After a perfectly normal first pregnancy and delivery with my oldest son, I anticipated my second pregnancy and delivery to be much the same. I was familiar with the Count the Kicks campaign and knew what to do. 38 weeks into my pregnancy with my second son, I noticed a drastic change in what had been normal movements for my baby. I put a call into my OB and prepared to head to the hospital for monitoring. As I was about to head out the door, a nurse from my OB called back and said that as long as the baby was moving 10 times within 2 hours, he was fine. I insisted that his movements had changed from what was normal, and they said it was fine as long as I was feeling the two movements. I had my doubts, but very soon after I got off the phone, the baby started to move again and I decided to stay home.
The next day, the same thing happened. I noticed that baby’s movements were very different and much reduced from what was normal for him. I would prepare myself to head to the hospital, but as I was about to leave, he’d start to move again. I was worried but trying to remain calm and trust the advice I’d been given by the OB nurse. The third day was much the same as the previous two days, baby’s movements were different from before and once again, as soon as I’d prepared to leave for the hospital, he’d start to move again. That night, I went into labor.
When we got to the hospital, they started their standard protocol for monitoring to see if labor was progressing and if I would be kept or sent home. It was very early in my labor, but when they were monitoring baby, they noticed that his heart rate wasn’t responding to labor like they normally want the babies to respond. He wasn’t having heart accelerations like they wanted. I was worried, and asked what it meant and if we should worry. They said that for now, he was ok. After speaking to my OB, who was downtown in a delivery, they decided to admit me and start interventions to try and help my labor along. They broke my water, placed an internal monitor and started Pitocin. I insisted on getting an epidural before Pitocin was started. When they broke my water, it was pure brown sludge, meaning that baby had had a bowel movement inside and was likely in some distress.
Shortly after the epidural kicked in and the Pitocin was turned on, the nurse was watching the monitors and told me that she needed me to roll to my side. She said that the baby’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction. I asked again if he was ok, and she said that as long as it came back up, he was ok for now. With each contraction, the nurse had me move from side to side. When that stopped working, she had me get on all fours on the bed. She had turned up the sound on baby’s heart monitor and I could hear it slowing way down with each contraction. The nurse and my husband were both focused on watching his heart rate and every time I’d hear it slow down, I’d ask if he was ok. The answer was always, “for now.” Eventually, the nurse said that what was happening with his heart rate was likely due to cord compression.
Both the OB on call and the backup OB were in deliveries downtown, but when one was free, they came out West. I progressed quickly and when the doctor came in to check me, she saw that I was almost ready to push. She said that I was close, but she was going to stretch me to get me ready to go. As they were setting up, she warned me that I didn’t have much time and had to get him out in one or two contractions. As I started to push, they told me that I needed to go harder and get him out. When she saw that I was struggling, she tried to assist with the vacuum. The vacuum failed and I could see the delivery team start to scramble. She told me that I had to get him out NOW and when I said that I was trying, the doctor sternly told me that I needed to stop trying and do it, that he needed to come out NOW. I pushed with everything I had and got baby out. The cord was wrapped around his neck twice, and he was born not breathing and was quickly handed off to the NICU team who was in the delivery.
My husband and I were both crying and focused intensely on the NICU team. Each passing second seemed like an eternity as we waited to hear the baby cry. I remember calling out, “God, please!” and then we finally heard a small noise. My husband reassured me over and over that it was baby who made the noise and that he was ok. Everyone let out a sigh of relief and I was able to relax a bit. As my OB was finishing working on me, I heard her say, “Oh my god, there’s a true knot in the cord.”
We are so incredibly lucky that we didn’t lose our son. I knew that something didn’t feel right and that his movements had changed from what was normal for him, but I listened to my OB nurse who said that as long as he was moving, he was ok. Looking back, I wish I had trusted my instincts and gone in to be checked. We are so grateful that our baby was ok, but the outcome could have been so devastating.