Kalen’s birth story by Alicia Sager
For months/weeks leading up to the birth of my son, I was a ball of nerves. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was going to come early like our first. I never made it past 35 weeks with my first. So when 37 weeks rolled around I was ready to get this baby out. Not that I wanted to push him out too soon – not that I didn’t love him, but if you have been in this situation, you can’t lie and say it hasn’t crossed your mind that you are miserable and just, DONE! At that point, the weather was semi decent, so we all went for walks that weekend. I walked a solid four miles in total, hoping to move the baby down.
On Thursday, February 25, I knew I had an OB appointment in the morning. That morning I woke up feeling sick. My hands were extremely swollen. I checked my BP and it was 145/95. The recheck was 153/109. Trying not to freak out, I made my way to the OB. My BP was 146/110. They weren’t happy with that, so I was sent to the hospital for blood and urine work. Then I was to report to labor and delivery for a non-stress test. I laid there hooked up to the BP cuff, they had a monitor on the baby and one on my contractions. About 45 minutes, the on call OB came to see me. She said my blood work and urine looked great. My BP was still high, but the baby was fine so they were going to discharge me home to come back in Monday for another non stress test.
On the way home I made a pitstop by Taco Bell, hammered some Chalupas, then stopped by Walmart. We needed more diaper pail trash bags and the super play yard we ordered was in. I did some back and forth walking across Walmart. I felt some contractions, but nothing significant. I got home and my wonderful husband and son let me lounge on the couch the rest of the evening. I continued getting contractions, but they were all over the place. Before bed, I said to my husband, “Don’t drink a beer.” I just had this feeling. I went to sleep early to get some rest. At around 9 p.m. my husband came in to sleep and like any pregnant women, I woke up and had to pee. I got my phone out and started timing my contractions. They were 10 minutes apart, lasting about 40 seconds. It was pretty difficult to get comfy. Brecken woke up around 11:30 p.m. and needed to be put back to sleep. At that time, I told Seth that I wasn’t gonna make it through the night and we needed to make a decision about what to do with Brecken. My worst fear was having to wake him up during the middle of the night—and here we were. Seth called our super friends, got Breck together and headed off to their house with him. At this point, my contractions were less than 7 minutes apart and hurting. I got the dogs outside, made coffee for Seth, and when he got back we headed to the hospital.
On our drive, crazy, painful, hormonal Alicia came through. I looked at Seth in between contractions, which were now less than 5 minutes apart and I thought we weren’t going to make it. The pain was so intense, it was snowing, and I envisioned this baby being born on the side of 219. We arrived at the E.R. and there were no parking spots in front. Go figure, so we parked across the street. I couldn’t even get out of the car until after a contraction. Then I waddled in, they got me a wheelchair and we were quickly on our way up to labor and delivery.
Once we arrived at L&D they wasted no time getting me in a gown and connected to monitors. I was informed that my doctor was on vacation and then they told me everyone who was covering. I was checked and at that point I was 4 cm – this was roughly at about 2:30 a.m. Indeed I was having contractions and this baby was coming at some point. I asked for the epidural because the contractions hurt. But I wasn’t allowed to have it until I had an IV in and a bag of fluids. So they got the IV going. She did put some nubain into it, which took the edge off. The fluids were flowing well, so they paged anesthesia. The guy who came was super nice. He looked at my back and asked how old my tattoo was. At that moment I couldn’t do mental math. I was like, “I got it when I was 17. So it’s old.” He didn’t want to put the epidural in that area, none the less, he got it in. There were some uncomfortable, pressure moments but for the most part it wasn’t bad.
Once that was in and he got the medicine going, I felt significant relief. My thighs started to go numb, but I could still feel the contractions in my right hip. So I believe at that point, he put fentanyl in it. Then things were perfect! It was probably about 4:30 at this point, Seth & I answered calls and texts and tried to rest. My nurse, Annette, was in the room asking us questions. She was a sweetheart. But this is when she started to get concerned about the baby. The monitor kept losing his heart rate and she specifically said she was uncomfortable leaving us. So, this older nurse kept flipping me back and forth, side to side, like a rotisserie chicken to get the heart rate. This went on for hours. I felt bad she had to do this, but I was numb and couldn’t help. I was given oxygen to keep on my face. At one point, I started to get sick from flipping so much. But they kept checking me, I was still dilating and things seemed to be progressing; it was just a lot of waiting.
I told my husband to go get breakfast because I thought we had some time. Then, while he was gone, the nurse checked me and I was verging on 9 cm. My water was already broke at this point. I text my husband to come back – immediately. I didn’t know how quickly this was going to go. He got back, they checked me and my nurse thought I was ready to push. They pulled this transformer light machine out of the ceiling and paged the midwife. I’m thought everything was moving forward. The midwife arrived, checked me, and said, “No, there’s still a little cervix there. I want you to Labor down more.” I thought sure, OK. More waiting, more tossing me like a rotisserie chicken and then it got real.
Another nurse who was in the room, said she was going to page the doctor with an update. Then my room quickly got flooded with people and panic set in. The midwife was back. She inserted this long device into me, which was a probe to the baby to internally monitor his heart rate better. Then they entered another one onto him. Then all of a sudden I was told they had to put amniotic fluid back in me. The baby’s cord was pinching or wrapped. I kept looking at Seth, trying not to freak out. But the tears started coming. I said I was scared. Then Dr. Barnas came in, introduced himself to me and gave me the news – as I’m crying. He said, “At this point the safest option for you and the baby is for a repeat cesarean section.” He was super concerned because the baby’s heart rate was dipping drastically. I thought, OK, well, we are doing this then. I couldn’t help but say I was disappointed; to labor for 13 hours 30 minutes at the hospital and make it to 9 cm, but not be able to VBAC – sucked. At least I could say I tried and did my best. My body just isn’t designed to vaginally birth a child.
Seth was given his gown to put on. Anesthesia was called back because I started to feel the contractions again. They informed me that they would be using the epidural for my RCS. Then I was also informed that since I had it for awhile, they could not promise it was going to work. Worse case scenario was that they would have to knock me out during this. I can’t remember if I cried again, but I did not want to be out and not remember having my baby. But it all seemed to be working. I was wheeled into the O.R. They started their 3 practice cuts before Seth got there. I remember saying, they better not start until my husband arrived. He got there and the cutting started. Dr. Barnas told me that he was going to thin out my scar while he was operating. I was excited about this.
Tugging, pulling, pressure, noises and wahhhhhhhhhh. There was Kalen, born at 10:30 a.m. on the dot. He immediately started crying and doing great. Seth went over to take pictures. I wasn’t going anywhere—hell my arms were strapped down. But Seth came back and showed me pictures. My beautiful baby boy with long spiky hair. It was darker than I imagined. I was in love, again, with another boy. I couldn’t believe how much love I had to give. Both Seth and I were in tears. It was such a beautiful moment. Now all that was left was to close me up and thin the scar. So, after some pics, they sent Seth and the baby away.
There I was—all alone—listening to everyone talk. Staring at a white ceiling and a blue drape and complaining that I needed ChapStick; the sweet anesthesia lady put some on me. Thinking in my own head. I can’t see what is going on, but at one point I heard the doc say something about a tear. I asked the anesthesia girl, “Did he just say something tore?” She peeked over my curtain and said she thought everything was fine. Then, as groggy as I was, I heard them say they needed to page a general surgeon to help. I am certain they doped me up more at this point because i felt the cold in my back. I really didn’t get what was going on and wasn’t freaking out. The doctor did inform me at some point that he nicked my bowel, but it was all taken care of. He was sincerely sorry. I told him I’d be ok, if he could just make sure my scar looked awesome. I chatted with all of them about working there in adult psych, how sad it is there and about pooping on the table. We talked like coworkers, not like I was a patient having major surgery. It was good, dopey, surgery talk.
After surgery, I was whisked away to recover. In recovery you still cannot see your baby or loved ones until you can feel your legs. I asked the nurse and she said they were obligated to keep me at least a half hour and manage my pain. The pain at this point was rough. I got three doses of dilaudid and morphine into my IV. These weren’t even remotely alleviating my pain, so I lied and told them I was OK enough to send me back to maternity. I didn’t want to be there anymore. I was praying they informed Seth what all went on. I was also hoping to come into the room and he would have the baby. He didn’t. They had the baby the whole time under a lamp and doing testing. He was wondering why I was gone so long too, but said they did inform him of going into my bowel when they were stitching me up. They told him I should have no effects from that at all.