My pregnancy with Francesca went remarkably well in comparison to my previous ones. Then, those final weeks kicked in and- again- my body decided that pregnancy is hard. My heart rate skyrocketed and my blood pressure elevated, my OB decided enough was enough and booked me to be induced at 37 weeks.
Brad and I cheerily dropped off Marshall and Vi with Brad’s oldest sister on the ninth. After, we went out to dinner as an impromptu date- you take it whenever you can at the ages our kids are. At dinner our waitress asked when I was due, she just about fell over when I smiled and told her I was going to be induced the next morning. We like to take a calm approach to birthing, our waitress couldn’t believe we weren’t utterly terrified. As I’ve mentioned before though, pregnancy is hard but delivery is where I feel strong and empowered- it’s something that I’ve always looked forward to.
After dinner we picked up a few last-minute items and headed home for the night. Double checking that the hospital bag was ready, car seat installed, and older sibling gifts wrapped and waiting.
Four o’clock came quickly, I probably got about two or three hours of sleep but I awoke easily and was eager for the day. We drove the hour and a half to our hospital and were the first ones through the door at six a.m. Just as we have with every labor, I greeted the delivery nurses with a goodie basket to thank them for taking care of me and our incoming baby. They were so grateful after a busy night.
The labor and delivery unit was unusually full. See, the tenth was a full moon, meteor shower, and lunar eclipse- it seemed that put everyone in labor! Regardless, the nurses were kind enough to save me the large corner delivery suite.
Things go very quickly at first: get in the hospital gown, leave a urine sample, and sign paperwork. This pregnancy brought an extra step.
Typically, babies turn head down by 35-36 weeks and stay head down until delivery. Marshall turned head down at about 28 weeks and stayed head down, Vi was literally head down from the very first ultrasound at 8 weeks until the day she was born, but Francesca Corinne had other plans. She was head up all the way until 35 weeks, turned head down, and then at 36 weeks thought it would be fun to turn back to breech. Oy vey. Now, the majority of hospitals won’t deliver a breech baby vaginally due to the increased risks associated. So there’s two options: try to manually turn the baby from the outside (called an external version) or have a c-section.
Because all my pregnancies like to throw curve balls, with Franki I also had anterior placenta. Anterior placenta is when the placenta is located on the front of the uterus, instead of the more typical location of the back. This doesn’t usually mean anything more than it makes it a bit more difficult to feel and see movement at first, but when the rarity hits that it also is paired with a breech baby, things get a bit more complicated.
An external version involves the doctor and nurse manually pushing on your abdomen to move the baby head down. With the placenta being on the front instead of the back, this pushing could end in tragedy if the placenta prematurely releases from the uterine wall. Also, while not automatically something to worry over, c-sections can be made a bit more complicated over the forward lying placenta due to the risk to both baby and mom if the doctor accidentally cuts into the placenta.
Yea…learn something new every pregnancy I guess!
Due to this, I had to have an ultrasound before we could do much else. We needed to know what kind of delivery we would have to do.
My doctor still wasn’t in for the day yet, so the nurses decided it would be good to put the intravenous line in first. This way we could start induction immediately if she turned head down or we could head straight to the OR if she was still breech.
Now, if you’ve read my previous delivery stories you know this is when I typically hit a speed bump. This delivery was no different.
A young nurse decided she would be the first to give it a shot. I have smaller than average veins (I’m commonly given the smallest gauge iv needle they have), my complexion doesn’t easily show veins underneath, and my swelling at the end of pregnancy due to high blood pressure pushes the veins further below the surface. I am the bane of new nurses and phlebotomists everywhere.
She immediately gave up on my arms and started tapping around my hands muttering “I can’t see them but I can feel them.” Brad and I looked at each other and braced for the worst. IVs in the hand are more painful than the arms and I know from experience to loath the “I can’t see but…”. Nothing good comes after that. In my case, it ended in me begging her to stop blindly digging around with a needle in my hands and her blowing out veins in both hands. I informed her that I need the smallest gauge otherwise my veins will continue to blow out, she told me that won’t be possible because if I need a cesarean I would need the medications faster so she had to use the largest gauge. I asked if she could wait for my doctor to do the ultrasound because I really felt like I could be induced and therefore have the smallest gauge. She left the room frustrated and requested a more seasoned nurse.
This nurse was much kinder, she spoke to me like a person not a patient. She still blew out three additional veins in my arms before successfully getting one in the crook of my left arm; but I appreciated her personality so it evened out in the wash.
It took just over an hour to finally get an iv set. Shortly after, my doctor arrived and gingerly walked into my suite wishing me good morning. She pushed the ultrasound machine to my bedside and quickly confirmed my suspicions: Francesca successfully turned back head down.
Pitocin was started immediately and the sensors were put on my belly to measure contractions and track Franki’s heartbeat. Brad busted out his daddy snacks and dragged the large recliner to my bedside so he could hold my hand while I took a nap.
Slowly, the nurse turned up my pitocin and the contractions started becoming more uncomfortable. This is when I thank my lucky stars for having a great support person in the delivery room.
Brad and I believe in peaceful birthing. It is the idea of giving in to the contractions- not fighting the pain. When you tense up during the contractions, you’re being counter productive as the baby can’t move as easily down the birthing canal. So it’s important to try to focus on relaxing your muscles as much as possible with every wave of pain. To breathe it away and open your mind. No yelling, cursing, or crying- just steadily remaining calm and focusing on the end product.
Brad would stand with every contraction, holding my hand, and looking into my eyes to help me focus. “This is temporary, you’re almost done, you’re doing so great!” “Every contraction is one closer to our baby!” “You’re so strong, I could never do this, you’re amazing.” His words helped encourage me as the pain picked up.
He was all around the perfect labor partner as he knew how to unhook my monitors and the iv so I could use to the restroom and then he’d help me back to my bed and plug everything back in. The nurses loved that. He continuously retrieved me ice water and advocated for me with the nurses. Always speaking to them respectfully and in a way that they appreciated. I was so thankful for him in my vulnerability.
My doctor wanted me to get an epidural before she broke my water since I usually give birth pretty quickly after that.
The anesthesiologist arrived, a short older woman with white hair and a gentle nature. She had a very difficult time putting in the epidural- another first for me as I’ve never had an issue with epidurals in the past. For some reason, when she would insert the needle, it would jut off to the right. This was excruciating pain. I held it together for the first three tries but then I was reduced to ugly-Kim Kardashian-style crying with snot pouring down for good measure. Brad lovingly wiped my tears and snot away from my face with his sweatshirt as the nurse ran for more tissues. My back was sweating and I was trembling with pain; the nurse loudly gasped and covered her mouth with her hands. Finally she got the catheter inserted. The anesthesiologist apologized profusely and I settled into bed thankful to not be feeling anything anymore. I promised myself in this moment that next time I will go for a natural birth (no epidural).
Brad perched next to the machine so he could continuously push the button and give me pain relief as soon as the light popped on signaling it was time.
My OB promptly entered to manually break my water. I laid calmly as she placed the small hook and gently ripped my amniotic sac. She accidentally nicked my cervix- I didn’t feel it due to the epidural- she asked if I was comfortable and okay. Before I could answer, her phone popped on from her front pocket, a male voice on Siri loudly assured me “you are entitled to your feelings”. My OB was embarrassed and scrambled to turn off her phone as the nurse, Brad, and I laughed. “Sure, now he pipes up. I ask him questions over and over and he never responds…I’m so sorry.” I reassured her it was okay and I appreciated the laugh. She left so I could get some rest.
I napped for about an hour before the nurse came. She woke me up and asked how I was feeling, I said I was feeling a lot of pressure (not pain, just a sort of heaviness). So the nurse checked me and I was fully dilated and effaced but Franki was still pretty far up the birth canal. She paged my OB and lifted my bed up to prepare for pushing.
The doctor came in and struggled getting her scrubs on, she was also pretty pregnant. I empathized- getting dressed in late pregnancy is a work out in and of itself. I had to stop myself from asking Brad to help her. Your husband is not the superhero of all pregnant ladies, don’t cross a line here ya silly!
She got her scrubs on (by herself) and Brad held my hand tight, brushing hair from my face with a smile. The nurse grabbed my leg and my OB positioned herself. Annnnd nothing. I apologized for it being anticlimactic as we waited for a contraction so I could push. We casually chatted for a minute until it hit.
I pushed for two contractions. Start of contraction- take a breath, let it out, take a breath, push! Two contractions and I swear Franki basically popped out like a champagne cork. She shot out and a burst of amniotic fluid waved out after. Brad and my OB laughed. Franki’s head was blocking the amniotic fluid apparently, so her birth brought a comedic amount of fluid after.
My doctor raised a fussing baby onto my chest, she was covered in white vernix and just the picture of perfection.
We waited a few minutes to cut the cord, all the while Brad and I fawned over this tiny human. That feeling of awe at a new little life never fades. My OB again mentioned how long my cord was (apparently I make abnormally long umbilical cord), there was one loop around Franki’s neck but it was loose and she was totally fine.
After a few minutes my doctor gave Brad the scissors to cut the cord as our new baby lay on my chest. Brad proudly cut the cord… and blood promptly sprayed across my face like a horror movie. Again, everyone laughed and Brad used his sweatshirt sleeve to mop up my face as the nurse scurried to get me a towel.
Francesca Corinne was born at 2:34pm on February 10th, 2017, weighing 7lbs 1.8 oz, and measuring 17 3/4 long.
Brad and I took turns loving on our newest addition as we waited for Marshall and Vi to arrive and meet their newest sibling. We couldn’t believe how tiny she was; our shortest baby to date. No wonder she was able to so freely flip to head down and back to breech!
Every annoyance with the needles was automatically worth it. The five blown veins, the catastrophic epidural, the contractions, the stitches post-delivery- everything was totally and utterly worth it. There really is a kind of euphoric high that comes after delivery.
Healing in the hospital went smoothly, we stayed one more night and left 24 hours after delivery. Our hospital was amazing with loading us down with multiple goodie bags (diapers, breastfeeding goodie bag, bag of books, eclectic goodie bag with knitted items from the hospital’s nursing home, etc) and again setting up a special steak dinner for Brad and I to celebrate our beautiful girl.
Franki burst into our lives and I’m sure she will continue to make her own way in this world. We are so honored to be her parents and cannot wait to see what light she brings into this world. We love you dearly, Francesca Corinne!
Our previous birth stories: