Any good story has some twists and turns, and when it comes to the birth of the Baby Goes West, Brady Oliver Pitt, it was absolutely not routine or expected, full of making scary decisions and going with my gut. And, like any birth, it was also a total miracle.
Before we get started, I’ve got to give a big disclaimer here. Even though I’m a fairly modest person, for some reason, I feel the need to just SPILL it all with this story, much like I did in my ebook. That means you’re getting some real-life details that surround child-birth. Proceed with caution, and if this isn’t your thing, come on back in a few days, my friends, because we’ll tone down the rawness very soon.
And because this story is a long one, we’re breaking it up into two parts. Here we go …
Brady’s birth story – Part 1
A day like any other day
On Thursday, September 28, 2017, I woke up around 7 a.m.. (at 37 weeks and 5 days pregnant), went through my morning routine, which always includes walking Rudy, having breakfast, working on the blog, and reading some news, and then I headed off for my weekly walk with two of my girlfriends. We walked on the Iron Horse Trail in Walnut Creek, as we always do, going at a slow pace for about an hour-and-a-half in the moderate morning temperatures.
During that walk, we laughed about labor (both the other gals are moms of little ones and have delivered at my same hospital with my same medical group within the last two years) and each said we wondered when it would all start for me —- oh the unknown. I told them I had a doctor’s appointment at noon that day and was hoping to hear that I had progressed a little bit and was moving closer to the big day, but was totally unsure as to how much longer I would be pregnant … a few days? Three weeks? Who knew? Because first-time moms often deliver after their due date and mine was not until October 15.
After our walk, I had a short amount of time to head home and shower and get ready for my next set of activities. I was in a rush, so I only took Rudy for a quick potty break instead of our usual stroll, then I rinsed off and was out the door, without eating a snack and without giving Rudy his usual goodbye hug, because I was in such a hurry — running off to the doctor’s appointment and lunch with a friend directly after. Little did I know that I wouldn’t return home again for four days, and when I returned, I’d have a baby with me …
My regular weekly doctor’s appointment
I showed up at my doctor’s appointment, expecting to be in and out in about 20 minutes, as I had been every appointment leading up until then. However, as my doctor listened to the baby’s heart-beat, she found that there were moments of a very slow pace — a concerning pace under 100 beats per minute. She listened for longer than I would have hoped and decided I should be hooked up to a monitor for a while to track it, because it was abnormal, even though I felt fine, he was moving around a lot, and I hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary. After the rest of my exam (I was not yet dilated), I was moved to a room with a recliner and hooked up to a heart-rate monitor, which printed out the rate at which the baby’s heart was beating on a scrolling sheet.
Because I could watch the machine’s pencil scrolling the ebbs and flows, I knew it wasn’t good. There were many moments when the heart-rate would get far too slow, for no apparent reason. After about 30 minutes of monitoring, my doctor decided I should be sent across the street to our hospital to get an official stress test with the other doctor on-call over there. I was shocked and concerned, but she told me not to worry at all, and I would likely be in and out of the hospital in no time, as everything normalized. But not so much …
Expecting a short doctor’s appointment that day, I was, of course, all alone. And when I got into my car to drive over to the hospital, I started bawling. I called Dave and my Mom, and Dave left work right away to come and join me for the screening. For some reason, I had a very bad feeling about things.
Being sent to the hospital for a stress test
When I checked myself into the hospital, I got a bracelet, signed all sorts of paperwork and felt strange being all alone — in normal clothes — with my normal purse and feeling totally nervous. I was sent to a triage room and hooked up to a monitor. I explained to the nurse that I was starving and thirsty, having not eaten since breakfast, and she said she would get me a snack right away. But when she returned, she didn’t have anything for me to eat, because apparently my doctor didn’t think I should eat anything, in case of the worst possible scenario. This didn’t feel right.
The nurses and my doctor watched the baby’s heart-rate, examined me, and had a few people come into the room to assess the situation as well. By that point, Dave had arrived and was with me, and he was just in time to hear the doctor say that he hadn’t really seen an instance like the heart-rate dipping so low for no reason (although he thought it could be related to the umbilical cord), and he said the only safe thing to do would be to get the baby out immediately … i.e. an unplanned c-section surgery — a very scary thing to me, which most pregnant women don’t want to think about. (I want to preface this part of the story to say that so many healthy babies are born with a c-section to very healthy and wonderful mommas, but of course, birth is a personal decision, and it’s usually not your first choice of how you want things to go down, especially when you work in fitness for a living, did prenatal yoga every single day to get the baby in the right birthing position and hired a doula to help with labor management … you know what I’m saying.)
At this point, I had been at the hospital about 90 minutes, when they began the preparations for my surgery. I changed into a gown, the anesthesiologist came in, and I was hooked up to an IV. (And that was not fun, because I was so dehydrated and hungry at that point my veins were nearly invisible, so it took three nurses to finally properly insert my IV after a ton of poking, prodding and sticking. It was incredibly painful and just the start of what I would feel the next few days — and the large purple bruises remain on my arm still.)
Also at this point, the lab team came and took quite a bit of my blood to test and save for surgery as well, and then the doctor explained the procedure and risks to me, and I signed the consent form (with all the scary risks written out) to have the c-section. Dave kept my Mom up-to-date over text, arranged for a friend to go to our house and pick up Rudy and get my hospital bag and some stuff for Dave (he hadn’t packed a bag yet) and drop it off to us, and I was basically numb from fear — in complete shock that I wasn’t at my lunch date sitting outside in the sun, but instead was in the hospital about to face major surgery to deliver my little one at just 37 weeks and 5 days pregnant.
As the OR was being prepped for me, my doctor noticed that the baby’s heart-beat was getting more normalized and reached a better baseline. I had spoken to my doctor many times before this day about my wishes to have a mostly low-intervention birth, and so he said at that point, there was a tiny chance we could induce labor instead of go straight to surgery. He gave me the most invasive exam ever and determined I was barely 1 cm dilated (you need to be 10 cms dilated to deliver a baby), but he said he could possibly break my water to begin the induction right then — that labor was a possibility. The thought of induction or breaking my water unnaturally were also two things I had no intentions of going through. (Side note: While I didn’t have a written-out birth plan and wasn’t going in all or nothing, I knew that I would need to be open to the unexpected, I had envisioned having as little interventions as possible, until I felt a point that I couldn’t take any more pain, in which case I was open to having an epidural — but I really wanted my body to run the process naturally, without intervening on the timeline.)
Getting admitted and the beginning of decision making
Because it was clear I wasn’t being sent home, I was moved to my official “labor and delivery” room and admitted, and at that point, the baby’s heart-rate had stayed at a consistent rate for about an hour. My doctor came into the room and said I had three choices. (1) Get the c-section right away, which he said was the safest possible option for the baby. (2) Begin to induce labor by breaking my water, in hopes of a vaginal delivery soon. (3) Insert a foley catheter into my cervix in hopes of forcing dilation, in hopes of a vaginal delivery soon.
He then told me that even if we tried to start labor, there was about a 50 percent chance I would still end up in a c-section — odds that I did not want to hear. Shortly after he explained these options to me, he said I could have some time to think about it. And during this time, my doula (labor support coach) showed up as well. She, Dave and I talked about all of the options. I ruled out the immediate c-section right away, because it just didn’t feel right if labor was an option, and I knew I had to go with my true gut feelings. Then, I ruled out breaking my water at that point, because of the fact that it could have been slightly risky and pose infection if labor didn’t start and could also compromise the baby’s heart-rate, putting me straight onto the operating table anyhow. (The doctor said any intervention could stress the baby’s heart-rate, by the way — so all options had risk.)
I decided that the least amount of intervention was the foley catheter option to expand my cervix and alerted the doctor of my choice. He explained that I needed to be prepped for an epidural — even if I didn’t want the actual meds yet –because of the high chance that we’d move into a c-section if the heart-rate slowed again. We talked about the foley catheter procedure and process and what to expect, and then they sent in the anesthesiologist to deliver my epidural. I elected to get a small dose of epidural pain meds to get me through the first procedure, and it didn’t totally numb me at all, but took a bit of the edge off.
The first night in the hospital … waiting …
The doctor and the nurses hoped that the catheter would dilate my cervix to at least 4 cm in a matter of a couple of hours, so they continued to monitor me and the baby’s heart-beat, pump me full of fluids with an IV and wait, wait, wait. As the evening went on and the nurses changed shifts, my doctor came in and said that when we reached midnight, the staff on the floor would be much more minimal and make the emergency c-section process a little more risky. Not that there wouldn’t be anyone around, but the other surgeon he hoped to assist would no longer be there. He gave me this chance again to go the c-section route, and I told him I wanted to wait a bit more. He then suggested beginning the use of the drug pitocin to induce labor, and yet I wanted to wait on that too — so worried that any more interventions would cause the baby’s heart-rate to dip again.
Over the course of the night, I probably dozed on and off for a total of two hours or so. My nurses continued to check me, and they let me have a couple of popsicles — which ended up being my only food in about 18 hours at that point (and let me tell you, those popsicles were H-E-A-V-E-N). Dave nervously laid on a cot next to my hospital bed and kept my family and his updated on what was going on.
To be honest, the time-frame is almost a little blurry to me as we get into the morning hours of Friday, September 29, 2017. I know that the foley catheter worked much slower than they expected, as they would check it every hour or so. At that point, knowing that we couldn’t allow labor to go on forever, I decided to agree to the pitocin at a small dose and was given that while the baby’s heart-rate was monitored. The doctors and nurses let me know again that any intervention at this point would stress the heart-rate, and we had to be sure that he could tolerate pitocin. Slowly but surely, it was added to my IV. We nervously watched and waited to see if his heart-rate would drop when the drug entered my blood-stream, but it didn’t. Thank goodness.
Intervention after intervention, labor continues
At this point, I started to get some contractions, and they were coming about every three minutes. Because I had already had my epidural in place with light medication, I didn’t feel very much pain from the contractions, just some pressure. And if you’ve lost count — we are now at four interventions — (1) IV. (2) Foley catheter for dilating the cervix. (3) Epidural, which also includes a catheter for emptying the bladder, so I had TWO catheters at this point for different reasons. This is some fun stuff, people — let me tell you. (4) Pitocin, the labor-inducing drug in the IV. And let’s not forget the heart-rate monitor and blood pressure cuff that I was hooked up to as well.
Dave and I tried to find humor in the fact that I had cords and tubes coming out of every part of my body — and my doula, who I had hired to assist with natural pain management up until I couldn’t take it anymore, was left massaging my feet and talking me through the medical procedures I was up against instead of working with me on the birthing ball. We laughed a little, we laid around, Dave brushed my hair for me, which was the most awesome feeling EVER to have some sort of normalcy. We watched episodes of Friends, Fixer Upper and even Flea Market Flip on the hospital TV … with our minds only partially focused on the content and mostly worried about the situation at hand.
Finally, around the mid-afternoon on Friday, September 29, 2017, the foley catheter was successfully removed and had dilated my cervix to about 4 cm. That was progress, but there was still a long way to go before we met this little man …
And we’ll end there for today and pick up the second and final part of Brady’s birth story tomorrow. I hope you’ll come back to finish it up and get to the good stuff!
Also, remember — experiences with child-birth and pregnancy are totally unique to each individual. And the decisions I made were for me and my situation and may not be right for anyone else. To each his own.
I hope you have a great day, my friends. Thank you for reading!The miracle of life! Here's the start of a real birth story by A Lady Goes West ... Click To Tweet
Questions of the day
If you’ve had a baby, was the birth as you expected?
What TV series would you want to watch for hours on end in the hospital?