For two weeks I had prodromal labor but never was able to identify regular contractions. My nurse from the birth center kept telling me that they weren’t doing anything and I would know for sure when it was real. The night before I turned 39 weeks I didn’t sleep well and I kept my husband up with my constant moaning at contractions. I woke up that morning and bounced on my birth ball and had two things happen; a friend who had been TTC for a while texted me that she finally got a positive pregnancy test and I discovered that our bank account had been hacked. So, I spent an hour on the phone with the bank straightening things out with them and congratulated my friend. Almost as soon as I was done with that we headed off to my 39 week appointment at the birth center. Everything was normal until they strapped the BP cuff on me. My BP was in the 140/90s. Too high they said. We’ll let you relax they said and test again later. The midwife checked me, I was 1 ½ cm and 80% effaced. She stripped my membranes on my request. That hurt! Yikes! She withdrew her hand and there was my mucus plug with lots of bloody show. I talked to her about my contractions, told her that they still didn’t seem to be coming in regular intervals but that I wasn’t sure if I was counting right. They took my BP again right after that, still high. Meg took me into the labor room and sat me on the couch, instructed me to bring my BP down now or they’ll have to transfer me to the hospital to be induced “and you don’t want that do you?!”. I tried. I really did, but it wasn’t going down because of course now I was freaking out about being transferred and having increasingly painful contractions. They sent me home at this point and told me to take a nap and take my BP later. I went home, I tried to nap, but there was no way in hell that was going to happen. I took my BP again and it was up to nearly 160/100 (I feel that it was solely because I was freaking out about going to the hospital). I had read just enough to know that BP wasn’t something you mess with and my grandparents had all had strokes and that was not something I wanted to have happen to me. So, I gave in. I called the birth center. The midwife told me to take some Epsom salt in OJ and test my BP again and if it didn’t go down to come in and they would transfer me for an induction. The OJ did nothing but make me feel like puking. We headed to the birth center and picked up my paperwork and off we went to the hospital.
Going Down The Rabbit Hole
We sat in triage for about 30 minutes; my contractions were coming stronger and closer now, though still erratic. As soon as they took my BP the nurses started whispering to each other about “the girl with the pressures!”…this only served to freak me out more. They get me back to triage and have me give them a urine sample and then hooked me up to a monitor. The nurse was very nice and so was the on call OB. I liked her and told her that I’d rather have her than my midwife’s backup OB who I had never met. She checked me, I was 3 cm. I knew it was real labor! She went over my birth plan with me and said that it seemed reasonable and we should be able to make most if not all of it happen (except for the IV and intermittent monitoring). I was hooked up to the mag sulfate at this point. That stuff SUCKS. I started to feel out of it and kind of loopy at this point. The nurse then comes in and tells me that they’re working on getting my room ready and that my OB had showed up and was apparently mad that the on-call OB had checked me and that he had ordered an epidural for me. “Wait, no! I don’t want an epidural! What about my birth plan?!” I said. I was told, sorry you have no choice. Your BP is high and it will help you relax. I just gave up at that point. I was in a lot of pain at 3 cm and the mag was making me feel like crap, so I consented. I was set up in a room around 6 or so and my OB came in soon after. 30 seconds after not even saying "hello" he shoved my legs apart and requested that the nurse hold my legs for a cervical exam in the middle of a contraction. He scolded me for not relaxing and "letting him do his job". I was at 4cm now and he very matter of factly said, “You have severe pre-eclampsia (which I found odd since I didn’t have protein in my urine that morning) I’m going to break your water or you could just have a c-section now”. I felt like I didn’t have a choice at this point so I let him break my water and "consented" to an epidural and catheter.
The epidural worked fine at first and went in pretty easily. When he broke my water there was a “lot” of meconium and we’re told that there would have to be a NICU team there when I delivered and we wouldn’t get to hold her right away. Cross one more thing off my birth plan.
My contractions weren't regular enough for them and were spacing out since the epidural was started, so they put me on pitcoin. The contractions start getting REALLY intense. At this point they started having me only lay on my left side so Vala could have more oxygen. I couldn’t stand it! It was so uncomfortable! I wanted to get up and move around. I would inevitably wind up on my back and the nurse would come in freaking out that I wasn’t on my side and yell at me. Around this time was when everyone started visiting. Several friends came by. Stood by the end of the bed and told jokes. I told them that laughing hurt so they left (even the ones who had promised to be my labor support). Then my sister in law and her roommate came by. My sister in law hadn’t spoken to me in months, so that was awkward. Then my husband’s parents came and I was actually glad they were there at first. My parents didn’t come until after the birth. However I think having my in-laws there probably stalled me a bit since they were just sitting there staring at me and the monitors the whole time and I was worried about flashing them. They stayed until very early that morning and left after I was checked and found to only be at 6 cm. Vala was having decels and my contractions still seemed irregular on the monitors, so they put in an internal contraction monitor and screwed a heart rate monitor to her head. My epidural didn’t seem to be working well at this point and they were increasing the pit every once in a while to get things moving faster. At some point I asked the nurse to have the anesthesiologist come back because I thought something was wrong with the epidural. Instead she just started giving me shots of nubain which I didn’t know about until I saw my medical records. At the time I thought I was just having issues with my BP bottoming out because I would feel loopy and dizzy then vomit, but apparently that was the nubain. Suddenly a bunch of people were in the room yelling at me about Vala having decels. Yelling at me to change positions, to take deeper breathes. In the middle of this I’m telling them that I’m in a lot of pain and can move my legs and that the epidural isn’t working. They get another anesthesiologist in and she discovers that the epidural had totally slip out. Around this time (while I’m showing her that I can stand), I’m crying and screaming that I can’t do it and I’m getting really scared about the number of people in the room. Nathan looked scared too. Vala was having decels with every contraction. There’s a NICU team, and like five nurses and they ask if I would mind if students watched (I snapped “NO!”). They gave my husband the sterile suit at some point and he’s got that on now. Then my OB is all of a sudden between my legs and says “Ok, time to push”. The new epidural is working so well I have no feeling what so ever. I gave it three times and he said I was doing good BUT “there’s no way you can get her out fast enough. Even if I use the forceps and vacuum she WILL die. You can try to push her out if you really want but I recommend a c-section.” He theorizes that her cord is pinched. Needless to say, I agreed to the c-section. I signed the “informed” consent form at 10:20am Wednesday May 19 and was immediately wheeled into the OR. My husband had been holding my hand then as soon as we got to the room he was suddenly gone. I started asking where he was and no one was answering me. I’m sobbing at this point and feel nauseous. They tell me to get on the operating table, I couldn’t move so about four of them had to help me move (way to make a pregnant lady feel like a whale!). They strapped my arms down to the table and I felt like I was going to puke, someone threw a pan at me but of course I couldn’t hold it. I was still crying for my husband and FINALLY someone spoke to me, the female anesthesiologist. She told me he would be in soon and she patted my head until he got there. They asked me if I could feel anything. I said no. I started smelling my flesh burning. FINALLY my husband is beside me, holding my hand in his sterile suit with his camera around his neck. I can see flashes of my blood and guts in the equipment. I hear my OB humming. Then I hear Vala screaming. No one said “It’s a girl”. I looked at my husband, we were both crying and I said “that’s the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard”, a nurse snapped “NO! That’s not a beautiful sound! We didn’t want her to cry! She’ll aspirate!”. Vala continues to scream until they intubated her. My husband was allowed to go see her on the table and take a picture. The NICU doc brought her over to me after a minute or so and told me “kiss your daughter. She’s VERY sick and might not make it” and then they whisked her off to the NICU. I told my husband to follow her and not to leave her side. My OB is sewing me up. I’m still seeing flashes of red in the instruments and he’s still humming.
What’s Wrong With My Baby?!
A nurse wheels me down to recovery and tells me that if I can pick my butt up off the bed after 30 minutes that they’ll take me to see my baby and then on to my post partum room. She tells me that I “was a good girl and hardly bled at all”. I beg her for some water and she brings me a big bottle and then disappears. I can pick up my butt after 20 minutes, but the nurse is nowhere to be found. My husband comes back around then and tells me that they won’t let him stay with her. He’s calling our parents and helping them find their way around. My nurse still hasn’t come back after an hour. Someone comes by with a bucket and tells me that it’s my placenta and asks jokingly if I want to it since I was a birth center transfer I must want it. I said “no, I want the nurse so I can see my baby”. Still no nurse. After three hours they finally come to get me (after Nathan tracks my nurse down who is sitting at the nurses’ station typing on the computer). They wheel me up to the NICU where Vala is but she’s up high in an isolette and I can’t bend so all I can do is stick my hand up and touch her. My husband takes a picture and shows me. She had tubes coming out of every possible place. We’re told that her cord was “probably” around her shoulder and that she “whited out” and swallowed a lot of meconium . Her first APGAR was supposedly 1 (though I don’t see how since she was pink and screaming).
I’m wheeled to my room and at this point I get a little fuzzy but I know that I asked for a lactation consultant and a breast pump at some point. My OB comes to see me and now he’s in boating clothes like he’s just about to go enjoy a mojito on his yacht. :/ What a jackass. A lot of family came to see her and my husband took them back one by one to see her. Everyone else at this point has seen my baby but me. I’m told that the next day after they remove the mag sulfate and the epidural I can take a shower and then if I can walk around a little I can go see my baby. Until then, I have a BP cuff and the inflatable leg things going off every 15 minutes and I’m in a lot of pain. Every hour or so the baby check alarm went off and someone ran in asking where my baby was. All I could do was cry. I start trying to pump (after having to ask several times for the pump) and I have a lot of difficulty making it work in the positions that are possible for me to sit in at that point. I had my husband make a recording of Vala crying to help my milk. In the recording a nurse is smacking her back very hard and telling her to be quiet in an annoyed tone. It made me bawl, it was so sad to think that my daughter was not only all alone in an empty bed covered in tubes and most likely in pain but she was also borderline being abused by nurses. Some time in the night I woke up in horrible pain and felt like I was on fire. My husband was dead asleep after having been up so long and I could hardly move to reach the call button. I threw a spoon at him in an attempt to wake him up. It didn’t work. I sobbed in pain for about 30 minutes until I could finally muster up the strength to push the call button.
The next day they removed everything and I was able to shower and walk around so I finally got to see Vala. It was so sad to see her there, cold and alone in that little bed. The NICU nurse told me that I wouldn’t be able to hold her until the line in her umbilical stump was taken out. I asked when I would breastfeed her, she said she won’t be taking anything by mouth for a while. The nurse seemed to be annoyed that I wanted to hold my baby and to spend time with her. I went back and forth several times to see her, but it was taking a lot out of me to go back and forth. I wasn’t physically up to it. I was pumping lots of colostrum at this point and my husband was dutifully delivering it to the NICU so that when she could eat it wouldn’t be formula.
She Finally Becomes Mine
The next day (a full 36 hours after she was born) they had taken out the umbilical line and I was finally allowed to hold her. I was the first of the family to be able to hold her. That was one thing I wouldn’t concede to. As soon as she was in my arms she grabbed my hospital gown and didn’t want to let go. She had been transferred to a less critical NICU and by the time some of the nurses were telling us that they weren’t sure why she was there and why she wasn’t able to breastfeed, but the NICU pediatrician told us that she would likely be there for another week at least (we kept asking to have our chosen pediatrician look at her, but they kept refusing). We went for nearly every feeding except one in the middle of the night over those last two days. The last day they were still fighting me on breastfeeding and told me that when her IV comes out that I could breastfeed her. Well, later that day (after my milk came in by the way) she pulled her IV out and the nurse blew every one of her veins trying to get a new one in, so she begrudgingly allowed me to breastfeed her. Thank goodness that went well. I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t. We took all the required “your baby is in the NICU” classes, Vala finally pooped (and we got pictures…lol), and she passed her carseat test. I was released around noon the fourth day and we went to the NICU and stayed there telling them that we weren’t leaving without our daughter. The NICU pediatrician was on vacation now and a “more liberal” doctor was on call and told us we could take her home. As of that moment, she was finally mine. If I hadn’t been nearly cut in half I would have run out of that horrible place with her.