I still struggle with the events of Benjamin Michael’s birth, but as each day passes, I am a little more at peace. I may never be completely okay with how his birth went, and that’s okay. I’m going through the healing process, and I’ve learned so much about what happened and about me through all of this. This was not the birth I wanted for my baby, but it is his story.
Early labor began early on the morning of Monday, April 6, 2015. The contractions woke me up and were regular enough to time them. I was lying in bed for several hours timing them, but every time I would get out of bed, they would stop or slow down. Finally around 6:00am, I decided to get out of bed and eat breakfast. While eating, I called my doula, Katy Soong. She was very encouraging, and explained that I was probably in early labor, that I should try and rest while I could and for Zach and me to enjoy our last day of being just the two of us. At this point, all of the contractions had stopped. So, I took a nap, we went for a walk, and I sat on the birth ball doing hip rotations all morning. Zach was craving Buffalo Wild Wings, so we drove to Baton Rouge to pick up lunch. After lunch, we played Mario Kart and played with our dogs.
Around 5:00pm, the contractions started up again. I remember standing outside talking with our neighbors, telling them I was experiencing contractions. They were very nervous and wanted me to go sit down or go to the hospital. Zach and I weren’t in any rush to go, even though we had a feeling this was the real thing. I made sure I had a nice shower that night, and ate a little for dinner. Around 8:00pm, Zach and I sat down to watch our Monday night show. It was DVRed, and it took a whole lot longer to watch than normal because we had to continually stop because of contractions. After the show, we went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. The contractions were very regular now. Around 1:00am, contractions were very intense, and I started feeling nauseous, so we decided that in an hour, we would head to the hospital unless things seemed to pick up. Around 1:30am, I made the decision that it was time to go because I started to get nervous that we wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time. I wasn’t sure how intense labor was going to get for me. I had endometriosis and experienced crippling pain from it which made me believe labor pains would not be worse than this (I would say they eventually got as bad, but definitely not worse).
We arrived to the hospital around 2:00am on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. When I was in Assessment, a nurse checked me around 2:30am, and I was 5cm with a paper thin cervix. Everyone was excited. It surprised me that I had made it that far before coming in, and based on the way I was handling contractions, Katy was surprised too! We were going to have the baby very soon! The contractions continued, and the best way for me to deal with them was to close my eyes and breathe through them. I did this in the bed for a while and rested between them. When Dr. Boudreaux arrived around 8:20am, she checked me, and I was 6-7cm with a bulging water bag. She wasn’t confident that I would be able to have the natural birth I wanted because the baby was measuring big. My birth team and I were still confident, so any intervention was declined. At this point, we walked the halls, swayed, got on the ball and tried to keep moving. Father Josh Johnson came and celebrated the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. This was really great, and uplifted me spiritually to continue as strongly.
At this point, labor seemed to stall, so I asked to have Dr. Boudreaux come break my water in hopes that it would get things moving again. When she checks me, I am 7-8cm, and baby is still at a -3 station. After my water is broken, I decide to get in the tub and labor in the water for a while. Things got really intense at this point. I felt sick and the contractions were fast and painful. It was at this point that I began to feel like I was having an out of body experience. I even said at that point, “I can’t do this anymore.” Zach and Katy both encouraged me, said I was doing great and that I most certainly could do it. It was just the encouragement I needed. My back was hurting terribly at that point too; nothing I did would give it relief, so my instinct told me I just wanted to lay in bed. Katy then explained to me that she was afraid if I didn’t move, my labor would stall even more, and Dr. Boudreaux would want to intervene which could lead to more and more interventions. This gave me the motivation to walk around more, and we walked to a family waiting area that was empty. We sat, looked at the geese outside and talked about how Zach and I met. It was a good distraction, and it gave me some extra energy to keep going. A nurse checked me again around 3:20pm, and I was 8cm, and baby had come down to -1 station. I continued laboring, and was checked again at 7:50pm, and I was 9cm, with a small anterior lip and the contractions had lost a lot of their intensity. We did a few things to increase intensity and get me fully dilated.
It worked, and at 9:00pm, I was fully dilated and ready to push with baby at a -1 station. Dr. Boudreaux wasn’t there at the time, so I pushed for a good 2 hours without her. When she arrived, I felt as though my contractions greatly slowed down and lost almost all urge to push. After pushing for 3 hours and trying every position we could think of (even making a few up as we went along), we learned that baby was posterior. We decided for a caesarean section. Leading up to the birth, this is the last thing I wanted and was convinced it wasn’t going to happen to me because I had taken classes, read books and had just done everything right, in my mind, to prevent it. However, in the moment of making that decision, it was very easy. I was a mother, and I had to protect my baby. It was an easy decision because I believed that the c-section was how I could get my son here safely. In under an hour, an IV was started, two bags of fluids were given to me, and I was back in the operating room.
I have a terrible fear of needles, so throughout my entire pregnancy, I was so worried about having to get an IV. When the nurse came to put it in, I surprised everyone in the room, including myself. I handed her my arm and was super calm about getting it. My theory is that at that moment I wasn’t thinking about myself; I had switched into mom mode. This is the only thing I can come up with since after all of this a finger prick still makes me extremely terrified. Still in the hospital room, while the fluids were being given and everyone was preparing, Zach, Katy and Dawn (a friend who was taking pictures) put on the outfits for surgery complete with masks and caps. I remember thinking that they reminded me of Walt and Jesse from Breaking Bad (we had just finished watching this series at home). Once everyone was ready, I was wheeled to the operating room. Again, I am terrified of needles, so to have the epidural put in scared me to death, but to have to have it put in with none of my support people, I was terrified. The nurse, Erin, was so great. She allowed me to hug a pillow and lean into her as the epidural was placed. The anesthesiologist was also amazing. He explained everything that was happening where I could understand it, and he watched me closely throughout the entire surgery to make sure I wasn’t feeling anything. Once the epidural was placed, Katy, Zach and Dawn came in, and we were able to get started. I actually fell asleep on the table for a second; I remember Zach saying, “Really, Katie?” I was exhausted at this point. I’m not sure how long the surgery actually took, but it felt like only a few minutes.
Benjamin Michael Roettger was born at 1:18am on Wednesday, April 8, 2015. When Ben was born, they lifted him over the drape for me to see him. The gender was a surprise for us, so Zach was able to tell me that we had a boy. He was crying and kept repeating, “It’s a boy!” It was beautiful, and that moment brought me such joy. I couldn’t take my eyes off of Ben while they cleaned him and wrapped him in a blanket. Finally, Zach was able to hold him, and I was able to touch him. I held him as we went back to the room. From that moment on, we were a family of three, and it felt like it had been that way forever.
I am so thankful for Zach and Katy being there through everything. Katy was so great at motivating me to keep going, suggesting different positions to labor and birth in, and helping with comfort measures. Zach was amazing and didn’t leave my side the entire time. I could feel his love for me and our baby.
This was not the birth I wanted for my baby, but it is his story. I’m not sure why this happened the way it did, but I do have confidence that God has a plan. God knows what the purpose of this was, and I look forward to finding out the path it will take me, who I will become and who I will meet because of this.