My Childbirth Experience Didn’t Go According to Plan, and That’s OkayMay 16, 2019
You can take all the childbirth classes, read all of the books, and create the most thorough plan on the planet, but unfortunately, sometimes things just don’t go as planned in the labor & delivery room.
That’s exactly what happened with Cain Anne Beachum, who delivered her first child, a little boy named Campbell, on October 9, 2018 at the Women’s Medical Center at Brookwood Baptist.
Although no one plans to deliver a late baby, this first-time mama never imagined she would be 10 days past her due day before things started to happen. But finally, on October 8, 2018 at 8am, Cain Anne’s water broke, and it felt like things were finally going to start going “according to the plan”. But she would quickly learn that all plans would be thrown out the window.
By 12pm that afternoon, Cain Anne hadn’t dilated past 1 centimeter, so she agreed to take little doses of an oral medication that helps a woman’s body dilate and her cervix to open.
“It hurt,” Cain Anne admits. “Think of the worst stomach virus you’ve ever had and all the cramps that come with it. That’s what it feels like. It felt like I had food poisoning in my uterus all night long. It was awful. Once 5am rolled around, I was convinced I was dilated to at least a 6 or 7.”
But when Dr. Heidi Straughn, Cain Anne’s trusted OBGYN since she was a teenager, checked her that morning, she was only dilated to 2 centimeters. At this point, Cain Anne’s water had been broken for 24 hours, but little progress had been made. When this happens, sometimes a physician will want to start Pitocin, a medication used to induce labor, which is what Cain Anne received at this point.
Not long after the Cain Anne received the Pitocin, the anesthesiologist came into her room to administer the epidural.
“I called [the anesthesiologist] ‘Santa’ when he came into the room,” Cain Anne remembers. “I was so happy to see him and was even happier when I realized how easy getting an epidural was. I don’t know why people get so anxious about them.”
She went onto explain that she simply “leaned over, they numbed my back, they give you the shot, and you don’t even know it’s over. Dental procedures are much worse than getting an epidural.”
The epidural was a game changer for Cain Anne. “I didn’t feel anything. I had no more pain. It was amazing.” Surely things will begin to stabilize and progress smoothly, right? Wrong!
A few more hours go by and unexpectedly (of course) Cain Anne spiked a fever, and Baby Campbell’s heart rate began to elevate. But at almost the same time, Cain Anne had finally made it to 10 centimeters, so it was time to push. The goal was to get Baby Campbell out so both he and mom could be stabilized.
So Cain Anne began pushing. After about 45 minutes, she could finally see Baby Campbell’s full head of hair in the mirror her mother was holding. (“Having a mirror isn’t for everyone,” Cain Anne says. “But I needed it. I needed to see what was happening so I could have a goal”.) Suddenly, Cain Anne noticed brown liquid reflected in the mirror. She glanced at her delivery nurse, Amy, who confirmed that the liquid was meconium, which if Baby Campbell was to inhale, it could block his airway. Further, it became apparent that Campbell was face up, not face down.
Eventually, Dr. Straughn sat down next to Cain Anne explained to her that it was time to consider a c-section.
“That’s a big reason I had such an amazing experience,” Cain Anne said. “Dr. Straughn told me I could keep pushing, but ultimately it was my decision. No one on the team ever made me feel like they only cared about the baby, and that my body was just a vehicle. That really meant a lot.”
It didn’t take long for Cain Anne to get onboard the c-section train, but that decision didn’t come without an overwhelming amount of emotions for the soon-to-be-new-and-exhausted-mother.
“I was crying and slamming my fists on the bed,” Cain Anne recounts. “It’s like running a marathon and quitting at mile 25. It’s incredibly frustrating, & I was scared not knowing what to expect. We hadn’t planned this.”
But there was one person in the room who was able to eliminate Cain Anne’s fears and give her a sense of calm. It wasn’t her husband. It wasn’t her mother.
It was Amy, Cain Anne’s delivery nurse.
“[Amy] is an angel from above,” Cain Anne says. “We bonded. I know she probably bonds with all of her patients, but she was my buddy. You just don’t forget your delivery nurse. When it was decided that we were going to do the c-section, the first thing I did was look at her, ask if she was going to be there and she said, ‘I’m not leaving you, honey’”.
As Cain Anne continues telling the story, she breaks down into tears.
“Everyone was just so nice throughout such a scary time,” Cain Anne says through sobs. “It meant so much to me that everyone coming into the room introduced themselves and told me what role they were going to play in the c-section.”
Once she was in the OR, everything moved pretty quickly and before she knew it, Baby Campbell made his big debut at 1:50pm on October 9.
Happy Birth Day, Campbell!
“Everything was perfect,” Cain Anne says. “They wiped him down, weighed him and put him on my chest for skin-to-skin, and it was great. We snuggled.”
Within an hour of his delivery, little Campbell instantly started repelling down his mother’s chest.
“He was crawling backwards to try and find my nipple.” Cain Anne laughs. “It was amazing. I used my knowledge from Brookwood’s breastfeeding class, and he latched on pretty quickly!”
But perhaps one of the best moments of Cain Anne’s experience came that evening, when Campbell was only a few hours old. Her night nurse was named Betty, and she came in to check Cain Anne’s vitals around midnight.
As she was monitoring the new mother, it became clear to Betty that Cain Anne was completely & utterly exhausted, and she offered to take Baby Campbell to the nursery for the evening. Cain Anne, knowing how important rooming-in is for the both mother & baby, politefully declined.
But nurse Betty, who could plainly see the sleep deprivation on Cain Anne’s face, insisted.
“She looked at me,” Cain Anne says. “And said, ‘Dear, you are not a bad mother if you send your son to the nursery. He will be just fine. We will give him donor milk if he gets hungry. You need to rest.’ I just broke down in tears and agreed, because I knew I needed to sleep. She was right. And at 4am that next morning when they brought him back to me, I was a brand new woman and ready to go.”
Cain Anne cannot praise this woman enough.
“I’m so grateful to [nurse Betty] for not making me feel like a bad mother,” Cain Anne says. “Huge shoutout to her! Everyone needs a nurse Betty the night after they give birth.”
The way Baby Campbell made his way into this world was unexpected to say the very least. But there is one thing that remains certain.
“Hands down without a doubt, I will have all of my babies at Brookwood,” Cain Anne promises. “Even if someone paid me to have my babies elsewhere, it wouldn’t matter. I’d still go to Brookwood.”