A Petite Mom’s Big Birth Story – Jersey City Medical Center

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It was three o’clock on a very early October morning and my husband & I decided to stay up and watch re-runs of 24 on Amazon Prime.  Earlier in the day, I decided to do my belly cast since I knew I might go into labor any day.  That evening, I asked him to prepare me a bowl of spicy Korean noodles and I joked that maybe eating it will make me go into labor.  It was six days before my due date, but my OB-GYNs were hoping that I would go into labor sooner than that since I’m a very petite, 4’8″ lady and our baby boy was looking to be almost 8lbs – they were concerned that I wouldn’t be able to push him out.

As I was sitting there in our living room, I started feeling pain that felt like menstrual cramps, except the pain was much more pulsating and long-lasting.  At first I tried to ignore them but just to be sure, I turned on my Full Term app I installed on my iPhone to track my contractions.  After monitoring it for about 30min, it looked like the pain was lasting for 30-40 seconds every 2-3 minutes.  I then felt like I had to use the bathroom and sure enough, the rest of my mucus plug came out (the first parts of it came out a couple of weeks prior).  We decided to call our doctor who told us to monitor the contractions for a full hour; and if they were lasting for about a minute every 4 minutes, we should call her back and then head to the hospital.  Sure enough, that’s what happened!

We arrived at the hospital around 5am and headed to the ER.  I told them I was in labor and that we had already called our doctor.  In the room, other people (who looked like had been out clubbing) took a look at me and exclaimed, “Oh, she’s about to go! She’s ready to pop that baby out any minute now!  Someone give her a wheelchair!”.  I was then wheeled over to the elevator (which made us nervous since the elevator buttons were being unresponsive and left us stuck inside for 5 minutes) and was taken to a room so that a doctor and a couple of med. students could check to see if my water really had broken – fortunately they confirmed that my water did break and I was already in labor; otherwise they would’ve sent us back home.

They took us to the labor room where we were greeted by my first nurse of the day; she was very nice, validated my feelings, and catered to both me and my husband.  She stayed with us for a couple of hours and was then relieved by another nurse who – unfortunately for us – was the opposite of our first nurse. WhenI expressed how painful my contractions were she told me that ‘of course labor hurts; that’s why they call it labor‘. We found out during a conversation later on that she has three kids, all of whom were born out of a planned c-section; so she herself never experienced what I was going through!  During our time with this nurse, I just tried to be calm and not let her get to me, for the sake of my health and our baby’s.  (I later found out from my husband, once we were in the recovery room, that he was also trying to keep his cool and not make the situation worse).  Why am I talking about this nurse so much?  Because in hindsight I think we should’ve addressed the situation with the hospital because no one – especially a woman in labor – should feel any added stress than she’s already facing.  So a word of advice to women who may find themselves in a similar predicament: speak up and say something so that the hospital can take the right steps in preventing those events from happening again. Aaand back to my labor story…

I always planned to get an epidural since I know my threshold for pain, and also was hoping for a vaginal delivery. However, I knew that it was possible I would need a C-section because of my size compared to my son’s. At our 20wk ultrasound, our baby was showing signs of having an echogenic bowel, which meant we had extra tests done (e.g. fetal echocardiogram) and ended getting an ultrasound on a much more frequent basis (fortunately this ultimately was not a problem as my pregnancy progressed).

Once the anesthesiologist came, he informed me that I had to stay VERY still since the needle had to be inserted in a very precise way through a very small hole.  Any sudden movements or flinches from me and the anesthesia would either not work, partially work, or he’d have to do the entire process all over again.  Alright…but um, I’m seriously in pain here!  By this time, my contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart and lasting 90 seconds; so that didn’t really leave me much time to stay completely still for what he needed to do, which he said would last for a few minutes.  But I knew I just had to get the epidural because I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain; fortunately I sojourned on and got it done (all the while our nurse was remarking that I wasn’t even halfway dilated, so the pain I was feeling will only get worse)!  The anesthesiologist then told me I could press a button for the epidural to kick in stronger, but it’s pretty much a placebo effect since it is set to release a limited amount at a specific time interval.  Still I kept pushing that button as if my life depended on it, even though I knew I really wasn’t the one in control of it. After that both my husband and I were able to rest for a few hours while the anesthesia kicked in and my labor naturally progressed.

My doctor then came to check up on me and said that my labor wasn’t progressing quickly enough, so she wanted to give me Pitocin to help it along.  Thankfully my husband piped up and expressed, based on what he and I agreed on beforehand, that we wanted to wait longer to see if my labor would progress by itself.  Another piece of advice: ask for details if you’re not sure why certain things are being done; you as the patient have the right to be fully informed and make a decision.  Fortunately my doctor was OK with it so she left us alone again for a while.  Still in the room with my husband and me was the nurse, who again made a biting remark that my pains would be more painful if I hadn’t taken the epidural (yes, I know that!) and that I should be grateful that I got it (yes, I am!).  My husband and I both trudged on to keep our cool.  I asked him to put on Netflix for me so I could watch Friends reruns – this was the activity I chose to help manage my pain.  Note: When the episode of Carol giving birth popped up, I immediately asked my husband to skip it, and any other episodes that had to do with pregnancy and/or labor!  I’m very grateful for my husband who was such a trooper the whole time.  Whenever I started tearing up and complaining how much pain I was feeling, he would coach me to do my breathing (which REALLY helped me!), he’d pray with/for me, and he would keep telling me how proud he was of me and that we’re inching our way closer to having all of this be done and finally seeing our baby.

Later on our doctor came again and I ended up getting the Pitocin.  I expressed pain on my left side and I was told that it’s because the baby was descending, and the pressure I was feeling can’t be eliminated with any medicine.  I felt greater pressure and had the urge to push; and so I did for a while.  More time passed and by this time, my lower back was also hurting so much that the contractions felt like nothing – the back pain was so excruciating for me that I felt like someone was snapping the bones in my lower back one by one.  Unfortunately again I was told there was nothing they could give me to remedy the pain.  Our doctor returned, checked me, and told me that I was fully dilated.  In came several more nurses to assist the doctor with the active labor phase.  I was instructed to push but by this time, because the epidural basically made me numb from my waist down, it was hard for me to tell how hard I was pushing!  I was also being told to lift up my legs but I felt so numb that every person in that room was basically holding my leg up (yes, it’s as awkward as you may be picturing it – my husband was also holding both my leg and head up facing towards my body since I was told that doing this will help with the pushing).  After pushing for close to two hours, I knew that there was a low possibility I was going to be able to push this baby out.  I felt like the pain I was feeling in my lower back was going to make me pass out at any moment; and I resorted to practically bawling and expressing that I couldn’t push anymore.  Still my doctor encouraged me to try to keep pushing.  So I closed my eyes again and pushed as hard as I could.  When I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw is my doctor shaking her head.  I was now panicking.  What’s going on??  My doctor then said, “The baby’s not happy.” and told me that our baby’s heart rate dropped drastically and that they need to cut me open ASAP.  She shouted some orders and I was wheeled out to the operating room leaving my husband in the room to get prepped to enter the operating room.

The OR was very bright and felt very cold to me.  I couldn’t see how many people there were exactly; but with all the noise and voices I was hearing, my guess would be there were at least fifteen people there with me.  I kept asking if everything was OK, but no one was really answering me and everyone was just moving around the room in what I can only describe as organized chaos.  I asked if my baby was OK and I finally get a response from my doctor: “We just need you to stay calm because how you are affects how the baby is doing”.  And so I tried to do my breathing exercises while silently crying and praying, hoping that everything would be ok.  Meanwhile my doctor was loudly saying, “I need the screen to show the baby’s heart rate now” – once it was finally up, to my relief, I was told that our baby was OK but that I needed to keep my composure.  Honestly, it was very hard to do – many thoughts were running through my head simultaneously: is everything really going to be OK?  If not, I feel like it’s going to be my fault.  Would other people blame me if something goes wrong?  I need to calm myself.  I need to keep praying.

Once they’d prepped me on the operating table with the ‘curtain’ blocking my view from where the doctor would be opening me up, they finally let my husband come into the room with me, after being gone for what seemed like eternity.  My husband told me that he’d already texted our families with an update of what had been going on with us. (My husband informed me later on that the anesthesiologist kindly told him to make sure to have his phone with him in the room so we could capture the moment). By this time, my arms felt ridiculously cold and I couldn’t stop them from shivering and shaking; so I asked the staff for something to keep me warm.  After waiting for the anesthesia to fully kick in (at one point they tested and asked if I felt the poking they were doing to me, and I said that I did), the surgery finally started.

At this point, my husband and I had no idea what was happening on the other side of the curtain.  I found out later on that my husband felt helpless during that time too, so he resorted to praying out loud with me.  And that calmed me down greatly.  Though I thankfully did not feel any pain during the surgery, I felt a lot of hard tugging.  A few minutes had passed and I couldn’t hear any cries or noises that resembled a baby.  We kept asking if everything was OK and the staff just kept telling me to stay calm.  I was silently crying and praying because I thought that this surgery was supposed to be quick – at least that’s what I was told during my childbirth class and that’s what I’ve heard from other people.  Why, then, was our baby not in my arms yet and why couldn’t I hear any sound coming from him??

“Did you hear that?” my husband suddenly asked me as we were holding each other’s hands.  I heard nothing and then several seconds later, I heard a tiny cry.  I couldn’t hold it in after that; tears streamed down my face out of relief, thankfulness, and joy that I heard him! I was expecting for our baby to be given to me immediately after that but no – everything was not quite right, we were told.

When they first opened me up, apparently our baby hid himself so that the first thing they saw of him was his butt; and they opened me up a bit more!  Our baby also went in distress while inside me, so much so that he ended up pooping.  Being aware of this and to avoid our baby swallowing any of his poop, the doctor did not stimulate him to cry as soon as he was out (that explains why we did not immediately hear any cries coming from him).  Once they were able to take him out, he was discolored and his Apgar score (a measurement for measuring an infant’s physical condition) was extremely low.  I was still on the operating table and I asked my husband if he knew what was happening; he said that he didn’t know but that he could see our baby being tended to by a few of the staff in one corner of the OR.  After a few more minutes, one of the staff signaled my husband to come over to the baby.  When they took him to where our baby was, he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to pick him up, with the tubes still in him to help clear out any fluid.

A few more minutes after that, they finally give our baby to me and I got to hold AND see him for the first time!  Joshua Timothy was born at 5:06PM after 12+ hours of labor.  It felt surreal that I was actually holding him! After months of praying for him, reading/singing to him, talking about him, ‘playing’ with him, and celebrating him – he was really finally here <3.

Although my labor experience was hard (I had to get a blood transfusion from having lost so much blood, in addition to the difficult recovery I went through for several weeks thereon), my husband and I would talk about having another baby.  Our OB-GYN informed us that for future births, I would have to have a C-section since there was a laceration in my uterus as a result of the surgery.  I’m not sure exactly how I feel about that but from what I’ve read, a planned C-section is extremely different from an emergency C-section. So here’s hoping for the best that if/when I do share another birth story, it would be smoother (and without the presence of a nurse with no bedside mannersJ.

Joshua is nearing six months; and no, he still does not sleep through the night, in case you’re wondering.  But yes, he is oodles of fun and cuteness.  I’ve also quit my job to be a stay-at-home mom so I have a new normal now.  He has completely changed life for me, my husband, and our families for the better.

Till our (hopefully) next birth story – Hazel M. of www.foureightlife.com

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One thought on “A Petite Mom’s Big Birth Story – Jersey City Medical Center

  1. Hazel says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    The question of how I – being very petite – was able to give birth to our son who’s practically almost half my height at five months old!

    Check out my birth story post below!

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