It’s ironic that the day I shared the birth plan we made with our doctor, it became obsolete. Finley is almost a month old, now. Here’s the story of how he made his grand entrance into the world:
11:45pm (Sunday, May 19) — I woke up to go to the bathroom, stood up from my bed, and my water broke all down my legs. I thought, “we’re going to need this professionally cleaned,” so I just decided I would pee right there, too. Yep, I peed on my bedroom floor.
I woke Jamin up and, by then, things had slowed to a trickle, so I quickly made my way to the bathroom. Jamin was amazing and was already getting bags packed and things ready for us to go. Thankfully, we already had Finley’s bag packed in case our doctor had decided to deliver at our appointment the week before. Our doctor told us that if my water were to break that we would need to get to the hospital right away. It would be an emergency because Finley’s cord could prolapse (meaning it could fall out), cutting off oxygen to him, since it was in the lowest part of my pelvis near my cervix.
I wasn’t sure if Finley’s cord had prolapsed, but I didn’t want to risk being upright and driving ourselves. I told Jamin he needed to call for an ambulance to take us to the hospital. So while he did that and called my doctor, our photographer, and families, I was on the bathroom floor on all fours with my butt in the air and my head on the ground – the position they told us would take pressure off of the cord if it were being compressed.
I started shaking really badly because I was so scared, but I was also right next to a vent blowing cold air right at me and my legs were still wet. Jamin covered me with a blanket while we waited for the ambulance to arrive.
My sister, Dee, came upstairs to take care of our dog, Scout. Shortly after that, one of the police officers in town arrived. Then the ambulance crew came and started taking vitals on me. I wasn’t feeling any contractions at that time. They brought the gurney right over to me in the bathroom, so I could just crawl on it without having to stand and risk compressing Finley’s cord.
I was loaded up in the ambulance – my first ambulance ride ever – and Jamin got in the car to follow us, so we would have the car seat and everything else we needed when we got to Iowa City. I was shaking the entire ambulance ride, not knowing if Finley was even still alive. My local doctor was at the hospital in Waterloo when we arrived. He hooked me up the the external fetal monitor and we heard Finley’s heartbeat. It was the most beautiful sound in that moment, and I was finally able to stop shaking, knowing that he was okay. My doctor also checked to see if Finley’s cord was prolapsed, and he said he couldn’t feel cord or even my cervix, so there wasn’t enough pressure to compress anything.
Our doctor called down to Iowa City to let them know we would be coming, and they asked if we would be driving ourselves. I was totally surprised that they would even ask because they knew all of the factors that made us high risk. I told our doctor I didn’t want to drive and hour and a half and risk Finley’s cord prolapsing on the way with only Jamin in the car to help. So Jamin, Melissa (our photographer), and I waited for the hospital to arrange for an ambulance to take me.
Even though the monitor was showing my contractions were coming at regular intervals, I was only really feeling some of them.
We thought our ambulance would be ready pretty quickly, considering what was at risk. By the time an ambulance had been arranged, I was having frequent enough contractions to be considered in active labor, which meant we needed a labor and delivery nurse to ride along with us, but they were all busy.
3:00am (Monday, May 20) — The ambulance crew told Jamin they would be going emergent with lights and everything and that he shouldn’t try to keep up with them. I was actually glad to hear that because I felt like they were taking the situation seriously. The ambulance ride was really uncomfortable. I had to ride laying on my left side because that is supposed to be the best position for babies, and I had been on my left side ever since getting in that first ambulance. My contractions were starting to get stronger, and every time I had one I just prayed that they would stop. I didn’t know if the bumpy ride was affecting Finley or his cord. It felt like that ride took forever.
4:35am — We arrived in Iowa City. I told the nurse riding along that we needed to go straight to labor and delivery because they were expecting me and had a room ready for me, but they took me to the emergency entrance instead. I was frustrated because it was on the other side of the hospital, so they had to wheel me over to labor & delivery. It probably only took a couple minutes but once again felt like forever.
We got up to labor and delivery with Jamin and Melissa right behind me. Once I was in my room, the doctor on call came in to let me know she was ready to do the C-section because Finley was still sideways. She explained that they would do a spinal block and Jamin would be able to come in once everything was prepped and they were ready to do the surgery. They just needed to make sure that my water had actually broken. Considering that I had been able to feel fluid leaking out with every contraction, I was sure it had, but they still had to check.
4:52am — As I laid on my back, the doctor inserted the speculum, so they could swab the fluid, but as soon as she put it in, Finley’s cord prolapsed.
The nurse in the room immediately used her hand to push his cord back in and jumped on the bed with me. I started crying and shaking really badly again. The doctor started wheeling me out of the room, saying we had to go now and we would be doing general anesthesia which meant Jamin couldn’t be there. I don’t remember her saying this, but Jamin told me she also said, “I know this is scary and not normal for you, but this is normal for us. We know what we’re doing.” I’m glad she told him that because it helped him to be less afraid.
Once we were in the operating room, they moved me to the operating table and got me on my left side again. This whole time, the nurse kept her hand in me, holding Finley’s cord in. She also held my right leg up on her shoulder. We hadn’t been in the operating room for long when the nurse looked over at me and said, “I just realized I never introduced myself! I’m Pam.” After hooking up the external monitor, we saw that Finley’s vitals were good, so the doctor said they wanted to do a spinal as long as his vitals were stable while everything was prepped because it would be better for both me and Finley.
Unfortunately, in order to do the spinal block I needed clotting factor to be administered by IV for the blood clotting disorder I’ve been diagnosed with, and the pharmacy didn’t have it ready – even though they had more than 3 hours advance notice of our arrival. While we waited for the medicine to be ready, a nurse did my catheter and an anesthesiologist tried to get another IV in my left arm to draw some lab work. He had a hard time finding my vein and then didn’t have the tubing ready to attach to the needle once he got it in, so blood was spilling out all over my forearm. It looked a bit like a crime scene. But the catheter didn’t hurt nearly as bad as I thought it would.
While we waited for the medicine to arrive, I asked one of the anesthesiologists if our photographer would be allowed in the room during the procedure. He said he wouldn’t mind, and he also asked the doctors if they would mind. Everyone was on the same page and agreed that Melissa could be in the room to photograph Finley’s birth.
That anesthesiologist was the best. After it was decided that there would be a camera in the room, he started trying to clean all the blood off of my arm from where the other anesthesiologist did the IV. He was so kind saying, “I know you will have pictures done, so I just want this to look a little nicer for you.” He probably spent 5 minutes wiping blood off my arm.
In the time it took to get my medicine, the doctors flip flopped back and forth between saying, “we can do the spinal,” and, “we need to do general and get him out,” three or four times. It was awful. Every time they would switch the plan, I would just think, “I have to be alone,” or, “thankfully Jamin can be here with me.” It was such an emotional roller coaster.
Actually getting the spinal block was pretty uncomfortable because I had to stay laying down on my left side and try to curve my back while having regular contractions and not moving too much for Pam, who was still holding in Finley’s cord and holding my leg up. I was still shaking, but by this time it wasn’t just from being scared. Shaking is a common side effect of the spinal block (and being in labor).
All this time, Jamin was waiting, thinking Finley had already been born because I’d been taken for an emergency C-section.
It was about an hour and a half from the time we got into the operating room to when they were finally ready to do the C-section. Jamin WAS able to come in. He said they had already started cutting me open when he got in the room. He came over and sat by my head, and I saw Melissa’s camera around his neck. Apparently, everyone knew that it was okay for her to come in the room, except the nurse that went to get Jamin. So Melissa sent her camera, and Jamin took some pictures during the operation. The wonderful anesthesiologist also took the camera at one point and took pictures for us.
He also warned me that while a spinal blocks pain receptors, it can’t block pressure, so I would feel pressure during the surgery. It felt like getting punched in the gut when your abs aren’t flexed over and over until they were all done.
Finley was pretty wedged in in my uterus. The doctors had a difficult time getting him out. We could hear them saying on the other side of the drape: “I have a hold of his butt”, “can you even see his feet”, “what about a shoulder, can you grab his shoulder?” They ended up needing to do an upside down T cut on my uterus just to get him out.
6:27am (Monday, May 20) — Finley is here!
Once Finley was out we could see what they were doing with him on a video monitor to our right. All we could see on the monitor, though, were several hands on him and his legs, and they weren’t moving and he wasn’t crying. Once again the anesthesiologist was great. He told us that this was normal and that babies born by C-section sometimes just need a little extra oxygen and waking up because they don’t have the trauma of a vaginal birth. After what felt like an eternity, we finally heard a little squeak, and we knew he was going to be okay.
We got to see him for a short time before he was taken to a transition area while the doctors closed me up.