09 Feb My Birth Story
I spent my final week of pregnancy resting with my feet up and trying to keep my little surobabe cooking longer. I didn’t want him to arrive before his daddies got here. My Intended Parents (or IPs) were scheduled to arrive from France on Thursday night. At the time, I was 4cm dilated and getting contractions pretty much every time I stood up. This was something that was very common for me in my third trimester. With both of my daughters, I delivered early and they were fast and relatively easy deliveries. My fear was that I would deliver this baby before my IPs were in town or in the car on the way to the hospital. So, I made sure I rested as much as possible.
On Thursday morning, my IPs were flying over from France and due to be here around 6pm. I went to my 38 week check up and my OBGYN confirmed that baby was head down, in the right position, and she doubted I would make it through the weekend, because I was almost 5 cm dilated. I went home and did some things around the house. I got some pretty hard contractions but they were very irregular. Around 4pm, my contractions started becoming more regular and I started timing them. Once they were consistently 3-5 minutes apart, we decided to go to the hospital. I told my IPs what was happening and they let us know they were only an hour away. By the time I got to the hospital, I was almost 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced.
The doctor on call was one I hadn’t seen before. I had just been told that morning that I tested negative for GBS (a very common bacterium that some women have) but, because I was positive for GBS with my first birth (over 4 years ago, before I really got into natural alternatives), the OB wanted me hooked me up anyways. That IV definitely slowed things down a bit and I was progressing SO much slower than I did with my girls. The OB and my nurse made it clear that I couldn’t deliver the baby before I receive 2 doses of this antibiotic, 4 hours apart. Hearing this made my heart sink because I initially felt like things were moving along quickly, but I did what the DR thought was best.
Before my first bag of antibiotics was finished, my nurse entered the room and asked if I was ready to get an epidural. At this time, my contractions were not painful enough and I had not progressed enough, in my opinion, to warrant an epidural. I asked if I could wait a little longer so I could feel the progression better. My nurse encouraged me to get the epidural at this moment because this particular hospital uses an out-of-house anesthesiologist, and he was currently here to give another patient an epidural. She told me that there was a possibility that I might miss my window of opportunity to get the epidural. If I waited too long to ask for one, and he didn’t show up quick enough, it would be too late. This thought made me panic and go against my gut feeling.
After I got the epidural and had my final dose of the antibiotic, the DR broke my water, something that normally speeds up labor and traditionally has helped me deliver a baby in under 5-10 minutes. This time though, it really didn’t do much. The nurse hung another bag of antibiotics and I was left in the room with my husband and IP’s, patiently waiting for progress. The nurse and doctor didn’t enter the room very often, as they seemed determined that I finish the second dose of antibiotic before I delivered. And, my legs were so numb from the epidural, I could’t feel anything that was happening. Even if there was progression, I wasn’t able to feel it.
After about 2 more hours of resting and sleeping, the DR came in to check me and announced that it was time to push. My husband stood by my left leg and the dads were in the corner (the safest spot to stand if you don’t really want to see anything). I was so spoiled with my previous “easy” deliveries that I was surprised I actually had to work for this one. I did almost 30 minutes of hard pushing until he finally came out! His cry was SO cute and the nurses immediately took him to be weighed and checked. I watched as his dads cut his cord and did skin to skin. An overwhelming sense of joy washed over me as I watched my IPs with their baby. While the dads moved around the room with their new baby, Brad stayed by my side for over an hour, letting me squeeze his hand and comforting me while my OB tried to coax my placenta to come out. No matter what we tried, the placenta would not detach from the wall of my uterus. This is when I started feeling nervous and things started getting scary.
My OB let me know that he was going to have to transfer me to the operating room and place me under anesthesia. He explained that the anesthesia would help my body to relax and my cervix to dilate so he could manually remove my placenta. But, he warned me that if that plan didn’t work, there was a possibility that they would have to perform a c-section and completely remove my uterus. Once he said that, I really started to panic. I remember wiping away tears and just trying to not let my anxiety get the best of me. I was so terrified. My husband could sense this and immediately started trying to calm me down.
After 30-45 minutes, I said my last goodbyes to Brad and they started wheeling me down to the OR. There was SO much I wanted to say, but I also didn’t want to start full on crying and panic him or myself. Once in the OR, I was prepped and told they would start the surgery as soon as the anesthesiologist (who was on-call but currently not in house) arrived. I waited for what felt like forever, and he finally arrived. Once the automatic doors opened, I saw him standing there, with blood on his face, and a staggering gait. The nurses all rushed over to him and helped him sit down. It was raining heavily outside and he slipped and fell on his way in. I watched the nurses wheel him away in a wheelchair with my doctor trailing them.
I asked my nurse if he was OK and she assured me that he would be fine and told me they were calling another anesthesiologist to come in. She told me he lived very close and would be here soon. I don’t remember exactly how much time had past, but it must have been another 30-45 minutes, and there was still no sign of the new anesthesiologist. As I laid there trying to calm myself down, I started to feel a strange sensation, almost like I was gushing blood. I told my nurse who promptly lifted the blankets to check me. She assured me that everything was ok, but I could tell by the look on her face that things were not ok.
My nurse told me she would be right back and quickly tried to get my OB. Then, the machine displaying my vitals started chiming. I looked up at it and noticed that my heart rate was 140+ beats per minute. I closed my eyes and tried deep breathing and relaxation techniques, but my HR would not go down. Nurses started rushing over to me and quickly taking my vitals. My blood pressure began to drop significantly and was 70/33. I work in the medical field and I know what these numbers mean. I started panicking and was unable to calm myself down. My eyelids started getting so heavy and I was desperately trying to keep them open for fear of what would happen if I closed them. Memories of my daughters laughing and playing started flooding my mind and tears were flowing down my cheeks. My OB checked my bleeding and announced that we were going into the OR right away. The anesthesiologist that had fallen in the parking lot said he was feeling better and could perform. By this point I was so tired that I just accepted the fact that I was probably not going to wake up from this procedure. The last thing I remember was a bandaged-up anesthesiologist placing a mask on my face and having a really strange taste in my mouth as everything went to darkness.
I don’t know how long I was out, but when I woke up I quickly reached down to my stomach to feel if I had staples or stitches. When I didn’t find any, I was so relieved. I looked around the room and recognized that I was in recovery. There was a nurse nearby and I asked her how the procedure had gone. She told me that the DR was able to remove the placenta in pieces, and assured me that he was very confident he got it all out. I realized that my throat was on fire, and when I asked why, they told me I had a tube placed down my throat during the surgery.
After what felt like hours in the recovery area, they were finally able to wheel me back up to see my husband. I will never forget the look of relief on his face when he saw me. I immediately broke down into tears and squeezed his hand. He told me that the nurses said I would be back in an hour or so, but I had been gone for a total of 3 hours. He got bits and pieces of information from overhearing a pair of nurses talking. I think it’s important to note that he got this information by listening in on a conversation, because over those 3 hours nobody could or would tell him any details pertaining to the procedure and delays. He specifically overheard nurses discussing my plummeting BP and the CVC procedure they performed. He promptly googled each medical term and a fresh wave of panic would wash over him. He told me that he was terrified and so anxious about what was happening to me while I was in the OR and he was so happy to have me back and fully intact.
After taking some time to rest, eat, and get dressed in real clothes. I told my IPs I was ready to see their beautiful baby boy, Nathan. They wheeled him into my room and he looked SO cute snuggled up in his swaddle. I held him and rocked him while I told the dads what happened to me after he was born. While I was talking, he started opening his eyes and making sweet cooing noises. We all admired how sweet and perfect he was. It was so cute to watch his dads check to make sure he was still breathing, something I often did when my girls were babies.
I know this was absolutely not the labor I was expecting when I decided to become a gestational surrogate. But, seeing my IPs with their baby is so amazing and renews my love for this entire journey. They are such amazing dads and so deserving of a baby, just like ANY other couple. My journey didn’t end when I delivered their baby, it just started. We plan to keep in touch and share pictures of our families throughout the years, and possibly bring my family to France to see them.