On March 7, 2018, there was a gas leak in San Diego that led to gridlock traffic around town when my husband (Danny) and I got off work. That day I started to feel back-to-back contractions and we sat in that traffic hoping it wasn’t time to go to the hospital yet.
When we got home, early labor began around 8pm with mild contractions at 10 minutes apart. By 10pm, I called Kaiser Labor & Delivery to let them know the contractions were getting closer and closer. I tried to sleep but the pain was becoming stronger and more frequent; I laid on the ground, wrapped myself around the pregnancy ball, etc. At 4am, contractions were every 4 minutes and I started bleeding (bloody show). It was time to go! I took a quick shower and my husband packed up. He dropped me off at the entrance of the hospital as I waddled in. Quickly, a staff member got a wheelchair and brought me to triage. I was 5cm dilated!
The nurse was impressed that I had waited at home so long. Since I was already in active labor, I decided to get the epidural then. By 5am, we were waiting in the delivery room and contractions were intense! It wasn’t until 7am that the anesthesiologist came to our room, leaving me with two hours of intense contractions and lots of time to reflect on how my mom gave birth to my siblings and me naturally. How did she do it? Respect.
I had a hard time slouching my back down and relaxing (in between contractions) so he could get the epidural needle in. I kept flinching every time he’d touch my back… to the point where he yelled at me about the seriousness of holding still. I was nervous I was going to botch this, my ticket out of pain island. But eventually, he did it and the epidural kicked in. I could see contractions come and go on the monitor, but no pain. It was magical.
Since I had a normal pregnancy, we were asked if we were OK with a midwife delivering the baby. Yep! So they sent in Karen who checked my dilation again at 9am. 8 cm dilated!
At the time, the baby was occipult posterior (“OP”) or sunny side up, so they recommended for me to try different positions to turn the baby. I laid on both sides around a peanut ball and then on all fours swaying side to side, alternating positions every 15 minutes. At 11am, my temperature started going up. I had a fever of 100 degrees so was put on antibiotics through an IV. Nurses told Danny and I to take a nap before the pushing would begin. At 12pm, Karen came back to check on me and dilation was at 10cm! However, station was 0, meaning the baby was still high up on the pelvis. If we waited a little longer, the contractions could help push the baby down. At 1pm, baby had moved a little lower and it was go time!
From 1:24pm to 2:24 pm (my husband recollects the exact time from watching a clock in the room throughout the entire labor), I pushed! There was so much pressure on the lower abdomen and pelvis region that the epidural could not help alleviate. I was given an oxygen mask between pushes and a cool towel on my head, while Danny and one of the nurses help my legs up. More than an hour later, I was exhausted from pushing, worn out and crying, while the baby had not moving down. The baby’s heart rate started going up and so did mine. My temperature escalated to 102, then 105.
Suddenly, a doctor came in and three more nurses. All I could see was bright lights and the faces of strangers, telling me to push. Danny and I were both nervous because we knew it was serious. Because the baby’s heart beat was rising, the doctor needed to reach in and rotate her, which is precisely what she did. I had to keep pushing throughout the process, which was the most painful thing I’ve ever felt. After some time, Danny could see Cadence’s head crowning. He was getting emotional and his eyes started welling up. But I could see him trying to hold back and keep it together for me.
Several more pushes and at 3:18pm on March 8, Cadence was born.
Cadence was immediately put on my chest for skin to skin while the nurses sucked the fluids out of her. Her first cries were so soft, but a huge relief to hear. Danny cut the umbilical cord and the midwife stitched me up. Not long, everyone left the room and we were able to peacefully hold our new baby.
Danny had text my family when I was in labor, and my mom immediately bought a ticket out to San Diego (from Denver) that afternoon. Danny’s mom picked her up and the two arrived at the hospital around 5pm. Danny’s mom is a first time grandma; and Cadence is the first girl grandchild for my parents. So very exciting for both sides of our families!
The next day, we were told that Cadence was at risk of jaundice because: 1) we had A-B-O incompatibility, in which mom’s blood type is O+ and Cadence’s blood type is A+ and 2) it is common for Asian babies to have jaundice. Pediatrician recommended for us to stay overnight and do phototherapy to reduce her bilirubin levels before going home. We had to leave her in a bassinet under a fluorescent light. Hard to see her your tiny newborn squirming and crying to be held, but having to leave her next to you.
Another way to reduce bilirubin was that she needed to poop it out, but since my breast milk also hadn’t come in, I was barely able to feed her. So we started with formula feeding through a nipple shield and syringe. Throughout the two days at the hospital, she was poked for blood tests, newborn screenings and the hepatitis B shot. I could feel that protective mother instinct kick in, but knew these things needed to be done.
Fortunately, the following morning, her bilirubin levels went down and we were told we would be discharged by the afternoon. Leaving the hospital was exciting! Strapping her tiny body into our car seat made it all feel so real. Truly could not have done it without my amazing husband/support person and the staff at Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center. After months of anticipation, our baby Cadence is finally here.