KATIE'S COVID DELIVERY
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
What is it like to give birth during a global pandemic? I become overwhelmed with emotions when this topic comes up. Like most first time mothers, I was excited and embraced every advancement throughout pregnancy. My pregnancy was textbook and other than a slight chicken aversion, I had no complaints.
In January, we had our baby shower and celebrated with family and friends. For many, this would be the last time attending a celebratory event indoors and mask free. My due date quickly approached as COVID began making headlines and I found myself working from home with my husband. The irony of quarantine is that I was able to spend quality time at length with my husband before we welcomed our daughter.
The weeks leading up to my due date were difficult with new protocols being implemented each appointment. I was unable to schedule visits with my preferred physicians since they were being staggered as to avoid COVID exposure in the office. Polices had placed restrictions on visitors accompanying any guest to an appointment or test. The thought of going through labor alone without my family, friends and possibly my husband was unimaginable and terrifying. With each passing day, I was hoping for some progress….everyone was sending me tips on how induce labor naturally, none of which worked for me.
Pineapple – Spicy Food – Exercise (moderate) – Dates (as in the fruit)
Raspberry Tea – Sex – Warm Bath – Sage – Peppermint Oil
I was eleven days past my due date when we went in for my induction at 6 p.m. Thursday evening. My best friend had a feast of breakfast foods and sweets delivered to the house earlier that day to make sure we ate, as she knew the next few hours would be chaotic. Side note, this was the absolute best thing for me that day and highly recommend this “gift idea” to any readers if you have close friends or family scheduling an induction. Our temperatures where taken at the hospital door to rule out fever and a sticker was placed on our coats so that we could access the elevator to the labor and delivery unit.
The busy unit we had toured just two months before now was sparse and quiet. I was admitted and we were taken to our labor suite where my IV was placed. The nurse walked in and politely asked us to put our masks on. I remember looking at my husband in sheer panic when she informed us that whenever a healthcare worker was in the room we needed to have our mask on. This was the first day for the new protocol, lucky me. This may sound “normal” now being months later, but when this mandate first took effect, it was spine chilling and unsettling. How was I going to deliver this baby with a mask on!
The doctor came in and I was given Cervidal, a medication that is inserted near the cervix hoping to advance dilation. Since I had only been 1 cm dilated for the past three weeks the doctor did inform me the process could take some time. My husband ordered some food; we watched some movies and got some rest.
The next morning (Friday) around 6 a.m., the doctor came in to examine for progress and I started the Pitocin drip. Contractions were mild at first like a bad period cramp. When the contractions grew more in strength, I asked for some pain medicine, which alleviated some of the discomfort.
Entering my twenty forth hour in labor, I expected the nurse to tell me I was seven or eight centimeters. She examined me and her facial expression fell flat. I was only nearing five. Around this time, I was in excruciating pain and begging for the epidural. My husband was doing his best to encourage me to stay strong, although telling me to “hang in there” and “tough it out” was not the encouragement I was looking for.
If any of you readers question what it feels like once you get an epidural, EUPHORIC BLISS! The anesthesiologist came in and placed the needle, which was minimal pain to say the least. He asked me to lay down and roll over. The pain had subsided and all I could feel at this point was pressure. I was able to get some rest.
Hour 33 – the nurse came in alongside the doctor and examined me for the last time. I was about 7 cm dilated and had been for past two hours. My blood pressure is normally low and when I was in labor it dropped to 80/40 requiring me to receive nearly six IV fluid bags which caused me to swell severely. The doctor was concerned the baby’s heart rate would show signs of distress. The recommendation was to move for an immediate C-section.
The C-section process happened so quickly. My husband changed into scrubs and was escorted down the hall. Two nurses came in the room to prep me for surgery. The operating room was extremely bright and sterile. They quickly transferred me to the table and covered me in drapes. I laid on the table exhausted and petrified but the room presented a feeling of calm and comfort. The surgical team was reassuring and confident. I felt nothing throughout the process but a little bit of pressure and nausea, which the anesthesiologist was able to remedy.
I gave birth early that morning to a 9lb, 6oz - 22in beautiful and healthy baby girl. The first time I heard her cry still brings tears to my eyes. My story is similar to many AND very different. This being my first experience giving birth and having major surgery, I needed my family there for support. While I am grateful that I was able to have my husband there with me, we had an empty waiting room and surly felt the void without our friends and family. I stayed in the hospital three nights and many of those hours I felt alone. I missed that hug and reassurance from my mom and dad. We missed our family. We missed everyone.
The year 2020 stole special moments for many. It certainly dimmed the light on my first time giving birth. Even though we are extremely fortunate to have our healthy baby girl, my memory of this experience has voids that will never be filled. I asked all visitors to quarantine before meeting our daughter. Those that couldn't would drop off meals and grab a "first look" through our front door. I cried many times after visitors would leave filled with emotions and hormones. Many of my family and friends have yet to meet her and have missed out on her first year of milestones and memories.
I am grateful to the healthcare workers who cared for us during this uncertain time; they are the true heroes of this pandemic. Going through labor was the hardest thing I have ever experienced both physically and emotionally. To all those mamas delivering during the pandemic and continue to navigate birth during this time, you are astonishing and powerful. You are not alone.