I have been struggling with finishing Part 2 of my birth story. I didn’t realize how difficult this would be. I have written and deleted parts of the story three different times. Nothing I write seems to capture my story or honor my girls. But I have decided that I will feel that way no matter how I tell my story. So here is my last and final attempt.
After we began the induction with the suppository, nurses and the doctor came and went. Some came to give me more medicine through my IV or to change my IV bags. Some came to check my vitals. One nurse asked me how I was feeling and if I had any pain. For the most part though, the nurses tried to leave me alone and avoided talking to me as much as possible. I don’t know if they were trying to let me grieve privately or if they just didn’t know the words to say, but it hurt more that they didn’t say much of what they were doing or asking me how my contractions were progressing or telling me about what I could expect to happen.
Around 10:00 pm I asked the one nurse for some pain medication. I wasn’t really in that much pain, I just had strong menstrual cramps, but I wanted to try to sleep and I was hoping that the medicine would help. Plus I wanted to feel as little physical pain as possible. The nurse injected some medication into my IV, and within a few minutes, I felt really drunk. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, but it was so noisy I couldn’t. There were people in labor in both of the rooms adjacent to mine, and these rooms were not very sound proof. I put the TV on again, trying to mask the noise, but that didn’t work. At some point the nurse came in to check on me again and I asked for ear plugs. Luckily she found me some and they worked beautifully to drown out the sound of crying newborns, ecstatic new parents and grandparents, and doctors saying “OK, now push!”
I had finally dozed off and was abruptly awakened by my doctor around 2:30 am. He came to check my dilation and give me more medication. He must have just delivered one of the babies next door. He told me to get some rest and left again. I wasn’t able to sleep again after that. I just laid there in the bed, listening to a baby cry. Grandparents next door thanking the doctor for delivering all of their grandchildren. A nurse asking about something that happened during the delivery. Why did they ever put me in Room #4? Didn’t they have a quieter room off in the corner somewhere where I didn’t have to be in the middle of all of this? I felt it was too late now to ask this; I was already settled in to this room and didn’t feel like having to move. By this point my bleeding had also increased and I was bleeding all over and didn’t feel like having to deal with moving down the hall.
In the morning I ordered some breakfast and put the TV on so I didn’t have to sit in silence. The nurse brought us some coffee and cookies and said that the doctor would be in again soon. I didn’t really have any cramping anymore and mentioned this to the doctor when he came in. He checked my cervix again (I was only about 2 cm dilated), and increased the dosage of the suppositories.
Throughout the rest of the day, nurses would come in again with IV bags or to get my vital signs. I declined anymore pain medicine because I didn’t want to feel out of it. They had slowly started to bring us forms and questionnaires to fill out, and I wanted to be clear headed when I was making decisions.
A nurse came in and got my fingerprints for a set of forms. She deliberately didn’t mention what the forms were for and tried to be quick so I couldn’t see what the forms were. But I knew that they were birth certificate forms. They had empty spaces for the babies’ footprints and hand prints. For each form they brought there were always two to fill out: two birth certificates, two death certificates, two custody certificates. I also received a questionnaire about how we would like to handle the delivery and afterwards. Things like: Did we want to hold the baby? Did we have a special outfit to put on the baby? Did we want to have the baby baptized? Did we want to have the baby cremated? Did we want a birth and death announcement in the local paper? All things that I never imagined that I would ever have to think about. All things that I really didn’t want to have to answer while I was tired and emotional. But there was no other time to make these decisions.
My husband and I chose to have a local funeral home cremate the babies and then put their ashes in a monument for lost babies that was on the hospital grounds. We didn’t want to have their ashes around as constant reminders that our babies were gone, but we wanted a place where we could visit them if we ever needed or wanted to. The thought of having to go and pick up our children and take them home with us in tiny little urns was too much to bear. The local funeral home offered the cremation free of charge. I have told myself that the decisions we made were right for us at the time, and helped us get through the very difficult process. I can’t wish that I would have done something differently now.
Lunch passed and dinner passed with visits from the doctor and more suppositories. It seemed that the suppositories would cause some cramping for about two hours after getting them, then they would wear off until I got more. The doctor gave me my last dose of the suppositories around 5:30 pm, about 24 hours after having first started to initiate induction. He said that I was still not quite dilated to 4 cm, but that once I was there to expect things to move much more quickly. He asked if I was having cramping and then left.
That evening I began to feel that I had hit my emotional breaking point and began to get annoyed and irritable with the nursing staff. Many of them had irritated be before this, but I had held back from letting it show. But by around 10:30 pm (28 hours from initial induction), I didn’t care anymore and started snapping at them. I freaked out at the nurse who came in to disconnect me from the monitors so that I could use the restroom. I asked her how much longer they were going to put me through this because I was exhausted and emotional and had barely slept and hadn’t felt a cramp in nearly 3 hours and it had been over 24 hours since this whole thing started. “I just want to get this over with!” I angrily snapped at her. I was pretty upset at this point as well, because we agreed to the induction due to the risk of infection in me. I started wondering how much of a risk it really was if the doctor seemed to be in no hurry anymore to deliver these babies. The nurse said that they would call the doctor.
About 15 minutes later, the nurse came back in with more medication. She checked my cervix. In addition to another higher dose of suppositories, she started an IV of pitocin. She really didn’t say anything else. She didn’t tell me at all what to expect. She didn’t mention anything about the pitocin causing very strong and frequent contractions. She just quickly left the room. Well, within about five minutes, the pitocin sure was doing its job because the contractions seemed to come out of no where and be one right after the other. They were painful, but manageable at first. About fifteen minutes after starting the pitocin, the nurse came back in and turned back the dosage on my IV a bit. I asked her if I could have some pain medicine. She came back with another injection for my IV. The contractions were getting stronger, but since she lowered the dose of the IV, they had gotten a little further apart. The pain medicine didn’t seem to be doing anything to help the pain, which was getting worse. The night nurse came in to say she would be with me the rest of the night, and I freaked out at her, crying that no one was telling me anything about what was happening or what to expect. I told her that I had never been in labor before, didn’t have any other children, and all of this had happened too early for me to have even gone to a birthing class yet. Her initial look of annoyance at me freaking out on her suddenly changed to one of shock and sadness. She explained to me what would happen, what symptoms or feelings I should tell them about, and when they would call the doctor. This calmed me down some, and she left. My contractions continued to get even stronger very quickly. I couldn’t take the pain anymore, nor did I really want to since I knew that this labor and birth was not going to result in live babies. There was no reason for me to suffer through these strong labor pains. My husband went and asked the nurse if there wasn’t something stronger that they could give me because the pain medication they had given me wasn’t working. The nurse said that I could have an epidural and I said yes.
It took over an hour for the anesthesiologist to come to give me the epidural. By this point my contractions were so strong that I couldn’t even think or see clearly during their peaks. The anesthesiologist asked me what I did for work right in the middle of one of the contraction peaks, and all I could get out was, “I can’t remember right now.” Finally the epidural was in place, and the nurse helped me to lie back. The anesthesiologist said that I would still feel strong menstrual cramps for a little bit until the epidural fully kicked in. But my contractions were still pretty painful and I would definitely put them at worse than strong menstrual cramps. I mentioned this to the nurse who was going to put in a catheter, and she said that the epidural took about 30 minutes to fully work. The anesthesiologist also gave me two ambien so that I could calm down and sleep for about two hours. I had never taken ambien before, but the sound of being able to sleep for a few hours was too tempting to say no, so i took the ambien. Before letting me get some rest, the nurse wanted to check my dilation one more time.
As she checked me, she got this look on her face. “What position is the first baby in again?” She asked. “It’s breech,” I told her. “Hmm. Well I think I feel body parts. Let me get another nurse to be sure.” Another nurse came in and she also checked my cervix and agreed that the first baby was already coming. “I’ll go call the doctor. Just wait.” So much for sleep. Now I was going to have to try to stay awake through the ambien, because I had already taken it. But I soon discovered that ambien acted as an amazing anti-anxiety medication for me. I was feeling much more calm and relaxed than I had been just a little while earlier, but I still felt completely alert.
The doctor arrived, checked me, and confirmed that it was time. A few pushes (though thanks to the epidural I couldn’t tell if I was really pushing in the right place or not) and the first baby was out. It was 2:17 am. It was a girl. A precious little baby girl making no sound. There were no cries. No attempts to breathe. The nurse cleaned her off and laid her on my chest. I held her and kissed her and she weakly grabbed a hold of my finger. Before I could really even get a good look at her, the nurse was taking her from me and handing her to my husband. The second baby was coming. This baby was transverse, so I knew she was going to be a bit more difficult to deliver. The doctor had me push a few times. Then using forceps, he helped guide the baby head first and she was out at 2:21 am. Again there was silence. No cries. No gasps for air. The doctor said that this baby’s umbilical cord was wrapped all around her. He asked my husband if he wanted to cut the cord, but he declined. They laid the baby on my chest. She may have been silent, but she was still moving. She grabbed my finger like her sister did. I was so happy to hold her while she was still alive. But I only got to hold her for a moment, and the nurse was already taking her from me and handing her off to my husband. They asked us about names. My husband and I had each chosen a name. I told my husband he could decide which baby to give each name.
While my husband held our girls, I noticed that the doctor started to get a bit concerned. He wanted me to try to push to get the placenta out. I tried to push, but nothing happened. At the next contraction, he had me push again as hard as I could, but still nothing. After a few more pushes, he was getting more concerned. He tried to help get the placenta out, but it wouldn’t budge. From this part on, my memory of delivery is very spotty. I remember the doctor telling the nurse, “Call them and tell them to bring the tubes now!” My husband said that I had turned completely white and that my blood pressure and heart rate dropped so low that the monitors started going off. I was losing a lot of blood and quickly. My placenta would not detach. My husband said that they put in another IV in my shoulder and started squeezing in bags of fluids and pitocin into both of my IVs. I remember the nurse coming back in with a phone in her hand. The doctor asked her if she had called the tube people. She said yes, they said they were on their way. She didn’t sound concerned in the slightest at this point. Agitated, the doctor told her to call them again and tell them to get here fast. I was ready to throw something at the nurse at this point and yell, “Can’t you tell that this is an emergency, lady!?”
Finally, more people arrived. They had some sort of contraption with a long tube hooked up to it. There was also someone with an ultrasound machine. All in all, there were about half a dozen or so people in the delivery room now. Some were pumping me full of medicine. Some were getting equipment set up. Some kept asking me how I was and if I was ok. My husband said that I was very calm and just kept chatting away to everyone. I remember in my head knowing that I had to have been bleeding everywhere, but because of the ambien, I was not nervous or freaked out about it. I figured the doctor was taking care of it and freaking out was not going to help the situation any. I remember having no pain through any of this, just a feeling of a lot or pressure. The doctor started using the tubes to vacuum out the contents of my uterus (basically he was performing a Dilation and Evacuation (D&E), but I was already dilated.) He filled three containers full and I remember him saying that he still needed another one. Finally, after double checking everything on the ultrasound, he was confident that he had gotten everything out and was finished. They inserted some kind of medicine to stop the bleeding and the nurse gave me more pitocin in my IV to help contract my uterus.
While all of this was happening to me, my husband sat off to the side watching, holding our girls as they passed in his arms. I never got a chance to experience their last moments, but I am happy that my husband did. Happy that my husband refused to let them go and held them while they passed.
I was pretty out of it after losing all that blood. I remember them cleaning me up and bringing in a different bed. I must have bled all over the other one. I also remember them mopping a bunch of blood off of the floor and vomiting into a plastic container, nauseous from all of the pitocin. My husband and I were left alone to spend time with our daughters. He put them in my arms so that I could hold them. They were wrapped in homemade crochet blankets and were heavier than I thought they would be. They were beautiful and perfect. I asked my husband to take pictures of them for me, including pictures of me holding them. I didn’t want to ever forget my babies. I was so focused on what was happening during labor that I couldn’t even think to cry. But now, seeing and holding my tiny daughters, the tears were flowing. My husband and I cried together while I held our daughters in my arms.
After a little while the nurse brought me some Sprite to drink. I asked her if she would wheel the babies bassinet over to the side of my bed so that I could see them and have them next to me. When she left the room, I touched each of my girls’ lifeless bodies. I told them I was sorry that I couldn’t save them and that I loved them. Then I passed out from exhaustion, unable to keep my eyes open any longer.
Rest in Peace. November 25, 2015.