I told you how I was lucky enough to get pregnant during the first month we tried. And I really thought I had prepared for giving birth by reading books, watching movies, going to childbirth class, and doing an insane amount of pinning on Pinterest, but I was not as prepared as I thought. (A warning to the faint of heart, this is a birth story. There is talk of blood and needles. If that sort of thing bothers you, I suggest you just skip this post.)
Before I take you on my journey I will give you a little background: I had high blood pressure but no other signs of Preeclampsia* during the second half of my pregnancy. My platelets had been dropping since the beginning of my pregnancy. My doctor explained that normal platelets were over 150 million per milliliter and if my platelets went below 100 then I would have a higher chance for needing blood and would not be able to get an epidural. I really didn’t want an epidural so that part was no big deal to me but low platelets were still something to worry about. Also, I did not find out the sex of the baby but my husband did (and he told no one).
I went to my 39 week check up on Wednesday, January 13, 2016. After the normal routine of peeing in a cup, being weighed, etc., my doctor brought up induction. On Tuesday, I had been to the hematologist for my low platelets and my count had dropped from 119 to 109 in about a week. Waiting for spontaneous labor could be detrimental to my health. My OBGYN was going to be the doctor on call for the weekend starting at 7 am Friday morning so we decided to schedule the induction for Thursday night and by Friday I should be ready to have my baby. Walking out of the professional building on the hospital campus, I texted my husband and then everyone I knew to let them know a baby was on the way! Then I went home to start preparing.
I’m a planner. At this point in my pregnancy, I’ve been packed for months. Knowing I had only 24 hours to be ready to go was exciting and scary. I had so much still to do! I cleaned the house, made an oatmeal bake (to eat for lactation), checked my birth plan, checked my bags and made a list of what I needed to pack after I got ready on Thursday. I tried really hard to sleep but couldn’t because I was so excited. In all my prepping and planning on Thursday, I hardly ate a thing. I finally ate some oatmeal about an hour before we were going to leave and then wasn’t hungry enough to make myself any dinner.
My husband came home from work about 2 and he quickly ate the dinner I had for him and we took the dogs out and loaded up the truck. Then we were on our way! We got to the hospital before 4 pm (my scheduled time) and after filling out a couple forms and showing my ID and insurance card, we were taken back to suite 4. I was a little disappointed I wouldn’t get suite 1 because that’s the room with the big tub you can labor in. The nurse left me to change and unpack. She came back with paperwork and then someone came to put the IV port in me and draw blood.
By 4 I was hooked up to the IV and getting pitocin.”Did you feel that?” the nurse asked me. I shook my head. She was surprised because I was already having contractions. I was super excited I couldn’t feel the contractions. I was patting myself on the back for all the red raspberry leaf tea I drank and was convinced this was going to be an easy labor.
A little while later, the OBGYN on duty came in and inserted a foley bulb to encourage my cervix to open. Then it was just a matter of waiting. I couldn’t have food or water so I was chowing down on ice chips and sneaking sips of water from the melted ice when the nurse left the room. I played solitaire on my phone, watched tv, and tried to sleep.
The nurse came in every hour to check my blood pressure and vitals. Around midnight, my blood pressure jumped to something over 170. In pre-eclampsia land that’s very bad and could lead to seizures. The doctor ordered magnesium to prevent seizures and a blood pressure medicine to take my blood pressure down. I had to have my blood pressure and reflexes checked every 15 minutes.
When they started me on magnesium, they pushed a whole bag through me in an hour. The nurse had to be in my room monitoring me the whole time. The magnesium made me feel very hot. It was the strangest sensation because it was like I was hot from the inside out. The nurse felt bad of me and was fanning me with a piece of laminated paper. After the initial push, they put me on magnesium for 24 hours just to be safe.
Once I was all set up with a new bag of magnesium, I had to pee. The nurse unplugged me from everything and I hobbled over to the bathroom. I sat down and… Nothing. I assumed the baby was sitting funny so I danced around the bathroom and jumped up and down and then sat down to try again. Still nothing. I hobbled back to bed mumbling about how I guess I didn’t really have to pee. The nurse hooked me all back up and left again. As I lay in bed, all I could think about was how bad I had to pee. After a few minutes I called the nurse back in and tried again. Still nothing. The nurse was getting concerned so she stuck around and after about five minutes she had me try again. Still nothing. She called someone and confirmed I needed a catheter. Another nurse came in to help with the catheter. Once inserted, I filled the bag so quickly that the nurses had to clamp my hose and made me wait for fifteen minutes before they would let the rest flow out. I filled the bag a second time and then a little more.
After all of the excitement, I was finally ready to nap (I didn’t really sleep much since someone was constantly in to check on me and the blood pressure machine was taking my blood pressure every 15 minutes). I was in and out of sleep for awhile until the charge nurse came in around to check my foley bulb. She was surprised it hadn’t fallen out already, so she gave it a tug and out it came. At that time, I was 5 centimeters dilated. The nurse encouraged me to go back to sleep for a bit, but there was no way that was possible!
A little while later, I felt a gush and thought my water broke. I called the nurse and she checked, but it was just a gush of blood from my poor irritated cervix. This happened a few more times but I made my husband check before I called the nurse. Every time was a false alarm. Around 5 in the morning, the OBGYN came in to check things out. I was still 5 centimeters so we decided to break the water bag to see if that encouraged things to move along. After getting that mess cleaned up, everyone left me to rest some more.
My OBGYN came in around 7 am to see how things were going and to get an update on all that was going on. I was still 5 centimeters. After she left, I decided to try getting up and moving around to try to get things going. The nurse brought me a ball to try sitting on and helped me move everything (IV pole, blood pressure machine, catheter bag) to one side of the bed so I could move. She then left me in the capable hands of my husband.
After a few minutes I felt very sick and had to instruct my husband to get the bedpan (thankfully they showed us where it was hidden during childbirth class!). My husband called the nurse who promptly put me back to bed. Truthfully, I was thankful I threw up because in childbirth class the nurse said throwing up usually means progress. Unfortunately, I was still showing no signs of progress.
Awhile later, I decided to be brave and try to stand up again. I wanted to be doing anything I could to help my labor. I decided to try leaning on my husband and rocking back and forth. But this time I lasted even less time. Again I was sick and again the nurse tucked me back into bed. And still no progress. Nothing is more maddening than knowing what you should be doing and being physically unable to do it. I was bound and determined to do something so I tried to turn around in the bed and lean against the back of the bed in a hands and knees position. Even that made me sick.
At this point the nurses are noticing that I’m getting antsy to get something going. My doctor came back in to check on my progress and I still had no change.
She decided to put me on an internal monitor so she could measure the effectiveness of my contractions. After putting the monitor in and it not working, and taking it out, and putting another monitor in, and the monitor in my baby’s head falling out and putting a new one of those in, they found my contractions were doing nothing. All the poking around my cervix must have irritated something because around this time I started really feeling my contractions. This is when my doctor had the come to Jesus talk with me. The magnesium was making the pitocin ineffective. They needed to turn the pitocin up every 15 minutes until something started happening. On top of that, I needed to sleep because it was around 8 pm Friday night and I had hardly slept the last two nights. Finally, my doctor pointed out that if things don’t start progressing I was going to need a c-section. It was pretty clear that my dream of a drug-free labor was shattering.
I consented to the epidural but they couldn’t give it to me until I had my platelets checked. Once my blood was drawn the testing would take a half an hour. Within that short timeframe they were upping the pitocin. It was doing nothing but upping my pain. The contractions were still ineffective but I was shaking and moaning with pain. That half an hour was a blur of pain and trying to focus on something besides the pain. I had played a lot of solitaire while I was pregnant so I was playing solitaire in my head as the contractions rolled through. I remember two things very vividly though during that time. First, I remember the nurse driving me crazy with her chipper sing-songy voice saying “don’t fight your contractions, work with them, not against them!” (I was not in the mood for her distraction.) Second, I remember a nurse coming in and telling me my mom was there. I panicked because I knew my mom could not handle what was going on (and about to go on) in that room. I screamed, “don’t let her in here!” My mom does not handle medical things well and I didn’t want her passing out while I’m trying to get an epidural!
Finally, my test came back and my platelets had gone up (from what I can tell that’s not normal but is a good thing). The anesthesiologist was already in my room set up and waiting for the go. The had me lean over the bedside table to start all the poking. In that position, my contractions seemed worse and I was shaking but trying so hard to stay still. The anesthesiologist had trouble getting the needle in my back where it was supposed to go and had to try several times. Once the epidural was in, the relief came fairly quickly. I had my husband go look for my mom but she had just left. The nurse insisted I sleep and I tried. I was in and out of sleep for the next few hours.
Around one in the morning on Saturday the nurse came in to check me and I was at 10 centimeters. Finally! She had another nurse come in and I did a couple of practice pushes to know how to do it and what muscles to use. They told me we would start pushing at two o’clock and I began to text everyone “pushing at 2!” I struggled to wake my husband so he knew what was going on. Finally, I got a nurse to wake him when she came in to break down the bed for delivery.
Two came and went. Finally, at 2:30 we were going to push! I was so excited to meet my baby! I was trying to do everything the nurses were telling me: hold my legs back, elbows up, straighten my arm when the blood pressure machine starts, push, push, push, push, relax, husband feeds me ice chips, prepare for the next one, push, push, push, push, relax… After an hour there was little progress. The doctor wanted me to stop and relax but I really didn’t want to; I wanted to keep going. We paused for a little over an hour. The doctor called it breathing the baby down but my baby was not actually going down. When the nurse came in to get me ready I asked if I could try a different position to push in like leaning against the back of the bed in a modified hands and knees position. We tried a couple pushes that way but it didn’t really do anything. At least the other way I felt like there was some progress so I flipped back over and prepared to push.
At this point, it’s 4 in the morning and almost 24 hours since my water was broken. Progress needed to be made. I pushed and pushed. My doctor said I had a blood vessel that needed to pop to relieve some pressure and she was massaging and stretching my perineum in attempt to keep it from tearing. She got the blood vessel to pop and some progress was being made but not much. My husband could see the very tip of the baby’s head but that’s as far as we were getting. My doctor suggested I take another rest. I would have sworn the baby’s head was hanging between my legs but my husband assured me it was not. It was a long hour to wait to start pushing again. When the nurses came in to prepare me to push again, they found I was beginning to show symptoms of infection.
When my doctor arrived for pushing she pointed out that this was the last chance. If the baby didn’t come out this time, I’d be going down the hall for a C-section. As I was pushing before I was trying to be conscious of my face. I was trying to prevent broken blood vessels and bruising. Knowing what was on the line I gave up protecting my complexion to give everything I had to pushing out my baby. The extra umph, my pushes were more productive, but no progress was being made. Around eight in the morning things were looking grim. The baby was still making no progress. A front desk nurse came in to let me know my mom had called to check up on me. My mom later told me they wouldn’t tell her anything and I felt terrible that she was left to worry for so long. Then a nurse suggested they drain my bladder. They had taken my catheter out around 2 am when they were getting me ready to push and I had been eating a lot of ice chips for the last six hours. They drained my bladder and I started pushing again. That quick thinking did the trick. There was just enough room to squeeze out the baby’s head. A pause to check for the umbilical cord around the baby’s neck and another big push and the shoulders were out. The rest of the body slid out effortlessly. IT’S A GIRL! 7 pounds 2 ounces and 22 inches long. She was perfect. Born at 8:22 am on Saturday, January 16, 2016. A full forty hours since my labor had been jump started.
Almost the entire nursing staff was in my room helping. And we were all cheering and relieved. Per my request, my husband waited to cut the umbilical cord until it stopped pulsing. My doctor worked quickly to stitch up my second degree tear. I felt every pin-prick of her needle as the epidural had worn off. I didn’t care though because I had “Baby Girl Hart” on my chest.
I took a moment to mourn the fact that she would never meet her Grandpa (my dad) but joy overtook me. I finally took a moment to let my mom know we had a baby girl. Talking to my mom left me in a crying fit because I made my mom worry so much throughout my labor.
After a huge celebration by all the nurses and my doctor, everyone left me to bond with the baby. Someone brought in a plate of cold pancakes and Rice Crispies. I ate a bite of pancake and licked some cereal out of the container (I had no spoon) but was way more focused on my new baby than eating. I was very thankful that I could drink though and drank several large glasses full of water in quick succession.
We still had not named “Baby Girl Hart.” She didn’t get a name for awhile. I was more interested in watching her crawl to my breast to eat. I found my child to be very demanding. She wanted things a certain way and I was happy to oblige.
After awhile, the nurse came in and insisted I get up and take a shower. I could have cared less about showering at that point but I reluctantly passed my precious bundle off to my husband to cuddle and plodded to the bathroom with the nurse. She insisted I not stand or walk without assistance, which I found very annoying considering I could freely move with the epidural and was having no trouble now that it had worn. She sat me on the toilet and showed me how to make the undie sundae (which I had already read about on Pinterest and learned about at childbirth class). She helped me into a chair in the shower and left me to clean up. I’m not going to lie, showering was really nice, but I was much more concerned about getting back to my baby.
After spending some time with “Baby Girl” I finally picked a name. Here we call her R. I guess I always knew that would be her name because I’ve been in love with it since high school. It has been my favorite name and now it is the name of my favorite person.
The rest of our stay was fairly uneventful. We had a few visitors. I didn’t eat any of the hospital food and I hardly slept. Little R did a whole lot of screaming and I figured we had it in for us. (Turns out, she just doesn’t like the hospital!)
My little R was evaluated by the pediatrician on call and we found out she had a slight case of jaundice. The pediatrician said we were allowed to leave as long as we swore to go visit our pediatrician on Monday morning. They set up the appointment for me and R was cleared to go home whenever I was. On Sunday, my doctor came in to check on me and asked me what I wanted to do. My answer was, “go home!” I think looking back we can all say that was the worst decision any of us could have made. Stay tuned for A Baby Story Part 3: A Postpartum Story.
I would love to hear your birth story. Feel free to share in the comments or by contacting me! Look for A Baby Story Part 3: A Postpartum Story coming soon!
*Preeclampsia is when your blood pressure is high, you are swelling, and there is protein in your urine during pregnancy. Find out more at preeclampsia.org.