- A BIRTH STORY -
Madison, Jacob, & Lincoln
* Warning: This story may be triggering for some people *
Around 28 weeks my fundal measurement was coming up a bit small, so I was sent for a growth ultrasound at about 33 weeks. I continued to measure small all the way through, and had a couple more growth ultrasounds as well as a biophysical. Again, I was assured everything was looking good, baby was just small. I was classified as IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) when baby was in the 10th percentile, but was down to the 5th percentile at my last ultrasound, at 36 weeks and 5 days.
I never actually went into labour. I was exactly 37 weeks when I went to the hospital via ambulance after I started bleeding fairly heavily. I was in bed with my husband; he had been rubbing my back, and we had just turned off the lights to go to sleep. As soon as I noticed the bleeding I yelled for my husband to page the midwife immediately, then to call 911. It wasn’t until I was in the ambulance and my husband was following behind when he got a call from a midwife (not my primary - she was off-call, not my second - she was at a family emergency, but my third back up!). She met us at the hospital and turned out to be amazing. One of the first things she said was that we would know if anything was really a concern because I would be hooked up to a bunch of things…then a few seconds later the nurses were hooking up an IV, preparing me for a possible blood transfusion and wheeling me into the OR. Honestly, I was terrified. When the paramedics arrived, they asked how much blood there had been but I wasn’t able to accurately tell them because I had flushed the toilet. My biggest fear was that I was losing my baby and when I came back home there would be a toilet full of blood to remind me. It turned out to be a placenta abruption, and I later learned it had started to calcify. Due to the calcification my placenta was taken to pathology but I never did learn why that happened or if they even came to a conclusion. The paramedics chalked it all up to my mucus plug breaking, and regular labour was beginning.
When I got to the hospital I was immediately hooked up to a non-stress test and was told that it indicated I was having mild contractions, although I never actually felt anything. From the time we called the ambulance until my son was born was about 2 hours and 45 minutes. I had an emergency C-Section with a spinal tap, and I was also told afterward that my entire uterus was out of my body at one point while they were trying to locate the source of the bleeding.
I was uncontrollably shaking from shock, and it’s also very common with a C-section. I remember laying there and not being able to gather myself, until I finally started picturing myself talking to two ladies from work. They always stressed to me that the best thing (or only thing) I could do was relax, try to be calm, and remember that it's going to happen the way it's going to happen. I imagined myself in the office chatting with them, and for a moment I felt myself relax enough to get through the worst of it. I’m still yet to find another woman who had a C-section and didn’t feel anything…luckily the amnesia sets in eventually.
After Lincoln was born, one of the doctors or nurses yelled out, “Mom look to the left! You will see baby, look to the left!!” The first thing I said was “ohhh-is he BLUE?” He was in fact blue for a couple seconds until they resuscitated him and he was immediately breathing on his own. He was hooked up to a CPAP machine to assist with his breathing for about 12-24 hours after birth.
My husband was my rock in the whole thing; his support was unwavering. I also messaged my two best friends, one being a midwife. They both called me and texted me as everything unfolded. We have Jeni to thank for getting us to call 911, and Alexa for keeping me calm until the paramedics arrived (I say calm, but I think I shook uncontrollably until at least two hours after baby was born). My parents, sister, and brother-in-law all showed up at the hospital with support, but I wasn't able to see them until the following morning. My mom was amazing through it all.
This whole experience was completely opposite of what I imagined. My mom and my only maternal Aunt both had a natural childbirth, and I didn’t think I would be an exception. Honestly the whole thing was a little humorous because it was so far-fetched, but in childbirth, there are no plans to be made. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen, so it’s best to just be ready and open for everything. Although I do remember laughing A LOT (and it hurt like hell - we use our stomach muscles for so much more than we realize) at how swollen my feet were! My brother-in-law is the nicest person ever and even he couldn’t stop laughing at my giant feet…. Ok maybe they smelled too….
I actually did really well during my recovery and was released after 48 hours. We were kept in the NICU for 5 days with baby until the staff was confident he would be able to feed on his own at home. He was born 4lbs 11oz and would not latch for the first 6 weeks. I pumped and bottle fed, trying as often as I could to breastfeed.
My mother-in-law was a saint and cleaned our whole house while we were in the hospital. They also bought us the Halo bassinet, which was set up in our living room as soon as we got home. I think I immediately put him in it and laid down. My husband took me home for a couple hours while baby was still in the NICU though, and the first thing I did was shower - I felt like a new person after that. The first few days were stressful; I was so hard on myself for not being able to feed him, but in hindsight I was my own biggest obstacle. People say pregnancy hormones are bad - trust me those have NOTHING on breastfeeding hormones! I cried the whole way home from the hospital thinking about women who go through pregnancy and birth with no support system. Luckily, I had an enormous show of support from family and friends. Women are incredible creatures; we can adapt and handle almost anything. Labour, birth, and motherhood are no exception. Although the first few days (weeks) can be very challenging, it is amazing to see yourself rise up and be present and loving for that tiny baby, no matter how sleep deprived, physically exhausted, and in pain you may be.
While I write this, my now 10 month old is crawling, scooting, standing up, and shuffling all over the living room floor with Daddy. He is thriving, to say the least. He had a rough start, but we have done everything we can think of to try and make his life here on earth as happy and full of love as possible. Labour and delivery are scary, but my husband and I are already thinking about a second, sometime, in the future…
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