The Birth of Rosalie Joyce Conte
July 16, 2012 12:36 PM 8 pounds, 7 ounces 20.5 inches
I went twelve days late with Rachael and then had to have an emergency c-section because the cord was wrapped twice tightly around her neck and her heart rate was plummeting and almost stopped. Because of the circumstances, I was told I was a perfect candidate for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). This I started praying about since week one of Rosalie’s pregnancy! It was something I strongly wanted – having hated the surgery aspect of Rachael’s birth, hated the recovery, hated being drowsy and sick to my stomach day-of, hated forgetting all that happened that first day and a half in the hospital, and hated the thought of being stuck having surgeries instead of normal births. I wanted no part of a c-section again.
Therefore, when signs and symptoms of approaching labor happened way earlier the second time around, I became convinced I was going to give birth early. I got very excited and seemed confident I’d have the VBAC of my dreams – a relief and consolation to what had transpired the first time – a comfort to me that my body could do things right and that I could deliver safely. My midwife wanted me to set an “end date” – a date we wouldn’t go past before having a c-section. They preferred I make it my due date, feeling nervous about a VBAC’er going late, but I did hours of research and found no greater risk in setting the date as late as we could manage. Knowing that even Rachael didn’t come fourteen days late, I set my “end c-section date” at July 23rd – exactly 42 weeks. If Rosalie didn’t come on her own before then (They will not induce a previous c-section’er. It ups the risk of rupture to 25%!) I was sure we’d never even get there and it wouldn’t matter. I wondered if I’d even make it to July, or if I’d deliver in June.
And yet, the weeks dragged on.
Because our daughter was due on Brad’s birthday, July 9th, she had a good shot of fitting into The Conte Pattern. Brad’s mom was born on July 3rd, his sister Hope on July 5th, and Brad was on the 9th. When I met Brad and they found out my birthday was July 7th, we deemed it a sign from God that I was meant to be a part of this family, the missing puzzle piece to a perfect string of birthdays. 🙂
Therefore, I put a ton of pressure on myself that my daughter had to be born on July 1st or 11th in order to be a true Conte and stick with the esteemed Pattern. It didn’t help that Brad prayed for Rosalie to be born on one of those dates as well! Although, he just thought it would be fun. *I* made it a big deal.
On June 30th, I had a list about 20 lines long of all of the old wives’ tales about naturally inducing labor. Since I wanted to go into labor *that* night, I was going to try absolutely everything on the list, ending with acupressure points on my ankles.
Brad and I walked for an hour, ate a disgusting eggplant dish, I bounced on a big ball, danced, did squats, ate pineapple, drank *nine* bags of raspberry tea, and much, much more.
Finally, by midnight, I sat in my recliner chair and Brad took one ankle and I took the other. I had heard that there’s a tender point two fingers above the inner ankle where, if you rub in a circular motion, you can start contractions.
Yes, that theory *is* true, but, let me tell you, ladies, once and for all: you can NOT start labor if your body and the baby are not ready!!!!
*None* of these methods worked. All anecdotal evidence is coincidental. When I went into my midwife’s office later that week and told her what I had tried and how it doesn’t work, she said, “Thank you! Can I video you and show all of my patients?”
Seriously, ladies. You can’t start labor. Maybe pumping and producing oxytocin would’ve done it, but I decided against that. Considered dangerous for a VBAC patient due to the extremely aggressive contractions it creates. Therefore, none of the other old wives’ tales work.
That night Brad and I got my contractions to an average of seven minutes apart for 45 minutes by rubbing the inside of my ankles. However, by that point, it was super late, we were exhausted, and our thumbs were about to fall off. When we stopped, so did the contractions. Yet I kept at it, long after Brad fell asleep, tears in my eyes, determined that I, in my humanly wisdom HAD to have the baby July 1st. I kept dozing in my chair, I started to lose track of contractions, and I couldn’t remember what time it was. Finally I feel asleep.
The next day was Sunday and I woke up disappointed, angry, and discouraged. I hardly talked on the way to church, mad at the whole world. People at church didn’t make me feel any better, exclaiming about how low, large, or ready I looked, saying, “Tell that baby to come!” I knew they were just being kind, but I felt like not going back to church until after I delivered. My attitude was SOUR for sure. It stunk! I also had big humongous bruises and chafing in the inside of the ankle I had personally rubbed. My ankles were swollen knots and, to this day, the mark on the ankle I rubbed has not gone away. I think of it as a reminder of me trying to play God and feel that, if it turns into a scar, I will have aptly deserved it.
God convicted me that Sunday, it being the first of the month and Communion Sunday. I felt like I really couldn’t participate in Communion until I had confessed every aspect of that stinky attitude. And so I did. Going home later that day, I was convinced I had given it all to the Lord and would have a good attitude from there on out.
But it was a constant battle. When July 11th (the other end of The Conte Pattern) came and went, I had to spend some time in prayer. Now that I was overdue, I had to come in for BPP and NSTs (sonograms and non-stress tests) like I had with Rachael. I was huge, hot, and uncomfortable. People started asking me if I was having twins. My stomach measured 47 ½ inches around! I knew I had another 8 pound baby in there. I had hit every labor sign without labor. I had painful, sometimes two-minute long contractions every day that went nowhere. I was STRESSED. OUT. Constantly in prayer, constantly fighting anxiety, constantly trying not to question God, that end c-section date crept closer and closer. Some days I would spend the evening in tears when I would be contraction-less (I always had them in the evenings, so, if I didn’t, I knew I wasn’t going into labor that night.) The next day I would be joyful and think I had a handle on it. Intellectually, I trust God completely and had given it up to Him, but emotionally I had no peace and was constantly on edge and the verge of crying. To me, the worst ending to this I could think of was another c-section. I couldn’t understand why God would allow one. It made no sense to my tiny human brain. I couldn’t think of being obedient in my attitude if it meant another c-section.
I asked everyone for prayer, but I struggled. A lot. My blood pressure had also gone up. It was still in normal range, but a high normal. That didn’t help my peaceless days, especially when people started tossing around preeclampsia stories. But it never got too bad.
Then I read my friend, Bethany J.’s writeup of her eldest’s birth and got excited thinking about my daughter. In the comments section after reading her note, she posted a link to a blog article: http://www.feminagirls.com/2012/07/06/natural-and-cursed/ As I read the article, I realized I was SO focused on the MEANS of Rosalie’s birth that I had forgotten that THE worst outcome was not a c-section, but a dead baby! Or a dead me! That I should be grateful for modern medicine and the fact that I don’t sit around worrying if Rosalie was even going to survive.
Also, I realized that I hated the thought of having an “end c-section date” at all, feeling like it was a fearful thing to do for no good medical reason. “Could we evaluate going in and doing a c-section just because I hit an arbitrary number of weeks?” I asked Brad. He agreed that we could pray about that more. That was an immediate relief!
Sunday of the 15th of July dawned and I headed to church. I had not been since the gloomy 1st of July because all of the Joni and Friends missionaries had come back with stomach bugs and Brad had not wanted me to catch it. I had not missed being there that week after all of the comments and had been battling my attitude toward friendly questions as to being overdue. But *this* Sunday, the 15th, I woke up eager to go to church, hear God’s Word, and see the loving people who had given our family so much, were praying so hard, and cared a lot. Finally I felt like my attitude was in check.
After church, later that evening, we had another BPP and NST scheduled, this time at the hospital. When you’re overdue, they want you to go in for the sonogram and non-stress test every three days on the dot to make sure nothing goes amiss, since every day counts. If that third day falls on a weekend, you go into the hospital to have it done. In the non-stress test, they count movements and listen to the heart rate. In the BPP sonogram, they look for four things: fluid level, heart rate, as well as breathing practice and movement from the baby. Rosalie had always gotten a perfect score in everything up to this point, including the very last time I had been in, only three days prior.
Brad, Squeaker, and I entered the hospital at 7:30 PM that Sunday evening, they hooked me up to the monitor, and we could hear Rosalie’s little heart beating away happily. All good there. I had a painful contraction while we watched – all the way up to the 80 line! (0-100 scale) But nothing after that. Like usual.
Then the sonographer came in. The first troubling comment was, “Your cervix is still long.”
“Do you mean effacement?” I asked. I did not like internal exams at the end of pregnancy, so I had refused them up to this point – also feeling like I didn’t need the added stress of knowing if I was dilated or not.
“Yes,” she replied.
I was not effaced. At all. Unless some miracle happened, I just wasn’t going into labor soon. Even with all of those contractions. Why? I have no idea.
But it got worse.
The sonographer told us, at the end, that she found debris in my fluid. “It could be meconium,” she said. “I have to get this to the radiologist.”
I remember staring Brad in the eyes, both of us reading each other’s confused and concerned thoughts instantly. I pulled out my phone and started looking up how bad it could be if the baby had indeed had her first poop (meconium) in the fluid. She was already breathing it in and out but was in no distress. Could that be possible? Yes, it could, if it were a certain kind of meconium. There were different danger levels, supposedly.
I couldn’t get a hold of my mom, who I just badly wanted to talk to. I guess it didn’t really matter anyway because I had nothing really concrete to tell her yet.
It seemed like everyone was taking forever. We waited and waited. Oddly enough, though, I wasn’t feeling super fearful. I wasn’t stressing out. I just sat there, watching “Squeaker” (Rachael’s nickname) squeal as she ran around the room throwing a toy and watching it roll. I wondered if I would even be allowed to go home that night.
Finally a nurse came in and said the midwife on call, Liz M. from the office, was going to be talking to me over the phone. When it finally rang, I picked up, wondering if what I heard was going to change my life that evening.
“Hi, RJ,” she began. “Well, they saw something that could be meconium, but we don’t know that for sure. It could also be vernix, which is just the coating on the skin. However, we usually only see vernix on early babies. Meconium usually shows up when they’re late. Yet her heart rate is still fine and she’s in no distress. So we wouldn’t make you do anything because of that. But, the really troubling part is your fluid. Your fluid level is down to 8.2. When it gets to an 8, it’s considered dangerous level. You had gone from being at a 22, to dropping to a 17 at your next appointment – both numbers are okay. But, in the last three days, you dropped from a 17 to an 8.2.”
Numbers and “levels” were spinning in my head. I felt like she was still using medical lingo. “What options do we have? So tell me straight – what are the risks here? What are we talking about?”
Then Liz cut the polite lingo. “For your fluid levels to have dropped almost in half in three days means your body is shutting down. The placenta is dying. You no longer can provide for the baby in there. At an 8, we consider it emergency c-section level. Yet, she’s still looking okay tonight, so I talked to Jeanean.” (my personal midwife) “She knows how much you want to do a VBAC, so she said you can go home tonight and we can schedule a c-section for tomorrow. That gives you one last night to go into labor on your own.” (Good ol’ Jeanean! Even if my water broke and I had a fluid level of 0, they’d still give me 24 hours to deliver, so that made sense.) “If you refuse to do the c-section, we’d have you sign papers saying that the death of your child is not on our hands. It would be extremely foolish not to go ahead and get this baby out of there, especially before she goes into distress. With no fluid, the cord will constrict, choking her to death. And, even if the cord doesn’t do that, without fluid, she can’t survive for long. Looks like we can schedule the c-section for noon. There are too many being done that morning, so 12:00 PM is the first time slot available.”
I hung up the phone. Turned to Brad. Told him the news. Waited to hear how upset he’d be.
“You sure we should go home? The c-section would be in fifteen hours! Will the baby be okay?” he asked.
I felt a rush of love for him. With the impending second c-section, our previous “Worst Case Scenario,” he immediately forgave that and worried about our child’s safety.
I also felt no fear, no utter devastation, and no anger. I felt what I had been praying to feel for months.
When a c-section was unlikely, labor could happen any day, and everything about my fluid and the baby was fine, I had to struggle not to be worried, moody, and anxious. And yet, now in the face of a certain second c-section, I finally felt true peace. I identified why at once. I could never come to terms with the idea of having a c-section at 42 weeks just because. I think I would’ve never been able to sleep at night, wondering if we had just waited ONE more day or two more days or week. But now, we had a reason! Now we were saving my baby again! An unhappy medical procedure was the best option yet again. It was there for a purpose. Whether I liked it or not, it was going to save my child’s life. For some reason, my body just didn’t work right. In the middle of the c-section, Jeanean herself affirmed, when I was cut open, that I would not have gone into labor on my own any time soon – I was not dilated or effaced!!! For some reason my body was as clingy as I was – grow, nurture, and raise a healthy baby – it does that well – but then keepthemcloseneverletgo!!!! I don’t know why. I don’t know if that will be a problem again in the future. I don’t even have to worry about that now. I can pray and trust God for that later.
Scheduling a c-section (even if it’s for the next day) is so totally different than having an emergency one in the span of ten minutes. It was almost ten thirty by the time we got out of the hospital. We had been there for almost three hours doing the test, waiting for results, and making big decisions.
As we walked out to the parking lot I started calling the family and giving them the news. Brad decided to take me to IHOP for one last fantastic dairy meal of pancakes. Squeaker started to fade at the end, but had done so well all evening. They told me I couldn’t eat or drink anything, even water, after midnight. That was hard because I had done so well keeping up my water intake. To not drink a big glass before bed was torture!
We came home close to midnight and tidied up the apartment as quickly as we could. Brad did all of the dishes while I cuddled my daughter for the very last time that she would be my one and only. I prayed with her about the next day, prayed for her time at my parents’ house, and prayed about the surgery. I sang to her and rocked her to sleep. It was bittersweet.
We got to bed by one am, which was still late, but everything was sitting out and ready for our three-day stay in the hospital. Obviously, I was sent home to have one last night to go into labor on my own, but Brad and I knew that wasn’t happening – and it didn’t. I was also supposed to get one last good night of sleep, but, of course, it didn’t work that way either. Being told I was going to have my baby in my arms the very next day, as well as being told I’d be cut open… I was wide awake, my mind racing. I tried every technique I could think of to join Brad in slumberland, but it all failed. I ended up out on the couch, trying a change of scenery. By 4:30 am, I finally conked out – probably due to sheer exhaustion at that point! I had meant to get more sleep, I promise!
My parents met us at our apartment in the morning. Dad picked up Squeaker and all of the stuff she’d need. Mom was going with us to be there with me. We all prayed in a circle, holding hands, one of Squeaker’s little ones clasped in mine. I still felt peace. I was determined to be a testimony to the Lord through this. I trusted Him. I didn’t cry or moan or complain once. Not then, and not after the surgery. I attribute that entirely to the Lord.
We had to get there at ten am for pre-op preparations. Lyndon and Tammy S., my pastor and his wife (and my sister’s in-laws!) met me there at the hospital. They came to see me beforehand, to encourage me, and to wait with Mom during the surgery. It was so thoughtful of them!
When Jeanean walked in the room, the first thing she said was, “Hello, friend! Did you sleep? I couldn’t! I was up all night worried about you!”
She was probably praying too. Oddly enough, the fact that she cared that much made my whole morning. I was thankful she let me go home. I had been told by the nurse that if Liz M. (the midwife on call) had her way, I would never have been allowed home the night before! (It turned out to indeed be vernix in the fluid, so Jeanean was right to give me another night to go into labor.)
I introduced Lyndon and Tammy to Jeanean and, after prepping me and answering any questions, she turned to them and said, “Can you pray for us before surgery?” What a neat thing for your doctor to ask! All of us in the room bowed our heads while Lyndon prayed. It completed the peace in my heart. I went into surgery with a smile.
The anesthesiologist was a crack-up and kept joking with the doctors and nurses. As he put in my spinal block, Jeanean held me against her very chest and told me how wonderful Lyndon and Tammy seemed in that brief meeting.
“Oh yes! And so is their son! My sister has just loved being married. When I called them last night, they were out to dinner for their year and a half. I hoped I hadn’t interrupted them…” I started rambling, hoping to reassure Jeanean I didn’t mind the needle at all. Truth was, being held just then, I felt very loved and grateful to everyone who was praying and helping and making Rosalie’s entrance into this world a success. God truly was good.
I got the shakes during surgery and after, which is a natural hormonal thing that happened to me last time too, and even to mothers in natural births, but it’s annoying. It makes you look like you’re scared – when I wasn’t! I even joked back with everyone attending to me. This time I even talked to Brad, coaching him on what I wanted to have videoed. Although, there was some miscommunication and got one of the baby exiting the incision! Gory!! And didn’t make for easy watching later! Ewwww! He’s nuts. 😛
I had discussed pain med options with the nurses beforehand and had the best balance this time – I wasn’t in too much pain but I wasn’t nauseated and out of it either. I had prayed that I would be alert so I wouldn’t miss any of Rosalie’s first day and could be all there for it. Sure enough, all of my family was astounded at how happy, alert, and vibrant I seemed after surgery. And I remember every precious detail.
The actual c-section took longer than the first because they were carefully going through an old scar, repairing it, and making it better. But the same two ladies who did Rachael’s birth: my midwife Jeanean and Dr. Lori H., were there to do Rosalie’s! This time they talked about Dr. H.’s dog who got heat stroke and how the vet bill was enough that they couldn’t go on vacation this year! Haha!
Finally a cry went up from the ladies gathered around in that blue-sheeted operating room. “Hooray!” “Welcome baby!” “It’s a girl!” went up around the room.
Brad stood up. And then there she was. Jeanean brought her screaming eight pound seven ounce self around and held her right in front of me.
I looked at her and knew her in an instance. There was the baby who looked like me. There was my second daughter. My Rosalie Joyce.
“She’s blonde!” I cried.