It?s been over 10 months since I had my beautiful daughter, but I figured I?d share the story of her birth anyway. We were fortunate to get pregnant easily and were thrilled to become parents. At around 27 weeks I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Not a huge shocker for me since I have a strong family history of diabetes, but a drag all the same. I managed it relatively easily through diet and exercise.
Once I hit about 34 weeks, my blood pressure started reading high during my office visits. My doctor sent me to the lab twice to get levels checked, and each time, they turned out to be fine. I thought it was just nerves while I was in the doctor?s office so I would occasionally stop by a pharmacy and check my blood pressure myself (it was never very high).
My husband and I had a full day of activities planned when I was 36 weeks on a Saturday. We went shopping for a final few nursery items, going to the cloth diaper store, were planning on a nice lunch out together downtown and then were going to go home and finish up all the odds and ends so we could relax during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Our little one had other plans in mind.
On a whim, we stopped at a Walgreens on our way home from lunch. Their blood pressure cuff (the self operated kind) was out of order, so the pharmacist said he?d happily check it for me. As he?s doing so, he?s telling me about his wife who just had a baby and ended up delivering early due to blood pressure problems. Turns out my BP was super high (190/120 or something like that) and the pharmacist recommends I go immediately to the ER. We hop in the car and drive on over?calling the on call doctor on the way. I was slightly worried but amazingly handling the situation pretty well.
We check into triage and immediately are brought to L & D. I laid on my left side and when they check my BP, it?s totally fine. The doc comes in and tells me that they want to monitor it for a few hours and then will send me home on bed rest until my next appt. with the doctor. So we hang out for a few hours and I?m checked every 20 minutes or so. My BP remains on the high end of normal, but nothing like the crazy number I had at Walgreens. As the doctor is writing my discharge orders, the nurse takes my BP again, HIGH again. They admit me overnight and order a 24 hour urine catch.
We had a dog at home and I honestly wanted my husband to go home to sleep well and come back in the morning. He agrees and I settle in for the night (Ambien helped me sleep!). In the morning, the doctor comes back in and asked me to take a shower and walk leisurely around the room for a few minutes and then they take my BP again. SKY HIGH. Doctor acts freaked out (which freaks me out!!) and orders a stat ultrasound. The on call doc thinks I?m pre-ecclamptic and says he might be inducing that same morning. I call my husband who rushes back to the hospital. The ultrasound showed that the baby looked normal for 36 weeks and appeared to be around the 50th percentile for growth. We wait for the results of the 24 urine catch and it shows that I?m not in fact pre-ecclamptic and the on call doc doesn?t really know what to make of my situation. He consults with a MFM specialist who recommends hospital bed rest until 37 weeks and then inducing.
So there I laid for 5 days, on my left side in an uncomfortable hospital bed. My husband still went to work and school (he had a final exam mid-week) and we basically waited until Thursday when we would meet our little girl. It was a long and sometimes emotional week. It wasn?t at all how I envisioned the end of my pregnancy and I was freaked out about the house being messy and not having all of the little nursery details done (I had a lot of time to think about what wasn?t done, laying there for 5 days with nothing else to do). I found a house cleaner who agreed to clean my house and my Mom was amazing and basically acted as my slave running my errands and taking care of everything I couldn?t. I was also worried about my baby coming early and having breathing or other problems because of it.
Tuesday comes and my regular doctor orders another 24 hour urine catch to see if the pre-ecclampsia has developed yet. She said to me that if it hadn?t they?d consider waiting longer to induce me, which I had very mixed feelings about. On one hand, I just wanted to meet my little girl and I didn?t want to use several weeks of my 12 week maternity leave before she was even born. On the other hand, I would do anything for her to be healthy and safe, so I just waited for the urine results. Yep, pre-ecclampsia was diagnosed 24 hours later and the induction started Wednesday night.
My husband took the rest of the week off of work and settled in for what we knew would be a long haul. The IV and cytotech started Wednesday around 8 PM. At around 1 AM, the Pitocin started since the one dose of cytotech seemed to work well. I was only a finger-tip dilated prior to the induction and not thinned out at all but the cytotech got me to a 1 cm. I slept on and off throughout the night, and didn?t experience any terrible contraction despite the Pitocin working well to create ?textbook? contractions. I think I was always around a 6.5 or 7 for my Pitocin level. Around 9 AM I started feeling really uncomfortable, but I didn?t want to get an epidural too soon for fear that it would stall my labor. My water broke spontaneously around 9 AM (9:01 to be exact) and that?s when it really hit my husband and I. We were having a baby!! The nurse was encouraged to know that my body was responding well and starting to do things naturally. From there, the contractions got really uncomfortable and by about Noon I wanted some relief. I was checked and unfortunately only a 2, but my nurse and doctor said it was fine to get the epidural, so I did. What sweet relief. Around that same time my Mom and sister arrived and were planning on being at the birth along with my husband. I was able to sleep for a few hours and my husband played soothing music for me and was so sweet and supportive throughout the entire day (and the entire pregnancy really!). By 5 PM, my doctor came back and checked me and I was still between a 2.5 and 3 cm. That was when I first started getting a bit worried that things weren?t going to work out like I wanted and I?d end up with a c-section. My doctor told me they?d adjust my position and Pitocin level and see how things went. She was done for the day, so from then on I?d see her partner. Well, apparently it was a totally crazy day in L & D and there were a couple of serious emergencies. One baby was delivered in the emergency room and another Mom was sent into emergency surgery immediately following delivery because of uncontrolled bleeding. Another Mom came in screaming literally at the top of her lungs from pain (it sounded terrible!!). So I just hung out and hoped that I was progressing. My epidural started to feel like it was wearing off a bit, and oddly I could feel the baby kicking at my ribs still. It made me wonder if she was engaged at all?
Turns out, she wasn?t engaged. At 7 I was checked again and stalled out. I knew the writing was on the wall for a c-section. The nurse said the doctor would be in soon to tell me where we go from here. I was upset but oddly holding it together pretty well. Around 8 the doctor showed up and looked frazzled. He was as nice as can be and told me it?s time for a c-section. My first question was, I know you have had a totally crazy day, are you sure you?re in a position to slice me open?!?! He laughed and said yes and all of the preparation started. My Mom tried to be positive and I was doing everything I could to hold it together. I was ordering my Mom, sister and husband around the room and was for some reason concerned with the way my hair looked (one of the very few things I had control over I guess?). A few minutes later I was wheeled away and knew my baby girl would be here in just a matter of minutes. Honestly, going into the cold OR room was the scariest part. My husband had to wait outside for a few minutes. I asked the anesthiologist to please put the curtain up asap so I didn?t have to see the surgical instruments at all and he did. He was such a kind man. He talked me through each step and assured me it would be okay. A few minutes later, my husband was brought it. I wanted him to talk about something, anything to distract me. I think he was pretty distracted himself and the best he could come up with was a discussion about beer. The doctor asked me how I was doing and I said ?Fine, how are you doing?? and everyone thought that was so funny. My nurse made a comment about me being a caring social worker (I am a social worker). My pulse was really fast, and so the anesthiologist gave me a sedative and then I felt sooooooo relaxed. I had tons and tons of pressure (no pain) and felt like there was an elephant on my chest. A moment later, the doctor announces we have a baby girl. I held my breath waiting for her cry and then she did. It was the sweetest sound I?d ever heard. Jolene Rose was born at 8:33 PM on 4/26/12. It was the best day of my life. They announced her birth weight (5 lbs, 6 ounces, just a little peanut) and a moment later the pediatrician brought her over to me. It was love at first sight. Her eyes were big and bright and fixed on mine. My husband went with her to the nursery as I was sewn up.
Recovery for the first little bit was tough. Since I got something to sedate me, my blood pressure was low and I kept feeling like I was either going to pass out or vomit. My nurse, Amanda, was so absolutely great. Every time I think of her, I feel nothing but gratitude and love. She was made to be a nurse, so supportive and encouraging and just sweet. Amanda tried to help me nurse for the first time, but I didn?t even feel like I could safely hold Jolene and Jolene didn?t really seem interested in eating anyway. About 40 minutes later, I was starting to feel less out of it, and my nurse said I could have one visitor in addition to my husband at a time (since I was still in ?recovery?) Usually they don?t allow visitors at all. My Dad came in and held our sweet girl. Shortly after I was cleared from recovery (my blood pressure normalized) and my Mom and sister joined too.
Our sweet girl learned to latch like a champ and hardly lost any weight the first few days at all. She was slightly jaundice but not to a concerning level. Over the next few days, we had a constant stream of friends and family visiting and on Sunday we left to start our new lives at home.
Jolene (Jolie) is now 10 months old and the light of our lives. She?s also going to be a big sister in about 6 more months. We can?t wait to watch her and her sibling learn and grow. We are so blessed by all of it. Although the end of my pregnancy, hospitalization, failed induction and c-section was not at all what I had in mind for the birth of my daughter, I wouldn?t have changed it for anything.