On Thursday September 14th, 2006, I got a phone call from my OB/GYN asking if I could come in for my appointment that afternoon, instead of Friday morning (when it was originally scheduled). I was worried because I wasnt sure why they wanted me to come in early, so I called my husband and we went in for our 3pm appointment. We first had an ultrasound to check amniotic fluid levels, and they seemed to be ok. Then we went to the waiting room to wait to be called back for our Non Stress Test. After 30 minutes of sitting in the waiting room, I got up and told the receptionist. Another 20 minutes later, a nurse finally appears to take me back. We checked my blood pressure, which was high (I was SO pissed I had to wait so long) and then went back for our test and had trouble keeping her heartbeat on the Doppler. She kept moving around and away from the test. They checked my blood pressure again and it was still high (I was still pissed and now getting upset they cant find her heart beat). We gave up on the NST and did my exam (which was now 1 ½ hours later than it was scheduled to be, so we were the last people in the doctors office). I was 1 centimeter dilated and 75% effaced. The doctor was concerned w/my blood pressure and non-responsive NST, so she sent us right up to triage at the hospital to monitor for a while.
Once we walked up to the hospital, we tried to get into triage, but it was full, so we were put in a regular room to be monitored instead. Our first nurse was amazing and calmed us down. She even joked with Brian that they should go out for a beer while Im strapped up to the machines. Our second nurse came in shortly after and asked me if I wanted to be induced that day, because she felt bad I was almost 1 week overdue at that point. I was game for it, so she said shed keep pushing the midwives & doctors to look at my chart and admit me that night. I was strapped into those machines from 6:00pm-2am while in triage and was quite uncomfortable. I hated not knowing what was going to happen, and Brian was getting quite ticked too. We both showered and tried to watch TV to pass the time. He tried to sleep on the uncomfortable chair that was there, but really got no rest. Finally at 2am, the midwife on duty came in and told me we were admitted to be induced. I was given cervidil to soften my cervix and was so uncomfortable all night. I slept maybe 2 ½ hours because of the constant monitoring and people coming in and out. At 8am, I got breakfast (I hadnt eaten since 1pm the previous day so I was starved!) and called my mom & my dad to let them know were trying to have this baby that day! Brian called his parents right after we got admitted at 3-something in the morning, along w/my best friend (at the time) Josh. We watched TV and talked until Mom got there around 11am and then enjoyed her company for a while. I had lunch (still on cervidil, so I was allowed to eat!) and around 2:30 they started my Pitocin IV. By this point, Brians parents were there too. Josh & our friend Nick arrived next, but because of the ridiculous rule that youre only allowed 5 people (husband included) in labor and delivery, he couldnt come in. I was ticked about that rule! They wouldnt even let people rotate to come in and visit! Jeesh! Dad & Judy arrived, so Jim & Linda stepped out and since they were on the list, we visited w/them. Our nurse was awesome. Her name was Star and she was cracking jokes with us and carrying on. She fit in just like family. Throughout the visiting, I was having lots of contractions and was hoping I was progressing. The family kept the mood light, which helped me not to focus on the contractions. Thanks Josh, for being quite the coach, btw. He would read the monitor and see when I was having a really bad contraction, and would be like ouch! Thats a high number! That must hurt a lot! :oP hehe. Aaron stopped by the hospital, but they wouldnt let him in either, so Mom went out to give him and update. Poor Nick & Aaron being forced to stay out of the room. I felt so bad. Finally around 9 (I think?) I was checked by the midwife and was only 2 ½ centimeters! All of that work for a freaking 1 ½ centimeter of progression. We decided to stop the Pitocin and give me another cervidil and some drugs to knock me out to get some rest.
After the family left and I got a shower, they gave me the cervidil and a sleeping pill. The nurse told me the drugs would make me feel like I drank a pitcher of margaritas! At first, I felt nothing, and I reminded her that I did go to college. She laughed. Then it hit me and I was out cold for a solid 2 or so hours. They I started getting REALLY intense contractions. They kept getting stronger, and by 3am, I couldnt sleep at all or try to. I got an epidural around 7am (my first real pain relief) and got to sleep for 2 more hours or so. Mom came back in to visit with me while Brian rested. It was so nice visiting with her while I was laboring. Calmed down my nerves and such. Our nurse the entire time (she got there 10 minutes before my epidural) was Stacey Ferguson, and she is an amazing lady. Because the epidural made my blood pressure drop pretty low, she monitored me pretty constantly and made me comfortable in every way. I was so blessed to have her throughout the entire laboring and delivery process, thats for sure. Around 3pm, my epidural was wearing off and I was ordered a refill to keep me ok until delivery. We also had me checked by the midwife, and I was fully ready to deliver! They were going to let nature bring the baby down, so I would just wait through contractions for an hour or two, hense the non-rush of the epidural refill. The contractions got so intense, I could hardly stand it. Around 3:10, Dad & Judy arrived, just in time to be kicked out because I was ready to have her! The anesthesiologist got there shortly after they left to administer more drugs, but they didnt start working until just after 4pm. Stacey called for the midwife (Eva; the one we desperately did not want to have!!!), but she said to not push. Stacey knew that wasnt going to happen so she helped me start pushing at 3:22pm. It was the most intense pain Ive ever experienced in the entire world. I cried (but did NOT say You did this to me to Brian) and pushed for 27 minutes. I had most of her head out, and the midwife arrived in time to put a little oil to help get her out (and prevent me from really tearing) and her entire body slid right out. My little Sophia Grace came into the world at 3:49pm. She weighed 7lbs, 8oz & was 20 inches long. They put her on my belly and I cried again (and was also sorta grossed out by all of the blood and junk on her--eww!). Brian helped the entire time I was pushing by holding my legs. He cut the cord and watched everything that was happening & I mean everything! He was the best coach I couldve ever asked for.
When Sophia was getting cleaned off, Stacey asked me if I would like to have my childhood family friend who worked at the hospital (Julia) do her footprints. I definitely wanted that, and Julia came in and did it all. It was so neat to have someone I grew up with be a part of my daughters life from the beginning. And besides, she got to brag she knew her name before all of our family!! Hehe. Brian held her and I know there were tears. It was so beautiful.
Then the midwife was trying to get my placenta to come out, without much success. She was utterly worthless. Stacey kept asking her if Eva wanted her to call Dr. Yingling, but she kept refusing. Thankfully, Stacey did anyway and when he came and tried to get my placenta detached, he realized how much blood I already lost and we needed to go to the operating room immediately. They made me move to put the bed back together, and out came a huge gush of blood. Brian said it reminded him of a horror movie because it was everywhere--he never saw that much blood before and he seriously thought I was about to make him a widow the same day he became a father. It was all happening so fast, I didnt really get to understand what was happening. I got wheeled out and down to the operating room and slid onto the table. My arms were strapped down to either side, and they gave me a mild sedative. Dr. Yingling tried pushing on my belly harder to get it to detach, but it wasnt working and I was in pain since the epidural had barely hit yet. Thats when I got the gas to knock me out, and when I woke up, I was in recovery. The nurse told me they didnt need to do a d & c like they originally thought I would need. Once I was knocked out, my body relaxed enough to let Dr. Yingling push the placenta down and he actually had to go in and grab it. The man is a BIG guy and has huge hands, so I did have a slight tear, but only a stitch or two. I was just glad everything was ok with me. They got Brian and I felt so much better having him beside me. I was awake and doing well, so they finally took me to my room. The nurses had to do stuff for/to me and Brian went out and got my mom (who was waiting in the hallway). We cried and Im glad she was the first one of our family I saw, because I needed her.
It was about 7:30 at this point, and I still hadnt seen my baby since I birthed her at 3:49pm, so I wanted her badly. Brian went down to the nursery to get her, and our posse of family followed him soon after. Holding my little baby in my arms was amazing. I looked horrible in the pictures, but I felt amazing inside. Mom, Dad, Judy, Jim, Linda, Gram, Dolores & Donna were all there at one point. Jim & Linda weren't going to come in until the morning, but they were concerned and knew Brian needed them, so they came anyway. I was pooped and starved, so I got some jell-o and applesauce and ate after everyone left. Star stopped by to stay congrats and to see how we were doing. That was so sweet of her to do!!! :o) Sophia went to the nursery for the night to let me rest a little bit and gain some strength. Everyone kept telling me how pale I looked, and I definitely felt weak from the blood loss--apparently I was borderline needing a transfusion/not needing one. Good grief!
Sophia came into the room around 6am, and we tried to breastfeed for the first time. We had a little bit of success, and I just loved holding her. I got my catheter out, but was told the IV would be in until we were discharged on Monday (boo!) to give me Pitocin to contract my uterus still and antibiotics to ward off any possibility of infection. We had so much trouble breastfeeding too, which I believe I was borderline PPD. I cried so hard when we came home and after she fed and I could not even massage any milk out so we had to resort to a formula syringe feeding. I felt I failed her as a mother and was poisoning her like all of the books I read told me I was doing. I just did not understand why my body didn't work as everyone assured me it would...what was I doing wrong?! I could not nurse her enough to feed her entirely, could not pump enough even with an awesome double electric pump, lactation consultant visits didn't help at all, herbs didn't help & her constant crying only made things worse. We made it to about 6 weeks before there was just no milk left & I was so worn out I was almost glad to see breastfeeding come to an end. Every time I'd see a baby nurse after that or see something like nursing pads even I would cry & feel like a failure. Sophie's colic/reflux was in full-swing at this point and she barely slept. I wish I had talked to someone about my feelings to help me not feel so out of control & sad all of the time.
Madelyn Judith's Birth Story:
On Monday afternoon, I got a call from my doctors office today saying my 24-hour urine test I did the week prior had high levels of protein (1000 something when normal for pregnancy are under 400) and I needed to come right over for observation. I had high blood pressures throughout this pregnancy, which is why my midwife suggested these tests (she's my favorite in the practice and really seems to know me). I get to triage, get hooked up to the stupid iv and am admitted for observation for at least 24 hours. Brian and Sophie stayed with me in triage and left when I got admitted around 8:30. Sophie bawled for me down the hall and I cried the whole way to my hospital room from triage. I had a steriod shot to mature her lungs that evening and needed an ambien to sleep because of how emotional I was. I cried from being alone, scared and in the hospital so early.
When my bloodwork came back Tuesday morning, my liver enzymes and a few other things were elevated and we spoke to the maternal/fetal medicine doctor gave me the official diagnosis of severe pre-eclampsia. He made me feel a lot better reassuring me that I didn't do anything to cause it and it can't be prevented yet-and actually told me that it dates back to the Bible, so its really a historical disease which made me chuckle a bit. Afterall, at my last appointment almost 2 weeks prior, there wasn't protein to worry about in my urine, just high blood pressure which made my (amazing!) midwife (Barb Good from May Grant)!) call for the repeat tests that the other doctors kept pushing back. It happened that quickly and no real symptoms (which was a good sign we got it early). I got my 2nd steriod shot Tuesday night and was done with my latest 24-hour urine to check my protein levels and output again since they measured all of the fluid I took in (all drinks/ivs etc since I wasn't allowed real food still). My blood pressure was awesome actually, but I started to retain more water and could barely walk to the bathroom from all of the fluid in my knees and legs.
I had just taken another ambien at midnight & told Brian to go home and rest, so we barely got a few hours of sleep when I was abruptly woken up at about 2am by the doctor and a whole bunch of medical people/nurses/etc. I was so out of it, I barely had time to call Brian to tell him to get over here immediately. My kidneys were shutting down, my protein was over 5000 and my liver enzyme numbers were rising fast so they needed to do an emergency c-section immediately (she was very comfortably breech & I was told a version could be dangerous as pre-eclampsia is a placental disease & you don't want to disturb the placenta until the baby is out). The minute Brian got there, I was rolled to the OR. They gave the spinal, had me lay down and strapped my arms down. Then they let Brian come in to stand by my head and they began my c-section. It was awful. While I felt no pain, there was yanking, pressure and feeling helpless. I felt so out of control & like I was being taken advantage of. I felt so intensely violated when they finally delivered Maddy and I couldn't see her.
Madelyn Judith was born on January 29, 2009 at 2:40am, weighing 3lbs, 12oz & 16 3/4" long (just turned 33 weeks, 6 days pregnant). That tiny pitiful cry was the best sound in the world. She didn't sound like a baby at all, but breathed on her own, which was what I prayed for. I got a sideways glance of her before she was whisked away to the NICU while I was being sewn up and shivering worse than I ever have in my life. They kept bringing more warm blankets and I was shaking so hard the anesthesiologist had to hold my arms still. I was wheeled into recovery and was still shivering, but now also itchy all over (spinal side effect) and felt a huge loss deep inside that I couldn't share with anyone. They rolled me into the NICU at just before 5am in my bed (awesome nurses for allowing it!!) to kiss my 3 hour old preemie before putting me back in my room.
I slept for a few hours (thanks to more sleeping drugs!), but when I woke up from being checked on, I felt that ache in my heart again. I wanted to cry, but was grateful for being alive & my tiny daughter being alive. Tears just never came. I got lots of phone calls and visitors, which I frankly didn't want. My biggest piece of advice for anyone who just had a baby is to leave them alone. I was terrified to go see Maddy in the NICU...I let Brian take people to see her, but didn't want to see my baby because I was so scared. The nurses were bothered that I didn't get to see Maddy in over 12 hours, so they got me a special wheel chair to go visit the NICU. We got buzzed in & then had to scrub our hands/arms in hot water with special soap for a few minutes then use the sanitizer to kill any remaining germs. It felt so unreal that this tiny baby hooked up to tons of wires & tubes inside an incubator was the little girl kicking my bladder just 1 day ago. I wanted to cry, but the tears still wouldn't come.
Over the next few days, I literally forced myself to see her every few hours (whenever I could get someone to take me down to the NICU since my blood pressure was very high & I was so swollen that they didn't want me walking or staying out long so I could recover...on and that whole c-section pain thing to deal with too). I pumped every 3 hours to encourage my milk to come in, and after about 36 hours, my colostrum arrived. I continued to pump every 3 hours and celebrated my first 4 cc's (total after about 20 minutes of pumping) 1 day later, which at that point was an entire feeding for Maddy. She was on IV fluids, amino acids and had a feeding tube in her mouth (later moved to her nose) which allowed her to be gavage fed breastmilk until she learned how to suck. I got to finally hold her when she was about 2 days old and learned about the little things I could do when we visited her (like take her temperature & change her diaper).
We were discharged on Sunday, so that meant we had to leave my baby at the hospital and come home empty handed. I had my 1 week post-op appointment to remove stitches and had lost 27 lbs at that point (talk about fluid retention!), but was healing better than expected, so I was glad for that. We visited Maddy daily for the next 2 weeks to touch Maddy through the porthole of the incubator and eventually get to start attempting to breastfeed her. Those trips to the NICU were the most emotionally exhausting trips I've even taken. I felt like the worst mother for only getting in there 1 or 2 times a day and for forcing myself to keep going on day after day. Some moms in there never really leave, but I felt guilty for having a 2 year old at home who also really needed me there. I pumped and worked hard with a lactation consultant who officially diagnosed me with insufficient glandular tissue, which explains why all of the things we tried just didn't work. I now know that my body probably will never be able to exclusively feed a baby, but I will try my best again with Newbie. I wish I knew that with Sophie, so I wouldn't have had such terrible baby blues and feeling as if I was a failure.
Maddy stayed in the NICU for 18 days before coming home at 4lbs, 12oz and is now a thriving 15 month old--you could never tell she was over 6 weeks early now!
I lived on a high from making it out alive after Maddy's birth. I was so grateful we were here and healthy, that it didn't strike me how serious the situation really was until a few months later. We both could have died if God hadn't intervened at that right moment. Once I started exploring those feelings, I was better able to mourn the rest of my pregnancy. It took a while to be excited for friends having babies & to not want to bite their heads off for complaining about what it's like being 38 weeks pregnant. I wanted them to cherish those extra weeks as a blessing from God instead. I vowed I would never complain about how uncomfortable pregnancy makes me feel, as long as I get a healthy baby--that's all that matters to me.
I am unsure what the future holds for Newbie's birth. I know I'd love to carry him to full-term and be able to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), though the odds of all of that are not in my favor. My Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor confirmed this at my appointment on Monday--they will not let me go past 39 weeks pregnant if I make it that far because the risks drastically go up and they cannot induce for a VBAC, so we're praying nature kicks in and lets my body be healthy & go into labor on its own. If not, another c-section isn't the end of the world. They're not too bad as far as recovery goes, but I don't want to electively have a major abdominal surgery if I don't have to. I don't want to feel that violated and used again if I can avoid it.
I really just pray for a healthy baby boy who will be home snuggling with his sisters soon after he's born. I'm doing my best to not worry or be freaked out yet, but it is really hard. Traumatic births terrify you, especially when I was definitely not planning on having another baby so soon. It's truly in God's hands and I am praying for a miracle all around!
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