Zero hour nine a.m. (actually 9:08am)
And I was as high as a kite by then (sorry Elton no drugs necessary)
I miss the girls so much I kiss my wife (I tried to, but I got the not-right-now-I’m-having-a- contraction hand signal)
I don’t think it’s gonna be a long, long time (I was standing right there)
Till touch down brings me round again to find (I was there, but the doc wasn’t)
That baby Paige’s birth was oh so fast (understated for effect)
Oh no no no she’s a Rocket Girl… .
Okay so my attempt at altering the lyrics to Rocket Man (sorry Mr. John) may have been a stretch, but the new baby’s arrival having been such a quick trip, I gave her the appropriate title of Rocket Girl.
Two and a half weeks before the due date we were told that the baby was still breech and a C-section was scheduled for July 3, only two days before the due date. On Monday, June 23, Amy’s check-up revealed a bottom-down baby and a cervix (sorry guys, when you talk about pregnancy these words come up) that was not ready for labor or delivery. That was an emotionally rough day for Amy. She was large…it’s okay to say that about a pregnant wife…right?…anyway she was large and uncomfortable. The ultrasound showed a large quantity of amniotic fluid (I know, I know, guys, just look away during the scary parts), and from the baby’s measurements the computer estimated her size at 8lbs 13oz. (The ultra sound was taken two and a half weeks before the due date. This was certainly not a pleasant prospect for a mommy wanting to deliver vaginally.) Because of the breech position, the PA advised to do everything possible to prevent labor, including resting with feet up and drinking lots of water.
Tuesday, June 24 was relatively uneventful other than the continual prodromal labor (look it up) and the occasional passing of (okay men you might want to cover your computers with some sort of towel in anticipation of the next phrase) some bloody mucus (I warned you). My parents came over in the evening, and we played some Canasta. (Mom and I wiped the floor with Dad and Amy.) Tuesday was pretty much a day to come to grips with the reality of the Caesarean. We had resigned ourselves to it. Mom and Dad’s visit was basically for moral support.
We went to bed around 10:30 and watched some TV. I fell asleep about 11:45, but Amy was still awake feeling those annoying prodromal contractions. At 11:55, I was jarred awake to the sound of a surprisingly calm voice saying, “Ken, my water just broke.” As I recall, my first words were, “Really,” like she was teasing me or was confused about what she was actually feeling. Like a dummy, instead of moving into action, I looked between her legs…duh…she and the bed were soaked. That’s when the confusion of a sort of panic met with my having just awakened. I reached for my packed bag, like I was getting ready to leave. Wait…I’m still in my PJs, i.e. my undies. Amy was still lying on the bed in a virtual sea of “water.” (On a side note, we call it the ‘water’ breaking or the ‘bag of waters’ breaking, but this having been our first experience with ‘ruptured membranes’ being the start of the labor process, I would like to say once and for all that the look and smell of amniotic fluid is nothing like water.) My mind began to clear and I realized I needed to help my wife, so I went to get some towels…I went to get all of the towels. Next on my midnight-half-asleep-panicked mind’s list was calling Grandma to come over and watch the big sisters, while we head to the hospital (hosipal according to Hailee).
When Grandma came over, she wisely suggested calling the hospital so they would be prepared for a possible C-section. Also, we live an hour and twenty minutes from the hospital, so there was no way of telling how far advanced Amy’s cervix would be by the time we got there.
During the noise and confusion, big sis Hannah woke up. Amy went in to tell her that we were leaving to go to the hospital to have baby Paige. Hannah sweetly replied, “I’m sorry.”
“Why are you sorry?”
“I’m sorry the baby didn’t turn.” It’s enough to bring the toughest daddy to tears. You see we had been very open with the girls about the baby’s position and the expectation of Mommy having to be cut open to get the baby out. We also had been praying that Paige would turn so Mommy would not have to be cut open. So the last Hannah knew, Paige was not in position and Mommy would need surgery. (Lest any overly cautious parents be taken aback at our frankness with our girls (as the nurse was at the hospital), they have five very close cousins who were all delivered Caesarean, so the reality of surgery during delivery is understood very well.)
We finished dressing, getting our bags ready and putting towels on the passenger seat of the car. Then we were off…except for the empty gas tank. We fueled up…then we were off.
We had made a trip to the hospital a week prior only to find out that nothing was happening. With this trip, there was no turning back, no mistaking Braxton Hicks or prodromal labor for real labor, no embarrassment about having to come home after the trip. This was the real deal. That was comforting.
Now, I am normally a reasonable driver when it comes to speed. That night was not a night for reason. The stream of green lights through Los Banos due to the lateness of the hour helped, but there is no good excuse for an hour and twenty minute drive taking 50 minutes…no good excuse except for 80 mph and a leaking wife. I figured if a cop stopped me, he’d understand. Thankfully, it was an uneventful trip, well, uneventful for us. A stupid opossum decided to lope across Fairview Road right in front of my 65mph speeding minivan…quite eventful for the opossum.
When we arrived at the hospital, I went in and got a wheel chair for Amy. We didn’t want to take any risks with the water leaking further, risking a prolapsed cord (again, look it up). Amy had had very few, light contractions on the way to the hospital. As far as we could tell, she was not officially laboring yet. The nurses confirmed that with the straps and monitors they put on her belly.
The nurse checked Amy’s cervix and found that she was dilated to one centimeter and that it seemed that the head was down. That was at about 1:15am on June 25.
Now, to make the long story short, Paige was delivered at 9:08am. Amy’s labor didn’t begin until about 2am so the labor was only about seven hours long, which is relatively quick. Hannah was delivered after about eighteen hours of labor, and Hailee came after fourteen with an induction. But the real “Rocket Girl” part of the story comes toward the end of those seven hours. Sorry,
no spoilers. Keep reading.
The nurse called the doctor, and the doctor said…NO MORE MONK…sorry wrong story. The doctor said to induce her with pitocin because of the ruptured membranes. Apparently, according to the nurse, once the waters broke we were on the clock. They wanted the baby delivered within twelve hours. Also, the doctor asked to have Amy checked again in an hour by two nurses to confirm that Paige was head-down.
At 2:15 the pitocin was kicking in with some mild, regular contractions and the nurses both checked the cervix and the baby’s position. The cervix was a loose 1-2cm and the baby was now officially head-down. What a relief! But we were still cautious, because Paige had proved to an amniotic gymnast. We were concerned that through labor she may turn. The nurse said that the doctor would be in around 7am and would check her again then.
For the next five hours the contractions became increasingly closer and stronger. Sorry, Amy…I slept a lot during those hours. Hey…I was conserving energy for...for… for to help my wife, okay! It was during these hours that I would begin to say something to Amy and would get that aforementioned hand signal.
The doctor finally came to see her at about 7:45am. He checked her and said that she was at a loose 4cm and the baby’s head was definitely down but still far back from the birth canal, so no C-section on the immediate horizon. Amy’s labor pains were getting worse, but she refused an epidural, so the doctor prescribed fentanyl for the pain.
By the way, thank you to Drs. Armstrong and Barra. Checking a cervix is both personal and painful. These doctors are both gentlemen and very careful. When the nurses would check Amy, particularly when they would check the baby’s position, Amy would grimace with pain. When Dr. Armstrong checked her and the baby’s position, I intentionally watched her face…barely a wince. When Dr. Barra checked Amy throughout the pregnancy, he made a point of saying, “Excuse me,” just before he began the exam. Gentlemen.)
As the doctor prepared to leave I shared some birthing history with him. When Hailee was born the nurses had checked Amy at 4cm, and Hailee was born very soon after. Dr. Barra barely made it to the delivery room in time to deliver her. I told Dr. Armstrong that once Amy hits 4cm she progresses very rapidly. He accepted the information graciously and walked out.
At about 8:50am Amy’s fentanyl fix petered out, so I went to the nurse to ask her for more. The nurse came in and said that the dose Amy received was only expected to last an hour, but before she could have more the nurse needed to check the baby’s position and the heartbeat. She examined Amy and said that she was at 6cm and the baby’s head was not yet settled down into the cervix. She was still too far back. Because of this the nurse gave the impression that the baby wasn’t going anywhere. After the exam, Amy said she needed to pee. The nurse had previously pulled a mobile potty stool by the bed, so she wouldn’t have to walk far. Amy sat down and the nurse told her to only do number one and not number two. Amy said she needed to go number two, but the nurse urged her to resist. She climbed back into bed. By this time the contractions were nearly overlapping each other and Amy was in a lot of pain. The nurse began working to find the heartbeat again. Amy told the nurse that she was feeling the need to push. The nurse said that as soon as they found the heartbeat, they would give her more fentanyl which would help take away the feeling of the need to push, because the baby was not ready for it. Amy insisted that there was nothing she could do, so the nurse decided to check her again. Hello! The baby’s head was down the birth canal and on the verge of crowning. The nurse went into overdrive trying to round up the doctor and the other nurses. Within moments the nurses were there and the instrument tables were in position…but no doctor. Of course I just stood there like a big dummy, gently telling my wife, “Try not to push, the doctor’s not here yet.” I believe the response was, “I HAVE TO PUSH…I CAN’T STOP!”
With one big groan from Amy, Paige’s little head popped out. The nurses responded well, checking for the cord. “No cord,” was the phrase they used, which surprised me, having been present at the birth of my other two girls. (With both Hannah and Hailee the cord came out with the head.)
They gave Amy the okay to continue to push. With one more contraction and another groan, albeit a smaller one, the rest of that little bundle slid right out onto the table. Oh yeah, did I mention…no doctor. The nurses began checking her and one clamped the umbilical cord. Amy leaned forward trying to see her. I’m not sure if she was trying to check on her, or if she was just curious about what was going on down there. It was then that the doctor came in. Guess what his first words were. He turned to me and said, “You weren’t kidding!” Duh.
He clamped the umbilical cord again leaving a small space to cut. He handed me the scissors and showed me where to cut. Snip, snip...and she was off. They wrapped her in a blanket and gave her to Amy for a few moments, before whisking her off to suction fluids out of her, give her her first immunizations, weigh and measure her (7lbs. 6oz., 19½ inches long, nowhere near the 9lbs. we were expecting). So the crazy trip ended, or has it just begun.
Zero hour, 9:08 am. From the exam at 6cm to delivery was about 5-7 minutes. Yeah,…she’s my Rocket Girl.