Dedicated to my husband who was my rock through the whole process and to my baby girl...both whom I love from the deep, deep depths of my heart.
Thursday February 5
I cried as I dialed Michael at work to tell him what the nurse practitioner had just told me over the phone. My test results had come back and I was showing signs of the onset of pregnancy-related hypertension/preeclampsia. I was scared and unsure of what to do. The nurse practitioner said that I would have to be induced, but that her and the midwife agreed that a high-risk doctor should exam me and decide when. The nurse practitioner said she would call me back and let me know what time to go in to the hospital to be examined.
It was too soon. I was banking on having more time to pull myself and our house together. I wanted to take my maternity leave in the spring. I wasn’t ready to give birth. All of the sudden, I had no control.
The nurse practitioner called back as soon as I hung up the phone with Michael. She told to grab my overnight bag, drop what I was doing, and come to the hospital right away. To say that the urgency of her request sent me into a panic is an understatement. I was a wreck. I called Michael back and told him I would call from the hospital when I knew more. I told him not to come join me at the hospital. I was in denial.
I arrived at the hospital, valet parked, and a kind security guard took me upstairs. I filled out paperwork and was immediately admitted to triage so that I wouldn’t have to wait long to see the doctor. Tests were run, blood was drawn, and I was given an ultrasound.
Although I was nervous and scared, I have to say that seeing her beautiful little body on the sonogram screen suddenly made me less anxious and more excited to meet her.
The high risk doctor met with me and said that my tests results and symptoms showed that I had preeclampsia. Because the only way to treat it was to get the placenta out, that meant we had to get the baby out. I would need to be induced at 37 weeks. Coincidentally, 37 weeks was Saturday, two days later.
A nurse took me back upstairs to triage and I was given a bed to rest on until my test results came back. I didn’t know how long that would be, so I pulled out my book club book, “Make it Happen,” by Lara Casey and began to read. It must have been divine timing because the book opens with her giving birth to her daughter, and describes her struggle with relinquishing control of the situation. I began to cry. I knew that I was about to be in the same boat.
I called Michael and we decided that, if possible, we would try to wait to be induced until Saturday to give us one day in between to prepare. My best friend Meredith was already planning to come visit me that weekend to help set up the nursery and have some girl time. Despite the situation, she decided she would come anyway and help us get some work done at the house while I was in the hospital.
Word came back from the doctor. I would return on Saturday to be induced. The nurse scheduled my induction for 10am on Saturday morning and I was discharged from the hospital.
Friday February 6
Michael took the day off on Friday to prepare. The day became a constant stream of visitors and helpers coming to encourage us and help us get ready as quickly as possible. Michael worked on building the crib and shelves for the baby’s room, and installing the car seat. I spent the day working remotely and handing off tasks to my team members. We nervously packed our bags, set our alarms, and restlessly tried to get some sleep.
Saturday February 7
The next morning, we ate breakfast and arrived at the hospital at 10am to check in. We were excited, ready, and arrived with high hopes. Upon meeting our first nurse and the midwife, we were told what our options would be, and warned that it could take up to 72 hours for the baby to be born. We were a little taken back by that, but figured maybe that was the exception not the rule and decided to proceed. We just figured that they didn't want to over promise and get our hopes up.
We were informed that at any point in time we could “tap out” and have a c-section, but we would try to series of inducing drugs and see how far we could get.
I was nervous, but Michael encouraged me to try, and so we did.
My induction began with several doses of cytotec, a little white pill used to induce labor. It is taken in six hour increments. Needless to say, after several doses, it was evident that it wasn’t going to work.
Sunday February 8
On Sunday morning, we moved on to the next phase of induction through the use of a drug called cervidil. Cervidil looks like a tiny white strip and is inserted into the cervix to cause labor leading to dilation. In order to move on to pitocin, the goal was for me to dilate 4 centimeters. I started the day at zero and had high hopes that this would launch me into labor and get me where I needed to be so we could move on to delivery.
By lunchtime the contractions were in full swing. I was writhing in pain in my bed. I was uncomfortable and starting to get emotional. I could hear birth going on all around me. At one point, I was in the bathroom washing my hands and I could hear the woman in the next room pushing. There was a brief moment of silence followed by the relieving sound of her baby's first cries. I sat down and began to cry. It felt like everyone was giving birth around me. I was nervous, feeling sick, and in pain. When would OUR baby come?
The nurse on duty offered me something for the pain. I assumed it would be motrin or something to just take the edge off. Instead, I was given nubian intravenously which made me completely loopy. As it wore off, the nausea wore on which caused me to have a headache and vomit. I was miserable and wishing I had just given into the pain and not taken anything at all.
I was beginning to break. The pain, sounds of birth all around me, the IV, the drugs, the constant monitors on my abdomen...I felt like a science experiment.
By the end of the day, I had dilated almost 3 centimeters. The midwife said that we could continue with the cervidil or move on to pitocin. We decided to go for the pitocin in hopes that it would move things along and take us the rest of the way.
After a hot meal and shower, I was hooked back up to the machines and started the pitocin. They upped my dose every 15 minutes. I was starting to contract by the time they got me to the second to last dose. They gave me the last dose, but instead of going full throttle into labor, I fell fast asleep.
It was another dead end.
Monday February 9
Almost 48 hours later, we were still in the same spot we were in when we arrived on Saturday. We were tired, but hopeful that today would be the day. Since it had been successful the day before, the midwife decided that the best thing to do was to go back on cervadil. So in the morning, I ate breakfast and enjoyed a few minutes of being free from IVs and monitors, then it was back to the 12-hour cycle of cervadil.
At the end of the day, the midwife and OB came to visit us to review our options. At this point, they could not let me go much longer. The next step would be to break my water and either
I would go into labor or;
I would need an emergency c-section
Either way, the baby was going to be born soon. There was one more rock to turn over and this would be telling of how I would give birth.
After a few hours, the OB and midwife returned to break my water. As painful as it sounds, having your water broken manually doesn’t really hurt. However, as soon as they broke my water, my body went into full-on labor. The shooting pain going down through my abdomen was the worst pain I have ever experienced. After everyone left the room, I turned to Michael crying. He grabbed my hand and I told him, “I don’t want to do this anymore...I want her out!” Michael was my rock. “Honey,” he said, “the epidural will be here in 20 minutes!”
When I wrote my birth plan, I was adamant that I wanted to avoid a c-section if I could, as long as the baby's or my life was not threatened. For the record, I don’t say this to discourage anyone who has or wants to have a c-section. This was just my personal choice and preference. Michael, with clarity of mind, kept me on the plan. When you are in pain and emotionally and physically exhausted its hard to make a sound decision. In hindsight, I am so very grateful that he did not let me give in. I know I would have regretted it.
Before my epidural, I needed to get a new IV port. The nurse couldn’t find a vein, so she called another nurse in to assist. She tried to insert the port and failed miserably. (Talk about stress! Please don’t destroy my veins, people!) Instead of trying and trying, they called anesthesiology to come and place the port. The department sent this muscular asian guy we nicknamed “the ninja.” He had the most gentle, steady hand of anyone that has ever given me medical attention. He tied the rubber band, flicked my arm, and got the port in like it was putting a stamp on a letter.
A few minutes later, another gentleman from the anesthesiology team came to do my epidural. To say Michael was intrigued is an understatement. He was loving every minute and asking lots of questions. Interestingly enough, they made Michael stand with a chair behind him. Apparently, they had a lot of husbands faint while watching the procedure (to insert the epidural) and didn’t want to take any chances.
I was given local anesthesia in my back, which hurt the most. It felt like a bee sting. Then the port was put in. I have to say that it was the craziest sensation I have ever had. I felt the drug “fill my body.” I started to tingle, then go numb. Oddly enough, there was one spot on the lower left side of my back where I could still feel the contractions. I let the nurse know and she called anesthesiology back to give me an additional dose. After that, I was completely numb from my waist down. My legs felt like jello and were sliding off the bed. Michael and the nurse were trying to prop me in a position to get a little rest. While they were moving me around, I could not stop laughing. It felt so weird!!! Michael said it was the happiest he had seen me in three days.
At this point, it was passed midnight and well into the wee hours of Tuesday morning. After 3-4 hours of labor, I was ready to push. All of the sudden, the nurses sprang into action. They pulled out a table of tools. My bed was raised and big plastic stirrups were pulled out. They lifted the bed and pulled out the bottom half so the midwife could position herself at the end of it to deliver the baby. It was go time!
It was 3:45 in the morning when the midwife told me to wait for a contraction, then to push when I felt the urge. To my surprise, I was put in charge of leading the pushing effort. I would just need to tell them when I was ready before each push. It was truly an out of body experience. The whole room stood still. It was all focused on the task of pushing. It was quiet with just the sounds of the nurses coaching me and Michael helping me with breathing. There was no pain. All I felt was a lot of pressure. As I got through a few strong pushes, the Midwife said, “We have a hand!” Sure enough, little girl came out fist-first, marvel comic book style. All she was missing was her cape. After one last pain inducing push (I really felt that one!), she was out at 4:23 am. (4/23 is also my birthday!)
Time completely stopped. The whole room was a blur to me. All I saw was her. She was breathtakingly beautiful to me. They wiped her off and placed her on my chest. I felt like I already knew her. I couldn’t believe I was holding OUR BABY! I heard those same relieving cries, only this time they were coming from our little girl. I remember thinking that she already had chubby cheeks and cute arm and leg rolls. I don’t really remember anything else. The midwife was letting me know what was happening...removing the placenta...stitching me up...I didn’t see anything. I didn’t feel anything. It didn’t matter really.
Officially speaking, Olivia Claire Sanders (Olive for short) was born on February 10, 2015. She was 7 lbs 14.6 ounces and 20 inches long...perfect...cute as a button…hashtag I am bias….