Everyone told me not to set my heart on having the baby near the due date since most first time moms go past that date. October 30th came and went, I tried to keep my mind busy with projects so that I wasn't caught up in when this baby would come. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law had arrived and helped keep me occupied. Then, on November 5th my mom arrived. We went straight to my prenatal appointment from the airport. Within hours of my mom's arrival we decided to change the due date. Jane's head still wasn't engaged a week past due. She was also anterior at the time. While this isn't as bad as being posterior, the baby is still trying to get through the smallest part of the pelvis. Thankfully, the midwife was able to move Jane into the best position since she wasn't engaged. She checked me then and I was only at 1cm and 20% effaced. All of these things lead us to reevaluate my dates. After discussion it seemed clear that the due date should be changed to November 8th. This fit within the dates given with the ultrasound we had at 17 weeks also.
It was very difficult to work through the emotional impact of changing my dates. On one hand I was very thankful that Jane had more time to get into position but it was also daunting thinking that I could still have two more weeks. It was also hard to realize that Jane's lack of engagement meant my mom would likely miss her birth.
On the 10th mom flew home and I spent five more days waiting. I still had yet to experience any signs of labor aside from some inconsistent contractions.
At 2am on Sunday the 15th I woke up to contractions. I tried to go back to sleep but I wasn't able to. For a few hours I switched between laying down and rocking in my chair. The contractions weren't overwhelmingly hard but they were less than 4 minutes apart from the start. At 4am they suddenly became 2 minutes apart. I waited for an hour to make sure they stayed that way and then called the midwife. The contractions still weren't overwhelmingly hard but they were so close together I didn't think I should go any longer without calling her. We both agreed to wait it out until they were stronger. I called back around 7am and we headed to the birth cottage to see the midwife. At that point my water also broke, not fully but enough to make me think it was my water. At that point it was slightly stained but it was still watery. The midwife checked me to be sure that I was far enough along to stay at the birth cottage. I was still 1cm but almost 80% effaced. Jane was also posterior at that point. My midwife dilated me to a 3 and assured me that it was the real thing but that it could be hours. We went home to continue labor and to also encourage a better position. At 11am we went back to the birth cottage since the contractions were worse. Again, no progress. Jane was barely engaged but I was still having contractions less than three minutes apart and lasting a minute. Thankfully, she was now back in a better position.
Some time in the early afternoon I had significant meconium staining. It was fresh and had weight to it. I called my midwife and she informed me that it was too significant for us to continue with her and that we needed to be transferred to the hospital. We packed up some things we hadn't anticipated needing and headed to the hospital.
I understood the significance of meconium staining, especially with how fresh it was. I knew that I had to be at the hospital and that this could be a serious complication. It was hard to realize that I wasn't going to get the birth I had hoped for. The drive to the hospital was very emotional. I just prayed that I wasn't going to cry in the delivery room in front of the doctor. The midwife was transferring me to a doctor that she had a good relationship with but I still feared that I would have to deal with staff who didn't agree with our decisions.
Thankfully, I knew I had Skylar there to support me and his mom and sister as back-up.
We got checked in and hooked up to the monitors at about 3pm. I was still having contractions every few minutes. By this time they were hard to talk through. It didn't help that I had to lay down on my back for a while so that we could gauge how Jane was doing through the contractions. She was having deceleration's so I turned on both sides to see how she reacted. Thankfully the deceleration's weren't immediately dangerous. But, being in those positions caused horrible back pain.
At this point I stopped keeping track of time. The doctor came in to meet me and get the information about me from the midwife. He checked me and I was almost fully effaced and dilated to 4cm. It's really hard to be told that you've only dilated 1cm after hours of labor. He also said the staining wasn't immediately dangerous. Jane was still having deceleration's but they were starting to subside in severity. The doctor said that if it continued we would need to have a C-section. To prevent this we had a device placed to dilute the meconium in the uterus and fill it with more liquid so that Jane wouldn't be in further distress. We also used a monitor on her head to keep better track of how she was reacting to the contractions.
Because my water had broken earlier in the day with the staining I was started on antibiotics.
We started the pitocin and it immediately started to cause stronger contractions. Pitocin contractions aren't just harder, they're also totally different. Even through the harder and closer contractions I was drifting to sleep between them I was so exhausted.
I slept after getting the epidural until I woke up with a pressure sensation at 5am. The doctor and the NICU team were called and at 5:27am Jane was born. She was born with the cord around her neck that needed to be cut immediately, even before the body was delivered. The hope was that she wouldn't cry until they were able to suction her lungs. Unfortunately, she took a breath before they could suction. Jane was immediately given over to the NICU team after the cord was cut. We now believe that the cord is the reason why she wasn't engaging and that it caused her to go into distress and have the meconium staining. I wasn't able to ask the doctor about the length of the cord, but it seemed short when we were looking at it afterwards.
Thankfully she had no signs of postdating so we know that being over due is not likely to be the cause of the meconium staining.
I remember laying there concentrating on what was happening on the other side of the room. Hearing her scream again was a relief. After a few minutes they informed us that they needed to take her up to NICU for lab work, an xray, start antibiotics, and to further stabilize her. She had a significant amount of meconium in her lungs that had to be suctioned. They let me hold her for a few seconds before taking her down to the NICU. She was so pale, it was hard to see her like that. She had gone through so much in the labor, it broke my heart.
Her APGAR score was 4-5-6. If you're familiar with the score you'll know that this is a pretty low score.
Not long after they took her the nurse practitioner came to let us know that her lung had collapsed and that she would need a tube placed and antibiotics. Jane spent the next five days in the NICU. She recovered so quickly and I'm incredibly thankful she's home now.
While I haven't come out of the experience feeling like it was traumatic, it was still the opposite of my hope for the birth in every way. At the end of the day, though, I know that there is no better way that Jane could have been born. We were exactly where we needed to be with an amazing team to care for Jane. Every decision that we made was necessary to bringing our baby into the world in the safest way. I'm so thankful I have a strong, healthy girl sleeping in my arms.