It’s Christmas morning, 2017, and my husband, Ross and I are opening presents with our daughter, Julia. I am 4 days overdue, have been having contractions all through the night, and feel a slight pop. I run to the bathroom and told Ross I was pretty sure (or was it pee?) my water broke. We headed to my in-laws for Christmas Day celebrations and prime rib but made a pitstop at the hospital. They tested the fluid and the nurse turns to me and says, “Honey, we’re gonna have us a Christmas baby!” I am instantly overjoyed and filled with tears. The doctors and nurses were particularly joyous and upbeat on this frigid Christmas morning, and I was incredibly thankful for their happy and smiling faces… especially when I told the nurse that all I’d eaten that morning were several (so many) Reese’s Pieces Christmas Tree candies and a handful of assorted fun sized candy bars. Oh, Christmas stocking stuffers, how I love you!
I am admitted around 11AM. They let me do about 90 speed laps around the hospital floor, and I continued to dilate to a 3-4. But then, just like with my first delivery, it slows. The doctors say I need Pitocin to help get things moving. My daughter Julia and I were both treated for Chorioamnionitis, which is an infection of the uterus from water being broken too long. You are more prone to get this again if you’ve had it once, so our nurse said they would be cautious of checking cervix progress throughout the day because of it.
Ross and I spent Christmas Day together alone in our labor room, save a few visitors who joined us for some of the Vikings game. SKOL! Around 6 PM the doctor decided it was time to break my water, as I had a high, slow leak. Within minutes I went from little pain to gut-wrenching “Pit” contractions, which are irregular, extremely intense, and to state the obvious, oh so painful. They had been cranking up the Pitocin all day, so once my water broke my body caught up instantly. I was keeled over within minutes, and I opted for my epidural immediately 🙂 By 8 PM I was free from pain from the waist down. But then when I moved to turn after the first hour, I reached down to push myself up and had no strength or feeling in my left arm. Then it started to creep up; I was blinking at my husband and couldn’t feel the left side of my face. Because I was laying so flat, the epidural had continued on down [up] as far as it could go. Yikes! All senses and feeling slowly return, and around 10:45 PM my nurse informs me that I’m dilated to a 7 and she’ll return back around midnight to do another check.
I look at my husband, and I look at her. I ask her, “Are you sure we are waiting ‘til midnight? I am feeling a lot of pressure.” We are listening to Motown on Pandora and I can feel the baby coming. She checks me. I am at a 10. A new nurse comes and checks and says, “Oh yes, you’re at a +2… if you need to push, you can start!” Within minutes I can feel the head coming out, but not the rest of his body. I am in my second round of 3 pushes while pulling back my legs behind the knees, a nurse is pushing on my stomach, and now I feel my doctor frantically pulling… I don’t know what’s happening, but all of the sudden his body emerges and he is shown to me but gone in an instant. He is grayish-blue, not making any noise, and not breathing. My husband looks confused and scared but sort of smiling as he says, “It’s a Boy.” My doctor turns to the nurse and says, “Not every day I use that maneuver.” I am silent because I don’t know what he’s talking about and I do not have a baby in my arms.
In short, this is referred to as a rapid descent. My son was literally spun downwards and through the canal so quickly that his body became entangled in the cord like an oxen yoke–around his body and neck. His head came out but the rest of his body was trapped inside with the cord preventing him from delivery. When this happens and the shoulders are stuck the medical term used is called Shoulder Dystocia. I didn’t know until later (reading over my notes!) that the doctor used a procedure called McRoberts Maneuver. This gives the doctor flexibility to push out an arm or shoulder, clamp and cut the cord while the baby is still in, and pull the baby out safely. It is referred to as “One of the most anxiety provoking emergencies encountered by physicians practicing maternity care” (LINK). Shoulder Dystocia, which can cause broken clavicles and permanent nerve damage, is an emergency situation (and a more rare occurrence) because the cord supply is essentially cutoff and the baby can die.
The nurses brought him to life. We heard him cry, and then we cried. Watching my husband ask frantically, “Why isn’t he breathing?” while my amazing nurse, Katie is gently stroking my arm and telling me that he, “Came down really fast, and he’s just in shock from it, but he’s going to be OK…” was absolutely terrifying. But then, the glorious moment arrives where he is safely placed in my arms. He is still blue and shaking. He has a bloody eye from the pressure of his descent, a bruise on his face from the clamp, and scratches on his little body from the scissors. He is born at 11:32 PM on Christmas night, 2017. He is 8.12 lbs and 21.5” long. He looks grumpy, but he is beautiful and strong.
We named him Brooks, and his middle name is Allen after my Dad’s middle name. We were exhausted but feeling an overwhelming sense of relief because he was safe. We have a son, and now our little family of three has become four. Sharing this story makes me proud and so thankful. It reminds me that God continually watches out for me and my family even when I am faced with challenges and lose sight. And on His birthday, we were gifted our sweet son Brooks. <3
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