We found out I was pregnant in May 1996, several months after losing our first pregnancy at 11 weeks the previous September. The first trimester went well; I gained about four pounds and had some morning sickness. My blood pressure was around 100/60.
The second trimester started fine. Halfway through the second trimester, we moved out of our house and into a camper while we waited for our new house to be built. Around that time, I started having mild swelling in my hands, feet and ankles. At 20 weeks, the swelling in my hands became more severe, and I had to have my wedding ring cut off! My blood pressure was still normal, and I wasn't spilling any protein in my urine. I gained about 25 pounds during the second trimester.
We moved into our house in December, near the end of the third trimester. The swelling was getting progressively worse and moving into my face, legs and arms. My blood pressure started gradually going up. At 33 weeks, it was 122/68; at 35 weeks, 122/72; at 36 weeks, 138/72. At this point I was put on bedrest. It was the week of Christmas. I spent most of my time slouching on the couch with my feet up.
At 37 weeks, my blood pressure was 130/78. The next two weeks, my blood pressure remained pretty steady around 130/80. On my due date, January 20th 1997, my blood pressure was 140/90 and my eyelids and lips were quite swollen. I couldn't wear my own shoes and had to wear my mother-in-law's that were two sizes too big! I had also started spilling protein in my urine. Linda took one look at me and sent me immediately to the hospital.
At the hospital, Cytotec (a small pill that acts as a prostaglandin to help soften the cervix and get labor started) was applied on my cervix. Then I had to be monitored on the EFM (external fetal monitor) for one hour (this procedure causes contractions). Afterwards, I was allowed to get up and walk for two hours before they put in another pill. This was NOT FUN! My cervix was still quite thick and way up high. It was very hard for the nurses to reach, not to mention painful for me! They did this twice on the 20th, twice on the 21st, and three times on the 23rd. During this time, my blood pressure had risen to 150/100. I was scheduled to go in again on Saturday the 25th, but started having contractions around 1 am early Saturday morning. They were strong enough that I couldn't go back to sleep and was up all night. I let Jake sleep ~ I'm so nice!
The contractions continued throughout the day on the 25th and became stronger and closer together. That afternoon, they had progressed to being five minutes apart and lasting one minute for one hour. We were told to go to the hospital when they were five minutes apart for 2 hours, so we figured we would be heading to the hospital in another hour! WRONG! Contractions started getting further apart! They were soon about 15 minutes apart, but still quite strong and I couldn't rest. We called Sue, who told us to go to the hospital and get checked. We did (around 9 pm) and I was just barely starting to efface. VERY frustrating after a full day of contractions! She had me take a sleeping pill and then gave me a second one to take home and told me if I wasn't asleep by midnight, to take the second one. We went home and I tried to go to sleep and couldn't. So at midnight, I took the
second sleeping pill. I fell asleep shortly afterwards only to be awakened by contractions again at 1:30 am.
I didn't realize they were contractions because the pain was all in my VERY low back. I seriously thought I was constipated! It literally felt like I had to go to the bathroom and couldn't. About every 20 minutes all night long, I was up and running around the house like a mad woman! I was in so much pain!
On Sunday morning, the 26th around 6 am, Jake called Sue. She said it sounded like labor, and we should go to the hospital. We didn't argue! We got there, and I was 3 cm dilated. They gave me a shot of Morphine so I could sleep since I had now been up two nights in a row AND on sleeping pills, which made me VERY groggy. I slept from 10 am to 6 pm. It felt great to finally get some rest, and I woke up feeling very good. I was at 6 cm! I spent the next four hours walking Pipp Hospital. At 10, pm I was at 7 cm. Sue decided it was time for Pitocin to avoid another sleepless night.
It took 45 minutes to get the IV in because I was so swollen. Once they got it in, they also gave me Stadol, which they said would take the edge off since the Pitocin would cause such strong contractions. Well, it knocked me out. I do not remember a thing from 11 pm through the rest of the night. At 4 am, I was finally at 10 cm, and they turned the Stadol off. I had spent the entire night flat on my back.
I started pushing with Jake holding one leg up and the nurse holding the other leg up. I was still lying flat on my back, which I knew wasn't where I should be, but I was too drugged to say anything. I remember pushing on my side for a couple contractions but it was so painful. I pushed with all my strength for 2-1/2 hours. At 6:30 am, Sue told me that my baby was facing the wrong way (posterior) and wouldn't fit through my pelvis. The only option was a cesarean. At that point, I didn't care. After 54 hours of labor, I was ready for it to be over.
Jake left the room and my mom came in. They shaved me, inserted a catheter (which did NOT feel good!), and stopped the Pitocin. I was still having contractions and still had a strong urge to push and they let me. It hurt not to push!
At 7:30 am I was wheeled into the OR. They gave me a spinal. First they gave a numbing shot, which didn't hurt and then the actual spinal. I was sitting up hunched over on Sue while the anesthesiologist gave the shots. Then I had to lie down quickly because I was instantly paralyzed from the chest down! It was actually a relief to not feel anything! Jake came in and sat by my head and they put a screen up in front of us and went to work.
The whole table was rocking, and I was wondering what was going on when suddenly someone said, "the head's out." I didn't even realize they had cut me open already! A couple seconds later, I heard a little cry and someone said, "It's a boy type." He was born at 7:43 am on Monday, January 27th, 1997. They brought the baby to the warming table and wiped him off with towels and wrapped him up in a blanket. He was brought to us to hold for a few seconds and then everyone left me ~ Jake, the baby, Sue, and the nurse.
They sewed me up, and I was starting to feel nauseous. Soon they were done, and I spent the next two hours in recovery alone. I had to stay there until I could wiggle my toes, which meant the spinal was wearing off.
I finally got to see and hold my new Austin when he was two hours old. My mom got to hold him before I did and she had already fed him a bottle. I was so mad! The hospital suddenly got busy that day. The night before, we were the only ones there. That morning, there were four other mothers having babies! The nurses were pretty busy and didn't get me out of bed like they were supposed to. I didn't get up until 26 hours after the surgery. I was quite stiff and sore.
I also didn't get much help breastfeeding, and I didn't know what I was doing. Due to the anesthesia, Austin was slightly jaundiced and the nurses insisted he have bottles of formula to flush it out. They really made me feel guilty, so I did it. That made it even harder to get him to latch on. Finally the day we were going to leave the hospital, someone helped us. It was a lot of work but we got him to latch on several times.
We stayed in the hospital for three days and then went home. I ended up giving up breastfeeding when Austin was five days old because I had no clue what I was doing and because it was still really hard to get him to latch on. I would have panic attacks every time he wanted to eat! So, a week after he was born, there I was at home alone with him. I didn't even feel like he was my baby. He looked nothing like me, I didn't give birth to him (he was surgically removed), I couldn't breast feed him. I felt totally disconnected. Luckily, the depression only lasted a week, but it took quite a while to really bond. I really feel that we lost a lot in those first two hours after his birth, not to mention what we lost when I didn't breast feed him.
Austin is now a healthy, happy (and adorable!) 19-month-old and we are expecting our second baby (another boy!) in 3 weeks. (Read Lauri's second birth story here ~ a wonderful homebirth VBAC!) I learned a great deal from ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) and believe that my cesarean was unnecessary. Had I known about nutrition and eating enough protein I could have avoided pre-eclampsia. Had I avoided pre-eclampsia, I wouldn't have spent my time slouching on the couch and my baby probably wouldn't have been posterior (gravity). I should have spent my time tailor sitting and pelvic rocking! For this pregnancy we have taken Bradley classes and with nutrition and exercise, kept this pregnancy low-risk. I have no signs of pre-eclampsia and our baby is engaged left-occiput anterior, the perfect position! We are planning on having a vaginal birth at home with Mary Doezema, CNM. I can't wait to be the first to hold my child and discover if he's really a boy and breast feed him right away and be the first to give him a bath. I can't wait to be able to take care of my baby and not have to rely on everyone else because I can't move. These things are really important to me.