Saturday, July 3, 2010

The eventful birth of Maisie Claire

Ideally I would have gone into labor on (or before) my due date because passing that date, the date you dreamed about for so long, is pure torture. It just passes like any other day which only leaves you to spend hours (and hours. and hours) googling "signs of early labor" or "first signs of labor".  I was lucky and only went four days over, but still those four days felt longer than my whole third trimester did. Especially seeing how my midwife was convinced I was going to have Maisie up to two weeks early. If I hadn't gone into labor by the 17th I was scheduled to be induced and thank heaven it didn't come to that. Maisie just needed the extra 4 days to prepare for her big entrance, because boy, it's hard work for both mamas and babies. 

Convinced I was going to have Maisie sooner than later and with the growing of excitement (and belly) I tried to help get things started. Things that I tried: (including, but not limited to) miles a day of walking, lunging up stairs, drinking raspberry leaf tea, extremely spicy food, and yes a tablespoon of castor oil (note to self: never do that again) I was making myself exhausted and literally sick (er... castor oil) trying to force labor. So I gave up trying on the day of my due date which was Monday the 10th.

Later that week my sister Katie flew in, in hopes to be present for the labor and birth. I had my last midwife appointment the morning we picked Katie up from the airport which was Wednesday the 12th at 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I was 100% effaced and 2 cms dilated, which wasn't that much different from my stats just the week before when I was  60% effaced and 1.5 cms. So I ignored them and decided to go with the flow. 

Katie and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning chatting, laughing, discussing birth and life. We talked about what Maisie might look like, but I remember I couldn't actually imagine it. It was surreal that I was going to finally see her face after dreaming about her for so long. After only a few hours of sleep I woke up at my normal hour of 7 am with now that I think about it, very sure signs I was starting labor, but again I ignored them. We all got ready for the day and headed out for some shopping and brunch. While eating brunch at Via Delizia I started to have contractions. They weren't painful, but they were strong enough that they would move the table up and down. We all would laugh as the table shifted with every contraction. Yet again, I tried to ignore all the signs that could lead to disappointment.

On the way home I started realzing the contractions were different this time around. I wasn't going to admit it out loud yet, but I had a good idea. We were planning on going to Washington Square, but I was feeling pretty crampy and tired so we went home instead. After an hour of being home around 4 o'clock ish I knew this time, without a doubt, it was real deal. I was cleaning up the kitchen when I realized I needed to relax. My body was already so tired from the lack of sleep the night before, so I laid on the couch and started timing my contractions. Which in hindsight I wish I hadn't because I could have been resting, instead of counting and what not. We started discussing dinner plans until I completely lost my appetite. There wasn't one thing I wanted to eat. Things progressed every hour and around 8 o'clock pm I called my midwife to tell her that I was in labor. The contractions were 8-9 minutes apart, very consistant and growing with intensity. I knew it was the real thing, but I also knew it wasn't time to head to the hospital. Another few hours went by and the pain was much more real. I stayed calm and relaxed, but I was growing more and more uncomfortable. Austin called the midwife again around 11:30pm and this time she evaluated me over the phone. This time she could hear the contraction in my voice as I was talking. "Ok, I think you are ready to come in now." I was relieved, but there was no way I wanted to drive all the way to the hospital to be sent home because I wasn't far along enough along blah blah blah, so I toughed it out at home for another 4 hours. I pretty much was in the bath tub the whole time while Austin and Katie tried to get some sleep.

I got out of the bath around 3:30am, put on a night gown and walked into our dark quiet room and sat next to Austin. I rubbed his shoulder and he startled awake. "Are you ok?" he asked me and I reassured him that I was fine, but that it was probably time to get to the hospital. I hugged my sister before we left with all of our bags. I remember her saying that I looked cute and I rolled my eyes. We lived on the third story of our apartment so walking (if that's what you want to call it) down those stairs was quite the feat. After what seemed like an eternity, we got to the car. I remember getting super emotional because this was the last time we were leaving our home as the two of us. That 30+ minute car ride must have been an interesting one for Austin because the whole time I was super irrational. I was hysterically crying the whole time about Katie missing the birth or her "being kidnapped/raped by a cabbie". Since we didn't know the status of labor she was just going to take a cab over early in the morning, so at least one of us could get some sleep.

When we pulled up to labor and delivery I remember that walk being the hardest. It seemed I couldn't go more than a few steps with out a contraction stopping me in my tracks, so I would hold onto Austin until the contraction subsided. I finally got set up into the triage room where I was still recovering from my car ride long panic attack because my blood pressure was through the roof, so the nurse took my blood to make sure I wasn't preeclamptic (which I wasn't). As I continued to sob the nurse thought it was because of pain, but i explained to her I was just nervous/excited/emotional and that while yes the contractions were painful, I was able to get through them. I remember her making a comment somewhere along the lines of "well, if you do end up being admitted" and that's when I informed her that if this wasn't labor I don't know what is. She finished the exam and sure enough I was dilated to a 4 double what I was just the morning before. Plus my contractions were 2 minutes long and 4 minutes apart. I was a little disappointed that I was only at a 4, but my mom has a history of long labors, so I knew I was in for a long one, but a girl can dream right?

At 5:30am and going on 22 hours with no sleep, I was admitted into my wonderful labor suite. I was incredibly tired, but still doing well. I labored in and out of the bath for hours. I would get through my contactions best either in the bath or standing up/walking, but all I wanted to do was lay down and sleep. This feeling got worse has hours passed. After seeing how much I liked being in the bath (I seriously took an insane amount baths in a matter of a few hours) the nurses and midwifes offered to fill up the huge labor tub. It was nice, but it didn't offer as much help as I anticipated, but I was a lot further along now. I remember in the tub, the first feeling of I don't know if I can do this as it was becoming much harder to relax. Even sitting a huge tub with water up to my chin, I was still finding it impossible to slip into the relaxation state. I remember letting my arms float on the water and just focusing on my finger tips as the faucet dripped slow and steady drops of water into the tub. I remember thinking if I can't relax here, in this spot, right now, how am I going to do this? I soaked in there for over an hour praying to could sleep, because a sleep deprived Sammie is useless. 

I got out of the tub at 9 am and at 10 am I had another exam. This time I was 6 cms. I wasn't discouraged, but man only 2 cms in 5 hours?  Austin and I decided it was time Katie came, so after some debate, I was much more comfortable Austin leaving to pick her up rather than her taking a cab. So he left and this is when things became much more difficult. Austin wasn't the most hands on labor partner, but mainly because I didn't want to be touched, at all. He was very calm, concerned and would do what I asked of him, but mainly he kept the room quiet so I could relax. But when he left, I felt weak, exhausted (29 hours of no sleep would make you pretty tired right?)  and tempted to get "the drugs".

I find this so funny now, but as Austin left I turned on the t.v and watched "a baby story" while I myself, was in labor. I don't know if it helped my situation or not, but my labor was pretty close to 24 hours long already and it felt like it was never going to end, so it was good to see someone actually have a baby and not stay pregnant forever. Shortly after the show got over, I was pacing in the room when a midwife came in to check on how I was doing. She recommended some positions to try, one being what I affectionately called the "labor ball of death". I was starting transitional labor when she recommended I give the ball a try. My body was trembling uncontrollably and I truly started to feel like I had no control of my body. My brain was beyond exhausted, but my body obviously was on auto pilot.  It was almost a scary feeling, as well as powerful. I didn't know my body was capable of doing so much. It was incredible. After being on the labor ball for a half hour and fighting to keep myself balanced and in control, I sat in the rocking chair and talked to Austin on the phone. I told him I was thinking about getting an epidural. "My body wont stop shaking. I just want some sleep." He told me they weren't far and we should talk about it together before we decide. I think he knew I felt alone and weak and he wanted me to be in a as-normal-state-of-mind-as-I-could-be-while-in-labor before I decided something that wasn't in our "birth plan". I went to lay down to see if my body would stop shaking and that's when I realized when I would have a contraction it was now impossible to relax through them. It started where I couldn't relax my hands, then legs, back, neck and then the contractions were so painful that I had the urge to hold my breath, which as you could imagine, made things much much worse. I would tell myself to breathe over and over. Even with huge cleansing breaths, I could not get my muscles to stop clenching. I lost control and instead of surrendering, I was full on fighting it. 

Just before Austin and Katie showed up, a nurse came in and I asked her if I do happen to decide to get an epidural how long would it take for it to get here? "Oh 10 minutes" Great news. Chipper Katie walked into the room mid contraction "hello my beautiful sister!" I closed my eyes and shook my head in very short fast movements. No talking. She tried to rub my arm. Again with the head shake. 
No touching. 

After some deliberation at 2pm I decided to get the epidural. And what a shock it was when the same nurse told me that now I had to wait 45 minutes to an hour until the anesthesiologist could come. Ok, that's not what I wanted to hear, I mean that's why I asked how long it would take in the first place right? They decided to do another check because if I was fully dilated then I wouldn't get the epidural. I was at 7.5 cms and the trembling got worse. Finally the anesthesiologist came and Katie left the room while Austin held me still while they slipped the epidural in place. I instantly felt relief as my body stopped shaking, but it took a bit longer to feel the pain of the contractions to subside. There was a section on my lower right side that never became numb, but I liked knowing when I was having contractions. Also they gave me a 1/4 dose of a standard epidural, called a "walking epidural". I could totally move my legs and I know I could have walked around, but obviously I was a liability. So I was confined to the bed, but I found a few positions that really worked for me. Kneeling on the bed while holding the headboard was by far the best. I even fell asleep while in that position and my legs were completely asleep by the time I woke up about an hour later (not from the epidural either, which made us all laugh). 
When I slept Austin and Katie also slept until we were all startled awake...

A couple of nurses ran in and directly started looking at the heart monitor strip. They started bickering "Why isn't she on oxygen?!" Who me? I started to panic as they slipped the oxygen mask over my head "just breathe normally" one said. We all had noticed that Maisie's heart rate was being a little erratic, but were told it was due to the cordless monitoring and my constant moving. They did another cervical check and I was at a 9 and since I wasn't fully dilated and the external monitor wasn't providing accurate readings, they needed to use an internal fetal heart rate monitor. Now Austin and I both remember in our birthing class when they passed around an internal monitor. We both looked at each other and hoped we wouldn't need it because it has tiny (and sharp) spiral claw that is screwed into the surface of the baby's scalp (ouch!). Our teacher informed us that they are rarely used anymore and that we shouldn't worry about it. But with our luck, we had to use one. Great. The worst part is that even with the internal monitor which is by far the most accurate, it was still showing large dips. Which means, it had nothing to do with the monitors the whole time. Maisie's little heart beat really was dropping, which was beyond terrifying.

I changed positions frequently to see if Maisie preferred a side or position, but with every contraction Maisie's once steady heartbeat of 150 would drop to 60-70. I could tell the nurses and midwifes were worried, but they acted calm because I was this close to hyperventilating. I remember feeling like my eyes were going to pop out, I was so scared. After an hour of being on the internal monitor, I was fully dilated. I tried pushing, but when I did her heart rate would drop even lower, now to 40. Everyone advised me to stop pushing, so I did. So there I was fully dilated and couldn't do anything about it. I sat there unable to push for a couple of hours, just waiting to see if she would level out, but it finally got to a point where we couldn't wait any longer. They threatened a c-section, so I pushed with all my might. Katie and Austin would count to ten, but I wouldn't stop pushing until I couldn't any more. I would take a deep breath and again, push for as long and as hard as I could. After 45 minutes, Maisie emerged in front of a large audience. The room was full (and I mean full, 15+ people) of Doctors, Nurses and Midwifes all ready to help Maisie in case of distress (one of the midwife thought the cord was around Maisie's neck and made a call for back up). They all looked at Maisie's healthy pink body, congratulated me and left the room quietly. Maisie didn't cry and Austin and I nervously awaited the anticipated cry, but it didn't come right away. Austin asked if everything was alright and the midwifes with smiles on their faces said "She's perfect! She's pink and getting oxygen just fine."  (I think they were just as happy Maisie was alright as we were) As I experienced euphoria (seriously people, I get why people do drugs now) Maisie just stared right into my eyes, completely content and completely beautiful. Maisie laid skin to skin on my chest for an hour, before any one else held her, or did her exam. I remember saying over and over "she's so pretty" when that reminded the nurse, that we hadn't looked to make sure if she was actually girl. We all laughed as I looked under the blanket to confirm she was in fact a little Maisie.

Turns out Maisie had a super short umbilical cord, so that's the reason her heart rate progressively dipped, the more she descended, the more stress was put on the cord and in turn caused Maisie's heart rate to lower. In order for them to place Maisie in my arms Austin had to cut the umbilical cord right away (weird huh?). I have never heard of that before, but I am glad that regardless of the last hours of labor being super stressful (on both Maisie and me) everything turned out just fine. Nurses ended up telling me after that I was almost wheeled out for an emergency c-section at least 3 times, which seems crazy now because Maisie ended up with a 99.9 APGAR.
 She really was perfect.

It was the most defining moment in my life and I can't wait to watch her grow into the little person she will be. It was an eventful (just shy of 31 hour) experience, but very much worth it. 
Welcome to the world my precious little Maisie!

Maisie Claire Lee
Born May 14th, 2010
@ 6:50pm
Seven pounds even
19.5 Inches long

birth day

birth day 2


  1. Loved all the details of your birth story, Sammie. I'm so proud of you! Can't wait to see you and Austin & Maisie again.

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