I stood there looking at my go bag by the front door debating if I should just put it in the car or not. Wasn’t like he obviously was coming out anytime soon. I had been living the past two weeks doing all that I could to help urge this little guy into making his debut. Every meal was doused with Tabasco, I wholeheartedly detailed my car inside and out, washed the dog, walked to get donuts with Noah, swam laps and even took a couple bike rides but no show yet.
Why not? All the more ready to rock for game day. As I started walking away, I paused to turn and mull over if I should also take the present my momma and I had gotten for Lincoln. Deciding it was smart to keep them together, we headed out the door around 10:00 am.
Noah had left early that morning for VBS and my mom and I fully intended to get through a day of errands. We hit staples, grabbed some lunch at Rubios, and decided to swing by the hospital I was intending to deliver at for a quick check up on babe and me. We figured it was one day past my due date and the increasing pressure I had been feeling in my pelvic area was the perfect nonchalant excuse to get an update.
To be honest, it probably was just to kill some boredom waiting time.
At the hospital, the babe cleared with perfect vitals, as did I, and was told dilation was at a mere 2 cm. On her way out, while stripping each glove off, the doctor confidently told me “You are not having a baby today, but you do need to drive out to the Riverside County Medical Center (RCMC) and set up a date to be induced. I can’t schedule inductions here and don’t want you floating around out there without a doctor and a plan.”
Since 32 weeks I had been working on getting transferred to any doctor. Sadly, the clinic I was at dropped the ball and attempted to transfer me too late in the game. Out of the five local OBGYNs, two couldn’t fit in another June delivery, one only takes on new patients at 28 weeks and the last two denied me because it was in my records I was placing for adoption. This left the Riverside County Medical Center in Moreno Valley, which I dreaded.
I was adamant and verbally expressed multiply times that I would not be delivering there when it was brought up from the beginning of the transfer process. I didn’t want to make the drive first off and the thought of a county hospital made me cringe.
At 38 weeks, my clinic told me, due to insurance purposes I could not come for my weekly appointments anymore, but, if anything happened, I was free to go to the local hospital to get checked up or deliver. Ok, fine. At this point I was so over the fight, felt discouraged by the whole situation and knew God wouldn’t leave Lincoln and I hanging.
I would have not been too worried about it but the only thing that bugged me was, it wasn’t my baby, and I had a duty to deliver him to his dad and mom safe and sound.
It was now 2:30pm on my car clock and my mom and I had just exited Cactus Rd. off the 215. Ew, Cactus Rd. I hate cactus. The whole 5 miles from the exit to the hospital I had nothing nice to say about the surrounding area and humorously joked that God had totally Jonah and the whaled me here.
We sat for three hours crammed in the itsy, bitsy labor and delivery waiting room. It was getting to be 6 o’clock and we were not only hungry but planning an exciting visit to Polly’s Pies on the way home. Walking to the front desk, I asked when I was going to be seen and reassured them I wasn’t trying to be induced or have a baby, I just needed to speak to someone about planning for a future delivery. Those must have been the magic words, because a couple minutes later, my name was called and I was walked to a triage bed. The nurse, Nancy, who was now working overtime, joined me as we took a seat on the bed to review my records I had brought. She discovered that my real due date wasn’t until the next day, the 14th, based off the 12 week ultrasound documented. Interesting.
Pausing after a thoughtful consideration, her solution was to hop on the bed and that a second check up wouldn’t hurt.
I changed into a gown, got body checked, vital checked, baby checked and gave my medical history lowdown to Nick, a student physician’s assistant to input into the computer. Nancy and Nick both nonchalantly dropped that I had made a big jump to 4 cm in a short time. Both had also brushed over that I might not be leaving and to hang tight while they waited for the doctors orders. Completely discrediting their subtle hints, my mom and I continued to discuss our dinner plans.
Couple minutes later, Nancy swished open the curtain and with a smile on her face and nod of her head says, “You ready to have a baby? I mean, not til after midnight, but you are going to have a baby today.”
Shocked, my mom and I looked at each other in utter disbelief. This was happening, and hysterically, it was happening here. I asked her if she was serious and if I should contact my people. Reality obviously had not hit yet, even after hearing those words. It was honestly the last thing I expected. She laughed, gave me the go and mixed me up a celebratory cocktail of 7up and cranberry juice paired with graham crackers. They didn’t have a room ready yet so I was told to, snack, walk and call while waiting.
I called Jonathan and Kristen, and in a calm tone told them I was calling to let them know that I just happened to be at a couple check ups that day and that RCMC just happened to be keeping me ….aanndd that today was probably the day they were going to meet their baby. With excitement Kristen screamed, “REALLY?!” and expressed they would wait for as long as they could, pack and then be on their way! I kept saying, “no rush,” but she adamantly told me they were not going to miss a second of it!
After a final confirmation check from resident Dr. Solomon and nurse Andy, I was told my room was ready! I was moved to a beautiful labor and delivery room with big windows featuring a gorgeous sunset and mountain views. As my mom explained to my dad the day’s happenings, she gave him the needs list he was to bring for the long-haul and I began texting my Doula, Aunt and ICA social worker a quarter to eight.
Watching the last bit of the sunset, I soaked up reality and felt myself beaming with joy as I danced around the room. Today WAS the day, who knew?!
Andy started me with a hibiclense shower and throughout my admitting questions expressed some of her family members had brought up the idea of adoption, which was just the beginning of the coincidences coming.
My dad was the first to arrive, shortly followed by Jonathon and Kristen. The ICA social workers and my Doula were next to arrive along with my aunt. We exchanged presents and enjoyed a sweet time of all visiting together.
I was introduced to Violetta, my nurse, who told me it was time to get in bed and hooked up to an IV. Since I wasn’t interested in getting an epidural until after 5cm, my Doula, Violetta and myself worked out a plan to walk the hallways for a half hour before cementing myself to the hospital bed. Sweetly, Violetta reluctantly agreed to the plan and gave Gaile an awesome opportunity to start her photography documenting the birth.
Gaile, my doula, was a connection sparked by a dear friend whose son has been in the same class as Noah since kindergarten. She wanted to get me something and Gaile, from one of her mom’s groups, offered her services as a gift. Knowing what a blessing it was, but not understanding the vital need for a Doula, I was over the moon by her generous offer of kindness and support in the final weeks prior. She was expected to have surgery the week of my due date but it had been rescheduled for September. Interesting, right? She not only offered me labor and delivery preparation, but an empowering knowledge of risks and benefits of hospital practices that take place during labor and delivery. She gave me the whole package, and included birth photography, placenta encapsulation and prepared a detailed birth plan for the hospital staff, while also reaching out to involve Kristen. It was an amazing and unexpected blessing.
Gaile and I were finishing up the session of walking when Kristin had slipped out to give me the heads up hospital policy only allows two visitors, aka clear out the party in room 3309. So my dad left, and Jonathon and Kristen joined our ICA workers in the waiting room to appease the situation.
They started me on an IV at 11:15 pm, which hurt like heck and was planted on my right hand. I have to say that was one of the more negative memories of the night since I was highly sensitive to each beginning pump of new fluid and cringed when the bags were changed out and in. Dr. Tustinson was on night shift until 7 am and explained her plan of water breakage then pitocin if no progress had happened. Another cool adoption connection was that she had earlier shared with my momma her brother had just adopted two and that weekend, the family was celebrating the finalization.
Dr. Tustinson and the team came in at 11:41 for a check and because I was still at 5 cm and now 90% effaced, it was time to break the water in hopes to pick up the pace.
Dr. Kore, a rad 28 year old lady anesthesiologist, who also happened to be adopted, had swung by a couple times to gauge when I wanted my epidural and recommended now was probably the best time. Not wanting to miss my opportunity for a happier delivery and with contractions becoming more steady, around 12:45 she placed the epidural. Now and with Noah, this part was probably the worst memory of all. As I hugged the pillow, trying to relax and breath through the process, the waves of hormonal body shakes (just natural during labor) made it ridiculously hard to keep still. Just like the IV, I felt every injection of new fluid enter my back and it was painful.
At 1:45, I was between 5 -6 cm and was tucked in for a nap. Awaking to the baby’s monitor going off at 2:57, he had reached an alarming deceleration of 4 min and contractions for some reason started spacing out, so the team started me on a steady drip of pitocin but ended up stopping it due to baby not liking it. A check showed I was still at 5 cm, so a dose of Terbutaline to slow contractions and figure out what was going on with baby lead to an even bigger team surrounding my bed 3 minutes later.
Being strapped with an oxygen mask, I was told I needed to get on my hands and knees. . . With zero feeling in my lower half and 5000 pound legs but, game for anything, I asked the only logical question that came to mind, “How do you want me to get there?” Working together, we did it. Nine months pregnant, windows wide open and a hospital gown that not only didn’t close up in the back but refused to cover my exposure, I had to take a second to soak up the embarrassment and crack up. Taking a deep breath, I gathered myself and by 3:07 baby was safely back on the monitor and me back in bed.
With internal monitoring being far more accurate than external, the team said they would be able measure the strength of my contractions, keep a closer eye on baby’s heart rate and find a safe level of pitocin for the both of us. Now 3:15 and the internal monitors in, I measured at 7 cm, 80% effaced, -2 station. Taking a moment to relax, I visited with Gaile, my momma and Aunt, ate ice chips, which were simply blissful, and shifted pelvic positions using a peanut ball to help wiggle the little guy down.
By 4:27, I felt like I had a cantaloupe hammocked in my lady parts and had a slight headache coming on. Now between 8 – 9 cm, the baby was down to a -1! PROGRESS!
Continuing to change positions, the 6:30 check had me at 9.5 cm, 100% effaced, 0 station. The next check at 8:11 showed no change and I was now sitting up in hopes this would bring the baby lower down the cervix. With a shift change happening, Violetta gave a round of hugs to the whole room and passed the baton to Shari, my new delivery nurse.
I started laboring down and giving a couple practice pushes around 9:30. With a little help from Shari, I was able to make a little more progress but was starting to feel nauseous, regain leg movement and the pressure building up was becoming intensely uncomfortable. At this, the new anesthesiologist on shift granted me the pleasure of crafting quite a cocktail of Fentanyl and who knows what. I don’t know how long I felt like I was tripping out for, but I have to say it scared me to the point I asked my mom and Kristen to pray with me. I felt drugged and mentally loopy. The only way I could explain it to the room was that I felt like I was in abstract thought from Inside Out. OF COURSE, no one knew what I was talking about but I came out just fine an hour later and started a very peaceful time of rest and snacking on ice chips.
After a quick visit from Jonathon and Kristen to see how I was doing, the baby’s monitors started going off and continued to for longer than expected. Two nurses flew through the door and to my bedside. They let me know baby wasn’t recovering from a decel and that we needed to start rocking me from side to side. At this, the charge nurse called for the doctor. Urgency hit the room like a tornado, and the room flooded with the doctor, nurses and the nicu team. The nurse asked me to hold my legs and I felt the first of my tears slide down my face. It was time. All I could say was, “Someone get Kristen!”
Gaile had sent her a text to get here and get her gown on ASAP at 11:42.
The doctor, stepped up and smiled, I, as silly as ever, threw up my hand for a handshake and said, “I’m Caitlin.” Laughing, he put up his gloved hands in the air like, I’m sanitary, your not, duhh. As calm as ever, he asked me to move my hips up. I did it without thinking and he responded, “Ok, good, you’re a strong one. Are you familiar with vacuums?” I said I had them with my first and he nodded in approval and asked me if I was ready, telling me to push.
This was one of the most surreal moments of my life. It felt like no one else was in the room except for the doctor and I. We had close to 20 people in that delivery room but I was in such a peaceful place after I saw Kristen race into the room seconds before that first push. He told me to push again, this time a good one. I heard someone say the head is out and he calmly told me to stop, the umbilical cord had gotten wrapped and he needed to cut it. Seconds later, locking eyes, he told me that this was it, couple more pushes and Lincoln was out.
Lincoln was beautiful, and so perfect. No one could hold their tears back.
Five minutes after, Kristen was given immediate skin to skin contact. I did have a first degree tear so after the final stitch up and getting myself into a decent sitting position, Jonathon was beckoned in, joining Kristen and Lincoln, while I satisfyingly enjoyed a long deserved vanilla pudding.
We were then given one amazing hour together to soak up the sweetness of life. Gaile mentioned that the love in the room was so thick, you could cut it with a knife and I could not agree with her more.
Follow the link to check out the complete album of Gaile’s photography!
I’m an open book so please don’t hesitate any hankering to question or comment :))
Do stay tuned for the coming postpartum story and follow me as I move through the newest, realest chapters of life as a birthmom among everything else!