To read from the beginning of this memoir click here: Part 1
C.S. Lewis “To love is to be vulnerable…”
If you are avoiding reading birth story’s that have complications, be forewarned. Shoulder dystocia occurs in less than 1% of deliveries. The birth video explains the maneuvers the doctor utilized to turn Noah.
The second half of the birth video, “The Second Letter” is posted in the next blog entry.
The Story of Noah Cedric’s Birth – Turning From Death to Life
(These are my actual labor notes along with additional comments in parenthesis.)
Wow! Today is the day we are working to bring you forth!
We headed to the hospital because I was seeing spots and came down with a headache. After I called the doctor and she said, “Head on in so we can check you out.”
Everything is looking great. We believe you are 41 weeks. The nurse midwife stripped my membranes to hopefully get things started. We were about to head home until we heard some news. The doctor from the office delivered another induction patient which opened up a room for us in labor and delivery. They told us we could stay if we wanted to induce tonight instead of Wednesday morning. There was no pressure from them at all to stay. The decision was completely up to me. It was a tough decision, but you and I were scheduled for a non-stress test tomorrow and another membrane stripping, which most likely would end up with me cramping and not sleeping well. It’s not guaranteed to start labor.
Also, Dad had taken the week off work so he would have more time with you if we went tonight. I feel pretty good right now and laboring all through tonight sounds a lot better to me than showing up at 5:00am Wed. morning. So we said yes!
(I requested a light meal before beginning and they agreed, bringing me a salad, along with a fruit and granola topped yogurt.)
I couldn’t be more pleased with my nurse Denise. She has 46 years of experience as an OB nurse! The IV went flawlessly for the first time in my life. (We called the IV I was given for Lily’s birth a stabbing because the newbie nurse got out a soaker pad and everything. Lots of blood sprayed. It took her three tries and I was so lightheaded from holding my breath. Yucky!) Denise even collected my blood for all the standard tests they run from the IV which made an additional blood draw unnecessary. YAY!
Another wonderful development I learned of is that they will not be giving you a bath after birth. They will just wipe you off! This was something I wished for but didn’t include in my birth plan.
They have started 1ml per hour of Oxytocin. Now I will try to rest up for the hard work ahead! I love you and can’t wait to meet you! All your sister’s and brother at home are excited too. Kaitlin is sleeping in our bed tonight with Isaac and Lily. They are, “keeping it warm for us.”
It is now 12:15 of the 18th. I am feeling the first good contractions. (They are good because I can feel quite a bit of pressure, the kind necessary to make progress and dilate.)
Right now I am lying in bed resting and listening to the songs, “The More I Seek You, and Mercy- by Bethel”. Stephanie Gretzinger is streaming over YouTube.
I am worshiping God who has brought us so far. He has led us onto this path of life and His is the most beautiful love that we could ever know. Even through the pain, He is faithful and trustworthy. I adore Him. I have absolute trust as He leads me through your birth process.
(Sometime after this my Mom and sister Christine arrived. Christine began taking notes from here, so you will notice a change in voice.)
Nurse checked Mel and said 3-4 and 70% effaced. Mel started knee chestin it. Zebra bum in the air like she just don’t care. Nurse thought baby was posterior. Derriere in the air.
(At this time the nurse told me my baby had flipped over and he needed to flip back to progress. I was concerned. He was up very high, not moving down yet at all. I began working very hard in a sort of head down bottom up position for a very long time, rocking as the nurse showed me, to get him to turn back to the ideal birthing position. I was asking God to help him turn the entire time. It seemed that I was doing this for a couple hours before the nurse returned and let us know he was back in the right position. A miracle to me. )
Dad (Steve) Me (Christine) and Grandma got a few hours of sleep while your mom kept working to get you. Slow and steady progress having contractions with a rating of 5 in intensity. Shift change is coming. Dad snored away. Mom is doing her makeup to sparkle for you.
Grandma gave Melissa a massage with Deep Blue. Jordan a 3rd year med student stopped in and chatted for ½ hour, Dr. Bitner came by and decided to turn the Pitocin down to 2 from 12. Mel ordered lunch/breakfast Pancakes & Omlet, Ham+Cheese. Because you are obviously not in Active Labor!
(This was very disappointing news to hear. Dr. Bitner was the doc on call from my doctor’s office and I had never met her before. She breezed in all fresh for the start of her shift. Exuding confidence and professionalism, she checked my cervix to find not much progress had been made after the whole night which I had been having contractions and staying active to facilitate progress.
Dr. Bitner announced, “Obviously you are not in active labor. Maybe your body is not responding to the Pitocin. Sometimes we have to turn it down and give things a rest, then start over a little at a time.” This turned out to be the perfect advice for my situation. I requested a meal if I was going to be starting over. I knew that I hadn’t eaten since earlier the evening before. I needed to refuel for the vigorous work ahead of us. I was shocked that Dr. Bitner agreed. I scarfed up my meal and lied down to rest for a little bit. But I couldn’t sleep at all. I had never stalled out during induction before.)
Dr. Bitner came in to check Melissa. She is dialated to 5-80% effaced -3 station. Cervix is posterior.
(Dr. Bitner also said that it would be dangerous at this point to break my water. Noah’s head still wasn’t well applied to my cervix. He was floating up high. If she broke my water the umbilical cord could be compressed or an arm could present which would be an automatic c-section. I decided I was going to go run a marathon through the halls. I was in great spirits and ready to have a little fun. See video for explanation. Everyone was trying to guess Noah’s secret name, but I wouldn’t tell them.)
We went for a walk or should I say a sway, squat, dance with a little dab mixed into it. Quite the experience to witness!
(Kaitlin my oldest daughter made me promise to dab in labor for her. She even texted Steve to be sure I wouldn’t forget.)
Dr. Bitner comes in to check Melissa. 6cm 80% effaced. -3 station.
(Lots of showing off and silliness in the video below. Consider yourself warned.)
Mom thinks you moved down contractions quite a bit harder now. A few tears shed, getting camera ready. Nurse checked baby, still high.
Dr. Bitner checking Mel for baby position, 6cm -3 station. Baby’s head in in the right position well applied, making it possible to break water without risking complications. Broke water, contractions are coming much stronger, not much longer and we will meet you baby boy!
(As Noah made progress in moving down it felt as if there was no way he could come out. It wasn’t just the increasing pressure that I remembered with Lily, it was different. I didn’t fear, but I was certain he was a larger baby.
My sister Rebekah came to the hospital around this time to give me a therapeutic massage with essential oils. Thank you Rebekah! )
9cm, 0 station
Almost ready, pushing a bit.
(I began to push lightly with small grunts. I was waiting and waiting for the huge overwhelming urge I had so often heard of, but as a few contractions came and went this way with 5 minute breaks of absolute calm in between contractions, the drive to push never hit me. It did feel better to push, but I didn’t feel that I was making any progress in moving him down. Maybe it was because I knew that my last four were born in a few short pushes.
I heard the doctor talking with the intern who had joined about some blood. In hushed tones she pointed and mentioned, “Pay attention to the color of the blood.” I didn’t know what it meant, other than that there was blood and it was more than my normal bleeding. It all came together in a realization that I needed to fight for Noah to be born. I needed to push him out as if our lives depended on it!
With the next contraction I gave it my all and bore down and into the pain. He made much progress and after a couple more contractions like that, the doctor made sure the camera was recording for delivery. I pushed again. My body was utterly confused as I felt large bones pushing against me. There was no ring of fire, there was nothing but a mind blowing – mind boggling – stuck sensation. It felt as if I was trying to push my own body away from its stuck self. With Lily (previous delivery with no epidural medication) the pressure had built up and then the ring of fire for her head, the surprising ring of fire for her shoulders, and then she was free.
My reference points were all scrambled with the strange sensation, I asked my mom, “Is his head out?”
“Yes!” she told me, “His head is out!”
I was dumbfounded as the doctor worked quickly aiding Noah for the turn, unwrapping the nuchal cord from around his neck. I was wracked with a million tons of still increasing pressure and bone stuckness, all so fast that I couldn’t even explain or ask anyone. “What’s wrong?!”
But the doctor already knew, she called shoulder dystocia and instantly the bed was laid back, the suprapubic pressure was applied and her able hands went to work to free a baby who was now at risk of death or disability.
My body had become a trap to us both, his shoulder pressed tightly against my pubic bone. The doctor tugged on Noah as much as she could. Then my mother to realized that this was not normal. Everyone knows that you are not supposed to pull on a baby at that point. Except, this was an emergency.
My mother began praying fervently out loud to Jesus. You can’t hear it in the video, but she was right there near my ear. I could hear tone of her voice and this was the number one drive for me to fight ever harder. I knew my baby was in danger.
My sister Christine held the camera viewing everything through the lens. She heard the doctor’s calm instruction that I needed to continue pushing and she echoed it over and over as she continued snapping away. I pushed with all my strength. I howled louder than the woman we wondered about across the hall earlier that day. I couldn’t allow the full force of my energy to push because it hurt so bad! Now the doctor’s hands were both inside me and moving with my baby. So many bones. Too many bones.
“No. Sound in. I need all your energy for pushing.” The Dr. Bitner sternly instructed. So that’s what I did. I did my best to hold my sound in and pushed with all of it.
From the time his head delivered he was unable to receive oxygen due to the umbilical cord being pressed in the birth canal. If Noah didn’t emerge in 3 minutes I would be put under and rushed to C-section. The doctor continued with the Rubin 11 then Rubin11+ Woods Corkscrew, hooking his shoulder with one hand and placing her other hand over his back and turning him.
His shoulders turned past my pubic bone where they were lodged, then out. The doctor removed the second nuchal cord from around his neck.
It was at that time Christine dropped the camera, fearing the worst and thinking she needed to be present in a different way for me. She thought maybe Noah wasn’t going to make it.
Suddenly we were both free. His weight heavy on my stomach, I fumbled through the pain to crack my eyes open and see him. But not before my body realized how stiff and still he was, as the nurse vigorously rubbed his chest. He was covered in blood. From then on I was holding my breath in silence. My baby.
Noah Cedric was born.
The doctor apologized as she quickly cut the cord, sooner than I had requested in my birth plan. He was whisked away. “Breath, breath, breath, Jesus help us,” my heart cried. My ears were acutely tuned in to that commotion I couldn’t see, just around the corner. A rush of doctors and nurses gathered near the door of my room.
Nothing else mattered. My heart was on that table with my baby.
In the following year I would come to realize how this moment was the most critical heart moment of them all. It wasn’t the trauma of the barbaric pain of so many bones, it was always Noah. It was waiting for his first breath, not knowing if he would live or die.
Then, a sound, the loud clear sound of Noah’s voice filled the room. The strength of his cry released a sweet sense of relief and confidence in me. I knew he was going to make it. I knew he was strong. I could breath again.
“His name is Noah Cedric.”
There was more pain yet for me. The doctor returned to find my placenta detached from the wall of my uterus, just sitting inside me. With her hands she reached in and scooped it up, pulling it out. With no pain medication in me this was comparable to the pain of pushing only different.
I was now experiencing postpartum hemorrhage due to retained placenta. The doctor reached in over and over scooping out what she could from my uterus. As soon as Steve realized what was happening to me he leaned over embracing me, and hold on tightly. It was exactly what I needed. I cried quietly into his shoulder, telling myself I needed to be as still and frozen as I could.
“God, when will this be over?”
Each time she reached in I hoped it was the last. I took a few extra pains for the team (women’s health) as the doc in training beside her also made a few passes. Then, one of my worst fears was realized as my doctor requested a nurse to bring her the “Banjo”. The risks of scarring to the uterus and possible perforation were frightening to me. In this case the doctor’s whole hand accompanied the metal instrument into my womb. I prayed and held as still as I could, willing my body to submit to this madness. It continued on and on …
At some point during this the big news of Noah’s weight came. “He is 10lbs 9ozs, Melissa!”
“I thought Jesus told me he was going to be big.” I shared in amazement. I could believe it, but I couldn’t believe it. 10lbs 9ozs, two whole pounds larger than my previous largest baby! (He was 23.5 inches long!)
“Well, we should have listened to you and Jesus!” Dr. Bitner proclaimed, “But we wouldn’t have done anything differently.”
Everyone kept joking about how Noah was a toddler.
My mom held Noah for me on the outskirts of the room while the doctors worked. She was anxious to place him to my chest.
Finally, Dr. Bitner and her apprentice just stood with their bloody hands up just waiting and watching for a moment. I remember in that moment time froze. The placenta hunting swipes along with the pain were possibly over. I looked at the end of the bed. I noticed so much blood. Both doctor’s uniforms were splattered up and down.
We all knew that we had fought for life and won! The feeling in the room was sweet, peaceful and victorious.
I was given the all clear that the bleeding was under control.
Noah was placed into me arms. I studied his face. You made it my little prayer partner. You are just as big and beautiful as the Lord hinted to me.
His face was slightly bruised at the chin, and when I touched his shoulder he would respond as if he was in pain. I could hardly move him around because my body hurt too. It was hard. I began to cry. But I put him to my breast and he began to suckle, fumbling a bit. I was overwhelmed by how strong and big humbled as I witnessed this part of what I believed God had revealed beforehand truly come to pass.
While Dr. Bitner did a final assessment I asked, “Do I have just one hole?” (I thought maybe I had torn from front to back combining the holes.)
After they figured out what I meant by that, Dr. Bitner answered cheerfully, “No. You have all the holes you came here with, and there are no tears,” I was stunned. How could that be possible? Another miracle!
Dr. Bitner then came to my bedside and admired Noah, rejoicing with
me. She gave me a warm hug and told me that I had done a good job. “You might hear more about Shoulder Dystocia and Earbs Palsy.” she said. “His arm and nerves seem undamaged now, but the doctors will keep an eye on that.” She explained briefly how the nerves can be damaged by Shoulder Dystocia.
Everyone was crying. We would be crying for days.
The second half of the birth video is coming soon: “The Second Letter – From a Captive of Hope” It shares the second half of the delivery, post partum hemorrhage and beautiful Noah. In it I unpack all the wonders that occurred, including the special date he was born on and how the shoulder dystocia parallels my prayer journey for life at the local abortion clinic. It also holds the second letter to the abortion doctor. This should be released in the next couple weeks!
Photos taken by Christine Sikora
Continue to: The Second Letter (Part 17)