Nathan’s birth (just like my pregnancy) was a string of constant surprises and left turns and being blindsided by what I wasn’t prepared for, and overly prepared for things that never happened. There was surprise, and intrigue, and also bodily fluids (which I’ve tried to keep to a minimum, but was inevitable. If you’re squeamish, I can spoil the story by letting you know now – it ends with a super cutie baby. If you need to leave it at that and be on your way, I understand).
For those of you who are unsqueamish and curious, here are the pertinent details of my pregnancy:
- I got gestational diabetes late in my pregnancy (despite having ZERO of the risk factors for it!) I still maintain that I only had diabetes when forced to drink hummingbird food (glucose tests are evil!) If they’d let me continue to eat things OTHER than absurd amounts of sugar on an empty stomach, I would have been fine. But I pricked my finger and made elaborate spreadsheets and startled my doctor with the amount of data I took in order to ensure I was following the diet appropriately all the same.
- I had been seeing a nurse-midwife for my OB visits, but at about the same time that I failed my glucose challenges, I had some high blood pressure readings. She was concerned enough that she referred me to an MD for the remainder of my care. The medical assistant and MD later agreed that the problem was that they’d used a small blood pressure cuff when the high results had been noted, and my arm was (apparently) right on the cusp of needing the larger cuff. With the larger cuff, my blood pressure was fine. With all the chaos of being referred to a high-risk pregnancy specialist and taking classes on diabetes, blood pressure got put on the back burner (FORESHADOWING!)
- Nathan never flipped upside down to prepare for a traditional birth, and as anyone who follows me on Twitter was aware of, I was TERRIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE with his head constantly up in my ribcage! As of 36 weeks, I was seeing a chiropractor (hey, sometimes they can help loosen the ligaments to give the baby room to flip! It was worth a try!) and discussing the pros and cons of external version with my husband. We were prepared for the possibility of a C-section, but I was determined to try everything I could to get him to turn around already!
So on the night of February 17, J and I attended our weekly childbirth class, had dinner (and my immediately-before-going-to-bed diabetes diet snack!) and lay in bed discussing the pros and cons to C-sections, risks of trying to get the baby to turn around, and how we both kind of secretly had been thinking it might not be so bad if he arrived early, because we just couldn’t wait any longer to meet him. (WARNING! DO NOT EVER HAVE THIS CONVERSATION! THEY ARE FAMOUS LAST WORDS IN THE MAKING!)
J fell asleep shortly thereafter (this was maybe around 11ish?) and I continued to get up to pee approximately every 5 minutes for the next 30 minutes or so (which is one of the many reasons why I swear I sleep better with a newborn in the house than I did while pregnant!) On one of my trips to the bathroom (in the dark, so I wouldn’t disturb J) something just didn’t feel right . . . it felt kind of like it did when I would get my period . . . wait a second . . . uhoh. I turned on the light and saw blood in the toilet (you don’t need to know much about pregnancy or childbirth to know that bleeding usually equals bad things). I tried to yell for J from the toilet, but he had just fallen deeply asleep (I could tell from his breathing) and didn’t hear me asking him to bring me my phone So I waddled over to the bed to wake him up and tell him that I was going to call labor and delivery triage (thank heavens for the magnet they gave me with the phone number on it!) but that I thought there was a chance we’d be making the 45 minute drive to the hospital to get checked out. I don’t know what I expected him to do, but he sleepily nodded and then lay back down, so I went ahead and made the call (from the toilet, but I’d imagine as a triage nurse you get phone calls from weird places all the time!)
During the course of my call with triage, the blood went from red to pink to clear. This led to a prolonged discussion with the nurse over whether or not I was SURE the initial bleeding had been red, and not pink. Pink could simply mean I’d passed my mucous plug and everything was normal, but red meant I needed to go to the hospital (and I’m trying to avoid going into it here, for the sake of people who don’t want to hear about such things, but if that WAS my mucous plug . . . I have about a thousand and one suggestions for the descriptions used in pregnancy books, because NONE of them came even close to describing what I had seen! If there isn’t a realistic pregnancy book with ACTUAL descriptions of things instead of vague descriptions that make you later go, “oooh, THAT was what they were trying to describe in a polite manner . . . I get it NOW,” well, there should be. I’ll write it if nobody else will).
In the end, I decided I didn’t want to be so far from the hospital if something was indeed wrong, so J and I threw on some clothes and got in the car (at least we didn’t have to deal with traffic, like I’d been worried about!) I brought my purse and that was it, because I was pretty convinced that I was being paranoid and sending us on a middle of the night adventure for what would end up being nothing at all, and I didn’t want to compound the situation by bringing along a hospital bag (not that I had one packed yet. It was still on my to do list. I had a couple more weeks to go, people!)
Once checked in at the hospital, they asked for a urine sample (which is always a horribly annoying task when you can’t see the urine you’re supposed to be collecting, and then you throw in all the extra mucous . . . it was a mess) and then hooked me up to monitors to track contractions, the baby’s heart rate, and my blood pressure while they tested my pee.
The first surprise (which, in hindsight, we all should have seen coming) was that my blood pressure was high. The numbers changed based on if I was talking or resting when it automatically checked me, but I believe at one point it was 160/110 (as opposed to the 120/80 I always was when not pregnant). So that wasn’t good. They also were concerned when I answered that yes, I had been getting occasional headaches lately (but for crying out loud, you know what hormones do to me? THEY GIVE ME HEADACHES! So I am sorry I didn’t call earlier to tell them I took a Tylenol, because it just was par for the course for me!) because high blood pressure + headaches sometimes means pre-eclampsia (and the only reason I know THAT is because earlier in my pregnancy when I was having TERRIBLE migraines, they kept checking my blood pressure to be sure I was okay. And I was fine. At that point, at least).
The second surprise was that when they hooked me up to the monitors, the nurse said, “Well I see you’re having some contractions . . . ” and I said, “Um, what now?” Now don’t get me wrong, I was terribly uncomfortable, but as I had BEEN terribly uncomfortable for months now, I didn’t realize that wasn’t par for the course. I had a lot of fun watching the monitors and realizing that, oooooh, that weird feeling I had always thought was the baby moving in a weird way? Yup, a contraction. (Again, pregnancy books, CAN YOU PLEASE INCLUDE OTHER DESCRIPTIONS OF WHAT CONTRACTIONS MIGHT FEEL LIKE? Because I apparently experience sensations in ways the authors didn’t include!) They were mild contractions, and I don’t believe they were coming at any particular interval, but they were there all the same (and as I later realized, they’d been there occasionally for a really long time. Scary. I probably should have been on bed rest instead of trying to clean our old condo to the obsessive standards of our previous landlords. Our security deposit wasn’t THAT important, in the scheme of things!)
The NEXT unpleasant surprise was that there was protein in my urine, which can (again) be a sign of pre-eclampsia, or . . . contamination from amniotic fluid. I didn’t know about that last part until the doctor came in to do an ultrasound to verify that the baby was still breech, and asked me when my membranes had ruptured. (I had to translate for J that apparently, my water had broken! How on EARTH could that happen without my noticing it? A few minutes later, actually, I very definitely noticed it, so perhaps it was only a trickle until I acknowledged it had happened, and then the floodgates opened!)
So that left us with a baby facing the wrong direction, likely pre-eclampsia, broken water, contractions, and after an exam . . . a cervix that wasn’t doing anything at all. If even a few of those factors had been absent, we might have been told to wait and see what happened next. However, since the baby needed to come out SOON (because of the blood pressure stuff) and it didn’t appear likely that he’d be exiting in the traditional way any time soon, they set me up for a C-section!
We were all dismayed to find that I’d eaten so late at night (it was for my diabetes! I HAD to eat that late!) because it meant we had to sit around and wait for the food to be digested before they’d send me to surgery. Then they decided to wait until the shift change so we could have a fresh, new surgeon, which meant that I was sent into the operating room a little bit before 7, and we hadn’t slept much that night (I guess THAT part was more like a traditional labor story!)
The C-section went smoothly (although just in case it happens to anyone else, I don’t want you to be as unprepared for this as I was: when placing the spinal block, J wasn’t allowed in the room. So for the part of the process that I was the most afraid of, they sent him one way down the hallway, and took me the other way. NOT A COOL SURPRISE, PEOPLE! But I was brave, and they did a good job, and by the time J got scrubbed up and was allowed in, I couldn’t feel whatever it was that they were doing to me on the other side of the screen). They wouldn’t let J watch the actual surgery, which is one of the things he is still most riled up about, but they let me seen Nathan as SOON as he was pulled out of me (I wish more than anything we’d caught on camera our first glimpse of him – a bloody, screaming, mess of a baby that was thrust up over the screen like a puppet in a horror movie. He dripped blood on our side of the screen and then was whisked away to be cleaned up. It was truly surreal!)
And just like that, we had a baby! A 5 pound, 4 ounce, 19 inch long baby!
So, that is the story of Nathan’s birth! The story of what happened AFTER he was born will have to be a separate post (because in the course of writing this, I got appendicitis and had TWO MORE SURGERIES, bringing my surgery total to 3 in 4 months, which just isn’t cool. So before my mom leaves to take care of the kids she still has living at her own home, I need to go take another nap!) But to keep you entertained, here is a 3.5 month old Nathan, perhaps telling you about his birth in his OWN words! (Albeit sideways. I’m still figuring out my new video camera, okay? Anybody know how to flip a video in YouTube?)