Our sweet newbie turned three months old this week. Already!
It has taken me a while to feel ready to write down her birth story, because it was really a rather stressful birth. Not traumatic, I wouldn’t say, but almost.
As you might remember, Trevor and four of the kids were in England just before Freya was born. I had felt peaceful about letting them go, because although my blood pressure was high-ish, we had ruled out other symptoms of preeclampsia.
Thursday, July 19
I made it through just over a week of their 10-day trip with my blood pressure more or less behaving, despite the uncomfortably hot and humid July weather and the fact that my dad was working on giving our house a new roof and a lick of paint that week. Then on the Thursday before the Saturday they were due home, I had my regularly scheduled midwife appointment. My BP was high that afternoon, and Barbara sent me straight to triage.
At first I was confident that I would have the same lack of preeclampsia symptoms I had had the previous week and be sent home, but something in the way the nurses were talking seemed a little different this time.
Now that I was past 37-weeks and considered full-term, they explained, there was really no reason to wait around for my high blood pressure to get any worse or turn into preeclampsia. They wanted to keep me and begin inducing me THAT NIGHT. At this I started crying (apparently crying is NOT good for one’s blood pressure) and explaining that my husband was in England and couldn’t they please PLEASE just wait 48 hours???
I am so thankful that that evening in triage I had a Christian nurse named Melinda who was like a hilarious little angel. She kept me distracted by cracking jokes and fussing over my kids’ names (you all know this is my love language!). She even prayed over my urine sample before it went to the lab! I really believe if it hadn’t been for her calming effect on me, things could have ended up very differently.
In the end, my midwife and the doctor on call agreed that things weren’t so urgent that we couldn’t wait for Trevor to get home. I was sent home, exhausted and relieved, with orders to return at 5PM on Sunday for an induction. I also had to check my blood pressure at home and call if it got out of hand.
Friday-Saturday, July 20-21
Friday was Delia’s birthday. My dad was wrapping things up at the house and my stepmother Debbiecame over to visit. Seeing how much I was stressing myself out by trying not to be stressed out, she asked if she could take the kids back to their house. I happily accepted her offer, although I still feel a little sad that I never got a chance to sing Happy Birthday to Delia that day.
My best friend Mary then took me to her lovely air-conditioned home for a movie followed by dinner out. It was just what the doctor ordered.
On Saturday, the gang got back from England. “A sight for sore eyes” doesn’t begin to describe it!
We had one night all together in our own beds before the fun began…
Sunday, July 22
After church on Sunday we scrambled around unpacking and repacking. We set off mid-afternoon to drop the kids off at my mom’s and head to the hospital for our induction. Before we were on the road five minutes I had to brake suddenly and the van began making a decidedly not-good noise. I called Trevor, and he met me and switched cars with me. He limped along on slow roads while I waited and prayed at my mom’s house, but he got there! (My wonderful dad got it repaired for us while I was in the hospital.)
We arrived at the hospital about an hour late, having been told that there was no real rush anyway. And there wasn’t!
I changed into my gown, and they started my IV. And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. My friend Jessi came to visit and hang out, since she was only in town for a couple more days and since absolutely NOTHING was happening.
At 9 pm they finally inserted some medicine to begin to soften things up. I was told that my body was as unready to give birth as it could possibly be, so we prepared ourselves for a long process.
Monday, July 23
I woke up still feeling absolutely nothing happening, and sure enough, I had made almost no progress overnight. Since I was still not even dilated enough to begin pitocin, I was given another dose of cervadil.
For most of the day I still had no real contractions to speak of. We watched a couple movies, and by late afternoon/early evening, I was dilated enough to start a very low dose of pitocin.
Naturally the contractions got intense just about the time they began telling me to turn off the lights and try to get some rest. I was definitely NOT going to sleep through these contractions, so I accepted the offer of a shot of stadol to help me sleep.
And help me sleep it did! I felt like I was going to melt right into my hospital bed, and I was aware of nothing until about 1 or 2 am when it wore off. I could tell the contractions had been continuing to work while I slept, and they were intense again by then, so I asked for another dose to get me through till morning.
Tuesday, July 24 – Freya’s Birthday!
When they checked me in the morning, I had made some definite dilation progress, but my contractions had died down. They were mild and about ten minutes apart. I was excited to get started on a proper dose of pitocin to really get the party started.
Meanwhile, my midwife, Barbara had left to deliver another baby overnight and had then gone home to rest. The nurses and the staff midwife were just about to increase my pitocin without her, when she called in to tell them to turn off my pitocin completely.
What on Earth?! Just when I was finally ready to get down to the business of having my baby??? We followed orders, but I felt defeated. I cried. I whined to my nurse, and she completely sympathized with my frustration. She said we would switch off the pitocin for two hours, then get started, with or without Barbara. That was a plan I could live with.
Around noon, Barbara came in. She explained that she had not, as I thought, simply switched off my labor so she could take a nap. She was allowing time to flush the pitocin receptors in my body so that they would be able to receive the next dose. She apologized that that hadn’t been made clear to me, and we got things going.
I quickly settled into a good rhythm of strong contractions while we watched a couple episodes of Friends (which was sadly not as good as I remembered it being!). I was coping well, but also thinking in the back of my mind that now would be the time to get an epidural if I wanted one. And I kind of did, but I didn’t get it, because, well, I didn’t need it yet. But sure enough, I missed my window. I think epidurals are just not meant for me.
At 2pm I was 5cm, which may not sound like much, but it is a magic number for me after which my labors go very quickly.
At about 3pm Barbara broke my water, which I knew would make things suddenly much harder. (Incidentally, this was the first time I’d ever had my water broken. It had broken on its own mid-labor with Pippa and Coraline, more or less as I was giving birth with Ro, Bea, Junie and Annis, and well before contractions started with Verity.)
Sometime after 4pm I went to the bathroom and felt the beginnings of the urge to push while sitting on the toilet. I had Trevor call Barbara in, knowing the main event was at hand.
This is the part of labor when I completely fall apart and lose any sense of composure or decorum. Every time. I became totally fear-stricken, and of course, it was too late for the epidural.
Through my tears and panic, I asked Trevor to pray. (I wouldn’t have remembered this detail except that Barbara reminded me of it at my postpartum check-up, which was kind of her, since it was probably the only moment of my established labor when I behaved with any semblance of dignity.).
He prayed, and I rallied, and then I pushed. As always, it only took about two contractions and quite a bit of tearing and she was in my arms. And she was perfect, and the world was perfect. She was born at 4:53 pm weighing 7lbs even. I was exactly 38 weeks that day.
We both cried, which I don’t remember us ever doing before, but the whole thing had felt like such an ordeal, and then there she was, and it was all worth it.
Unfortunately, my blood pressure did not get the memo that I wasn’t pregnant anymore and continued to stay elevated. I went home on medication, and I’m still on it now.
The week that followed was a whirlwind. We came home on the Thursday, and Uncle Adrian arrived for a visit on Friday night. (Remember, when we had planned all these things we thought I was having a baby in September, August at the earliest. Oops!)
That Sunday night saw us back in the ER with my blood pressure so high I was sure they were going to readmit me, but I dodged a bullet and got sent home on an increased dose of my new medicine. Having babies in your forties is no joke!
I really feel like things have only just begun to settle down in the last few weeks. School is back up and running. Trevor has started a crazy new rotating shift schedule at work, but we are slowly finding our groove. Life is busy, but good, and we are thankful.