Monday, September 29, 2014

Dalton's birth story

Dalton Clark Lindsey was born on September 23, 2014 at 11:16pm. 6 pounds, 14 ounces, 20.5 inches, and perfect in every way.

It took a long time, so this will be long. Feel free to read the Cliff’s notes at the beginning and then skip down to the warning for when the story gets exciting. I've also highlighted the important parts in blue if you want the gist but don't want to read over 3,000 words.

Let’s review my birth plan:

1.       Healthy baby

2.       Healthy mother

3.       Epidural asap

The important two goals were met. The optional third one was at 50% success. I got the epidural, but it sure as hell wasn’t asap. I fulfilled my promise not to blog TMI details about my lady garden prior to this, and as such I reserve the right to include them now (it will just be how many cm dilated, nothing gross, and only because it’s relevant to the story). It may seem overly dramatic especially to anyone who had a natural birth, but I have been upfront from the beginning that I am a baby who hates pain and needles.

Super, super early labor

Monday morning, September 22, the day before my due date, I got up at 5 and did a 20 minute walk on the treadmill. We had these huge super important visitors coming to observe my school, and everyone had been stressed about it since before the year even began. I got to work at 7, and just felt terrible right off the bat. My sinus infection was lingering, walking didn’t feel good, and I was having contractions unlike the many, many Braxton Hicks I’d had throughout my pregnancy. These were mildly painful, but the main difference was that there was a clear beginning and end that I could feel. I’d felt good at work every single day up until that point, and this was just a complete 180. I couldn’t even eat my breakfast or drink my coffee.

I tried timing them, (my first timed contractions – I was foolish enough to be excited about this) but they were inconsistent, and so was I, because I was busy getting ready for the visit, and then teaching and actually getting observed.

As I’ve mentioned, my coworkers are amazing. They rallied to help me, coming down to walk my class wherever they needed to go, providing me sympathy (a huge help in my opinion), and finally just taking over so I could go home around 1:30.

I laid down for a few hours until it was time for my final prenatal appointment. I was dilated 2cm. I told the doctor about the morning contractions, which seemed to have “fizzled out”, in her words. I made an appointment for the following week, and we discussed dates for an induction in the 41st week if necessary. She wrote me a note to stay home from work to get over my sinus infection, and having that in my hand felt like pure bliss. I was still super paranoid about delivering while sick, and I was dreading another miserable work day.

I went straight from the office back to work for about an hour to get sub plans ready. The contractions started again. I went back to timing at 6pm, and they started getting somewhat consistent (or I really paid attention) when I got home at 7pm. I quickly heated up leftover chicken enchilada soup for dinner, just in case it was the real thing and I couldn’t eat later on. Probably the smartest move I’ve ever made.

Contractions 5-10 minutes apart

I was maybe 80% sure I was really having contractions. Everyone says when you are, you know, and that’s certainly true later on, but I maintain it’s still unclear when it’s early. It just felt like bad cramps. Knowing that early labor can last days or be false all together, neither of us got too worked up at that point. I got in the bath at around 9, and while it felt great, it slowed down the contractions like crazy (down to 20-25 minutes apart).

We hung out and watched TV until 1am. I was pretty sure something was happening by that point, since the contractions were still 5-10 minutes apart and getting more painful. I had heard people say they felt pretty normal in between, but that was not the case for me. I had intense pressure in my hips, and sitting or standing felt horrible the whole time. I mainly paced around the living room, sitting down for a minute here or there until I couldn’t take it anymore.

Right at midnight, I switched the board over and took this picture – I wasn’t sure how much time I would have on his due date! Spoiler alert – lots.

Still smiling at midnight (at least for the picture)
At 1am, I insisted Eric go to bed, so at least one of us could be rested. At 2:30am, the contractions had been five minutes apart for at least 2 hours, so I called my doctor. She said if I wanted to deliver as natural as possible, to wait at home as long as I could. I’m not sure what I ever did to give her that impression, but I asked her what to do if I wanted an epidural as soon as possible. She said to still hold out at home as long as I could, because there was no point in showing up at the hospital 2cm dilated.

I couldn’t imagine waiting even another hour, so I got back in the bath. It was the only thing that seemed to help at all. I couldn’t do any of the labor breathing we learned in class except In-2-3-4 Out-2-3-4. The rest all required my nose, which was still completely plugged. An all night Friends marathon was entertaining, but it was losing its luster.

The bath relaxed me enough to lay down, so from 3-6am I could at least lay on the couch and sort of doze in between contractions here and there. At 6, Eric got up and then I started alternating between laying in bed, and getting in and out of the bath. I somehow made it until 9:30 am, when I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and Eric packed the car and we left for the hospital.

The hospital

This is my "I've been up all night with contractions" face.

Eric did the “wow, it’s the last time leaving here as a twosome!” sentimental moment, and I didn’t really go for it, because I had a feeling we might be returning as a twosome. I should have listened to that instinct. The labor and delivery triage nurses were SO nice, but they tricked me by giving me a hospital bracelet. I thought that meant I was staying. I also thought the test was a 30 second cervical check. I was wrong on both counts.

It turns out they have you sit in a bed with a fetal and contraction monitor for 45 minutes and you get checked before and after. All of these things are horribly painful, because sitting still is the worst position for contractions. Anyway, I was 2-3 cm both before and after, which was upsetting. First of all, it meant I had to just go back home, and second of all, it meant that after 15 hours of labor, I’d progressed maybe a centimeter, although the baby had moved down one station. They told me to wait until contractions were more like 4-5 minutes apart (in the hospital they were 6). My doctor said to take a Tylenol PM to help me sleep and relax and said she would see me that night.

We left at 11am, and saw a couple leaving the hospital with their new baby on the way out. I hated them so much, and was positive I would never be on the other side like them. I was in so much pain, and it was a real downer to be told to just keep dealing with it for an indefinite amount of time with no evidence that it would actually get the baby out anytime soon.

Home – contractions 5 minutes apart

Back home, once again my instincts said Tylenol PM would do nothing but make me even more tired. Once again I ignored them, and regretted it. The contractions ramped up pretty much as soon as we arrived, except now, I was able to fall asleep just to wake up with gripping pain every few minutes. They were averaging at least 2 minutes long, getting way more intense (the bath no longer helped), but they weren’t getting any closer together. So basically I was screwed. I laid in bed and “watched” Arrested Development and The Office, and moaned and groaned and hated everything. I can't imagine my life without my siblings, and I always wanted to give my own children that joy, but around this time I was like "sorry kid, you'll have to be satisfied with a family of 3".

In hindsight, I feel really bad for Eric here. He went to all the childbirth classes, and took notes, and tried really hard to help me deal. The problem is that they don’t mention in the classes is that when things get real, NOTHING helps and positive affirmations or suggestions from your labor coach are just going to piss you off.  I pretty much just told him over and over to be quiet and not to talk to me while he desperately reviewed the class handouts and tried to find something that would work.

After another four or five hours of that, the contractions were still close to five minutes apart, but I was desperate enough to risk getting sent home again. I told Eric to call the doctor back, and we were told to go right to the hospital. The car ride there really highlighted the difference – the first time, I’d been able to talk to Eric and act like a human. The second time, I was about three seconds away from just doing a tuck and roll into traffic.

The hospital – part 2

Around 4:30pn we were back in labor and delivery triage, they got me into the gown and on the monitor again. Before they checked me, they said my doctor had instructed them to admit me in this time, which was really convenient because it meant I wouldn’t have to resort to my plan of sobbing and begging if they tried to send me home again. I was at 4cm this time, so I had finally made some sloooow progress. Sadly, it turns out that they don’t instantly administer epidurals upon entry.

First you have to get assigned a delivery room, get an IV, answer a billion questions, and wait for the anesthesiologist. I was lying on the bed doing my best to answer questions about my entire life history through contractions while they put the IV in. Let’s review the fact here that I am petrified of needles and have been scared about the medical side of this whole thing pretty much since my childbearing years began. Guess how many tries it took for them to get an IV in.

FIVE. And two nurses. While I was having contractions and trying to remember the names of every medication I’ve ever taken and mentally panicking. It was torturous. Somewhere around there my mom arrived and I just remember telling her I couldn’t talk when she walked in mid-contraction.

My many battle wounds

After that, things started looking up. They told me the anesthesiologist was in surgery and it would be a while for the epidural, but he walked in not even a minute later (at 6pm, so after nearly a full day of labor). Pretty much since Eric and I first got serious, I’ve been telling him to just throw a brick at my head in labor, because I was scared of the pain, but more scared of a giant needle/catheter in my back. In our childbirth class, they tried to tell us that sometimes they make the husbands leave, and I had a total panic attack and demanded they explain how I get around this rule.

Well, when it was all going down, the anesthesiologist said that the room had to be cleared, and I was like GET OUT. Eric was trying to ask me if I was sure on his way out the door and I was pretty much like “LET THE MAN DO HIS JOB GOODBYE” and clearly my face convinced him because he peaced out right away. Putting the epidural in was completely painless and at that point was the happiest moment of my life.

The magical world of epidural land

With that in, I could finally relax. Free from focusing all my energy on dealing with the pain, I finally started to get super excited about finally meeting our baby. Everyone was telling me I should sleep, and I knew I should since I’d hadn’t the previous night, but I was way too eager and worked up by then.

So much data
The baby’s heart rate dropped momentarily with the epidural, so they had me wearing an oxygen mask and internal monitor from that point on. Eric and I were just hanging out with my mom and stepfather and waiting for things to get going.



At 6:30 they broke my water, and it had meconium (baby poop) in it. They explained that meant that we couldn’t hold the baby after birth, and we wouldn’t hear him cry. Instead, the NICU nurse would have to take him to make sure he didn’t aspirate any meconium. They said it would only take around 20 minutes, so I wasn’t too worried or upset about it, since it was just a precaution.

At 8:15 they started on Pitocin to help me progress. The nurse was turning me every 20 minutes to make sure the baby’s heart rate stayed consistent (you can’t move your legs with the epidural). I got to 6cm somewhere in the 10pm hour, so it was looking like it would be well into the next morning before the baby arrived. I was a little nervous about getting the energy to push, since that would be two full days without sleep and nearly that long without eating, but I was still in pain free bliss so I figured I’d pull it out at the last minute.

This is where the story gets exciting and those skimming should start reading.

A little after 11, the nurse came in to roll me over. She called another nurse, and they were suddenly rolling me into all different positions, gradually getting slightly more frantic about it. A few more people came in, and they started yelling to hit the button on the wall (and then “no not that button! The other one!”) and to call my doctor. People were yanking out all the plugs from the many machines I was hooked up to and wheeling my bed out the door (and when it wouldn’t quite fit, they just lifted it out and rushed down the hall). At some point during this, someone quickly told me that the baby’s heart rate had dropped, they were taking me to the OR for an emergency c-section, and that there was no time to wait for my doctor so this other random guy over here would be slicing me open. That last part made have been phrased slightly differently, but that’s how I remember it.

In no time I was naked and strapped to an operating table, not knowing if the baby was ok, or if Eric was coming, or really anything except I was about to have a major surgery performed by total strangers. A new anesthesiologist was working, and he told me that he would try to ramp up my epidural in time, but if he couldn’t, they would have to put me to sleep. I knew I didn’t want to miss the whole birth, so I was hoping they could crank the epidural. Apparently the way they check for that is to put an ice cube on various parts of my body, and ask if it felt cold. It didn’t feel cold on my belly, but I wasn’t exactly convinced that meant that we were good to go with slicing me open with a scalpel and yanking my organs in and out, but I had to just go with it.

(Please note that was written tongue in cheek. I am indescribably thankful for all the medical personnel that put 110% effort to make sure my baby got out safely, and that the last thing on anyone's mind was calming down my petty fears.)

At that point Eric came in (he was delayed waiting for and changing in to scrubs).

Luckily, there's pictures.
I had no idea this whole time if he would be allowed in at all, so seeing him was a huge relief.

Eric taking his seat in the OR. If you look closely you can see my hand.

Barely two minutes later, Eric told me the baby was out, but I couldn’t see or hear him. By this time, the conversation about the meconium and the NICU nurse was long forgotten. Luckily Eric is on top of these things and could see the baby. He talked me through it until we did finally hear his cry. It felt like forever until I could see him, but Eric got to go meet him and then they brought him over to me.

Moments after birth! Look how white those hands are from the womb!

 I couldn’t move anything but my head, so they laid him next to me for a second and I was able to give him a kiss. Eric got to hold him while they put me back together and stitched me up, and I just laid there jealously and stared at him.
This was later, but you get the idea.

If someone had told me ahead of time this was how it would happen, I would have been absolutely terrified. I was scared in the OR, but it all happened so fast that I barely had time to process it. It was past 11 when they first noticed his heart rate dropping, 11:13pm when they made the first incision, and his time of birth was 11:16pm. It still blows my mind how quickly they were able to move, and I’m eternally grateful for it. Somehow I had the presence of mind not to look at the monitor while they kept flipping me, thank goodness. My mom said his heart rate dropped from 150 to 60, which makes me want to vomit even now that I know everything was fine. She’s a pro now, since she was there when the same exact thing happened to my sister (I remembered this too, which gave me a little more confidence that things would be ok). It worked out because she told Eric to bring his camera into the OR, so we got those first pictures of his life! That’s really good since I was so drugged I barely remember it. I was disappointed I had to wait several hours to hold him, but I couldn’t feel my hands and was shaking uncontrollably, so it’s not like I could have anyway.

I got to stare at him at least.
In the recovery room - FINALLY getting to hold him!
He kept us on our toes while he made his arrival into the world, but the cliché is true, it was all worth it a million times over. The past six days have been the happiest of my whole life. I could barely write this post because it’s so hard to stop cuddling and kissing him (but I had to give dad and the grandparents some cuddle time too).



  1. CONGRATULATIONS!!! That sounds so scary, stressful and painful, but as they say "all's well that ends well", right? So glad you guys are happy! He is an adorable baby and looks so much like you both!

    1. Yeah it was wild but definitely all that matters is that is worked out in the end! Thanks!

  2. I can't wait for Leif to meet his new best friend, Dalton.

    I told Mike during our childbirth classes that if he tried to tell me how beautiful I was or how well I was doing during labor that he'd probably get slapped.

    I'm not going to lie to you, I cannot imagine having my parents in the delivery room with me. I would probably just yell at everyone.

    1. Ha, once I got the epidural I was a happy camper. It was really just my mom during the waiting portion, once we got near delivery I was on a strict husband only plan.

  3. Congrats Alyssa! Dalton is adorable.

  4. such a great birth story! so happy for you and eric and your very healthy baby boy!

  5. I am a lowly lurker of your blog (you may remember me from my anonymous recommendation of the OITNB book), but I wanted to say congrats, he is adorable, and I teared up a little reading your birth story!

    1. That was an awesome recommendation, of course I remember! Thanks so much! So glad the story is going over well, I read so many while pregnant I wanted to be able to stack up haha.

  6. I can't wait to meet him! I knew you'd be a superstar about all the needles during birth, but you even conquered scalpel fears so I'm in awe! I don't think I'd be so calm in retrospect haha

    1. Haha I don't know if I conquered fears so much as needles became the lesser of two evils and the scalpel was necessary to get the baby out ok! It's amazing how calm you can be when you don't really know what's happening lol.

  7. Congratulations!! Dalton is precious. Your delivery was quite an adventure! Good for you for staying brave. Enjoy every second with your new little bundle!

    1. Thanks Cindy! It was an adventure for sure. I am loving every second at home with him!

  8. Congratulations! He is beautiful!

  9. Awww congrats! I KNEW that was what the radio silence meant :) And he is absolutely adorable!!

  10. Congratulations! (Yep, another lurker. A curly, red-haired one.) That's one heck of a story, and I'm so glad everything is okay with your adorable little baby boy. That emergency surgery is no joke! Modern medicine is a wonderful thing. I hope your recovery goes smoothly -- and that Dalton one day has to hear the story and say, "I can't believe you told the whole Internet about it, MOOOOOM."

    Also, this line cracked me up: "I was about three seconds away from just doing a tuck and roll into traffic." Your writing is always so fun to read.

  11. Congratulations! He is absolutely darling. I'm so glad you two are okay. I agree with the other commenters - you are an amazing writer. Welcome to the 'hood (motherhood), Mrs. Lindsey.

  12. cute cute babe! i loved reading the story! lol.. magical world of epidural land, INDEED!

  13. Huge Congrats on the new addition to the family! I love birth stories so I am glad you wrote yours up so long (is it weird I love birth stories?) I was also very into getting an epidural ASAP. As a nurse I had seen hundreds of them go in before hand and while that freaked out my nurse sister, not me! Glad everything turned out good for you and you are settling into motherhood happily :)

  14. AGHHH. So glad everything turned out okay! He's a handsome little boy. Congrats!!

  15. Wow. That's quite a story! Glad he's here are you guys are doing well. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  16. Wow congrats! I'm glad everything went okay in the end. And wow those OB nurses do not mess around!

    I think it's funny that when it came time for the epidural you basically forgot about your fear of needles!

  17. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS! He's so beautiful :)

  18. What a beautiful baby! Your story definitely made me tear up. Congrats!!

  19. congratulations - dalton is beautiful! i am seriously having flashbacks to (almost) 9 months ago! contractions are the worst - no one can even remotely explain that level of pain. and epidurals are the best things ever. i was a completely different person after mine. and to think people opt to not get one?!

    enjoy those newborn snuggles!


Thanks for commenting! Comments make me probably more happy than they should.