The story of Henley Kay is a long one. The little girl who arrived on Tuesday January 29th at 4:21pm was expected sooner. Not knowing when my last period had started or ended, I had gone by what the doctor had told me at my first appointment and ultrasound. He had said I was twelve weeks. So we figured twenty eight weeks from that day would be January 17th. Now, fast forward to November. I had fallen at work and they sent me to the hospital to make sure everything was okay with Henley. The examination told them a different due date. They asked me when mine was and I told them. They told me that she looked more like she’d be ready on the 13th. I started going by the new date. So, you can imagine my frustration when I actually had to be induced, based on January 21st being the date the doctor had put down for me.
My mom had come to visit Tom and me and was planning on being there for Henley’s birth. We all went to the doctor on the 24th and I was hoping and praying I was some sort of dilated. I wasn’t. The doctor then told me that he doesn’t let his patients go past 41 weeks because of the risk of losing the baby. I had tears in my eyes because I was so frustrated and now I had the added risk in the back of my head. He told me he would give me until Monday to dilate and we would go from there. Some time in between appointments I had lost part of my mucous plug. I got really excited and thought maybe I was getting closer to going into labor. The next four days had come and gone and now, it was time to find out if I had made any progress. Surely I’d be somewhat dilated because I lost the mucous plug, right? Wrong. Nothing. Not a damn thing. So we were sent to the hospital.
Once we got to the hospital, we got cozy in our room. Soon after, came the IV from hell, in my hand. It was the first time I cried during the hospital visit. I’m not a huge fan of needles nor am I a fan of thick tubes being jammed in my veins. Afterward, I asked the nurse at the time, Nicole, what the process would be and she told me. I would be getting a pill every few hours to speed up the dilation process and if I wasn’t a certain amount dilated by a certain time, they would give me Pitocin. I knew I didn’t want Pitocin because I had heard it leads to Cesarean sections, which I also did not want. My mom had previously told me not to believe stories I’d heard because she’d had Pitocin and my brother and I were both perfectly fine and both born vaginally. The pills started working and I was excited because this meant I wouldn’t need Pitocin. They still gave it to me but much later. So, I was hooked up to fluids to keep me hydrated, along with a bag of Pitocin to speed up the process.
While we all waited, my mom and Tom headed back home to get pillows and blankets because obviously we weren’t leaving any time soon. While they were gone, I flipped through channels and had to go to the bathroom. So, I unplugged all my cords from their monitors and wheeled my stand, holding fluids, to the bathroom. When I came back to the bed, the nurse informed me the baby’s heart rate had dropped. She gave me an oxygen mask and I began to panic, while tears ran down my face. Was my baby okay? What was going to happen? Would I need an emergency C-section? I had no idea what to think. I just wanted my baby girl to be okay. But I had no one with me to reassure me. I was scared and alone. Then I had my first catheter and it made me feel slightly violated. She didn’t want me to have to get up to go to the bathroom, since when I’d gone before, the baby’s heart rate dropped. It seemed a bit rushed to me but what did I know?
Not too long after, my mom and my husband returned to the hospital. I was feeling more than a little uncomfortable, to the point of crying. It was a combination of the contractions and the discomfort caused by the catheter. It was like there was conflict inside of me. I was able to go on my own but there was this tube in my bladder. I needed it out. The nurse told me that it would cost my insurance company extra to put another one in but I didn’t care. It had to come out. It was as if she just didn’t want to be bothered. But she finally took it out and I felt some relief.
I started having contractions I thought were horrible. They were little spikes on the screen. I couldn’t imagine a tall spike. They could kill me. The nurse offered me pain medicine but I turned it down. I really didn’t want to take anything that could affect Henley. I hadn’t taken any pain medication the whole time I’d been pregnant so I wasn’t going to start. But I changed my mind. I figured it was like a little reward after not using any paid meds for so long. Maybe it would help. I made sure they were safe for the baby. Then she hooked me up to the fun drugs. She told I would get a cool sensation going through my arm from the medicine and that it would make me feel drunk. My immediate thought was “Dear God, I hope it doesn’t make me nauseous and puke.”. It didn’t. It made me sound like a lunatic, though. I was going in and out of sleep and saying things which didn’t make any sense. It was like I was dreaming but talking along with the dream. It was fairly entertaining for my mom and Tom. Then I fell asleep, briefly.
I woke up in pain. I asked the first nurse I saw how far along I was and he said four centimeters. He told me they were going to get the anesthesiologist to administer the epidural. The nurse, Alex, told me I had to be completely still. He said if the guy came in and I was moving around, he would not do it. At that point, I was completely terrified. I was going to have to push out this eight-pound child without any drugs. So, I sat up and tried to control my movements and focus on my breathing. Now, Tom had already left to take the dogs out and feed them. So, my mom stood by me and held my hand. The anesthesiologist came in with three or four other people, I can only assume, were students. He had me scoot and sit on the edge of the bed. He then proceeded to open and lay out all of his tools. Why I needed to sit on the edge of the bed while he set up things and wasn’t even ready, was beyond me. I didn’t look because I didn’t want to see the giant needle that was going to be jammed into my spine. I sat there breathing in and out, trying not to move. I definitely, didn’t want him to leave with the drugs. Please, give me the drugs. I was told he might still be doing it when a contraction came and it really worried me. Up to this point, all I could do to make the contractions a little easier to deal with was being able to squirm around. I had no idea how people dealt with them just by breathing. But I just sat there, breathing in and out, focusing hard on not moving. Then the needle went in my spine. I felt a strange rush of numbness. They taped the epidural catheter to my back. I went to lift my legs onto the bed. They were heavy. Like giant slabs of meat. They might as well have been. I couldn’t feel them, at all. It was as if they weren’t even attached to my body. I passed out.
What happened next I only know because my mother told me.
It was time to get another catheter because I was numb from the waist down. The nurses struggled and struggled for about 30 minutes. My mom was crying and asked what was wrong, since she knew it took about five minutes to do one. Even five minutes seemed like a long time to be poking your way to someone’s bladder with a tube. The nurses told her sometimes, it’s difficult because of the way the baby might be laying. She could be pushing on my bladder making the tube difficult to insert or pushing another organ into the bladder making it difficult. We don’t really know. They eventually got another nurse, Jennifer, to come and she got the catheter in no time, with some “old school” trick. My mom was very relieved.
When I woke up, I felt slightly rested. This was the most sleep I had gotten in over 24 hours. They wanted to see if I could push. I couldn’t. I was too numb. I had to wait until the epidural wore off, somewhat. My left leg regained feeling before my right. On one side, I had a leg. On the other side, a big hunk of disconnected flesh. It stayed that way, for most of the delivery.
They tried to get me to push again. I could do it, this time. Alex told me he wanted me to push and then I’d have the baby about an hour later. That didn’t happen. I pushed and pushed and pushed on both sides, on my back, squatting, every which way. She wasn’t coming out. I was in so much pain. All I could do to deal with the pain was move around, like a fish out of water. I kept getting oxygen, too, after every time I pushed. Whenever they wanted me to switch positions to push, the nursing students had to lift and move my right leg because I couldn’t feel it. First, I tried the left side, then the right. They weren’t working. Then I tried while lying on my back. It seemed the most successful position, though it didn’t feel that way. All the sudden, they said they could see her head. I asked them what color hair she had. Recently, I had told Tom she’d have really dark hair like I did when I was born. I was right. I kept pushing to see my baby. They got a mirror and put it in front of me but I could not watch my child come out. Without seeing that, I felt like I was even further than I really was. I was exhausted, though. I told my mom I couldn’t do it anymore. I even told them they could just take her c-section because I could not push anymore. I pushed so hard my eyes felt like they were going to pop out of my head. I was in pain, tired, and then I got hot and itchy. Apparently, it’s a side effect of the epidural. I couldn’t take it. I had to take off my hospital gown. More pushing. I had been told over and over, she was close and I didn’t believe it. All I wanted was my baby and she would not come out. Every time I pushed, I felt I was getting closer but when I stopped, it was like taking a step backward. I was tired and really didn’t think I could continue. I just kept rolling back and forth, from side to side and pushing, though.
By now, I had been pushing for over an hour and a half. I had finally pushed enough for my doctor to be called. A little bit later, when he arrived, I felt as though I could not push anymore. But I knew I had to be close since my doctor was there. So, I started pushing real hard and Dr. Peterson said there was meconium in there because she had pooped. He said Tom would not be able to cut the cord and I couldn’t have her put onto my chest right after because the nurses would need to rush to clear her airways of the meconium before she could take her first breath. It was very disappointing to both of us but we just wanted her to be healthy. If it had to be that way to make sure she was, it was fine with us. After pushing for ten more minutes, he told me he was going to help me. He had to perform an episiotomy, which, by this point, I was absolutely on board. I continued to push and she still wasn’t coming. He told me she was turned wrong and he would use the vacuum extractor to assist in getting her out. They put it on her head and I pushed and with the combined effort, she was finally here. They rushed her over to the little basinet incubator and quickly cleared her nose and mouth before she took her first breath. They cleaned her off a bit, checked her vitals and then her weight and everything. While all that was happening, I was pushing out the placenta and getting stitches. I didn’t even feel them because my focus was on Henley. At first, she was quiet and I just wanted to hear her cry to know she was okay. The she did. She had this little squeak with her cry, too. It was so cute. The nurses told us she was 22 inches long and eight pounds and seven ounces. She was a big baby. No wonder she didn’t want to come out.
After she was all cleaned up and everything, I got to hold her. She was the cutest thing ever. She was all wrapped up in the hospital blankets with a little pink and blue hat with her cute little chubby face being the only part of her body that was uncovered. I finally had my baby girl and she was perfect.