Babies Name: Lillian Jane
Babies Sex: Female
Due Date: 2/14/2013
Babies Birth Date: 1/25/2013
# of weeks pregnant: 37
Type of Birth: Vaginal
Babies Stats: 6 lbs, 0.5 oz, 19 in.
Parents: Alicia & Ryan
“They say when it’s your first time, make a “birth plan.” I was always skeptical of this, and sure enough, my OB discouraged it and joked that nothing really goes according to plan. I am a go-with-the-flow person, so it sounded fine to just hang loose.
I never dreamed I would get pre-eclampsia at 36 weeks and be induced a week later. It was my first pregnancy and all had been going well – no headaches, no low back pain, not even Braxton Hicks contractions – that is, until the third trimester was in full swing around 32 weeks. I began swelling up like a balloon in my legs and feet. Not your average puffy pregnancy swelling; this was knee-disappearing, wide-calf-boots-too-tight, miserably uncomfortable swelling. I felt like the Michelin Man. It got really real when I had to buy size 11 flats (normally I’m an already-big 10). Soon, the edema was up to my hips (normally it’s from the knee-down, said my doc). I worked full-time and felt extremely sluggish. I later learned that I gained an extra 15 lbs of water weight after 34 weeks.
At 36 weeks, 1 day – I saw sparkly spots in my vision at work and felt dizzy going to my car. When I took a blood pressure cuff test at the drug store, my BP was 156/96! At first, I thought the machine was broken. It then dawned on me that my strange symptoms were adding up quickly (I had been reading about pre-eclampsia online and was praying not to have it). At this point, I became more than just discouraged with my body; this sent me into panic-mode. My mom remembers that I said, “Oh no, it’s too early to have this baby.”
I checked into the hospital right away and one nurse commented that my swelling was “significant” but my BP had gone down though it was still on the high side. My blood and urine was fine, but they told me that with pre-eclampsia the symptoms can come on very quickly. So I went on bed rest. My OB monitored pre-e signs vigilantly. At 36 weeks, 5 days, I started a 24-hour urine test. My swelling was ridiculous. I had to wait for the results for 24+ hours.
At 37 weeks, my doctor’s nurse contacted me and said my urinalysis had a high amount of proteins in it, the final straw in confirming my pre-eclampsia diagnosis. She dropped the bomb that I needed to check in to the hospital that night at 10 p.m.
Our last evening as a family of two was weird, mostly because it was still January and we were mentally prepared to have this baby on Valentine’s Day. My husband went to a local cafe to study (he’s in medical school) and get his mind wrapped around the impending craziness. I stayed at home, watched American Idol, ate dinner, showered (still so swollen I couldn’t even bend over to shave my legs) and re-packed my hospital bag. I was excited to finally meet my baby, but wondered if her lungs would be developed fully.
Of course I was disappointed in that I had always wanted for my body to get the chance to decide when it was ready to go into labor. I had also heard that induced labors can take up to 24 hours. I was hoping for a more natural experience, and I had to let that all go. Getting her out for safety reasons for both of our sakes (and with the bonus consequence of my horrendous swelling going away) made me pretty motivated to buck up and handle whatever would come my way. Still, I was doing a lot of praying.
We drove to the ER and I was dropped off there and wheeled up to Labor & Delivery. To “ripen my uterus” (doctor speak), the nurse inserted a Cervidil. It hurt a little going in because the nurse shoved her hand all the way (a lot like it feels when they check your cervix). I gripped the sides of the bed. In my mind, I was saying, “Birth will be more painful, suck it up.” Boy, was I right. Hubby slept in a cot next to my bed all night, and we both tossed and turned. For one, the baby heartbeat monitor was loud (SWISH, SWISH, SWISH) – awesome in theory, but when you know you have a huge day ahead, it was crucial to get sleep, which I didn’t get much of because the Cervidil caused minor contractions all night. They felt like PMS cramps. I asked a nurse to turn down the volume of the heart monitor. I may have gotten a few hours of sleep, here and there. Not a great way to start a full day of labor…
37 weeks, 1 day (birth day!) – 9:30 a.m. – Doctor said I had dilated from a 1 to a 2 and was encouraged about the success of the Cervidil, removed it (like pulling out a tampon but way more invasive) and decided to go ahead and break my water. It was a weird and uncomfortable way to wake up.
All Morning – My contractions reared their ugly heads and came at me with a vengeance. I was mostly just clutching my tummy and moaning. The plan was to get the Pitocin drip started, but to do that, I needed to have no more than 5 every 10 minutes. Instead, I was having one a minute! Ouch. I remember sitting in a chair during this part. I was mostly I clutching my stomach and grimacing and not really aware that my sisters had arrived. had moments of being lucid and other moments of all-encompassing discomfort. FINALLY the nurse started the Pitocin. I was in major pain still so decided to get an epidural for some tummy tightness relief. By this time, I had experienced contractions all night and morning.
Noon – Epidural put in. I was having contractions so heavily I didn’t really feel it. My husband watched (bad idea) – being all confident that he had seen lots of spinal taps as a medical person. But it got to his head and he lost it – and fainted! He fell all the way to the floor – luckily didn’t hurt himself! We laugh about it now, but I was thinking, “DO NOT get hurt today! You better be there for the birth!” Oh, those hormones.The nurse checked him out and gave him some scrubs to wear since he had landed on my sister’s Coke cup and got wet.
Afternoon – Felt SO much better with the epidural that I didn’t care that a catheter was placed elsewhere. Finally got some sleep. I remember texting people during this time and my parents arriving to say hello but I was in a daze.
Late afternoon/evening – I awoke and pretty soon the baby’s head started dropping – which was an immense pressure and, despite the epidural, I started to feel lots of pain again. I asked for more epi drugs but there wasn’t a lot it could help with. The pressure was in my backside…and I thought the baby was coming out of the wrong end! Turns out the reason I felt that is because her head was “sunny side up.” I was experiencing the pain of “back labor.” It felt like a semi truck coming out the wrong end. The nurse had me go on my hands and knees on the bed to “turn” her (which in the end didn’t completely work). My husband brought me my iPod with my favorite music but after awhile I took it off because it wasn’t helping me feel any better. I began pushing when contractions came. I felt everything. My mind really came alive. After a day of exhausting labor and a haze of drugs and pain, I was alert and ready for action. It’s amazing what the mind and body can do. My nurse, Corrie, and husband Ryan were the only ones in the room, coaching me through pushing. I recall them telling me to slow down, as to not tear. This sent fear into me and was the only thing making me ease up and to wait for my contractions – ugh, it was torturous. I heard Ryan say to me, “I see the head! There is hair on it!” which made everything more real, and made me motivated. It was burning and painful and my legs were so heavy. Next thing I knew, I heard that my doctor was on her way down the hall.
8:10 p.m. – Doctor came in the door, and rushed over without gloves on and tended to me, surprised that I was so far along in pushing! And being immediately aware of her presence (and the mental “okay” to keep going), I pushed really hard one last time and the baby came out at 8:13 p.m.! I only had three stitches (a first degree tear) and she patched me up quickly as I just basked in the euphoria of being DONE with labor and delivery. It was a feeling like none other. I told my husband to take good pictures of the baby for me. I couldn’t see her from where I was lying and getting stitched up. I heard them say that our baby girl, Lillian Jane, was 19 inches long, and 6 lbs, 0.5 oz. Then I got to hold my baby girl skin-to-skin. My eyes were puffy from tiredness and yelling. But all was suddenly right with the world.
Turns out I only pushed for 30 minutes or so and apparently that’s fast for a first-timer who is induced. I was proud of myself for getting through the pain and engaging my mind and body together. I would say back labor was a huge reason I was a super pusher. GET. HER. OUT.
Our families came in the room to see us and meet her. It was a wonderful blur of activity. But my nurse had to politely boot everyone out because my blood pressure was apparently still too high. In fact, it was rather high (thanks to pre-eclampsia and exhaustion) for the next few days. I took a drug on day 4 for the blood pressure to go down, and finally it leveled out and i was discharged.
That week after baby, I experienced sharp pain in my lower back and sacrum/coccyx area. At first I thought it was just post-partum discomfort, but then it became apparently about a week after birth that it was excruciating and something more. So I went to a D.O. specialist who discovered that my tailbone was crooked about 60 degrees. It was more crooked than some of the cases she had seen with people who had fallen and broken their tailbones. We talked about the how and the why of this case, but it’s unknown what the reason is and WHEN this happened. Sometime after delivery (or during?). I am completely healed now thanks to an invasive procedure to straighten the bone. But wondering – will birth #2 in my future include pre-eclampsia, sunny side up, and broken tailbone again? Surely not…staying positive! ”
A big Thank-you to Alicia for sharing her story with us!
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