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The birth story of Caleb Jay Steele, born June 15th at 4:11 am via emergency c section. He weighed 8 lbs 12.5 oz and was 21 inches long. This story is much longer and more dramatic than I had originally anticipated. But as we all know, the best laid plans often change. However, I know I gave natural birth my best shot and Dr. Carr did as well.
On Monday June 14th I was scheduled for an induction as I had reached 42 weeks. I was not crazy about this idea and Dr. Carr was respectful of that and was going to work with me to do as little as possible to interfere.
The evening prior to my induction, I said to my Mom, “I wonder if I'm leaking amniotic fluid” because I was having what seemed like to be a lot of leaking fluid that evening. It turns out, I was. They left and overnight I became very uncomfortable and figured my back was just sore like normal, as I had been very uncomfortable for the final weeks of my pregnancy. At 4:30 am, I couldn't stand it anymore and had to get out of bed. I went upstairs and thought it may be contractions as I started to notice they were coming in waves. I went to contractionmaster.com and started timing them and they were averaging 3 minutes apart. After timing them for about 45 minutes, I woke Tim up and he was really excited and wanted me to come to bed to cuddle—I looked at him like he was crazy. He then proceeded to fall back asleep! Well, I woke him again about 15 minutes later and he apparently had thought he was dreaming that I had gone into labor! So we texted our family and friends telling them the good news that I had gone into labor on my own.
I then called the nurse online and they called back and after asking me a series of questions, told me to come in. We got to the hospital at about 6:30 am and got checked into our room (we got one with an AMAZING view). Dr. Carr came to see me at about 8:30 am and introduced me to the resident she had and explained to the team that I was aiming for as natural of labor as possible so they were to just leave me alone to labor and do minimal checks. So she did my initial check and I was 2 cm dilated, which I was at my appt the previous Friday. So they left and let me labor until almost 1 before she checked me again. I was at a 3. This was a little discouraging considering I had been in active labor this entire time. However, Dr. Carr was pleased with any progress so she left and let me continue to labor. I continued to labor throughout the day, making little progress at a time. By 8:30 pm I had only dilated to a 5. Dr. Carr and I had discussed starting pitocin at 8:30, as it had been 24 hours since my water had broken. My labor was back labor and I was able to work through them with Tim putting counterpressure on my back. I had done everything I could to move the labor along on my own. I had showered for an hour, used the birthing ball, sat in bed, all fours and nothing was working. My nurse was an amazing cheerleader for me (as was Tim) and she was very encouraging about how hard I had tried to move things along. I was proud of myself for what I had been doing. But, at this point, I was ready to move things along myself since I had been at the hospital for 14 hours and only progressed 3 cm to a 5. We started the pitocin at a very low dose and the contractions became stronger immediately. This entire day Caleb was handling labor like a champ.
I was able to breathe through them and I still felt ok. However, by 11 pm, my will was fading fast. The back labor was becoming unbearable. Nothing made it feel better and I felt like my back was going to split. I started crying and could not keep on top of the contractions. Part of me was hopeful this meant I was making progress. The contractions became one on top of another and I didn't think I could continue to do it. The nurse decided to check me to see if I had made any progress and I had decided if I had not I would get an epidural. Well I was still at a five after 3 hours of pitocin. This was very discouraging and I began to cry. I knew I needed to rest and I knew I had many hours yet to go.
I got the epidural around midnight and was told to sleep, which I did. This is when I started to feel like the poster child for the cascade of interventions. It had been over 28 hours since my water had broken and I had been in active labor for 20 hours. I went to sleep but was woke up at 1:30 by the resident who came in to check me and tell me that Caleb's heart was not tolerating the pitocin very well and they had to shut it off. I immediately got a sinking feeling that I knew Caleb was not going to come on his own. I just knew something was not right for this labor to go this long and I knew he had to be tired too. I had to get the internal monitor on Caleb because the external one could not keep track of him well enough, which had been an issue all day. Dr. Carr found that my sac had not in fact broken completely and had just a hole in it, so she broke my water the rest of the way.
At 3 am I woke up to several nurses being in the room and turning me from side to side. I had no idea what was going on. Jana was not joking when she told us if something goes wrong, you will suddenly see an entire team of people in your room and you will feel like you don't know what's going on. They had turned off the pitocin because Caleb's heart rate continued to drop. They only had me on 1 mg of pitocin when it was on, and the Dr said they typically go up to 30 mg, but had turned it off for most of the night. Turning me did not work and I saw people getting scrubs on in my room. We knew there was meconium in the amniotic fluid, so we were aware of the need for NICU to be in the room but there was many more people than that. People started moving very quickly. The resident reached up into my cervix and was trying to get Caleb “awake” to get his heart rate moving. Tim was pacing and standing over me like a hawk, prepared to be an advocate for me. Suddenly a nurse handed Tim a piece of paper to sign for consent for a c section. He refused until he could talk to Dr. Carr. I was panicking at that point. Then Dr. Carr came in and began working on Caleb from the outside while the resident worked from the inside. Nothing would get Caleb's heart rate up and he could not handle the contractions I was having on my own without pitocin. Dr. Carr looked at me and apologized and said they were going to have to do a c section. I asked her why this was all happening and she said she just thought he was tired and just couldn't keep up.
This is when the entire room changed. Suddenly I was being transferred to a new bed, and being rolled out of the room. I watched as nurses ran down the hallway (not something you want to see when your baby is still inside you.) I went in for the C section at that point. They told me Tim would not be able to come with me but the nurses would take care of him. The nurses enouraged me to continue to use my yoga breathing because I was crying and the doctors were also amazing and encouraging. Once I was in the room, they began surgery immediately and before I knew it Tim was standing next to me and I heard Caleb crying—the best noise I had ever heard. I didn't even know they had taken him out. I found out afterwards that typically in a “code red” c section they put people under general anesthesia but they decided to use my epidural so Tim was able to come in. Tim was with Caleb every single step of the way. The nurses were amazing with him. After surgery Dr. Carr told me that while he was at 0 station, Caleb was not actually engaged in my pelvis. The decision was made at 3:45 to do the c section and he was out by 4:11.
I was able to join Tim and Caleb about an hour later. Tim had never really held a baby before and I was brought into the room and saw him jut BEAMING with Caleb in his arms. He was perfect. His apgar scores were an 8 and 9, so he was apparently just stubborn. While I am sad I was not able to deliver him on my own, I know I gave it my best shot and the medical team respected my wishes all the way through the process. At the point where Caleb's heart rate would not go back up when there was no pitocin being used, I knew we needed the help.
Congratulations! What an emotional journey... I was getting a little teary. Sometimes there are just other plans for us than what we'd like. Thank goodness he's here, healthy and safe! You did a great job. You must be so happy to have little Caleb in your arms after such a long wait!