiologist would be there in 20 minutes so we waited and I tried (and mostly failed) to concentrate on anything other than the contractions. When I found out it would be another 20 minutes before she’d be there, that’s when I cried and Bill called to ask them to give me something in the meantime. Then somehow the anesthesiologist was there 2 minutes later! Nothing like begging for someone to stick a giant needle in your spine to put into perspective how much those contractions really hurt. Five minutes later I felt so much better. Bill came back in (he had left the room per hospital policy and to call our parents to update them) and we both went to sleep for a couple hours. When we woke up 2 ½ hours later, I was fully dilated and ready to push! Amazing that it took 19 hours to go from 1cm to 3cm but only 2 ½ hours to go from 3 to 10cm! I was so glad to have slept through the hardest part!
The monitor showed my contractions were coming hard and fast but I couldn’t feel them. I started pushing at 2:50pm. During the pushes, it was intense but when we were waiting for the next contraction it was relaxed and Bill says I was very chatty. The epidural had worn off a tiny bit and I could feel the contractions but they weren’t really painful. I pushed for about 1 ½ hours which didn’t seem like that long at all. Caelan was born with facial bruising and sunny side up (I’m pretty sure!? Weird that I’m not positive.). Sunny side up babies normally result in back labor and I had not been feeling contractions in my back so my guess is that he turned sometime after I had the epidural in.
Caelan Vaughn was born at 4:16pm on Wednesday June 1, 2011 (about 25 hours after my water broke). He weighed 7lbs 6.7oz and was 20 inches long. Bill cut the cord which he originally wasn’t sure he wanted to do but he changed his mind the previous evening. Caelan’s APGARs were 8 and 9. I sobbed for the next hour or so while they cleaned us up. I had zero control over my emotions which was a very odd feeling. I felt extremely happy but the whole thing was so surreal that it was hard to take anything in. I do remember thinking, just minutes after Caelan was born, “Uh oh. That was easy. I’m gonna want to do this 10 more times.” (That must have been the I-just-gave-birth high talking because I can’t say I still feel that way now!)
Bill was awesome through the whole thing. He stayed calm (or appeared to!) and he tried to remember everything we learned in our childbirth classes. He helped me get through the contractions and held my hand through all the scary and difficult parts. He told me how great I was doing every step of the way. Best husband ever. Caelan was taken to the nursery about an hour and a half after he was born to be checked out by the doctors and nurses and we were moved to the recovery unit. We stayed for 2 nights in the hospital and then brought Caelan home on Friday June 3.
I’ve read this story a hundred times and though it is what happened (minus a few of the more graphic details – you’re welcome) I feel like it’s a little void of emotion. But the truth is that the whole thing was such a blur. I didn’t wake up that day wondering if THIS would be the day. Even when my water broke I didn’t think “This is it!!”. It was like I could only see one step ahead of me (Did my water break? Okay, what should I do next? Call Bill, go to the doctor. Hospital, okay let’s go.) “Surreal” is really the only word for it and I’m not even sure that covers it.