[Warning: This post contains graphic descriptions of childbirth. If you are squeamish, move along- nothing to see here.]
We were not trying to get pregnant, we were in the middle of Cam’s adoption and life was chaotic. Truth be told, we had kind of given up on getting pregnant the old fashioned way. After multiple miscarriages and then a long stretch of not being able to even conceive despite a great deal of effort (aka- lots of sex) we just figured it wasn’t in the plans for us. We were happy with our two little boys and planned to eventually adopt again. So we weren’t trying to conceive but we technically weren’t preventing it either- if it happened then it happened was our theory. Still,despite all that, it came as a great surprise to me to realize that my period was late in April 2004. I waited a few days before buying a test, not wanting to get my hopes up again. Finally, I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I found out that we were expecting our first child on Easter Sunday 2004. We had a family picnic and Easter egg hunt planned for later in the day and I wanted a fun way to surprise Mr.McHunky with the news. I took a picture of the positive test, printed it out and put it inside one of the eggs that we hid. I even remembered to put a little sticker on the egg that said “For Daddy” so nobody else would open it. We had our picnic and then our egg hunt. I waited very impatiently for someone to find the special egg but finally Ty did. It took Mr.McHunky a few minutes to figure out what he was looking at but once he did he got the biggest smile on his face. We were cautiously optimistic, having been through so many miscarriages. My first appointment to the OB gave me a due date of December 23rd and showed a perfect little bean with a heartbeat. The rest of my first trimester was uneventful except for one episode of bleeding that scared the hell out of us but turned out to be nothing. I really had no morning sickness, just two episodes late at night that were short lived. We found out at 18 weeks that we were having a little girl and it just seemed perfect- a little girl to complete the family. The second trimester was more involved. At 22 weeks I started bleeding again and an ultrasound showed that I had a partial placental tear. 3 weeks of bedrest on my left side seemed to stabilize the problem and I didn’t have anymore bleeding.
I had just barely made it into my third trimester when the next obstacle showed up. At my routine 28 week appointment, I mentioned that I was feeling a tightening in my abdomen and the baby wasn’t moving as much. They hooked me up to the non-stress test machine for an hour to check the baby’s movement pattern. What they found sent me straight to Labor & Delivery, do not pass go and do not collect $200. I was contracting every 4-5 minutes and when they examined me, I was 1cm dilated. I got to spend the next 10 hours hooked up to an IV and getting Terbuteline shots in the arm. Finally after seeing that I did not dilate any further despite the contractions not even slowing down, they let me go home. I continued to contract and slowly dilate over the next 6 weeks. Plus, just to add to the fun, my blood pressure decided to act up around week 32. It steadily rose higher and higher each week and I started to get swelling in my face. In my 34th week I had the misfortune to develop a rare side effect- Pregnancy induced carpal tunnel syndrome. Good times, good times.
|33 weeks- with chipmunk cheeks|
I woke up on Tuesday the 16th of November around 2am-ish with some serious contractions. I was 35 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I was dilated to 3 cm and 80% effaced and we were just desperately trying to hang on to make it to 37 weeks. I changed positions, tried to prop my poor wrists up on a pillow to relieve the pain of the Carpal tunnel syndrome. I managed a few more hours of sleep before getting up for good shortly before 6am. The minute I stood up I thought I’d peed my pants but when the trickle kept going I figured I’d better call the OB. They worked me in right away and my mom came over to keep the boys. I just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t explain it then and I can’t explain it now, but something was just not right. My blood pressure was mucher higher than it had been previously and I was so swollen that I had chipmunk cheeks. The OB hooked me up to the Non-stress test and monitored the baby for awhile and while she showed no signs of distress she also was not showing a lot of reactivity. So off for a ultrasound we went. Her fluid level was super low so they confirmed that I did indeed have a high slow leak in my amniotic sac and I was dilated to almost 4cm. I tried to tell the OB resident that I didn’t feel right but she brushed me off and sent me on to L&D to have the baby. Her fluid was low enough to make them concerned about a possible cord accident and I was developing pre-eclampsia.
|Delivery day- Just call me Michelin Mom|
I was settled in my room around noon-ish and we just waited. I was contracting well but not dilating any further so after a few hours they started pitocin. They were pumping me full of fluids and pretty soon the carpal tunnel syndrome made the pain in my wrists unbearable. Seriously, the pain from the carpal tunnel was 100 times worse than the contractions. I was sitting in the bed crying with my hands submerged in a basin of ice water trying to stop the pain. My labor was still not moving along so a couple of hours later the resident checked to see if I had another bag of waters, and I did so she broke that. Immediately, the pain went from a 5 to a 7. I was begging for an epidural but the anesthesiologist was running ragged, there were more than 14 women in L&D and every one of us was needing an epidural. He was the only anesthesiologist working L&D that day, talk about poor planning on the part of the hospital. Never withhold pain meds from a pregnant hormonal woman. It’s suicide. The nurse gave me a shot of stadol, which instead of making the pain more bearable it just made me puke. Good times, good times. Do you know how long that shit takes to get out of your system? Too damn long. Puking and contracting is not fun. Stadol is the devil. Around 4am, the anesthesiologist came in to do my epidural and I kept waiting for it to kick in and the pain to go away. Never happened. The pain didn’t even dull, it was worse than ever. I was still only 5cm dilated and around 9am, I started hearing whispers of a possible c-section. I was ready to go right that second but I had to wait for the anesthesiologist to come back and redo the epidural again. I should have known that there were going to be issues when the anesthesiologist showed up looking like a 12 year old. Turns out he was a first year resident and he was going to watch the attending put in my epidural because I was thin enough to lie on my side while they placed the epidural. Apparently that is not common and the attending anesthesiologist wanted to show the resident. I know they have to learn, great, no problem. However, the attending took forever to place my epidural because he explained every single thing while he did it. I was contracting constantly thanks to the damn Pitocin and the position he had me lying in on my side made each contraction feel like knives were stabbing at my back every 2 minutes. Finally, after 45 minutes, I had blessed relief but still only 5cm dilated. I sucked down some green jello and watched with outrage and jealousy while Mr.McHunky and my sister noshed on some yummy sushi. Bastards. They were half way through their yummy sushi when I felt weird. I was shaking and dizzy and had the most horrible pressure in the world. At first I thought it was just the hospital green jello but the nurse checked me and I was a 10. I went from 5 to 10 cm dilated in less than 15 minutes. I took great delight in watching Mr.McHunky and my sister throw out the rest of their yummy sushi. I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. I’d only had my epidural for less than an hour so I had no sensation to push. It took me an hour and 15 minutes to push her out. In true Diva fashion, Maia came out with her arm thrown dramatically across her eyes causing her elbow to do some serious damage on her way out.
|Maia holding her daddy’s finger at 5 minutes old|
I hope you read my warning about graphic content because this is where it gets graphic. Last chance to run away and get your tubes tied. Maia’s elbow nicked through an artery in my girly parts on the way out and then just to make a statement, it also gave me a third degree tear as a parting gift. Nice. I knew immediately that something was wrong. When you have one nurse, one resident and one baby nurse in the room for your delivery and then all of a sudden there are 3 nurses, 3 residents, 2 attendings and the baby nurse….well that’s not a good sign. The first year resident that delivered me was shoved out of the way so fast that I’m surprised her ass didn’t leave skid marks on the floor. The attendings were moving so fast that I wasn’t sure what was happening at first. One had their hand shoved all the way up in my girly parts and I remember wondering why the one with the biggest damn hands had to be the one with the arm shoved up my girly parts. As though she hadn’t had enough trauma for one day. I remember pain while the were stitching me up, someone had turned off the epidural a bit too soon. I don’t remember anything else because I passed out. Mr.McHunky filled me in though. Apparently, I hemorrhaged. Badly. I lost almost half my total blood volume in less than 5 minutes. They were stitching the tear in my artery, which accounted for part of the blood loss, when my uterus decided to act up and contribute to the hemorrhage. I woke up feeling like death. I could not even hold my baby because my wrists were completely numb thanks to the carpal tunnel syndrome. I couldn’t breastfeed unless someone held the baby for me. It was a horrible feeling. I spent the night receiving blood transfusions and meds to make sure my uterus stayed clamped down. The next morning I was feeling a bit better so the postpartum nurse decided to have me get up and try to urinate hoping I could avoid needing another catheter. Bad idea. Really bad idea. I knew when I got halfway to the bathroom that I was going down. I got the ringing in my ears, the tunnel vision and the tingling in my arms and legs. Luckily, I was almost to the toilet so I passed out and landed right on the toilet. My sister was there to capture this fine moment with the camera for all eternity. When the nurse finally revived me and got help, I was hemorrhaging again. They took me straight to the OR and performed a D&E. They found a piece of the placenta still inside, which caused the hemorrhage. I received more blood transfusions to try and replenish what I lost. The whole thing is such a haze to me, it feels like it happened to someone else. It was definitely not the delivery that I envisioned. Maia was 5 weeks early but she was a healthy 5lbs 9oz and did not require any special assistance, she was able to room in with me the whole time and we were discharged together several days later.
|The day we brought Maia home|
Not even 24 hours later, I was back with a blood clot in my leg. One of my calves was hot and sore with a definite swollen area but thankfully the radiologist found the clot in plenty of time to dissolve it with blood thinners. I spent another 36 hours in the hospital before leaving. During that admission, I had a chance to talk to my L&D nurse. She told me just how close I came to dying and that in her almost 15 years of working in L&D, she had never seen someone lose as much blood as quickly as I did and live. That was sobering. We did find out later on that there were several reasons that led to the traumatic birth. My bloodwork showed a virus, which probably accounted for why I felt off the morning before she was born. I also was allowed to labor for over 34 hours if you count the hours at home in early labor. And my water had been ruptured for most of those 34 hours. The amount of pitocin that they gave me over the course of my labor was another factor. Basically the resident and attending screwed up. But I’m alive and Maia was healthy and that’s what matters. Definitely not your average birth story, but when did we ever do anything average around here?