It has taken me this long to sit down and write this partially because I have been giving every ounce of my time to this little miracle beside me, and mostly because I was scared to death to admit just how lucky we got.
I'd been feeling menstrual-type cramping pretty
constantly for about 4 days. My doctor assured me that it was normal and
that they were in fact "practice contractions" at my appointment on
Tuesday, April 22nd. I jokingly told her that day that I'd see her next
week if I was still pregnant...little did I actually know...
Saturday, April 28th, I got up and felt the same annoying cramping but
went about my day. I went to a little league baseball game for a boy I
used to watch and then went to Wal-Mart with my mom while Josh was at
work. As we were walking around, my cramps turned really strong. I was a
little scared and taken aback by the severity of the pain. My mom
laughed at me and said, "maybe this is it?"
On the drive home, I
noticed that there were definite peaks and lulls to the pains but that
they were never completely going away before starting again. I had out
the contraction timer on my phone, but I was having trouble timing them
because there were no definite starts and stops. We got to my mom's and I
got a big glass of water and put my feet up. The pains kept coming, one
on top of the other. I sent Josh a text just as a heads up and then
went into the bathroom. The start of my scary journey really begins
there. When I wiped, there was bright red blood. I know that
sometimes at the beginning of labor, there can be spotting, but this was
a lot of blood...and it was coming from my vagina. The pains still had
not stopped and the blood sent me over the edge. I asked my mom to call
Josh to come get me while I called the on-call number for my
The on call receptionist answered and told me that
of the five doctors in my practice, not one was on call that weekend but that
they had a substitute doctor, Dr. Varma, covering their patients. I was
frustrated but asked him to have her give me a call. She called back
within a couple of minutes and I told her about my symptoms: fast,
sudden, constant contractions bright red blood. She laughed
and told me spotting was normal at the beginning of labor, but that
since I was only 38 weeks that I should at least come get checked out.
She told me to eat something on the way, just in case it was real labor.
Josh showed up and was adorable and concerned. He tried to
sweep me out the door without realizing I didn't even have my shoes on.
We laughed about that later. Much, much later. Thankfully, I had packed
our hospital bag and the diaper bag the week before so we swung by our
apartment and he ran up and grabbed those (in his rush, he didn't grab
the "last minute" items I wanted like my phone charger and my make-up).
got to the hospital and they took me to Labor and Delivery right away, this was
around 3:00pm. I was put in a bed and hooked up to a monitor and then
left alone for about 20 minutes. Josh and I could just sit there and
stare at each other wondering what was going on. My nurse came back in
and said, "are you feeling these contractions?" I told her yes and she
was astonished because they were literally coming on top of one another
with no break in between. She asked how long I'd been laboring at home
and I told her I hadn't at all...that the contractions started suddenly
and hadn't stopped since. She was baffled by that...because I am a first
time mom. She did a cervical check and told me I was at about a 2.5.
When she pulled her hand out, it was absolutely covered in dark red
blood. I figured she would have said something to me if she was
concerned and that maybe my cervix was just extra sensitive or
something. Either way, they admitted me, asked me about my birth plan
and left me to my own devices to see how fast I would progress.
away, I got into the jacuzzi tub. The warm water helped to relieve some
of the tension that had built up in my body from fighting the constant
contractions for so long (about 4 hours at this point). Josh was so
concerned about me but respected my wishes for a drug free delivery and
he did everything he could to make me more comfortable. He rubbed my
back, held my hand, brought me water and told me he loved me probably a
I got out of the tub for another cervical check
about an hour later. I had progressed to a 3.5 in that hour. The nurse
was again baffled by how fast I was progressing for a first time mom.
She wanted to hook me up to the monitor again to see how baby was
tolerating the constant contractions, so I climbed into bed. Just
sitting there on my back with the monitors on made the pain from the
contractions so much worse. I was always so worried that I wouldn't know
a true contraction, but believe me...I knew. This was a deep, lingering
intense pain. And I was getting so exhausted. I was only 5 hours into
labor and shaking all over. I tried to remember to relax and breathe
through them and was doing well. I became kind of a celebrity in the
L&D unit...all the nurses were coming in to look at my paper that
showed the peaks of the contractions. They were all amazed that they
never stopped and also amazed that I had tolerated them for so long.
was so determined for my med-free birth. At around 9:00 pm, my nurse
brought me a birthing ball and some other things to help with the pain.
She also made me get back in bed for an hour and told me it was time to
give me an IV. She said, "contractions are good, but it is bad for the
uterus to get absolutely no break". It took 4 nurses and 7 needle sticks
to get an IV in me. That completely broke my focus and I was actually
pretty pissed off after that. Two times, a nurse got the needle in and
blew out my vein, filling my right wrist with IV fluid. It was swollen
and so painful and after the fact my entire arm from wrist to elbow is
black and blue.
is turning so long...suffice it to say, I made it until 5:00am laboring
on my own before Dr. Varma finally came to see me. She did a cervical
check and I seemed to be stuck at a 4.5-5. She said there was a lip on
my cervix that felt like scar tissue and that it was going to hurt, but
that she had to push it back otherwise, I would never continue to
dilate. Josh held my hand and tears streamed down my face as she
manipulated my cervix. She told me my bag of waters was bulging and that
by rupturing it, I might get some much needed relief of pressure and
more progress could be made. I said okay. She ruptured my water and the
feeling of it gushing out was probably the best relief I've ever felt.
The entire bed was soaked with amniotic fluid and blood...lots of blood.
I mentioned all the blood to her and she casually said, "you might have
a little tear or abruption. We'll see!" I got back into the tub and
bounced on the birthing ball. The contractions which were already
intense became even more so once my water was broken. There still had
been no slow down. I was having 2 minute long contractions with maybe a
30 second lull in between. I could barely catch my breath before the
next one peaked.
At around 7:00 am, I was checked again and was
at a 5.5-6. I was thrilled that I was progressing, but I was so weak and
tired from the relentless pain. It was at this point that I started to
doubt myself. I had read the books though, I knew the moment I started
to believe I could not do it was called transition and that surely meant
I was almost on the downward slope. I was hooked up to the monitors
again and baby's heartrate was absolutely spiked to a dangerous level.
It seems all the stress of the 16 hours of labor with no break was
taking its toll on him. At one point, his heart was flickering around
200 bpm then it would drop to around 50 and spike back up. That was
scary. And that required the nursing staff to come talk to me.
had been a shift change and I was left with a no-nonsense, battle axe
old lady named Suzanne. She looked me straight in the eye and said, "you are trying to
be a hero and you are putting your baby at risk. You are not
progressing on your own anymore and you won't because you have pushed
yourself too far. We need to give you something to relax otherwise, this
could end up being a C-section which none of us want. I'll give you an
hour to decide." I was blown away at her rudeness at the time, but she
kind of saved me. I was convinced I could do it. I continued bouncing on
my labor ball and Josh was rubbing a hole in my back. I was delirious
with pain and shaking. I knew my body was fighting the contractions, no
matter how hard I tried to relax. At some point, I told Josh, "I cannot
physically do this anymore. I feel like I'm going to die." He rushed out
at brought in the nurse and I told her to give me something. She
offered me an epidural or IV phenergen to take the edge off...and then I
vomited all over and became completely lethargic, I think I passed out for a few seconds because I sat blinking like I'd just woken up.
At that point, Josh had made the executive decision to get me the
epidural and at that point, I couldn't even think straight. I was
shaking, almost convulsing, with the pain. I kept vomiting and my vision
was black at the sides.
I recall basically nothing about the
epidural procedure. I remember leaning over and Josh holding me up and
then being laid back down in the bed. I felt warm and tingly everywhere
and I could finally, FINALLY after 20 or so hours take a breath and get
a hold of myself. I laid there in a trance for awhile as the doctors and
nurses worked around me. My heart rate fell drastically from the epidural so
they gave me medicine to raise it. That medicine made baby's heart rate
spike again so they quickly emptied 4 huge bags of IV fluid into me and
came in every 10 minutes to flip me from side to side, trying to calm
the baby down. This was turning into my worst nightmare...one medical
intervention after another...I was in tears saying, "this isn't what I
wanted." over and over but I must admit, the relief from the epidural made me
determined with a new goal: no C-Section.
The nurses finally
got me and baby under control and told us to get some rest. Josh
gratefully fell asleep but my mind was racing. Every time I would close
my eyes, I would hear the baby's heart rate do something crazy on the
monitor and wake up. I knew my mom was at the hospital so I asked my new nurse (another shift change!) Kellie to bring her in. It was nice to just see my mom's face and hear some words of encouragement. It had been a long night and I needed that mommy boost in order to relax a little more. I progressed extremely fast after the epidural. I went
from a 6 at around 7:00am to a fully effaced 10 at 9:00am. Just goes to
show that my body was indeed fighting itself and that my contractions
were actually doing something once I was relaxed.
The nurse that
checked me last was amazed that I had made it to a 10 so quickly. She
woke Josh up by saying, "daddy...are you ready? We're going to push!"
Josh calmly woke up, got a cup of coffee and came over to ask me if I
was ready. I think I was in shock because I just laid there and nodded.
Dr. Varma came in, they explained how to breathe/push and off we went. I
could not feel anything because of the epidural so it
was very hard to focus my pushing to the right place. I asked for a
mirror to help me. They brought it in in time to see my baby crowning.
For all the moms that say they never want to see it happening like I
used to, it was the most beautiful and amazing thing I've ever seen. I
reached down and touched the soft black hair covering his head and it
gave me inspiration to push. I pushed for 45 minutes...probably 20
pushes in all. We were struggling because I would get his head out and
the second I stopped pushing, it would get sucked back in. Dr. Varma
said I must have a short cord and that's why he was not making much
progress. Josh was so amazing during the whole process, but especially here. He was holding one leg while my nurse held the other and whispering words of encouragement into my ear the whole time. Between each push, he fed me some ice, replaced my oxygen mask and wiped my hair back from my forehead. Even though we always joked that he should *never* look at what was going on down there, he watched the whole thing happen.
The moment I pushed him out I experienced this moment
of complete bliss. It sounds so lame but my whole body felt like it was
floating as I was staring at the perfect baby they placed on my chest. I
was absolutely sobbing and remember saying that he couldn't be mine
because he was *too* perfect. The nurses laughed at me. Josh was crying
too and I was kissing all over my baby despite all the goo that I was
sure would ick me out prior to having him. He started screaming the
moment his head was out, so he swallowed quite a bit of blood and mucous
and was gaggy. They suctioned him and he kept screaming. I will never
forget his eyes. They were wide open and he just locked straight into
mine as if to say, "I'm here...I just need you to love me forever."
was at this point that I heard my doctor say, "oh...my God." I glanced
up in time to see her as pale as a sheet and whispering something to one
of my nurses. I asked if everything was okay and they said they'd tell
me in a moment. The doctor plopped my placenta in a tray and set to work
stitching me up (only two tiny stitches inside my perineum and no
hemis!) I was so in awe of my new baby I didn't notice the room filling
up with people. Countless nurses, the pediatrician, and doctors came in
and were all looking at my placenta in its tray off at the side of the
room. Dr. Varma finished my stitches, came over to the side of my bed
and said some words I will never forget. Her eyes were teary as she
said, "you need to thank God that things happened the way they did. You
are so lucky. You cherish that baby." She held my hand as she was saying
this and it finally started to hit me that something was wrong.
and I looked at each other, both wondering what was going on. He asked
her if everything was okay and she said it seemed so but that they would
be keeping a close eye on me. She then wheeled over the cart holding my
placenta and held it up for us to see. Josh was grossed out at first
but then the ick factor was taken over by absolute awe-struck silence.
The baby's umbilical cord was attached by a thread to the very end of
the placenta, not the middle like it should have been. Apparently this
is called a velamentous insertion. It's very rare and a lot of
pregnancies do not make it to term because the blood vessels traverse
the outside of the cord rather than the inside. Because the blood
vessels were on the outside, the pressure from baby and everything else
had pinched the cord somewhere inside of me and a HUGE blood clot had
formed between the cord and the placenta. It was about the size of a
grapefruit. Because of this blood clot, we don't know how much nutrients
the baby actually got in the last few weeks. I was losing weight and my
belly had not grown between week 36 and 38, so the doctor believes it
happened in that time frame. The blood clot was blocking blood flow
either way...and if it had ruptured, it could have meant instant
hemorrhaging for me and instant death for my sweet boy.
tears rolling down my face as I type this because *what are the chances*
that all this could have happened and I still got to walk away with my
child at the end. Josh sobbed to me in the recovery room that he could
have lost his whole world in one second if *anything* had gone
differently than it had. My placenta, because of the stress of the clot,
had been trying to abrupt itself from my uterus from the beginning of
labor...before the baby was even out. That explains the bleeding
throughout labor and the constant contractions. I cannot explain the
break down I had when I realized that I honestly could have died. I am
so blessed. Sam was conceived right after our first miscarriage with no
period in between...that alone was a miracle. And then to survive this (It is so rare that it happens in 1.1% of pregnancies. 1.1%...) I am overwhelmed.
I am trying to remind myself that what
matters now is not what *could* have happened but that I have a perfect
little miracle baby that I am lucky enough to be able to hold and watch
breathe. I was watched closely for any signs of hemmorhage and my
placenta was sent to pathology to be checked. None of it remained in my
uterus so I was cleared to go home as if nothing had ever happened. This
whole thing has been crazy, surreal and wonderful in a way. I have
never felt closer to my husband or my God...who was watching out for me
in the deepest way on that most important day of my life: Samuel's
For what it's worth, we chose his name for sure after
his birth and hearing the scary news because of this Bible verse which
we found extra fitting: I prayed for this child, and the LORD has
granted me what I asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:27