Between 2 and 3 am, a number of things took place. Dr. Lee convinced me to put a lead on baby’s head so they can read his heart rate more accurately. Then an obgyn came and broke my water. Or maybe the two things were reversed but I cannot recall. I just remembered that as soon as the obgyn broke my water, the labor pain all of a sudden became very strong. I tried standing up to move around, and the amnionic gushed out all over the floor. The pain felt a lot lower in the pelvis with much higher pressure.
The nurse told me to just sit still in bed, which I was secretly happy to oblige to. I became irritated with Cliff trying to comfort me, so I asked him to stop rubbing my back and stop touching me.
Lying in bed, each wave of the pain was so strong that I had to listen to Liz telling me when I need to breathe deep and hard. I looked at the clock, and couldn’t believe it was 4 am already. I had been in labor for approximately 8 hours by this point, but time just flew. I still tried to sleep between contractions, and remembered feeling a little irritated that each contraction woke me up from my nap. I felt a little nauseated, and was glad Liz didn’t let me eat earlier when I whined about missing lunch and dinner. I thought about Kilimanjaro again, and told myself I can do this.
The nurse offered me laughing gas, and that was one thing that I did allow myself to take. I figured that the gas doesn’t go in my blood stream so there will be no effect on my baby. Someone told me before that the gas has a weird after taste. Honestly, at this point, I didn’t really care about any after taste because the pain has become almost unbearable. I sucked back on the gas, and it seems to take the edge off the pain.
Between the contractions and the laughing gas, I was able to carry on conversations. Dr. Lee did a pelvic exam and said I was about 5 cm dilated, but Joshua’s head was still too far up the birth canal to make it down. She was also concerned that with each contraction, his heart rate dropped a little. She discussed this with the obgyn, who then suggested doing a procedure called the “infusion”. They put a catheter into the uterus and pumped saline into it in order for Joshua to have some fluids around him, and the purpose is to stablize his heart rate and therefore increasing the chance of a natural delivery. The infusion worked to keep his heart rate up during each contraction. Yay!
After a while, Dr. Lee came back and wanted to do another pelvic exam. At this point I was laboring on my hands and knees on the bed. As soon as I changed position so she can examine me, the baby’s heart rate dropped. I heard the audible sound of heart beat go very slow, and looked at the screen showing “46”. 46 beats per minute. That was very low.
Immediately, Dr. Lee told me to turn on my right side, then told me to turn on my left side, then on my back, all while I was in the middle of a painful contraction. Obviously something was wrong. I was still sucking back the laughing gas and tuning out everyone’s voice. I heard Dr. Lee and the obgyn talk about “OR”. Then I heard someone say “get the oxygen mask on her!” They took away the laughing gas tube from my hand, and slipped an oxygen mask on my face. The nurse said “just take this bed!” Then I felt motion. The bed was being pushed through the hallway of the hospital. I couldn’t open my eyes to see where we were going, but I figured it was to the operating room.
The Operating Room
I didn’t know what went wrong, and what decision had to be made. I just knew that everyone was talking in a very excited voice. Once in the OR, a very bright light was aimed at me. The air was so cold that I couldn’t stop shivering. Someone kept saying to me, “don’t worry; we’ll take care of you!” Someone else said, “she doesn’t have an epidural in.” Another voice said, “what, no epidural?” “No, no epidural.”
I sense quite a number of people streaming into the OR. I was pretty much naked on the operating table, and shivered like mad. The anesthesiologist asked if I had any allergies, and I shook my head. He said, “we’ll take good care of you, ok?” I was thinking, dude, if you want to take care of me, just give me a warm blanket! Then he said something about putting me to sleep. Then I thought, ok, if you’re going to put me to sleep, do it now while this really painful contraction is killing me!
Someone held down an oxygen mask on my face, and I felt a little clusterphobic. While waiting for the next contraction to come, I fell asleep under general anesthesia.
There was no more thoughts of Kilimanjaro, or a natural birth. I wanted the doctors to do their job and make sure my baby is safe.
At 8:44 am, I woke up feeling groggy and aware of the pain on my belly. I heard Cliff say to me, “Our son is here. His is so handsome.” Someone put Joshua on my chest. I opened my eyes.
First, I saw a full head of hair and chubby cheeks. Then I saw his back, covered in soft, fine hair. “Monkey hair” was all I managed to say to Cliff. Our son has monkey hair on his back, just like his daddy.
I held Joshua in my arms, touching his back and shoulders with my fingers. I couldn’t believe his was finally here! I looked at his face and felt like saying, “finally, we meet”.
Dr. Lee proceeded to tell me some information that I did not really retain. Later she repeated again for my benefit, that Joshua came out kicking and screaming, which were all good signs that the heart rate drop did not have a major effect on him. They tested his core blood, and found the oxygen level comparable to vaginal birth. The doctors did not expect any harm has come from the low heart rate. Later she would also tell me that by the time they rushed me to the OR, his heart rate has recovered back to just over 100, but not the normal 145 they were expecting. They had to make a quick decision that getting him out of me was in his best interest.
I vaguely remember my bed being wheeled to our room to recover. It wasn’t till about 10:30 am that I was more awake and aware of what’s going on. Mom came, and she had tears in her eyes.
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. I had an IV line in the left arm, and a catheter tube taped to my right leg. The incision was dully painful. Every hour, a nurse came to check my temperature, blood pressure, the incision, blood flow, and checked Joshua’s vitals. I tried nursing him, and he would suck pretty well.
I looked at Joshua’s face, couldn’t help but cried. He was finally here, and he was safe and healthy. I felt my heart expand to a size I didn’t imagine possible, and filled with love for this baby. I was CRAZY about him!
In the evening, a nurse came to give Joshua his first bath. He enjoyed having his hair washed, and made cooing noises. But when it came time to wash his little body, he cried. I was confined in bed and couldn’t see his first bath. I felt a little sad.
That night, Cliff settled on the mattress on the floor. I would nurse Joshua and stare at him. I felt like I can look at him forever. Everything about him just mesmerizes me. It’s like watching something magical. You couldn’t believe your eyes, but you knew it’s true.
His eyebrows are thin and far apart like mine. His has a full head of hair, and even sideburns like Cliff!