I've just been absolutely itching to write this update. We'll see if I can do it in one sitting. Baby has arrived, and things are still a bit chaotic and there is no rhyme or reason to our days! I know I will miss some details, here, as I write. There is so much to tell, and so little time!
The last weeks of my pregnancy were rocky. All I could think about was how terribly uncomfortable I was and I daydreamed constantly about ways to make the baby come sooner than her due date! I had spent the last several weeks taking the Polly Jean 5-Week Antenatal herbal formula (online), according to the local midwife's recommendation. And a friend of mine had suggested Evening Primrose Oil capsules, so I was taking that, also. These things were supposed to help "ripen" the cervix so labor would occur more easily. I'd even read that the Evening Primrose was reputed to help with blood pressure problems, over time.
About six days before my actual due date, my husband had the bright idea to go visit his sister who lives a good four and a half hours from our house. Trips in general are stressful to me, with having to pack and the like. But so close to my due date? -- Even if I didn't go into labor (I never go early!), the added discomfort did not appeal to me. Plus, my blood pressure had begun to rise higher. But, I could tell it meant a lot to my husband, so readied to go.
Before we got to sister-in-law's home, we stopped to visit my mother-in-law. The children had fun picking black raspberries and I said something about wanting the leaves, instead. I was only partly teasing. She gave me a baggie and I collected about two cups' worth. Not much at all. When my husband stopped to fill the gas tank, he got some iced tea for himself and some hot water for me. I steeped about half the leaves I'd gathered for an hour before drinking it. It wasn't too bad, but certainly nothing I would crave!
We arrived at my sister-in-law's after 9pm. It was late, and I was feeling rather grouchy, and crampy. I wanted to sleep but the visiting went on until almost 1am. I did not feel like chatting and spent a lot of time with my youngest son in her livingroom, cuddling him, as he was so tired. He fell asleep against me and I wished I could delve into slumberland, myself.
When we finally all went to bed, my husband kept waking me up complaining I was snoring. I found that the last few weeks of pregnancy were horrible in that regard. I remember rolling over and crying softly, frustrated that I couldn't even sleep now that the lights were off and I was able! I must have fallen back to sleep in that state because the next thing I knew, I was dreaming about labor. In fact, contractions began to wake me from my sleep.
Contractions? But I was early. I never go into labor early. I must be mistaken.
So... I tried to go back to sleep. Again, I was awakened. Hmmm . . . I was feeling a little giddy, now. Imagine! I might have my baby soon! Should I wake my husband? Should I tell him? -- No, they'd probably just stop as soon as I mentioned it. But an hour later, they were coming faster and stronger. Wow! I found myself breathing through them and smiling afterward. This was really it! I got up the courage, and shook my husband awake.
"I think I'm having contractions." I told him.
"Really?" he asked before falling back to sleep.
Two hours later, they were still coming. I could no longer relax, fearing we wouldn't be able to get home in time. Nothing was packed for the hospital. I wasn't ready! And home was four and a half hours away . . . with the hospital another hour from there! I kept getting up and walking about, trying to get comfortable. I made sure to drink and use the restroom, knowing that if I was truly in labor, these things were important for keeping things moving. And if this wasn't labor, these changes of position and activity might stop things and alert me.
At 6 am, I finally woke my husband again and told him I felt we should probably start out. We woke the children and packed things up. Everyone got dressed and ready to leave. The car was packed up and we excitedly (and tiredly!) left for home.
While contractions were coming every two to four minutes and hurt, I wasn't ready at all for the hospital. It took a little bit of convincing to get my husband to agree to head for home rather than there. Unfortunately, about twenty miles before arriving home, my contractions petered out to about one every seven minutes. Then another came ten minutes after that. They were spacing further and further apart . . . I was discouraged and upset!
Once home, I tried castor oil to start things back up. I steeped the rest of those raspberry leaves for a tea to drink. I stayed upright and tried to keep busy thinking that might help. But they didn't come back! So, we went back to bed. We put the little ones down to sleep and lie down, ourselves. When I woke up I was more depressed than ever. What happened? Where was labor? Why had it stopped?
Steve said the little ones needed baths, and I set about finishing things like hemming my going-home dress and doing laundry. Suddenly, my contractions began coming back. And they were stronger than before. I became excited. Maybe this was it!
I packed for the hospital and tried to tidy the house for leaving. We packed the children's clothes in a suitcase and finished bathing the youngest ones. Contractions were coming every two to three minutes and were hard. I couldn't talk or breathe through them. I became discouraged at the thought that these were the easy ones. Hard ones were yet to come.
As an afterthought, I checked my blood pressure. It was extremely high. My husband was alarmed and told me to lie down. I said I had too many things yet to do before we left for the hospital, and he told me, no. I needed to lie down. So, I did.
Just before we were ready to leave for the hospital, I realized that things again had stopped cold!
Now I was angry! What was wrong with my body? Why was it doing this to me? I wanted to meet this baby! I wanted to feel better again!
We decided to just wait it out. The next day was my scheduled doctor's appointment. Maybe he could give us a clue what was going on. Better yet, we would insist that he induce!
My husband arranged for my mother-in-law to watch the children, and we headed for the clinic after celebrating my seventeen year old's birthday that morning. My doctor checked me and found me to be three centimeters. But contractions were no longer coming. My blood pressure was not good. He gave us the option of either having a cesarean section or being induced then told us to get back to him after we'd decided. When we went to call him, however, we were unable to reach him. It felt like a wasted day. I'd expected we'd meet our new baby! Instead we spent a full day rushing around, and making no headway.
So, we picked up the children at my mother-in-law's and headed back for home. The next morning, I was scheduled for a cesarean section. I wanted to avoid the even higher blood pressure levels during an induction and was anxious to meet our baby. On the way to the hospital, however, contractions started. They were very weak, and were little more than what I'd been experiencing with my braxton hicks contractions, but I began wondering if maybe we should try for an induction after all. Maybe my body was trying to tell me that doing it "natural" was the right choice.
It was decided that we would stay with the cesarean section shortly after arriving at the hospital. My husband wasn't so sure, but was supporting me in whatever I chose to do. I felt like I was robbing him of a good birth experience. He enjoyed the adventure and excitement of labor and birth, and loved catching the baby and cutting the cord. But I was overcome with a feeling that I must get this all over with. I was frightened for the baby for some reason and for myself. I really felt like the cesarean was the best choice.
The baby was monitored and my vitals were checked. I was prepped for surgery and soon taken to the operating room where the spinal was put in place. Someone put a cap on my head and oxygen in my nostrils. A "screen" was hung separating me from the surgical site and my husband was brought in to sit next to my head.
Before I knew it, our baby was announced as arriving and Steve rose to watch her emerge. I heard her cry and was told she was, indeed, a girl. My doctor swung the baby's head around the "curtain" giving me a quick peek. Then, he held her over the curtain so I could see her once more before giving her to the nurses and Steve to check over. I remember her dripping all over me!
"Oh she looks like a big one!" someone announced. I couldn't wait to find out how heavy she was! She felt like an elephant inside of me that last while! They were just a few feet away weighing and measuring her, and I could hear her crying and crying . . . But it felt like an eternity before Steve was back next to me with her. He sat with me as they completed stitching me back up. I learned that Baby was 9 lbs, 5 oz.
Then we all left for the recovery room together. This was one thing that was so special! We could be together, not separated, like with my last cesarean section.
We were smiling and enjoying the baby and taking pictures. I remember feeling so thirsty! Our nurse had a nice, full cup of water she was sipping on and I was jealous! They told me Steve could give me a couple ice chips. I was still shaking a lot, and a nurse that took our nurse's place when she left for break gave me some sort of a medication in my IV to help with that.
Suddenly, I felt hot and cold all over and told Steve I didn't feel well. He said something to the nurse, and they remarked at how my face had turned ashen. I was given something to throw up in. I began feeling faint and darkness began to overtake my vision. People began rushing all around me, and Steve kept asking what was wrong. It seemed like utter chaos and confusion. I remember Steve slapping my face to try and keep me awake. My nurse had returned and was asking the other nurse what happened when she discovered I was hemorrhaging.
I don't remember much at all about this time. I kept fading in and out. I remember someone trying to put an IV in my other arm, as well, and a great deal of pain in my hand as it wouldn't take. I remember the nurse getting scolded because there was an "infiltration" from the new IV, but didn't know what that was. I saw my husband's face at one particular moment as he looked at my arm and then back at me. There was anger in his eyes. I could tell he was mad about something but didn't realize what until later, when he recalled how my arm had swollen up with a misplaced IV line.
The doctor had come in a rush into the recovery room and was trying to control the bleeding with extra pitocin in the IV. But that didn't work. They then tried injecting it into my thigh, but that did not work. They injected it directly through my stomach, into the uterus, but that too did not seem to work at first. The doctor and nurses continually kneaded my abdomen, hard, with their hands trying to get my uterus to clamp down so the bleeding would slow down. They worked on me for almost three hours, and were talking about performing a hysterectomy to try and save my life.
I begged Steve to pray and he went off to the couch and did just that. I am convinced it was through his prayer that God worked through the doctors and nurses, as it was shortly after that that the bleeding began to slow down and my uterus began cooperating. Apparently, I have something called a "tired uterus" having given birth so many times before. Each successive baby has brought heavier postpartum bleeding issues. Plus, Baby was big and I had excess amniotic fluid which further distended my uterus, making hemorrhage even more inevitable and likely. After another hour or so in recovery, I was moved to my hospital room.
I spent several more days in the hospital, and because my blood counts continued to go down further and further, I required two blood transfusions. It was a frightening, stressful time. My blood pressure refused to go back down, as it has with past pre-eclamptic pregnancies. I was having some frightening side effects too, like headache, blurred vision and some epigastric pain. One nurse was surprised that I hadn't experienced seizures.
The children had difficulty coping with the length of my hospital stay and their visits were quite a challenge to me. The little ones either were a little too noisy (everything felt noisy to me, as my ears were constantly ringing with the blood loss!), and active. The littlest one cried a lot and the other small children bounced up against my bed causing me pain. The older children just seemed very sad and worried about me.
I wasn't able to get up at all due to the blood loss and my blood pressure issues for two days. Then, they began working with me to sit on the edge of the bed, then stand. For two more days, I was allowed to do these things, but could not leave the side of my bed. One more day, and I'd had the transfusions and felt a little bit stronger. This was the day they allowed me to walk to the bathroom (a very exciting time!) and disconnected the catheter and my second IV.
My veins are not good ones for IVs. I had such trouble with IVs while I was in the hospital. It took three tries to get one in before surgery. Then, that one "blew" the day of my blood transfusion. A new one had to be put in. But then it fell out! -- I was so upset because it had taken three tries to do it, and was a bloody, painful ordeal. During my hemorrhaging episode in recovery, I experienced the IV infiltrating. This left my entire left arm black and blue. Altogether, I had four working IVs put in. The last of which, they had to call a specialist from "upstairs" to do. No one else could get one in. I remember crying when that last one had to be put in. I was so tired of being stuck with needles. Between labs and IVs, I was a mess. The last IV that was put in was done in a very awful place . . . right in the crook of my left arm. This made holding the baby terribly difficult and very painful. When I finally went home, both my arms were marked everywhere with large bruises and red sore spots.
I was in the hospital about a week before they released me with strict orders of modified bedrest and with a prescription for blood pressure medication, pain medication and high-dose prescription iron pills to help increase my blood counts further. The doctor told me to take it easy or he would soon be seeing me for stroke. That was frightening. He also told me that if I should have any more children, I was putting my life at risk.
But I was happy to go home! With our perfect, healthy baby girl! There was absolutely nothing wrong with her. We were so blessed!
The last day we were in the hospital, my husband and I finally arrived at a name for our little girl: Rebekah Sofia.
When I walked into the house, I was immediately presented with a card the four year old had made me. There were "welcome home" signs, balloons and streamers strung from the ceiling, open staircase and dining table. My husband had baked a cake to celebrate the baby's birth.
I was dizzy and weak, and spent most of my time lying down or just sitting about. The children and my husband had the laundry all caught up and the house looked neat as a pin. The baby slept a lot and allowed a good deal of time for me to rest, too.
I had three scary bleeding episodes since coming home. And my blood pressure has not returned to normal, even with the medication. I have a new appointment with my doctor in a week, and we'll see what he thinks. I do feel stronger, today, than I did when I first came back home. And the pain has improved in my uterus and my incision site. I am hopeful that improvements will continue!
My husband stayed home from work for a week and a half before returning to his job. My first day home "alone" with the children was an emotional one. There is still no rhyme or reason to our days. I am praying things will normalize soon. The little ones' training is out of "whack" and we have a great deal of re-training to do. There is no routine or schedule to our days, any longer. I have begun to feel the beginnings of the "baby blues".
I am thankful for a wonderful husband and beautiful, helpful children. And I am thankful, also, for this new little one to take care of and enjoy. I look forward to watching her grow up and to learning to know her day by day.
What fun it has been to share this time of expectation with all of you, and I thank those of you who've written me and shared your own experiences and encouragement. I've enjoyed learning to know some of you as friends, as well, and cherish your friendship.
God bless all of you as you journey on life's way!
9 lbs, 5 oz
June 26, 2007