As an infertile, I've always been mesmerized by other people's birth stories. If I'm going to psychoanalyze myself, my guess is that it is because I was afraid I'd never have one of my own. Although I still love reading them and now I do have one of my own to tell, so who knows. Having a baby doesn't "cure" infertility and all of the baggage that comes with it, that's for sure.
I've chosen the pseudonym Pacey for my son for blogging purposes. That way I don't have to keep calling him "the baby" or "my son" but I don't have to give away his name. I'm pretty sure my friend Becky is the only one who will get the joke, but then again, she knows his real name. So...to the birth story!
But not so fast, because his birth story starts a little over two weeks before he was born. So, I don't know if I mentioned this or not, but little Pacey had a bit of a rocky start, coming seven weeks early.
A week before Christmas I woke up on a Sunday morning and felt kind of crappy. I even said to John, hey, I feel lousy, but I promised my mom I'd help her pick out her Christmas tree and I don't want to let her down. He told me I was a good daughter. I drove down to my mom's, getting there on time, and she was, naturally, running a bit late. I checked my blood sugar, which was a little high (pregnancy makes diabetes harder to control) got a glass of water and settled down on the couch to wait. About half an hour later, we drove over to the Christmas tree place. For the record, ALL I DID was walk around, slowly, and look at trees with my mom. We paid extra to have the tree delivered to her house and set up in the stand so I wouldn't have to lift a finger.
Anyway, we picked out a nice tree, she paid for it, we went back to the house, the kid delivered the tree and I was sitting on the couch again when all of a sudden it was like I was under water or crying. Everything got really blurry and hard to see. It lasted for a couple of minutes and then went away. My mom used to be a nurse, so she knew that was potentially a sign of high blood pressure, so she checked my blood pressure and it was in fact high. It's normal for your BP to be a little bit higher in pregnancy, but not that high. So I called my doctor, got the doctor on call, and he told me to go to Labor & Delivery to get checked out.
At L&D they verified that my BP was high, put me on a monitor and hooked me up to an IV for hydration. At one point the nurse asked if I was having any cramping and when I said no, told me I was having regular contractions. That's right, I was having contractions and I had no idea. They just felt sort of squeezy, and everything feels so darn weird when you're pregnant. After watching me for a while, the contractions slowed down and they said I could go home, but that I couldn't go in to work the next day and I had to go see my doctor.
My doctor didn't have any appointments in the morning, so I got one for the afternoon and told my boss I'd be in around 1:30. Around noon I set off for the doctor's office, feeling fairly cheerful. It was a lovely sunny day, and I felt pretty good. I was still having contractions every once in a while (once they were pointed out to me, I could recognize them) but I was sure everything was going to be fine. Ha!
On the way to the doctor's there was a wreck on the highway and it was completely closed. I had to get off and tear through the country roads to get around the blockage. Then, my check engine light came on. And finally, a cop came up behind me -- I had been speeding, but a kindly motorcyclist signaled me the cops were around -- and when I got out of the left lane, the cop pulled level with me, gave me the two fingers from his eyes to mine "I'm watching you" and drove next to me for a while before getting bored and speeding off. Now a) if you think I wouldn't have played the "pregnant and having contractions on my way to the dr" card if he had pulled me over, you're very naive and b) I knew there was no way in hell my blood pressure was going to be normal after all that in just 45 minutes.
Sure enough, it was not, and my contractions were increasing, so back to the hospital I went. This time they kept me in monitoring for MUCH longer. I had to call my boss and tell her I wouldn't be in. I ended up calling Becky to come hang out with me because I was bored and lonely. And eventually they said they were keeping me for the night, so John came to take over from Becky.
That's when things got really scary really fast. My contractions were increasing as was my blood pressure. All of a sudden I was hooked up to magnesium sulfate to stop the contractions, had a catheter and there was a neonatologist there to talk about what problems Pacey would face if he was born at 31 weeks. The mag sulfate did its job and got everything calmed down pretty quickly. If you've never been on mag sulfate, I hope you never have to experience it. I felt like I was burning up. My eyes ached and were boiling in my head. You can't eat when you're on it. In fact I'd had lunch that day and eventually proceeded to throw up everything I'd ever eaten, along with a few things I'd only thought about eating. It's the worst. After two days I was sent home on bed rest. At the time I told my boss I was sure I'd be back at least working from home by January 3rd.
Conveniently, I'd already planned to take the week between Christmas and New Year's off, as I usually do. Less conveniently, I couldn't leave the house for Christmas, I hadn't baked anything and I hadn't finished my shopping. Poor John found himself having to do everything, while I lay on the couch, trying to relax. I napped. I read books. I watched a lot of TV -- How I Met Your Mother, old Law & Order reruns and a bunch of marathons on Bravo, mostly. At night John and I were watching Firefly, having finally listened to everyone who told us we'd love the show. (Everyone was right). Christmas was kind of depressing. My mom didn't like having her traditions disrupted, John's dad didn't want to make the drive up here, and I felt like crap.
The next week was more of the same. It was getting harder and harder to sleep because I had to pee every 17 minutes, so I was tired all the time even though I didn't do anything. My friends called to keep my spirits up, my iPad connected me to the world and I stayed on the couch, checking my blood pressure ever so often. On New Year's Eve John and I watched the Firefly movie Serenity and I went to bed at 10:30.
And at 6:50 am on New Year's Day, my water broke. I was lying in bed, half asleep because I had to pee AGAIN but hadn't quite motivated to get up, so of course my very first thought was "oh shit, did I wet the bed?" but the water just kept coming and I knew that couldn't be right. So I ran to the bathroom and then decided I should wake up John. Then I called the doctor who said to go to the hospital and bring a suitcase, because I was probably going to be admitted. I ran around like crazy throwing random crap into a bag (the first time I ended up in the hospital I didn't have my toothbrush and I was determined not to do that again) and we were out the door 10 minutes later. The only thing I wish had done differently was to take a couple of minutes to eat something.
There is no traffic at 7 am-ish on New Year's Day, if you're wondering. We got to the hospital right away, even though it was 31 miles. I was still leaking all over the place, but not having much in the way of contractions. We got to the hospital, I was checked in and they verified that my water had indeed broken. I was also 70% effaced but not dilated -- aka my water had broken but labor wasn't really progressing. My BP was also elevated, so they gave me medicine for that, along with massive doses of antibiotics, because they worry about infection when your water breaks.
We got settled in our nice, big comfy birthing room (the first time around we were in kind of a crappy room because I was originally only going to be there overnight) and I started texting people updates. It was New Year's Day, after all. I didn't want to wake anyone up. At that point I was 32 weeks 4 days, and the plan we came up with was to keep me on hospital bed rest with IVs until 35 weeks if possible, then induce, although my doctor said she didn't think I'd make it to 34 weeks.
And right she was. I had enough amniotic fluid left that Pacey was doing fine, but my body was another story. My BP was not cooperating. They wouldn't let me eat -- one particularly depressing time I was allowed breakfast and right when it showed up my BP spiked and they took it away again. I don't think my diabetes has ever been so poorly controlled as when I was in the hospital under strict medical supervision. At one point I actually had John sneak me in a ginger ale just so I could have something to prop my blood sugar up!
I'd never really spent time in the hospital before, and let me tell you, it's not great. I was hooked up to monitors for my blood pressure, contractions and the baby's heartbeat. I had these stupid hissing inflatable things on my legs to prevent blood clots, and I was attached to an IV machine that was constantly beeping about one thing or another. Going to the bathroom, which I still had to do all the time, was an ordeal of cords and tethers and IV poles. And it was impossible to sleep or rest. If my bp alarm wasn't hooting, my IV was beeping, or someone was there to a) check my blood sugar b) change my IV c) give me a shot d) draw my blood e) get the trash f) change the linens g) type something in to the computer h) ask about my insurance and so on.
Now, the people were great. All of the nurses, doctors, techs and various other people were so kind and so helpful. It was just the hospital stuff that sucked. So anyway, on my third night in the hospital my blood pressure kept going higher and higher while I was sleeping. At 2:00 am my doctor woke me up and told me they were going to induce. I was back on the mag sulfate, plus pitocin and oh yeah, they were putting in a catheter too.
Ok, this has gotten really long, so I guess it is birth story part 1. To be continued...