Bethany Kathleen Warter's Birth
On Tuesday, June 18, 1996 at 38 weeks and four days pregnant, I went to see my doctor at the Cigna Medical Center with my Mom and Dad for my normal check-up, an ultrasound and a Non-Stress Test. An earlier check-up had revealed that the birth sac had too much amniotic fluid. The ultrasound and the NST were used as a precaution. During my NST, a nurse informed me that I had a trace of protein in my urine, which could have been an early sign of Preeclampsia. I was excited at the thought that I might get my labor induced that same day. I was really tired of being pregnant. Dr. Feingold told me that the trace of protein was not a concern (which meant to me that he wasn't going to induce me today). I told him I did not want to be pregnant even one more day! He gave me a cervical exam to see if I had dilated anymore. He said I was still 1 to 1 1/2 centimeters dilated and 75% effaced. I was 1 centimeter and 50% effaced the last time I was checked 2 days ago when I went into the OB Triage Emergency Room for false labor. I was beginning to show my frustration. After he finished my internal exam, he informed me that he had "stripped my membranes". He explained that he had separated the amniotic sac from the uterus. He even drew me a picture to help explain it. He said that there was a 60% chance that my water would break within 24 hours, but "not to hold him to it." There was a part of me that thought he was just humoring me to get me to relax. As I left his office, I told him that I wasn't coming back for my appointment that Friday!
Around 11 AM, my Mom, Dad and I went out for breakfast and then on to my house so my Mom could work on our computer. I called my girlfriend, Alice, who had been pregnant during my pregnancy, as soon as I got home. I asked if she knew anything about "stripping membranes" because I couldn't find any information about it in my pregnancy books. She said her sister had the same procedure and called her long distance for me to find out more information. When Alice called back, she told me that her sister had it done early in the morning and her water broke late at night. I felt pretty hopeful that the procedure would actually work for me. I hung up with Alice around 2:10 PM to lay down and read. Around 2:15 PM I felt a "POP".
I laid there for a minute wondering if I had imagined the "POP" and then decided to get up and go to the restroom. On my way there I felt a little wet. I thought maybe my baby had kicked my bladder (which she had done many times before). I walked out of the restroom saying to my Mom that I thought that perhaps my water had broken, but I wasn't sure. And then it happened Niagara Falls! While standing on our brand new carpet, I started gushing amniotic fluid. I had to run back to the restroom to get a towel to put between my legs. Luckily, I only got a little bit of fluid on the carpet. I, however, was soaked. I noticed right away that my lower back was beginning to ache. I told my Mom that I was pretty certain that my water had broken.
My Mom picked up the phone to call my husband, Chris. I was so excited that I couldn't remember his work extension. While my Mom kept trying to get a hold of him, I had an incredible case of diarrhea and had to go back to the restroom. After my Mom called Chris to tell him that today was going to be the day and to come right home, she called the rest of my family. She called my Dad and told him to meet us at the hospital. I called Alice back to tell her the good news, and as soon as Chris came home we were on our way.
We arrived at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center ten minutes later around 3 PM with my back beginning to be uncomfortable. It finally dawned on me that the backaches were contractions, and they were coming every 5 to 6 minutes. My Mom and I went to OB Triage while Chris parked the car. We discovered that no one was there! The lights were off and the door was locked. It was defiantly time to panic! We were just there a couple of nights ago! A nurse walking by pointed out a sign on the door, which informed us that Triage had moved to the third floor. Chris met up with us there carrying a pillow, a duffel bag and "Lucky" (the teddy bear my Dad got me when I went into the hospital two months earlier for preterm labor). I was placed in an exam room and put on a hospital gown. A very nice nurse came in to hook me up the fetal monitor (NST) to check my contractions and to get my personal information. She asked me if I was sure my water had broken. When I handed the 3-pound towel she replied "Yeah, I would say so!"
While I was being admitted into the hospital, I was informed that Dr. David Orenstein was on call. I was disappointed because I had really wanted Dr. Feingold to do the delivery, but he was doing the weekend rotation. I was put into a wheelchair and taken to room 303 around 4:30 PM. I was assigned two nurses, Jenny and Kimberly, and put into bed. While they hooked me up to the NST machine, Chris called his mom to tell her that baby was on the way!
My contractions were now about 3 to 4 minutes apart and really starting to hurt although I could still walk and talk through them. All my contractions, so far, were in my back and only once or twice in my tummy. While I was signing the admission papers, Jenny suggested I stand on the side of the bed and lean over it to help with the pain of the contractions. After one contraction standing, I resorted to squatting. After the next contraction, I was on my hands and knees on the floor. Jenny suggested I sit in a rocking chair to ease the pressure in my back. That helped for a little while, but the contractions were getting down right painful. Jenny said that walking helps labor progress faster so Chris and I started walking the halls together. They gave me a wheelchair to push and hold on to for support. I had to stop every few minutes and squat to get through the contractions. After awhile I could no longer walk or talk through them. I was using breathing techniques that Chris and I learned in Prepared Childbirth Classes two months prior to take the edge off the pain. Chris and I headed back to the room.
Around 5:00 PM, Jenny and Kimberly felt it was time to check my cervix for dilation and found I was 3 to 4 centimeters and still 75% effaced. My family arrived around 5:15 PM. Around 5:40 PM after a some pictures were taken by my Mom, my parents decided to go get something to eat since I was heading into the shower to help relive the pain. At this point in the game, I would have tried just about anything to help with the contractions, which were still in my lower back. Chris helped me into the shower and talked to me during my contractions. He made sure I remained calm and focused. He used a wooden massager on my back called "Mr. Happy" that my girlfriend, Alice, had given us to use. I couldn't have gotten through the pain without "Mr. Happy" and my husband. Around 6:15 PM I had enough of the shower and got out to watch The Simpsons, a silly cartoon, that was on TV. That's when I had a doosie of a contraction. I forgot all my breathing techniques and started to cry. Both Jenny and Chris had to calm me down and get me focused again by breathing with me. Jenny suggested I have the epidural now, which would numb me from the waist down. I agreed!
At 6:30 PM I was given another cervical exam. I was 4-5 centimeters. The anesthesiologist came in a few minutes later and explained the pros and cons of having an epidural. He said it could interfere with my ability to push the baby out, although unlikely, and it could increase the chances of a forceps delivery. On the bright side, it would take all the pain away. He said that this was a safe alternative to natural childbirth. I was told to sit on the side of the bed with my feet on the seat of the chair and curl into a ball with my knees tucked up under my chin. I was not allowed to move at all even during a contraction. He injected the numbing medicine through a catheter, which was inserted in my lower back. It was very painful. At one point, I thought my lungs were going to collapse from the pressure. I started crying and screaming. Chris was right there talking to me and holding my hand.
Once the epidural kicked in, I felt no pain I couldn't even feel my legs! I was kept on my back, and because my legs were numb, I couldn't get out of bed not that I cared! I felt so much better! I was hooked up to an IV to prevent dehydration and placed back on the NST machine. A strip of graph paper comes out of the machine with numbers printed on it. A line registers my contractions from 0 to 150. If I was not having a contraction the line would be at 0 and at the peak of my contractions the line would get as high as 90 to 100. In other words, if it weren't for the epidural the contractions would be mighty painful! I just keep telling myself that it's all a part of having a baby. A day of misery for a lifetime of joy!
More of my family arrived at 6:50 PM and my parents returned from dinner shortly thereafter. My Mom was taking more pictures of everyone gathered around me. Around 7:00 to 7:30 PM, I met Dr. Apiago when she came in to give me a cervical exam. She had an intern with her and asked if the intern could perform the exam. At this point, I didn't care if Big Bird did the exam! Nurse Jenny and Kimberly came in to tell me that it was the end of their shift. Jenny said she would stay through Dr. Apiago's exam and if I were close to delivering she would stay and help. Jenny also informed me that I was getting a new nurse. Her name was Kerri.
The intern performed the exam and guessed 4 to 5 centimeters. Ha! I don't think so! I was 4 to 5 centimeters hours ago! Dr. Apiago did the same exam and said I was at 7 centimeters. Whew! That's better! Right after she completed her exam, I started to feel as though my insides were on fire. I was telling her that I was burning inside, but Dr. Apiago and the intern just looked at me with blank expressions. They didn't have a clue what I was talking about. When I continued to complain, Dr. Apiago said she would check me again. Lo and behold, I was at 8 centimeters. I had gone from 7 to 8 centimeters in less than 5 minutes! Dr. Apiago seemed almost amazed. She told me I was doing a great job, but it would be several more hours yet. She said she would be back later to check up on me. Nurse Jenny said she was going home and that she would check up on me tomorrow even though it was her day off.
Shortly after the exam, around 8 to 8:30 PM, my epidural began to wear off. I still couldn't feel my legs but my "bottom" (for lack of a better word) began to hurt. It kind of felt like the burning I had experienced earlier. I told Nurse Kerri who told Dr. Apiago, and they called for the anesthesiologist to come back and top off the epidural. It helped a little bit. The pain was more frequent but tolerable. Nurse Kerri, while she had my attention, began to tell me what to expect during delivery. She told me about pushing, breathing and what will happen to baby after she was born. How they would weigh her, measure her and what tests they will run on her.
Around 9:45 PM, the pain had returned and was becoming unbearable. Dr. Apiago came back with the intern to do another cervical exam. Dr. Apiago again asked if the intern could perform the exam first. Sure what do I care? After the exam, the intern guessed 5 to 6 centimeters. I almost laughed at her. Dr. Apiago with an 'I extremely doubt it' look on her face did the same exam. She smiled and said to the intern "That's the baby's head you felt. Marisa is complete" (which meant that I was at 10 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced). Dr. Apiago said to me "How about if you give pushing a try?" This was around 10:00 PM.
I didn't know how to push so the nurses and Dr. Apiago had to teach me. Chris held one leg bent up in the air and a nurse held the other. I grabbed the back of my thighs, scrunched up my face, and while Chris counted to 10, I pushed. It was very awkward, and I didn't feel like I was moving anything. I kept pushing every few minutes just trying to get the hang of it. Dr. Orenstein came in shortly after to see how much progress I had made. I wasn't anywhere near ready for him to deliver her so he walked back out. All of a sudden I got the "urge to push," and I knew automatically how to do it. I wasn't aware of my surroundings too much after that point due to the pain I was feeling. I wasn't sure where anyone was in the deliver room but your Chris. He was right by my side. I heard later that my Dad was sleeping on and off in the chair beside my bed... wish I was! All I could do is breathe and focus on your Chris. I was supposed to be holding my breath, while I pushed, for the count of ten. Instead while Chris would count he would talk too. So, it was more like "1..2..3.. that's it Marisa, keep pushing. 4..5.. you can do it! 6..7.. hold it.. that's good! 8..9.. almost done ..10!" I was actually holding my breath for 15 to 20 counts! I do recall mentioning that to him as nice as possible under the circumstances.
Chris and my Mom were having a 'Guess-the-Time-of-the-Birth' contest. Chris guessed she would be born on 6/18/96 around 11 to 11:30 PM. My Mom, who had more "experience" delivering three babies of her own, guessed she would be born the next morning on 6/19/96. A mirror was placed in front of me so when the time came I could watch her being born. I pushed! and pushed! and pushed! with each contraction to the point of exhaustion. The nurses suggested I let one or two contractions go by and not push so that I could rest. When a contraction would hit, I couldn't let it go by. I had to push even though I didn't think I had the energy to do so. The contractions were getting so overwhelming that I wasn't able to think straight. I was getting extremely nauseous since I hadn't eaten since 11 AM. I was telling anyone who would listen that I was hungry, and that if I didn't get something to eat soon I was going to throw up. Of course, they wouldn't let me eat anything since I was in labor, but that didn't stop me from asking. I was given a wet washcloth for my forehead to help cool me down in hopes that would ease my nausea.
Dr. Orenstein came in again to check my progress, but I still wasn't ready to deliver. This was around Midnight (2 hours after I started pushing). Dr. Apiago told me that the baby was in the birth canal and that we were almost there. She told me to "get real mad at those contractions" so I would push harder. But, no matter how hard I pushed, I couldn't get her past that point. I was told several times to look into the mirror in front of me and look at the top of her head for motivation. A nurse kept telling me that she had blond hair. I can remember thinking to myself that with blond hair no one would know that she was my baby. But, when I looked into the mirror, I saw the crown of her head and lots of brown, curly hair. Perfect!
When I reached the point that I couldn't go on anymore, I was screaming inside my own mind that I wanted a cesarean birth. I was praying for God to help me. I didn't think I could push one more time, but when the contraction would come I had to. I would begin to cry and whimper saying things that didn't make sense out loud. But I knew that all the pain I was having was worth it because soon she would be cradled in my arms, and I would see her sweet face for the first time.
Chris was holding my hand giving me words of encouragement while my Mom and Dad were right beside me stroking my brow and wiping my forehead with the wet washcloth. I'm told that my Mom, who was very concerned about the length of time I had been pushing, walked out of the delivery room to find Dr. Orenstein. He was sitting at the nurse's station reading a magazine waiting for me to be ready for him. My Mom told him that Dr. Feingold had said several times during my past check-ups that I had small pelvis. She thought I was at my wits end and that I had had enough. Dr. Orenstein said that since the baby was in the birth canal that she was already past my pelvis and that I just had to get her over the last few muscles. He said the epidural was slowing down my labor. Dr. Orenstein asked my Mom if she thought I need him to intervene. My Mom said "yes" because I was exhausted.
My Mom went to tell my family waiting in the waiting room that she was about to be born. Dr. Orenstein walked in at 1 AM (3 hours after I started pushing!). While I was pushing through a contraction, he asked if I would like a little help. I said, "YES! Just get her out!" He said he was going to deliver her with forceps. After Dr. Orenstein came into the delivery room, so did two more nurses. All in all there was 11 people in the room - Chris and I, Mom and Dad, Dr. Apiago and the intern, Dr. Orenstein, Nurse Kerri, and three other nurses. Two of these nurses were there just to take care of her after she was born. All the lights in the room were turned on and trays of instruments were placed by the bed. The end of the bed was removed so the doctor could get to me easier. A newborn scale and warming machine was wheeled in. I was still pushing through all of this. Chris continued to help me every step of the way.
Dr. Orenstein told me to stop pushing, as hard as that was, and gave me an episiotomy. I didn't feel it at all. I wasn't even aware he had done it. The mirror was still in place so I watched the doctor insert the right forceps and then the left forceps into the birth canal. He connected to two pieces together and told me to push on the next contraction. When the next contraction came, I pushed with what little strength I had left. The pain I felt as she moved the rest of the way out of the birth canal because of the forceps was beyond painful. I let out quite a scream. At 1:16 AM on Wednesday, June 19, 1996 Bethany Kathleen was born!
How beautiful she looked! I was in total shock. I watched silently as they suctioned her nose and mouth and waited for her first breath out of her brand new lungs. And when she did what a cry! She was taken over to the scale. She weighed in at 6 pounds and 15.4 ounces. She was a wonderful 19 inches long. They gave her an APGAR Test, which evaluated your heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin color. Each trait is scored 0 to 2. A total of 7 or higher means baby is in good condition. She was a 9/9. In the meantime, my Mom was happily talking pictures of her. My Dad was still by my head telling Chris and I how proud he was of us. Chris just couldn't believe we created something so precious. He kept saying "That's our daughter over there look how beautiful she is." I was absolutely speechless. I waited my whole life for this very moment, and it was finally here. All the disappointment I felt month after month of not conceiving, all the time checking ovulation temperature charts and the endless, pleading conversations I had with God praying for a child of my own, was all worth it.
Due to the force of the forceps I received a fourth degree tear from front to back. It took roughly 45 minutes to an hour to stitch me up, which I felt since the epidural was beginning to wear off.
After they had ran their tests, cleaned her up, put a hat on her head and wrapped her in a blanket, the nurse walked over to me and said, "Here you go, Mom." She handed her to me. The moment I looked at her sweet little face I started to cry. I was so happy it is indescribable. My heart was finally completely filled. Her soft face was so familiar looking. Even my Mom thought so. We all thought she looked just like me. And just to make sure, I peeked under her hat to see if she did indeed have brown curly hair. She did!
Everyone was allowed back into the delivery room to see her around 2 AM. Her tiny hat was removed and that is when we saw the effects of being in the birth canal for three hours. Her little head was misshapen and kind of cone shaped. The doctors said that was perfectly normal and that her head would return back to round in a couple of days. While her Aunt was holding her, my brother arrived from work around 2:30 AM. He came in and held her for quite some time. I guess he was thinking that his little sister had grown up.
Everyone started leaving around 3 AM. After the hugs, kisses and kind words, everyone was gone but Chris and I. I gave breastfeeding a try while Chris tried to get comfortable (as impossible as that seemed) in a recliner chair next to my bed. The next moment, he was sound asleep. The nurses and doctors came in and out of our room to check up on her & I. They would push on my tummy and check my blood pressure. I finally got to eat around 4:30 AM. While I ate a plate a fruit, a nurse came in to give Bethany her first hospital sponge bath. After her bath, she was placed in the warming machine. Since she were newly born, she was not able to regulate her body temperature efficiently. She was then dressed in a long sleeve top and another long sleeve top turned upside down to make pants. She was wrapped in a warm receiving blanket. After hugs and kisses from me, she was placed in a bedside crib where she instantly fell asleep. I was extremely tired, but I wanted to stay up just to look at her sweet face and count her fingers and toes. I had to touch her a few times just to make sure she was really mine. And I drifted off to sleep, I said to her, "I love you, my daughter."