And Then I Heard Her.

I had her the day after my best friend’s daughter’s first birthday party.  I kept saying I didn’t know if I was going to go, because it was far away and I didn’t want to go into labor out there.  And then I got scheduled for a c-section for a Thursday because Deetz was breech. I went to a doctor’s appointment the Friday before and he told me I wasn’t dilated and there was no reason I couldn’t go to the party.  He told me that they would see me Tuesday for my pre-surgery appointment, and then Thursday for the procedure. But Deetz had other plans.

I had a slice of pizza and my stomach started being really weird.  She was moving around a lot, and if she flipped, I was going to have to give birth and my insurance wouldn’t cover my c-section.  But in order to psych me up for the c-section, they were telling me, “She’s measuring sooo big, this is a good thing because you’d probably get a fourth degree tear!”  

So I went to find my husband because I was freaking out.  But when you’re the one that’s pregnant, you’re like, “Oh my god, different stuff is going on with my body,” and sometimes you just need someone to be like, “Nah, you’re just overreacting.”  And my husband A was great at being that person. So I went in and I was thinking, “A will tell me this is all in my head.”  So I asked him, “Does my stomach look weird to you?”  And he just looked at me and went, “Uhhhhh….yeah.” And I was like, “No, no, that’s not the answer I wanted.  I wanted the answer of, ‘It looks the same.’” And he said, “It looks like that baby is dropping,” but when they’re breech they don’t drop the same way non-breech babies do.  So I told him that she wasn’t dropping but that I thought she was trying to turn, and I was like, “I don’t want her to turn, I want to have the c-section,” and he suggested that I call the doctor the next day so I could move my appointment up.  So I decided to do that, and we just decided to go to bed.

  I went to bed at like 8:00, and I woke up the next morning, and A was sleeping in the guest room because I was 9 months pregnant and my sinuses were swollen and I was snoring really loudly.  So he was in the guest room so he could actually get some sleep because we knew that week was going to be crazy. I stood up because I had to pee, and there was just water gushing out of me. But I was like, “Oh my god I peed myself!”  And then I was like, “Wait...maybe I didn’t pee myself.” So I went to the bathroom that was right next to the guest bedroom and I yelled to A, “I think my water broke!” And it was crazy, because for the last two months of my pregnancy if I sneezed, A would come running into the room.  So I yell at him that I think my water broke, and he doesn’t even wake up. So I yell it again and I’m sitting in the bathroom and he runs in.

So still, I wasn’t cramping or anything.  And I had heard so many stories of people whose water broke and they still got sent home from the hospital.  So I was like, “I’ll just go to the doctor’s first thing at 8.” My doctor has an emergency line that I could have called, but I’ve never heard of anyone going into labor that quickly, so I didn’t think it was necessary. So we’re just waiting at home, because this was like 7am and the nurses don’t arrive to the office until 7:45.  We went back up to the bedroom, A started cleaning a little bit and I was laying on the bed with a towel under me, and it happened again. More fluid came gushing out of me. So I was like, “Oh...okay. This is definitely my water breaking.” And A said, “Alright well, I’m going to pack your bag,” because I had the baby’s bag packed but I didn’t have mine because I was supposed to be scheduled.  I hadn’t dilated at all. There were no signs that I was going to go into labor, because my c-section was scheduled for when I would be 39 weeks. A starts packing my bag, I FaceTime my mom in LA and I’m like, “Hey I know it’s 4am there, but just a heads up, my water broke, so we’re going to go to the doctor to see what they say to do.” I had read and been told that sometimes they still have to confirm that your water broke before they will take you, so I figured I’d get checked out by my doctor instead of risking waiting in the hospital and being sent home.

I’m laying there, A is packing the bag and cleaning out the litter boxes and trying to get stuff done, and I’m texting my friend and I’m like, “I think my water broke.”  And she’s so confused because I was just at the party the day before and I’m just like, “Yeah I think my water broke, we’re going to my doctor, I’m having cramps like every five minutes or so.”  And she’s like, “You know those aren’t cramps right?” And I was like, “I know, but I’m calling them cramps because it’s helping me stay calm.”

7:40 hits and I call the doctor’s office and the nurse answers and I explain to her that it’s me and that my water broke and she told me to go to the hospital, and she would call the doctor and he would meet me there.  So we get to the hospital which was right across the street. We have this slow leisurely drive, none of our family members are answering their phones, the only one we had gotten contact with was my mom, and she was the one that’s on the opposite side of the country.  The craziest part about it was that everyone was already on edge because A was going to have to be the point person for communication, and everyone was like, “He’s not the best at texting…”

 We drive over and go to the hospital, I pre-registered so when I got there, I gave  them my name and they gave me my paperwork to sign. As I’m signing the paperwork, I like clench and almost fell to the ground because my water broke a third time.  She was moving around and it was causing more of the fluid to come out. So at that point, if you’re in labor, they have a separate waiting room for you. I was sitting there with A and I was like, “I really have to go to the bathroom,” because I was so uncomfortable and didn’t know what else to do.  Well, the bathroom in the special waiting room is locked and you have to get the key from an attendant. Which is crazy to me, but I’m finally in the bathroom, and the contractions are now two to three minutes apart, and they really, really hurt. And she was still breech.

I hear the ER nurses call my name and I come out of the bathroom and I go back with them.  They hooked up the monitors so we could hear her heartbeat. They asked me who my doctor was and all of that, because when you go in, the nurses there don’t know you.  They don’t know your plan, and I’m explaining to them, “I’m a scheduled c-section, my daughter is breech, this is my doctor.” At that point, the contractions are 90 seconds apart.  They measure you to confirm that your water has broken and to see how far along you are. So imagine having contractions, and then someone’s like, “You know what we’re gonna do now?!  We’re gonna give you basically a pap!” Because they use the same instrument. So they do it, when she pulls the speculum away, I see there is blood on her gloves and the speculum. Which is normal, but I started to freak out.  My heart rate starts going up and they told me they had to run some more tests because of it. I told them my heart rate was increasing because I was anxious, and I had just about to get an IV and I have a phobia of needles. The IV was what I was most scared for.  So one of the nurses goes, “Well did you practice any of the breathing exercises for when you are contracting?” And I was not a great person in labor. I yelled, “No I didn’t practice any fucking breathing exercises, I’m supposed to have a fucking scheduled c-section!”  All of this as A is sitting with me holding my hand just being so stoic and steady.

  So I’m yelling at everyone, and the anesthesiologist comes in and asks if I have any questions, and I asked him when they were going to give me the drugs.  And he was like, “Well, we’re doing a spinal, so I can’t give you the drugs until right before the surgery.” So I had to get a catheter placed without any pain medicine while I was contracting.  And when they measured me, I had dilated five centimeters in 45 minutes, which was very fast. All of this is happening, and I’m just screaming at everyone. I’m screaming at the guy who told me I can’t have pain medication, and so he turns to my husband and says, “Does she have any questions that maybe she can’t think of right now?”  And A was like, “No, I think she just wants the drugs.”

They had said they needed to test to see if I was preeclamptic because my heart rate was so high, but my heart rate was high because I was basically having an anxiety attack. I hadn’t even had my pre-surgery appointment with my doctor, so I just felt so unprepared and didn’t know what to expect.  And I was like, “No you don’t, because I’m already getting a c-section.” And then my doctor bursts into the room and looked at me and goes, “What are you guys doing here?!” Because there were no signs that I was going to go into labor at my last appointment. And at this point I’m just puking stomach bile into a plastic cup because my contractions are so bad.  I hear one of the nurses say to him, “Well, we just did the first two scheduled c-sections of the morning,” because at that hospital, they do a 7am and a 9am c-section. And they said, “She’s going to have to wait an hour.” I’m sitting there and I’ve just been swearing at these people for the last half hour. Well, then HE starts swearing and yelling at them, he was like, “Does she look like she can wait a fucking hour?!  The baby is breech and can’t come out any other way! So this baby is trying to get out and can’t. I need a team RIGHT NOW!” And then he goes off to suit up.

A leaves to go get ready for the procedure, and my doctor comes back in and they wheel me out.  I got wheeled into the room and I’m just screaming because I needed my husband to be there with me. I have really, really bad medical anxiety and this was my first time getting any sort of surgery, and I knew I couldn’t get through it without A.  He was outside the room and they wouldn’t let him in yet because it was a sterile environment, he couldn’t come in until they gave me the spinal. But my biggest fear of all of this was the needles. So I’m screaming and crying and having contractions that are so close together.  This one nurse came up to me and I was like, “I can’t do this without my husband.” And she got me through it. By the time A came in, the surgery was already happening. I was always under the impression that they put a tall curtain up but for me they put up something so short. I couldn’t see anything but my husband could see everything.  And literally, six minutes after starting, Deetz was here! She was a perfect little baby. They held up a mirror so I could see her getting weighed and I could see A cutting the cord and everything.

I was trying to explain pregnancy to one of my friends and all I could say was, “It’s worrying for nine months, and it all ends with you waiting to hear your baby cry.”  Because I couldn’t feel anything, and I didn’t see what was happening, so I just kept asking A, “Is she out? Is she out?” And then I heard her. And since she was breech I was so worried but I heard her.

I felt like I was really great at being pregnant.  I know a lot of people who had really difficult pregnancies and I felt bad for feeling like I was great at being pregnant.  And up until the end, I had just had this super easy pregnancy. My doctor had called for our 37 week sonogram because he wanted to see how big she was measuring and to check my fluids, and to give us another chance to see her before she got here.  So we go in for the sonogram, and the tech was like, “Was there a concern? Is that why they sent you in?” and I was like “No, this is just routine.” So then she goes, “Well your baby is breech,” and I just remember thinking about how easy my pregnancy had been so far.  So I asked what we were going to do to fix it and she just looked at me and said, “We can’t.” And I just remember feeling like, “Well that’s scary.”

I had been getting a lot of labor anxiety, which I think a lot of women feel.  It was mainly towards the IV, I was scared for labor but I also felt like my body would know what to do.  And then the sonogram tech said we wouldn’t be able to turn the baby. She asked if I wanted to know how much Deetz was weighing, so I said yes and told her that my cousin had just had a nine pound baby and she told me if I went to 40 weeks, that this baby would be about 9 pounds.  I had scheduled my doctor’s appointment for right after my sonogram. So I walk in and I had been keeping it together and one of the nurses said hi to me and I just started sobbing hysterically. I told her the baby was fine, that she was healthy, she’s fine. And then I told them she was breech.  The nurse took me into the room, and I had a really great relationship with her because they always gave me the same nurse because of my fear of needles. She told me, “Some babies are going meant to be born in different ways, and this baby is going to be born a different way and that’s no big deal.”  She told me my doctor was the best at c-sections and that if someone needed one, he was the one to go to. I told her, “I’m scared. For the last three weeks we’ve been trying to work on my anxiety with the IV and now I’m getting major surgery.” Then the midwife came in and reiterated what the nurse had said, and told me that just because I had to get a c-section this time it didn’t mean that I would never be able to give birth vaginally, and that this was okay.  I wasn’t upset because I specifically wanted a natural birth experience, I was upset because I have a lot of medical anxiety. So then my doctor comes in and he said he didn’t expect it, but that it made sense because I had been measuring two weeks behind. They had just figured the baby was small or that we had gotten the date wrong, but now we know it was because she was frank breech.

Her being breech is what ended up leading to her hip dysplasia.  It’s crazy because it’s 2019. And they tell you what’s going on with your baby and you can go home and start Googling everything constantly.  So I’m Googling frank breech babies and seeing all of the problems they could have. It was scary because we didn’t know how long she had been in that position for, because her heartbeat was still in the right place, but she was folded up like a little pretzel.

 Her pediatrician would do hip checks on her at her appointments.  He said since she was breech, even though she passed all of her hip exams in the hospital and she had passed all of her physical hip exams with him, he still wanted her to get the ultrasound because he wanted to make sure she was okay.  He said it was super routine and it wasn’t a big deal because nothing had been registering.

We went to get her hip ultrasound which I really wasn’t worried about at all.  I went with her, since I was still on maternity leave, and I told A he didn’t need to come with me because I really wasn’t worried so he went to work.  I asked this ultrasound tech if it all looked okay and she told me it was up to the doctor to say. So we went to her doctor’s appointment, at the end he received the results and told me she had hip dysplasia and referred me to a pediatric orthopedic specialist.  We went to see A at work to tell him about the appointment and he asked if I was okay. I said I was just going to make the appointment with the specialist and then we’d be all good. I went home to make the appointment and the appointment line was down and it just broke me. I just started sobbing hysterically.  I called my mom and told her that Deetz had hip dysplasia and I just kept Googling things. It was a Thursday and I was supposed to go back to work in two weeks, and I was already anxious about putting her in daycare, but now there was a possibility I would be putting her in daycare thinking she may have to wear a harness and have to have all of these things and I wouldn’t be able to be there.

I got an appointment with one of the specialists because a staff member at the hospital pulled some strings and got me in within a week.  The appointment was three days before I went back to work and I didn’t know if I should tell the HR department at my work, because if she was going to have to wear the harness, I was going to take an extra week off and then A was going to take a week off.   We go to the appointment and basically what the woman says is that Deetz passed all of her hip exams because she’s evenly uneven, the same on both sides. The doctor told us it could fix itself but that if it didn’t, she may have to wear a harness for a month or two.  We were told to come back in six weeks and check again.

So we come home and they had given us a list of things to do.  Like, we couldn’t swaddle her, we couldn’t carry her in a way that her legs would be together, we just had to keep her legs apart and let her legs be different than they were in the womb.  So we did all of the stuff, and we just recently had that follow up appointment. The tech told us again that it was up to the doctor to tell us the results, so we went to the specialist the same day.  I had to wait for over an hour in the room for the doctor, and Deetz just would not nap. So she finally fell asleep and the doctor came in with the ultrasound and said, “She’s all good! Her hips have shifted and she needs an x-ray when she’s one to confirm that she’s still on the right track, but that she was all good.”

It was crazy. I’d been so anxious and worried when we found out about the hip dysplasia. But then during those weeks we waited, I came to terms with it - that maybe she’d have a different experience as a baby and have to wear a harness, but that it would allow her to be healthy and happy as she got older. It was so much mental build up - all the nights I’d stay up thinking about how she’d feel, if she’d remember anything, all the google searches about harnesses and hip dysplasia, and the worry that I wouldn’t be able to be there for her because of working fulltime -  and in just two minutes it all was washed away.

 It’s crazy because I feel like with something like that happening, with her being breech and with the hip dysplasia, it was just so out of our control.  And that was terrifying for me, because I’m a planner and one of the ways I manage my anxiety is to know the plan and to not really deviate from it. So like, with labor - I was scared, but I knew the plan. And then the rug got ripped out from under me, and I had to adapt. And then even that plan didn’t go to plan! With the hip dysplasia diagnosis, it was the same sort of experience - finding out something that hadn’t been caught at any other appointments and then adapting and preparing for it - only for it to take another turn that we hadn’t expected. I think in a way, it’s helped me grow into being a mother. I’ve realized that I can’t ever be fully prepared for what’s going to happen but that if I approach being a mom with fierce love and strength, that at the end of the day - we’ll get through whatever life throws at us.

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Check out Rosemary's new podcast, Unexpected Mom Friends! Unexpected Mom Friends is an opportunity for mothers to share their experiences with modern motherhood, so people who may not have the same support system can realize they are not alone.

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