I had a birth plan long before I ever became pregnant. I would have an unmedicated waterbirth in the hospital. I did everything I could to insure that I would get it. I practiced my spinning babies, I had an amazing chiropractor, an amazing doula, an amazing midwife, and I studied an amazing childbirth course. I felt that I was as prepared as a first time mother could be.
Early in the evening of February 15th, I started to feel some back pain along with my Braxton Hicks contractions. This pain continued to get more intense as time went by, and it started to move around to the front of my belly. It was very confusing because the pain was not coming and going as you would expect from contractions. I told my husband to go to bed around 11:00 pm because it was going to be a long night. I suddenly realized around 1:00 am that I hadn’t felt my baby move in a few hours, which was very abnormal, so I went ahead and called my doula who instructed me to call my midwife. I called Adrienne around 1:30 am and explained the pain that I was having and that I hadn’t felt the baby move in a while. She decided we should meet at the hospital just to check on things. I woke my husband up and we quickly finished packing up our birth bag and headed to the hospital.
We met Adrienne in her office around 2:30 am on February 16th. The first thing she did was check for the heartbeat and we did not find it. She calmly told us we were going to go up to labor and delivery and see if we could find the heartbeat on their monitor. My husband and I did not say a word the entire whole elevator ride. We walked into the new room and I laid down on the bed while the nurse got the monitor ready, Adrienne asked us if we prayed with tears in her eyes. I have never been more scared. The nurse immediately found our baby’s heartbeat and we all cried in relief. However, we quickly realized that something was wrong. The reason Adrienne hadn’t found his heartbeat was because it was so low that she had mistaken it for mine. We knew something wasn’t right and that is when all of our plans began to change.
After about a half hour of monitoring, Adrienne explained to us that the baby was not doing well, and she thought it would be wise to consider an epidural in case an emergency cesarean was going to be necessary. My husband and I spoke and decided if Adrienne felt that was the best choice, then that's what we should do. Our plan was to wait until her OB partner arrived at the hospital to see if he felt like we could start pitocin to speed my labor along, or if we needed to do a cesarean. When Dr. Fogwell arrived at the hospital he spent some time trying “wake up” the baby who’s heartbeat had almost no variation. He pressed on my stomach, put me on oxygen, and eventually placed a very loud vibrator onto the baby to try to get him to move. His heartbeat plummeted as soon as the vibrating machine was used and from that second forward things moved extremely fast. We headed for the OR and my husband quickly called our parents. I have never seen nurses and doctors move that quickly. A NICU team was called to meet us in the OR. Adrienne warned me that our baby would need resuscitation, and I wouldn’t be able to hold him right away. My epidural was turned up, and as soon as I was numb they started the cesarean. My husband barely made it into the room in time to announce the baby’s gender. It was a boy. The NICU team took over and after what felt like hours he finally cried. They brought him over to me so I could give him a kiss before they took him away. My husband left with him, and I have never been more thankful to have a doula than during the hour I was stitched back together.
During the cesarean Adrienne and Dr. Fogwell were able to see that I had a placental abruption which had caused oxygen deprivation to our son, and also had been what was causing the continual pain. I was eventually moved into a recovery room and I was able to be wheeled to the NICU in my hospital bed to see my baby before being brought to my room. Our son was in very rough shape. He had a seizure shortly after he was born and they warned us of possible brain and kidney damage. He was hooked up to every machine imaginable and we weren’t able to hold him for over 48 hours. We stayed in the hospital for 6 days. He made an incredible recovery. The day before he was discharged they did an MRI of his brain and it was completely clear. His kidneys made a full recovery and he was nursing like a champ. We went home and he has been healthy and happy ever since.
Your birth team matters. Your birth team matters even more when everything goes wrong. Adrienne visited me for over an hour every single day of our hospital stay. She was there for me as a person, and a new mother, not just as a patient. She was also there for me after I left the hospital. She was there for me on a Sunday evening when I was struggling with nursing. On a Tuesday morning when I was struggling again. And she’s even been there for me since I moved back home to Montana. I did not get the birth I wanted. My birth tub never made it out of our vehicle. But I did get the birth my son needed. We are both alive and well, and I have a new beautiful scar that saved his life.