Although I never documented a whole lot during my pregnancy, I felt very moved to write my birth story to remind myself of God’s sweet miracles, about the strength I sometimes forget I have, and last but not least to look back on an experience which showed me just how amazing and strong my daughter was, right from the beginning.
\m(i)-la\ as a girl’s name is a variant of Milagros (Spanish) and Milena (Czechoslovakian, Slavic).
The meaning of Mila is “miracle”.
At 36 weeks I had a routine sizing ultrasound to measure the baby’s approximate weight along with anatomy measurements at Evergreen’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic (MFM). The clinic measured our baby to be on the larger side with a concerning larger stomach. Immediately following the appointment, I had my weekly appointment with my OB, Dr. Robertson, who had already seen the report before I reached her office and started the conversation with me about her concern for Mila’s size. Dr. Robertson in her very Dr. Robertson way informed me that if these measurements were true, she would not be too aggressive with a vaginal delivery.
Translation: be prepared for a C-Section as it may come to that.
Prior to this appointment, I had several conversations with Dr. Robertson and her views on C-Sections. I learned how hard she worked to avoid C-Sections if and when at all possible. In fact, the friends of mine who had Dr. Robertson deliver their babies batted a 100% vaginal delivery rate, which was a far cry from other friends I had who had different doctors at the Evergreen Women’s Clinic where Dr. Robertson practiced. Most of my friends had to have C-Sections by other doctors there. Around my 32nd week I remember asking Dr. Robertson about the hype of “scheduled C-Sections,” and could I please have one since it sounded straight forward and with several of my friends having had C-Sections, I figured I was headed for one anyway. She assured me that I did not want to have a C-Section and that vaginal deliveries were by far the best for both baby and mom. She said, however, when patients like myself come in wanting scheduled C-Sections, how this always annoyingly ruined her C-Section rate. Point taken, I guess a scheduled C-Section was off the table. Haha!
The next week at my 37th week doctor’s appointment, Dr. Robertson said she had still been thinking about my ultrasound results and that she wanted me to go see a specialist who she knew in Bellevue and who specialized in measuring babies [more accurately]. From there she would be able to tell better if she was as big as MFM measured or smaller and then we would figure out our delivery game plan. I went and saw Dr. Case in Bellevue who told me Dr. Robertson informed him that she suspected the baby to be on the smaller side and not large. I was shocked as well as upset because this was the exact opposite of why I thought I had to go see him and so I was really confused. Dr. Case took baby girl’s measurements and confidently said, yep, this baby is not big but on the smaller side with a tummy that is measuring smaller than normal as well. I asked what that meant and he said the concern would be that the baby is possibly not thriving in utero as well as she should which had nothing to do with me, what I was eating, etc. but that this can happen sometimes.
I was worried sick…
I was very confused with first hearing our baby was in the 80th percentile to now her measuring in the 18th percentile so the next day at MFM during one of my NSTs I broke down and told the nurse what happened and how confused I was with the different data. This discrepancy was just too huge! The nurse seemed concerned and told me at this stage I should not be going through this stress and went and looked for a few doctors who agreed I needed to be measured again right then. They measured me big yet again (still the 80th percentile) and since I had an appointment with Dr. Robertson the next day I planned to show Dr. Robertson the test results and tell her how upset I was with the discrepancies and how did this impact my delivery?
Well, by the time I saw Dr. Robertson the next day, she had seen the results already. Plus apparently there was some scolding by MFM for her sending me to a specialist (not trusting their data). Then she told me, you know, I did the right thing – he’s simply more accurate! She told me that we’ll just have to wait and see and that the proof will be in the pudding. I told her I still believed Mila would be an average sized baby at around 7 lbs. and Dr. Case had suspected between 6.5 – 7 lbs. Size aside, I asked her how this impacted the delivery and she said we would proceed with trying for a normal vaginal delivery – that Mila’s vitals and brain activity was just fine so no need to do an intervention.
Fast forward to my 39w3d appointment with Dr. Robertson, and Elena the nurse prepped me that Dr. Robertson would likely want to discuss an induction plan at this visit. As soon as Dr. Robertson entered the room and examined me, she said ok – let’s talk about some options here since you’re not dilating or showing labor signs yet. She spelled out some options which included:
a. induce me that weekend where I could schedule the induction with her in delivering my baby (basically getting to have MY own doctor deliver vs. a random doctor on call)
b. wait for natural labor to begin on its own over the next week
c. wait till she got back from being out of town in a few weeks and induce me then
I asked her if I could have my baby on my birthday (January 24th), lol, and she said she wasn’t very comfortable in waiting that long because she said if the baby is not thriving as Dr. Case pointed out, it’s better to have the baby on this side of the womb where she can get strong. Scared and nervous, I agreed with her recommendation of an induction that weekend. I told her I always heard terrible things about being induced and how painful and awful it was and she said inductions clearly had a bad rap. Then it hit me on the drive home. I agreed to getting induced in 48 hours!!!
I felt uncomfortable with this plan. I was scared. I heard horror stories and had seen documentaries which highlighted the evils about Pitocin. I went home and called Vinit, as well as started messaging back and forth with a few friends about it, talked to my doula, etc. Some friends told me to go with my gut feeling on this and other friends tried to get me more comfortable with the induction idea based on their own experiences. Stacey told me this was sounding more and more like her experience with her second child and told me to trust my doctor and that it would be ok. Stacey also had Dr. Robertson before having her children in birthing centers and so she understood how much I trusted my doctor, as well as Dr. Robertson’s competency.
It also turned out, according to my mom; she never experienced natural labor herself. She was induced with all her babies and some of my mom’s pregnancies went on to 42 weeks without a single labor sign.
Saturday I went to get the balloon catheter inserted to begin the dilation process, which is a natural way to speed up dilation and a procedure Evergreen is one of the few places which performs this. Then Sunday I was admitted to the hospital at 5:15AM and I was pretty stinkin’ nervous.
Well, I was immediately put to ease with the most amazing nurse, Arla. She was so fantastic! She was this really positive, sweet, helpful nurse who calmed my nerves completely. She started the Pitocin very gradually and the contractions were manageable and comfortable. Around 11am, Dr. Robertson arrived at the hospital, checked my dilation which was a lousy 2cm and broke my waters (which were clear – no meconium [poop]) and right around then my Doula showed up as well. Vinit, the doula and I started walking the halls to get labor going and at this point the Pitocin was at a 5 and I was still pretty comfortable. This wasn’t so bad after all! Labor? Yeah right! Ha! BUT then it started… after walking the halls and chit chatting with the doula and Vinit feeling like I was absolutely fine, suddenly the contractions started getting more intense.
After about an hour of increasingly worse and worse contractions, as I walked, I had to stop in the halls, hold on to the rails and lean over where the doula tightly tied a [pretty] scarf around my hips and told me to sway my hips side to side. It was an amazing technique and worked well every time…. Of course until the next contraction hit… and the next. We decided to change things up and go back to the room and rest, as I kept saying how tired I was, and the contractions just continued to get more intense over the next hour. Shortly after the contractions started becoming more painful, they stopped the Pitocin completely because my body took over and was laboring on its own. Arla and my doula listed off numerous natural labor tricks we could do to relieve the pain except that with how quickly I was progressing, I went straight for requesting the tub – the last pain trick I was told of their labor trick arsenal for bad pain. I got in the tub hoping for relief which wasn’t working until Vinit turned on the jets which helped some, and there was the doula, Arla, and my husband coaching me through each contraction. Still, the contractions were coming on stronger and were getting more and more intense. My head was throbbing and I was just trying to breathe through them though quickly losing focus.
After a while in the tub I looked at Arla and said, please, I need the epidural – I’m ready. She knew I wanted to wait as long as possible, so she actually didn’t call it in right then and at the time I remembered making that mental note. We then moved back to the bed and the contractions were now out of control. I was in serious pain and I remember saying the words, “someone, please help me, please make this stop” and I lost all focus of breathing at that point. The other hard part was the contractions were only giving me about a minute break in between if that, so the down time was not allowing me to regroup before the next one hit.
A few minutes passed and I repeated myself to Arla to please get me the epidural and she confirmed if I really wanted that. I said yes! She checked my dilation and I was 5cm dilated at that point (I swore I was at a 10! LOL!) So she called the anesthesiologist who was actually there to administer it within a few minutes and who had been told I would be wanting the shot at some point as I made that clear earlier that day. The anesthesiologist walked me through exactly what he was doing and gave me the shot.
Did the epidural hurt? Not at all. The contractions were far more painful. I honestly didn’t care about large needles at that point when the contractions were getting out of control like that.
A few other things about the epidural: you can’t feel your body waist down and you can’t drink even water after you get it – its ice chips there on out. Within 10 minutes my contractions calmed down and within 15 minutes I was a very happy girl again.
I hands down have a newfound level of respect for those of you out there who have birthed a baby without the epidural. I have always considered myself to have a decent pain threshold but gave myself permission ahead of time to use it if I wanted it. However, the women I know out there who have not, I wholeheartedly bow down to you – that is simply awesome!
For the next several hours I dilated more and more pain free and the epidural actually sped the dilation up for me. Finally I had reached 10cm. Now it was time for the next phase: to get this baby out. But wait… I was exhausted, had not eaten and could not even drink water! How was I going to push a baby out now?
I started pushing but was so tired my pushes were incredibly pathetic! Nothing was happening! Dr. Robertson was waiting for me to progress (I was her only patient that day) and she came into the room to check on me sporadically (also watching and monitoring us from her office) as well as gave pushing tips. Nothing was working though.
In addition to wanting to avoid a C-Section, the other goal I had that day was to deliver Mila on 1.13.13. At that point, I wasn’t sure that was going to happen…
Then suddenly, something terrible happened. Mila’s heart beat started to drop whenever I would turn on my right side or when a contraction would hit. After observing this pattern, the nurse and my doula suspected there was a cord problem. No one was sure of the severity either, but when the contractions would stop, her heart beat would shoot back up to her normal heart rate again so everyone knew something was wrong.
Shortly after this started, Dr. Robertson came into the room and told me she had been watching this and she didn’t like this. We all knew where this was headed — me to the operating room. She wanted to monitor me a little bit more and actively worked with me to push a bit harder but the room was getting more and more tense as the heart rate drops were continuing through each contraction.
Time was passing and I was still pushing and nothing was happening. At one point we saw baby’s heart rate land in the 60s which was very scary and the nurse acted quickly by providing me with an oxygen mask (which I wore for the remainder of the delivery) to help keep the heart rate up which it did a little bit. Truth remained; we needed to get this baby out though. Vinit was holding one leg, the doula holding another leg and Vinit started getting really excited because Mila’s head was starting to show just a tiny bit so he kept telling me we were just a few pushes away from having her out! That made me super excited but when he’d say this, I’d look around the room at others who had looks of shock and doubt with my husband’s encouragement so I was convinced things were not progressing as much as he might have wanted me to think – still it was cute.
The doula gave me a mirror so I could see a tiny bit of Mila’s head and that motivated me quite a bit! Well, then the contractions started getting worse and as I pushed the epidural button for more doses, it no longer worked but this actually worked to my benefit since it’s amazing what you try to make your body do when pain is a driving force behind it, plus feeling contractions again helped with push timing. After a while, I told Dr. Robertson I felt light headed and like I just couldn’t push anymore and she added glucose water to my IV which woke me up a bit more. I was also burping non-stop from about noon on that day so as I would push I’d have to stop in the middle and tell everyone I had to burp. Dr. Robertson ordered me some meds to help with that in my IV as well she said that the burping was probably very distracting for me, haha!
Time was passing and nothing was happening so Dr. Robertson came back to me with another one of her options talk – the talk everyone was thinking and expecting, but that no one wanted to say. She said, OK, here’s what we can do. Let’s try the vacuum and we have only 1 shot with 4 pushes to work with. If we can’t get this baby out within 4 pushes, I’m going to have to go after her. And yes, that meant the C word – the word I was surprised we had waited to hear which told me I had a wonderful team dedicated to a natural vaginal delivery in that room. But she finally said it and I knew things were worsening. I also knew I didn’t want a C-Section more than ever, being so close… all this laboring had to count for something!
I agreed to the vacuum, the doctor stated the risks as she was required to, and then I proceeded to fall asleep again and when I woke up the room was full of several doctors and nurses (try like 12 people in the room) staring at me, prepared for Mila’s delivery. Dr. Robertson explained that when the next contraction hit, we would use the vacuum and that I needed to push as hard as possible since this was our last shot! We waited… and as my contraction started coming on, everyone in the room was yelling PUSH, COME ON, PUSH!.. I remember. I felt like I was on stage performing and for the health and safety of my baby, I had to PUSH HER OUT! She just needed to come out!
So I pushed once, I pushed twice, I pushed three times with nothing yet, then on the final and forth push, I pushed as hard as I could and there came Mila! She was out! To this day, I honestly don’t know how my body did it with feeling exhausted the way I did except I DID DO IT. Somehow I really did it!
As I looked around the room waiting to hear Mila’s cry, everyone looked shocked (I thought) because I was able to do it but then I realized there was something else going on. Something was still wrong. When Dr. Robertson pulled Mila out she was in fact entangled and the umbilical cord was tightly wrapped around her neck. Although we wanted delayed cord clamping to give Mila as much of the cord blood as possible, without hesitation and in an instant, Dr. Robertson cut the cord immediately as soon as the head made it through realizing it was tight around her neck, but still, something else was wrong.
After pulling Mila out, a flood of water followed her out full of meconium! No one had expected that as when breaking my water, the fluid was clear. This meant she likely sucked in a lot of meconium.
Several doctors immediately grabbed her; put her on another station and still, I heard no baby cry. I heard tons of suction and I was staring at Vinit trying to read his face with what was going on and he looked like HE was about to cry – I found out later he was panicking with not hearing her cry and didn’t know if she was okay. After 30 ever so long seconds of just hearing suction and no crying, I finally heard her Mila’s sweet, sweet, beautiful cry. It was the SWEETEST cry I had ever heard. Oddly as everyone was scurrying around (yet the room felt dead silent), I remember thinking, I’m in good hands, I’m in good hands, I’m in God’s hands, I’ve prayed so much for a healthy baby, and I know I’m in good hands. These doctors will take care of us, they will. And it was true. I was in the best hands with this capable maternity staff. And shortly after, my Mila Rose was in MY hands and in MY arms, safe and sound and all was well in the world again. I had my baby – this long awaited baby. We did it! And there she was!
The next words which followed out of my mouth were:
“YES! I MADE IT BEFORE MIDNIGHT! I had her on 1.13.13!” which made everyone in the room laugh.
Mila Rose Jain was born 1.13.13 at 11:48PM
weighing 6lbs 13oz and 21.5 inches
With just 12 minutes to spare…
So here’s what happened as it was explained the next day by our Doula and nurses, Marg and Arla, who stopped by our room to meet the baby…
When Mila descended, my darling little girl brought the umbilical cord with her which was wrapped around her neck. This can be common and usually not a huge deal except in our case, each contraction tightened the cord more and more around her little neck and this went on for hours. Well, as the cord tightened, this caused Mila distress and she pooped meconium behind her and then ingested a lot of it. We were incredibly lucky however, she did not aspirate on the meconium as none was found in her lungs, though they showed us half a jar of the meconium water which had been suctioned after the birth and before they let her breathe. In fact, they prevented her from breathing until they could get all the meconium out of her stomach and airway or else it could have gotten into her lungs if not completely suctioned out of her.
The doctors and nurses all told me this was a pretty traumatic entrance for Mila and yet she had not a single scrape or bruise on her head from the vacuum. She looked perfect. What this did mean though was that other things such as her being a little bit frantic the next few days as well as very red and then eventually getting jaundice after 48 hours with some feeding challenges, contributed to what I kept being told was a complicated delivery and entrance for this little girl. Days that followed where we had pediatrician visits, etc., the first thing doctors would say after reading our report was, we’re so sorry about the birth, this is a tough little girl who had a very tough beginning, huh? I didn’t realize how tough it was until doctor after doctor continued to say this but do concur – she is one tough little fighter.
The interesting part about all this was since week 20 I was paranoid that Mila’s cord was going to cause her problems. I felt this way because her ultrasounds started picking up on a lot of activity with her and the cord. She liked to suck on the cord, during one ultrasound she was wearing the cord like a feather boa around her neck – she was obsessed with this cord so I started to worry about her entanglement with the cord pretty early on. Towards the later NSTs when they would check fluid levels the first question I would ask during the ultrasounds were, “is the cord positioned OK” and half the time I was told yes, it was fine but then at other times I was told it was near or behind her neck.
Several friends had to listen to me talk about my suspicions with her cord being a problem but everyone kept saying the same thing – this was beyond my control and not to stress out about it.
As a friend pointed out later, this was simply mother’s intuition.
Weeks have passed and I still get goose bumps and flashbacks when I’ve had to go to Evergreen after having Mila. I find myself completely gracious and emotional about our experience there January 13th and all the people who played a part in bringing us this healthy little girl into this world. I have a huge amount of gratitude for every person, every doctor, my encouraging husband, Arla and Marg my nurses, of course my wonderful doula, and my hero Dr. Robertson who acted quickly and competently that day.
I have been a patient of Dr. Robertson’s since I was 18 years old. She’s always been the very best doctor to me, almost always being right about things. So of all the doctors I ever had, I have trusted her always and we were so thankful that she was the person, my very own doctor who I adored so much, whose capable hands caught my baby that day. Any other doctor would have had me in the Operating Room hours earlier… every single person I talked to, including my doula, agreed on that.
I have toyed with wanting a water birth or birth center birth for the next baby (and we thought about it briefly even for this baby). My opinions of the benefits and wonderful experiences people can have with those alternatives have not changed – I’m still a huge advocate and fan for such alternatives. For me, however, after having a delivery with the complications we had, I cannot imagine being in other hands than those of Dr. Robertson and the maternity staff at Evergreen.
As for Dr. Case and his measurements? So yes, maybe he was right, however, one thing Dr. Robertson admitted they were wrong about was Mila’s tummy size. Her tummy size was actually very proportioned to the size of her body, not being too small or too large.
She was perfect. My Mila, my Mila Rose, my Milu Singh.
Xoxos and happy, healthy babies to all…