As with every great man, there is a great story. This is your final warning that this is a birth story…there is talk of goo, blood, excrements, etc so just know that before you start reading!
Thursday, October 10th, 10:00 am: When you get in your third trimester of pregnancy, you are required to visit your doctor every two weeks, up until week about week 35ish. So on Thursday, I had one of these two week check ups to make sure all is well with the baby (and mom). Doctor checked everything including a urine sample (something all pregnant woman do at every appointment to check for protein in the urine an indication of infection or preeclampsia); I talked to him about how my hands hurt from pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome. He suggested that I continue to use the braces morning and night, and that it was normal for this to be happening. I peed and went on my way.
The doctor is about 45 minutes by subway on the 6 line from our apartment, so I always bring my Kindle to read. Currently, I am reading Horns by Joe Hill (which will leaving a lasting impression on my memory thanks to this story). I’m waiting patiently for an express 6 train, when I feel some wetness when I sit down, but nothing too alarming. The 6 train arrives, I get on, and someone is kind enough to give up their seat for the large 33 week + 2 days pregnant woman. I go to sit down, and WOOSH! a huge gush of water soaks my pants. I immediately freak out…and I immediately think, “Oh shit! My water just broke…on the subway!”
So I am sitting, pants soaking wet on the 6 subway freaking out, like really freaking out, trying not to cry or show any indication that something is wrong. I ride the subway all the way to the Pelham Bay stop, get off and rush home, totally realizing that my pants are soaked (but thankfully there is no wetness on the subway seat or a puddle or anything gross like that). I get home, take the dogs out, and phone my doctor, who says I need to go in as soon as possible. I change clothes and hail a cab by the subway stop (much faster than calling one).
The ride takes about 25 minutes and $35 with very little traffic. I decided not to phone Jason, because 1) I know he was in class and 2) I didn’t know anything, and I didn’t want to freak him out if it was nothing. But by the time I get to the doctor’s office, I am a mess, crying, trying to make sense of what was happening. The receptionists were very kind to me, telling me to relax, everything would be OK no matter the results. I get called back immediately to see the doctor (remember, whom I just saw a couple of hours before), I explain the situation, and he tells me that he has to do an internal exam. This exam would tell him whether or not I ruptured my members by measuring the pH. If the speculum tested a blue color, it would be amniotic fluid, no blue would indicate it was just natural bacterias, water, etc. The paper did not turn blue, so his opinion would be that nope, I did not break my water, I just peed myself. I was so unbelievably relieved, which is a funny thing to say considering the doctor just told me that I peed myself all over the NYC subway.
I left the doctor’s office, joking with the secretaries and feeling so much comfort that I was incontinent (say what now?). I even phoned my mom and mother-in-law to tell them about the time I peed myself on the subway…we all got a good laugh at my expense. I headed home and then, like a typical Thursday, I headed to work (I am a tutor at the Boys’ Club of New York in Harlem).
Friday was rather uneventful, except I was leaking on a regular basis. I thought about buying some Poise pads, but I figured that regular pads would suffice until it got worse (if it got worse) .
Saturday rolled around, and Jason and I were trying to decide where we wanted to go for our anniversary. On the 9th of October, we had just had our 9th anniversary, but because it was the middle of the week, we opted to wait until Saturday or Sunday night to go out. We were both excited for sushi, because I really hadn’t had it much while pregnant (pregnant women are supposed to avoid raw foods, but I figured since it was the middle of my third trimester, and we would be going to a reputable place, that it would be OK to splurge), and sushi may be Jason’s favorite food ever (well I think ceviche is his favorite, but that’s neither here nor there, LOL).
After much banter, we decided that since Monday was Columbus Day, and we both had it off, that we would wait for Sunday night in hopes that the restaurants were a little less crowded. This turned out to be a brilliant decision. Around 8 pm that night, I went to the bathroom, and as I was leaving, I felt a trickle, so I went to the bathroom to change my clothes. All of a sudden, a gush, and I thought I had peed myself again (despite having just gone to the bathroom). I was embarrassed ran to the bathroom and drew a bath. Jason came knocking asking if everything was OK, I said yes, just embarrassed, because it had happened again. And I kept thinking to myself, “Do I really have to go through this for the next 7 weeks? Because if so, I will have to invest in Depends adult diapers if so.” I finished my bath, went back to the couch, and nestled with Jason while watching some dumb reality show (I’m sure). And then it happened again, this time without moving, and I cried I was so embarrassed. And Jason was so sweet, didn’t say anything, just told me to wait two seconds in the bathroom while he cleaned up the mess. (so much love for this man). But something was different, because when I went to the bathroom, there was blood, and every pregnant woman knows that if there is blood, you need to contact your doctor or get to L&D immediately. I walked out of the bathroom, and said, “I think we need to go to the hospital.”
We didn’t even bother with phoning the doctor, and honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind. The only thing I was thinking was I need to get to the ER now. Jason attempted to call a cab, and their answer was, “Sorry we don’t have anything right now,” and after some cursing on both our parts, we decided to walk up to the Pelham Bay 6 station where we knew that there were cabs that waited out front all day and night. We stopped by the ATM, and jumped into a cab and we figured we’d head to the closest hospital instead of going to the one I was scheduled to deliver at (since it was about a 35 minute cab ride to Manhattan, and I didn’t know if I was going to continue to leak all over or what, so we erred on the side of caution).
We get to the ER around 1:50 am, and the first thing we ask the nurses is if they take our insurance. The nurses looked at us like we have three heads, and then responded with something like, “if we don’t will you go elsewhere? What the hell?!” (keep in mind there are three hospitals within a block of each other), and we said, “Yes!” We’ve had so much difficulty with our insurance since we’ve been here, and the last thing we wanted was to get an ER charge that was out-of-network…god knows that health care coverage is outlandish in this country WITH insurance let alone without. And at this point in time, we were convinced that it would just be a short visit (or at least that is what we were telling ourselves to keep us sane). They did take our insurance, they checked us in, and sent us upstairs to the L&D triage unit.
It took a while to get seen, because one woman came in with a baby she delivered in a car and two other women checked in while in active labor. I sat around for a while, no pain, but still a lot of fluid coming out from me, so I was visiting the bathroom quite frequently. We were finally taken back, and I chatted with the doctor for a bit about what was happening. She explained that they do three tests to see if my membranes ruptured: 1) an internal exam, 2) a pH strip test (same one the doctor did on Thursday) and 3) a swab and a check under the microscope. First, she did the internal exam, and it immediately turned blue (blue is the color of amniotic fluid), second test, also turned blue, so at this point in time, she said she was fairly confident that my water did, indeed, break. However, she wanted to finish the third test just in case, and sure enough, amniotic fluid on that test as well.
“So what now doc?” She responds with, “Well that means you will have this baby within a week. We will not stop you if you go into labor on your own, and if you don’t go into labor on your own by 34 weeks, we will induce. ” OH SHIT. What did you just say? Really? This cannot be happening? I’m not ready, Jason’s not ready…we have 7 weeks to go! Will our baby survive? What did I do to cause this? Is this my fault?
I start to cry, Jason looks terrified. She explains that I will be transferred around 7 am to L&D, but I will not be allowed to leave this hospital until the baby is born. She asks if I am in any pain, and I responded with, “No, not really, maybe a few menstrual cramps, but otherwise, no. I’m fairly comfortable.” She proceeds to do an ultrasound to test gestational age (I think she was hoping the Peruvian doctors were off on their dates), but the baby is measuring exactly 33 weeks and 2 days, healthy heartbeat, but low amniotic fluid levels. She tells us not to panic, the baby isn’t coming tonight, and to try and get some rest.
There were two things that she wanted to get in me to help the baby: 1) antibiotics in case of infection and 2) steroid shot to help develop his lungs. The antibiotics were administered at 6:00 am and the steroids at 6:30 am.
It’s at this point that Jason decides to call our families to let them know that Declan is making a early entrance into the world, so be prepared for a baby within the week. After he makes those calls, he lies on the floor, trying to catch some ZZZs while I rest my head on the bed (I had a couple of lives left in Candy Crush, LOL). After about an hour, I ask the nurse if there is anything to do be done, and they said that nothing is happening, but that they are waiting for a bed to open in L&D so I can get comfortable for the next week, but that there would be no baby today. I told Jason to go home, get some rest, let the dogs out and then come back around 2 or 3 pm, and he could sleep and/or work in my room. I figured there was no reason to keep him there, since there was absolutely nothing either one of us could do. And I wanted him to get some rest just in case I needed him later in the day.
So Jason heads home around 7:00 am, while I am still waiting for transfer to my new quarters. And then something changed…my menstral cramps started to get stronger and the sensation happened in a matter of minutes, pain rapidly increasing each time. It wasn’t until they started to come fairly regularly that it dawned on me that these were contractions (duh!). I called the nurse, and I let her know that I was having contractions. She noted it in the chart, and then went about her rounds. At about 9:00 am, I still hadn’t been transferred yet, but it was very clear that I was in active labor at this time, so I texted Jason to come back to the hospital.
At 8:45 am, the nurses assistant wheeled me to the recovery room, no one realizing how much I was contracting. So they had to do a little calling, a little jostling to get me into a room. They wheeled me into my room, while I was moaning in pain all the way down the hallway and the L&D ward. Once they got me to my room, it was about 10 am, and I was DYING. Literally, I thought I was doing to die from labor pains. The doctor came in to check me, and I was 5 cm dilated. She asked me if I wanted an epidural, and I said, “hell yes.” (Keep in mind that prior to this, I was adamant that I wanted to try and labor naturally, pain free). Then Jason showed up, took one look at me (and I think he could hear me screaming from down the hall way), and cried, he was so terrified for me…and I think the helplessness of the whole situation was horrible for him. He held my hand (we also hadn’t taken a birthing class yet either, so neither one of us knew what to do at all…), rubbed my back, whatever he could do just to support me. I was bawling at each contraction, screaming like a maniac, just doubled over in pain.
They had a doctor from the NICU come in to talk to us about what to expect with premature babies, and that the first thing that they look for is a baby who comes out kicking and screaming. I’m sure she said a lot of other things, but that’s the only thing that I heard.
Finally the anesticitians came in to administer my epidural. Because the procedure is sterile, they made Jason leave the room. He took the time while outside the delivery room to phone our families to let them know that Declan was not going to wait a week to come out, that he would be there today.
Meanwhile, back in the room, the doctors had a helluva time getting the epidural in my back. Apparently, I have really bad scoliosis, which I didn’t know (but explains a lot actually), so they had to stick and re-stick for over an hour to get the medicine into the right spot. And frankly, I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the back sticks, even though he kept saying, “Just a little bit more, don’t move! Don’t move! Almost there! Don’t move! Sorry for the sticks!” and the nurse was pushing down on my shoulders to make sure that I didn’t move through any of my contractions. The contractions were so intense, so painful that was all I could think about it. He finally got the epidural in, but it didn’t work. So he hooked up a pump, and said that if the pain didn’t subside to click on the little button to administer more meds throughout the day. The epidural did start to kick in, but only on my right side, but at that point in time, I would take any alleviation from the pain I could get, even if it was only one side. Jason was then allowed back in, and he said that the bed and the floor were a bloody mess from the procedure…but he persevered and didn’t say anything to me then (he only told me after the baby was born).
The doctor came back almost immediately after the anesthetists left to check my dilation, and to everyone’s surprise, I was 10 cm dilated, and she was ready for me to go into the delivery room. However, they were having a helluva time trying to find the baby’s heartbeat (which apparently they were having trouble with the entire time I was laboring, but I didn’t realize). She explained that she wanted to try to do a vaginal delivery, but that they were preparing the OR for an emergency c-section because of the heart rate issues.
They immediately wheeled me off, but Jason had to stay behind to get the gown and hat and he had to wait for the nurses to prep the delivery room for me. Once they brought Jason into the room, they had me start pushing (and at this point in time the epidural had kicked in on both sides, woohoo). They said to give them two good pushes, holding my breath and pushing into my bottom for 10 seconds. After the second one, they said, “if you have it in you, give us a third!” and since I am an overachiever, I went for the third. Jason sorta laughed at the fact that I was so determined and held my hand so tight.
There were tons of interns in the room (it’s a teaching hospital), the NICU doctor and her team, my doctor and then a woman who was with the blood and cord donation program walked in, and since the doctor needed another hand to help me push, put her to work (and she didn’t even say that she wasn’t a nurse until afterwards). I think, in total, I pushed for about 30 minutes, and then at 11:48 am, baby Declan Laurence came out kicking and screaming…Jason and I have never heard a greater sound than that. We both looked at each other and broke down in tears…our baby came out kicking and screaming! That’s what the doctor said she wanted, and he did it!
They cleaned him off, put him on my chest, and he sneezed. There is no doubt who his father is, that’s for sure! They wheeled him off to the NICU, while the doctor wanted for me to pass the afterbirth and clean me up. She was very pleased with how things went and how quickly the baby came out. I also had no tearing and no episiotomy, so clean up was rather quick. She was also thrilled that his heart rate was totally normal, he weighed a lot, at 5 lbs 2 oz and he was long at 18 inches. The kid was going to be a linebacker if he stayed cooking!
I was then transported to a recovery room to make sure that my heart rate stayed level and my temperature remained normal. Jason sat with me in there, both of us relieved that it was over, but still nervous to hear about Declan. After about an hour, the anesthetic came in to remove my epidural and pump and check my movement, followed by my OB. Both reports were stellar, so I was wheeled back into my room. At this time, Jason received permission to go to the NICU to see Declan.
Once he came back he reported that he was doing great, he was on a breathing machine CPAP to help him learn to inhale and exhale, but he did not need oxygen (a big big deal). He was on an antibiotic drip and IV fluids and a tube to give him nutrients through his mouth. Jason said it was one of the hardest things he had to see. It wasn’t for a couple more hours until I could see him, but I was so happy to see him, regardless of the tubes and machines.
So that was the birth of baby Declan. He’s doing fantastic now, and it appears that he may be able to go home either Monday or Tuesday (October 21/22). We are so excited that he’s doing so well, and we will be even happier to have him in our arms (although the nurses keep telling us to sleep now, because those days are numbered…)