The sleeping medicine takes effect quickly.
After some time, I wake up slightly – but only because I’m experiencing extremely intense contractions. It’s involuntary, but I can feel my body trying to escape, attempting to leave itself behind on the bed and get somewhere safe.
As soon as the contraction ends, I’m completely knocked out again.
Unbeknownst to me in Ambien-land, the following takes place:
Within just a few hours, I go from hardly 3 cm dilated to a full 6 cm. They order my epidural and Brandon texts my mom to alert her that labor is picking up, and she heads back to the hospital. It’s my assumption that the medication caused my body to relax so much that labor was able to progress very fast.
I am so out of it from the sleeping medication that I am utterly unaware of getting my first epidural. (I hope that conveys my level of “unconsciousness”!) It takes a team to hold me in place: Brandon, my mom, and a nurse while the anesthesiologist works in between my wake ups and contractions. Contractions are only minutes apart at this time.
I’m getting no relief from the back-to-back contractions. It’s apparent the epidural has not been effective (something that also happened during my son’s birth…whhyyyy??) So, they quickly get me back in position, remove the original epidural, and place the second epidural between my wake-ups.
It’s now in the 2:00 am hour.
I finally relax and they can tell the epidural is working. A short time later, maybe half an hour, my OB comes in to check on me and begins to palpate my belly but is unable to locate the baby’s head. She grabs the ultrasound probe and searches. . .
Baby girl is breech. Head is up under my chest, feet and bottom are at my cervix. Somehow, this baby has completely flipped upside down again during active labor.
She checks my cervix and finds I’m a full 10 cm – complete.
It’s important to note here — most OB’s do not perform vaginal breech deliveries due to the risks involved. It’s either head-down or a c-section.
Quickly and expertly, my doctor makes an attempt at a second external cephalic version right then and there. It’s what I would have asked for had I been awake. Baby doesn’t budge, but my water breaks. She stops and checks my cervix again and the baby’s foot is presenting. This baby is coming.
I jolt awake enough to vividly recall my obstetrician looking deep into my eyes, nope – past my eyes and straight into my soul – her own eyes overflowing with concern and care, and I hear the words, “Shanna, we’ve done everything, you’re going to need a C-section.”
I nod in agreement. I’m disappointed but trust her completely.
Lights out again.
Unbeknownst to me:
As my doctor begins giving the nursing staff instructions, the fetal heart rate monitor sounds an alarm.
Everyone stops and checks the reading: 70 beats per minute. It should be between 120-160 bpm.
My OB grabs the monitor off of my belly, swiftly turns me on my left side, and begins searching for the heart rate herself. Nothing higher than 70-80 bpm is coming up. She tells the staff to get me to the OR right that minute, and controlled chaos ensues. She instructs Brandon to come hold me on my side and to not to let go of me until someone relieves him.
Someone pushes the emergency alarm and nurses swarm the room, everyone working as quickly and efficiently as possible to get me and this baby to the operating room. Someone relieves Brandon and takes over holding me in place.
Brandon stands in shock watching the situation escalate. Someone tells him they aren’t sure yet if he will be able to come into the OR since I may need general anesthesia. My mom speaks up and tells the staff he should be in the room if at all possible. She says it’s what I would want, and she couldn’t be more right.
My eyes blink open. I’m in the operating room.
I don’t remember being wheeled here, prepped, or moved onto the table.
I’m confronted by a blue drape so close to my face it feels like I’m going to suffocate. My arms feel strange and when I look side to side I can see that they are tied down, restraining me.
I can’t move.
I look around and cannot find a single face. No one is within my field of view. Panic begins to build but then against my will I’m out again.
Meanwhile, the chaos has calmed back in the delivery room, as most of the staff is with me in the OR. Brandon is finally tossed a set of scrubs to put on, which he does frantically and then follows the nurse quickly down the hall.
As they approach the operating room, from the other side of the doors, they hear a sound. A beautiful, tiny cry. It’s our daughter’s first cry. Any parent will tell you it’s the most glorious sound in the world, no contest.
Mere seconds kept him from witnessing our baby’s birth. Even the nurses at the desk are shocked at how fast she was delivered.
I, too, hear the tiny cry. It sounds far away but it’s only on the other side of the obnoxious blue drape.
I can barely hear it in my head now but it’s there. Bless the Lord, it’s there. Gripping that memory with all I’ve got.
Then, lights out again.
When I wake up again, I finally see Brandon’s face. I sob and sob. He says he’s never seen me cry so hard before.
For Part IV (the final birth story post), CLICK HERE