Mateo’s was a great pregnancy though I spent a lot of the beginning quite anxious about where and how we’d end up birthing. My 4th child’s homebirth (my only homebirth) was awesome on one level and very, very scary on another. My attempt to find a ‘happy medium’ between OB/Hospital Care and Midwife/Homebirth care seemed to have failed miserably with my pregnancy with my 5th – being risked out of the ABC at the last minute by the medwives. I knew DH was uncomfortable with the idea of another homebirth (and I can’t say I wasn’t a little worried about what-ifs myself) but I just couldn’t see 9 months of ‘standard medical care’ with all the scare tactics and fear mongering that go along even with a doctor that I was really happy ended up delivering #5. Everything seems to be about arbitrary numbers and standard tests and every appointment feels like a battle, never mind being in labor at the hospital and having to fight off interventions and annoying comments while in intense pain.
Finally, I decided to do my own prenatal care and to contact the doc that delivered #5 by email and see if he’d be willing to be my ‘back up’ insinuating I was planning another homebirth. I finally felt at peace when he said yes. I could do my own care for 35 weeks and then start dealing with the system when I’d only have about a month to go anyway. I’m not sure what to say about that 35 week appointment. My blood pressure had never been high. I’d been checking it weekly. It was 160/100 at the doctor’s office – which is higher than it’s ever been except for when I had #1 and full fledged pre-eclampsia. Weird. So thus began a series of what thankfully just ended up being weekly appointments but going on blood pressure medication and getting pulled off work at 36 weeks.
Being pulled off work was both wonderful and weird. I got a lot more time to spend with my kids, which was really nice with school starting. But it felt really weird to be ‘up and around’ and yet not going to work. It’s a blessing to have short term disability pay, but I’m not gonna lie that I wasn’t worried about the money. It’s definitely a struggle trying to support your family while juggling your health. I’m glad I got taken off work though because the first few weeks of adjusting to the blood pressure medication was hard. I felt weak, tired, shaky, out of it, and just not good. Worse actually. But it clearly helped because my BP stayed down in the 130-140/80-90ish range. And I just went back every Friday for a NST.
I knew the dr. would talk induction if I made it to my due date (frankly I was afraid he’d push for before) so I drank a quart of tea every day and started taking EPO at 37 weeks. A few times I’d have a Braxton Hicks contraction (which I’d never experienced before) but nothing else. At my 39 week appointment, he said, “let’s pick a birthday.” He suggested October 1 – the following Friday – the Feast of St Therese – and I agreed. I really, really didn’t want to be induced, but I felt very, very good about that date. And I thought to myself, you’ve been induced before, you can do it again.
I searched high and low online for natural induction techniques though. I opted not to take castor oil or blue/black cohosh, but for the last 3 days before induction, I did use a breast pump. I got contractions while I pumped, but they did not last afterwards. Still, I felt it could only help dilate me further, so I kept it up. I did it two or three times a day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
My parents arrived on Thursday night late – after 10pm. DH and my mom and dad and I stayed up until midnight talking. We were all excited about the next day and I didn’t sleep well on Thursday night (I’m sure DH didn’t either because he said my snoring was terrible). Friday morning we took the big kids to school, went to Mass at school and then DH and I headed to the hospital. We got there a little after 9am.
It took about a half hour for us to get checked in and I just about fell asleep in the lobby chair. The intake person joked that I looked so comfortable she didn’t want to disturb me. I felt ready. I knew that things wouldn’t really come together until 11am or so. Sure enough, I was right. I answered the million questions and got my gown on and hooked up to the monitors. Nurse1 put in my IV with saline and the antibiotic because I was GBS positive – she said the doctor or a resident would be by later to check me before they’d do the pitocin. I cried a little after I got all set up and she left. DH asked what he could do, I said nothing, I’m fine. It just felt so MEDICAL. Ugh. But I said a little prayer and decided if they did the pit, I’d just go ahead and ask for the epidural before they broke my water. Balls to the walls interventions I thought to myself. If I’m going to get induced and be hooked up, might as well take the good w/the bad, right? Let’s do this.
But a few minutes later I started a pretty regular contraction pattern. So weird. They did not hurt at all, but they were definitely real and regular (for the most part). I wanted to move around and sit up to encourage them, but honestly, I quickly noticed that when I’d get up to go to the bathroom or sit up, they’d stop their pattern. But when I consciously laid myself back, they’d start back up again. Fine, flat on my back it is then I thought. It seemed to help Mateo get into a better engagement position when I was like that.
So I think around 11:30ish (Ha! Even later than I thought) is when they got their $hit together and a resident came in to check me. I was 3-4cm and 80% effaced with -1 station. He felt the baby and said he’d have to do an ultrasound to make sure he was head down. I told him I’d give him $50 if he was not head down, I knew without a doubt. He made some comment about protocol, etc. and seemed clearly uncomfortable and got his machine which confirmed I did not owe him $50. (So there!) I got a little negative again and called them idiots when they left the room. So the plan was pit, break water around 2/3pm (b/c of the antibiotic, they wanted to give it a full 4 hours) and then baby by that evening. My guess at that point was still around 8/9pm.
Our school chaplain works at the hospital and came in afterwards around noon and we chatted but then the dr. arrived and said “oh I’ll come back” but I said, no it was ok, so Father gave us a blessing and the dr said they would still do the water break around 3pm, but no pit because I was contracting regularly on my own. Everyone seemed excited by my contraction pattern (and I was too) but they just really didn’t hurt and so I felt it was going to take a longer time and I was a little sad about that, but very, very grateful that it seemed like I had gotten away with no pitocin! How funny that this news came directly after Father’s blessing.
So the nurses switched and I admit I liked Nurse2 a little better – she had a no-nonsense about her. She made a few comments about how “this is your sixth so you know” and I felt good about that. She was not going to talk down to me and I had a sense she appreciated feisty-ness. At 3pmish the resident arrived as promised and I don’t remember for sure, but he might have said I was at 5cm and then he broke my water. He said they wanted to put in an internal monitor at that point, but I said no and again, Nurse2 made me happy when she seemed to agree with me and she said, it’s all going to go fast from here. Apparently she knew more than me.
So after they broke my water, nothing…for about 15-20 minutes, nothing. No contractions at all. Then finally one came and then another and they did seem to get a little more intense.
I was drinking a lot of water trying to stay nice and hydrated so I had to get up and pee a few times. This time standing up didn’t seem to have anything peter out. The contractions got stronger. I started to feel more pressure. I started having to “ooooooh” through them. Really deep and low. I tried to think of all those birth stories and how that low cow-like sound and blowing like a horse could help you to open up instead of tensing up which is how I usually get. I remember around 4:30-4:45 looking down during a contraction and thinking, wow, this is intense. I wonder if I should ask for the epidural because I really don’t think I can do this for another 4 hours. Then bam, contractions just came one after another and I just really went into another world.
Everything from there is so blurry. I remember standing at the counter and I could barely talk to DH. I just felt shut off from everything. I felt like I couldn’t talk, but somehow right towards the end I was able to ask him to rub my back in two places and that counter pressure really helped. However, just after that I felt the rush of what seemed like a dozen people coming into the room in a panic. I know I had definitely gotten louder in my sounds, but I couldn’t figure out what had set them all off and running into the room – was it just that I was noisy? I don’t know, but they seemed worried about the monitors and the baby’s heart rate. And honestly I can’t remember if I had hooked myself back up to the monitors or not since my last bathroom trip, so I may have just been “off the grid” too long? That combined w/the noise?
At any rate, I could hear voices and I was ready to do what they told me but I HAD to wait in between contractions to comply. I just couldn’t move during a contraction and I couldn’t talk (or at least I felt like I couldn’t). Somehow I ended up with washcloths though (must have asked DH?) and I do remember them checking me and saying “anterior lip” and asking me to get on all fours and the nurse (not Nurse2) said “I know you don’t want to” but really I couldn’t have cared less. All fours sounded fine to me, but I just had to wait until I could move. So I got up on the bed butt in the air and that seemed to make everyone more happy. I thought at this point DH asked me if I wanted the epidural and I thought someone is going to laugh at him for that, but he says no, he didn’t say that, he asked me earlier and I can’t argue with him because honestly this whole part is a total blur. It was a total blur while it happened and even more blurry now.
Nurse2 got an oxygen mask on me and within in a few minutes I felt intense pressure, but no urge to push. I told them all that. Honestly I couldn’t imagine pushing. I just had no energy for a few minutes there. They asked me to lay on my left side (I think they did anyway?) and then I knew I had to push. That other nurse asked me if I wanted to push that way and I shook my head yes. They asked me to push and I’m pretty sure I said I couldn’t, I was too tired and they just argued with me that I had to and I could do it. In my mind I thought, I don’t have to really, my contractions could push him out on their own, but after a few minutes/breaths of oxygen, I did go ahead and push and I knew it would make things faster if I did, so I pushed. And I don’t remember how many times, but it seems like it was just about the same as for #5. About 2-4 pushes and w/in 5 minutes and he was out.
Oh, that sweet relief!! I remember thinking to myself that I was bummed though because I was really so out of it that it felt like I barely cared to look at him. I kept having visions when I was pregnant of holding my hands out and pulling him up myself, but that definitely didn’t happen. I just felt wonderfully relieved that he was out and grabbed my oxygen mask that had fallen off for more O2. Nurse2 said, “you don’t need that any more, he’s out!” but DH and dr joked that we should all take a hit. It just felt so good to breathe in that cool, clean air! Dr. had DH cut the cord and then I did hold him up to me. He reminded me the most of #5 I think. Though he was more relaxed. #5 had immediately lifted his head and Mateo just laid there looking and crying a little. So cute. He definitely seemed big to me, bigger than the others and sure enough he was. 9 pounds, 5 oz
They took him away to get checked out while we dealt with the placenta. I must have had bleeding because they seemed in a hurry to get it out and I know I pushed, but they also ‘helped’ it along which I think was part of what was to come. I really don’t know why they were in such a hurry to get that out, but they were and I assume it’s like it was with #4, because I was starting to bleed more than they liked. I didn’t nurse Mateo right away and maybe I should have done that, but I was just so.worn.out.
Sometime soon after I was somewhat cleaned up, my two oldest girls and my parents came in and I ate a few bites of Subway. Everyone was kind of admiring Mateo and I just was getting huge afterpains. I think at that point they had already started pitocin because of my fundus being somewhere bad. I really didn’t think anything of it because honestly my afterpains with #4 and with #5 were as bad, if not worse, than labor itself, but Nurse2 seemed concerned. Sure enough she asked for the girls to leave and a resident on call came in with an ultrasound machine and there was a lot of clots. So the first of two (or three?) times someone reached up inside of me and got them out.
Holy crap that just hurts and it’s not like labor where you know it’s bringing a baby out. It.just.hurts. And after doing that she shoves a whole bunch of meds into my butt and crap, you just feel like you’re not even a human being at that point. So gross. But then that scare was over and the girls came back in, but then I guess they decided to go ahead and go and let me rest.
Everything was fine for a bit and then again the pains and I felt a gush and told DH to call the nurse and this time I think another on call doctor did it and then a third time my dr. came in and did it. And that’s when they decided to do this balloon-thingy – whatever it was really called – something B catheter - and they put in a regular catheter and the balloon to keep clots from forming. Yuck. It just felt like crap to have something up inside of me. And I think at this point I had two IV’s and the stupid blood pressure cuff from hell going off every few minutes and I could barely hold or nurse Mateo and it just sucked a lot.
At around 10:30 I guess I started feeling better, so I brought my bed up into a sitting position and Nurse2 came in about 5 minutes later and commented how she was surprised I didn’t feel light headed, etc. after all that blood loss and sure enough, she knew what she was talking about again. Wham. It hit me and I totally felt light headed and like I was going to pass out and so boom, back down I went flat on my back like the human pin cushion and I think that’s when they decided to do the blood transfusion.
So the actual transfusion didn’t happen until around 1am. Nurse3 was my nurse by that point and just before she came on they had tried twice to take blood from me and couldn’t get it. I was so tired and worn out from being stuck like a pig at that point. I just remember with every awful thing thinking that I offered it up for a few friends who have been suffering lately. I felt like if I had to suffer, I really wanted it to be for them and I just kept thanking God that it was me and not the baby.
I wasn’t scared about the transfusion at all. DH had suggested it to the nurse a few times and I knew if he wasn’t worried that it would be okay. He seemed eager to have me have the transfusion and the really nice doctor on call who had done my first clot removal came in and explained it and I felt very at peace with it. I felt like it might help me feel a lot better and boy did it. On Friday night/Saturday morning, I couldn’t imagine ever feeling good again and by Saturday afternoon, I was getting up to go to the bathroom. Praise God.
That first night was kind of awful. I felt bad for DH and I could tell he was really, really tired. He’s never spent the night with me at the hospital before so that was a first. I think he could tell why I don’t like it because they really are in every few minutes to check on you and you really get no rest. As soon as you start falling asleep, they have you up again.
Saturday was better. My mom came to relieve DH in the morning and it was nice to have her there because she was rested. They came in to take blood and I think that was the last time I cried in the hospital. I was just so done being poked by that point and I really wanted all the tubes and lines and catheters out of me already. Around 9:30 I took off the blood pressure cuff and Nurse3 was so nice she let me leave it off. Then they came in and got part of the balloon out and then later everything out except for one IV which they converted into just a hep lock.
Finally I felt like I could manage Mateo on my own and that felt incredibly good. I think a little after noon Mike brought up MIL and two of my other kids and they stayed with me until we moved rooms. It felt good to get up and into a new space/bed, but the room was still small and #4 was getting loud so I was really grateful when everyone decided to leave again except my 9yo daughter. My 9yo dd has been dubbed "the baby whisperer" by many and was so much help to me. She was so good holding the baby when I needed her to and getting me things. I’m really glad she had that special time and so grateful for her. I wanted to nap, but I just couldn’t so I called/texted a few friends and told them they could come visit. DH came back with my oldest dd and ultimately she ended up spending the night. I was really hoping she’d hold the baby more than she did so I could rest, but I’m glad that she slept and I managed to as well. And the next morning she helped me pack up everything as my BP had gone back up again and they wanted me to rest to see if it would go down before they let me go. I don’t know what I would have done without her. It was definitely nice to have both the girls there on their own to help me.
And when we finally got home my parents and ILS were both there - my parents spent the night and then took the older kids all out for a walk/breakfast the next day which helped SO MUCH. We are really, really lucky and blessed by our family.
WOHM married to SAHD, living the dream w/our: 3 girls (14,12,10) and 3 boys (7,5,3) and tie-breaker due Jan 2014