Birth date: Sunday November 24th, 2013
Birth Time: 9:20 pm
Weight: 9lbs. 10.6 oz.
Length: 22 in.
Head: 15 in.
I’m not really sure where to start this birth story because I feel like it started weeks ago, so I will start with my 41 week appointment with my midwife…
It was Wednesday, November 13th, a week past Blake’s due date and mine & Stefen’s 3 year anniversary. Up until this appointment, my midwife hadn’t checked to see how dilated I was. I know most people are in a hurry to have this done but, besides hearing how unpleasant it can be, I also didn’t see the point. I’ve heard of women going from 1cm to 10cm in a few hours and I’ve also heard of women going from 2cm to 8cm and back down to 2cm.
“Oh wow,” my midwife Sizzly said, “you’re 4 cm and almost 100% effaced!” Blake was dropping lower and lower every time she saw me. She needed to go out of town the next day, so even though it was sounding like I was going to have Blake that night, I told her if I didn’t have him before she left, I would stay in bed all day the next day and lay low until I heard she was back. As I was setting up my next appointment for 3 days later – to which Stefen, Sizzly, and myself said would probably be a post baby visit, not another prenatal- Stefen was giving my family the update. They all started freaking out saying, “it’s gonna be tonight!” and preparing to rush over to our house. Stefen and I left my appointment and went out to eat for our anniversary; mexican, because you know they say spicy food is another labor inducing thing.
I woke up the next morning feeling great but, as promised, I stayed in bed all day. Sizzly was more worried than I was and kept texting to keep me updated where she was at. Saturday came and baby was looking great, so we kept waiting. Tuesday, which was my next appointment, Sizzly checked to see my progress. This time I was 6cm dilated and Blake had dropped quite a bit in the last few days. Tanya said when she was 6cm with Noah, she had him an hour later. Blake had different plans though… Sizzly was doing non-stress tests and ultrasounds at my appointments and Blake was looking great and responding well, just not wanting to come out yet. I was trying every “natural” way to induce labor: walking, jogging, drinking herbal tea, s.e.x. (people love telling me that one), pumping, spicy food, pineapple, etc. etc. Believe me yet?
At almost 2 weeks overdue, Sizzly said she would start her induction process on Friday if I didn’t have him by then, but of course I was going to because I was already 6cm, and having contractions for quite awhile. Luckily, they didn’t bother me. Thank you Jesus for my high pain tolerance!
Friday came and Blake hadn’t yet, so Sizzly and her partner, another midwife, came to our house around noon to start an herbal induction. It consists of taking labor inducing herbs, walking 30 minutes and repeating this 3 times, then taking castor oil as the grand finale. I didn’t drink a whole bottle or anything crazy like that though, just a very small amount. Sizzly and Brenda, the second midwife, stayed at our house for hours to monitor my progress. In between my induction, we all played Buzz, Stefen made us lunch, and we talked. It was a fun day except for the fact that none of these attempts were giving me contractions any stronger than the ones I was already having.
Sizzly left around 5pm that day with the plan that if I didn’t have Blake by Saturday morning, I would go to her office for another appointment to see how Blake was doing. Well, that’s what I did. The ultrasound was still showing his due date to be correct, putting me at almost 42 & 1/2 weeks overdue. Although my placenta still looked good and was working well, it was showing signs of aging; another confirmation that my due date was correct and Blake was just being stubborn.
Sizzly suggested I go the next day to the hospital to get a second opinion, just to make sure her calculations were accurate. We agreed if nothing progressed overnight, that’s what we would do. She wanted me to see Dr. Shakfeh and called to see if he would see me. Thankfully, he was the doctor on call for the weekend. She sent him all my info, talked with him, and said she’d meet me there in the morning. This is when I started to get a little more scared…I now had one more night for Blake to come if he was going to be born at home. Everything was ready; birth supplies were neatly stacked on Stefen’s dresser, our bed was prepared with extra covers and sheets, hose was in the bathroom to fill the pool, and all of my outfits for before, during, and after the birth were picked out, along with Blake’s “first outfit”.
Stefen and I lied in bed that night praying this would be the night. I woke up Sunday morning, November 24th, more emotional than I had been the whole pregnancy. I knew our plan to have Blake in our room in our home wasn’t happening. I cried, and stopped crying, and cried again, and continued this until we got to the hospital. The only things that gave me comfort were 1. knowing that this was happening for some reason, which I would find to be true very soon, and 2. having Stefen with me the whole time, and Sizzly. I didn’t realize how much I depended on them being such a big part of my birth until this point. I can’t imagine how anyone goes through this alone, and not only did I have a husband who was supportive and much stronger than I was, I had a midwife that had not only been a text away for the past 10+ months, but she was still staying by my side even after I was in the hands of a doctor.
When we arrived at the hospital, I told the lady at the front desk I was there for a second opinion, referred by my midwife. I didn’t notice the man sitting next to her until he said, “are you the one I’ve been waiting for??” It was Dr. Shakfeh. I already felt a little better, and at least reassured that Sizzly wanted me to see him for a reason. He came out right away to talk to us. He said he already had all my information that Sizzly had sent him and looked over it. He then discussed with me his plan; I was to have another ultrasound, urine test, blood test, and I think that was it? He then wanted to start me on Cytotec, which is milder than Pitocin, to see if my contractions would become any stronger. I had been having them for weeks but they were never painful or unbearable. I didn’t know if they just weren’t that hard, or if I just had a really high pain tolerance. After they had showed up on one of the stress tests Sizzly did and I didn’t feel them, we concluded that I had a high pain tolerance.
My Mom also met us at the hospital shortly after we arrived and stayed with us the whole time. She was able to keep the rest of my family, who kept asking, “can we come yet?”, updated since Stefen & I were a little preoccupied.
Once I was in a room, I was told to change out of my clothes and into a gown…a lovely hospital gown…one of the ones I made fun of and never planned to wear. I even packed my, “birth pool outfit,” which consisted of a black strapless bathing suit top and a black tennis skirt, in my hospital bag, but I’m not sure why. I knew I wouldn’t be wearing it for this birth, but I guess it just made me feel better.
They started hooking me up to all kinds of stuff. Well, it was just a bp cuff, sticker on my finger for my pulse, an iv for fluids, and a monitor for Blake’s heart rate. That was way more than I had ever been hooked up to at once though. Then the fun was beginning…I was lying in a cold bed wearing nothing but a giant, faded hospital gown. The nurse came over to check on me while my blood pressure was being checked (it would go off every 15 minutes). She said, “Wow!”. It was high…around 160 something/ 115. I said, “Oh I have white coat syndrome bad, it’s gonna be kinda high, just take it again.” She took it again but assured me it was passed “white coat syndrome”. They took some blood samples, I peed in a cup, and I was now in a wheelchair, even colder than before, being wheeled off to have an ultrasound. The u/s tech said something about my bp, I replied, “well I’ve never been (admitted) in a hospital before, I’m not wearing anything under this gown, and I just rode in a wheelchair for the first time. I can list plenty of reasons my blood pressure is high!” That sounds mean, but I wasn’t being mean, we all laughed and she said she has white coat syndrome too and hers is always high when they take it.
While she was doing the ultrasound, she said Blake, the placenta, and the amniotic fluid were all looking good. She even said that, although he was measuring 10 lbs. give or take a 1 & 1/2 lbs., I was only measuring 40 & 1/2 weeks instead of 42 & 1/2 weeks. I knew it couldn’t be true because Sizzly’s measurements had been consistent for the past 10 months but still, maybe I could go home now! I asked her, “so maybe I won’t be induced today then?” She said, “maybe, but I’m sure you’d rather just be induced either way right?!” I said, “well, no actually. I feel great and if he’s really not ready to come out, I’d rather wait till he is.” I was wheeled back to my room with a picture of Blake’s super smooshed face in hand, feeling better. When I got back to my room though, they said I was showing signs of preeclampsia; high bp and protein in urine. They were still waiting for my blood work to come back to confirm it, but Dr. Shakfeh wanted to go ahead and start me on pitocin instead of the milder stuff because either way, Blake needed to come out…
I had originally said I didn’t really want anyone there besides Stefen, my Mom, and Sizzly until things got started; I was being induced and had an idea when Blake would be coming. With as fast as things were moving though, I told my mom she could go ahead and tell them all to come. “Maybe it will help my bp go down if it feels more like home in here”. Shortly after, my room was filled full of people drinking coffee, bringing food, and watching football! I thought it would be a little awkward and embarrassing, everyone seeing me this way, lying in a hospital bed instead of being at home upstairs while they all hung out downstairs watching Father of the Bride 2, but it wasn’t weird at all.
The pitocin was working, as in I was having contractions and they were somewhat consistent. Although, when the nurse asked my pain level on a scale of 1-10 I said, “maybe a 1 or 2?” Every time they’d ask me and I’d say a low number they’d look disappointed, like I was doing something wrong. Sizzly assured them, and me, that it wasn’t a bad thing at all that I was having stronger contractions and not in pain, and that it was just my high pain tolerance. I remember at one time saying to Stefen, “I’m really bad at this 1-10 scale thing. I dont even know what a 5 is, a gun shot wound I guess?” (Which I’ve never experience by the way). Stefen said, “no! A gun shot would be a 10!” “Oh. Well then maybe I’m at a 3 or so then?”
At one point, Sizzly grabbed her stomach and said, “ok I know you’re having one because I feel it!” Yes, my midwife has sympathy pains, and yes she was right because they looked at the monitor and sure enough I was having one. I told her I felt it but it wasn’t painful at all, just more like pressure. My blood pressure was remaining very high, and the blood work came back with another sign that I did in fact have preeclampsia. I had heard of preeclampsia before, but the only thing Stefen and I could relate it to was an episode of Downton Abbey that we watched awhile ago (if you watch Downton Abbey you’ll know what I’m talking about) if you don’t… Cybil, who happened to be Stefen’s favorite character and said she reminded him of me, was pregnant, birthing her baby at home (cause it was normal back then) and during the labor, she was showing signs of preeclampsia. She ended up birthing her baby and everything seemed fine. Then she died shortly after. We had watched this episode early in my pregnancy and afterwards Stefen, who was just as much on board having a home birth as I was, started saying, “I don’t know if we should have a home birth now!”, mostly joking though. I did reassure him that this was in the 1800’s or so and things were way more advanced now a days. But still, we heard preeclampsia and that was the only picture we had in our minds and what we were hearing from the nurses and doctors wasn’t much better; you’ll have really high blood pressure, headaches and see floaters, then you will start having seizures and can die.
Since my bp wasn’t going down at all, they kept raising the pitocin to speed things along, but just like all the natural things we had tried, it wasn’t working. One of the nurses had said I was going to have to get a catheter, I may have calmly freaked out and asked if I *had to*. She said the doctor ordered it but she would try and put it off as long as she could. Shortly after, another nurse came in and brought up the catheter and I said, “she said I didn’t have to get one right now”. She was very straight forward and said I definitely needed one, and then shortly after the other nurse came back and explained that she never said I didn’t need one at all, just that she was putting it off a little longer. I felt bad because it was obvious the second nurse probably went and yelled at her for telling me I didn’t need one. As they were hooking me up to the catheter, they also started giving me a stronger bp medicine (they had started me on magnesium at some point). Because of the medicine and draining so much fluid at the same time, my blood pressure dropped extremely low, I was hot, although shaking a ton because of all the fluids being pumped in me, had a headache, was seeing floaters, and my ears were ringing. They started giving me oxygen. Another doctor who knows our family came in, she said, “as a friend not a doctor, you have two doctors (her and Dr. Shakfeh) very concerned for you. We know you want to do things naturally and we’re not telling you that you can’t, but we really think you should have a c-section.” I found out later that even though Dr. Shakfeh was on call and usually goes to his office close by, where he told me he would be, was staying at the hospital instead because he was worried.
I was planning on having my baby at home, so going from that mindset to now considering a c-section was a big difference. I was already anti unnecessary c-sections, which I felt like a lot of doctors performed, especially after having nurses come in earlier and say, “the doctor wanted me to ask you again if you’re sure you don’t want a c-section because he is so big?” I told them no every time. I’ve been preparing for a big boy this whole pregnancy. I’ve been reminded of how big he will be every time I look at my baby’s daddy. When I said I wanted no pain meds they said, “well… Just keep your options open.” Now I’m not against women who choose these routes (or don’t have a choice because it really is needed, epidural or c-section) but I am against how easily the medical staff gives it as an option instead of supporting my birth plan. Maybe I wouldn’t have been able to handle having Blake epidural free after all the pitocin I was given, but my mom did it with her births and I was going to try my hardest.
Back to the c-section… Things were sounding serious, and I knew I was feeling horrible, but I was still skeptical of having a c-section because of how much I had been offered one already for reasons like, “he’s a big boy”. I asked to be alone with Stefen and Sizzly to discuss it. Sizzly said right away that she thought it was the right thing to do; “You know how much I hate c-sections and I think you should do it”. That was enough for me. I had trusted her during the last 10 months of my pregnancy and I trusted her still. I told them I would have a c-section.
It may have been the medicine I was on or the fact that things were moving too fast to even think but, I was staying calm through the whole process. As long as they explained everything to me; what the c-section involved, how long it would take, etc. I was staying calm. My body was still shaking uncontrollably from all the fluids but they told me that was normal as well so I was ok with it. I was planning on having Stefen, my Mom, and Sizzly in the room during the birth, but now that I was having a c-section they said I could only have one person in there.
Stefen jokingly offered for Sizzly to be the one, but we wouldn’t let him get out of it! I had a couple different nurses throughout the day but my new nurse, Katie, wasn’t working at the time but she was on call. They were really busy and had called a few different nurses to come in, specifically needing one for me, and she was the first one that answered. When she arrived, I found out that she is actually a friend of Lindy’s. She was super sweet and helpful. She even said she was going to try and get Lindy into the OR to take pictures if I wanted. At first, I didn’t want to choose between who got to be the 4th person they allow in the delivery room, that being why I only chose 3, but now that things had changed and I was having a c-section, I really wanted photos but didn’t want Stefen to be the one taking them like they said he could. I wanted him by me the whole time! Although the other nurses gave her a hard time about it, Katie got Lindy in. When someone in the OR would ask, “why are there two people in here?” She replied, “for her, to make this more comfortable for her. She was planning on having a home birth, this was not her plan to be here.” While they were prepping me for the c-section she stayed by my side the whole time and answered every question I had. If she had to step away for a second and I called for her she came right back. I am so thankful she answered that call to come in! As soon as they were done prepping me, they let Stefen & Lindy come in.
I told Stefen to stand right by me and to not take his eyes off of me, and that’s what he did, except when they told him to look at Blake coming out. My family was all outside the OR waiting. As soon as they heard a loud scream Sizzly said, “9:20!” The doctor’s assistant brought Blake over for me to see but before I could even get a good look at him, he was taking him away. “Wait, I didn’t see him. I didn’t get to see him!” Lindy quickly said, “tell her they will bring him right back”. After they cleaned him up a bit, they brought him back over to me and held him by my face so we were touching. I was finally able to see and kiss my boy, but seconds later I started feeling more and more nauseous.
I tried to ignore it so they wouldn’t take him away, but I couldn’t anymore. “Take him away, I need to throw up”. As soon as they moved him from my face, I did. I don’t remember being taken back to my room, but I know it was soon after that I was there.
All of my family and Sizzly were waiting there for us. Once I was back in the room, they gave me Blake to try nursing. He basically latched on as they were handing him to me.
I held him for hours (I did let everyone else hold him, for a few seconds). At one point, one of the nurses came in and said he needed to be put under the warming lights because he was being passed around, but nurse Katie to the rescue said he was fine, gave him back to me, and just put the warming lights over both of us so I could keep holding him. Everyone eventually left and it was just me, Stefen, and Blake. Stefen & I were both up almost the whole night holding Blake until they came to get him for a bath and hearing test the next morning.
And that is how our son came into the world! A completely different story than I had planned on writing, and don’t get me wrong, I am still sad when I think of the way I wanted things to go…I’ve had a few people say, “it’s a good thing you were at the hospital when this happened!” But the truth is, there is no way to prevent preeclampsia from happening. Even if I was at home when I went into labor, my midwife would have been monitoring me just like they did in the hospital. If my bp spiked that high at home, we would have gone to the hospital still. If I had to do it over again and knew I would end up in a hospital, I would still choose to be in the care of my midwife for the 10+ months being pregnant. After my c-section, I only took motrin, even though the nurses kept encouraging me to take stronger pain meds, and after a week I was already feeling almost back to normal and able to get out of the house. I strongly believe it was because of the care of my midwife. She made sure that not just Blake was doing well during my pregnancy, but that I was too; eating right, exercising, etc. I don’t think I would have had such a smooth experience and healed as well if things were different.
I am so thankful that in the end, the best choices were made for me and Blake, and that he is here and healthy.