Care Bear and I welcomed baby Dash into the world on November 8, 2018, Thursday at 7:06 pm at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. He was 7 lbs 3.5 oz and 19 in (48.5 cm). It was four days past our due date and a day before my birthday! Dash came with the California fires.
A short version of our birth story is that we had the baby within 16 hours of checking into the hospital, I labored epidural-free for 9 hours before I had epidural, I pushed for 3.5 hours, there was meconium in the amniotic fluid, the baby was born with the cord wrapped around his neck once, and I had more than average blood loss and had migraine shortly after birth.
Here is the long version. In the morning of the day before Dash’s birth, I had bad menstral cramps. A few hours later, I had discharge of the brownish mucus plug and a bloody show, the latter of which continued until we went to the hospital the next day. That day, I started having real contractions sporadically that were hours apart. I was still able to go on a 30 minute walk that night to a near by convenience store.
On the day I gave birth, which was four days after my due date, I started having more frequent regular contractions around midnight. It was then that I took a shower, thinking that at this rate of contractions and bleeding we will likely be heading to the hospital tonight. Around 2 am, Care Bear sensed the same and took a shower as well. For three hours, I breathed through the contractions on all four on the bed.
We headed for the hospital at 3 am. I was placed at the triage room and was then moved to the delivery room. They put wireless baby heart and contraction monitors on my belly, so I was able to labor anywhere in the room. I labored on my knees by the couch on the floor then I labored lying down on the bed.
I labored epidural-free for 9 hours, until around 11:30 am. The contractions had been manageable by practicing the slow breathing and sleep breathing methods that I learned from a hypnobirthing book. What became difficult to bear was the increased frequency of the contractions. They kept coming within minutes apart, without leaving me time to recover! When a new one came so soon, I felt contraction-phobia and said out loud “Oh my god another one!!”
Up until that point, I had insisted on epidural-free birth to the nurses and the doctor. I was even assigned a labor and delivery nurse all to myself because of that. I had resisted epidural because I had what I learned later was a false notion that epidural leads to more complications and is more likely lead to C-section, which I had heard was more painful post partum than vaginal delivery.
There came a point where my worry about epidural leading to more complications no longer mattered in my mind because it was outweighed by the frequency of the contractions. I asked for epidural. The kind anesthesiologist resident came and did it quickly in one try. It took 15 minutes to take effect, and then I experienced what Koreans refer to as “pain free heaven.” I think epidural also lifts up mood, because I started feeling happy, cracked jokes with the nurse and Care Bear, and laughed.
I also had nitrous oxide (laughing gas) three times before the epidural: 1) to help me get through a cervical check (7:30 am, 4.5 hours post check-in), during which I was 3 cm open; 2) the intentional rupture of membranes (10:30 am, 7.5 hours post check-in), after which brown water, which was amniotic fluid with meconium, came gushing out of me; and 3) for staying still during epidural injection (11:30 am, 8.5 hours post check-in). I went from 6 cm dilated (12 pm, 9 hours post check-in) to 10 cm dilated (3 pm, 12 hours post check-in) in three hours, during which both Aaron and I took a nice 1.5 hour nap.
At 3 pm, when I was turning to the other side on my bed during my nap, my nurse, who was monitoring the screen remotely, came in saying she lost the baby’s heart beat. She fixed the monitor then she pressed a button and what seemed like about 5-6 nurses and a resident doctor rushed in, waking up Care Bear and I from our naps. I had what they called a deceleration of the baby’s heart beat. Thankfully, the baby’s heart rate came back to normal (or was re-found?) and I was told we can start pushing!
After getting ready to push, which involved cleaning up around me, raising my legs, installing the squatting bar, notifying the doctor, etc, we took a few snaps and we began pushing!
I did not have any discomfort during contractions because of the epidural. But I could still move my legs however I wanted. I pushed in four positions, back, left, right, and all four. I also used the squatting bar in two different angles.
After an hour of pushing, I got one, then two injections of pitocin, to charge my slowed and weakened contractions. For the first two to three hours, I was not pushing too hard because I was worried about tearing. But then I got worried that they’ll pressure me to have a C-section if I push for too long, so I started pushing as hard as I can. Thinking angry thoughts helped me push really hard. The last 20 or so pushes on my back and holding my knees to my chest, without the squatting bar, was what brought the baby’s head down.
At 7:06 pm (16 hours post check-in), Dash was born! The cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck once. The baby was not breathing when he was born. There were three people from pediatrics, three people from the complex (?) department, and a few other people who rushed in within seconds of birth.
The placenta was born a minute after the baby. I did not feel it and did not know about it until about 30 minutes later when the doctor told me.
The baby started breathing normally quickly and was put on my chest. The baby latched immediately.
While I was pregnant and was reading other people’s birth stories online, I had wondered what feeling I would feel when I met my baby for the first time, i.e., when the baby was first put on my chest. I finally arrived at that moment when the baby was first put on my chest, and the feeling I felt was . . . : 1) “Wow his eyes are so focused and they are staring directly at my own eyes! It’s so cool a newborn can make direct eye contact at birth!”; 2) “Awesome, I finally have a baby now. A half-white, half-Asian baby no less. Wish list item checked off. Good job to myself. Now moving on!”; and 3) “The baby was a boy all this time! I thought the baby was a girl this whole time! OMG HAHA.”
Those were my three thoughts at that instant I met my baby for the first time. I was surprised that I was not feeling emotional or getting teary. I was feeling surprisingly matter of fact and dry. In fact, for the next half hour, when the doctor was stitching me up, I was thinking of things to make small talk with the doctor and making jokes.
To help me stop bleeding, they gave me methergine and I think one other drug. Stitching me up took about half an hour. After spending two hours post-birth in the delivery room, I was moved in a gurney to the recovery room in the maternity ward. I had a migraine until the next morning.
We stayed at the hospital for two nights and enjoyed being there. The maternity ward nurses were amazing, and each of them helped me well with breast feeding. We also saw a lactation nurse and she was also amazing and taught us more in detail. We had the recovery room all to ourselves, and the room service food was good and so convenient!
All in all, I had a pleasant birth experience, thanks to the amazingly patient and kind doctors and nurses who let me make my own decisions and take my time.
Here is a card I wrote my obgyn who delivered Dash, which I gave to her along with a box of chocolates at my 6 week appointment. I am so grateful for her.