April 6, 2011
The OB was hovering during the end of the epidural experience because word had spread about all the trouble I was having. Once we were done with the epidural, she noted that my contractions were getting stronger and that I should be progressing. She wanted to get a sense of how strong the contractions actually were, so they decided to be an internal monitor in where the baby was, to get a good reading. It’s not a comfortable procedure, but since I had had the epidural I wasn’t supposed to feel it.
A nurse came in and tried to get the monitor situated (proving conclusively that the epidural was NOT working), but she couldn’t place it correctly because my amniotic sac hadn’t broken. I thought that when your water broke, it really broke, but apparently I had a “high leak”, which means that there was a tear at the top of the bag but not the bottom. So, they decided to break the bag so that they could place the monitor and, after an awkward interaction with something that looked very much like a crochet hook, my water was officially broken.
Almost immediately, the doctor became concerned with the baby’s heart rate. My contractions had gotten stronger, but without the fluid surrounding her, Eva had fallen on the cord and wasn’t tolerating the contractions. We watched her heart rate dip from 140 to 100 to 60 to 40 and suddenly the doctor was talking about a possible emergency c-section and how long the baby could be in distress before they were going to have to get it out.
I don’t remember too much of this clearly. I do remember staring at that heart rate monitor until my eyes started burning. I remember that they put an oxygen mask on me and people were talking to me, but mostly I just heard the oxygen coming in and listened to the beep of the baby’s heart rate as it dipped lower. The nurse started turning me from side to side, helping me as I tried to move my legs (useless from the anesthesia), so that we could move the baby off the cord. I know that she was calm and deliberate and she was the only one who didn’t try to reassure me or make me feel better. I loved her for that. Her seriousness was the only thing that kept my panic in check.
I have to give kudos to the doctor as well, since I feel like our regular OB would have immediately sent me to surgery to err on the safe side. The doctor that eventually delivered Eva was watchful, but very patient and obviously she trusted that my body would be able to fix the problem and everything would turn out ok. I’m sure that if surgery had been necessary, she wouldn’t have hesitated, but I really appreciate that she didn’t jump the gun when things started to take a bad turn. I was really starting to lose it and I know that if she had asked me, I probably would have told her to just cut Eva out because I didn’t want anything to happen to her, so it’s good that she kept control of the situtation.
In the grand scheme, it wasn’t the scariest thing that can happen, but I was terrified. Eventually, they decided to replace the amniotic fluid with some sort of substitute, which helped get the baby off the cord, but I remained on oxygen and we were all watching the monitor through each contraction. The nurse turned me away from the monitor after a while and I spent a long time holding Kyle’s hand and watching his eyes because I knew he’d tell me if her heart rate was good or bad.
My dad had left hours earlier, but he came back some time around then and he kept picking up my wrist and checking my pulse while all of this was happening. Even with the world narrowed down to Eva’s heartbeat, I remember thinking that it was funny how I was totally focused on her heartbeat since she was in distress and Dad was focused on whether or not the stress was going to put my own heart rate into arrhythmia. I knew he wanted me to relax, that everyone wanted me to relax, but once her heart rate started to dip there was no way I was going to relax until she was out. At that point, I would have done anything. If they had wanted to do a c-section right there with no anesthesia, I would have been game.