Here is Charlotte Abigail's birth story. There are many medical experiences here that might be TMI, so I caution you before you commit to reading the story. However, this was our experience from leaving the testing area to when she was born. Sorry for the long post, part of this post is for me, so that I will always be able to remember the details to our story... even when it didn't go as planned. I had wanted to write this shortly after she was born, but it didn't happen until today.
If you want to read about what was going on the week before labor, read here.
So here I am 38 weeks pregnant, sick as a dog, crying in my doctor's office about how "I just don't feel well." My doctor was awesome and really listened to me babble on about my ailments... I mean she sees pregnant ladies all day, but she took the time to listen to and care about me. She went ahead and instructed me to go back to the hospital just to make sure everything was okay.
My mother-in-law helped me over to the hospital and back into the testing area. Nurse Leslie opened the door, and I'll never forget telling her "don't take this the wrong way, but I really didn't want to see you again." We all enjoyed a laugh as she got me settled in and started different tests. We went through the same round of tests... blood pressure, urine sample, blood sample, baby heart rate monitor. She got me to eat some cheese and crackers and brought me a large glass of water. The tests went off, and the text messages began letting family know what was going on. There were several calls back and forth from Bryan and me. I'm sure my M-I-L was texting him too.
The blood pressure monitor stayed on my arm and checked every 5 minutes, which kept me aware of the time. Bryan had gotten off work, stopped by the house to grab my hospital bag, and was headed our way. About an hour or so later, I got a phone call on the hospital phone from my doctor. She very calmly explained that my tests results had come back and shown it was time to deliver. She was very comfortable with this because we were 38 weeks to the day and it was in both the baby's and my best interest to deliver now. She explained how it would take a little bit of time to get me ready to head to the labor and delivery room, and that I would be well taken care of. In a flash the phone call was over and I was starring at my mother-in-law letting the news that I would be leaving the hospital with a baby in my arms sink in...
By this time I knew that Bryan was not very far away from the hospital, but I needed to tell him what was going on. I called and asked if he was driving safely... he responded with "of course" in a slightly confused/concerned voice. I explained how the doctor had called with the results and that when he got here, we would head upstairs. He promised to continue driving safely and I decided to close my eyes for a minute because I knew things were about to change forever. Everything was positive and upbeat, I wasn't scared or nervous at all.
Bryan arrived in time to help me put the cute hospital socks on my huge feet and head upstairs. He was in charge of the bags while Leslie wheeled me up to the L and D floor. (That's slang for those of us in the baby world for Labor and Delivery... I picked up the lingo while I was there.) :) It was about 6:15. My L and D nurse was already in the room buzzing around getting things set up. Before I knew it I was set up with an IV and she had drawn by blood again. My mother-in-law had stuck around so that I was not alone when Bryan made one more trip to the car to get a few things. While he was away the anesthesiologist came in and started discussing the "seriousness" of my condition. It was kind of a blur while he explained that the blood they had drawn was to test my platelet count because there was a risk I was ineligible for a epidural.
I think that the confusion on my face tipped him off to the fact that I had no idea what was going on. He asked if anyone had explained to me about my HELLP syndrome. When I responded with big scared eyes, he graciously took the time to sit down and explain what was going on. Looking back, I am grateful that he took the time to tell me what I needed to know, without scaring me. HELLP stands for: hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. It basically is a step beyond Preeclampsia. You can read more about it here. The doctor explained how I was being given Pitocin to start contractions, but also Magnesium something to help prevent seizures. Because of the HELLP I was at high risks for seizures and possibly ineligible for an epidural which made a C-section considered high risk as well. Ironically, the Magnesium is a drug used to stop labor for women in preterm labor. (That sure was encouraging... give me a drug to start labor and one to stop labor... anyone else stressed here?) They were also monitoring my blood pressure very closely. I had the blood pressure sleeve on and it would test every 5 minutes as well as this stupid heart rate monitor on the tip of my finger--that was annoying!
Bryan returned shortly after the doctor left and my M-I-L and I got to relay all of that information to him. When my blood test results came back, the anesthesiologist appeared quickly to explain that my platelets had dropped below the magic number and now I was no longer eligible for an epidural. Because of this, if I had to go into an emergency C-section, I would have to be put to sleep which would mean I would not be awake when Abigail was born and that I was at risk not being able to clot properly. The best possible outcome would be for me to deliver the baby naturally but if it came to a C-section, I was a high risk--but in the right place for the best possible outcome.
Once he left, we took a minute to really gather ourselves. None of this was how we had planned for it to happen. I couldn't help being scared, but at the same time... I had this Peace about the entire thing that did not come from me. At one point, Bryan just stopped, grabbed my hands and we started praying. The nurses were coming in and out checking on different things as we were praying.
My Mother-in-law took this opportunity to head back home and told us to let her know when we wanted her and everyone else back up there. I called my parents (luckily my Dad was already home so I could tell them both at the same time). As I explained what was going on, I told them not to Google it. (The last thing we needed was for them to freak out over something on WebMD). My mom wanted to come right then, but we asked them to wait. Too bad they didn't listen to me... and shortly after the phone call they headed up to the hospital to "bring Bryan dinner." My mom stayed with me while he went to eat, and bless her heart... she wanted to help so badly. I might have been a little rude to her too (sorry mom for snapping at you... you were standing too close...). She left when Bryan came back. I knew that she wouldn't actually leave the hospital, but instead she joined my dad and sister in the waiting room.
The Pitocin and Magnesium had been started and I started having contractions. They didn't feel how I thought they would. I had a pain between my belly button and lower. I had assumed that the contractions would start at the top of my belly... but with this, they didn't. My contractions stayed like this the entire time. The contractions started around 6:00 PM or so. I was at 1 cm. Two hours later I had made it to 1 1/2. I went ahead and asked for some Demerol (for pain) and they had to give something else with that that started with an F. A side effect of the F drug was that it made me sleepy. For a while I would have a contraction, and then fall asleep until the next contraction would come. I had several dreams during this time... I didn't expect that.
My water broke around 7:30 pm. That was a weird feeling when you're laying in bed. The nurses were good about tending to different needs. When examining the water, they found meconium as well. (Meconium is when the baby poops in the womb). There was so much that the nurse had to check and make sure she wasn't breach. She said that the amount of meconium made it look like her butt was at the very bottom and she just pooped straight out my body. When the nurse said that, my heart skipped a beat... We didn't need a breached baby on top of everything else going wrong. But Jesus knew what I could and couldn't handle. Abigail wasn't breached.
Two more hours went by and I was at 2 cm as the Demerol started to wear off. At some point my mom came back in and was very helpful. She would rub my back while Bryan would hold my hand and feed me ice chips. I could concentrate on Bryan, but her massage felt good during a contraction (most of the time). I started communicating very effectively in sign language (sarcasm). I would point to my back and she would rub, I would point to my mouth and Bryan would stick an ice chip in my mouth. Very effective! Two more hours and I was at 3 cm. At this point it was now about 3:45 in the morning and I was having contractions that would last approximately 40 seconds every 2 minutes, I looked at Bryan and said that maybe we needed to consider a C-Section because I didn't know how much more I could take.
At 4:00 all of a sudden my contraction felt very different, almost like I needed to poop (Sorry for the details, I warned you). The nurses rushed in and said it was time for another check. Amazingly, I was at 10 cm! Before I knew it, there were significantly more people in the room than before. My mom stepped out at this point while the doctors and additional nurses appeared... at least I assume they were nurses, they were wearing scrubs. :)
I continued having contractions and began pushing shortly after 4:00 am. Charlotte Abigail was born at 4:21. Because of the meconium, the doctor cut the cord and they rushed Abigail out of the room to make sure she hadn't ingested any of it. Bryan and I had planned for him to get to cut the cord, however, the doctor had already explained the need to be quick once she was born. I could see Abigail while they were cutting the cord and then I watched her be carried away. Honestly though... at that moment, I was okay with it. I knew what the doctors were doing was the absolute best for her and it was something I couldn't provide so I was okay with it.
They brought her back probably less than 5 minutes later but it felt like 30. Here are some pictures (finally). Enjoy!
Right after they made sure she was good, they handed her to me. I eventually let Bryan hold her :)
Talk about perfection!
They took her back after a little while, to check her vitals and take her measurements. She was 6 lbs. 6 oz. and 20 inches long.
After everyone was all cleaned up and decent, we were allowed to have visitors, 2 at a time. My mom and sister were first.
Unfortunately before others could come visit I had some post delivery complications. Be looking for a blog about our 4 day hospital stay soon. (But let's face it, it might take me a while because of how long it took me to write this blog entry.)