This was not in my birth plan

Post On Friday, April 29, 2016 By Sarah

This was not in my birth plan

Sunday, August 9th, my husband Kirk and I went for a walk on the bike path. It was a warm summer day, but as the sun was setting the cooler air felt like a relief. I was 36 weeks pregnant. As soon as we hit the meadow I started seeing gold stars. Little fireflies dancing in the sky, except I knew I wasn't seeing fireflies. This was a dreaded symptom of preeclampsia my doctor warned me about.

On Saturday the 8th I had a scheduled stress test because my blood pressure was creeping up. I starting doing these tests twice a week when I was 35 weeks pregnant. Two straps hugged my 9-month pregnant belly and the sound of a speeding heartbeat eased my mine. Josephine was doing "beautifully." I was told to keep an eye on my blood pressure and to go to labor and deliver if it went above 150.

I stopped on the bike path and told Kirk, "Ugh, I'm seeing gold spots again." We turned around and headed straight to Walgreens. I slipped my arm in the blue blood pressure cuff I remember playing with as a kid. As the numbers flashed my hands got sweaty. Beep, beep, beep, 153/81.

On the drive home I called the nurse and she told me to drive to the hospital and to pack a bag "just in case." Before we left I vacuumed the living room…"just in case."

My blood pressure was still high at the hospital so the nurses took a urine sample. After waiting thirty minutes for the results I was told the protein in my urine nearly doubled from the day before. Ugh, something else my doctor was worried about. The nurse wanted a "pure" urine sample so she inserted a catheter. That was terrible and incredibly invasive. The results were the same and shortly after the on-call doctor came in. "Congratulations," she said. "You're having a baby." Josephine was still doing well, but I was at risk and was diagnosed with preeclampsia.

At this point I was angry. I didn’t want to be induced. I felt like my body failed me and that it was my responsibility to stay pregnant until she was full term.

Before taking the medication for induction the nursed checked me and I was already 1cm dilated. She told me this was to my advantage and that I would see my daughter in a couple of days.

Monday the 10th, I was stuck in an uncomfortable bed. I watched episodes of Wendy Williams and CNN news. The doctors noticed I was laboring on my own so they stopped the medicine for induction, however my blood pressure was still rising so I was hooked up to an IV for anti-seizure medication. The medicine wasn’t administered, but it was ready to use just in case things got worse. Another dreaded catheter was inserted for the medicine. By this time I was 4cm dilated, but I really didn't feel much pain. It felt more like a heavy period. The catheter was uncomfortable and awkward. Kirk brought in my labor ball but the nurse warned me that I wouldn’t be able to use it because I needed to stay in bed. About thirty minutes after the catheter was inserted I felt a really strong pain. I told Kirk I wanted it removed ASAP. He was my advocate so he politely asked the nurse to remove it, but I was screaming "take it out, take it out." After the nurse removed it she checked me and I was 6 cm dilated. Ah, so this terrible feeling was labor, not the catheter. Alas, I was catheter free and in oh so much pain. Kirk was monitoring my contractions and helping me breathe, but this pain was unlike anything. No words can describe the pain I felt. I said I wanted an epidural, but because I was at risk for blood cloths, the nurse had to take a sample of my blood to ensure it wasn't clotting. She also said since I was 6cm that it might be too late for an epidural. I didn’t care and I let her prick the vein in my left arm in-between contractions. The pain was getting even worse and my nurse lost my blood sample. I'm not lying. So she took it again and after my blood was tested, the lab verified that I was able to get an epidural, but at this point I was 10cm dilated. Way too late for an epidural. When the doctor’s arrived I was screaming "I think I have to push, I HAVE to push!" The doctor was just checking in and was amazed with my progress. Sure enough I was read to push and one more doctor rushed in. They didn't expect me to deliver so quickly, and neither did I. Pushing felt like a relief from the pain, but it was also foreign to me. I didn't know what I was doing. Kirk held onto one leg and a nurse held on to the other. I did my breaths and the two of them coached me through each push. I remember the doctor's face. He was a blank canvas. I felt comfort in knowing this was just routine for him. His hands in blue plastic gloves were folded as he waited for Josephine to arrive. The NICU staffed entered the room too because she was premature. After 30 minutes of pushing, and one big momma breath later, Josephine made her presence. By some miracle, a lot of breathing, Kirk’s comfort, and a lost blood sample, I was able to labor without pain medicine. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice, but that didn't cause concern because her healthy scream let us know she was OK. As soon as she sang the NICU staff left. But in the same instant I heard the doctor say "Hey, she is losing a lot of blood over here." At this moment, preeclampsia took away moments of motherhood for me that I wish I could take back.

Immediately I was giving a shot and the IV medication I was hooked up to was administered. My sweet baby on my chest made me feel ok, but as the medication kicked in, I was slipping into a fog. The medication paralyzed me. I honestly can’t write about my first day with my daughter because I don’t remember most of it.

My husband took on every role he could for us. I needed assistance going to the bathroom and Josephine needed help in the middle of the night. I couldn’t stand up, but when she would cry he would take her off my chest and tend to her. He gave Jo her first bath and changed her first diaper. I helplessly looked on as he hid his fear with a meek smile.  

Skin-to-skin contact saved me because even though I don’t remember it, I know I was helping her transition into this foreign world.

I was still swollen so breastfeed was such a challenge, but we did it. The three of us. Kirk helped her latch on and listened carefully as the lactation consultant entered the room. He assisted me and we celebrated once she did latch. But this is all so hazy in my memory.

I felt such shame, like a failure. I was stuck in bed when my baby needed me the most.

Luckily my vitals were back to normal two days later and I was able to mother my sweet girl. I changed her diaper and wrapped her in her swaddle and I held her. I soaked in everything at that moment.

I’m so grateful for my doctor who monitored me and helped me make it to 36 weeks and my family for their loving support, but I am most grateful for my husband. He took on the role of mom, dad and husband while I was recovering.

Today my daughter and I are so healthy and happy. I still resent preeclampsia for taking away those first few days from me, but I know I did everything I could and I soak up every memory I have with her now. 

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