rosalyn virginia: a birth story

Long (and I do mean, “long”) story short: after beginning my fourth day of hard labor, Rosalyn finally entered the world through a cesarean.

Early Sunday morning at 3:45a I woke up to uncomfortable cramping. It wasn’t until half an hour later that I realized the cramps had an actual pattern and were maybe-just-maybe actual labor. I went to bed to tell Andrew but a contraction along the way gave the news for me: It was time! I continued to labor in bed while Andrew kept time & massaged my tensed muscles for a few of hours before we contacted our midwives & doula at 7 minutes apart. The midwife on call told me to hop in the shower and try to stay comfortable at home, but that she would likely see me at the hospital around lunchtime. I had no doubt about that; while I kept my eye off the clock for the sake of my sanity I could feel the waves coming on closer and with more intensity. Our doula had made it to our house to help ride through the first stages, I found distraction in drying my hair & applying makeup, our bags were waiting for us in the trunk of my car, I was perched on the birth ball practicing some helpful hips exercises. Everything was going exactly as it should have. Until it wasn’t. Labor just ..stopped. I had reached 5:30 minutes apart and it stopped. My should’ve-been-at-the-hospital lunchtime turned into overdue-in-yoga-pants-and-house-slippers-at-a-restaurant lunchtime and my stalled labor frustrations were quelled by Andrew and Amanda. With a heavy sigh, we bid Amanda adieu until sometime in the foreseeable future and spent the evening with video games & Netflix.

Later that night at 11p the contractions returned hard and fast. Andrew was supposed to return to work the next morning and I knew it could be another false alarm so I resolved to sleep in another room. By 2a I could no longer take the erratic pain and woke up Andrew to help me. We decided on a shower to help regulate the timing. By the time I stepped back out on to the bath mat, I was at 2 minutes apart and doubled over. We called Amanda on our way to labor & delivery, the excitement of, “this is it!” returning once more. Too bad I was only 2cm dilated. I was sent home with a shot of morphine to help me sleep and another well-meaning promise from a nurse, “We’ll see you back here tomorrow!” The medication did keep its promise and I was able to get some rest through dulled and irregular contractions.

Monday was much of the same. A build up, a let down, a vengeful return, a progress of less than 0.5cm, and a shot to go home in the wee hours of the next morning. Our exhausted troop stopped by Waffle House and had our spirits lifted by a cook named Rambo; I swore I would reconsider our child’s name if his hashbrowns were to do the trick (Rambo Virginia has a nice ring to it, yeah?). I was feeling very thankful that we had decided on only giving a very small few updates to a very small few people. The pressure hitting me internally was almost too great to bear; I couldn’t imagine having to handle the public bated breath as well. There was a small difference in the 3a of Monday and the 3a of Tuesday: the morphene didn’t work. I received all the drowsy side effects and yet none of the pain relief. This equated to involuntarily nodding off only to be jerked back to consciousness by the throes of a contraction. By 6a I gave up and texted Lorie, my favorite midwife, to see when she was to be on-call at the hospital and if I could come see her. I was practically ecstatic to hear that she would meet me at L&D at 8a and just knew we had to be reaching some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. She announced I was 4.5 cm and I could have kissed her I was so happy. I was being admitted to labor and deliver our baby. March 10th sounded like a beautiful birthday.

Except that wasn’t her birthday either. Are you getting tired of this? Yeah, me too.

I labored long and hard all day Tuesday. I was nauseous and overwhelmed with just how much each contraction took out of me. (It wasn’t until later when looking through monitor printouts that I learned progressive labor contractions are generally linear and don’t consist of unpredictable peaks and valleys like mine did.) With the support of Andrew, our doula, and my mom I was able to make it through morning, mid-day, and to early evening when I finally requested to have the water tub filled in hopes that the “almost unbearable” point I had reached meant I was close to or in transition. They needed a 20 minute strip monitoring heartbeats and contractions before allowing me to get in the tub. The thought of being strapped to the bed for any length of time while experiencing the pain that I had been was torturous. I requested to be monitored while on the birth ball but the monitor couldn’t get a good angle in that position. I then requested to simply stand during the strip, anything but lying on that bed unable to do anything about the incredible back pain and contractions caused from angling my pelvis that way. This second request was treated as dubious and there was no sugar coating with a reply along the lines of, “Uh, if you really want to try. But then we’ll have to get in the bed.” Done. D-O-N-E. We located her heartbeat and for the next 20 minutes I stood with my eyes never leaving the strip, willing it to go faster but it had better be perfect. Through each wave of pain I would give the slightest bend of my knees or sway of my hips, each movement ridiculously minute and calculated but essential to my relief. Done. Fill up that damn tub!

Entering the warm water was the glorious release I had been craving all day. Weightless, the pressure on my back and hips became a thousand times more manageable than before. Slow and steady, I labored. Then slower and less steady. Then slower. And slower. And slower. And ..nothing. Instantly, I knew. My uterus was done. It had championed for me for three (incredibly intense and taxing) days and simply had no more to give.

But I want this. I need this! I need this to happen. 

I know you do. But it isn’t going to.

I know. 

I expressed my fears to Amanda and she encouraged me to talk to Lorie about our options. I had made it to 8 cm. Lorie said she wanted to support me in what I wanted my birth to look like and I believed her. The moment she suggested an epidural to let my body rest I knew I had to listen to the nagging voice in my head. Interventions aren’t taken lightly by Lorie and I trust her recommendations wholeheartedly; if Lorie said epidural it was something I had to take seriously. I was all at once relieved and pained by my decision. This feeling intensified when I sat on the bed with wires connected to my every limb, back turned to the anesthesiologist as I faced my abandoned water birth tub in the corner.

My epidural was placed at 7p on Tuesday night. We had bets going on whether she would arrive that day or the next. The exhaustion at this point turned to delirium and we wiled away the hours making jokes and googling wacky March 10th and 11th holidays. Midnight came and went; Ros would celebrate her birth along with Oatmeal Nut Waffle Day. The more time passed the less time we had before I would need to augment labor with pitocin. My uterus remained as unresponsive and erratic as ever, producing contractions but no baby. I went through multiple trials of red-faced pushing but the look on my nurse’s face told me all I needed to know: it’s not doing anything.

When 6a arrived along with a delivered pitocin drip I looked over to the heartbeats being collected on the monitor and knew I needed to make a decision. That sweet 155 bpm hadn’t faltered the entire time. Ros was doing wonderfully. And I needed her to stay that way. The sinking feeling in my gut said that my poor uterus had already been pushed past exhaustion and I couldn’t see how turning up the intensity on my nonsensical contractions would solve the real problem.

Again, I turned to Amanda for encouragement and advice. She couldn’t, she wouldn’t make this decision for me. But her eyes held only understanding, no judgment. And that’s exactly what I was looking for. We called for Lorie to come to the room to talk and before I had to build up the courage to speak my piece, she asked me if I wanted to go in for a c-section. With her words I reached my breaking point and cried as I nodded. Immediately I knew I had no regret about this decision, only sadness for the experience I had prepared for that would have to wait for another time.

At 9:07a Rosalyn Virginia Redmon was pulled from my insides and we met in the recovery room. She has these beautiful dark grey eyes, holding a mystery of which parent she took her pigment from. She loves to gnaw on her tiny fingers and turns an angry Irish red when she cries. I sleep about two hours total every night and she is completely worth it.

Happy (belated) Oatmeal Nut Waffle day, baby girl.

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