On Friday, January 11th at 7:03pm our gorgeous baby boy Olin Russell Dennis came into the world and to be honest, gave mom and dad quite a scare.
Early Friday morning around 3am I called Labour & Delivery as I wasn’t sure if it was time to go in yet. I was having contractions and had started leaking fluid hours before but just didn’t know if it was go time yet. The nurse told me to head in and they would check to see if the fluid was amniotic fluid, and sure enough it was and I was in for the long haul. I anticipated them sending me home so I didn’t even bring my hospital bag with me (rookie move right there).
From 3:30am to 7:30am, I experienced labour pains for the first time in my life. This was no cake walk and I have SO much respect to all you mamas out there who gave birth naturally. I only lasted those 4 hours without meds. I had to walk up to the front of the hospital to get our paperwork for being admitted but luckily there were minimal people around because I was a hot mess and started puking in random garbage cans on the walk back to the unit. What I may not have mentioned was that I work at the hospital and did NOT want to run into anyone I knew.
After 4 hours of labouring, I decided it was time to get the epidural. Leading up to the day, this decision was the only one that I was sure about! The anesthesiologist was talking me through the procedure and different things that can happen, when I felt lightening pain down my left leg (something he had mentioned could happen). He was only able to insert the needle in 2cm instead of his preferred 5cm. Throughout the next 12 hours, the epidural wore off between 4-6 times and we required him to come back to administer more medication to get me through to delivery. From the time the epidural was wearing off and when the doctor was able to get back to me and the medication start to work again, it was between 40-60 minutes of pain. I was shaking and trying to breathe through the contractions but luckily, only vomited once! Throughout the day, I was able to be up to walk to the bathroom when needed and was never too numb from the epidural which apparently is not normal.
I was slow to dilate and was stuck at 5cm for a couple of hours so the doctor decided to start me on Pitocin which would help things to move along at a faster rate. At 4pm that afternoon, I was fully dilated but the doctor wanted to wait for me to start pushing until my body naturally wanted me to. The issue with this was that it took another 2 hours and another series of the epidural wearing off.
It was 6pm, 14 hours since I arrived at the hospital, and it was time to start pushing. The amazing nurses who had been with me the entire day, gave me a crash course on what they expected of me with each push. I was to push in a series of three. Take a deep breath in, hold my breath and when I was holding my breath, that’s when I was supposed to push. They instruct you to push like your having a bowel movement and to push down towards the table. They want you to be able to hold your breath for 10 (very long drawn out) seconds and then right after you release, you take another deep breath in and do it again two more times.
After 20 minutes of pushing, the doctor realized that Olin’s head would advance slightly and then go back to where he started. He then asked me if I would be okay with him using the vacuum/suction. **SIDE NOTE: My only birth plan was that I didn’t want to use the vacuum or forceps because over a year ago, a family friend lost her baby during delivery from overuse of these interventions** I questioned the doctor on how many times he would try and what the risks were. He explained to me that he would try three times and if the suction were to slide off of Olin’s head, that would count as one try. He would also only try for 20 minutes, whichever came first. I felt reassured and trusted the doctor so we decided to go ahead with his plan. The suction cup was inserted into me and placed on Olin’s head. When I pushed, it was supposed to help guide his head in the posterior direction to get beneath my pubic symphysis, NOT to actually pull his head. Unfortunately, with each attempt, the suction cup would not stay attached to Olin’s head.
It was time to make the last decision, whether we wanted a cesarian section or to use the forceps. I immediately opted for a C-section but the look on the doctors face led me to believe that he did not think it was necessary. I asked him a few questions about the forceps and he said that they were actually safer than the suction and that we would only try the once. I was nearing the end of my energy and this entire time since I had started to push, the epidural had worn off so I was feeling much more than I had anticipated. He explained to me that when he uses the forceps, he would have to give me an episiotomy in order to create more space for Olin to get out. I agreed to give it a try if it meant getting my baby out safely. I may or may not have screamed when he had to make the cut for the forceps because there was no time for numbing. At this point, the paediatric team and the respiratory therapist were in the room and ready to tend to Olin if needed.
With two big pushes, the doctor was able to see that the reason Olin would never have been pushed out naturally was because he had shoulder dystocia. This means that after his head is delivered, his anterior shoulder gets stuck under the mother’s pubic bone often due to the baby being too big for the birth canal. Once the doctor saw this, he informed the nursing staff and they put the head of my bed down. I had two people at each of my legs pushing my legs up towards my shoulders to try to propel baby Olin out of my birth canal. It was successful !!!
The torture was not over for us at this time. When he arrived and we were told “IT’S A BOY” we found it hard to be excited because he wasn’t crying. The paediatrician and respiratory therapist took him immediately to start working on him. I sent my husband Nick over to be with him as they were trying to get him stabilized. I looked at the doctor who was stitching me up and I said to him “He’s still not crying”. He asked for the heart rate of the baby and told me that his heart rate was great so he was going to be okay. Hearing this news set me at ease and I was able to relax while I was getting cleaned up and ready to go see my boy. Unfortunately for Nick, he did not hear the doctor tell me about the heart rate and he was only told that an ambulance was on standby incase he had to go to the IWK. As Nick was walking with him hooked up to the CPAP machine down to the NICU, he thought that he was walking our new baby boy to his death bed. All he was seeing were the amount of people around helping our baby, the machines he was hooked up to and his poor head from the suction. He truly thought that we were going to lose our little boy.
After I got cleaned up, I was wheeled down to the NICU and checked into my room. I sat with him for a few hours until I could no longer stay awake. During that time, I pumped for the first time and was able to get quite a bit of colostrum. At 2am, the NICU nurse came into my room and told me that he was off of the CPAP machine and wondered if I would like to try to nurse him. This was the first time that I got to hold my baby boy. He took to my breast right away and when he was finished nursing, I just sat with him, skin-to-skin, soaking in all of his beauty.
The next morning when Nick arrived back at the hospital, you could see the relief on his face when he realized Olin no longer had to wear the CPAP machine. We spent the day cuddling our little boy and deciding on his name. He ended up having to stay an extra day and a half in the NICU because his bilirubin numbers were off and we had to do phototherapy.
We are now home and stumbling our way through parenting. Our first born, our Bernese Mountain Dog Chuck, has been such a great big brother!!
I think what we need to realize is that each pregnancy, birth and postpartum are different for everyone. My delivery was tough but I was then blessed with an easy transition into breast feeding. Some women may have a beautiful birthing experience but struggle with a baby who doesn’t sleep. We all have our struggles and if your reading this, just know that you are not alone with whatever your struggles may be! Be there for each other without judgement because we need each other!
With all the events leading up to the birth of Olin, I can say that it has not deterred us from having more kids 🙂