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Cheryl and Kaitlyn
Stripped Membranes, Epidural, C-Section, Brief NICU Stay

There's nothing a new mother loves more than to tell everyone the story of her precious baby's birth. But up until now, it has never occurred to me to sit down and write it out so that Kaitlyn can hear it when she's older. I can sit her down and tell her that even though her birth wasn't planned, even though the pregnancy and delivery were more difficult than I had imagined, I wouldn't change a single thing. She's my beautiful baby girl and whatever I had to do to get her here, I would do all over again.

My husband and I were in the process of moving to Southern California when we found out I was pregnant. The timing was horrible; he had decided to go back to college and had just been accepted to a program 1000 miles away from my beloved doctor, my sisters and my parents. We would go through this all alone. At seven weeks, I started bleeding. We were only two weeks away from moving, we hadn't told me family about the baby and I had mixed feelings about the pregnancy. But, the morning that I started bleeding, I discovered that I wanted this pregnancy with my whole heart. I went in for HCG blood tests a couple days apart and they came back good. Then we went for an ultrasound and the heartbeat was strong and healthy.

The next few months were uneventful pregnancy-wise as we moved and set about finding a doctor. I went to the Medical Group that was highly recommended and found a doctor I thought I could like. Boy was I wrong. I again started bleeding at seven months, I developed high blood pressure that sent me to the hospital on three occasions and the doctor said that we were looking at a probable c-section since my bone structure was small and he estimated the baby's weight at between 10 and 11 pounds. Yikes.

The day I went into labor my husband and I were on our way to the doctor's for our now thrice-weekly appointments when I commented that the Braxton Hicks were not just uncomfortable, they were starting to hurt. We had been going in for non-stress tests three times a week for the last month. In order for a stress test to be considered good, we had to have 20 minutes of heartbeats and good reactions. The baby rarely, if ever, cooperated and we often spent almost two hours on that uncomfortable exam table trying to get her to react. I couldn't understand why the doctor wouldn't induce, since my due date was so close and he thought the baby was so huge. He said that if he induced before the baby dropped and my cervix was ready, I would almost definitely be looking at a c-section. Since he thought I was already going to need one because of her size, it frustrated me that he was making me go through all of this.

A week before my due date, he put me in the hospital and said they would induce that night. My blood pressure was consistently staying above 160/105 despite medication, and this could be dangerous. However, we had to see the doctor on call at the hospital and she said that she would prefer that we spent the night in the hospital, got some rest and were induced in the morning. I argued vehemently with her and said that if they weren't going to induce that night, we were going home. She said the only way I could was to sign myself out AMA and since I wasn't willing to risk my daughter in any way, I decided to stay.

Well, the next morning we saw the new on-call doctor (they switch every 24 hours) and she refused to induce someone else's patient and sent us home! I was so mad I couldn't see straight. I called my doctor that morning and he never called me back. Such a caring guy. So, back to the day she was born. Three days after the hospital episode, we spent four hours in the doctor's office, trying to get a good stress test. I remember sending an e-mail to my friend that night, entitled, "First We Kill all the Doctors . . ." I couldn't believe what they had put me through. The doctor stripped my membranes that afternoon at about 2 pm, and sent me home saying he would induce a week from that day since "it certainly won't be tonight." What about the high blood pressure?

By the time we got home from the doctor's, I was having strong contractions. They were fairly consistent, but since the doctor was so adamant that I was not having it anytime soon, we decided it was false labor. All night long we stayed up timing contractions. When they were five minutes apart from 3-4 am, we decided to get up, shower and go get checked out at the hospital. Once I stood up and got in the shower, the contractions started coming one minute apart. I have never taken a shower so fast in my life, but I sure am glad I did, since it was almost two days before I got another one!

We raced to the hospital and checked in about 5 am. There was another woman that came in at the same time and I remember being so sad for her when the nurse left my room telling another nurse, this one will stay, but send that other lady home. I don't know what the poor other lady was at, but I was at six centimeters and about to prove my idiot doctor wrong! The new on-call doctor this time was so wonderful and told me the anesthesiologist was next door and could do an epidural right away. I told him no, but then had a bad contraction and changed my mind! Thank God, I changed my mind, because things happened so quickly after that!

By six-thirty I was dilated to ten. I was relaxed and happy with the epidural and though it made it difficult to push since I couldn't feel anything, I could handle it. After about ten minutes of pushing, the nurse told me to stop and went and got the doctor. The baby still had not dropped at all and wasn't making much progress. When the doctor walked in, my heart sank. It was the on-call doctor that I couldn't stand! They had switched shifts at 7 am. She looked at the heart monitor and said okay, let's go and started to walk out of the room. The nurse stopped her and said, "would you please get back over here and tell your patient was is going on!" Boy was I thankful for that nurse! The doctor came back, apparently realized for the first time that there was a person attached to the stomach and told us that the baby's heartbeat was disappearing while I pushed, and they would need to do a c-section. I was so upset, not because I needed a section, but because my doctor had suspected this for weeks and had done nothing about it. The one thing I told him I didn't want was to go through labor for hours and still need a section. If he suspected I would need one, I would just rather schedule it, rather than have it be an emergency. But evidently, I didn't count.

So, we went straight to a c-section and I thanked God for that epidural or I would have had to go under general anesthesia and my husband wouldn't have been able to be in there and I would have been asleep. As it was, she was born at 7:30 am, in distress, with the cord wrapped around her neck three times. Her head was stuck at the birth canal and could not descend because of the cord. I was basically strangling her every time I tried to push. I was horrified at this thought and wondered why this didn't show up in any of the nine ultrasounds that we had, including one only a few hours before at the doctor's office.

I didn't get to touch or hold her until she was almost two days old because she was taken to the NICU and I developed a fever and chills and they wouldn't let me out of bed. She spent three days in there, they wouldn't let me breastfeed her because they wanted to know exactly how much she was eating. When they finally let me on the third day, they said, "Wow, she does so much better at that than with a bottle." Well, what did they expect, she wanted her Mommy.

While I blame most of what happened on my doctor (he didn't even come see me until my fourth day in the hospital), the NICU staff was wonderful. They took Polaroid's of Kaitlyn Alexandra and brought them to me. They called me often and didn't mind when I called constantly. They let my husband (who was wonderful through all of this) in to hold her and never complained that he was in the way. They nicknamed her the Nosey Baby because the first night she slept only 45 minutes because she was fascinated by the noises all the other monitors and babies made.

When I finally got to hold her I worried about missing our bonding time right after birth, but it was never a problem. We've adored each other from our first glance. Miraculously, she got to go home with us on the fourth day and I remember that when the nurse strolled us out of the room in the wheelchair a song was playing on the radio at the nurses station. It was, "There can be miracles if you believe" by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. I will never hear that song without crying my eyes out. My little miracle almost didn't make it on many occasions, but she's here, she's healthy, she's happy and I wouldn't trade her for the world.

Oh, and my "ten" pound baby weighed 5 pounds 13 oz and was 20 inches long. The next baby we have (years from now) will be born as far away from that "highly recommended" medical group as we can get.

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