About five and a half years ago, I gave birth to my daughter by c-section after a steady stream of pregnancy issues and interventions. The beginning is just a little background.
6 weeks – Indigestion kicks in. Soon I am vomiting 8 times a day and have no strength or energy. I tried a couple anti-emetics, but struggled to keep enough fluids down. My OB was not supportive at all, and kept telling me that the only other drug option was one that was too expensive. He would not give me a name to see if insurance would cover the cost.
12 weeks – I had lost 20 lbs already. I was miserable and because I was constantly vomiting, everyone around me was miserable.
20 weeks – I beg the nurse midwife in the practice for anything that might help. She writes a script for Zofran, which is what the OB would not prescribe. Guess what? It was covered, and it helped. I was still horribly nauseated, but did not vomit much.
26 weeks – Irritable uterus kicks in. I go to L&D a few times in the next few weeks to monitor the contractions and receive terbutaline to stop the contractions. This keeps up for the rest of the pregnancy.
29 weeks – Muscles around my ribcage tear spontaneously while I am sitting at my desk at work. I went to L&D because of the severe pain. While I was in triage, I developed tachycardia and ended up in the hospital overnight for monitoring. I also had to go back for a Holter monitor and ECG. Everything turned out fine, and it was likely an isolated event.
32 weeks – I am measuring three weeks ahead. An ultrasound in the office shows that everything looks okay, but baby is measuring a little ahead.
36 weeks – Prodromal labor starts. I lose my mucous plug and dilate to around 2.5 cm, but do not progress beyond that. I am exhausted from having contractions every five minutes for days on end.
38 weeks – I develop an abscessed tooth. The only dentist in town that was open that day refused to treat me, or to call the on-call OB for treatment advice. I had to explain to the good doctor that it was more dangerous to leave an abscessed tooth in a pregnant woman than it is to prescribe antibiotics and wait a week or two to treat the tooth. I find out that several teeth are seriously damaged from the hyperemesis.
38.5 weeks – OB sends me for an ultrasound because I am still measuring large. Baby was estimated at 10lbs 10oz or so. The tech also thought AFI numbers were off, so I was sent to L&D for another ultrasound. AFI numbers were found to be fine, but OB was pushing an induction or c-section at 39 weeks. The OB I was seeing then was not incredibly helpful in any way. I knew in my heart that I would not get that big baby out after hours of pitocin, and would end up with a c-section. I relented and gave in to the c-section.
39 weeks – After getting hardly any sleep, we head down to the hospital at 4:30 AM to get prepped for surgery. I sat around for a long time, and was getting queasy from fasting. Things were pushed back a little due to an emergency c-section on another mama. Finally, my mom and husband were asked to put on scrubs, and we walked to the operating room.
I went inside to get my spinal, while my husband and mom had to wait outside. The spinal went in easily, and I was numb before I lay down on the table. I hated the feeling. Everything from my breasts down was completely numb, and it felt claustrophobic. The drape made me even more claustrophobic. I remember feeling my water break and gush all over the place. I do not know how I felt that, but somehow I did. By the time my husband and mom were let in, the doctor was working on getting our daughter out. I was rocking all over the place while they tried to squeeze her out.
Emma was born and let out a loud cry, and then was handed over to the nurses for care. She weighed 9.9lbs – one full pound less than predicted by ultrasound. The nurse tried to get blood for testing from the umbilical cord, and blood spattered all over the room. My husband trimmed her cord down, and soon after, things got hectic. The nurses said she was grunting some, and seemed to be having a little difficulty transitioning. The NICU team was called in, and Emma was held up to my face for a second or two before being rushed out into the hallway. My husband and mom went down to the NICU with our daughter while they closed me up.
In recovery, I was in a daze. I was shaking so badly, and felt like I had ants crawling all over me. I found out that sensation was a side effect of the morphine. I was given several doses of other medications to counteract the side effects. My sisters had shown up, as well as my mother in law. They took turns between seeing me in recovery, and visiting our daughter in the NICU. Finally, a neonatologist said that there was no reason for our daughter to be in the NICU. I was finally able to hold and nurse our daughter after about an hour and a half.
Postpartum recovery was a little rough at first. I was in a shared room, and it was VERY hot in the hospital. I ended up in just a sports bra and those ugly mesh panties with a sheet over my midsection. Later that day, I got a roommate that was unable to speak English. That does not bother me, but for some reason, the nurses felt that they had to take extra precautions with her. The nurses would rush in during the middle of the night, flip on every light in the room, and take care of the baby. Her husband did not stay with her, so this happened every hour or two for the entire night. Her family brought in some seriously smelly food before we were cleared to eat solids. Those foods did not settle in her stomach, and she ruined our shared bathroom. I could not get to the bathroom down the hall, and was chastised by my nurse for not peeing often enough. What was I supposed to do when the other woman had been in the bathroom all day?
Eventually, the nurses listened to my pleas for a single room. By that night, I hadn’t slept in over two days. I had a tearful breakdown while trying to help my daughter latch. Instead of recognizing that I just needed some sleep, the nurse told my doctor that I was suffering post partum depression. That caused talk after talk with a social worker and my OB. After a day in a quiet room, I was fine. I just needed that sleep.
Because I was having so much pain when I walked around, and we lived in an upstairs apartment, we decided to stay for the entire five days offered by my insurance. By the end of those five days, I was glad to go home. It took a few weeks to be more mobile, and I still have the occasional pain. (Likely from adhesions.)
I can honestly say that if I were in that situation again, I would have advocated for myself better. I would have switched to a different practice early on in the pregnancy while I was dealing with hyperemesis. I would have stuck to my guns about wanting a natural birth. I would not have given in due to the fatigue and pain. I am pregnant again, and I am planning a VBAC with an OB that is known for supporting natural births. Wish us luck.
9 lbs 9 oz