Monday, October 24, 2011

Nicole's Birth Story

While I'm basking in my baby's newborn sweetness, I've asked some friends to share their birth stories at This Heavenly Life.  Today's story from Nicole is such a dramatic one!  She blogs at As Many As We're Given, and you can learn all about her family of blessings by heading over for a visit -- go say hello!

Sarah asked for birth stories, and since I've had six kids I figured I was a likely candidate to participate. Four of my births have been routine c-sections, no real drama, nothing to mark them as memorable to anyone other than the primary involved parties. I'm very thankful for that, as none of us aspire to movie-like birth stories, right?

So with six births, which story do I want to tell?  As I said, four of them are really not all that remarkable, beyond the miraculous process itself. I mean, if you think about it, it IS remarkable that the vast majority of births go just as they should, whether traditional births or c-sections. I think my first birth is interesting, but more for the emotional aspect of going from pregnant to first-time mother. So, that leaves delivery #2, and it is quite dramatic.
I was scheduled to have a c-section on November 6, 2002. My first child had been born via c-section after an intense labor that showed no progress. My recovery was easy, so I had no reservations about a second surgery. I should mention here that baby #2 was only going to be 13 months older than baby #1. So I was caring for a baby while expecting my second. At the time I worked full-time at the local university advising undergraduate students. I loved my job, although it meant my daughter was in day care full-time. It would turn out to be a good thing I had a place to take her all day.

On Saturday night, October 12 and into the early morning of October 13 I was very sick. I was throwing up and so was my husband. We think we had food poisoning from undercooked pork. After several hours of being sick and failing to keep even water down my OB told me to go to L&D at the hospital. I was hooked up to monitors and proved to be having contractions. This was assumed to be due to dehydration. I was given anti-nausea medication and IV fluids. Oh, luckily my parents were in town visiting us, so my mom took me to the hospital while Travis stayed home with our daughter, who had turned one on October 10. I was able to sleep and things calmed down. My contractions stopped and I was sent home in the afternoon, with strict orders to rest (I was never checked for dilation). The nurse encouraged us to send Taylor to the babysitter on Monday while I stayed home and recovered. We're so glad we listened.

Monday morning, October 14, found me with some pretty significant back pain. I should note that I never really went into labor with my first child. I was induced and then given an epidural so early that I didn't remember feeling labor really begin. I thought my back was hurting because I had spent so much time in bed and I was largely pregnant. So I went to the mall. I needed to get some tights and socks for my daughter. I thought walking would help with the back pain. While in the mall I realized that I was having to stop to catch my breath as I was walking. On the way home I called my doctor, after pulling over in my van because the pain was so intense. While waiting for the doctor to call me back I let Travis know I thought something was going on. The doctor's office called back and told me to come in, but to have a friend drive me. Then my water broke.

Yeah, apparently I was in labor. I called the doctor back, they said go straight to the hospital. The friend I had called to pick me up was also very pregnant. We were supposed to have our babies on the same day, scheduled c-sections with the same doctor. I called her because she was the only person I knew would be home without any small kids with her. Travis was on his way but he worked about 25 minutes away. By the time my friend got there she had to call 911. I was on the floor in my bathroom in serious pain, and I knew something was wrong, but I wasn't sure what exactly.

The ambulance arrived and got to my bathroom. And said they could see the cord and a foot! Yes, the cord was already out and so was her foot. This was not good. They got me in the ambulance and were telling me not to push. That was really hard to avoid, but I did my best. We got to the hospital and were met outside by the ER doctor. Travis had arrived at the hospital before me; he was in the parking lot. I was rushed in, as the ER doctor could not detect a pulse in the cord, meaning my baby girl was without oxygen. Once inside a woman in business clothes started coaching/comforting me. She had been an L&D nurse for years before moving to the administrative side of things. She was wonderful, as was the ER doctor.

They put me in the elevator and then took me to the wrong floor. The poor people recovering from surgery were subjected to my screaming before they got me back in the elevator and to the right floor. By the time we got to L&D and near a delivery room Madeleine was mostly out. I think the OB caught her head coming out. At that point there was a team of nurses and a pediatrician ready to treat Madeleine. I was taken care of by the OB, a partner in the doctor's office. He was wonderful. The ER doctor came over and filled me in a bit on what he could and offered his support. Then it was time for the pediatrician to talk to us.

Madeleine was not breathing when she was born. They couldn't be sure how long she was without oxygen. Her arm was trembling, which was interpreted at the time as seizure activity. She was going to the NICU in the next city over. She was likely going to have severe brain damage, if she survived. I was numb. I didn't know what to say or do. We called our parents. Travis's parents lived in MA and quickly made flight arrangements. My parents got on the road and flew down the highway (they called Highway Patrol and got permission to drive with their hazards on as fast as safely possible!). By the time Madeleine left for the NICU they had upgraded her condition enough to send her via ambulance rather than helicopter. I got to hold her hand for a few minutes.

I had to stay in the hospital overnight. I had gone from a c-section delivery one year ago to an unmedicated foot-first breach delivery. That night I kept waking up, thinking of so many things. What if my one year old daughter had been home with me? What if I had locked my apartment door when I got home from shopping and hadn't been able to open it for my friend? So many what-ifs.

By midnight that night Madeleine was breathing on her own! She spent four days in the NICU. The trembling in her arm was nerve damage because her arm was over her head when she came out. We went home with a totally healthy, normal baby. She was 7 pounds, 7 ounces at 37 weeks! No sign of brain damage. No lasting problems. She's brilliant--truly gifted. She's our miracle.

So the next year, when I was having baby #3 via c-section on October 1, I told the nurses I was the lady who had the baby in the elevator! They thought I was a bit crazy. The attending nurse on my surgery was the woman in business clothes who coached me during Madeleine's birth. She felt called back to nursing. I can't say enough about the fabulous care I received at the hospital. And I can't tell this story without tearing up a little bit. We're so blessed!

Congratulations Sarah on your growing family. I hope my story didn't give you nightmares!


  1. Wow! Great story! Love the happy ending!

  2. Whew! What a ride, Nicole! You're right -- all births are something like miraculous, but when they include this much intrigue it seems so much more apparent! I'm glad Madeleine was safe and healthy after such a fearsome entry. And I'm so glad you had wonderful support during the deliver and afterwards.

    Thank you for sharing your story! It didn't quite give me nightmares, but probably because I was already fraught with worst-case scenarios anyway :) Plus, the happy ending helped!

  3. Wow, what an exciting story-thanks for sharing! Brought tears to my eyes....what a miracle!

  4. What a riveting story with an amazing outcome! This goes down as one of my new favorite birth stories :)

  5. Oh, wow, I was GLUED to my computer screen! What an amazing story!!

  6. Holy cow, that is exciting! And I'm so glad there was a happy ending (and beginning) for you and your sweet girl!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?