As promised, here are the details of our wild ride of a birth experience:
Sarah went into labor at around 9:30pm on Thursday night. Wanting to make as much progress as possible before heading to the hospital, she labored at home until about 3:30am. When we finally went in we were a bit disappointed to find that Sarah was only 1cm dilated. The contractions progressively became stronger and more frequent, but after a few hours there was still not much progress. The doctor decided to put Sarah on Pitocin, which encourages the contractions to increase significantly in intensity, frequency, and duration. Her water broke on its own shortly after that, and we thought we were on our way to a speedy delivery. Ryan was particularly excited since he chose the 25th as his guess for the baby's birth date!
As we all know know, a speedy delivery was not in the cards. Sarah lasted for about 24 hours before opting for an epidural for pain relief. She was much, much, much happier once the medicine kicked in, but had only dilated to 3cm. Still, she was able to get a bit of much needed rest. She slept comfortably until the epidural stopped working. The anesthesiologist came in to check things out, and determined that Sarah would need a second epidural administered. As with the first, the second lasted for a short while, and then began to wear off.
Shortly after the second epidural stopped working, the baby's heart rate crashed. Buzzers started sounding in the room, and about eight people rushed in and started working on stabilizing the baby. At the same time, Sarah's temperature shot up to almost 103 degrees, so more people came in to work on her. It was very difficult for Ryan to watch, unable to jump in and help. Thankfully, after what seemed like forever, the baby's heart rate returned to a more normal rhythm. The doctor checked Sarah's progress, and somberly announced that she was only 5cm dilated.
It was at this point that an emergency C-section was decided upon. Sarah's fever could have been an indication of an infection that would be very risky for the baby, and with his unstable heart rate there was really no other option. Sarah was rushed to the operating room and Ryan prepped to join her.
The last hurdle to jump was the anesthesia for the surgery. As indicated by the failed epidurals, it was impossible for the doctors to get Sarah totally numb without being completely put under. Disappointed not only with the fact that she would not witness the baby's birth, Sarah thought that Ryan would not be allowed into the operating room.
It wasn't until she came to after the surgery that Sarah discovered that she was wrong - not only did Ryan get to be present in the delivery room, he also was able to participate in a lot of important "firsts" with the baby! He was able to cut the cord, put on Ethan's first diaper, and was there for the weighing and measurements in the operating room. Ryan rolled the baby's crib down to the nursery where he saw the sponge bath, helped with the footprints, and combed Ethan's hair. After the baby's first pediatrician exam, Ryan put on Ethan's first shirt - and quite skillfully, according to the nurses! Finally, after all of that was finished, Ryan and Ethan went to the recovery room where Sarah had been since the surgery. It was good timing, as she had recently woken up from the anesthesia and was very ready to see her boys!
Even with all of the pain, fear, and curveballs, our experience was an absolutely incredible one. While we have the option of a natural delivery with the next baby, for safety's sake we'll probably opt for a repeat cesarean. When we were faced with the placenta previa, we were a bit bummed about missing out on the total pregnancy experience. Though we ended up with a C-section, we still experienced Sarah going into labor, having her water break, contractions, and the waiting game. Most importantly, our beautiful baby boy is completely healthy and an absolute joy.