It’s taken me a while to get to this but I finally have a moment to myself to write this out! One of my favorite things to do while I was pregnant was read birth stories. I refuse and don’t think I will ever watch a birth video because I wanted my own experience, but I loved reading birth stories. So here is my birth story with Penelope.
On Monday, March 18th, I had my 37 week appointment. I was miserable, SO MISERABLE. They did the normal stuff, checked my weight, blood pressure, and heart rate of the baby. My blood pressure was high but they didn’t say anything else. I cried to the nurse when she asked me how I was feeling. I was so uncomfortable, not getting any sleep, and feeling so awful. She came back and had me fill out a form asking questions that see if you have any sort of depression etc. I was happy, could laugh with my husband, and was super excited about having a baby…I just needed her OUT! Well, my misery will be explained shortly. My doctor came in and asked me how I was doing and I cried some more and asked him if he could induce me. He said that unless I had a medical condition he couldn’t induce me until 39 weeks. The thought of two more weeks pregnant sounded awful. I left the office and went on with my day.
A couple hours after my appointment I called my doctors office to ask if there was anything I could take for my ongoing headache that I had been having. She put me on hold. Now, up until this moment I had started to swell very easily and had a headache for about three days. The receptionist got back on the phone and asked me to come back into the office so they could re-check my blood pressure. I didn’t think anything of it so I got some things done around the house and went back into my doctors office just before they closed around 4 pm. They took me in immediately and the nurse checked my blood pressure. She told me to hold on and came back with another blood pressure machine and checked it again. After that she told me to go to the bathroom so they could take a urine sample. I did that and was brought into another room to wait. A few minutes later my doctor walked in and said, “Well I guess you’re getting what you wished for”. I immediately smiled and was so excited. YES! He’s inducing me!!!!! That’s all I cared about, ha! I developed preeclampsia, and this baby was coming out finally! My doctor asked me what time my husband got off of work, which was right at the time I was in the office. “Great! Have him meet you at the hospital”. Uhhh what? What about my hospital bag? Time to shower? Get my hair picture perfect ready? Nope..he wanted me in the hospital asap. I convinced him I would be quick so I could get my bag and he said sure but “no dilly dallying around”.
I called Mike and told him what was happening. He rushed home, we drove to the hospital and were checked into my room by 5 pm. In that moment I didn’t really understand the extent to how serious preeclampsia could be but this was just the beginning.
They started me on magnesium to relax my body and prevent seizures. I had already been having contractions 2-3 minutes apart but they weren’t strong at all, and I was dilated 1 cm. Monday night I was peeing about every 2 hours and trying to get sleep. Around 6 in the morning on Tuesday the 19th, my night nurse came in and informed me that the anesthesiologist on was about to leave at 7:00 AM , and if I was going to get an epidural that I should get one with him because basically, the next one wasn’t her favorite. I loved that she was so honest and I trusted her so I went ahead and got the epidural a half hour later. The epidural didn’t hurt at all, getting my IV hurt way more! After the epidural my doctor came in to break my water and I didn’t feel a thing. Then they started pitocin. I was feeling great! Couldn’t feel a thing and was finally able to get some sleep. However, I was super hungry. Note to self for next time: Eat anything/everything before you get admitted to the hospital. They won’t let you eat once you’re in besides ice chips and jello. As the day went on some of our family started arriving. That’s when the contractions really started to get intense. I was pressing that button for the epidural so much and nothing was happening. My nurse checked my cords and found that it was unhooked, so the anesthesiologist had to come back and hook them back up. Now it was back to feeling great, phew. I remember feeling pressure and as soon as I felt that I told Mike to get the nurse.
I was 10 cm dilated and it was finally time!!! I was so excited. We started doing some practice pushes around 9:00 PM. I closed my eyes every time I went to push..I did not want to see anything that was going on down there. Not long into pushing I started feeling everything again. All the pain. My epidural had worn off and the anesthesiologist came back in and gave me a dose of medicine which held me over for a little bit. When the epidural was working, it was great, lovely, amazing. I had a labor playlist set up that we listened to and everything was groovy, until my epidural wore off AGAIN and this time it was for good (insert mad face). I was feeling everything, the contractions with a combination of her starting to come out of me it hurt soo bad that it was hard just to breath through it. “Breathe babe” Mike would tell me. “I AM BREATHING” I would yell back at him. I remember looking over at him and saying “I don’t think I can do this again”. The pain was just so intense. I apologized to my nurse and told her I was so sorry, I’m not a dramatic person and I’m not like this I promise haha. She said “Oh hunny, you haven’t kicked, punched or bit me, you’re totally fine”. I kept pushing through the pains and contractions and she was slowly coming down. It finally got to the point where I couldn’t take the pain any longer – I needed her out. My doctor said I had two options; I could push her out or they could vacuum her out since she was right there. He left the room and my nurse told me that I could have her out in probably 3 or 4 contractions. I thought ok I got this, I can do it. So I started pushing again. My doctor came back in and I was ready for her to be here. I’ve read about the ‘ring of fire’ when the baby is coming out but I didn’t feel any ring of fire. I didn’t feel any specific pain at all it just ALL hurt. I was on the last contraction before she was about to come out when my doctor had told one of the nurses in the room to “Make the call”. Mike got nervous as that call was to the NICU because they lost her heartbeat and had to vacuum her out anyways to get her out quickly.
At 10:59 pm on Tuesday March 19th, Penelope Joy was born to “Your Song” by Elton John, and weighed in at 6 lbs. 8 oz. and 19 3/4 in. long.
It was such a crazy outer body experience to see her and immediately all of the pain went away. The moment she came out it was like relief. They flopped her on my chest and Mike cut the cord. Afterward, they took her to the side to get her measurements and assess her. As I was looking over at the nurses working on her, my doctor was delivering the placenta. Right after it came out it felt like I passed out and was seeing stars. I heard a nurse say “Are you with us? Are you with us?” and I don’t remember anything after that. After the placenta came out I had hemorrhaged. I woke up a few hours later in the middle of the night to Mike passed out on the couch and our baby girl in the bassinet next to us. What a crazy and wild 24 hours it had been.
Family and friends visited throughout the day on Wednesday and Thursday. I had taken my first steps to the sink and back to the bed on Thursday. I was so swollen from the magnesium and felt super weak from all the blood I had lost. I was getting blood taken like three times a day to see where my levels were at. I had been wanting to take a shower soo bad so on Thursday afternoon my nurse let me. She told me to not take a warm shower and to not wash my hair because she didn’t want me in there for a long time. I sat down in the shower the entire time and it felt amazing. I turned the shower off and Barb, my nurse, was right there next to me with my towel. I was still sitting as I slowly said to her, “I feel light headed”. Next thing I know, there’s six nurses in the shower with me. After passing out in the shower, my doctor came in to visit and told me that he put orders in for me to get a blood transfusion. I lost practically half of my blood, and until this moment they were hoping that my blood count would go back up. Thursday night I got the transfusion and Friday I looked like a completely different person. I looked like myself again! With the help and encouragement from my nurses, I finally took some more steps and went to the bathroom for the first time by myself. BTW, going to the bathroom for the first time is scary. It’s crazy how doing the basic things and caring for yourself can be so intimidating and nerve racking. Walking for the first time felt like my insides were going to fall out of me, the weirdest feeling ever. I was so scared to walk after passing out in the shower, but I kept telling myself that this is temporary and I’ll be back to normal soon.
On top of the aftermath of hemmoraging and birthing a baby, I was still dealing with the preeclampsia. My blood pressure had gone up to 170/110 at some points and my anxiety was through the roof whenever someone walked into my room. I had such bad anxiety when they would take my blood pressure because I just wanted it to go down and be in a normal range. Recovery was rough for me and adding to the stress was Penelope’s weight. We were having a hard time breastfeeding and it had gotten to the point where we were syringe feeding her because she wouldn’t even take a bottle. She was jaundice and had dropped below the 10% normal weight loss range for a newborn. On Friday our pediatrician said to focus on recovery and feeding and don’t allow visitors. This was the most stressful week ever. Finally on Saturday, five days after being admitted, we were able to come home with our sweet baby. She had gained a little bit and now weighed 5 lbs. 11 oz.
I had read so many amazing birth stories and was so excited to give birth. I wasn’t scared or nervous and I think that was the best mentality to go into it with. Thank God I did because my birth did not go the magical way I thought it was going to go. If I was anxious or scared to start it would have made things worse. There were also things that I didn’t read about and wasn’t necessarily prepared for, like how they push on your stomach everyday, how much blood comes out of you after (way more than I thought), how much you sweat after, how you could have the chills, the catheter, and feeling like an old person being cared for. However, each nurse that cared for me and Penelope were
absolutely amazing. I have a new appreciation for what nurses do. They do the dirty, messy work and are more than just a nurse to care for you but someone who encourages you, has compassion, and is there for you through your delivery and recovery. We went back a few days after being discharged to bring goodies for the nurses in labor and delivery and I wrote thank you cards to all the nurses who cared for us. Next time, I’m going to prepare baskets of goodies for the labor and delivery nurses to take along with my hospital bag.
Every birth story is different, unique, and special. Even though we had a rough and scary experience, the week after we were home from the hospital I was already talking about baby #2 ha! The pain was all worth it. A woman’s body is seriously AMAZING. What we go through to have a baby and then care for them on top of recovering is mind blowing. I’m hoping that next time around it will go how I had thought it would in my head but even if it doesn’t, it’s all worth it.
That was our birth story. A wild, crazy, exciting, scary, and absolutely amazing week that changed our lives forever.