In the days leading up to the birth of my son, I had a gut feeling it would be a breeze. My mom, after all, was only in labor for seven hours total with three children. And four of those hours were with me, the most stubborn of the Collins kids.
My pregnancy had been easy: I was a week overdue, but worked my normal schedule until the day before my doctor wanted to induce. A lot of first-time moms need drugs to get labor started; induction is downright commonplace. The birth part was going to follow suit; I just knew it.
The night I checked in to start my induction was hilariously mundane. My husband and I actually went straight to the hospital from a restaurant. I’m not going to lie, it was kind of fun to ask the server, “Can you go ahead and bring the check? We’re on the way to have this baby.” The look on his face was priceless.
Once we were settled at the hospital and our nurses hooked me up to a few monitors, my suspicions were confirmed. “You’re already having contractions,” said the nurse in charge. “Can’t you feel them?”
“Not at all,” I smirked, shooting my husband a smug grin. See? This was going to be a cinch.
Running out of options
The next morning, my labor was progressing quickly. My doctor didn’t even need to use the most common induction drug to get things moving.
“You’re going to have this baby before lunch!” she joked. Right.
Time ticked by, and my little boy didn’t seem to have any intention of dropping. Worse still, his heart rate was plummeting with each contraction. My doctor tried drugs to intensify contractions and speed him along. Nothing doing. We pushed for an hour. No dice.
She tried vacuum extraction, a technique where a suction cup is stuck to the baby’s head so the doctor can guide him out. It failed spectacularly.
The only option left? An emergency Cesarean section.
While we always knew a C-section was a possibility, my husband and I were stunned.
Two hours ago, we’d been giddy with our good fortune. Now, a team of doctors was racing my little gurney to an operating room.
A miraculous sound
It took them about 50 seconds to get my baby out. His cord was wrapped around his neck and he was facing up instead of down. My husband didn’t even have time to grasp my hand. He was still in the doorway wrestling with his scrubs when he heard our son cry.
And it was a miraculous sound.
They whisked the baby over the curtain and rested him on my pillow. But I barely had time to kiss his velvety cheek before the next wave of surprises crashed over us. Out of the blue, I was hit with blinding nausea and a wave of tremors. Not a great combination when your surgical team is still working to put you back together.
I tried to communicate what was going on and my doctors threw the kitchen sink at me, drug-wise. Then the hallucinations hit. Doorknobs melted off doors, I couldn’t figure out where my husband was, and was having a hard time discerning what was real and what wasn’t.
My medical team finally calmed my post-C-section complications. The nausea and lightheadedness were most likely caused by what’s called a vasovagal response. It’s a neurological reaction to things like pain, trauma and heightened emotions (check, check and check) that causes physical symptoms. The tremors and hallucinations were a direct result of my drug cocktail.
At home with baby
It was a tough road for a couple of days. I didn’t have the strength to get out of bed on my own until day three. Day four marked my first trip outside my room: The grueling 10-minute walk in the hospital corridor left me chalk-white and exhausted. In all, I spent five nights in the hospital and left with some hefty prescriptions. The car ride home felt as taxing as a half-marathon.
I’m just a few weeks removed from the high drama that was my birth experience. Looking back, I have to laugh at my great expectations and my rose-colored glasses. I have a feeling parenthood is going to throw me even more curveballs than I fielded the day my son arrived so it’s a good lesson to learn now.
But you know what? When I look at my little boy, his tiny blonde eyebrows furrowed in sleep, his delicate fingers crossed placidly under his chin, there’s no doubt: I’d re-live those five wild days a hundred times over, so long as they yielded the same result.