My regular readers have probably noticed the missing book reviews of the past couple of weeks. I’m still reading and mentally making notes, and the pile of to-reads mounts at a faster pace than the “have reads,” so I’m not without material! What can I say? Life happens.
Baby Boy arrived almost two weeks early from his due date, and I started in labor a full week before my scheduled induction. Best laid plans, right? He and Mother Nature had something else in mind.
This week, instead of a review, I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a personal one, but something I need to write.
Next week the book reviews should be ready to roll out for the rest of April. Thanks for reading and keeping up with my adventures on the trails of life!
It’s after six. The night has been long and uncomfortable and progress has been slow. My husband is snoozing on the couch while I rock back-and-forth on the exercise ball.
Light streams into the darkened room and my OB enters. She smiles at me, the face of a doctor who’s seen me labor twice before, who knows how slow my body is to get it in gear. It’s a sympathetic look, one that reflects her understanding of my night. Her night, too, has probably been long and restless.
With great care not to trip over IV lines, I make my way back to the bed for the next exam. This time things have moved along far enough she can break my water. A flow then a gush and the fluids are clear. My nurse joins us and pads are changed; more liquid pours out.
Our attention is drawn to the fetal monitor. Baby boy had a dip in his heart rate when the amniotic fluid was ruptured. One-twenties. Not unusual, but we wait for it to come back up.
The tracing quality diminishes, but we can all see that his heart rate is going down with each contraction…now into the eighties and nineties. Seconds tick by.
“There must be a cord.” My OB is pressing harder and the pain becomes intense.
I cry out, from the pain and fear. A prolapsed cord falls into the category of “true emergency.” My husband is on his feet and holding my hand, confused by the sudden ruckus.
“There’s a cord! We need an OR, STAT,” she commands. Her hand has not moved, and I writhe on the bed.
Rails are raised and brakes unlocked. The bed begins to move along a rapid trajectory out of the room and down the hall. My husband is gone.
I try to ask for him but can only release sounds reflecting the pain. Tissues stretching, firm pressure and blinding pain.
There are faces and voices, none of which I can focus on. The overhead lights flash by, rather like one sees in a movie.
My OB is rattling of commands. She needs boots and a cap. A mask. We need to know a room number. Where are we going? What room?
I’m told to take slow deep breaths. It’s damn near impossible to focus on my breathing. The pain is everywhere. My fear is overwhelming. I know what a prolapsed cord means. I know what the fetal heart rate decels mean.
We’re into the OR and more people are waiting. My OB is switching positions with a nurse. She has to scrub. I have to move from my bed to the table. It’s difficult to move with someone’s hand in your body, keeping your baby’s head from compressing their own umbilical cord.
The second I’m on the table there are faces above mine asking questions. I try to answer but struggle to focus. Allergies? Medical problems? I’m choking on tears and fear.
My doc is back and barking answers. Allergic to latex and nickel. Healthy thirty-seven year-old female. Does the nurse still feel pulsations in the cord?
Drapes are laid across my abdomen. For a split-second my thoughts are distracted by the size of the opening, and I’m worried the incision will be a vertical one. My arms are strapped down and I realize my husband is not with me. Where is he?
Fear overtakes my pain.
The anesthesiologist tells me to take some deep breaths. A mask is lowered over my mouth and nose.
My OB announces they need to do a time out. She rattles off information and my thoughts flash to a friend who had a traumatic c-section. I’m afraid they will cut before I’m anesthetized. Even more, I’m petrified I will wake up and there will not be a baby for me to hold, to nurse, to love.
There’s a new face above me. He says some things to me that don’t register. I want to ask again if the nurse still feels pulsations in the cord, but the mask is tight against my face.
I hear: The Propofol is going in.
My mouth refuses to form the words, my larynx can’t make the sounds, but my brain is screaming them when the darkness creeps in.
“Please. Save my baby.”
Hours later, I’m awake. My doctor is sitting on my bed. She’s been waiting. The baby is fine. My husband has him in his arms.
My doctor tells me she’s so sorry this happened. It’s not what any of us wanted for our last baby. But he’s here and he’s healthy, and so am I.
Thank goodness for the nature of the universe. Some people did not understand why I drove four hours round trip to see this doctor. The answer is simple. I have seen her since my teen years and developed a deep trust in her judgment and her skills. I knew years ago when pregnant with my first that if I ever faced a moment when my life, of that of my unborn child, was in danger, that she would take care of me, of us. That whatever happened, I knew I would not be afraid to put my life, and my baby’s life, in her hands.
I never expected to test that trust.
I believe that I started laboring at home, slow and irregular, so that we would get on the road to be closer to the hospital in case I did go into a good labor pattern. That the contractions did increase in strength and regularity during the drive so we would go to the hospital. That my water did not break on the way, during my two hours of power walking around the hospital to facilitate progress or prior to my early morning exam because that cord was in the way.
I know that if my water had broken at any of those points, or without her in the room, that Baby Boy might not be with us. That all of this happened on a day when my doctor was on call because we needed her.
And I believe that my mom, who died in June right before we conceived Baby Boy, had to be on the other side. We needed her, too.
The trails of life have taken me places in this last nine months that I never dreamed I would go. I’m blessed to be on this trail now, despite the pain, the tears and the hurdles. They led me to this beautiful place, where a healthy baby awaited, who snuggles and cries and wakes me up in the middle of the night. May the trails you are following lead you to a place of beauty, joy and love, despite the ups and downs, the struggles and challenges that lay ahead. Have faith that what awaits you is worth the journey.