Daphne’s Birth Story
Daphne was due July 15, though because I had been measuring ahead and she was seeming big, my midwife (along with nearly anyone else who saw me) warned me that I would most likely go into labor sooner than later, and to be ready by 37 or 38 weeks to have this baby. As my due date came and went, I was beyond discouraged to not be holding a baby in my arms. I couldn’t believe she had yet to make her debut, and I soon began to feel that I would truly be pregnant forever. Since I was staying home with Matilda, it seemed like this was my new norm – giant and uncomfortable and having a harder time walking or moving with each passing hour.
Finally, at 40 weeks 4 days pregnant, I went in for an “added on” appointment to see my midwife. She is an “expert” at sweeping membranes to help the overly pregnant, such as myself, along into labor. I agreed that it was time to go for this last resort of natural induction since they were starting to talk about scheduling a c-section if I didn’t go into labor soon. Since my last birth to Matilda had ended in a c-section, I couldn’t be induced if I wanted to attempt a VBAC delivery. I was considered “favorable” for a VBAC, so if I could just get labor started then we should be good to go. I was 3-4 cm, 70% effaced and probably at station 0, all very promising signs!
Sure enough, I started having contractions on and off as soon as I left the appointment. Lynn, the midwife, had even assured me “if this doesn’t get labor started, then I don’t deserve my paycheck”. Lucky for me, she lived up to her promise! Though, I didn’t believe I was in real labor for several hours. I had been having false labor for nearly every night prior to this. We would time contractions (one night they were 8 min apart for nearly 9 hours and then dwindled down to nothing) and then our hopes would be dashed as I would wake up still pregnant the next morning. I had decided to not time anything until I could absolutely not ignore them any longer.
Josh got home by 4:30pm and at 5 I mentioned we may want to start timing them. By 5:30 I began the timer and soon realized the contractions were consistently 6 minutes apart and slowly gaining frequency and intensity. A few hours go by, we put Matilda to bed and started to “call in the troops” so to speak. Our friend Nicole came over to stay the night with Matilda (one of many who selflessly pitched in to ensure our girl was well taken care of) and by 9pm the contractions were 3 minutes apart or less.
Okay! Time to go to the hospital! We grabbed our things and headed out. I stopped for a contraction at our complex’s pool area and Josh prayed over us one final time before hitting the road. Luckily, at 10pm, the freeways are rather clear, so traffic was not an issue…though every bump in the road felt like I was taking a punch to the stomach as contractions kept coming!
We checked into labor and delivery shortly after 10pm. They sent me right to a room (bypassing triage) since I was already at a 3-4cm that morning and they could see my contractions were intense and consistent. I was GBS +, so they started a penicillin drip right away and said I could get up and walk as soon as that had finished. I met the OB on call, a super nice guy who also found me “favorable” for VBAC and was very supportive, and the midwife on call, who told me that she had actually delivered Lynn’s babies (the midwife I had seen for all my appointments) so I was left reassured that she was exactly the support I needed to make this VBAC a reality. Things were moving along swimmingly.
We started walking around 11:30pm or so, making our rounds in the hallways and corridors of labor and delivery. It was quiet except for a few noisy night nurses sharing stories at their station, and I was thankful to have another labor in the night since it seemed to be a much more relaxed environment. The contractions were intense. My body seemed to remember this pain from before, as I had flashbacks to my labor with Matilda. But then, there was a new pain. It was deep in my back, sort of indescribable and totally unreachable from the comfort I would usually find in walking or changing positions. Daphne was sunny-side-up, I just knew it (this would later be confirmed in delivery).
We got back to the room and after switching positions, using the birth ball, getting on my hands and knees, it was time to be monitored again. The contractions were 1-2 minutes apart and very strong. Daphne would move like crazy with each contraction, and I finally told Josh that I thought there was no way I could continue much longer this way. He was exactly the coach I needed him to be – sensitive to my needs, but also encouraging to keep going. As he continued to see me suffer through each movement, we both knew that this was a long labor with little relief ahead of us. I couldn’t take it any longer. At 2am I asked the nurse about my pain management options, and we hesitantly decided to opt for the epidural.
Mind you, this was not an easy decision. With Matilda’s labor we finally got an epidural, and it was one of the most awful parts of labor – having to be stuck 3 times with the needle and Josh nearly fainting and needing juice and oxygen by the time it was over – so, we truly hoped this round would go much more smoothly! It did. The anesthesiologist was incredible – totally encouraging and professional, and he very quickly (with only one stick!) eased me into tremendous relief. I could still feel the pressure of the contractions, I could still feel her moving, but the intense pain had subsided. This was a good decision. Whew. Josh finally got to fall asleep on the nearby couch for a while, and I got a chance to relax and hope and pray as the contractions continued.
By 4:30am the contractions had not picked up like we had hoped. In fact, they had slowed down (we knew this could happen with an epidural, though sometimes the opposite is true, which is what we had hoped for) and I was still only at nearly 5cm. This was incredibly discouraging. I was so glad to have gotten the epidural, since I was seemingly stuck at 5cm again and was able to avoid the pain of the last two hours that had not progressed me at all.
They broke my water and inserted an internal monitor to measure my contractions more closely. Usually breaking the water helps the baby descend, helping progress the labor, etc. Not in this case. Daphne decided to only go higher – back up to station -2 and now cramming herself up into my ribs. This was excruciating, even with the epidural. I couldn’t take any deep breaths and I had to keep switching sides so that she would “float” down and try to get her out of my ribs – but she only went side to side, so I either had horrible pain on my left side or my right. Ugh! Go down little girl! To no avail.
By 7am there was no change. By 8am I was still at 5-6cm and she was still very high. This was the point when a repeat c-section was first mentioned. The OB examined me and was absolutely puzzled. He said “Your pelvis is totally adequate to deliver this baby, but there is something in your anatomy that is hanging her up – not allowing her to drop down. I think it is something in your back, in your spine, but this baby is not coming down. It’s not your fault, it’s just how you’re made, just how your structure is.” This was discouraging, though I took peace in the fact that there was nothing more I could have or should have done in order to progress the labor myself.
Daphne’s heart rate had been up and down over the last hour and it was starting to appear that she wasn’t tolerating labor very well. The OB said he would like to see how she did in the next hour. Only about 20 minutes later he came back in, looked at the monitors, and said “I’m not ecstatic at how she is tolerating labor.” There was a seriousness to his voice. I felt like, while his calm vocabulary said one thing, his body language said another. I felt like he was trying to keep me calm by being so straightforward. And most of all, I felt a sudden urge that this baby needed to be on the outside of my body, safe, where I could hold and protect her. It was time to meet this girl!
Just like with Matilda, as soon as we gave the green light to have the c-section about 10 people came in our room, springing to action! It was crazy. One lady had me signing papers, another was putting a surgical hat on my head, another was handing me some anti-nausea medicine telling me to down it “like a shot of tequila”. I actually had to stop and say “Hold on, we need to call our family and let them know this is happening!” It was a little manic – though, as they wheeled me into the OR just minutes later I realized how glad I was to not have any time to stop and worry about it all. I said a prayer, gave it to God, kissed my husband, and was under the bright lights within minutes.
Josh came by my side just as they began the c-section. I think there is a misconception out there that “c-sections aren’t painful” because you are numbed and not having to push out a child…but, let me put this claim to rest as totally untrue…c-sections still hurt! You can ask my husband how hard I squeezed his hand as they yanked and tugged on my insides while all I could do was stare at the blue surgical curtain in front of my face and speculate that they were, indeed, getting a baby out of me and not forcing a hippopotamus into my small intestine – which is kinda what it felt like.
But, sure enough, soon I felt an overwhelming release of pressure – that baby was no longer crammed against my ribs – she was out! Blessed assurance! To hear that first baby cry, my heart skipped a beat and my eyes involuntarily spilled over with joyous tears. Daphne was here! Hallelujah.
I caught a quick glimpse of her through my tear soaked eyes that were starting to steam up my glasses. Gorgeous! Red and chubby and a little brown hair! How magical. Then I remember hearing “9-4-7” and thinking that must be what time she was born. Nope – I would learn later that she was born at 9:13 am…but weighed 9lb 4.7oz …whoa baby!
At this point, in reality, the anesthesiologist told Josh that he was going to really knock me out as they began to sew me up. I don’t remember this at all. I was out. Well, apparently while I was in lala land I immediately started “sawing logs” as my husband puts it. That is, I started snoring like a grizzly in hibernation – so loud, in fact, that the entire OR erupted in giggles. Bah! How embarrassing. I was only out for a couple short minutes, but when I came to I could have sworn I was out for hours. “Did I miss it? Did I really see her?” I had to make sure that I didn’t dream what had just happened.
Josh was able to take Daphne to recovery and have immediate skin-to-skin as they finished sewing me back up. I was cold and shaky, and trying to stay awake and stay present. I remember literally thinking “This is what time travel is like.” So yeah, I was pretty out of it for a bit.As soon as I reached recovery, though, I was fully present and totally in love. The little creature stationed next to me was mine – ours – and just lovely. Daphne Mabel Valentine. They washed her up, brought her to me, and she knew me immediately. She latched on as if she wrote the book on breastfeeding herself, and again I was amazed at God’s design. I took a giant sigh of relief and gratitude as I stared at this new child. Welcome, baby, we are so glad you are finally here. Well worth the wait.