When We Delivered Our Own Baby
I've had four babies, and they each have their own unique pregnancy and birth stories. None of them are "typical." The birth of my fourth, Sadie, however, takes the cake.
All four of my children were born at 35 weeks. All for different reasons. With Sadie, I started having contractions around 26 weeks. They started as Braxton Hicks and then got a little closer to the real thing as I got closer to my due date. I was uncomfortable, and they were zapping any energy I had left (after taking care of my son and twin babies, who were 17 months old when Sadie was born, and working full time).
Given my history delivering at 35 weeks, I saw a specialty OB from the very beginning of this pregnancy, hoping to make it closer to the 40-week mark. Their trained eyes noticed a growth on the placenta around 33 weeks. It was identified as a chorioangioma, and the concern was that the growth may restrict blood flow to the baby and she could develop fetal anemia. When it was first discovered, the doctors were very laissez-faire. "This is common," they said. I am not an alarmist, so I continued on with my daily life, but with some added monitoring.
As my contractions continued, I was put on daily non-stress tests. These simple tests use a fetal monitor for a period of time to watch contractions and determine their strength and change. The hardest part about this was that I had to go to the hospital to have them done, which was a 20-30 minute drive each way. There went a good two hours of my day!
Then, I had that one doctor's appointment when it all became real. If you've ever had a less-than-routine appointment, you know that there's that one moment when the doctor pauses, or the nurse goes out of the room, and you know things are off. On this particular day, I sat in the room by myself for what felt like an eternity while the ultrasound technician shared the results with my doctor. He came in, did another ultrasound and confirmed that the blood flow to the baby had decreased, and I needed to be induced. That night. We had a midnight appointment at the hospital. I was 35 weeks to the day.
Zach and I went home, frantically arranged the bedroom and packed our bags. We put the kids to sleep, and went to bed ourselves and slept for about an hour or so before we had to leave for the appointment. In retrospect, I am amazed that I actually slept at all, but the pregnancy had worn me out so much, I was thankful to get sleep.
Now, I've heard of these stories of moms having their second and third babies in record time. Their labor progresses so quickly that they hardly have time to make it to the hospital. This must be me too, I thought. Especially since my own mother and sister had similar experiences. Nope. Not for me, not one bit. My body likes to draw these things out, it seems. Each of my labors took a loooong time. This was no exception. I was induced at midnight, and by the evening of the next day, I had made close to zero progress. I was exhausted and frustrated. We took a break from the Pitocin used to induce labor, and I got to eat dinner. Amazing dinner.
That night and the next morning, progress was very slow. I am pretty sure Zach got a great night of sleep. By mid afternoon, my doctor decided to break my water. Just as they promised, things started to pick up from there. From approx. 2 pm to 7 pm, my contractions got stronger and more intense.
I had an unmedicated birth with my oldest and an epidural with my twins. While the epidural was helpful with the twins, I did not like the medication. I was hoping to hold out for an unmedicated birth with my fourth, but as labor got more intense, I realized that I was not as mentally prepared as I had been for my son's birth (when I took months of birth classes, read several books, etc.). As labor was getting more serious, I was wavering on my decision. Should I get the epidural?
While I was contemplating this, my doctor popped in, checked me and said that he would go home for dinner and would be back in time for delivery. He had a fast car, he said. He was a short drive from the hospital, he said.
I finally decided I wanted the epidural and called the anesthesiologist. He kindly said that as long as I could hold still, he could still administer one. That was enough for me to rethink it. The contractions were too close to imagine sitting still. I sent him away.
Three minutes later, Sadie was coming. The nurse left the room to call the medical team, while Zach was rubbing my shoulders. I was the only one who knew I was delivering a baby AT THAT MOMENT. I said (yelled?), "I think she is coming!" As soon as I said it, Sadie was born onto the hospital bed. I reached down and grabbed her. The nurse rushed in (too late), and a team of medical staff hurried into the room. The doctor showed up several minutes later.
We're still not sure how this final part happened so quickly and how there wasn't anyone else there to help catch her, but I am thankful that she was OK and that I got a couple quick moments with her before she was whisked off to the NICU. Sadie spent seven days in the NICU, growing and hitting milestones along the way. It was such an eventful way to enter to the world, and as Sadie becomes more of her own person, we are learning that this kind of entertainment and independence is the core of who she is, and we love her.