Thank you so much for your sweet comments from Part 1 of Lennon’s birth story. This is the second and final post about her birth. I realize this is a food blog, but if you’ve been a longtime follower, you know I enjoy sharing personal stories as well. If you don’t enjoy reading birth stories that might have some TMI parts, please feel free to skip over these posts. I’m going to discuss certain labor induction methods we tried, but please talk with your doctors/midwives before trying any of these out on your own.
41 weeks + 6 days. Friday.
We arrived at the hospital at 8:30pm and checked into labor and delivery. We met with our nurse and midwife that would take the first shift until 7am the following morning and talked about a plan. They were both wonderful and so reassuring. The midwives at our birth center were fully confident about the care we’d receive at the hospital and have a great relationship with the midwives on staff there. They wanted to start me on oral induction meds overnight to see if things would get started. I changed into a hospital gown, had my IV line in place, and monitors were set. This was a bit startling, as I didn’t think I’d need to be so tied down during labor. I tossed and turned all night long, wrestling with the hospital gown and monitors that kept sliding out of place. I could not for the life of me get comfortable. I remember waking up in a panic, constantly checking to make sure Lennon’s heart still looked good on the monitor. I tried to keep telling myself if there was a problem the nurse would come in and let me know. However, trying to reason with myself in the middle of the night was not working.
42 weeks. Saturday.
Wow! Here we were at 42 weeks. Unreal! The oral meds did get contractions to start throughout the night and they were coming every minute or so but weren’t too intense feeling. Because of the rapid contractions they decided to stop the oral meds and move to pitocin. Since you can’t stop the oral meds from working until they wear off (about 4hrs), they wanted to avoid putting the baby in any sort of distress. Pitocin was now a safer option since you can unplug and stop the meds much more easily. Before starting pitocin I was able to take a break from the monitors and cords to shower and eat breakfast. It felt so good! I also asked and was able to wear my own clothes, which helped me stay much more comfortable.
They started the pitocin, slowly increasing and monitoring the baby. Contractions came nearly every minute for almost 12 hours, but they still weren’t intensifying. I felt them but wasn’t in much discomfort. Throughout the day I stayed as active as possible, bouncing on an exercise ball, squatting through contractions, and pacing the room. Luckily, the babe looked great on the monitor all day, but I had zero progress when they checked me that evening. During the evening hours they tried to place a cook catheter, similar to the foley balloon I had placed a few days prior. The difference with the cook catheter is that 2 balloons are involved. I’m going to skip a lot of the TMI details of that, but they unfortunately weren’t able to place it. Also, ouch.
42 weeks + 1 day. Sunday.
At this point I had basically been experiencing contractions for 36 hours (still on pitocin). I wasn’t in horrible pain this whole time but it was taxing nonetheless. I was able to sleep much better in my own clothes and with a dose of benadryl. It felt great to get some sleep! I was also lucky that I got a couple breaks each day from the monitors to eat and clean up. I know this isn’t always the case, but I think since real labor wasn’t starting they were okay with it. Baby girl still looked great on the monitors, and they were starting to suspect that she wasn’t descending because of how much amniotic fluid was around her head. This wasn’t a bad thing but might be holding her up.
Our midwife came in to try and place the cook catheter again. She told me, “We’re getting this thing in today!” And finally, they got it. Hooray! But also, ouch, again. I kept it in for 12 hours and contractions really picked up. There was only one position I figured out that was “comfortable” to be in. I had to kneel on the bed backwards, draped over an exercise ball and breathe through the frequent contractions for hours. Pitocin was also going at this time. The 12 hours couldn’t have felt any longer, but we were hopeful things were really getting started! It was finally time to have the balloons removed that evening. We met with the midwife who would be on for the next 24 hours and who we had the first night at the hospital. We absolutely loved her and were so happy to have her for a full day. Around 11pm she checked me, and I was 3cm dialated! Tears of joy. FINALLY. Progress! I immediately emailed friends and family with the update.
42 weeks + 2 days. Monday.
I somehow slept most of the night with pitocin going and another dose of benadryl. I remember fuzzily waking a few times for the nurse to adjust my monitors but that’s it. I felt calm and rested once I was up and able to shower and eat breakfast. I took a few morning hours off from pitocin, because they said sometimes doing that can help to kick things into gear once you restart it. The midwife also said she was going to break my water early afternoon and surely that would get things going. She was convinced that all of the water around the baby’s head was really holding her in there.
Sidenote: I can’t tell you how times people said to me, “She must really be cozy in there!” By day 3 at the hospital, this was my least favorite phrase to hear.
They hooked the pitocin back up and it was go time. They were increasing the dosage faster today and contractions were picking up. I was finally feeling them a bit more and still squatting, bouncing, and walking the halls to try and help things progress. The contractions were more spaced out than in previous days, though, and less regular. With how much pitocin I was on, they really should have been picking up more at this point. The midwife came back in around 1pm to break my water. And, wow, there was a LOT of water in there. I kept looking off the side of the bed because it felt like a waterfall. There was also meconium in my water, which they weren’t at all surprised about with how late I was. I continued with the pacing while hooked up to pitocin.
All this time, Chris and my mom were right by my side keeping me company, watching too much HGTV, playing yahtzee, and trying to get through this marathon birth.
Around 4pm our nurse came in to check on me and mentioned the next step would have to be a c-section and most likely pretty soon. WHAT? This caught us so off guard. I mean, in the back of my head I knew if I wasn’t in active labor after 24hrs of having my water broken that it would have to happen, but I still had so much time! We hadn’t really discussed this with the midwife yet, so it felt like a gut punch. I think the nurse could sense our frustration and said she’d send in our midwife. I decided to take a long bath to try and stay calm. (They were still able to monitor me in the tub.) I had really been holding it together well up until this point. Our midwife came in and we had a major heart to heart while I sat, tears streaming down my face--barely able to speak, in the bathtub. We trusted her completely and her words were so kind and gentle. She told us while we technically have more time, they didn’t want the baby to end up in distress. They were starting to get concerned as to why she still hadn’t dropped, thinking maybe the cord was wrapped or too short, etc. We agreed I would be checked one final time and if there was no progress we’d start getting things in order for the c-section.
I sat in the tub, Chris by my side, and continued to cry. I knew what needed to be done, and I knew it was the safest option, but it was the mental shift that I was trying to work through. It was similar (but more intense) to when we left the birth center, knowing we weren’t going to have our baby there. The nerves were also setting in about the actual c-section. The pain. The sterile feeling of the OR. The recovery time. The longer hospital stay. It was all becoming a reality.
I got out and dried off and the midwife checked me. There was zero progress in 24 hours, after a heck of a lot of pitocin and breaking my water. We were still at 3cm, not fully effaced, and the baby was in -2 station. At this point the decision was clear to me. It was obvious a c-section was the only way we were going to get this sweet girl into the world. After we agreed, there was flurry of people in and out of our room. Our midwife explained everything that would happen during the procedure and how recovery would go. We met with the amazing OBGYN who would be delivering the baby and then the anesthesiologist. Everyone was so kind and reassuring, though it still felt like an out of body experience. Everything was happening so fast. Before I knew it, I was in a hospital gown and cap, Chris was in scrubs, and I was hugging my mom before walking to the OR.
I sat on the cold operating table and the midwife let me drape over on her as they put the block in my back. They got everything ready and then Chris came in and sat by my side. The nurse put music on and I remember feeling more at ease. We asked to have a clear screen behind the typical blue screen, so that when they pull the baby out they could lower the blue screen and we could see her being born. I also wanted to do skin to skin as soon as possible, but I knew with the meconium in my water they’d need to give baby girl a full check before handing her to me.
Surgery started and I remember feeling a lot of pushing and pressure. It’s pretty hard to describe the feeling. Time was creeping by for me, and it did seem to be taking longer than expected. Chris and I were talking throughout the whole procedure, which helped get me through it. I think maybe a nurse mentioned they were having a hard time getting the baby out but that she still looked good on the monitor. Geez! She was really in there! They even had to attempt using the vacuum on her head (which I didn't even know was a thing in c-sections), but it popped right off and they didn’t try again. I could feel the midwife and doctor pushing down on me with all of their weight. The anesthesiologist finally told us they were about to pull her out and they would lower the blue screen. I felt so much relief hearing she was FINALLY going to be here. And with one more big push and pull we saw little Lennon Eyre McLaughlin come into the world. She cried immediately, and I’m pretty sure we were both crying at that point as well. It felt so unbelievable that she was REAL.
They quickly moved and checked her to make sure her lungs and breathing were okay because of the meconium. She continued to cry and they told us everything looked great. She weighed in at 7lbs 9oz, 20.5 inches long, and had a big head! Chris was by her this whole time and it was directly to my right, so I could see everything that was going on while they were still working on me. Chris cut the cord and put on her first diaper (and his first diaper, haha). The nurse brought her over and put her right on my chest. It was a little awkward being flat on my back, but I remember bursting into tears thinking this was the absolute most amazing moment ever. I remember saying, “Where did she get those lips from??” as we checked out every little detail on her. She was perfect. And hungry! This little babe was trying to bob her head for food immediately. It was too adorable. The nurse tried to help me, becuase it was hard to bend my arms with all of the cords and monitors. She kept rolling into my neck, as there wasn’t too much room for her on me.
As soon as they were finished with me, the doctor came to my side and told me that this was trickier than she thought it was going to be. The size of Lennon’s head (thanks to her dad), made it hard to get her out, and she had to cut a larger incision because of it. She also told me there was no problem with the umbilical cord but she did find that my sacrum bone is tilted pretty far up and it was actually keeping Lennon from descending into the birth canal. She could only figure this out while they had me opened up and after Lennon was out. I was stunned, as was the doctor. So Lennon wasn’t super cozy, she was super stuck! The doctor also told me that during the past 3 days I was never actually in labor. My uterine muscles were still fully intact (they thin out during labor). She was shocked, as was I, since I was experiencing contractions for so long. Thank goodness for modern medicine. It’s a complete fluke that my bone is shaped this way, and I’ve never had any other issues because of it.
Finally, we were ready to move to recovery. I remember my body shaking for hours after the surgery. They said it was from the meds and would wear off soon. I even remember it being hard to talk because my teeth were intensely chattering. I’m sure it was a combination of the meds, adrenaline, emotions, etc. Chris went to tell my mom and his brother and sister-in-law that Lennon arrived and everyone was healthy. He met me in recovery, they placed Lennon in my arms, and all was right in the world. My mom came in the room, and the tears continued. It was such a special moment for my mom, meeting her first grandchild. Then, with the nurses help, I finally got to feed this hungry little girl. It’s all a bit of a blur but she latched and started eating right away. We moved out of recovery and into our room and started to settle in. Lennon got to meet her uncle and aunt, we face-timed with grandpa in Ohio, and then we all tried to get some rest. By this time it was already midnight.
Lennon was born at 7:59pm, almost exactly 72 hours after arriving at the hospital, and 17 days late. What a journey. We are so thankful to everyone who played a part in keeping us safe and bringing a healthy baby into the world. A few of the midwives from our birth center (Baby & Co.) visited after Lennon was born and wanted to hear the full story. This meant so much to us.
While our story was such a complete 180 from what we expected, it worked out so perfectly in the end. I had prepared for a vaginal delivery and was truly ready to for the experience (pain and all), but things had a different way of playing out. However, I was lucky to feel immediately at peace with our journey. It was still so special and memorable and it was unique to us. The only thing that bugged me for a few weeks after her birth was not knowing when Lennon would have tried to come on her own. For some reason it left me feeling a bit unsettled, but I eventually let it go. She was here and healthy and that’s all that mattered.
Thank you so much for reading and letting me share our experience.
Ashley (and family)
Lennon (We love gender neutral names for girls and the Gaelic version of the name means “lover.” It felt too perfect. It also included part of my grandma’s (mom’s side) name, Lenore.)
Eyre (This is last name from my dad’s side of the family that I’ve always loved. It’s pronounced “eye-er,” not “air.”)