Birth story: A high-risk pregnancy

Birth story: A high-risk pregnancy

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Awaiting the induction

Because of my high blood pressure and diabetes, I was considered a high-risk pregnancy, and had to have an induction. At the start of my 37th week, I went in for an amniocentesis to check for fetal lung maturity; we were told that if the results showed the lungs were mature, I would be induced the next evening.

The results were inconclusive, so they sent the samples to Sacramento for more exhaustive tests, due back the next morning. By 3 p.m. the next day, we still hadn't heard anything, and I was having a hard time keeping myself distracted. I called in and the nurse said they were having computer problems, and that I would need to call labor and delivery that evening to get the results.

When I called that evening, there were still no results, and they told me that they would not induce that day and would schedule me for the following evening instead. The next day involved a lot more of the medical staff searching for my lab results – no one seemed to have them. Around 3 p.m., I decided to take a bath with the nice bath salts a friend had sent me via Fed-Ex. I think she knew I was a little tense. I had been in the bath just long enough to relax when my husband, Steve, came running in with the phone. I was supposed to be at the hospital at 7 p.m. to deliver the baby.

We quickly packed all the last-minute things we could think of into a bag, and headed out to try to make it through traffic and get something to eat. I decided that I really wanted a Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Cheeseburger for my last meal – sort of a last pregnancy craving thing. We found one, although I don't think either of us really paid attention to the food. We talked a little about our hopes for the delivery.

My goal was to have one good contraction; I felt that to truly be a member of the mommyhood sorority, I needed to feel just one. I was also hoping for a natural childbirth, or at least as natural as possible. I didn't really want to use any drugs, but I was open to the possibility. I also wanted to avoid a c-section if possible since the recovery sounded so bad.

Let the labor begin!

When we arrived at the hospital we were ushered into a room, skipping the triage area, which the hospital tour had told us was the first stop for all admittees. I changed into my stylish gown and got in the bed to wait. I was strapped up to the monitors to check the baby's heartbeat and my contractions.

One of the two doctors I had been seeing throughout my pregnancy was on duty. He came in and checked to see how ready I was to deliver. I wasn't: no dilation, no effacement, no dropping. So he decided to begin the induction with a misoprostol pill to help thin and dilate the cervix. Having it inserted was just like a normal ob-gyn exam. I didn't feel the tablet go in — it was the size of a teeny aspirin. I was supposed to remain lying down for the evening, and they came to check me every four hours.

Early the next morning, I still hadn't dilated enough, so they inserted a Foley bulb to force open the cervix a little more. They inserted it right behind the cervix, between it and the bag of waters. It was a really uncomfortable experience – hands should not be that far up inside someone! Once the Foley bulb was there, however, I couldn't feel it. It had a little tube that attached to it, which they taped to my thigh. Then they filled the bulb with saline – to inflate it, I think. The bulb stayed in for about four hours, until I went to the bathroom and it popped out.

At about 9 a.m., they started the Pitocin. I had been having little contractions all evening, but had only felt a little cramping. The day went on with the nurses coming in every 30 minutes to increase the IV drip. The hardest part was not being able to move around. I wanted to walk, or bounce on the big birth ball I had brought. With the Pitocin and the other IVs and monitors, I wasn't allowed to do anything of the sort.

I didn't really cooperate with the instructions to lie down. I just didn't want to lie there; it was my gut instinct to move around. I would unplug myself from the monitors every time I got up, and I would get about five minutes of freedom before the nurse would come and tell me to get back in bed. Since I was strapped down to the bed, we couldn't do any of the massage we'd done in childbirth class. Steve would rub my hands when I was in bed, and when I broke the rules and got up, he would rub my shoulders. The nurses kept up the monitoring – my pulse, my blood pressure, the baby's heart rate, and every hour, my blood sugar.

At about 8 p.m., they checked me again and I was still only 3 centimeters dilated, but I was 95 percent effaced. I was a little disappointed – I had been thinking that all sorts of progress had happened during the day. They decided to break my bag of waters. They used the prongs of an internal fetal monitor to break it, then they installed the monitor because they were having a hard time keeping track of the baby's heartbeat. We were both moving around too much.

They had suggested the internal fetal monitor about five hours earlier, but I kept refusing it – I knew about it from my childbirth classes where they showed us pictures of the bruise babies get on their head from the monitor, and I didn't want that. I wanted a perfect little baby with no marks. Once it was there, I didn't mind it. There was a thin cable coming out of me, but it meant one less belt on my belly that the nurses didn't have to constantly adjust it. That was nice.

Contractions progress

When they broke my water, I felt a gush and almost instantaneously fulfilled my desire to feel that one contraction. The early contractions were uncomfortable, but not unbearable. My husband talked to me the whole time and told me stories. He has email on his phone, so he read me messages from family and friends. And he had brought about 50 presents; I'm crazy about presents, and am usually uncontrollable about opening them. He had gone to Target and bought candles, baby clothes, silly toys – stuff like that for me to open at different stages of labor.

Once the contractions got intense, I don't think he could have done anything that would have helped. I soon lost interest in the presents, and had to go into my own internal space. I'd ask him to help me breathe and he'd help for about one contraction and then he'd forget. It was exhausting for him, and sometimes he was going off into his own space. He got a cold as soon as we got back home.

Managing the pain

A little after 9 p.m., they checked again, and I was at 3.5 or 4 centimeters dilated. Those were some very intense hours. My desire not to use drugs quickly disappeared. I had a shot to take the edge off the contractions. I was thinking that was all I needed. The shot was great for about 45 minutes, and then it started to wear off.

Although one of my biggest fears heading into labor was the possibility of spinal damage from an epidural, I decided that I absolutely needed one, spine be damned. It was the greatest thing in the entire world. Once the anesthesiologist gave me the shot, my whole body felt warm and numb. I was blissfully happy, but still able to feel the contractions enough so that I thought I was earning my sorority status. The catheter that went with the epidural was uncomfortable, but the contractions were coming so quickly I wasn't paying all that much attention.

As the special shot wore off, I thought the end of the world was upon us. I was having uncontrollable shaking, a sign of transitional labor that I hadn't known about. I felt so uncomfortable, and I kept asking them to remove the catheter. The asking quickly became begging. The nurse, Beverly, came in with a hat she had knitted to give to the baby once he was born. It helped distract me for about three contractions. Then I wanted nothing more than to give up on the whole pregnancy thing and not be pregnant and not expecting a child.

The doctor came in to check, and said that it wasn't the catheter that was bothering me; it was the baby's head. It was just a little intense inch of pain. I was still convinced it was the catheter, but I do remember thinking that they weren't reaching in as far as they had been before to feel the cervix.

Time to push

By midnight, I had dilated to 9.5 centimeters – at last all of my pain and suffering had paid off. The doctor decided it was time to start pushing. So with a nurse holding one leg and my husband the other, and the doctor touching the exact spot where she wanted me to focus the pushing, we started. I had really intense focus. It wasn't an out-of-body experience, but I wasn't in my body. Part of me was somewhere else – like my brain wasn't there, just my body.

I made it through three incredibly uncomfortable pushes before the doctor decided that it was time to take the baby out. His heartbeat was dropping very low with each contraction, and it was going to take about three hours of pushing. I remember hearing "three hours" and thinking, "No way is that going to happen."

C-section – yes!

The doctor suggested an emergency c-section. This sounded to me like the greatest idea I had ever heard. Things moved very quickly from there. They brought in some forms for me to sign; I have absolutely no idea what they said. The doctor wanted to go over some of the possible complications with me. I'm sure she did, but all I remember was her saying that she wanted to discuss the complications.

The wonderful anesthesiologist came back and gave me the happy shot again, and I stopped caring about any of the pain I had been feeling a few minutes before. They gave my husband some clothes to change into and I was off, being pushed down the hallway to the c-section room. I remember asking my husband if he had the camera, which he had to run back and get. They started prepping me for surgery.

The anesthesiologist kept asking me questions about whether or not I could feel little pinpricks. Steve was sitting off to my left. I was in a weird mental state, not totally aware of what was happening, but also totally aware of every detail. After a few seconds of some tugging and pushing on my tummy (I thought they were still prepping), the doctor mentioned something about the baby playing with its cord and it being wrapped around his neck and chest.

Then Steve called out: "It's a boy!" I remember looking over to my left to see the baby on the bed and Steve taking pictures. Steve came over with the camera to show me quickly what Jeremy looked like and then headed back. It was 1:05 a.m., and Jeremy Malachi weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces and measured 19 inches long.

A doctor brought the baby next to my face for a second before he was whisked off to the nursery with Daddy. I remember touching him and thinking he was the softest thing in the whole world. It took the baby a little while to start crying; it seemed like hours to me. They had to use the big bag thing to give him a little extra air. His one-minute Apgars were six and eight. By five minutes, they were up to nine and nine. (I found those numbers out later.)

I was wheeled off to recovery where they kept checking me to make sure everything was OK. They had taken off my insulin pump and since my blood sugars were so high, they had to give me a second IV for the insulin. The only other remarkable thing I remember from right after the birth was that when the hormones started to leave my body, I began shaking uncontrollably. It was the same kind of shaking I felt during transition, but without the pain. My whole body was twitching. The nurses kept telling me it was OK and to expect it. It took about an hour for the shaking to pass.

Bonding with Jeremy

At about 4 a.m., they rolled me into my maternity room and brought the baby in as well. I finally got to hold him and I was so very happy. We tried to get some sleep, but between all of the excitement and drugs, I can't remember if I did or not.

My immediate feelings toward Jeremy weren't so much bonding as me being in awe. I was a little shocked that he was so small; I thought he'd be a 9-pound baby. He had a lot more hair than I had imagined. He looked like a little person right away.

I had more interventions than I'd hoped, but I don't feel bad about any of it. My options were somewhat limited because of my medical conditions, and since the cord turned out to be wrapped around Jeremy's neck, I don't think there was any way I could have avoided a c-section.

Watch the video: High Risk Pregnancy: AAMC Birth u0026 Baby (July 2022).


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