Mina Rumi Tillett O’Shaughnessy was due October 29th, 2018 but she was born just past 2 in the afternoon on October 10th, very nearly 3 weeks early. This is the story of her early arrival.
[Note: there are photos of her birth at the bottom of this post, but please know that they are graphic and if you’re squeamish or have no desire to see them, don’t scroll past the playlist!]
Preface: My husband and I were told when I was about 20 weeks along that because of my high blood pressure and the complications that can sometimes create, it was possible that I would be induced a week or two early. Ideally, the longer baby gets to spend in the womb, the better, so doctors try to keep women pregnant for as long as it’s safe to do so. Induction calls are made when the risks to baby or mother outweigh the benefits of letting baby linger until full term.
Thursday September 27th: 35th week prenatal appointment—Doctor M. performed ultrasound and was a little concerned about the size of Mina (5ish pounds) and her belly. Overall, she appeared to be in the 20th percentile for size. However, their ultrasound machine wasn’t as efficient as would be necessary in this case so she asked that we schedule an appointment with a perinatal center anytime in the next week to get more detailed results. Doctor M. didn’t sound alarmed or worried, however, and when I acted concerned, she gave me a hug and said everything would be fine!
Monday October 1st: Perinatal Ultrasound Appointment—A more comprehensive ultrasound was performed as well as about 30-40 minutes of fetal monitoring. Mina’s heart beat was strong, but the center’s doctor reviewed the ultrasound and immediately sounded alarm bells with us. She said Mina was very small, 9th percentile for size and her belly was so small it was in the 1st percentile for size. This was all indicative of a fading placenta and said she would send these results to my doctor who would probably send us straight to the hospital to be induced right after our follow-up appointment with Doctor M. that coming Friday. Essentially, she advised that we return home and pack our hospital bag and get our affairs in order. Obviously we left this appointment feeling very worried and called friends and family to give them the update.
Friday October 5th: Scheduled appointment with Doctor M. for more fetal monitoring. I made sure to bring my hospital bag just as the perinatal doctor had advised. When my husband and I reiterated our experience with that doctor and how alarmed she sounded, our doctor seemed surprised. She said that I would indeed need to be induced early but it wasn’t nearly as dire as that doctor made it seem and said it certainly wouldn’t need to happen on this day. Apparently that doctor was probably just young, green, and inexperienced but Doctor M. seemed confident everything would be just fine. Fetal monitoring went good, Mina’s heartbeat was strong and for the nearly entire hour they were monitoring her she had the hiccups! Poor thing. Also, apparently I was having contractions the entire time she was being monitored (I hardly felt them) and when Doctor M. performed an exam on me, she discovered I was 4cm dilated! Doctor M. was a bit shocked I hadn’t felt any discomfort or pain.
So—with all of that said, Doctor M. said she would need to induce labor sometime in the next week because of all aforementioned issues, but also said she wouldn’t be surprised if I went into labor on my own that weekend since I was already 4cm dilated. We scheduled the induction for Wednesday, October 10th, exact time TBD (unless I went into labor earlier).
Tuesday October 9th: 37th Week Prenatal appointment (scheduled long before) with Doctor M.’s partner, Doctor L. I hadn’t gone into labor that weekend so half expected to be further dilated even though I hadn’t really been experiencing any noticeable or painful contractions. Nope, still 4cm dilated! Still inexplicably not experiencing any pain or discomfort. Fetal monitoring showed Mina was going strong and everything was great. Doctor L. said they would call me later that day to let us know what time to report to the hospital the next day for the induction. Doctor called around 3 that day to say we needed to be at the hospital by 8am the next morning for check-in. Everything was set to begin at 8:30am. I wrapped up some projects for work and started frantically getting everything ready. That night, my last before motherhood, I indulged in a long, warm bubblebath as i tried to calm my nerves about what was to come.
Wednesday October 10th: I don’t remember what time I awoke this morning but I do remember getting horrible sleep the night before. I’d always wondered what I’d be doing when I went into labor, when I’d get hit with sharp contractions and my husband and I would need to make the trek to the hospital, a 30 minute to hour+ journey depending on the time of day and awfulness of Denver traffic. I never gave much thought in the early days to the anxiety that would come with a scheduled labor, but here we were. On the flipside, there was something entirely liberating in having it planned and knowing exactly when we needed to be at the hospital. We left around 7:15am and arrived right on time. Check-in was smooth and fast and by 8:15 I was in the birthing room, putting on a gown and getting hooked up to IVs, machines, etc.
The times from this point forward are not exact as I’m sure most laboring moms can attest to the fact that all sense and knowledge of time gets a bit skewed and lost in the chaos of all that’s happening. Sometimes it accelerates, sometimes is slows to a crawl just depending on what’s happening. So here’s my best attempt:
8:30-9:30am— Hooked up to IV and monitors / Fetal monitoring; Mina’s heartbeat sounds strong / Still 4cm dilated / Mike gets me a muffin and some juice / I decline any paid meds at this point.
9:30-10:30am—Pitocin drip is begun / 4cm quickly becomes 5 and 6 centimeters dilated / Doctor M. advises that if we have a friend in Colorado Springs who was planning on driving up to shoot the birth (as we previously told her), “She should have left an hour ago.” / I text my friend Amanda and urgently tell her to make the drive up to Denver because this is happening quickly / Contractions are becoming more frequent and noticeable but the discomfort is still manageable / I ask Doctor M. about fentanyl if and when the contractions become intolerable; she advises nitrous oxide instead since I’m progressing so quickly and if I take fentanyl, I’ll have to wait at least 30 minutes before getting an epidural if I decide that I want one. I opt for nitrous oxide. (I had asked for some heartburn medicine about 45 minutes prior which I still hadn’t received so I was trying to be proactive in asking for the NO knowing the pain would eventually become much more intense.)
10:30am-11:30am—Still haven’t received the NO, however, still doing just fine with the contractions; pain is minimal, just uncomfortable / Around 7cm dilated at this point and contractions 2 minutes apart / Doctor M. breaks my water—surreal feeling (that whole water breaking thing rarely happens the way it’s portrayed in the movies) / It begins to snow! First snow of the year, in fact. I was grateful for the big beautiful picture windows in our room. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect morning.
11:30am-12:30pm—This is when time and events begin to bleed into a colorful blur/I’m about 8cm dilated at this point/Contractions are happening closer together/Still awaiting the nurse with nitrous oxide but still managing the pain okay
12:30-1:45pm—Amanda and her camera arrive!/I am about 9cm dilated at this point and my contractions have gone from completely tolerable to absolutely unendurable/The nurse with the nitrous oxide finally arrives but I’m so dilated and an in so much pain, I ask for the epidural instead/The nurse anesthetist finally shows to administer it but I am in the throes of pain and can’t sit still long enough for her to get the needle in my back/I am sure the pain from the contractions are going to kill me/Nurses ask me if I’m feeling the urge to push, I answer YES YES YES; they ask me to wait until my doctor, who had to leave momentarily, returns (!!!)/After several tries the nurse succeeds in administering the epidural; the relief is indescribable though I am still feeling a LOT.
1:45-2:06pm—Doctor M. returns and asks me to start pushing as hard as I can with every contraction/Twenty minutes later Mina has emerged and a nurse is placing her on my chest/Doctor M. jokes that if I ever have another baby, I need to book-it to the hospital because that baby will likely come even quicker than this one did.
Below is my delivery room playlist I created as a soundtrack to the whole experience:
Photos of her birth follow. Please note that they are graphic. These were shot by the wonderful Amanda Yanez-Hughes with editing/post-production work completed by me.