It’s that feeling you get as a pregnant woman. The one that’s like, “Holy crap, this is finally happening. I’m finally going to have this baby.” However, for me, I experienced those feelings more than once with my first daughter.
I was starting to show signs of preeclampsia in the 28th week of my pregnancy. My feet and ankles started to swell and my mom mentioned it could be preeclampsia. I thought she was crazy because everything was going great up until that point. A couple nights later I started seeing flashing lights. I asked my husband to google “flashing lights during pregnancy” and the first thing that popped up was preeclampsia. I called my doctor the next day and told her my concerns. She suggested that I go in and get checked out.
When I got to the clinic the nurse took my blood pressure right away. After doing so she said, “Hmm, that can’t be right. Let me try again.” After the second attempt she told me she was going to grab another nurse and have her try. Once the new nurse came in they proceeded to take my blood pressure again. Once they took it they looked at each other and immediately told me I needed to lie down. I asked if everything was okay and they told me my blood pressure was a little high but there was nothing to worry about. After about 45 minutes they sent me to have blood and urine tests done. My urine came back showing signs of protein in it. At this point we hadn’t even talked about preeclampsia. I asked my doctor if that’s what I had and she was quick to tell me no. I “wasn’t showing enough signs” for it to be. Let’s see, swollen feet and ankles, seeing flashing lights, high blood pressure and now protein in my urine. All signs of preeclampsia. I went home frustrated but my thought was, “She’s a doctor. She obviously knows more than I do.”
My next appointment came and again, high blood pressure and now even more protien in my urine. The doctor ordered an ultrasound to make sure baby was doing fine, which she was. (We didn’t find out she was a girl until she was born.) Again she told me it wasn’t preeclampsia. Having another high blood pressure reading she wanted me to go and get my own blood pressure cuff. I was told to take it throughout the day to make sure it wasn’t getting too high. Around the 31st week of my pregnancy my husband and I went to the ER with my blood pressure reading 170/110. They hooked me up to the fetal monitor and once they were confident baby was fine they sent me home. We couldn’t have been there much longer than an hour. Both my husband and I were frustrated they weren’t admitting me to be monitored more closely. We felt like we were the only ones taking this seriously. No one was listening to our concerns. At my 32 week appointment it was the same type of thing. High blood pressure, more protein. Baby was still doing fine though, so she saw no concern. And still, no preeclampsia.
About an hour after my appointment I got a call from the hospital saying my doctor had consulted with another doctor and he wanted me admitted right away for close monitoring. Finally, someone was taking this seriously!
Once admitted I felt like I could take a huge breath of relief. The new doctor came in and said he wanted to do a 24 hour urine test. I asked him what he thought was going on since my doctor said I didn’t have preeclampsia, and he responded by saying he was taken aback by the fact she said it wasn’t preeclampsia. He informed me I did in fact have preeclampsia and it was severe. As much as I didn’t want to hear that, it was nice knowing I was no longer the only person thinking that.
I stayed in the hospital for three days and two nights before being sent home on bed rest with appointments every other day. Our goal was to make it to 34 weeks.
Once our 34 week appointment came I was feeling really good. I made it to the target date and that was huge for me! I fully expected to go to my appointment and be sent home just like every other appointment. I was hooked up to the fetal monitor and everything seemed fine; baby was active as normal. The nurse came and checked on us a few times. One of the times she came in and tore off all the paper with the baby’s readings on it. She didn’t say much and I really didn’t think much of it. A bit later my doctor came in. She told me the baby’s heart rate wasn’t quite where she wanted it to be and she was no longer comfortable with the pregnancy. She told me to go home, take a nap, pack my bags and be to the hospital by 3:00pm. I was being admitted. Wow. Not at all how I planned my day!
I was admitted at 34 weeks exactly. Once at the hospital we went over the plan she had put together. They hooked me up to the monitor, and I was only allowed to leave the bed for using the bathroom. She was going to insert a foley catheter on both sides of my cervix and fill each side with saline solution to help soften my cervix before inducing me. She inserted it around 9:00pm on our first night in the hospital. It was not a fun experience and I was thankful when it was over. She told me if it fell out on its own it meant I was dilated to a four or a five, and that’s when they would induce. I woke up at 5:0 am to use the restroom and to my surprise it fell out. Yay! I was very relieved that I had dilated so quickly.
At 5:30am a nurse came in and started the pitocin. It was happening. We were (hopefully) going to meet our baby that day. Soon after they started the pitocin I started having contractions. I tried to fall back asleep so I could be rested and ready for delivery.
At 9:00am my doctor came in and told me she was going to check to see how far I had progressed. I was very hopeful I’d be dilated to at least a five if not more. As she was checking me, she informed me I was only dilated to a one. Umm, what? She said she must have inserted the foley catheter wrong and that’s why it fell out. Talk about a disappointment! I was so frustrated with both the nurse for not checking me right away, and myself for not insisting on being checked.
So there we were. Back to square one. They stopped the pitocin and said they were going to insert another foley catheter. This was definitely NOT something I wanted to go through again. At this point, we found ourselves playing the waiting game. Again. Almost right away I started to have really bad cramping. By 5:00pm I was in active labor. Contractions were coming roughly every 30 seconds and lasting around a minute to a minute and a half.
Now to truly appreciate (haha!) this whole situation, one needs to keep in mind that I was not allowed to get out of bed and move around. I found that to be one of the worst things. I wanted SO badly to get up and walk!
My doctor came in and talked to me about getting an epidural. I told her I really wanted to try a natural birth, and that I’d rather not receive it. She then informed me that my blood pressure was too high and the epidural would be the best option to help bring it down. Reluctantly, I agreed that would be best. After about a bag and a half of fluids were pumped into me in preparation for the epidural, my doctor came back saying the anesthesiologist wanted to save the epidural for the next day when I would most likely be delivering. So at that point, the epidural became a no-go. Plus, I was still in active labor.
At that point it was around 9:00pm and 12 hours after the catheter was put in. The doctor pulled on it a bit and said I wasn’t dilated yet and she wanted to leave it in. This was a bit concerning to me, because she had previously told us it could only be in for 12 hours before needing to be removed. She said it would be fine as long as they removed it after another 12 hours. Around 10:00pm they gave me a pain medication to help with my blood pressure, and to hopefully get me some much needed rest. Surprisingly, I slept really well!
At 9:00am the next morning my doctor came in to remove the catheter. She pulled on it and it came right out. She checked me and said I was dilated to a four and she could feel the baby’s head so she was going to break my water. Okay, this is it. Things are really starting to progress! After she broke my water they were having a hard time monitoring baby’s heartrate. She decided to stick a little probe in the baby’s skull that hooked up to the machine to help read baby’s heartrate better.
My contractions were really starting to pick up, so around 10:00am she put an order in for the epidural. The anesthesiologist came up around 10:45am or so to administer it. He explained what all he was doing and said if he hit a nerve it would send a shock through that side of my body. As if I wasn’t scared enough already! He said it probably wouldn’t happen and not to worry. Well, as luck may have it he hit a nerve on my right side. Talk about a surprise! After the epidural took effect the doctor wanted to check and see how far dilated I was. I was so surprised when she told me I was at a nine! We were so close!
She then went on to say, “I don’t think I’m feeling the baby’s head anymore.” Huh? She had been head down for weeks up until this point. When did she flip? We thought that maybe because the catheter was left in for so long and I was in such active labor she had nowhere to go and ended up flipping. Our doctor said she was head down when she broke my water though. At that point, she had to put an order in for an ultrasound. It was now around 11:30am and baby’s heartrate is starting to drop. They gave me oxygen and turned me on my side. I don’t remember what my blood pressure was at but it was dangerously high. They informed me that once the ultrasound tech got there and if baby was turned they would have to do an emergency cesarean right away. It was Thanksgiving Day so they didn’t have the staff they normally would and were having to call people in. Once the ultrasound tech got there (which felt like forever) he confirmed baby had flipped. Baby was sideways so when our doctor broke my water thinking she felt the ridges on baby’s head she was actually feeling her ribcage.
As if they weren’t already, that’s when things got absolutely crazy. At that point baby was in so much distress and my blood pressure was only going up. They gave me a couple pieces of papers to sign agreeing to the c-section, while they gave my husband his clothes to quickly change into. Someone hopped on my bed and started putting my catheter in as two other nurses started wheeling us toward the door. Somehow, I was able to stay surprisingly calm through all of this. My husband stayed behind as they quickly wheeled me away.
While in the OR, I had roughly 10 people all doing something different to me. Once I was cleaned and ready to go (it only took them a couple minutes) the surgeon did the pinch test to see how much I could feel. Unfortunately, I still had much more feeling than I should have had at that point. Since a nerve was hit on my right side while administering the epidural, the insert got moved more to the left and I had more feeling on my right side. The surgeon quickly told the anesthesiologist to put me under, because they didn’t have any time to push more epidural and wait for it to kick in. He put the mask on me and I knew I needed to go under as fast as I could so I took three great big breaths. He quickly removed the mask while saying my blood pressure was 187/118 and he couldn’t put me under with it being so high. I began by trying to go under, only to find myself fighting to stay awake! She did the pinch test again and asked what I could feel. I didn’t know how much I was suppose to feel with this being my first birth. I told her it felt like someone was pinching me really hard using their finger nails. I asked the anesthesiologist if I could hold his hand because my husband wasn’t there yet and at this point I needed someone. I remember him looking at the surgeon and saying, “You can’t cut yet! Give her at least another minute!” and then she said to me, “I’m sorry, sweetie, we don’t have a minute. I need to cut now!” And that’s what she did. Thank goodness my adrenalin was pumping because I think it would have hurt much worse if it wasn’t. About a minute into the surgery they finally let my husband come in. I had never been so happy to see him! About 30 seconds later we heard “cord around the neck, cord around the neck” immediately followed by the cry of our first child.
A beautiful little girl.
They got her out in just under two minutes. She was 4lbs 4oz at birth and 18 inches long. She was perfect, ours, and worth every single thing we went through to bring her into this world. Once I knew she was born and safe is when I really started to feel more pain. I was pretty out of it due to the anesthesia, and was trying my best to stay awake. I was not going to miss seeing our daughter for the first time! Over at the table the pediatrician noticed a huge bruise on the one side of our baby. The probe our doctor thought she put in our baby’s skull to monitor her heart rate had been stuck in her ribcage which had caused it to bruise, and weep. Once she was bandaged up, my husband was able to bring her over to show me. At this point my vision was so blurry I could hardly see anything. I remember trying to close my one eye and focus the other on her as best as I could. She was able to stay in the OR for a little bit and then was taken to the ICU for closer monitoring. Once she left the room I was finally able to close my eyes and pass out.
I was brought back to my room after about an hour. I wanted so badly to see and hold our little girl! I kept asking but my nurse kept saying no. I realized I needed my rest, but I felt as though I could just as easily rest in the same room as my baby. At the very next shift change I got a new nurse who agreed to wheel my bed into the ICU and I was finally able to see our daughter! Five hours old. It was the most incredible moment.
The next day our surgeon came in and told us just how lucky we were to have our daughter. She said her cord was abnormally short, and would have been too short to deliver vaginally. She said if I would have tried pushing it would have most likely been stretched too far, and with it being wrapped around her neck would have cut off oxygen. She continued to say that if she hadn’t flipped forcing us to do a c-section, we would have most likely lost her.
There were so many things I thought were going “wrong” in the moment they were happening. Looking back, it all went perfectly.
Submitted by Lauren V.