For those reading while pregnant: the following is not normal. A friend said to me while I was pregnant that I would have a 8 lb baby, and go over my due date based on how perfect my pregnancy was. This is probably true for you. For me, however, even doctors couldn’t have predicted the chaos and trauma ahead. Proceed with caution.
Harvey Gus was welcomed into the world at 4:31am on Sunday, July 29th. Weighing in at 4lbs14oz, and 19 inches long. He was 36 weeks 4days. It was a whirlwind of a labor and delivery.
This labor and delivery story is NOT for the faint of heart, as warned above.
A tiny bit about my pregnancy. It. Was. Perfect. No morning sickness. No discomfort. No cravings. Just lots of love, baby kicks and hopeful thoughts of the future.
On Thursday, July 26th, I went to work just like any normal Thursday. I had a doctors appointment scheduled for 3 pm and was excited because it was the first of my weekly appointments. At noon, my doctors office called. My doctor was delivering a baby in the afternoon, could I come in at one o’clock or come on Monday instead? I almost just rescheduled for Monday because at work one of my co-workers had left early so I was responsible for phones in the afternoon. At the last minute though, I decided to go in at one. This turned out to be a lifesaver (literally).
At 1 pm, I arrived at my appointment. I went through the normal routine: pee in a cup, get blood pressure taken, see if anything has changed. I felt great. That’s when we found out things had definitely changed. My blood pressure was about 40 points higher than normal. It had normally been in the 100-110′s range during my whole pregnancy. On this Thursday, it was at 154! My doctor was concerned, but said that most likely I would have to go on modified bed rest for a few more weeks and then we would review the situation and deliver around 38 weeks. I was told not to go to work the next day and to head to labor and delivery for monitoring for the rest of the afternoon. The doctor wanted to make sure baby wasn’t stressed and that I had enough amniotic fluid.
I called my husband on the way to Labor and Delivery. Told him it was no big deal, I just needed to be monitored. I felt fine. Austin rushed to the hospital anyway because he was worried, even though my doctor and I weren’t alarmed at this point.
At the labour and delivery ward, they hooked me up to a blood pressure cuff to take readings every 15 minutes. I was also attached to NST (non-stress test) monitors to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and contractions. We were surprised to see that I was in fact having contractions about 8 minutes apart. I wasn’t allowed to walk around the hospital and was instead wheeled around to do blood tests, more urine tests, and an ultrasound. Baby boy looked perfect, had enough fluid, and wasn’t in any type of fetal stress. My OBGYN was going on vacation and said to schedule an appointment for Monday and stay on bed rest until then. Before leaving he told me I woud most likely be going home in a few hours.
However, from the time I arrived at the hospital my blood pressure didn’t go down, it went up. It was now in the 160′s and rising. As it continued to rise, we realized something was definitely not right. I officially had severe Pre Eclampsia. Only 25% of those who develop Pre Eclampsia are severe cases (BP higher than 160). I hadn’t shown any signs leading up to this day other than some swelling. I hadn’t been checked in 2 weeks and the doctors now think that most likely I had high blood pressure most or all of those 2 weeks. My placenta probably wasn’t functioning correctly and baby needed to come out. The on-call doctor who took over was very helpful and made the decision to induce labor.
I was going to have a baby.
After the shock wore off, we made phone calls and tried to eat something before I was given induction drugs.
Then came the worst part of the whole process. I was given Magnesium Sulfate to prevent seizures because my blood pressure was so high. My blood pressure was now in the 170s. It was not good. The magnesium sulfate made my muscles so weak. I felt like I had the worst flu of my life. It made me sick. I wasn’t allowed to walk around. I had cuffs on my legs to continue circulation, an IV, a catheter, and a blood pressure cuff going off every 30 minutes. No pain medicine. Natural contractions. My blood pressure kept rising, so the decision was made to to keep me shifting from one side to the next every hour. I was so uncomfortable.
Then the induction drugs started. I was first given Misopropal. This started the fairly strong contractions happening every 5 minutes. They definitely weren’t comfortable. It would have helped to be able to move around. This was Thursday night and at this point I was only allowed to eat ice until the baby was born.
This is where my timeline gets fuzzy. It all started to blend and minutes and hours meant nothing to me. Next, they started pitocin. They gradually increased the pitocin to 20. I had no pain meds and painful contractions. I was only dilated to a .5 after the miso and a 1.5 after the pitocin. It had been over 24 hours and I hadn’t slept at all.
The pitocin and miso did hardly anything, so after 24 hours, i was given miso again, in a higher dose. I did some more laboring on my side. Still, there was no progress for another 8 hours or so. I was given pitocin again, all the way to 20. This time, I dilated to a 2 and they could break my water. Immediately, my contractions increased. I was finally in active labor and assured it would be in the next 24 hours. It had been about 48 hours at this point and I was exhausted. C-section talk was brought up from time to time but I did not want one.
I was given an epidural and told it would help. Of course though, this was the labor where everything went wrong and I shouldn’t have assumed it would work. At first, the epidural was a lifesaver. I was able to sleep for a few hours. I was given a rude awakening of seriously painful contractions on Saturday. I felt everything. The epidural had worn off. A nurse was called and she in turn called the anesthesiologist to see what could be done. Adjustments were made and I was given more of the drugs in the line. It worked, and I was mostly numb again.
For 30 minutes.
Then, the anesthesiologist was called again, because the same thing happened. I was numb for about 30 more minutes and then I could feel everything. The anesthesiologist decided the line was placed incorrectly and they should re-do the epidural. At the same time, my doctor came to check me. It was too late, I was dilated to a 9. They would not be able to re-do the epidural. I was going to do this naturally.
Pushing itself wasn’t so bad, but imagine that you have been up and laboring for 58 hours, in a bed, on drugs that make your muscles weak. Now imagine pushing with sore muscles that feel fatigued and weak. Now imagine pushing for 2.5 hours in this condition. With no pain medicine, tied to a bed. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and maybe the hardest thing I will ever have to do. Not to mention, my contractions weren’t working with me. They were coming on 5 minutes apart and were super weak and not helping my body push. They turned the pitocin up to 24. 4 more than the max. The contractions were not helping at all. They said the baby’s head kept retracting in the 5+ minutes waiting for another push. I was even told to push while not having a contraction which is ridiculously hard to do.
Finally, 2.5 hours later, he was ready to come out. This whole time, his heartrate stayed great and we had no concerns of his immediate health. That said, he was a preemie so pediatrics came in ready to take him to the special care nursery to make sure everything was fine.
At 4:31am, he emerged, screaming. He was given APGAR scores of 9. He was placed on my chest and I saw how beautiful he looked and how much he looked like my husband. I was in love.
And that was that. He was born.
All in all, I labored 61 hours if you count the induction, 18 hours if you count from my water breaking. Afterwards I was very shellshocked and felt like I had PTSD. Over the days though, this has faded and I went from thinking I would never have children again to thinking that it couldn’t possibly be that bad again and optimistic about future children. Also, he definitely makes it worth it.
The next day, we named him Harvey Gus and we began recovery. Although I had him on Sunday morning, I wasn’t discharged until Tuesday. He stayed until the next Saturday when he was 6 days old. He stayed those 6 days in the special care nursery where they watched for Jaundice and made sure he could do things that preemies have trouble with (regulating temperature, breathing, and eating). His only problem was mild jaundice (never had to use bili lights) and he had to learn to eat. They used a ng feeding tube one time but only had to use it that once, he was a quick learner. He had no problems with breathing or temperature. He was born small but is gaining weight well. At his 8 day old appointment, he was already back at his birth weight. By 11 days old, he was 5lbs 6 oz.