Are you still with me? I know, it’s been a long journey and I appreciate everyone who is taking the time to read all of my ranting. But now we’ve made it to finale, part III. I apologize, this one is LONG, but spoiler alert: there’s a beautiful baby at the end. 🙂
After the Antepartum fiasco, Ashley’s doctor laid out a plan for delivery. They would move her to Labor and Delivery (L&D) and then start her on a medicine called Pitocin, (or ‘Pit’ as they like to call it) to start inducing labor. The risky part was that not all babies handle the Pit very well, so they would start her on a low dose to see how the baby reacts before ramping up the dosage.
And with that, we packed up our stuff, said goodbye to Nurse Loses-Her-Cool, got Ashley into a wheel chair, and made the long journey to our new room in L&D… it was literally on the opposite side of the same floor. I’m not sure what I expected but I could see our Antepartum room from our L&D room and, for whatever reason, that seemed odd to me.
Labor and Delivery
There were immediate differences between Antepartum and L&D. While we had private rooms in both, the L&D room was a little larger and much brighter. It also felt more…sterile, I guess? The last room felt more like a dark and dingy cave. Over there it really felt like 2am, in the new room, there was no concept of time here. There were lights recessed in the ceiling that looked like they could spotlight an escaping convict from the corner of the prison yard. This prompted me to ask, “Will the baby be delivered in this room?”. The answer: yes, unless a c-section was required… And with each step, it felt a little more real.
We’re really about to be parents.
Another difference was the nurses station that was right outside our door. In Antepartum, there were maybe two nurses at the station at all times, but here, in L&D, there were like ten. Before, we felt like we were the only people in the hospital, in L&D, you were never alone.
We were assigned a new nurse – again, I don’t remember her name – I’M SORRY, I’m bad with names! So we’ll call her Nurse Talks-So-Soft because, well, she was a low talker…
I’m not judging… Really, I’m a bit of a low talker myself…
We liked Nurse Talks-So-Soft also. She was a very nice lady. She got Ashley all settled in, made her comfortable, poked and prepped all the things that needed to be poked and prepped. Then she introduced Ashley to the Pit. They started her on a dosage of 4, I have no idea what that means but apparently it’s a low dose.
And then we waited…
Ashley had already been having contractions according to the monitors in the room. Nurse Talks-So-Soft would ask her, “Are you feeling anything? You’re having a contraction right now.” Other than a little back pain, she really wasn’t feeling them. I would watch the purple line on the monitor gradually climb to a peak before coming back down and then ask her, “Nothing? That looked like a big one!”.
Everything was going well… for about thirty minutes…
On the back wall of the hospital room they had a chair. This was the ‘dad’ chair. It folded out like a Transformer and turned into a bed. At 2:30 in the morning I started eyeballing the ‘dad’ chair. My eyes were so heavy…
It sounded like a battering ram coming through the hospital door. It startled me so much that I nearly fell over. My heart leaped straight into my throat. While I tried to catch my breath, the nurses poured into the room one-by-one like a S.W.A.T. team doing a tactical entry. The voices came from every direction.
“WHAT DO WE GOT HERE!?”
“TALK TO ME!”
“HONEY, I’M GOING TO NEED YOU TO ROLL OVER ONTO YOUR HANDS AND KNEES, OKAY?”
“SOMEONE TELL THEM TO PREP AN O.R.!”
I could only stand in stunned silence.
“JUST CUT THE GOWN OFF OF HER!”
“WHO’S HER DOCTOR?”
“GET HER ON THE PHONE!”
Someone touched my arm. “Everything’s going to be okay”.
“ARE THEY PREPPING AN O.R.?!”
“WE’RE TRYING TO GET THE DOCTOR.”
“WE NEED TO GO NOW!”
And then a woman who I had only seen once before approached Ashely’s bedside. You could tell she was a no nonsense woman – tall, strong, with a distinct Nigerian accent. She rolled Ashely onto her side, laid a hand on her pregnant stomach like a down-home, southern pastor laying hands on the sick and she began to talk directly to the baby.
“Now you listen here Princess. You need to stop being a little diva and give me a heart beat, you hear?. You done got all these nurses in here worked up. Now stop being so dramatic. You’re scarin’ everyone half to death. Now you come’on and stop all this nonsense’, Princess.”
And then, just like that, the babies heart beat started to climb back to normal.
“Now… See… That’s better, Princess.”
In the weeks after the delivery, Ashley’s doctor told us we were never in any danger of losing the baby, but in that hospital room, in that moment, I was never more scared of anything. Even now, living it again in my mind just to write it down is a deeply emotional experience.
Also, I believe the baby heard that lady.
Maybe, you’re wondering what the heck happened in there.
Well, it turned out that the baby didn’t respond very well to the Pitocin causing another decel. What I didn’t know was that Nurse Talks-So-Soft, who was standing at Ashleys bedside at the start of the decel, told Ashley that a ‘bunch of nurses’ were about to barge into the room – some information that might have been good for MY cardiovascular health.
And now you know how Nurse Talks-So-Soft got her name.
The baby deceled this time for a total of six minutes. The nurses were still ready to send Ashley to the O.R. even after the heart beat returned to normal but Ashley’s doctor asked them to hold off. Her new plan was to stop the Pitocin, see how everyone responds and see if Ashley would progress through labor naturally.
After that, a lot of nothing happened. We fully understood what was going on now and we were both listening to the babies heart beat like a couple of hawks. This made it impossible to sleep. I unfolded the Transformer chair but it was useless. Ashley and I both drifted in and out of consciousness, jumping every time the heart beat changed in the slightest.
This lasted the rest of the night.
At 6am Ashley’s doctor asked them to start her on the Pitocin again…
Yeah, we were surprised too.
After everything that happened in the middle of the night when we started the Pit the first time, I couldn’t believe they wanted to start it again. Honestly, I was kind of pissed. And that’s saying something, it takes some effort to bring me to a boil.
In the end, after talking to the nurses and doctors, we compromised. Ashley agreed to start the Pitocin again but at an even lower dose than we did before. So this time, she started at a 2.
At 7am there was a shift change and we got a new nurse. We’ll call this one, Nurse Sarah. You know why? Cause that was her actual name. That’s right, I remembered one. And for good reason. We should call her Nurse Super-Awesome. We loved Nurse Sarah.
At 8am, Ashley and the baby were responding well to the Pitocin so far. Nurse Sarah had gotten orders from the doctor to go ahead and increase the dosage and was prepping to do so.
Meanwhile, Ashley and I were talking about baby names – we still hadn’t made a decision at this point and we were now feeling a little bit of pressure to pick one quickly. In fact, we were so caught up in our discussion that we never noticed the change in the babies heart beat…
Sarah interrupted our conversation to tell us that the baby had just deceled again.
So, wait? The baby deceled and there was no screaming, no freaking out, no S.W.A.T. team? How?
Sarah told us that she listened to the baby go through the entire decel. She explained that based on her experience and what she heard during the decel that she truly felt that we were dealing with a cord issue. She had seen this before and she believed that the cord was likely wrapped somewhere. And she also felt that we should go ahead and schedule a c-section as soon as possible. It was, of course, our choice, and we needed to discuss it as a family, but in her professional opinion the baby would not make it through a natural birth. She thought Ashley would end up requiring an emergency c-section and that would greatly increase the risk to Ashley and the baby.
For me the decision was easy – get the baby out! With everything we had been through already, I was just ready for her to be out. The anxiety of waiting around for her heart rate to plummet again was too much. Let’s just get her out.
For Ashley, the decision wasn’t as easy. As scared as she was to give birth, I think that fear increased in the event of a c-section. She had read all the horror stories online. She was worried about hemorrhaging. She worried about recovery. Just the fact that it was major surgery, she was worried about the countless things that could go wrong.
In the end, after weighing everything out, we chose to go with a c-section. I think it came down to what we thought was best for Charlotte..no, Emersyn?… maybe, Kennedy… We really need to figure this out.
Later Ashley’s doctor came to check on her and gave the same recommendation – to proceed with a scheduled c-section. She also mentioned that she already knew the night before that we were headed for a c-section but she wanted to give Ashley and the baby every opportunity to proceed naturally before making a final decision.
So now there was nothing to do but wait. Her doctor, who had a couple surgeries on her plate that morning, decided on a delivery time of 1:30pm.
Our baby would be here in a few short hours.
Prepping for Delivery
Not much happened between 9am and noon. We tried to sleep a bit but it was still impossible – there was too much to worry about. Ashley was able to get in a shower but she was not allowed to eat or drink anything. You would think that made the time pass really slowly but it didn’t. Before we knew it Nurse Sarah was ready to start prepping Ashley for surgery.
They dressed Ashley in this giant, puffy warming suit blanket. The suit had a machine attached to it. The machine continually pumped warm air into the suit through what looked like a dryer vent hose. I wish now that I would have taken a picture, she looked like an astronaut, but without the helmet.
I had to prep myself also. They gave me a pair of scrubs that were fourteen sizes too large. It was like wearing the ocean – I was just swimming around somewhere inside of it. And as a compliment to this dashing attire, we topped it off with a classic lunch lady net…
And with that, we were ready to go.
“Is someone bringing a wheel chair?”
“No, we’ll just walk.”
Hang, on. So Ashley was wheeled from her doctors office all the way to the hospital. She was wheeled to Antepartum. And then she was wheeled to Labor & Delivery. But now… Now, that we are going to the operating room to deliver a baby we’re going to walk…
Ok. So I guess we’ll walk.
Ashley gathered up her space suit and took small steps for safety, but giant leaps for womankind.
And I gathered up all of our bags and started swimming.
Written while listening to ‘Hold Me Tight‘ by Berlinist. Give it a try. Think of it like a movie scene…
Sarah led us down a long hallway. Ashley followed close behind her – turning her head from time to time to make sure I was still there. Each time I offered a smile to say I was.
Sarah pushed a button on the wall and two giant doors opened to another hallway. The walls were pristine white. Doctors, wrapped in full surgical gear, nodded hello as we passed.
Ashley looks back again. I’m still here.
We came to a stop. Standing in front of two large double doors. Bright light pouring through the small windows. As they enter, they say I have to wait outside for now.
Ashley looks at me and says, “I love you”.
I say, “I love you too.”
And then she disappears.
There’s a bench for me to sit but I can’t sit still. My leg is bouncing. My hands are shaking. It’s so cold. And I’m so nervous.
The sound of muffled voices echo from behind the doors.
I’m sure she’s fine.
The door opens and I catch just a sentence, “You’re doing great…”. And then I’m alone again. I don’t want to be alone. I want to be in there. I hate it out here.
A nurse passes. She says hi. She can tell I’m nervous.
Please, let me in.
I look up.
“Come on in.”
My legs are shaky as I stand. My palms are sweaty. I enter the room.
It’s larger than I thought. Like a small convenient store. There’s more people than I expected. The operating table is right in the middle. A giant light hovering over the top like a UFO. There’s a blue curtain draped all around.
“There he is” says an unfamiliar voice.
And then I see her.
She looks so small. Only her head is visible. She smiles when she sees me.
They point me to a chair right next to her. I sit and take a deep breath.
They point to her hand, propped up just for me. I hold it and I remember the first time I ever held it.
I ask her how she’s doing. She’s okay.
On the other side of the curtain they are doing major surgery.
On our side of the curtain, we talked. Like two people on a first date.
I say something funny. She laughs.
Her body rocks. Her grip on my hand tightens. She says she’s fine. It’s just the pressure.
She’s so much braver than me.
They say she’s going to feel a lot of pressure now.
With every tug, and with every pull from the other side of the curtain, my hand never let go, my eyes never left hers. We were the only two people in the room…
Until, we weren’t…
The loud cry cut through the silence in the room and I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders.
We said nothing out loud but spoke with our eyes.
We could hear her. She was here.
A tear ran down both our faces.
Our daughter was here.
Someone pulled the curtain down above Ashley’s head and they lifted her into the air. She was purple and screaming. Arms and legs flailing about.
There she is.
She is beautiful.
She is perfect.
God, how I love them both.
Seriously, if you stuck with me this long, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.
If you liked the posts, please feel free to like or comment. It lets me know I’m not talking to myself like a crazy person. 🙂 If you’d like to be updated about future posts you can submit your email on the website.