Now, the details you’ve all been waiting for:
Emily’s due date was the first. The Wednesday after that (April 6), she had a doctor’s appointment. It wasn’t looking like the baby was going to come any time soon (she was dilated less than a centimeter), so Dr. Ojeda suggested that she be induced the next Monday (April 11). The bigger a baby is, the more likely a c-section is, so he didn’t want her to go too long past her due date. Emily asked if she could just be induced the Friday before, because that way 1) we’d have the weekend to recover and I wouldn’t have to miss class (Monday is a school day for me), and 2) Emily’s mom could be there (she’s taking a trip to the east coast next week). Dr. Ojeda said that would be fine, but he’d like her to come in on Thursday because inductions can take a while and he would be gone over the weekend. Emily didn’t make a decision right then, because she wanted to talk to me about it.
So when I got home from school we talked about it and decided to have her induced the next day (Thursday). When we called Dr. Ojeda to let him know, he asked if we could come in that evening instead because the next open time at the hospital was late Thursday afternoon, and he wanted to make sure she had plenty of time before the weekend. So, the schedule moved from next Monday to next hour really quick. We ate dinner, ran around frantically getting everything together, and went to the hospital.
We got there about 9 pm, and started the induction. The nurses poked her full of a bunch of holes and told us she was dilated “a fingertip”. They gave her four doses (at 4-hour intervals) of something they put on the cervix to get it ready for labor. It’s hard to say when labor started, because she’s been having contractions for 4 months. But they started picking up in frequency and intensity with the cervix-stuff. She was able to sleep on and off for a few hours throughout the night. By the end of the third dose, her contractions were painful but not unbearable, and she was dilated “one and a wiggle”. After the fourth dose, they went from incredibly painful to excruciating. They were coming about 3-5 min. apart and she was having a hard time dealing with them (this is an understatement). Four hours after the fourth dose, the nurse examined her again and she was still one and a wiggle. This was really discouraging, because the pain wasn’t accomplishing anything.
So she had an epidural (thanks be to God for modern anesthesia!) and they began giving her pitocin shortly after to speed up the contractions. After the epidural Emily was happy again – it gave her a chance to remember that all this is for the baby. The pitocin moved labor along much better. A few hours after the pitocin started, she was 3 cm dilated (this was about 6:30 pm on Thursday), and two hours after that she was at 7 cm and her water had broken. Dr. Ojeda had stopped by earlier and said he suspected she would be in labor until Friday morning, but things were moving along quickly so we hoped to have the baby sooner than that.
After her water broke, however, the baby’s heart rate started dropping during the contractions – it’s supposed to stay around 130-140, and it would dip to 70-80 or lower during a contraction. This usually means the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck. The nurse tried all manner of things to get it back up: moving Emily from side to side, giving her oxygen, and inserting a tube which sprayed fluid back up the birth canal to provide some extra cushion for the baby. But it stayed low. Dr Ojeda had gone home for the day, so the doctor on-call for him (Dr. Bryan) came in and examined Emily. She said that labor would probably last another 4 hours, because the baby was still a little high, and she recommended a c-section because she wasn’t sure the baby would be ok for 4 hours.
This was a really difficult decision. Emily and I both feel that c-sections are performed more often than necessary, partly because of convenience and partly because doctors need to protect themselves from malpractice lawsuits. Besides which, Dr. Bryan is really young and we don’t know her. It would have been an easier decision, I think, if Dr. Ojeda had suggested a c-section, because we know and trust him. We told her we wanted to wait a little while longer and see how he did.
For several contractions after that, his heart rate stayed above 110, and we thought he’d be ok. But there were two in a row where it dipped down pretty low, and stayed there for longer than normal. This is what the nurse said would happen – the baby would get tired as labor progressed, and it would take longer and longer for his heart rate to come back up to normal. So we decided to get the c-section.
They wheeled Emily into the operating room. I got to sit next to her head during the operation. It was pretty amazing how many things the anesthesiologist pumped into her. “Nauseous? I can give you something for that. Shaking violently? I can give you something for that.” He had this huge cabinet that he just kept pulling bottles down from.
Emily was really scared, and as I sat there holding her hand I prayed the Lord’s prayer to myself over and over again in a barely audible voice – mostly I was just moving my lips. I glanced at her face once during the operation, and saw that her lips were moving. It looked like she was saying the same part of the Lord’s prayer that I was, but I couldn’t be sure and I thought I was speaking too softly for her to hear me, so I didn’t think anything more about it. She later told me that one of the only things she remembers from the surgery is praying the Lord’s prayer with me.
The actual operation didn’t take very long. It was 40 minutes from the time Emily signed the c-section release form to the birth, and only 15 minutes from the time they started the operation. I heard one of the nurses exclaim something, and I glanced over to see how things were going. Let me tell you, seeing a tiny head protruding from the stomach of the woman you love is an experience nothing can prepare you for. The umbilical cord was indeed wrapped around his neck, and they unwrapped it as they pulled him all the way out.
Emily spent the next 3 days in the hospital recovering, and she was released this afternoon. Jonathan is doing just fine. He’s sleeping when he isn’t screaming like a banshee or pooping diapers faster than we can change them – which I gather is pretty standard for newborns.