This is going to be a long, detailed birth story. I feel like sharing what it is really like to give birth under difficult circumstances needs to be talked about where maybe someone else won’t get scared when it happens to them.
On March 26th we had our baby shower and that evening Jay realized that his belly button was leaking fluid and blood. We figured that this was not normal and went to the ER. They did a CT and told us he had a umbilical hernia. We were sent home telling us to contact a surgeon on Monday. The following day Jay was worse with a huge bulge on his abdomen and in lots of pain. We went back to the ER and they did another CT with contrast and found out he also had a ventral hernia. They said it was not an emergency and wouldn’t do surgery that day. Again, contact a surgeon. Thankfully, this doctor sent him home with pain medicine. So Monday we called the surgeon they recommended and was able to come in and see him the next day. We saw him and he agreed he needed surgery to repair the two hernias. Sadly, they could not get him until the following Monday, the 4th. At this point Jay was in so much pain he couldn’t even go to work and I was still on bed rest and all of our family lives in TN. But his mom is retired and came to the rescue and flew in that Saturday, the 2nd to help us with his recovery since I couldn’t possibly do so. His surgery was done on the 4th and he was in so much pain. In recovery they needed him to get up to put on his clothes where he could be discharged and even though I couldn’t help he asked me to stay and he cried uncontrollably in pain as he put them on. I have never seen him cry in pain and I knew that he must be hurting very badly. We made it home and I was so grateful that his mom was with us because Jay had such a difficult first couple of days of recovery.
As you guys know I was struggling with tachycardia the last couple of months of pregnancy (from Feb. 29th) and was being monitored 24/7. Being put on bed rest had really helped but my cardiologist still wanted to see me again before giving birth. I scheduled the appointment the same day at my 37 week check with my OB, the 6th, (my cardiologist travels to the OB office once a week). This was the first OB appointment I went to by myself since Jay was still in too much pain to go. I saw my OB first and my heart rate was a bit high but nothing off the charts and my blood pressure was fine (131/85) and my urine came back normal. We discussed when we were going to deliver this baby and decided we would wait to see what the scan said about his size the following day. But we decided if it was the same we would schedule a C-section for April 22nd (original due date April 27th).
I went to the waiting area for my cardiologist appointment which was in 30 minutes. I guess they were running ahead and called me back early. I got back in the room and the nurse took my blood pressure and it was 162/101. What!? That can’t be right. I told the nurse I had just had it and it was fine. She took it again and it was higher. Eek! She had me lay down on my left side and sit there for a bit. The cardiologist came in and talked to me about how I was feeling and checked my blood pressure with a different cuff. It was still high 156/99. She said she was going to go talk to my OB to see what she wanted to do. She came back and said that Dr. P wanted me to go down to the hospital and get monitored. Another stress test. At this point it was going to make my 5th this pregnancy. I got down there and got hooked up and baby looked good and my blood pressure was back in normal ranges. Umm…okay? I got blood drawn and it came back normal and my blood pressure was fine the whole time. I was sent home. I assumed it was just some kind of fluke.
The next day was my ultrasound. It was at 4pm. I was super excited to get to see little man and how big he was. I got in the office and they of course took my blood pressure and it was high…again! 159/97. I told them it had happened yesterday and they said they would call over and get them to fax over the results (Since the ultrasound was with a high risk doctor because of the tachycardia). Jay, MIL, and I went back to the ultrasound room and they did the ultrasound. Theodore was so cramped in there and they estimated he weighed 8 pounds 9 ounces and 21″ long. The doctor came in and re-did my blood pressure, checked him out on the ultrasound, and then said “You ready to have a baby?” Umm…what!? Yep, she said that I was in the beginnings of pre-eclampsia and with the tachycardia that this baby needed to come out…like now. She said that she had already called the hospital and they knew I was on my way. I asked her if she thought I could deliver him vaginally and she said she saw no issue with that.
So..we quickly ran home and grabbed our bags and I tried calling my mom. She didn’t answer. So I called my dad and told him what was going on and mom needed to get on the next flight like now. He told me that she was up in the hollow visiting my Popa and didn’t have cell service. He doubted that I was really going to be admitted and said he wanted to wait until I was actually admitted. Ugh! All I wanted was my mom there.
We arrived at the hospital and I fully expected to be taken back to get a non-stress test but I was immediately taken back to a room, hooked up on the monitors, a hep-lock put in place, and was given cytotec to soften my cervix. They told me I would be given a dose every 3 hours for 3 times. I was admitted around 6pm and given my first dose close to 7pm. They said after the cytotec was done they would begin the Pitocin. I was already having contractions but they were not very strong or regular. I had been having contractions for weeks now. I was still at a 1cm and not really effaced at this point.
My heart rate was okay at this point and my blood pressure was okay as long as I was laying down. Pretty much when I got up to go pee both would go up. Not dangerous ranges but would go up.
The first flight my mom could get out on was 5am Friday morning and would arrive 9am. I called a friend and thankfully her husband was off that day and agreed to go pick my mom up from the airport. I was hoping and praying that she would make it in time to see him born.
I had been practicing hypnobirthing techniques throughout the pregnancy and was using those techniques to get through the contractions. It was working really well. Around 4am I was checked and was at 3cm and 50% effaced. They began my Pitocin drip and this is where everything went downhill. I started having contractions but instead of them being 7 minutes apart they were coming back to back with no break in between. I was in so much pain. They kept trying to adjust the medicine and I guess my body was super sensitive. Jay was just pitiful watching me be in so much pain and it was so pitiful watching him be in pain trying to put on a good show for me. The hypnobirthing wasn’t working because I was having no break in pain. My heart rate had started going up and finally when he started tearing up begging me to get an epidural I gave in and agreed.
At around 8:30am the anesthesiologist came in to give me the epidural. He said that some people have an immediate reaction that affects their blood pressure when they receive it. He gave me the numbing shot on my back and it wasn’t that bad and then put in the epidural. Of course I immediately had the reaction he discussed and my blood pressure started to tank and Theodore’s heart rate started to drop. In a split second my room was full of nurses and I was being lowered in the bed, being put on my side, I remember the doctor yelling out to get me a dose of epi. It wasn’t working and the nurses kept moving me around I’m guessing trying to get Theodore’s heart rate back up and I remember getting another dose of epi and finally my blood pressure leveled out and Theodore was okay. I remember it all but in a fog since I kept fighting the feeling of passing out. I know I should have felt terrified but at the moment I was just too out of it. I know that once I was better and was lifted back up in the bed Jay’s face was white as a sheet. My mother-in-law had been kicked out when all the nurses ran in. I guess it was a pretty serious reaction.
The upside once I wasn’t trying to die that I wasn’t in anymore pain. It was so interesting watching the monitor and seeing the contraction but not being in pain. My legs were numb but I could still feel a weird sensation when someone touched me.
My mom arrived and everything was going well. Too well I guess because then the shit hit the fan but we just didn’t know it yet. About 4 hours after I got the epidural I started feeling the contractions again and my legs were less numb. I paged the nurse and she pressed a button to give me an extra dose of the medicine. It worked. In about 20 minutes I started feeling pain again.They decided to go ahead and check me and I was only at 3cm. The doctor then came in and said that he suggested we rupture my water to get things moving along faster. Since I was starting to feel things I felt when it gushed out. Such a weird feeling. Since I was still telling them I was still feeling the contractions the nurse started asking me if it was pain or pressure I was feeling. Umm…pain. I know the difference. She gave me another dose and then I started feeling super nauseous. I actually threw up which is uncommon for me. I don’t vomit often because I hate it so much. I got some zofram and it seemed to help. But…again I started feeling pain again. At this point this nurse was really starting to piss me off because she was acting like I was some drama queen and seemed to not believe me. She gave me another extra dose and left all huffy. Then, guess what? I went back to being in pain. I paged her back and she said she couldn’t give me any more medicine and would have to call in the anesthesiologist. He came in and was asking me questions about my pain and I told him I feel everything. At this point my legs weren’t even numb. He decided to change the medicine to something stronger since it seems like I didn’t react to the current one well. It seemed to work. At this point my nurse had come in saying she wasn’t going to be my nurse this shift and introduced my new nurse until shift change at 7pm. This lady wasn’t any better. I think the first nurse had told her I was a drama queen.
And…then I started feeling pain again. Way worse than before. My mother and Jay was saying just to try and ride it out. That I was probably just feeling pressure. No, it wasn’t pressure it was pain. I kept telling them to call the nurse but they wouldn’t. Finally, I was balling my eyes out and they called for the nurse. The nurse came in and was like why did you wait to call. And I threw Jay and my mom under the bus and told her they wouldn’t let me call. She said I needed to calm down. Seriously? Don’t tell a pregnant lady to calm down. She gave me an extra dose of medicine and it made me sick feeling again. Can you guess what happened? I felt pain again in about 15 minutes.
I don’t remember all the times they checked me but I know it was often because they were convinced that if I was feeling all this pain I must be dilating. I wasn’t. And with the pain my heart rate had shot into the 140-150’s which was the same as Theodore’s. They had a hard time with the external monitor determining whose heart beat they were monitoring so they had to put an internal monitor on his little skull. Sometime after that they thought maybe the external contraction monitor wasn’t accurate because I kept saying I was in a ton of pain even with the “epidural” and they put in an internal contraction monitor as well. At this point I had three tubes coming out of my nether regions. An urinary catheter, his heart monitor, and the contraction monitor. It was not very comfortable.
The pain kept coming. Eventually I was maxed out on medicine and was still in so much pain. The nurse came in and said that she could have the anesthesiologist come in and talk to us about taking the epidural out and re-positioning it because that is all they could do at this point. Well, this coincided at the same time that the on-call OB came in to check on me. (Side note: my regular OB was on call when we were admitted on Thursday. She was off the following day and said she would come back and check on us. She never did. I saw two other on call docs before the second one was the one who delivered Theodore. And when did I see my regular OB again? Three days after birth on my discharge day. I was very unhappy about this and Jay, who didn’t really like her, was extremely upset) At this point I had literally, not exaggerating, had 8 cervical checks. She said I was only at 4cm. 4cm!? I had been at this for 26 hours. I hadn’t slept since Wednesday night (it was Friday night). I was exhausted. The OB said that I could keep going but with Theodore still being sunny side up and me having issues with the epidural she wasn’t sure if I would even have energy to push if we ever got fully dilated. She asked if I wanted to get a C-section, that she strongly suggested it at this point. I told her that with Jay just having surgery on Monday I was scared about the recovery. Having two of us down at the same time wasn’t something I was interested in. She said that she honestly believed that a C-section recovery was easier than a vaginal delivery recovery and that I would be able to lift baby after the surgery.
I looked at Jay and my mom and asked them what they thought. Of course my mom said to do whatever I thought was best. Jay said that he thought it was best. Grant it he wanted me to have a C-section the moment I walked into the hospital. I was so exhausted and in so much pain. I looked at the doctor and told her “Let’s go ahead and do a C-section.” She said good and looked at the nurse and said let’s get started. Then, within a minute my room was packed full of nurses and assistants. I was so shocked about how quickly they jumped into action. It was like they were waiting on me to decide. I thought it would be hours before it happened. Nope.
The doctor came in to flush out the catheter and put in some medicine to get ready to do the spinal in the operating room. Well, when he did immediately my tongue started to feel numb and I started feeling dizzy. I said “my tongue is numb” though it came out all funny sounding. Now, I have a bad habit of being allergic to medicine. My mom looked terrified. I then kind of lost consciousness and came to a few minutes later. My mom said that when he pushed the medicine directly into the catheter into my spine and I started having a reaction he looked at the medicine, looked at me, and then back to the medicine and said “Well, isn’t that beautiful.” He then explained to my mom, Jay, and my mother-in-law that he believes that the catheter isn’t in the right place. Ummm…say what!?
I got back to the OR and the first thing that happened was the epidural was taken out. When he took it out he said that he had slipped into a vein and he didn’t realize it. He was so upset and kept apologizing. I got the spinal and it was such an amazing feeling. There was no pain. None at all. I was so happy but then started falling asleep since I no longer had pain keeping me awake. I vaguely remember them prepping the site and then letting Jay and the photographer in the OR. Jay said when he came in I was falling asleep and he had to wake me up. Ooops. They started cutting and I didn’t feel any pain just a weird sensation when they would push or pull. It seemed like it happened in a moment but Jay said it was minutes of them getting to the baby. I remember them saying “You are going to feel a lot of pressure now” and the doctor’s assistant pressed really hard high up on my belly and I hard this loud popping sound. I honestly thought she had broken a rip but the nurse later told me that I was all baby and he was stuck. When they popped him out she said my belly just deflated. The next day it was amazing. My belly was practically back to the same size as pre-pregnancy.
When Theodore was delivered they put him over the curtain to see him. I hate to admit this but I don’t remember it. That is what drugs will do to you. Then, he didn’t start crying and that got me alert. I started freaking out yelling “he isn’t crying, he isn’t breathing” and everyone told me to calm down. That he was okay but I just kept crying and yelling that he wasn’t crying. It felt like it lasted forever but in retrospect it was only a few minutes. But when he did cry I remember saying “it’s the most beautiful cry in the whole world” and it truly was. Hearing him cry was so wonderful. They quickly rubbed him clean, weighed and measured him and then put him on my chest, skin to skin, right their in the OR. I was able to keep him on me as they wheeled me back to the room though I was scared they would have to take him away because after they took him out I started shaking, like violently shaking especially in my arms. It was terrible and I couldn’t hold on to Theodore well. I thought it would never end but it did after about an hour. They said it was a normal reaction after a delivery.
It was such a long, emotionally and physically draining delivery where my birth plan was completely destroyed and torn into a thousand little piece. To anyone who is about to give birth or give birth in the future I would say have an open mind because things don’t always go according to your plans. But it is all worth it in the end because you have a wonderful, amazing baby!