As throughout the entire pregnancy, I saw my midwives every few weeks leading up to week 36 when I would start seeing them on a weekly basis. However, at my 35 week appointment on June 30, my blood pressure was high (sign of pre-eclampsia) so the midwife sent me to labor and delivery to perform a non-stress test. For those of you who have no idea what this entails let me explain: you’re in a triage room (read: tiny) and a nurse hooks you up to a baby heart rate monitor, a contraction monitor, and a blood pressure cuff that goes off every 15 minutes. Eventually someone comes to take your blood and you also leave a urine sample.
After my first non-stress test all of my labs came back in the normal range. The following week, at my 36 week appointment, my blood pressure was high again and I was having really bad swelling in my feet and calves (another sign of pre-eclampsia) so again I went to labor and delivery at the hospital. And yet again, all of my tests came back in the acceptable range. I should also mention that during every check-up and non-stress test, my baby was 100% healthy – there was nothing at all the matter with her. It was me that was having the issues!
And it should come as no surprise that at my 37 week appointment I again had a high blood pressure reading and was sent to labor and delivery. This time, however, instead of just monitoring everything and running the ‘usual’ labs, they sent me home to complete a 24-hour urine catch. Yep. It’s as fun as it sounds. Basically, every time I used the restroom in a 24-hour period, I had to save it in a large jug and keep it refrigerated. This was to measure how much protein was in my urine over a longer period of time – you’re not supposed to have any protein in your urine, and once it gets above a certain level during pregnancy, you are considered pre-eclamptic which is NOT a good thing.
I dropped off the sample at the hospital around 2pm the following day (Saturday, July 8) and didn’t think much of it. However, around 4:00pm that afternoon I received a call from my midwife letting me know that the protein count in my urine was WAY TOO HIGH and that I would need to come to the hospital that night to be induced. After getting off the phone with the midwife I immediately called Craig as he was out golfing with some friends. Here is an exact transcript of how that phone call went:
Craig: “Hey babe, what’s up.”
Pam: “You need to come home.”
Apparently, Craig sprinted off the golf course to his jeep and peeled out of the parking lot. Once he got home he sprang into “get stuff done mode.” He showered, made dinner, and packed his hospital bag. While he was doing that, I was packing my hospital bag in a bit of a haze. I was literally in a state of shock since I wasn’t expecting to have a baby for another two weeks. I also didn’t really know what induction entailed, so there was also a bit of anxiousness about that.
Craig and I arrived at the hospital at 9pm on Saturday, July 8 so I could be induced. My favorite midwife was on-call, so she was the one who walked us through what was going to happen and was there through 7am the following morning. We got settled into our room and the midwife and nurse put on my baby monitor, contraction monitor, and blood pressure cuff. The nurse also placed the induction medicine (Cervidil) which was the most painful experience I think I’ve ever had. Around this time she placed my IV as well and holy cow – let’s just say I have really good veins – they had to change my hospital robe and the hospital bed sheets. After all the induction ‘prep’ work was done, the nurse gave me an Ambien to help me sleep.
Around 7:30am the next morning a new nurse and midwife were on the clock. They came in to check me and found out I was already 3cm dilated! I was ecstatic because Cervidil isn’t necessarily supposed to dilate you. I hadn’t felt any contractions yet, but knew that they were happening since I was dilating and we could see them on the monitor. The nurse and midwife left for a little bit and came back to check me and I was dilated to 5cm – all on my own without any Pitocin! I was SO EXCITED. I still wasn’t really feeling any contractions at this point and thought to myself “if this is as bad as it’s going to get, childbirth is going to be a breeze.” Pretty sure I jinxed myself there.
After another couple hours the nurse checked me and I was still dilated to 5cm. No progess. They decided to start the Pitocin and oh boy – I could start feeling those contractions. They still weren’t the worst, just uncomfortable. Around 6pm I was measured again and the nurse said I was between 6cm and 7cm (I think I was actually at 6cm but she was trying to make it sound better than it was). I decided it was time to get an epidural which was not as bad as I thought it would be. My anesthesiologist was great and my nurse helped make sure I stayed in the correct position for everything. The pain killer shots before the epidural were actually worse than the epidural itself.
After the epidural the midwife and nurse let me take a nap and then came back to check me around 8pm. I was fully effaced and dilated so I started pushing right away. At first the midwife had to tell me when to push since I couldn’t feel my contractions but the longer I was in active labor, the more I was able to feel the pressure of the contractions and could feel them coming on. I pushed as hard as I could during every single contraction. It took a while for the baby to start coming down the birth canal and after three hours of pushing she was NOT going anywhere past my pelvis (she’s got a big brain 😊). At that point my midwife had me take a break from pushing and gave me the option to continue pushing (which she thought wouldn’t progress my labor and only make me more tired) or get a caesarean. After chatting with Craig for a few minutes we decided for me to get a c-section. I was exhausted by this point and we both doubted that the baby was going to be able to fit through the natural way.
Because there were a few patients getting caesareans before me, Craig and I waited for about 2 hours on our own in our room. I tried to fall asleep but the contractions were still coming and were extremely painful. During this time, Craig was AMAZING. He only left my side once to go talk to his mom and he held my hand to help me through my contractions.
Around 1:30am, medical staff started coming into my room to prep for the section. The whole process took a lot longer than I thought it would but at 2:04am the doctor told Craig to stand up (from behind the blue curtain) and he got to see our baby for the first time.
They took her over to a table to get cleaned up and had to aspirate and give her oxygen because she wasn’t breathing well. Craig was really nervous about the baby until she got more stable. They got her cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket and brought her over to put her on my chest. Well, Craig got nervous all over again because I wasn’t responding to my name. I was really out of it due to the drugs and sheer exhaustion. After the third time of saying my name I finally responded and they put the baby on my chest. I got to hold her for a few minutes while the doctor and midwife finished the surgery.
Craig got to carry the baby back to the recovery room as I was wheeled on my hospital bed. And that’s Gemma’s birth story!