The Birth of Quinn

Our birth story starts early Tuesday, December 4th. Carla woke up in the middle of the night after experiencing a gush of fluid discharge. She stayed calm and actually went back to bed, not even waking Adam up. She wasn't experiencing contractions yet so there wasn't a big rush to get to Swedish yet, even if her water had broken.

A couple hours later Carla woke up for the day and experienced another gush of liquid. This time she woke Adam up to get his opinion. Did her water break or was this pregnancy-related incontinence? There were still no contractions, but they decided they should get things checked out anyway. The midwife did her checks and we definitely weren't in labor yet. The liquid was the result of a severe-but-asymptomatic yeast infection! They felt a little silly - they were 7 weeks from their due date; of course it wasn't labor! They walked home and went on with their day as usual - Centering Group at the hospital, dog walks, dinner.

At 6:00 that night Carla experienced a bad cramp - maybe just a symptom of Third Trimester Pregnancy, maybe prodromal labor. It was fleeting and she was fine. An hour later, she had another one. They continued into the night every hour until bedtime. 

Carla kept waking up every hour with these cramps so she decided to sleep on the couch so Adam wouldn't be disturbed and she could soothe herself with a heating pad. At 5:00 the cramping started getting a little closer together. Carla called the after hours midwife number and waited for them to call back (they never did). She woke Adam up shortly after that as the cramps continued getting closer together.

Having been to the hospital the day before for a false alarm and still being only 33 weeks along, they both continued talking about these as cramps - they definitely were not contractions.

Adam would push on that spot in Carla's lower back that helps ease contractions - but they were still cramps.

Carla leaned over the counter like a laboring woman does when dealing with contractions - but they were still just cramps.

Adam downloaded a Contraction Timer app so they could give a clear picture about what the cramps were like - but they were still just cramps.

At 7:00 the cramps were coming every three minutes and lasting for a minute. Carla was in the most pain she'd ever felt. Adam helped her through as best he could and finally called the midwives' after-hours number back at 8:15. The receptionist informed him the midwives didn't open until 8:30. For some reason he accepted that response. 

At 8:30 they called back and were told to go to Labor and Delivery. Adam walked the dogs, Carla packed their go-bag (re-packed it from the day before), and off they went. 

Carla could barely sit in the car and at the registration desk couldn't sit at all. She answered the questions and then went to the bathroom where she spotted a little blood.

She made it to triage and the nurse immediately found the baby's heartbeat, right at 150 BPM where it always was. That was a huge relief because Carla, distracted by the cramps, couldn't tell when the last time she felt a kick was.

The midwife came in to perform her tests - the official reason for admittance was Confirmation of Non-Labor. Her initial test actually confirmed that. The swab she ran came back with more of the yeast discharge and not amniotic fluid. She continued on with the speculum examine, though.

"I can see your baby's hair. You're nine centimeters dilated, fully effaced." Carla responded by saying pretty calmly "Holy fucking shit!" And at 10:30am they found out we were in labor.

Carla was wheeled into a delivery room. Adam scrambled to find their Doula's phone number - he didn't have it saved in his phone yet. When he finally found it she didn't pick up - she didn't have his number saved in her phone either! Adam called the agency's office and they sent their backup (whom they loved and were more than thrilled to have by their side.)

As Adam got off the phone a contraction hit Carla and she just closed her eyes and took a deep breath and rode the wave to the end. It was an amazing sight. 

Things progressed pretty normally moving forward from there. The Doula arrived and helped Carla continue to stay calm and relaxed. She guided Carla through the initial urge to push and helped her labor down for as long as she could. She also helped run the room - the pediatrician had to be in the room since this was a preterm birth and Claire (doula) made sure she waited until Carla's contractions subsided before presenting any information.

At 12:15 Carla started to push, again guided by Claire and the midwife, and their daughter was born into Adam's hands at 12:52. Quinn Nova McDowell came out screaming which meant they were able to delay cord clamping for about 30 seconds and also have Carla some Skin-to-skin time right away - at least a couple minutes worth before she needed to be taken to the nursery for additional checks and monitoring.

Quinn stayed in the nursery at Swedish Covenant overnight, but by the morning the toll of fighting to breathe was adding up and she was struggling more and more. She was intubated and transported down to Lurie's Children's Hospital that morning and stayed there for 16 days (+9 more days back in Swedish's nursery unit) while her lungs got stronger. She was on the breathing tube for just 3 days, then transitioned onto a Bubble CPAP machine for seven days (she actually pulled it off herself when she wanted to be done with it). After that she just needed to learn to eat before she could come home (she pulled her feeding tube out when she was done with that, too. This girl calls ALL her own shots). 

During this whole time Carla was diligently pumping so we were able to provide breast milk for all but a couple of feedings while Quinn was in the hospital.