One week ago, I gave birth to the most beautiful, most perfect, most incredible little girl. I cannot believe it has already been one week… while Connor can’t believe it’s ONLY been one week.
While we’re all doing great, my physical recovery is moving at the speed of light, and my emotional recovery is slowly on the up and up, Emily’s arrival did not come without a few (thousand) hiccups.
Emily’s arrival into this world began with a very false water break the morning of Sunday, September 27th. Having never gone into labor before, I wasn’t sure if my water slightly broke or if I was just having an increase in discharge. Amniotic fluid is clear/straw colored and has no smell- the stuff leaking out of me was exactly that, but it wasn’t a gush or a trickle. Being 41+1, we didn’t want to risk anything, so we called the Dr., packed up our stuff, and left for the hospital.
We arrived at Norwalk Hospital around 10:00am. Upon arrival, we both got our temperatures taken and were brought into our private Labor and Delivery room. I instantly got COVID-19 tested (negative!) and got blood drawn. I also had my oral temperature taken every hour while there.
I got hooked up to fetal monitoring devices to register Emily’s heart rate and my contractions (if any). I was also given an IV drip for fluids and was given an antibiotic for Group B Strep. Group B Strep is a bacteria that 1 in 4 women have on their genitals. It is not harmful to the mother, but could be harmful if passed to the baby via vaginal birth- the antibiotics prevent that!
Once the doctor arrived, she examined my cervix and checked for any dilation and effacement. The conclusion was: I was STILL, after 4 WEEKS, only 1cm dilated with about 40% effacement. My water had indeed not broken, and I was nowhere near giving birth to our daughter. We talked about our options for delivery, including administering Pitocin to induce contractions, when we began talking about my scoliosis surgery.
I had surgery to correct a 50/50 curve in my back 10 years ago when I was 15. I had Harrington Rods put into my back on either side of my spine to prevent any more curvature. The robs themselves extend from the bottom of my neck to the top of my lumbar- quite a lot of rods! Since I had the surgery 10 years ago, we never discussed how that would affect my future prospects with having children- something that has been on my mind since then.
Regardless of talking about my surgery and rods with my OB, they didn’t seem to understand the severity of them. Because the natural birthing position is on your back, pushing, while curling your back into a C shape (which I cannot do physically), the doctors recommended considering a C-Section. Even if I was given Pitocin, labor may not have started for hours, even days, and could have ended in a C-Section anyway. Connor and I took time alone to discuss this, as it was a complete 180 from my original plan of a natural birth. We agreed that it would be the best thing for me so that I wouldn’t be in pain, wouldn’t risk breaking my tail bone, and wouldn’t be stressed while trying to deliver our baby.
We scheduled the surgery for 1:00pm the next day, September 28th- my own birthday! They gave me all of the pre-op information, including that I needed to stop drinking/eating after midnight, and I needed to prep the surgical area with special sterile wipes.
We were so excited that in 24 hours we would have our little girl!
The next morning at 7:30am I received a phone call from the doctor stating that they had made a scheduling mistake. They scheduled the delivering doctor twice- one for a gynecological surgery on top of my C-Section. This meant that they wouldn’t be able to deliver Emily on the date and time initially promised. We were devastated. We were so looking forward to meeting baby girl. We rescheduled for 7:30am the following morning- September 29th. We were able to enjoy my birthday in peace and quiet, one last day as a family of 2.
Overnight, I went into labor. I didn’t know it was labor at the time! I had intense pelvic pain and pressure and couldn’t find a comfortable position to sit or lay in. These pain periods would come in waves and wouldn’t last a very long time. Around 9:00pm, I noticed that they were coming almost exactly every 20 minutes, and were to the point that I had diarrhea or vomiting with every contraction. And that’s when it hit me… I was in labor.
The contractions were far enough apart where I knew we didn’t need to go to the hospital. especially because we had a scheduled C-Section not 7 hours later. I mustered up enough strength, mentally and physically, and got through them.
We left for the hospital around 4:00am after feeding two very confused kitties. I didn’t need another COVID-19 test, as my first one came back negative. We did a little more bloodwork and got my vitals taken. I didn’t need to be administered penicillin since I was having a C-Section. It was an easy morning so far!
My delivering doctor came in and we spoke about the C-Section, I signed a consent form, and waited to speak to the anesthesiologist about my spinal block. The spinal block was going to be put in place to numb me from below my breasts to the tips of my toes- I wouldn’t feel a thing.
About eight years ago, my maternal aunt was diagnosed with malignant hypothermia. She had an allergic reaction to general anesthesia and was in danger of dying. She had amazing doctors who took care of her and she made it out alright, but this was something so new and unheard of for us that we didn’t know what it meant. It is something that is hereditary, and my mother has yet to get tested, so every step of the way I made sure to note that this was a possibiltiy going into surgery.
Things got delayed a bit since our doctor had another delivery down the hall. While we waited I received antibiotics to ward off any infections from the surgery, for compressions socks on, and threw up a few times due to nerves (pro tip: if your procedure is getting close, don’t ask what time it is. You will get nervous and throw up).
Around 8:15-8:30am, our nurse came in and told us there had been a change of plans. Because of the possible deathly reaction to general anesthesia PLUS the Harrington rods, they moved my surgery to the main hospital OR, rather than the maternity OR. That’s not bad- except that if I received general anesthesia, Connor wouldn’t have been able to be in the OR with me. I would also be recovering in the main PACU instead of the maternity recovery ward, which meant I wouldn’t see Emily until I was cleared to go back down to my room in Maternity which could have been up to 3 hours. It all depended on how quickly I got feeling back into my legs and how quickly my vitals went back to normal. That was a little uncool and daunting.
We spoke with the head RN about our options and we’re given the thumbs up that no matter what happened, Connor would be with Emily every step of the way. This was the most important for us. I didn’t want our daughter to be without one of us, even if it meant not breastfeeding her until I made it down to the maternity ward.
What was scheduled for 7:30 didn’t end up kicking off until almost 9:00am. It was nerve wracking, waiting, and scary not knowing what the outcome of the spinal/general would be.
We eventually got up to the OR and Connor headed around the corner to wait for the word on my anesthesia. I was terrified, as I was fully awake and alert heading into the OR… alone… without my husband. Through it all, I was able to receive a very successful spinal block! I was scared shitless, was shaking quite a bit, and ended up crying pretty heavily (from pain/pressure, embarrassment, and utter nerves about the procedure and having a child), but our anesthesiologist was FANTASTIC. He calmed me down, talked to me thru the administration of the anesthesia, snd was truly there for me every step of the way. Our main nurse also allowed me to squeeze the absolute shit out of her hands, and all of the doctors and nurses complimented my tattoos- anything to get my mind off of the pain in the small of my back.
Once laid on the bed, I had a catheter put in, and Connor was brought in the room. They hung up a curtain so we couldn’t see what was going on. We didn’t go south of the wall!
I was completely numb from the underboob down, and was given a nice, heavy dosage of pain meds which made me a little loopy. I was constantly asking if my arms were okay, as I had lost some feeling in them as well. I was also given medication for anxiety and nausea- the two go hand in hand for me.
Our OB spoke to us through the whole procedure, telling us when I would feel pressure and what they were doing. I honestly couldn’t feel a thing. Not 10 minutes later, our fantastic OB said “There’s her head! Full of hair.” and the PA showed us our baby girl. Connors arm was in the way so I couldn’t really get a good look, but hearing her cry was all I needed to know she was healthy.
Emily Ruth Whiteley. Born on September 29th, 2020 at 9:49am Norwalk Hospital. 6lbs 15.3 oz, 20 inches long. She is perfect.
The PA called Connor over to the weigh station where he was able to watch her get her weight checked for the first time. After a few minutes, Connor brought her over to me and put her cheek on my cheek. She was the tiniest baby I had ever seen, and so flipping adorable (and that’s not just the pain meds talking). I immediately knew she was 100% her father.
Connor got whisked away to the recovery room while I remained getting stitched up. Once everything was done and cleaned (only another 20 minutes more) I was brought to the recovery room where I saw Connor. We ended up going to the main OR PACU so that we could be close to the anesthesia desk, but we were out in our own private room. This was a huge advantage because it meant that after 45 min we could meet Emily!
Once she was brought up from L&D, we immediately started skin to skin contact and I breastfed her for the first time. It was the most magical moment- I started crying once she latched on (without a hitch I might add) as did Connor. Watching our daughter feed from my breast is something that will never get old. Until she gets old! It was truly beautiful.
I became nauseous quickly due to excitement and overwhelming emotions, so Emily was brought down to our maternity room with Connor. I stayed to make sure that I could move my legs before we headed down. I also needed to make sure my heart rate was approved since it was pretty high due to anxiety and throwing up.
I made it down to the maternity ward around 12:30- just under 3 hours after Emily was born.
Giving birth was nothing how I imagined it would be- and I would NEVER trade my experience for anything else. I love my daughter. I love my husband. I love what my body did for us. And I cannot wait to see what life has in store for our family of three.