Quinn's Birth Story

July 12, 2018

It's been two weeks and three days since we welcomed our sweet Quinn Carrington Ruth. Not only has our family grown, but so has our love; it's just multiplied ten fold with two little girls to snuggle, hug, and kiss on. Nothing can compare to the juxtaposition of so little sleep and so much joy. To think we knew very little of the babe growing in me, and now we can't imagine life without her button nose and head full of dark hair.

While she's snoozing next to me, I wanted to get the details of her birth written down. I know all t0o well how fleeting time is and how easily it is for memories to lose their clarity. I want to be able to remember her birthday with crisp details, and to one day be able to share with her all about the 24 hours leading up to her arrival.

On Sunday, June 24 at 6:00 in the evening, husband and I headed into the hospital for an induction to get labor going. Having had a c-section previously, induction methods are a little different to ensure safety and not increase the risk for a uterine tear. In this case, a Cook catheter was the method we would be pursing, which involved a catheter with two empty balloons on each end being placed on either side of my cervix to cause manual dilation. No sugar-coating it, the placement of the catheter was absolutely terrible; and it took them three tries to get it correctly settled. After it was finally where it needed to be, husband made a joke and it made me laugh so hard that I feared I was going to send the catheter back out. But the laughing was such a needed reprieve from the pain of insertion, and luckily my belly laughs didn't cause the catheter to come out. 

Once placed, the balloons were filled with saline to create pressure, and the 12-hour long process began at 8:15 PM. I was informed that the first hour would be the hardest and most uncomfortable, but after two hours the discomfort had not subsided, only increased. I was very uncomfortable and crossing over into pain. With a typically high pain tolerance, I was caught off-guard by what I was feeling and my fading hope to keep the catheter in place for 10 more hours. I told husband I didn't think I could make it, and was considering just having it removed and opting for a repeat cesarian. 

We ended up paging my night nurse (whom I loved) and talking through what I was feeling and what my options were. Ultimately, I decided to try some fentanyl to help dull the pain. Praise all that is good, it worked. But it didn't last long, so over the course of those 12 hours they had to up the dose and give me two more rounds of it. And when I was given each dose through my IV, I immediately felt spacey, followed by nauseous, then a terrible hot flash. Husband and I got down a routine to get through those initial effects, including him offering me Sprite to sip and then fanning me with a pillow. I'm sure we were a comical mess, but it worked and that's exactly what I needed! 

Sleep was non-existent that night, but with every passing hour I was getting closer to having the catheter removed and meeting our girl. I was over the moon when my morning nurse showed up (she was a saint) and the doctor gave the go-ahead for her to remove the catheter. Upon my admittance into the hospital the evening before (at 40 weeks and 6 days), I had dilated 1 cm and was 60% effaced. The hope was the catheter would dilate me between 3-4 cm and get me to 100% effacement. At the twelve hour mark (8:00 AM) the next morning,  I had made it between 4-5 cm dilated and 70% effaced. It had worked! The nurse then shared with me that when I had come in the night before (she checked us in before leaving for the shift change) she didn't have high hopes that I would be able to have a successful VBAC, but after seeing my progress, she thought I could absolutely have a successful VBAC. And that was  so encouraging after enduring the induction via catheter.

Our next step was starting pitocin. I opted to go ahead and have the epidural placed before administering the pitocin, and I am beyond thankful I did. I needed rest so badly, and I wasn't about to endure more "forced" labor without some pain intervention. I also wanted to be ready with an epidural port in place for a possible c-section if needed. The anesthesiologist was exceptional and the whole process reminded me of having the spinal block with Greer's cesarean. It wasn't super comfortable, but to give comparison, I would rather have an epidural over the Cook catheter any day. 

For the first time in about 13 hours I was able to get comfortable and settle as the epidural kicked in. Then the pitocin drip began, and I progressed  slowly over the course of the next couple of hours. We waited and upped the pitocin to encourage more dilation. At 12:15 PM, my doctor came in to break my water and check my progress; I was 5 cm and 75% effaced. Following that, I was turned onto my left side with a large peanut ball between my legs to encourage further progression, which did't seem to help at first, but worked really well the second time we tried it (hours later), just as baby girl began to descend. By 4:50 PM, I was 8 cm dilated and 100% effaced. From this point on, things progressed rapidly. The strength of my epidural allowed me to feel contractions begin, rise, and decrease without feeling uncomfortable, as well as feel the sensation of baby girl's head as she came lower. It was exactly what I wanted so that I would be able to feel myself pushing.

**Little side notes here: 

  • Lisa, my nurse, was a true blessing on Quinn's birthday. The night before when she checked us in, I thought she didn't like husband and I. Maybe it was the end-of-day-tiredness, but I sensed she wasn't crazy about us. So when she showed up in my room the next morning and told me she would be my nurse for the day, my heart sank a bit. But, it didn't take long to warm up, which had a lot to do with taking the time to get to know her by talking to her. She told me about her five children, I shared about Greer, and I asked questions about her experiences as a nurse. Turns out not only was she a nurse, but also a midwife; she has a lot of experience with birthing babies. 
    One question I asked was about pushing with an epidural. She told me that she had more success with coaching epidural moms through pushing because they couldn't necessarily feel what was happening and they had to go off of her direction. With moms who didn't have an epidural, they tended to fight what she was saying because it felt wrong + the pain they were feeling. 

    The second question I asked was about my doctor giving an episiotomy or letting me tear. She told me that in all her years working with my doctor, she didn't believe she had ever seen him give an episiotomy; he would let me tear if I was going to. 

    I tucked these two tidbits away.
  • My doctor, Dr. H., was my preferred doctor to deliver my baby, especially if it was going to be a c-section. I was so happy to know that he was the doctor in the hospital on that Monday. Nothing gives you a little relief and reduces unnecessary stress like knowing a person you trust will be the one you're working with. 

As my contractions got closer to together and with more intensity, baby girl's heartbeat would drop and then resume a normal beat pattern. So the nurse gave me an oxygen mask to help baby out. This made me feel super nervous, and I worried about how she was going to handle the rest of labor and delivery. Husband stood next to my bed and talked me through the contractions, not because I was in pain, but because I could hear the heartbeat monitor drop as each one began and I needed reassurance that our baby was okay and that her heartbeat was coming back up as the contraction subsided. He did that for the last hour or so before I reached 10 cm.

At 5:00 PM, my nurse checked me and told me it was time for practice pushes. She began transitioning the bed for delivery and getting me moved into a pushing position. I specifically remember looking at the clock right before practicing pushing for my very first time. It was 5:15 PM. Ironic, I thought, since it had been a quarter after 8 when the induction began. We went through two sets of contractions, pushing six times total, when everything changed. Lisa's entire demeanor became serious. She paged for more nurses, our doctor, and the nursery nurse. Husband and I could both tell that something was wrong, but nothing was being said. I can't even recall exactly what was told to us, but I knew that baby girl was in distress and not getting enough oxygen and her heart rate was dipping too low. My worst fear, an anxiety of losing my baby (heightened by miscarriage with our first baby), was right in my face. I couldn't stop myself from thinking that I had come this far, completed a healthy pregnancy with a healthy baby, to possibly lose her. 

Lisa told me I had to push, push hard, and fast. That question I had asked her about pushing with an epidural earlier in the day came rushing back. I knew I had to listen to her and follow every word she said to get my girl out as fast as possible. The doctor was ready, calm as a cucumber, which I found slightly surprising, but also a good balance to Lisa's intensity (which wasn't over the top, but you could tell she meant business). The two of them together were perfect, and exactly what I needed. 

I began pushing again at the doctor's call, and after a round or two of pushing, the doctor told me he wanted to use a suction to help get her out even faster. Her oxygen levels and heart rate weren't getting better, and time wasn't on our side. He then proceeded to tell me that he had to inform me of the risks of the suction, which were terrifying and involved the possibility of intracranial bleeding (bleeding inside the skull). I told him I consented and that he could do whatever he needed to get my baby out safely. We started pushing again, Lisa calling out the shots as she watched my contractions. She had a hold of my left leg, husband holding my right. Together they pulled my legs back into the air (different than we had done with the practice pushes), and I grabbed ahold of the back of my thighs, praying with every ten-second-push, deep breath in, and repeat. I was terrified, but determined, and quietly in my head I talked to God the entire time asking for strength and for safety for baby girl. 

From my view, I could see everyone's expressions....Lisa intense and all-knowing of the possible outcomes from this birth; Dr. H. calm and steady; husband a rock, but his face full of worry was all too telling. I knew there were others in the room around us, but I couldn't register anything but what was happening within that immediate bubble. A few more pushes and Dr. H. started using the suction. He stopped briefly to get my consent to give me an episiotomy to get her through easier. I agreed. We (because all four of us were working as a team) pushed again. I started to feel tired, like I would never get her out, which was interrupted by Dr. H. telling me her head was out. That gave me strength to keep going. I could see her head, which disappeared from my sight as I closed my eyes for the next round of pushing. 

More trouble came, her right shoulder was stuck behind my pelvic bone. A nurse that had been standing somewhere behind me, climbed up on the bed and grabbed the leg husband had been holding. I couldn't actually see her, had no idea who she was, but I can still vividly hear her saying, "Okay, mama, you've got this! Push!" Husband stood there watching our girl's face as her heart rate kept dropping on the monitor. Her deep purple complexion compelled him to sit down on the couch, disappearing from my sight. I didn't know why he left, but I didn't think anything of it because I was so focused on getting baby out the rest of the way. He later told me that seeing her, but knowing she was stuck while her conditions still deteriorated left him scared for her life, and he didn't know what to do except to pray. So that's what he did. He sat on that couch and prayed for our girl. 

I pushed with everything in me, which somehow still did not feel like enough. In almost every situation where I'm dealing with pain/discomfort, I become very quiet and focused. So I was making no noise, saying nothing unless giving consent to the doctor. But in those last three pushes, as all my energy was escaping me, I could hear the exasperation leaving my mouth (oddly like I was watching myself from out-of-body) at the end of those 10-second pushes. Her shoulders finally came out. Dr. H. told me to push again, and with one more round of contractions, Quinn was born. 

All I remember was seeing her body, still and purple, as she was coming up to my chest. She wasn't crying, and I was losing my mind inside. A mix of relief to have her out, mixed with fear was filling every ounce of me. Husband was there at my side again, I'm not sure when he came back. Dr. H. let him cut the cord, the nursery nurse began cleaning her up, suctioning her out, and moving her with some force to get her to start crying. I was talking to her, hoping that hearing my voice would somehow encourage her to cry. I was praying. And I was taking in this baby who I so desperately needed to know was going to be okay. Then she started crying, but only for a few seconds before going quiet again. She did that over and over again, which kept me heart rising and falling as I waited for a long bout of crying. The nurse and the pediatrician took her over to the baby station (still in the room) and started checking her out. 

While they were looking over Quinn, Dr. H. delivered my placenta, and then began stitching my episiotomy. At some point during stitching me, he discovered that a piece of the placenta had been retained inside my uterus. This resulted in him manually extracting it, but the numbing powers of my epidural kept me from feeling any of it, another blessing. I'm not even sure what was happening with me to the full extent because I couldn't keep my eyes off of my baby. I know it was rushed and hurried, and I didn't want to concentrate on it for fear something was going wrong with me. The doctor took care of it with precision, and soon enough the feelings in the room calmed and became lighthearted. Lisa was still next to me, when I told her that now she had indeed seen Dr. H. perform an episiotomy, which made her smile. She explained what we were talking about to the doctor, and then went on to say that the night before when we had come in for our induction, she knew she liked us and requested to be on our service that Monday. Again, another blessing revealing itself, even after I thought she hadn't liked us the night before. It felt like God showing me how intricately He put everything into place for our girl's birth story, knowing exactly who we needed to get her here safely.

Upon her birth, the doctor discovered that the cord had been wrapped all around her body, and as she came through the birth canal, the cord's oxygen and blood supply were being squeezed so tightly that it was cutting everything off to her. But, my Quinn checked out perfectly fine and healthy; she passed her APGAR test, there was no brain bleed from the suction, and she began to pink up with help. The nursery nurse called over to me and asked me how much I thought she weighed, as she held her up for me to see. I guessed 8lbs 10oz, and the doctor guessed 9lbs something oz (I didn't catch that part). The nurse told us we were both wrong, that my little babe was 9lbs 7.8 oz. Then she announced that she was 22.5" long (just 1.5" shy of 2 feet long!). Every single person in the room was in shock at how big she was, everyone saying that they never would have guessed she was going to be as big as she was. The doctor looked up at me, momentarily stopping his stitching, to ask where I had been hiding her. I wanted to know the same thing! Though I had been sure she was long, because I had been complaining to husband in the last month and a half of pregnancy that I could feel her all over my belly and she had to be super long. Sure enough, she was long, very long!

Little time passed before I was able to do skin-on-skin with my sweet Quinn. Because she was so swollen from birth, it was hard to see myself or husband in her face. But, oh that head full of swirly black hair...that was definitely her mama in her. I had imagined a little dark-haired baby girl joining our blonde-haired toddler, and sure enough it was exactly what the Lord blessed us with. I kept looking at her in amazement that she was here and completely okay. I asked what time she had been born. Lisa told me it was 5:38 PM, exactly 23 minutes after we started those practice pushes. I was amazed that the Lord gave me enough strength, the doctor enough swift decision-making, and my nurse the exceptional coaching abilities to help me deliver my girl so quickly when we had so little time. 

Once I was all put back together and settled in my bed with my brand new baby girl, Lisa told me that she knew I was going to get her out, but didn't know the possible problems she would face once here. She also told me that we wouldn't have been able to get an OR set up fast enough for a c-section delivery. Her demeanor during delivery made even more sense to me. Lisa clocked out at the end of her shift that evening, but made sure to come by the next day (even though she wasn't working the floor) to check in on us. She told me she had been tracking me early that morning from her office to make sure everything was going well. I couldn't be more thankful for her.

Two hours after her birth, Quinn's big sister got to meet her, and you can't be prepared for the rush of love and joy you experience when you watch your children meet for the very first time. Husband carried Greer over to my bedside, and with outstretched arms and excited little jazz fingers, she immediately asked to hold her and has been smitten every since. Her reaction to her little sister was even better than I imagined. The sweetness of that evening was so good for my soul after the events of her delivery. The vanilla milkshake my mom and sister brought with them was also exactly what I needed :)

Husband and I talked through her delivery and who we thought she looked like into the night. How was she here, ours, and so perfect? We didn't sleep at all that night, but got plenty of baby cuddles in. And as we had been hoping, we were able to leave the hospital just over 24 hours after Quinn was born. I was doing well and so was baby. Husband and I couldn't wait to get home and start life as a family of four.