LAYLA'S BIRTH STORY
We were inside the ultrasound room at my 35 week appointment and the ultrasound technician was quiet - asking a question here, making a comment there.
"How far along were you when you delivered your first?"
"It's a girl, They tend to do better pre-term."
Here. We. Go. Again.
It was like deja vu as she helped me up and escorted us straight over to our doctor. I knew exactly what was coming.
We had discussed in previous appointments my concerns over how small I felt my belly was for this far along in the pregnancy. I had hoped to go full-term this time around and made sure I was well researched on VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-Section) and signs of labor, I was debating my ideal birth scenario and talking with her about our options for delivery, considering my prior c-section only 21 months earlier. We had scheduled this ultrasound to hopefully put to rest the concerns that this baby would come as early as our last (Ellie was born at 36 weeks).
Yet here we were,
The doctor came in and confirmed our suspicions. My amniotic fluid levels were barely hovering over the level that was considered risky and cause for induction.
My heart broke.
Looking back it seems silly. I prepared myself that morning before the ultrasound that this was a possibility, but there I sat, still feeling like I had had the wind knocked out of me. I mourned the ideal of having a full-term, natural delivery.
Long story short, what followed was a (very) long two weeks of running back and forth between our OB's office and the risk specialist. Countless appointments, ultrasounds, non-stress tests (NST), and waiting. Monitoring my fluid levels, measuring baby, counting her kicks.
I was frustrated. Stressed. Sleep deprived. Anxious. Angry.
The fluid levels were hanging on by a thread and her stomach was measuring very small - in the 1 percentile; we knew any day we'd get the news that she would need to come out. The plan was to induce me and do a TOLAC (Trial of Labor After C-section) to avoid a 2nd C-section and hope for the best as there were no guarantees.
On Monday, I was 36 and a half weeks pregnant and we had an appointment at the MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) office with the specialist. After getting the ultrasound and NST readings from the tech, the doctor came in. She double checked the measurements and gave us the news. The fluid had dropped further and she was recommending delivery. Soon, no later than Thursday.
More back and forth between doctors' offices.
My OB was out of town until Thursday and my induction got pushed until then.
More frustration, stress, anxiety.
Sleep was a distant memory. I would wake every hour and spend the next thirty minutes trying to force her to move, just to make sure she was okay in there. I wanted her out, to hold her in my arms and not worry if that hour that she wasn't moving in my belly was an hour too long. I knew if they would just get her here I could fatten her up in no time.
I felt helpless.
Thursday mercifully arrived and we left for the hospital for our 6 am induction. When we I arrived I was dilated to a 3 and having contractions every 10 -15 minutes. Even baby girl knew it was time to come out. I got hooked up to all the machines while we waited for our OB to arrive. She finally came around 9 am and inserted a foley balloon catheter to mechanically dilate me and started me on Pitocin. We were told it would take about an hour for my cervix to widen enough for the balloon to fall out . 17 minutes later I was leaning over the bed in intense pain, groaning my way through a huge contraction that I thought was going to be the death of me, wondering why the hell I didn't just have another C-section, when I finally heard the splat of the balloon hitting the floor and relief flooded over me. It was a little after 10 am. My doctor came back in, broke my water, and said she'd be back in a few hours to see how my labor was progressing.
My mom, dad, and sister arrived shortly after to offer support. The pitocin was doing its job and my contractions were coming about every 3 and a half minutes and I wanted to die. Weeks before I had been crying over the idea of an induction and the possibility of another c-section. As glad as I was for a successful, complication free c-section with our first, I still felt a little robbed of the birth experience; I never got to experience labor and I felt like I had missed out on a quintessential, transcendent, female-only, experience (I think I had been reading too many birth stories online...).
Boy was I experiencing it now.
I felt like I was barely catching my breath from the last contraction before another would start. I wanted to cry. I was hooked up to so many things that I couldn't move around much. All I could do was squeeze Ian's fingers, close my eyes, grit my teeth, and try to breathe through it. I hadn't totally decided on the epidural beforehand; our doctor strongly recommended one, in case we needed to do an emergency c-section and to avoid having to use general anesthesia, but said it was our choice. At this point, there was no question in my mind. I was sold. Give me the drugs. Things were progressing so quickly that I was worried my window to get one was closing.
Around noon it was placed and 15 minutes later I was numb and happy, but it wasn't long after that that I was feeling nauseous and tons of pressure moving down my abdomen. My mom (a birth veteran after 8 deliveries of her own) knew that baby was ready to come. She asked the nurses to come see how dilated I was. I knew Layla's head was as far down as it was going to get without coming out. She was ready.
Me, not so much.
Even though this was my second baby I felt clueless and unprepared for what my body was getting ready to go through.
Our nurses came and confirmed that I was nearly fully dilated with baby's head right at the opening of my cervix. The pressure was getting intense and I felt my body wanting to push with each contraction. They hurried out to page our doctor and said they were paging the on call doctor as well, just in case ours didn't make it back to the hospital in time. This baby was coming soon. It was just before 2:00 pm. After about 30 minutes of pushing (that felt like an eternity and 10 minutes all at the same time), and tons of coaching, encouragement, and literal support (my lower half was entirely numb and useless) from my mom, sister, and Ian,
Layla Shay Hamill was born.
4 lbs. 15 oz.
I was exhausted and I couldn't believe what I had just done. I couldn't believe she was actually here. After a quick assessment confirmed she was perfectly healthy and not having any issues, they placed her on my chest and I sobbed uncontrollably as euphoria swept over me.
I don't have words to put to all the emotions I felt in those first moments with her. It was unlike any human experience I've ever had and I was entirely relieved it was over.
Thanks for coming into our world miss Layla. We're over the moon to finally have you here with us.