The month of May was a long one. I was approaching my due date and was looking forward to the beginning of June. I was due June 4 and was excited that I would have a June baby because there are a lot of May birthdays on my side of the family as well as on Travis's side.
Well, I was on the weekly doctor visit schedule so I went in every Monday in May to have my blood pressure, swelling of feet/ankles monitored, and protein in urine checked. Things were fine according to the doctor and nurse practitioner. There was no protein in my urine, which was a good thing. My blood pressure levels were good (also a good thing). The swelling in my feet and lower legs (calves and ankles) was normal water retention. On May 20 (my birthday) I was dilated 1 centimeter and was told it meant I could go anytime between then and June 4. Well, nothing happened the rest of that week.
On May 28, I was still 1 centimeter and all the tests were fine again. Since I had managed to go 8 days being at the same dilation, I figured I'd still be on track to deliver in June. That isn't how it ended up though.
The rest of my story is emotional for me to tell. Nothing went as planned, which I guess comes with the territory of pregnancy. People keep saying babies come when they want to and well mine definitely decided he couldn't wait.
On May 29 I woke up at my normal time (415am, yes I get up at that time Monday through Friday to get ready for work and yes, it's early. I'm one of those annoying morning people you read about). I had a dull ache in my lower back, nothing that really concerned me so I went about my regular morning routine. I drove to work along my regular route with this dull lower back ache.
As the day moved on, the pain in my back increased and I became nauseous. I got sick right before lunch and felt a wave of fatigue come over me. I originally planned to leave early in order to take our cat to the vet and I stuck to that plan. Several of my coworkers told me not to come into work the next day if my back pain was worse. I left at 330pm and headed home, the pain in my back worse than it had been that morning. When I got home, Travis canceled the vet appointment given my pain situation. I tried lying down with a heating pad and I tried sitting in the recliner and neither was comfortable.
I ended up getting sick twice, and came to the realization that I was in labor. I timed my contractions (still confined to my back) but they were erratic. My water broke around 830pm and I called Kaiser to speak with the on call nurse about heading to the hospital. I also called my mother to tell her we were heading to the hospital. Travis and I headed out and arrived at Exempla St. Joseph's around 11pm. My mom arrived minutes after us.
I was admitted and prepped for the Labor & Delivery area of the maternity ward. The nurse asked me about my pain level and I said on a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 12. I just couldn't handle it and was growing angry at myself cause I wanted to have a natural experience i.e. no epidural. I'm a pain weenie so I asked for the epidural. Before being moved to my labor room, I had to give a blood and urine sample. By the time I was assigned a room in L&D, the results of my blood and urine samples were in. I had preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. The doctor who came in to inform me explained that preeclampsia is usually treated with magnesium sulfate and that the nurse would be in to have me sign consent forms for the treatment.
I had three IV bags: one giving me fluids, one giving me antibiotics for Group B Strep (which I tested positive for a few weeks earlier), and one giving me the magnesium sulfate. I also had the fetal heart monitor wrapped around me. The nurse placed a pressure cuff on my arm so my blood pressure could be taken every 3 minutes. The anesthesiologist came in with more forms for the epidural and I was confined to bed. My situation worsened over time. My blood pressure continued to rise to dangerous levels, my platelets were dropping, my kidneys started shutting down, and my oxygen levels were decreasing. When the doctor ordered I be placed on oxygen and the nurse put the mask on my face, I panicked. I couldn't help but think of the last time I saw my dad. He was a patient at the hospital next to the one I was laboring in and he was on forced oxygen. I remember that mask over his face and not really being able to see his lips. His voice was muffled and it was hard to hear him. Now that was me. Oxygen was being forced into my nose and mouth by a mask and yet I felt like I couldn't breathe. No one could understand me when I spoke so I had to move the mask away which made my breathing worse. I was also catheterized because of the epidural, and the doctor wanted to measure my urine output, which was very low.
Somehow I managed to doze off and on. I talked in my sleep a few times and my mom and Travis asked me who I was talking to and I thought I was talking to a nurse. My health continued to worsen and at one point the doctor informed me that there was a possibility that the baby was developing a heart murmur due to the magnesium sulfate and they wanted permission to insert internal fetal monitors for better readings. I signed the consent forms and the new monitors were inserted and attached to the baby. The monitors showed that the baby's heartbeat was normal and very strong. My stats were not good.
On top of the preeclampsia and HELLP, I was also dilating very slowly. When I was admitted, I was 6 centimeters. It took several hours for me to reach 7 centimeters. It was around noon on May 30 when I finally reached 10 centimeters and I barely reached it. There was an urgency for the doctors and nurses to get me to 10 centimeters and at 7 centimeters, I was given pitocin. They wanted me to reach 10 quickly in order to get the baby and placenta delivered. Once the placenta was out, my preeclampsia would go away and having the baby out would avoid any complications for him.
Well, at 10 centimeters, I started pushing but the baby wasn't moving down the birth canal like he should have. At one point, the doctors said they may have to use foreceps or a vacuum to get the baby if I could get him pushed down further into the birth canal. I ended up pushing for 3 hours but with no success. The baby would come down into the birth canal while I pushed but once the contraction was done and I stopped pushing, he'd move up away from the birth canal. I talked with my mom, a former L&D nurse, about my options and came to the realization that the only real option the baby and I had was to have a C-section. No matter how much I pushed, he wasn't going to come down and I wasn't going to deliver vaginally. When the doctors came back I told them I wanted them to "go in and get him", so I signed more consent forms while the doctors explained to me the procedure. Since this was not an emergency C-section, there were not as many risks involved. There is a risk that other organs could be nicked during an emergency C-section, but in my case they would be able to make a clean and "neat" bikini incision and be careful enough that nicking other organs, or the baby, would be significantly less likely. The anesthesiologist came in to give me more medications to help numb me for surgery. Travis was given a surgical gown and head and shoe coverings and we headed to a delivery room. My mom and sister were escorted to recovery.
In delivery, the anesthesiologist told me he'd be able to see what was going on and he'd let me know how the baby looked. He also told Travis that he should have his phone out so he can get pictures of the baby once they got him out. It didn't take the doctors long to get William out and it was amazing hearing his first cries. Travis squeezed my hand and the anesthesiologist stood up to see the baby over the curtain; he remarked that our new son was very cute, which made me smile. One of the nurses called Travis over to see William as he was cleaned off and I cried, overwhelmed by the whole experience. The anesthesiologist handed me a kleenex and congratulated me on my new son. Travis brought William over and I just was so surprised by how calm William was. He just laid there in Travis's arms and seemed perfectly content. The anesthesiologist took Travis's phone and took some pictures of us, which I thought was very nice of him.
We were moved from delivery to recovery and William was given his first bath, he was weighed, measured and given 2 shots. Then my mom and sister got to hold him. The nurses were checking my blood pressure and urine so I had to wait awhile before holding him. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to hold William. That was the best feeling! I finally got to look at the person who I had carried and been kicked by for 9 months and he was just so beautiful. He had a head full of brown hair and dark blue-grey eyes. He was 7 pounds 6 ounces, 20 inches long and his head was 13 inches in circumference.
Now, we are approaching his 1 month "birthday". It was a hard month. He lost 14% of his birth weight by day 5 and I had to do a combination of breastfeeding, formula feeding and pumping to get his weight back up. Thankfully by the time he was 2 weeks old, he weighed 7 pounds 6.5 ounces, was 21.5 inches long and his head was 13.5 inches. As of today (June 28, 2013) William weighs 9 pounds 1.5 ounces. His hair is darker and his eyes are slowly changing. He has birth marks -- stork bites and Mongolian marks -- but I love them. He's even more beautiful now than he was on May 30. The amazing thing is that we made him. He is a great and perfect combination of us and he's wonderful.
Just call me Mommy.