On Wednesday, July 31, 2013, I was exactly 38 weeks pregnant and headed into my weekly doctor’s appointment at 10:30 a.m. I was thankful the appointment was set up with my doctor (Dr. L) (instead of one of the other doctors in the practice). My blood pressure had been elevated at the last few appointments. I had been on modified bed rest (basically working from home) from week 37 to 38 and in anticipation of possibly being induced for pregnancy induced hypertension, we had all of our bags packed in the car. We had our pillows, cameras, everything.
When my blood pressure was taken at the beginning of the appointment, it was 144/94, so we really started to get eager/nervous to see what would happen.
To backtrack a little: At my 37 week appointment the week before (with Dr. G), she told us I was 4cm dilated and 80% effaced. We weren’t sure whether she had stripped my membranes, but she did say there was a 75% chance the baby would come on his own within the next week. Well, of course, we were walking into my 38 week appointment with no signs of baby.
Back to the 38 week appointment. When Dr. L came in, he started talking about induction while he checked me. He basically said I was far enough along, there was medical reason to induce because of my high blood pressure, and it was really up to me. He said there was no need to sit on a time bomb (regarding the blood pressure issues) if we didn’t have to – and basically, we didn’t have to sit on it. He said if I was ready, we could have a baby.
As he checked me, I told him I was ready and my bags were in the car, to which he laughed. He went ahead and stripped my membranes, and then said the words that, to me, were a sign that it was “time.” He said he was on call and therefore if we induced today, he would be delivering the baby. This THRILLED me so I said okay, let’s do it. He wrote something on my chart, said to meet him across the street, and said to set up my 6 week postpartum appointment on my way out. He said we’d discuss contraception at that appointment, which made D and I laugh – it was crazy to think about that when we were about to have a baby.
We jumped in the car and started texting family and friends. It was fun to see reactions and hear everyone’s excitement via text. At this point it was around 11:30 a.m and D said, “so can we go get lunch first?” I hollered “no!” because I knew I couldn’t eat before being induced, and I was so excited to go across the street to the hospital.
We pulled up to maternity admissions and walked in, unsure of what to do. I always pictured showing up in a hurried, frantic, painful state in the middle of the night, so it was really strange to just walk into the hospital as cool as a cucumber (well, relatively speaking). We told the receptionist that Dr. L had sent us over to be induced, but they didn’t have note of it yet (I guess we beat him there). We filled out a clipboard, answered a few questions, and sat down to wait. At this point we weren’t really sure what we were waiting for – we were just waiting!
Finally after about 10 minutes, a nurse came up and called us to follow her. We walked with her to a room, where she showed me the gown and I asked her if I was able to eat anything. I was nervous about being in labor for hours and hours when all I’d had to eat was a bowl of cereal that morning. I knew my blood sugar would get low. The nurse said I could have some saltines and apple juice, so I downed that while I could still have solids.
I put the hospital gown on in the bathroom and walked back in the room, and said “so what do I do now – just lay in the bed?” Haha! It seemed so weird to me to just sit down in the bed where I’d deliver my baby, when I wasn’t really in labor yet. So I got in the bed and waited to be told what would happen next.
Over the next hour or so, we just tried to get settled and the nurse checked my blood type, blood pressure, etc. Dr. L had been doing a c-section so he came in the room and chatted for a few minutes. I think he checked me again and said he’d be back in a bit to break my water.
We kept waiting and over the next couple of hours, my IV was started, my water was broken, and pitocin was started. As the pitocin started to work, I started to feel “real” contractions, which was strange since I was already 4cm and had not really felt true contractions. Dr. L had told me he wanted me to at least experience some real contractions before I got an epidural – ha! But on the other hand, I was fearful of waiting too long. So, I waited a little bit – until they were very uncomfortable and slightly painful and then I went ahead and asked for an epidural.
One thing that was kind of fun/interesting was watching the screen that showed baby’s heart rate and my contractions. The nurses were watching two patients at once so the top of the screen showed the contractions of a girl in another room, while the bottom half of the screen showed mine. I felt somewhat competitive and got excited that my contractions were closer together than hers. The nurse told me she was a second time mom and was getting her epidural. Although mine were closer together, we could see that hers were stronger because they peaked much higher than mine did.
Finally, the epidural doctor came in to give me the epidural. I was extremely nervous about this part and just held the pillow as instructed and tried so hard to sit still. D was awesome and helped me through it. The epidural was painful when it was first put in and I had a weird reflex reaction that made me jump which freaked me out, but all was good in the end.
Eventually, the nurse called Dr. L in to put a catheter in for me and a monitor in that would monitor my contractions via the top of baby’s head. They were concerned because even with bumping up the pitocin a little, I wasn’t progressing and was still having weak contractions.
So we waited and waited and just hung out for awhile. Finally, around 8:00 p.m or a few minutes after, Dr. L came in and in a pretty serious tone said I was having “puny” contractions and they needed to be bigger/stronger in order for me to progress. He didn’t say it yet but I had a feeling he was headed towards suggesting we may need to do a c-section eventually since I didn’t appear to be progressing. But he went ahead and checked me and as he was doing so, he laughed and said “9.5!” To which the nurse hit his arm and laughed and I giggled and said “are you serious?” I honestly thought he was joking. He smiled and said no, he wasn’t joking, and I think I still asked him a few more times whether he was serious. In the meantime, D was standing behind Dr. L and was looking back and forth at all of us saying “what? what’s going on?” because he had not heard what Dr. L said. I looked at D and said “I’m 9.5!!!” and the look on D’s face was priceless.
Our family had all gone to dinner so we texted/called them to tell them. I could tell things were getting exciting in our room as someone came in to prep the baby table and the general pace seemed to pick up quite a bit. Dr. L left after he checked me to “go grab dinner” and my nurse said it could still be awhile before we had a baby.
Pretty soon after, I started feeling a hot spot where my epidural wasn’t working. I tried changing positions a few times but it was getting worse, so my nurse finally upped it a bit and the relief was immediate. She realized I was holding onto the side of the bed, breathing through contractions, and she said I shouldn’t have to do that if I had an epidural!
The nurse checked me again and said I was at a 10, and she went ahead and called Dr. L to come back to the hospital. She said we were going to “labor down” so the baby could come further down the birth canal. After a few minutes of this, she made me stop and said we needed to wait for Dr. L.
Dr. L walked in and got prepped and sat at the end of the bed. I remember thinking, “this is it.” I couldn’t believe I was in that moment. After praying so hard for so long to be pregnant, I was in a hospital bed with a doctor at the end of the table, ready to help deliver our miracle. It was a huge moment for me.
Dr. L explained the monitors would be removed and asked if I could feel the pressure of my contractions. I said I could, so he said we would use my cues and the nurse’s cues from her feeling my belly tighten to know when the contractions were happening, and that’s when I would push. He said there would be three 10-second pushes per contraction. I was nervous but so excited.
Apparently I was an awesome pusher (haha) and was pushing very effectively. The only exception was the third push. I was having a tendency to take an extra breath and got a little lecture between contractions from Dr. L about how the extra breath was bringing the baby back in. I put my game face on and said ok! I was determined to bring this baby into the world as quickly and efficiently as possible!
Looking back now, it’s funny to remember how Dr. L, the nurse, and D chatted it up between contractions, to the point where I had to interrupt a few times to let them know it was time to push. Haha!
Finally, I knew we were getting close when Dr. L said to give him “a medium sized push” and then after that, a few more big pushes. I was pushing with my eyes closed but I remember D holding the back of my head up for each push, and I remember him saying “look! look!” as baby’s head came out. And oh my, what a conehead! Ha! And you know what the first thing I said was?! “It’s a baby!” I finally believed it was a baby that had been inside of me!
Baby had arrived at 9:50 p.m!
The immediate post-delivery is a little bit of a blur, but I remember crying and laughing and Dr. L cleaning baby up. I remember D getting ready to cut the cord, and Dr. L saying “take your time.” Finally they put my baby boy in my arms and I remember being so shocked. That’s really the best word I can think of – it was just so surreal to be suddenly holding a baby that had come out of me. D and I oohed and ahhed and were basically just in a state of shock.
No one ever told me the APGAR score for the baby but I heard the nurse say “9 and 9″ which made me proud!
I was keenly aware of what Dr. L was doing to me, probably just out of paranoia on my part about the post-delivery. I kept waiting to be told to push the placenta out but I never pushed – I just felt it happen. Dr. L kept working on me and at one point, I glanced in his direction and saw him and the nurse exchange a look. I knew right away it was not a good look and that something was wrong. I kept trying to focus on the baby, and I remember D trying to tell me something and him having to say it three or four times because I was trying to listen to what Dr. L and the nurse were saying to each other.
Finally, curiosity killed me and I said, “what’s going on down there?” I tried to say it nonchalantly but I was really scared. Dr. L said I had a tear and he was trying to stitch me up, but the top of my uterus wouldn’t stop bleeding so it was taking longer than expected. He said “I’ll tell you when to worry” which of course made me worry.
Eventually he stood up and pushed on my uterus and asked the nurse, “are you okay with this?” She said, “uhhh” and then eventually said yes. He congratulated us and left the room – I found out later he was being called out for an emergency-type situation so that’s why he left in a bit of a hurry.
The nurses took baby to weigh and measure him, and said I needed to get up and go to the bathroom before we could switch rooms. Before that, though, D went out to the waiting room and told our families the baby had arrived and that it would be about 45 minutes before we were in our recovery room at which point they could come back to meet him.
The nurse helped me sit up and they brought this weird rolling thing over to me (since I still had weak legs from the epidural) – they were going to wheel me over to the bathroom but I had to semi-stand up on the rolling thing. When I sat up, my nurse asked if I always look pale to which I laughed and said yes. She told me to tell her if I felt dizzy. Looking back, I think she knew I was in bad shape and she was nervous about me passing out. I stood up on the rolling thing and she started pushing me towards the bathroom. As we rolled toward the bathroom, I realized how weak I felt and I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out as we entered the bathroom. I told her, and within a half a second she had ammonia under my nose and was yelling my name. That went on several times while I was in the bathroom. I could see D standing in the doorway of the bathroom looking concerned, and I could see another nurse checking out the baby under the heat lamps outside the bathroom door. I told the nurse maybe it was just my blood sugar so she called urgently for some juice. I drank a lot of juice in the bathroom before she rolled me back to the bed.
As soon as I was back in the bed, things got even scarier. I started shaking uncontrollably in the bed and I was shivering like a mad woman. They finally brought me some warm blankets which helped a little, but not much. It went on and on for about 30 minutes, I think. About halfway through, the nurse asked D if he wanted to come get the baby and hold him, and I could tell D was really concerned about me when he said no he needed to stay by me. Through my violent shivers, I insisted that he go get baby, so he finally did and brought him back and they sat next to me as I shook uncontrollably. The shaking was exhausting. It was more than just little shivers – my entire body was just shaking all over the place – really hard. I asked the nurse several times if it was normal and she said yes, but I was freaked out and I could tell D was, too.
Finally, the shakes slowed down, and the nurse asked if I thought I could ride in a wheelchair to my recovery room. I told her no, I needed to be laying down for awhile longer, so they brought in a bed for me to be transferred in. I felt like a wimp but I was so afraid of passing out and I was still shaking. They asked if I thought I could hold the baby on the bed and I said no to that, too, because I was afraid I was going to shake so much I’d drop him off the bed. It was very scary.
Before we left the room, my nurse took my temperature and seemed concerned so she took it again – and said it looked like I had a fever. I could sense the concern in her voice which started to scare me even more. But our plan to change rooms didn’t seem to be changing so I thought maybe it was normal.
So they rolled me down to my recovery room where we were greeted by two new nurses. My Labor and Delivery nurse briefed the new nurses on my situation. There seemed to be the most concern over the fact that I had a fever. It was 100.3 and apparently the “cutoff” in recovery is 100.4. From what I could tell, my Labor and Delivery nurse wanted to call Dr. L since I was so close to the cutoff, but the new nurses wanted to give me a Motrin first and wait about 30 minutes to see what happened. So, that’s what they did, and thankfully, the fever came down.
I’m not sure at what point I realized this, but at some point someone (maybe D?) told me I lost a lot of blood when my uterus wouldn’t stop bleeding. Once I heard this, I was not only freaked out but I also realized how much sense that made. I realized at that point that all of my problems had stemmed from blood loss.
I finally started feeling a better and now, 6 weeks later, my iron levels are back to normal. I am so thankful for this childbirth experience – I still call it perfect even though the after-delivery part was not ideal and was scary. I am so thankful for my doctor, who I had complete confidence in the entire time.
It was all worth it to see this sweet face at the end!