Today is Saturday, November 29. I know that because yesterday was Black Friday, and Thanksgiving was the day before that. I also know that because as of yesterday, I own (have? own sounds better…) a four week old baby. If you are following with math, (something I’m definitely not capable of at the moment), you can guess what I was doing on Halloween. It’s no secret that I’ve been dealing with the baby blues on a pretty serious level, so it’s tough for me to sum up any feelings about the baby. Maybe in another month I can write a post back-logging everything that has gone through my head. If I can remember.
But that’s getting ahead of things. Let’s back up to Monday, October 27. I showed up to my 38 week appointment and watched my normally uber-relaxed (seriously, the man is not fazed by anything) doctor screw his face into a frown.
“Your blood pressure is high again. Not super high, but borderline. I’m going to have you do a 24 hour urine test. I honestly don’t think anything will come of it – I’m not worried – but, just in case.”
To which I said wait – 24 hours? as in, pee in a jug all day? And he laughed and grimaced slightly, and nodded his head “yup.” //SUPER.
On the way out of his office, I picked up my new best friend – bright orange jug-o-pee, and proceeded to have one of the most awkward days of my life thus far. The next day I texted a friend – “I never thought when I got pregnant that it would involve driving a vat of piss across town. And praying no one hits me and it spills all over my car.”
On Wednesday afternoon, my doctor called me.
“You have protein in your urine. Not a lot, but enough. I want you to come to the hospital for a non-stress test tomorrow. Depending on how things look, I might send you home. I’ll probably send you home. But if there’s an issue, I’d like to induce you.”
Now, let me be clear here. He was so confident that there would be no problem, he emphasized sending me home like 4 times on the phone. I hung up confident that there would be no issue and I would be home watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix and eating popcorn like every nearly-39-week pregnant woman should be. So when I showed up to the hospital the next afternoon, and the nurse promptly looked at me and said “So, you’re staying with us!” the look of shock and awe on my face must have been brilliant.
She backpedaled immediately. “Wait – did your doctor talk to you this morning? He called us this morning and said you are staying and being induced.”
“I talked to him yesterday….//falter//dumb noises//… he said *maybe* I’d stay depending on how things went…//more dumb noises//…”
So she let me keep my clothes on, got me set up for the non-stress test, and went to call my doctor and sort out what he actually wanted.
I’m sure you can imagine how that went, since I already established I have a four week old baby. Yup. My blood pressure was high all afternoon, and even though the NST went splendidly, (she’s a super zen baby), it was time to get her out.
(Here is where I’d give you some background on preeclampsia, which is what I had. This is how my doctor explained it to me and my brain hasn’t worked in weeks – so please don’t fault me if some of these facts aren’t quite right. But here’s the general idea. They call it the first pregnancy disease, as it’s most common with first timers. 10-15% of women with their first pregnancy will get it! In short, your blood pressure starts getting out of control, which starts affecting your internal organs. The urine test was to show kidney function, and the fact that there was protein in it meant that my kidneys were starting to fail. If that is true, it means it could be affecting my other organs as well. Luckily I had a mild case that was caught early, but it can spiral out of control seemingly instantaneously. Left untreated, it can be fatal to both mom and baby. Oh and treatment is simply ‘get the baby out.’ Since I was nearly 39 weeks, my doctor felt safer jumping on it early, before things got really bad.)
Around 3pm, I sighed really loudly, attempted to not launch myself into a full blown panic attack, and got in a hospital gown. Neil told his work that he wouldn’t be coming back that day… or for a few weeks. My doctor showed up and gave me a big grin – which sort of made me want to bite his face off and sort of made me want to cry and hug him for no reason. He took one look at my monitor and explained that I was actually having contractions on my own already and did I feel them? Again, the look of shock and awe on my face was enough to answer his question. (This basically becomes a theme throughout my labor.) Anyway, the “nice and gentle” drug (cervadil) that they were going to use to get me kick started was now out of the question, because I was having too many contractions on my own for it to be safe. So instead I got to jump straight to the “phase two” part of the plan – Pitocin.
I begged and pleaded for one last real meal, which thankfully was provided, and then at 4pm or so, they hooked me up to an IV and started the Pitocin.
And then… I felt nothing. And more nothing. And I really hate jello, did I tell you? And then more nothing. Oh, except the drugs and IV and blood pressure cuff going off every 15 minutes trying to amputate my arm, I swear.
The next morning was Halloween. I was still being slightly annoyed in my bed, after having to call a nurse every time I had to pee (pregnant! a lot! all night!) so I could unhook from all of the tubes and wires, and poor Neil was just trying to peel himself off of the “sleeper” sofa in the room when my doctor came back in, looked at my print-out for the night, and I swear I heard him whistle under his breath.
“Wow. You really aren’t feeling these?”
I meekly replied, knowing that it was not the answer he wanted to hear.
“Ok, I’m going to break your water. That should get things moving. If it doesn’t, we’ll chat.”
I knew enough to not ask for more information on that little chat.
I didn’t look, but Neil later described a giant chopstick. And that’s all you get for that.
A few hours later a nurse came in (I swear that I met every nurse on staff. Also, they are all amazing.) and looked at my bag of Pitocin. She looked me right in the eye and exclaimed “Wow. I’ve never seen a bag that empty before.” And then she put up a SECOND one. One last look of admiration (and possibly pity) and she left the room again.
And then. And then the shit storm started. My doctor came back and I had to pant through a contraction to talk to him. He grinned that big smile that simultaneously made me want to hit/hug him again, and said “Ah, I see things are moving now.”
Another hour or two, and I decided I wanted the epidural. Things were just enough that I could see how bad it would get, and I thought I was being so smart by asking for it before it felt out of control.
“He’s in a C-section right now, it will be at least half an hour.”
Here’s the thing about Pitocin – the contractions gang up on each-other. So there’s no break in between. And I had two bags of the stuff by then. I remember looking at Neil and crying “why aren’t they stopping. make them stop.” Also there were a few growly “don’t touch me!” thrown in there for good measure.
FORTY MINUTES LATER which felt like FORTY DAYS the anesthesiologist came in like a super efficient tornado, throwing chairs across the room and making Neil sit somewhere he couldn’t see the needle. (I read somewhere that they do that so the dads don’t pass out.) Another amazing nurse helped me sit up and I remember the doctor making me agree to “don’t sue me” things… no idea what I agreed to, but I would have hung upside down off a chandelier while singing show-tunes at that point if it meant I could get drugs.
Ten minutes later and everything was golden. Thank you, modern medicine.
(If you are keeping track – again, math – we’ve been in the hospital, in labor, for well over 24 hours now. Super.)
The next few hours were uneventful. I was happy about that.
And then suddenly, a nurse came and checked me and announced I was ready. Oh, and that my doctor was out trick-or-treating with his kids for the next hour so do I want to wait for him or use his back-up?
Um, what? YespleaseIwantmydoctorwhoI’veseenforthelast40weeks! She agreed, and then explained that it could still be a long night, since my contractions were twice as far apart as they should be (4-6 minutes!) and it takes most first time moms with normal contractions (2-3 minutes) between 2 and 4 hours to get the baby out.
So… we waited. And then the nurse decided it was close enough and had me start pushing. And then almost immediately stop pushing, because I was way too effective a pusher. (This is dying for another blog post about crossfit, exercise, pregnancy, and how it all pretty much kicked ass..) She called my doctor for delivery. Just under and hour and a half later (again – what!) Paige was born. 10:26pm, Halloween night. Magik. They put her on my chest and she immediately made eye contact with me and I burst into tears.
Then shit got real. Not 5 minutes into seeing my baby for the first time, I hear my doctor say something about the placenta being still attached and something else about blood. And suddenly, I started shaking violently and uncontrollably. One nurse took Paige away, another started heaping warm blankets onto me. I lost all sense of time, and was just aware enough to know that the anesthesiologist was back and pumping me full of more medicine. My eyes were hard to focus, I puked a few times. An oxygen mask appeared and the nurse kept telling me to breathe deep. I remember Neil sitting on the other side of me looking worried. My doctor earned his money.
Later when the nurses would come and check on me, each of them in turn would say something to the affect of “I heard you lost a lot of blood.” This is the only reason I know that to be true. Neil later confirmed that it was a good 90 minutes post delivery until I was “ok” again. They left my IV in for an extra day “just in case” and again, I didn’t ask for more details as to in case of what.
We spent another couple of days in the hospital, finally going home on November 2, a beautiful Sunday afternoon, with baby Paige in tow. Recovery has been difficult, to say the least. Breastfeeding has been difficult, to say the least. And there are lots of emotions…. to say the least.
But one thing I know to be true. I am so very thankful. For doctors, for medicine, for family and friends. For my husband, and his unending patience and understanding as I stand sobbing in the corner for no reason for the 27th time. And for her. Because already, she is teaching me how to be a better person.
Paige Pumpkin. Our Halloween treat.