My name is Chelsea Carey and my husband is active duty Army. He serves as an Infantryman and we were stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but are in the middle of being PCS’ed to Germany. My first pregnancy was fairly easy and as a dance instructor, I managed to stay active and teach the whole way through. So when we decided to try for baby number two I was excited about all of the awesomeness of pregnancy again. We found out we were expecting just one month after my oldest turned 2, and we were over the moon. Shortly after finding out about the pregnancy I started to feel the telltale signs of the growing life inside of me.
Nausea hit and I was okay with that, but then the nausea turned to vomiting, and once or twice a day turned into 10-15 times every day. I was in the hospital every week, sitting for hours as they pumped fluids into my body so that I would stay hydrated. During this time I was also going to school trying to get my degree during the day and I was teaching dance lessons in the evening – all while raising my two year old. My husband was training regularly and helping when he was able.
One night he came home and told me that despite being told there was no chance of a deployment, he would be leaving for Afghanistan shortly for a 6-9 month deployment. I had dealt with deployments before and long training cycles. He left for his second tour in Afghanistan when our first son was only 2 months old. But I never thought that I would have to go through the birth of a child…..the birth of OUR child that we made together…..without him. I was devastated but knew that I couldn’t dwell on that fact, because I was an Army wife and this is just the stuff that we are faced with. It’s the stuff we handle with grace.
I continued to have hyperemesis for the first 23 weeks of the pregnancy. Suddenly – as suddenly as it started – the vomiting stopped. I was overjoyed. Three days later I got a migraine. The migraine didn’t stop and from 24-26 weeks I dealt with the worst headaches I had ever experienced in my life.
My midwife said that they were probably the cause of the severe dehydration I had experienced. My husband was there every step of the way. He helped with our firstborn, made sure I always had a full bottle of water, and kept the bedroom dark and quiet when I just needed to take a minute and rest from the pain. I continued to teach, against my husband’s advice and continued to gear myself and my oldest child up emotionally for the coming deployment. I got a birth plan together, talked to the person that I wanted as my birth partner, and educated myself on a natural and unmediated hospital birth. My birthing experience with my first was far from perfect and was riddled with interventions and I wanted things to be different, despite not having my husband by my side.
At 27 weeks, after dinner, the unthinkable happened. I started profusely bleeding and my husband piled everyone in the car and we got to the hospital to find that I was contracting and dilating. I was given steroid injection and started on magnesium sulfate. An ultrasound was done, and we discovered my tiny little baby was breech. A C-section would have to be done if I wanted to give the baby a chance at survival. I was admitted to the hospital and prepared myself for the worst. What if my baby didn’t survive?
Twelve hours later, after hard contractions and dilating to 2cm, my contractions just stopped. I’m not sure if it was my profuse praying or what, but my baby decided not to make his appearance that night. In fact, he made no other move to come for another week. The doctor’s released me under strict orders. No lifting, no dancing, no exercise. They said only to do what I had to do…..modified bed rest.
How was I going to make sure life went on for my very active toddler with my husband leaving and me on bed rest?
My husband did all he could to stay behind but his request didn’t get approved and when I hit 31 weeks pregnant, my husband boarded a plane and headed to Afghanistan. It was the hardest good-bye we have said so far. I was worried about going into labor at any moment and our 2 year old didn’t understand why dad had to leave.
After he was gone I was in the hospital at L&D every week with prodromal labor. Every week I made a little more cervical progression. I just knew I was going to end up having my baby in the hallway all alone. After having contractions all day one Saturday, I let my birth partner and best friend know that I thought I needed to go in but we held off. I sat in church on Sunday having contractions about 7-10 minutes apart. We finally went in and I was 6cm dilated and the doctor admitted me at around 2:30pm. I called my FRG leader and asked for a Red Cross message to be sent to alert my husband. Several hours later my contractions just stopped again and the doctor suggested breaking my water. Even after that procedure my contractions weren’t coming on so I was started on Pitocin. Slowly but surely the Pitocin started working and the contractions started getting harder and coming on faster. Before I knew it they were so intense that I could barely catch my breath. My birth partner rubbed my back and let me groan into her shoulder with each wave of chemically induced pain. There was no way I could have a med-free birth when my contractions were so unnaturally strong. My will started to break and my birth partner urged me to fight through it. My mom and other best friend were there in the room as well, quietly looking on as I tried to push through the pain. I screamed to have my husband on the phone and cried because nothing eased the pain of not having him there. Finally I broke and begged for the epidural. An hour and a half later the anesthesiologist came in and began to get me prepared to receive that glorious drug.
Everything was set and I waited to feel that rush of relief and then I felt that familiar urge to push. No wait! I’m not ready! I need the pain meds to finish this and my husband still hasn’t contacted me! But babies don’t wait for pain meds or phone calls. It was time to push. And this baby had fought me the whole pregnancy so he wasn’t about to make this easy. He got stuck under my tail bone and I felt like I would never get him out. I could feel every inch of him descending down the birth canal. My mom and best friends were cheering me on and counting out my contractions. I knew with every push I was getting closer to meeting this baby. One more push said the doctor. One last contraction to get through and my baby would be here.
I pushed with my whole might and out he came at 1:24am on April 16th. Sullivan Reid Carey, a beautiful 8 lb, 1 oz little boy measuring 21 inches long with the longest hair I had ever seen on a newborn. He came right out and onto my bare chest and my mom cut his cord. My heart swelled with joy, relief, and happiness as I held his tiny warm body close to me and took in his clean newborn scent. I kissed his head and told him I loved him and then burst into tears as he let out his first little cry.
He nestled into my chest and began rooting and just moments after he was born he latched onto my breast to nurse for the first time. Although not exactly how I planned, my birth was beautiful. Every moment of pain and fear subsided instantly when I looked into the face of that little boy who looked so much like his daddy. Later that day, my husband called and was surprised to find that his second son had come into the world. He was on a mission and had never received the Red Cross message. He was over the moon when he got to meet his new little boy when he returned home 4 months later. That moment, when he walked up to us in all of his gear and wrapped us all up in his arms, was worth every moment of my “difficult” pregnancy.