The past four weeks have been pretty hectic. My sweet girl is sleeping peacefully in her bassinet, allowing me the opportunity to make some online updates. So here it is, the birth story of Khloë as I remember it:
I never made it to my next midwife appointment, nor to my due date of December 16th. At 6:40 am on the morning of December 2nd, at 38 weeks on the dot, my water broke! I had been laying in bed when I felt a small trickle. I sat up, unsure, and felt a heavier trickle which alarmed me enough to hop out of bed and run for the bathroom–by the time I made it across the hall my pants were soaked in a big gush of fluid. My first thought was, “As if this just happened”, because it was just like in the movies with the waters gushing out unexpectedly. My second was, “Uh oh, how am I going to get to the phone?!” I ended up wrapping a towel around myself to go grab the telephone. I hurriedly called my husband on his cell. He had left for Kingston the night before, returning to his course. I caught him on his way to breakfast.
“Hi honey. Guess what?”
“My water just broke!”
“Does that mean I have to come home right now?”
I told him I hadn’t felt any contractions yet and that I would get back to him after calling my mom and paging the midwives. I quickly called my mom, who was heading to work shortly. I explained what happened and she said that she would have to go to work first but she would be able to drive up today if I really needed her. Then I paged the midwives and waited for a call back. Suki answered the page and I gave her the heads up: “No contractions, amniotic fluid clear. What do I do now?” Knowing I was positive for Group B Strep, I had a certain amount of time before I had to go to the hospital to start antibiotics. I am allergic to penicillin and amoxicillin which are normally administered every 4 hours through IV; instead I would receive clindamycin every 8 hours. Suki said I was to go to the hospital for noon to start the drugs, she would call ahead, and she would make sure the nurse put in a locking IV so that I could return home afterward. She also suggested I tell my husband to think about making the 3 hour drive home.
I called my mom back and she assured me she could leave work and would be at my house by 11:30 am at the latest to take me to the hospital. Jordan had to stay in Kingston to write a test but I felt much better knowing my mom was on her way. I assured Jordan there was no rush, that it could be hours yet before anything happened, and that he should stay to finish the day. Next I called my “emergency” ride, Melissa, and explained the situation.
Then I waited…and waited. Had a quick shower and got dressed in clean clothes. Texted my sisters, Crystal and Keesje. Skyped with Keesje and Ashe. Called my mother-in-law, Charlene, to let her know what was going on. She was actually scheduled to fly to Ontario on December 4th to stay with me before the baby was born. She couldn’t believe that I would most likely have the baby before she even arrived!
Finally my mom arrived by 11:30 am. I still had not experienced any contractions but I was leaking amniotic fluid every time I stood up. We made the 30 minute drive to Pembroke Regional Hospital. A nurse inserted a locking IV in my left arm (ouch!) and started the clindamycin. We were there until almost 3 o’ clock and then headed home. By 4:15 pm, I began to feel contractions that felt like mild period cramps. Okay, I can do this!
I called my husband and told him he had better start driving! My next dose of antibiotics was at 9:00 pm.
Jordan made it home in time for the three of us to head back to the hospital for dose #2. This time the drugs went in faster and we were only there for an hour. Seemed a waste of a 30 minute drive but I was not ready to be admitted. We stopped at Shoppers Drug Mart on the way home to pick up Gravol. I took two Tylenol and two Gravol and crawled into bed, hoping to get some sleep; it had been a long day and no progress had been made. Sometime in the night the contractions started back up, but much more painful and about 8-9 minutes apart. They slowly increased in intensity and got to the point where being in bed was extremely uncomfortable. I got out of bed and went into the living room where I was able to either sit hunched over or lean on the counter during a contraction. Unfortunately I hadn’t been able to sleep, but my mom and Jordan did. I woke them up at 3:30 am and we all got ready to head back to Pembroke Hospital for dose #3 at 4:30 am. It was December 3rd, my brother’s birthday.
Once at the hospital they decided to admit me. I was tired of going back and forth and soon I would be hitting the 24 hour mark of my water breaking. The nurse on duty was super nice and gave me the “best” private room at the end of the hall. I would labour, deliver, and remain in this room during my hospital stay. I received the dose of drugs and tried my best to rest while the nurses monitored the baby. When I wasn’t being monitored, Mom and I walked the halls hoping to kick-start those irregular contractions. Early in the morning Suki arrived. She checked my cervix and performed a “stretch and sweep” (which hurt like hell, I must add); then she informed me I was only 2 cm dilated. All this time, and my body was not doing what it was supposed to. Due to the whole Group B Strep bacteria, checking my cervix was to be limited.
By 10:30 am, Kilmeny (who ended up being my primary midwife) said I would have to be induced. I was not happy about that–one intervention leads to another–but I also knew that it had to be done. An induction means transfer of care from my midwife to an obstetrician. Kilmeny would stay with me the whole time, however. I was hooked up to the dreaded pitocin. Slowly the dosage was increased until the contractions became regular and very painful. Kilmeny suggested I take Dilaudid (a narcotic) for pain relief to take the edge off the pain and so that I could get some much-needed rest. I agreed to this; it was something we had previously discussed.
At 2:45 pm I was given a full dose of Dilaudid with Gravol by needle. Oh my God, did it ever burn! And then dose #4 of clindamycin. Here is where events get a little hazy…
The Dilaudid and Gravol combo made me feel woozy, like I was watching events unfold from far away. Yes, it did take the edge off the pain, and yes I was able to rest in between contractions. Because I was so sleepy, though, it became difficult to speak coherently and to answer questions.
At some point the obstetrician checked my cervix and, without telling me what he was doing, broke a hidden water sac which was apparently the cause of my not progressing. Something he did really hurt and I remember yelling when I saw the hook emerge from between my legs. He informed me I was 4 cm. Seriously?!
By evening, if I recall correctly, the narcotic was wearing off. I became very aware of the intensity of the contractions and how fast they were coming on. I was practically climbing the hospital bed during each one, as if I was trying to escape them. I asked for more drugs, anything, please make the pain stop, etc. Kilmeny said I could have an epidural, but I would have to wait an hour for the anesthesiologist. Okay fine, but I needed something right now. The OB said I was allowed a half dose of Dilaudid, but that didn’t help much. I was struggling with breathing through the contractions.
I remember completely breaking down when I waited the hour and then was informed it would be another half hour before the epidural. I started hyperventilating and crying uncontrollably and couldn’t calm myself down. Kilmeny took charge and firmly talked me down from the ledge, so to speak. She coached my breathing until I was (relatively) calm and able to breathe through the contractions. I don’t think I have ever felt pain like that before. I did get through that excruciatingly long half hour and then I was prepped for the epidural insertion.
I don’t remember the needle hurting at all. I do remember sitting on the edge of the bed, hunched over, with my feet on Kilmeny’s chair while she held me steady. I do remember trying so hard to be still as a contraction ripped through my body. And then it was done.
Once the pain relief kicked in, the nurses kept testing the extent of my numbness with ice. After awhile I could feel my legs again, although they felt heavy, and those contractions kept hitting hard. The nurses were only allowed to up the dosage a certain amount while the anesthesiologist was away. (She never returned because she was in surgery.) The OB came in to check my cervix again and announced I was at 8 cm. So close! I couldn’t believe I had waited that long for an epidural, but it didn’t seem to be doing much anyway. He also said that if I didn’t progress any further in the next two hours, I would be prepped for a c-section. I got really upset when he told me that because I am terrified of having one.
Luckily within an hour Kilmeny confirmed I’d reached 10 cm and was ready to push! At first she let me lay on my right side to push. But this caused an excruciating pain in my right hip, worse than the contractions! I was turned onto my back and Jordan grabbed one leg, my mom the other, and I pushed that way for what felt like ages. I was so exhausted that I felt like I wasn’t putting enough energy into pushing, but I was told later by my midwife that I actually did really well.
And then Baby Girl got stuck! Turned out she was facing up, rather than down. The obstetrician returned once again, this time with a team of nurses, and took over from Kilmeny. He explained that he would use a suction vacuum to assist the baby out of the birth canal; he would also have to perform an episiotomy. Yikes!
After an hour of pushing and with assistance of the vacuum, at 9:22 pm, Khloë Willow Alexandra was born! She was immediately placed in my arms. I couldn’t believe I was finally holding our baby girl! She was covered in a thick white layer of vernix and Jordan made the comment that “she looks like a chicken”, hence the nickname Little Chicken. She weighed 7 lbs 4 oz and was 19 inches long. No one guessed I would have a baby that big! Imagine what she would have weighed if she had been on time or overdue?! After being cleaned up, Khloë nursed right away.
Things were a bit of a whirlwind after that. Jordan spent the night in our room while Mom went back to our house. I was awake most of the night from either breastfeeding or being poked by nurses. Sleeping in a hospital is impossible. I don’t remember ever feeling this kind of exhaustion before.
Blood-work that was taken earlier came back showing an iron deficiency. Anemic! This meant I had to stay in the hospital until Thursday (I gave birth on a Tuesday). The next night I was alone since Jordan had to head back to Kingston for work. That was the worst night because I still hadn’t slept and Khloë fussed a lot. Finally at 3:00 am I asked the night nurse to take her so I could rest. When she rolled my baby out of the room I started crying because I wanted her back and felt awful for sending her away. I knew I had to try to get some sleep, though, or I would be no good to anyone, let alone a brand-new baby! I woke up at 6:00 am and paged for the nurse to bring her back.
Later in the morning, on Thursday, Khloë had her heels pricked and a release was signed for her. However, I still hadn’t been released. Mom showed up around breakfast time and we waited and waited until after lunch, when finally my release was signed. Time to go home! We made a pit stop at Walmart to pick up a specific kind of iron pills that wouldn’t upset my stomach, but they didn’t have any in stock. I ended up having to nurse the baby at the back of the store before we could head to the drug store. And then–at last–we made it home!
Dec 4: When we left the hospital, Khloë weighed 6 lb 14 oz.
Dec 9: Suki made a home visit and Khloë weighed 6 lb 10 oz and had mild jaundice.
Dec 12: Khloë visited her family doctor and weighed 7 lb 1 oz.
Dec 14: Another home visit from Suki and Khloë weighed 7 lb 2 oz.
Dec 20: On our last home visit Khloë weighed 7 lb 10 oz.
Jan 9: Upon discharge from midwife care, Khloë weighed 9 lb 15 oz.