First and foremost, this will officially be my longest blog EVER. Second, although I will try and keep is as clean and free from gore as possible, there may be some specifics and details that might make the average reader uncomfortable. I just wanted to give my honest experience. If you don’t think you’ll be comfortable reading this, I completely understand.
In the days leading up to Caleb’s birth, I began to get so jealous of any other women I saw (or heard) in labor on the Labor & Delivery ward. I was having mild Braxton Hicks contractions, and other than my swollen belly, I had no signs that labor was imminent. My now weekly appointments were anti-climatic, as every exam showed I hadn’t dilated even half a centimeter yet. I felt desperate to meet the kicking baby who had taken over my life and helpless to kick start the event.
The morning before my due date, October 3rd (my mom’s birthday!), I discovered I was beginning to lose my mucus plug. It was very exciting to think we were finally starting the process! I knew it could still be days, but at least there was some indication that we were on our way.
I had an appointment that afternoon with a new doctor. I dropped mom off at the base gym on Lakenheath and decided to drive to Mildenhall to check my mail. I had a feeling that it was going to go down, if not today, very soon. So I wanted to check my mail because I knew it may be a while before I’d have the chance to do it again. Before I left Lakenheath, I decided to eat lunch at Popeye’s. I hoped it would be my last pregnant meal, and it was! I was already beginning to experience more contractions.
On the drive over to Mildenhall, my contractions got stronger and more frequent. Because I was driving, and because I didn’t want to get my hopes up, I didn’t pay close attention to how frequent or how long, but I’d say I probably had about 5 or 6 in an hour. I checked my mail, and drove back to Lakenheath to pick up mom.
By the time we got to the appointment at 2:40 pm, my contractions were a little less frequent. My blood pressure had been slightly above the normal range for the last three weeks. However, each time I went to L & D for a half-hour BP screening, and everything would be fine. My BP was again high, and because I was only one day shy of my due date, the doctor started talking about inducing. It was pretty scary. I really didn’t want any medical interventions this early in my labor because I knew once you start down that path, it’s hard to get off it. I had an idea that I’d like to try to do my labor naturally (without meds) if possible, but with the doctor talking of C-Section possibilities, it seemed less likely. When he left the room, I began crying and was so relieved that my mom was with me.
The doctor came back and said that they were going to go ahead and admit me and induce me, so I walked from the OB/GYN clinic over to the Labor & Delivery ward down the hall. This was a little after 3 pm. First thing they asked me to do was strip down and get into one of those super-sexy hospital gowns. I wasn’t even allowed to leave my wedding ring on! Then they hooked me up to a few different monitors. The doctor from my appointment had been talking about a type of suppository pill they would place inside of me to ripen my cervix and get my labor going. But the monitors indicated that I was having regular contractions, so it was too late for that plan of action.
Instead they decided to go ahead and give me Petocin (a medicine designed to increase the frequency and intensity of contractions) and to give me a Foley catheter bulb. The later is something they inserted to mechanically dilate my cervix. Sounds awful, right? Well, it was about as fun as you’d expect. My contractions instantly got much worse. Mom and I were doing our Lamaze breathing, and I had her put out a picture of my husband and my nephew Ben as my focal points.
I continued trying my best to stick to my plan of natural child birth. The staff let me use a stability ball, which helps to ease joint pain and encourage the baby to come down the birth canal. They also brought in a rocking chair for me to rock on. The problem was that my monitors wouldn’t stay put when I used either of those. I didn’t care much about my monitors at that point, and was beginning to care less and less about decorum and modesty. Just about everyone had seen bits and pieces of me.
At about 6 or 7 pm, Dr Adams came in to check the progress of the catheter bulb and did an exam. I had dilated to 4 centimeters, so she broke my water to encourage my labor to progress further. The contractions really kicked it up a notch then, and the “hee hee hoo”s were plentiful! Mom was a great labor partner. She really kept her cool and didn’t nag me at all.
By 9:30 pm, it was all I could do to keep breathing through the contractions. I had already asked for IV drugs (I think they gave me Stadol, which helped me sleep between contractions but really didn’t do much to ease the pain.) I finally asked for the epidural. The anesthesiologist arrived at about 10:00 or 10:30 and I finally received the first epidural around 11 pm.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well. The right side of my body could effectively feel very little. But the left side of my body was still feeling the full strength of the contractions. The anesthesiologist monitored me for about an hour and made minor adjustments to the epidural before deciding he needed to do it again. Great! So I sat back up on the bed, hunched over mom’s shoulder so he could take the first needle out of my spine and stick the next one in. It was so hard to remain still during contractions so he could do his job, but I guess I did alright, because the next epidural took just fine! After that, I could barely feel the contractions at all. It was such a relief! I was able to get some sleep, which I really needed. I was so tired by that point.
Dr. Adams came back in around 1 am to do an exam, and I was almost fully dilated. By 2 am, I was fully dilated and ready to go. That’s when the real fun began!
The first labor position she had me try was on my side. I laid on my left side with my right leg up in the air supported by mom. Dr. Adams told me to push like I was having a bowel movement when the contractions came, so I did just that. Both she and the tech told me how great I was pushing, so I kept it up. Every time a contraction came, I pushed like I was on the toilet, and they would get so excited and tell me what good job I was doing and that this baby would be out in no time!
Unfortunately, that was not the case! I don’t know how long I had been pushing when Dr. Adams discovered that the baby was sunny-side-up. Instead of being face down, which allows the narrowest part of the baby’s head to push through the canal, the baby was face up, so that the widest part of his head was trying to make an entrance, but it was stuck behind my pubic bone.
I rotated to my right side and pushed from that side for a while. Even though I was pushing correctly and using all my strength, the baby still wouldn’t budge. Dr. Adams suggested that I get on my hands and knees and push that way. I had read that this position could sometimes encourage a sunny-side-up baby to turn just enough to come out. I pushed this way for a while, but no luck.
After I don’t know how long, she asked if I had the strength to squat, and I said I’d try. So they brought out what looked like a small jungle gym bar that they put into the bed. They took off the very end of the bed, and when the contractions came I would literally pull myself up (with help from mom and the nurse) from the bed and hang from this bar while squatting on the lower part of the bed. It actually felt like it was doing some good and I was progressing. But still Caleb wouldn’t come.
After two hours of pushing, Dr. Adams recommended a vacuum extractor (a suction-cup type device they attach to the baby’s head. A tech provides vacuum suction while I push through a contraction.) I had already lost my minimal medical intervention labor, and I knew that I myself had been delivered with the help of vacuum extraction, so we decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, two vacuum attempts later, Caleb was no closer to being out.
Dr. Adams said at this point I could either keep pushing, she could try forceps, or soon we’d have to think about a C-Section. I really didn’t want a C-Section or forceps, so I thought I’d just bear down and get that baby out! I kept pushing and pushing and pushing. When the nurse said I’d been pushing for three hours, I knew I had to make a decision. I still wanted to avoid a C-Section if at all possible, but I knew I couldn’t push for much longer. I finally caved to forceps.
Dr. Adams prepared the forceps, and I kept pushing just hoping maybe we’d get lucky and Caleb would pop right out! When I saw the cold metal forceps, I began to thank God for the epidural! Yikes! Well, once everything was ready and Dr. Adams got the forceps in place, I pushed with all my might at my next contraction and she pulled with all her might, and next thing you know, Caleb had popped right out! I was so relieved I began laughing and crying and just felt overwhelmed to finally be done. It was just before 6 am. Mom cut the umbilical cord.
The techs took Caleb to the warming table and began aspirating his nose and doing their work. Mom was keeping an eye on him, and I was trying my best to see him from where I was. A minute later, the phone in my room rang, and it was my husband! He had been calling periodically throughout the night to check on me, and his timing was perfect now. He was within minutes of Caleb’s arrival.
The techs had to take Caleb to the nursery because of his rough journey out to make sure all was well. In the mean time, I remember Dr. Adams telling the anesthesiologist to numb me up good so I could feel nothing from the waist down. She began working to repair the tears, and I chatted on the phone with Tommy. I was so tired, though, that I kept falling asleep. Finally I told him I had to get some rest and slept through the rest of the repair, which took about an hour.
Mom had followed Caleb to the nursery to keep an eye on him. His poor head was so misshapen from the forceps! Because his breathing was a little labored and erratic, they kept him in the nursery for most of the morning, which was so hard for me. Because I had received so many drugs at the end for my repair, I couldn’t leave the ward for a few hours. I kept begging for them to bring me my baby, but he had to be cleared by the pediatrician first.
I was bound and determined to get off the L & D ward and into the maternity ward, so when they asked if I could stand, I said, “Yes!” I followed a nurse into the bathroom to go over cleaning and care, but I felt really woozy and strange. When I got up off the toilet to leave the bathroom, I passed out! Next thing I knew, I had three doctors and a nurse picking me up off the toilet and helping me walk to my bed. So much for getting off the ward! Finally the pediatrician cleared Caleb and a nurse brought him to my delivery room until we could leave the ward. It was so wonderful to see his little face! He was so tiny and perfect, aside from his poor misshapen head! I was so relieved to finally have him out of my belly and in my arms.
It was a long night, and one I hope I don’t have to relive again. But it had the best end result: a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Caleb Hunter Kazmierski was born on October 4th, 2007 at 5:48 am. He weighed 6 lbs 12 oz and was 19 ½ inches long.